March 11, 2005


One of the books on my shelf is the US Army Survival Manual, FM 21-76. I got it at the Caltech bookstore about 15 years ago, motivated by an affinity for the great outdoors and a desire to survive graduate school. It didn't have anything directly useful for that purpose ('Act like the natives'...'Vanquish fear and panic'), but it is full of great tips, like how to avoid shark attacks while lost at sea:

'The normal diet of most sharks is living animals. All sharks have voracious appetites...Roar or yell under water. Some divers report this will sometimes scare a shark away. Hit the shark with anything you have, but remember that using your hands will damage you more than the shark.'

There is even a chapter about weather, how to survive and predict it. According to the book, it is possible to hear and smell a low pressure system. They write that sounds are sharper and carry farther in low than in high pressure systems, and that sluggish humid air makes wilderness smells more pronounced. As a parent facing a daily matrix of sharp sounds and wilderness smells, I can only conclude that we are under a permanent low pressure system.


At March 14, 2005 12:24 AM , Blogger fresca said...

Have you read Life of Pi?--it's about a young man who is lost at sea in a lifeboat with a tiger. I can imagine that the author originally was reading a manual about how to survive at sea and wanted to use the material in a book.
Oh, and also an atcile in National Geographic about tigers.
Come to think of it, it's like what I would write if I were a novelist: geography + religion.


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