Wrecked Ship Sends Beachcomber a “Gift”

March 6, 2009 at 8:42 am | Posted in Finds | 1 Comment


deadeyeThe sea still has treasures galore to yield whenever it feels like it, and good stuff still washes up onshore. A beachcomber in New Zealand thought he’d found a skull in the seaweed as he strolled the sands on the west coast of the North Island last month. But his find was quickly identified as a triple deadeye, a piece of equipment used on sailing ships until the end of the 19th century.

According to the Taranaki Daily News, the artifact is believed to have come from either the sunken ship Australind, wrecked in Port Taranaki in 1882, or the Star of the Mersey, which wrecked and sank there in 1886. Recent strong seas and high surf are believed to have washed the heavy item ashore. About his find, beachcomber Dave Chadfield exulted:

“This is as good as finding a porthole. It is the last thing to go when the mast comes crashing to the deck and the waves are washing over and all the men are jumping off…. I’m an old sea dog and every man who works on the sea has a great respect for anyone who used sails to power their vessel.”

On the day when Chadfield found the triple deadeye, his companion at the beach was 79-year-old Iain “Bosun” Dow, who told reporters:

“I went to sea when I was 14 and finding this sort of thing is exciting because it’s history. You know a fellow seafarer has probably used it and it gives you a sense of where you fit in.”

Sure does.

More Bad News from Illinois

March 6, 2009 at 8:13 am | Posted in News | 1 Comment

balaclava004Yesterday’s news about thrift stores being targeted by armed robbers was unnerving enough. Now it’s dollar stores. 

“Police in north suburban Gurnee are looking for a man accused of robbing a Family Dollar store at gunpoint Thursday night,” reports a local radio station. The incident occurred in a small town near the Wisconsin border.

“Just before 8 p.m., a man wearing a ski mask walked into the thrift store at 3521 W. Grand Ave. and demanded cash from employees, according to a release from Gurnee police. Holding a black, semi-automatic handgun, he told two employees to place money into a black backpack he’d brought with him, the release said. The employees complied and he told them someone was outside watching and they should lie on the floor for five minutes. The man fled through the front door and headed south through the parking lot, the release said. One employee saw him running toward a white conversion van, but did not see if he entered the van. No one was injured and only one customer was in the store at the time.

“The suspect is described as a black male, 5-foot-9 to 6 feet, wearing a black ski mask, dark hooded jacket with gold zipper, and white and black gloves. He wore dark athletic shoes with a light-colored emblem on the sides.”

Bad News from Illinois

March 6, 2009 at 7:53 am | Posted in News | 9 Comments

bedbugBedbugs aren’t a joke anymore. Although they virtually vanished from the American scene after the 1950s, they recently made a shocking comeback in New York City (thus ending soft-furniture scavenging there)  — and now these nasty critters are plaguing Illinois.

“Bed bugs are on the rise in Illinois after a dramatic decline,” we read at Medical News Today.  “A couple reasons for the return are more world-wide travel and today’s insecticides, although safer for people, are less effective in killing these bugs. Bed bugs are small, flat insects, usually reddish-brown and up to ¼-inch long. Bed bugs do not fly or hop, but can move quickly across floors and walls. Bed bugs most commonly enter hotels or residences by ‘hitch-hiking’ on a suitcase or backpack, used furniture or other objects moved from one building to another. Bed bugs can survive several months without feeding. 

“At night, bed bugs leave their hiding places in mattresses, box springs, bed frames, nightstands, curtains, couches, and wall voids, and behind baseboards, door and window frames, and carpet edges to feed. The bugs feed on the blood of animals, including people and pets. The bug’s beak-like mouth painlessly pierces its victim, injects saliva and sucks up the host’s blood, in about three to five minutes….

“Although bed bugs are not known to transmit disease, their bites can cause an intense itch and scratching could produce secondary infections. Bed bugs may be brought into well-maintained hotels and clean homes because all they need to survive is a place to hide and a host to supply their only food — blood. New infestations may go undetected when only a few bed bugs are present, allowing the infestation to grow and spread.”

To prevent bringing bedbugs into your living environment, the Illinois Department of Public Health recommends:

“Inspect all used furniture carefully for bed bugs before bringing it into a home — do not scavenge furniture left on the street.”

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