Ladyfisher

This Week's View

by Deanna Lee Birkholm

December 8th, 2008

'Big Ideas' that just don't die


If you're reading this, you probably have some interest in fly fishing, or maybe the outdoors. If you're a fisherman you'll understand; or if you're the spouse of a fisherman you will also understand. I probably should have included the term ''significant other,'' but I just can't bring myself to use it.

Anyway, as you know if you are a regular reader, I live with, am married to, and sometimes have to put up with my other half — namely, the great James Castwell. Occasionally he gets a nutty idea and will just not let go. Well, he's done it again. You remember my story on float tubes? The one that blew up?

After that disaster on the way to Lake Lenore, the conversation was still on float tubes. Over many miles of driving with the ''Big Guy,'' the idea came up: what would happen if a person filled one of these things with helium? Yea, right, there's a winner for you.

Now, these ideas of Castwell's don't die easily. He really is an inventor, with a real patent on thin-film technology. So a person can't just discard all of his ideas.

There are occasions, though, when I wish an idea would die. More often than not, strange ideas have a sort of a lingering demise; a bit akin to getting rid of the stuff that builds up inside my oven. This one took on a life of its own.

For some reason I will never quite comprehend, Castwell feels that any phone call in the name of ''research'' simply won't appear on our phone bill. Or, if it does, it should be paid with reckless abandon, and/or simply ignored. If you are assuming here that he got ''telephonitis'' you are quite correct.

How many cubic feet of air does one of these goofy float tubes hold? What if you used helium instead of air? What is the lifting power of helium? How much more helium is involved when he pumps a tube up to 3 pounds compared to just 1 pound? Pity me; I have to live with this stuff!

A lot of useless information was collected with the brilliant thought that he could write a terrific article about how you could use helium instead of air. The advantage? He wouldn't have to tote his float tube into some hinterland hideaway. Now picture this one: the stupid thing would bob along above his head like a toy balloon on a string. Trust me, this guy comes up with weird stuff!

Here's the skinny on this great gob of cerebral coleslaw: the cost would be too high, the gas would ooze out of the thing by some sort of molecular transfer, it would be a pain to get the thing inflated with helium, it would expand at high altitude and probably blow up, it would expand in warm weather and probably blow up.

If you tried to blow any more air into it with your mouth and it backed up on you it would not be a good thing, and the silly outfit wouldn't weigh appreciably less than if you used air in the first place.

All in all, I probably shouldn't even write about this for fear some well-meaning fly fisherman's spouse will read it to him and he'll try to take it to a higher level (no pun intended). By the way, my mental giant has a friend who's a cartoonist; fly-fishing-type of course. He was going to call Mike with the idea but I said no.

That's all I need. Some ding-dong looking at a comic strip showing two guys packing into some lake with a float-boat floating in the air. Well, be warned. It won't work. Don't do it. Don't even think about this when you go to bed tonight. Just give it up.

So, there you have it. I just wanted you to have some idea of what I, a highly sophisticated and responsible writer and spouse of James Castwell, have to live with. Then again, I guess he's probably no more weird, nor difficult to put up with, than the average feather-flinging, fish-following, wader-wallowing, river-running, casting-Casanova, piscatorial-pursuing, perfectly normal, ardent-angling, fly fisherman. So, count your blessings and be grateful for your sanity. I've got Castwell, and you don't.

I should add: Don't try hydrogen either. It will blow up!

~ LadyFisher

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