The Euphoric Chronicles: The Tale Of Tonii the Mermaid (contd.)




   We fast forward 18 years and we find that Tonii and her father have grown their business and now have four boats in their fishing fleet. Tonii has an education that is reserved more for those families that could afford to send their children to the best academies within Lollashire and those select few that have made the trip beyond the ‘shires and been able to travel abroad. Her father oversaw her education, teaching her all that he knew and by the time she was nine he knew that she needed more than what he was able to provide having exhausted his knowledge base the year before and was now learning as he taught her.

   He made an appeal to the council that oversaw such matters within the ‘shire and they agreed to have Tonii tested. None among the council believed that a girl coming from such a background would ever be able to pass such rigorous exams but her father was well respected among his peers and among those, some of whom were on the council, that purchased the fish that he caught. He was known to be honest and just with his customers, helpful to those in need, and it was evident that he had some kind of rudimentary education.

   Tonii’s father brought her before the council 12 days before her tenth year and walked with her to the massive wood and iron doors of the council’s chambers. He knew he would have to leave her but he also knew that she was more than ready. He grabbed the oversized iron forged rings and opened the heavy doors and as they swung outward he stepped to the side, leaving Tonii standing alone in the entrance. This is how it was done, a ritual of sorts. She had to stand in the entrance and then be called on to enter into the chamber. She stood looking into the depths of the chamber realizing that it had one continuous wall. There weren't any corners within. It was just a large circular room with a ceiling that seemed to go on to the heavens. She let her eyes drift upwards careful not to move her head. She didn't want to appear nervous or in awe of such a room. As her gaze shifted upward she realized that she couldn't actually see where the ceiling or roof ended. It was so high that there was just a dim point of light, a skylight of some sort perhaps, to give it an end. The members of the council were seated inside. A  man’s voice shrouded in ages of wisdom called out to her to enter into the chamber and to stand before them.

   The five members of the council all wore blood red robes with the crest of Lollashire emblazoned across the shapeless fronts of the robes and they were seated in a semi-circle with a lone chair known as the Intwistatien set out from them at a distance of about 10 feet. Tonii made her way into the chamber and stood in front of the chair, facing the council. She was asked her name and her age and what kind of schooling she had. She answered and then was instructed to sit in the chair for the questions that would determine whether or not she would gain admittance into one of the academies. She answered them correctly and as quickly as they were asked until the oldest member of the council, an old crone known as “Re” leaned her red robed body forward and focused her ancient yellowed eyes on Tonii and asked in a halting voice that was a cross between a screech and a whisper, “What is the true nature of the Loch?”

   Tonii was taken aback by the unexpected question. Up until this point all of the questions were based on numbers, letters, general knowledge of the known world, the history of the Islands, but this was something that she didn't know the answer to and as she sat there for what seemed an eternity but really was but a few seconds she wondered if this was one of the questions her father had warned might be asked. He called it a Kehraeic question, one which didn't have an answer. There was no right or wrong response other than not to respond at all and she thought that might be what she was going to have to do. She slowly drew in a breath as she looked slowly from one wizened face to another and then back to Re whom she saw had a bit of a thin crooked smile stretched across her age cracked face.

   She lowered her head just a bit. A test, everything is a test; her father had told her often enough and surely this was a test as well. Not the question but how she responded to the question that had no answer.

   She quickly flashed to a mental image that she had of the mother she never knew. It was made up from descriptions that she had elicited from her father over the years. She could see her, the mother that never held her in her arms, never sang her to sleep while rocking her gently, an image that was so clear she felt as if she was real. In the few brief seconds that had seemingly stretched to several lifetimes she had an answer for Re and the council.

   She brought her eyes level with theirs, sat up a little straighter and said in a clear, melodic voice, “The true nature of the Loch is something that cannot be seen or touched. It must be felt with your heart for the true nature of the Loch is what we are, what we have been, what we will be and what the Loch will be is because of what we do now.”

   The council gasped collectively and they all looked stunned except for Re. She sat there staring at Tonii, nodding her head and mouthed silently to her “Yes”

    Tonii had not only answered all their questions correctly but she also provided an answer to the last question, a question that had been asked of every potential student and to date there had only been a handful that had dared answer, the last being Seejay Keeves. She was however the first girl to ever put forth an answer to the council’s query.

   Her admittance was approved and she entered the Academie Valan vo’ Du. The head of the academy was Re. Re turned out to be much kinder than she looked in person and personally oversaw Tonii’s first year at the school. With Re overseeing her first year Tonii progressed quickly with her studies and by the start of her third year at the academy the council had to meet to decide on Re’s request to have Tonii advanced a couple of academic levels. There was little debate as the council knew that Tonii had more than proven herself in the short time she had been at the school and her advancement was readily approved.

    The school was just a few hours walk from the fishing village so Tonii was able to come home often to see and work with her father on his boat. He worried that she was spending too much time with him when she should be making friends and spending time with children her own age. It’s not that she was without friends for she had become quite popular at the academy despite being something of a curiosity with her background. She was with children who came from a life she couldn't possibly imagine but she thought to herself they could never imagine the wonderment and beauty of her life either.

