February 15, 2009

Scraping the barnacles

I GOT QUITE excited when my local newspaper ran an advertisement for a “Marine Growth Scraper” for the city marina. I thought I was going to get the barnacles scraped off my bottom for free.

But no such luck. This Marine Growth Scraper is not going to scrape seaweed and mollusks off boats at all. The ad says the MGS will work 40 hours a week “to remove marine growth from docks and utilities.”

I don’t doubt that there will be people lining up for this position, given the number of people looking for work around here, but the port authority’s advertisement was refreshingly candid about the hardships involved. “Position requires strenuous labor outdoors in adverse weather conditions,” it says.

And what does a marine growth scraper earn? $10 an hour, apparently, and only for 90 days, because it’s a temporary job.

I deduce from this that it’s going to cost marina tenants $4,800 to have the barnacles scraped off their floating concrete docks. I never realized this had to be done. I’ve never heard of a concrete dock sinking because of the weight of the barnacles attached.

In fact, I have an engineer friend who once designed floating docks and I asked him whether barnacles could sink a dock. “No problem,” he said, “it’s self-limiting. The layers of barnacles never grow beyond a certain thickness. Just look at any rock on the beach, or piling in the water.”

So now I’m quite curious about why we’re suddenly having our barnacles scraped. Is this part of Mr. Obama’s recovery package, perhaps, a make-work project, or is there a real reason for it? Anyone got any ideas?

And if we taxpayers are footing the bill, can’t I have my bottom scraped, too?

Today’s Thought
I go on working for the same reason that a hen goes on laying eggs. —H. L. Mencken.

A friend of mine says his wife finally managed to understand the difference between a food processor and a word processor.

“It’s great,” he said, “she doesn’t mince her words any more.”

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