Train a fish Do goldfish have memories? Yes, says the creator of THE Fish School Training System ($26; www.fish-school.com). Using repetition, the school teaches fish to jump through hoops and play ball. Below, our (kind of) success story with Spot, our new office pet.
It's a Boy. We rescued Spot, a 2'' goldfish, from a local pet shop. To minimize congestion, we kept castles and mermaids out of his tank during training, though Spot did seem a little lonely for company.
Taking the Bait. The first step was to get Spot to swim to the feeding wand (included), which, with its quick-release door, let us feed Spot only when he would get near the wand. Spot was spooked at first because we kept poking him, but he was patient and after a few tries, he remembered that the wand equals mealtime.
Party Tricks. Using the feeding wand, we lured Spot through the hoop (also included) by placing the wand on one side of the hoop and releasing the fish food after Spot swam through the hoop. After a few tries, Spot reluctantly swam through the hoop's small opening, and we could tell when he was hungry because he hung out there at feeding time.
Will Swim for Food. As of this writing, we haven't gotten to any other tricks, such as nudging a soccer ball toward a goal. This is no fault of Spot's - he's a pretty smart fish, but we're a little slow. Plus, withholding food to force Spot to jump through hoops like a circus animal seemed a little cruel. Oddly enough, the creator, a vegan, wouldn't loan us a sample of the training system because Boating promotes fishing. Go figure. INSTITCHES Most physicians advise against sewing up wounds in the field. But from the TV series Lost we've learned to be prepared for the worst. What if you're being tracked by ravenous cannibals following the scent of blood from an open wound? Use fishing line to stitch that gash.
Clean the cut. Pick out foreign objects such as bullet fragments. Rinse the wound with the cleanest available water and soap. Didn't pack any? Pry the vodka from your first mate's hands and use it as a disinfectant.
Flatten the barb of a small, sharp, clean fish hook. Cut off the eye and snell the line, which means wrap a knot around the hook to create a flat surface so the line pulls easily through. Or flatten the eye. Straightening the bend also may help.
Run the hook deep so the wound pulls tight. Tie a knot by wrapping the lead end around forceps three times and pulling the far end through the loops. Didn't pack forceps? Adhere to the old fishing saying: If you can't tie a knot, just tie a lot
Reality Bites. For West Coast custom builder Ultra Boats, participating in Rock the Boat, a Outdoor Life Network (OLN) series about building theme boats, was a dose of show-business reality.
"I didn't like the show when I first saw it," said Ultra President John West. "There's enough drama that comes with building a boat in three weeks without having to create more."
West isn't a television production amateur. Ultra provided boats for NBC's Fear Factor and worked on an MTV show called Senseless Acts of Video. But West and his wife, Leah, Ultra's business manager, thought Rock the Boat would be a behind-the-scenes look at custom boatbuilding. Instead, OLN wanted a marine version of the Discovery Channel's American Chopper, which features the highly dysfunctional Teutul family.
In one memorable staged stunt, the producers had Ultra employee Travis Lektorich, 21, shave the heads of the Wests' two young sons.
"We were on vacation and they called to tell us we had to get back here," said Leah. "They wanted to see our reaction to them giving our kids Mohawks two days before school picture day."
The crew did take advantage of the perks that come with show biz. They trained with the Navy SEALs at Camp Pendleton, drove stock cars at the Richard Petty Experience, and tried their hand at bull riding.
The Wests said the exposure did increase phone and e-mail traffic. For Lektorich, the notoriety was a little weird. "Guys at the L.A. Boat Show said, 'Hey, my wife loves you!'"
John West said he'd consider doing more shows "as long as we can make it more about building and boating and less about drama because that's what people said they liked about the show." Past Forward : July 1977 With its large cock- pit lounges, minimalist though luxurious cabin, and 33.4-mph top speed, the Suncruiser 255 is what we call a dayboat today. With twin 175-hp OMC stern drives, it burned 38 gph at wide open throttle and cost $15,495. Today's price? $70,000.
Readers were clamoring for a better way to judge a fiberglass boat than "pounding a fist on the hull," as suggested by John Vogt of New York. Today glass fiber and resin can be combined in so many ways that experts are hardpressed to make decisive comparisons about which method is best. We're still pounding our fists.
An ad for Morgan Yachts said, "If You Can Sail a Sunfish, You Can Sail a Morgan 33." Oh, yeah? I say if you have an engine, you can get where you're going before the season ends.