Travis Smith: my resume, bio and photos back to the main blog page

The coolest thing I saw on Thursday, though, was the coelacanth, a huge prehistoric fish of which only a few specimens have been caught.  Basically, scientists found fossils of the coelacanth and determined that it had lived about 140 million years ago, and filed that away under the heading “too obscure even for Jeopardy.”  Then one day, in the ‘70s, a fish with odd blue scales and a great many teeth was caught off the coast of Madagascar.  A local enthusiast (or, well, frankly someone particularly bored that day because Madagascar didn’t exactly have a theme park or a football team to keep locals otherwise occupied) noticed the odd fish and arranged to have it sent to Grahamstown where a professor of ichthyology studied it carefully and declared it officially to be one ugly motherfucker.  No, I’m kidding, he declared it to be a coelacanth, which got scientists all excited because they’d figured it to be gone for zillions of years, and if it was still around, then it’s possible for other extinct creatures to be still around, which gives great hope to little boys all over the world wanting to ride T. Rex.

Anyway, this scientist offer I believe a $5,000 reward for another one of these fish, and settled in a few years to wait—and yes, another one was caught.  He convinced the South African military to lend him a plane to fetch it back and he immediately dissected it up and it’s now on display at the Museum of Ichthyology at Grahamstown.  I should note that both these fish were dead when they were brought onto the boats—they live at great depth and can’t handle being reeled in by a fishing boat.

In the museum, they described a diving expedition to find these fish live, and I’m afraid I didn’t take very good notes, but what basically happened is that a group of scientists and support divers dove down in this underwater valley off the coast of Africa to a depth about 110 meters, where they had about 15 minutes of air, and spent about 13 minutes looking around and then spotted three of these fish—which, I should add, are about 3 feet long and masses of muscle, with teeth and big eyes and basically a very prehistoric looking fish—in any case, they got to spend about 2 minutes looking at these living fossils and then had to come back up, and two of the scientists ran into “trouble” at about 60 meters and had to come up very rapidly, at which point they both blacked out.  One was revived and taken back down to 30 meters to finish decompressing, and then flown to a decompression chamber.  The other one never revived and died shortly afterwards.  Which, all kidding aside, makes you realize that the pursuit of science, whatever form it takes, is never without risk.  The image of the chemist stumbling out of a smoking laboratory shouting “Eureka” is overdone, to be sure, but even the study of teeny tiny insects can lead to some fatal encounters—which is why I’m quite fond of online media myself.

The forth night was a street party, literally.  Susie and I missed the shuttle bus to the local boozery that it was happening in front of, but when we stopped at a restaurant just outside the university to ask for directions, a local man offered to drive us there in his car—it was exactly the kind of thing that happens in small towns, but never in big cities, and made me want to do another good turn for a complete stranger myself as thanks.

The dinner served that night had two kinds of meat; one that the server said was “lamb” and one that she said was the “other.”  I had a bite of both, and then was asked by the person sitting next if I liked wart hog.  I said they were interesting animals.  “No,” he said, “I mean, are you enjoying the wart hog?”  Oh—that’s why it was so chewy!  It was actually quite good, though the mint sauce didn’t go nearly as well with it as the lamb.

After an interesting conversation over beers with a fellow who looked exactly like Tintin, we went home and packed.



Previous entry:
Producing for multiple platforms

Next entry:
Blesbok on My Breath


“The sad truth is that most evil is done by people who never make up their minds to be good or evil.”

...who said it?

“Almost every American I know does trade large portions of his life for entertainment, hour by weeknight hour, binge by Saturday binge, Facebook check by Facebook check. I’m one of them. In the course of writing this I’ve watched all 13 episodes of House of Cards and who knows how many more West Wing episodes, and I’ve spent any number of blurred hours falling down internet rabbit holes. All instead of reading, or writing, or working, or spending real time with people I love.”

...who said it?

“Live a good life. If there are gods and they are just, then they will not care how devout you have been, but will welcome you based on the virtues you have lived by. If there are gods, but unjust, then you should not want to worship them. If there are no gods, then you will be gone, but will have lived a noble life that will live on in the memories of your loved ones.”

...who said it?

“I play with variables constantly.”

...who said it?

“Only the person who has learned Continual Love coming from a heart of Gratitude/Worship can effectively deal with the problem of loneliness.”

...who said it?




There are no comments for this entry ... yet. So leave one already! Go on!

Add a Comment




Email: (optional)

URL: (optional)

Submit the word you see below:




Your comment:

Remember my personal info

Email me about follow-ups


Syndication Links

Click here for the main
XML feed for this blog.

Column only

Side links only

Quotes only







Los Angeles



Personal 1

Personal 2



Other A-F

Other G-Q

Other R-Z


Tech 1

Tech 2


Vancouver 1

Vancouver 2

Vancouver 3

Vancouver 4


Back to Main


Powered by
Expression Engine


Copyright 1995 - 2024 Jul 18



Want Column?

Enter your email address:

It will NEVER be shared.

You can scroll right easily by holding down the SHIFT key and using your scroll wheel. (Firefox users trying this will end up jumping to old Web pages until a) Firefox releases a fix, b) they change their settings like so.)