18, 40 A.B.
or by crook, we will."
- From the background
dialogue which opened every episode
of the 1960s TV series,
Hi, my name is Dan Birtcher and I'm an info junkie. I'd been info
clean for almost a week now - ever since I finished last Sunday's newspaper,
in fact - but I sure fell off the wagon tonight.
As with most falls, it began innocently enough. I was just doing
a little light reading in the book "Dead Man's Bluff: The Untold Story
Of American Submarine Espionage" when I happened across a chapter set in
the Sea of Okhotsk. I couldn't recall the last time I'd heard about
the Sea of Okhotsk. And try as I might, I couldn't recall many facts
I started feeling my curiosity stirring deep inside. Soon, my thirst
for knowledge simply had to be sated.
Three hours later, my wife found me beneath a pile of scribbled notes,
babbling incoherently about shrimp and fog while trying to slap the rising
tidal currents off my arms....
It's a terrible thing, being an info junkie. Each and every day is
a struggle to stay blissfully ignorant. And each night like tonight
is followed by long hours of slow detoxification.
Past experience has proved to me that the best way to clear my mind of
data clogs is to induce writing.
Hence the following entry.
Unless you happen to be a trained medical pathologist driven to determine
the chemical composition of an info addict's knowledge spew, I recommend
that you bail out now....
The Sea of Okhotsk is about the 10th largest body of water on earth, being
just a bathtub's worth of water smaller than the Gulf of Mexico.
Its 613,800 square miles of surface area makes it almost exactly 15 times
as big as my home state of Ohio. And yet I haven't heard it mentioned
in conversation or on the news 15 times as often.
It turns out that "Ohio" and "Okhotsk, Sea of" are only 20 pages apart
in my Encyclopedia Britannica. Although I've had that encyclopedia
for over 20 years now (or exactly one year per page separating my state
and this sea), I never realized it until tonight.
It came as something of a relief to grab an atlas and discover that Ohio
and the deepest part of the Sea of Okhotsk are in reality separated by
some 6500 miles. This means that my wife would have to get me into
her car and then drive 65 mph for at least 100 hours before she could accidentally
drown us both there.
I find this very comforting and shall make a point of remembering it whenever
I'm feeling down in the future.
That deepest part of the Sea of Okhotsk, by the way, may be found at 146
degrees 10 minutes E longitude and 46 degrees 50 minutes N latitude.
Just in case you want to calculate the distance and time between you and
your own drowning there.
How deep is the deepest part?
About 12,001 feet.
Or just over two miles....
Turns out that it's harder to get to that deepest part of the Sea of Okhotsk
than you might think, however, because much of it is covered by ice from
November to late May.
Among the life forms that don't mind that ice: Algae, seaweed, crawfish,
mussels, crabs, urchins, shrimp, smelt, salmon, herring, pollack, flounder,
cod, capelin, seals, sea lions, and whales.
Among the life forms that do mind: Steve Forbes' exiled campaign
In 1965, some 1,500,000 tons of fish were hauled up out of the Sea
of Okhotsk by people unable to just sit quietly in their rooms.
The waters in the Sea of Okhotsk flow mainly in a counterclockwise direction,
by the way.
This is noteworthy for at least two reasons.
First, this is the same way my coffee spins in the morning when I stir
it. My iced tea and my Tang, too - no matter the time of day.
In fact, I stir all my drinks in a counterclockwise direction if I stir
them at all. Coincidence? You be the judge.
Second, it is a profound mystery to me that the waters in the Sea of Okhotsk
know to flow in a counterclockwise direction when it is exceedingly
doubtful that it has ever seen or been consciously aware of a single timepiece....
And guess what? There's a part of Sakhalin Island touched by the
Sea of Okhotsk where the difference in surface level between low and high
tides is 42 feet.
And unlike humans, the Sea of Okhotsk never takes the elevator.
In fact, it doesn't even use stairs to complete this remarkable, daily
Makes you wonder why universities only bestow those honorary degrees on
people, doesn't it?
There's more I could say about the Sea of Okhotsk, of course, but I'm feeling
much lighter-headed now that I've written as much as I have. With
any luck at all, the forgetfulness of sleep will purge my mind of whatever
intoxicating information remains.
Time to stop kicking myself for my weakness for info and start thinking
about how much more effective a speaker this latest near-educational experience
will make me when I again go school to school this spring warning of the
dangers of too much reading and research.
Well, after making just a handful of quick points here.
First, a reminder for all of us to keep that Poison Control Center phone
number handy. Trained professionals are standing by, 24 hours a day
to help you and your loved ones rid the body of gossip, trivia, and all
but the highest doses of accidentally ingested unstrained facts.
Second, even the briefest glimpse of a personal diary can kill a young
child whose immune system has not yet developed enough to handle undiluted
hypocrisy, so please - always remember to keep yours locked up and out
And third and finally, unless you really want to overdose yourself on information
related to the Sea of Okhotsk, you will not click on the following
U.S. Naval Research Laboratory: The Sea Of Okhotsk (with pretty charts!)
Tides In The Sea Of Okhotsk
Ice Cover In The Sea Of Okhotsk
Magadan: Chief Russian Port On The Sea Of Okhotsk
Magadan: Also The Name For A Russian Province On The Sea Of Okhotsk
Addiction is a terrible thing but together we can beat it!
Well, as soon as I check out a few more of the fascinating sites revealed
If I'm not back in 5 minutes, start the beating without me....
Back To The Safe Harbor
Home To Stare At Old Entries
Until They Seem To Swim In Front Of Your Eyes
Like Ice Chunks In A Certain Body Of Water
Forward To A Much More Subtle Attempt
To Induce Seasickness With Mere Words
(©Now by Dan Birtcher using only a
sextant and the North Star)