FishOn: Of Pats, picks and 3D-printed boats

RON LISNET/University of Maine/This 25-foot, 5,000-pound patrol boat, center, was produced using on the world's largest polymer 3D printer, behind left, at the University of Maine's Composites Center. The boat rests on a trailer on the school's campus, in Orono, Maine.

So, we hit Columbus Day with the Bruins off to a strong start in their young season and the Patriots sitting pretty at 6-0. The Red Sox have graciously spared us further indignity by retiring into the offseason and the Celtics promise at least to be interesting and perhaps even more than that.

And of course, we're all miserable. Honestly, what's wrong with us?

OK, the Patriots aren't perfect. Outside of Helen Mirren, who is? And yes, their schedule has been angel food cake to this juncture.

But guess what? They don't make the schedule. They just show up and try to whup whomever is standing on the other sideline. Would you feel better if they were 3-3 and you were getting threatening texts from Antonio Brown?

The Pats offense remains a big lump of clay, waiting to be fashioned by Hoodie hands into something recognizable in its form and grace. That would probably happen faster if Our Tom would quit pouting, but the defense certainly appears to have the goods. So let's have some respect for that.

Now, to address another matter. It appears some dastardly soul hacked into our brand new, super-secure FishOn computer system -- mere days out of the Crackerjack box! -- last week and changed portions of our column.

How else would you explain our baseball playoff predictions? Did you really believe we thought the Twins would beat the Yankees on the way to the World Series? Please.

The Dodgers crushing the Nationals? Au contraire. The Braves over the Cardinals? As our girl Edith Piaff would say: "Mon Dieu." At least they left standing our Astros-over-the-Rays pick. Meager consolation, that.

We have, of course, initiated an internal investigation. Subpoenas are being prepared. All leads will be followed unless they just seem like too much work. Whistleblowers are tuning up and Ronan Farrow is writing a tell-all book. We will get to the bottom of it.

You have not heard the last of this. No matter how much you wish you had.

Is it a snake? A fish? A snish?

Great, something else to strike absolute terror into our fragile little souls: Fishery managers in Georgia are all a'dither that someone caught something called a northern snakehead fish in a pond in Gwinnett County, northeast of Atlanta's sprawl.

"The long thin fish that looks similar to a bowfin can be harmful to wildlife because it can out-compete, or later displace, other species in the water, according to the U.S. Geological Survey," said the story in the Washington Post. "Should the species succeed in establishing more populations of predatory offspring, it could alter food webs and ecological systems that could leave a permanent change to other species in water bodies."

But here's the worst of it: The snakehead -- and how is there not a minor league baseball team with that name? -- can breath air. Which means they can live, at least for a while, among us.

"The fish can survive up to four days out of water if it's kept moist, and it can remain immobile, but alive, in mud during drought, according to the Chesapeake Bay Program," sayeth the Post. "The fish can grow up to three feet and can weigh up to 18 pounds or more."

The snakeheads, native to East Asia, stay thin, of course, by eating other fish. But they also will snack on amphibians, crawfish, rodents and the occasional Shriner.

And the folks from the wildlife resources division of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources are not messin' about when it comes to the snakeheads. They are asking anyone that comes across a snakehead to kill and photograph it, which frankly seems a tad lurid.

For the record, if we come across one of these, we will not be taking pictures. We will be freaking out. Freaking. Out.

How many Ds in boat? Apparently three

This is a cool story out of the University of Maine, by way of the Press Herald newspaper of Portland: Using the world's largest 3-D printer, the folks at the university produced the largest boat ever to come from a 3-D printer -- a 25-foot, 2.5-ton boat named 3Dirigo that is made from a blend of plastic and wood cellulose.

The boat already has sailed into the world record book.

"A Guinness World Records adjudicator was on hand to certify three records: the world's largest polymer 3-D printer, largest 3-D printed boat and the largest solid 3-D printed item, according to a statement about the event," said the Press Herald story. "The printer was also used to make a tactical shelter for soldiers that was unveiled at the same ceremony."

The previous record-holder was a 40-foot rowboat.

Habib Dagher, a structural engineering professor, said the school worked with local boatbuilders to produce the vessel.

"He said the printer can be used to make molds that the boatbuilders can use when they make yachts and other watercraft," according to the Press Herald story. "The 3-D printed boat was to be placed in the university's ocean simulator, where wave technology is tested."

We think esteemed local boat builder Harold Burnham should have one of these 3-D printers for schooners. And then he could just fax them wherever he wanted to go.

See, we've always got our thinking cap on. It's the wee thing with the pointed top.

As always, no fish were harmed in the making of this column. 

Contact Sean Horgan at 978-675-2714, or shorgan@gloucestertimes.com. Follow him on Twitter at @SeanGDT

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