   She missed her father and she knew that he missed her as he had no one else in his life. He always seemed to be working or in motion, a non-stop blur of energy. If he wasn't out on the water catching fish he was cleaning the ones he did catch to take to market, or mending the sails, or doing much needed repairs and upkeep to the Holt. The only time he ever slowed was when she came home from school to visit. He would make them something to eat and ask her questions about the things she was learning. He would sit and listen in awe, realizing that his little girl was growing up right before his eyes. He could swear he could see her change as she spoke. He knew that her course was set and was going to have a good life ahead of her.

   If he really knew what her future held he wouldn't have ever let her leave.

   To be continued…..

Super Boats Slug It Out In Cocoa Beach!

May 24, 2011  by SBI

Teams Converge on Cocoa Beach for Spectacular Offshore Powerboat Race

KEY WEST, Fla. (May 24, 2011) – The Season opener for the 2011 Super Boat International Racing Series was held this past weekend in Cocoa Beach, Fla. with the World’s fastest boats racing in perfect conditions on the Atlantic Coast, and Miss GEICO Racing taking the top spot. Fans were treated to a spectacular day of racing during the 2nd Annual Brighthouse Networks Space Coast Super Boat Grand Prix. Twenty-seven teams competed during the Sunday event and race teams treated fans to amazing speeds along with lead changes and near photo finishes.

“This was one of, if not, the best season opener we have had in the past 20 years of Superboat racing. Today’s race had some of the closest head to head racing and is like a new era for powerboat racing,” comments SBI President, John Carbonell. “We continue to tweak the race courses to make them shorter in distance and closer to the race fans along the beach. It has proven to be quite exciting for everyone including the teams.” In the earlier years of Super Boat Racing, teams would race off 50 miles and return. Now, with the more rectangle shaped stadium style racing, it brings fans up close to the action.

The 2nd Annual event brought out some unbelievable head to head battles with a near photo finish as Loriblu edged out Team Stihl for a win in the Super Cat class. “It was just incredible today. We had fuel pick-up or some equipment issues that would slow us down in the corners, so we pulled off the course, and then pulled back on, as our boat came back to us. When we saw Loriblu had issues, we just had to stay in it. I think we both had the same problems and coming into the last turn, we were both off the pace. Then almost at the same time, we both picked up speed for the finish and they beat us by a boat length. It was a heart breaker,” comments J.R. Noble, owner and driver of Team Stihl.

Water and weather conditions were perfect, not only for the race teams, but also for the fans. This year’s event appeared to have record crowds lining the beach from Cocoa Beach Pier to Lori Wilson Park. And for those unfortunate fans who could not attend, Super Boat International and Space Coast Sports TV streamed the event live.

Other Super Boat winners included WHM Motorsports (Superboat Unlimited), GEICO Caveman (Superboat Vee Extreme), Absolutely Not (Super Vee Limited), Talbot Excavating (Superboat Stock),  Twisted Metal Motorsports (P1), Zipp Express (P2) and Team Velocity (P4).

Local favorite Superboat Unlimited Team CMS (owned by Bob Bull) encountered mechanical problems early, but it wasn’t without a thrilling blow-by the Pier. Unlimited competitor, Billy Mauff comments, “I wish CMS could have lasted the race and we could have raced each other. This race and location is great.  Unfortunately, I couldn’t make it last year but I’m glad I made it this year.”

Marc Granet, Driver of Miss GEICO comments,  “Cocoa Beach could be the event of the year. This place is awesome and the crowds were lined up the entire length of the beach. It was absolutely incredible.”

With the support of Cocoa Beach and all the volunteers that made this possible, this weekend has turned out to be a marquee event on the Super Boat International circuit.

Next for Super Boat International

The next race for Super Boat International is June 3rd – 5th, the 21st Annual Miami Grand Prix in Miami, Florida. The dry pits will be located in Bicentennial Park and the race will start at 1:00 pm Sunday June 5th, off Miami Beach.

We’re All Doomed!

10 reasons to bow down before your shark overlords

Annalee Newitz

10 reasons to bow down before your shark overlords

Sharks aren't just scary-looking and deadly. They're also superpowered. They rarely get sick, never sleep, and possess sensory organs all over their bodies that allow them to smell electricity and see vibrations.

Here are ten reasons (plus a bonus extra reason) to bow down before your shark overlords.

1. Sharks don't get tumors
A substance called squalamine in sharks prevents them from getting tumors. Squalamine suppresses the growth of blood vessels in any tumors that form, which starves the tumors of oxygen and food and kills them before they become deadly. For the most part, sharks are completely tumor-free (though there are rare exceptions). Scientists are trying to use squalamine in cancer treatments for humans too.

2. Sharks evolved millions of years before you did
The earliest sharks evolved hundreds of millions of years ago, when dinosaurs still shook the Earth with their footsteps. Plus, the oldest known fossil of a brain ever found belonged to an ancestor of the shark who lived 300 million years ago. Over time, sharks have evolved very little, though some scientists believe that their sensory organs have gotten more sophisticated over time.

3. Sharks have teeth that are sensory organs
Shark teeth are connected to their nervous system, and they can likely feel temperature and motion with them. They also have multiple rows of teeth that can rotate in their mouths, moving forward and backward as needed.4. Sharks have no bones
Though they are fierce and feel things with their teeth, sharks have no ribcage and their skeletons are all made of cartilage – the soft, fibrous stuff that you have in your nose and ears. This allows sharks to move extremely rapidly because they are much lighter than other marine creatures. It also means that if they are beached, they will collapse under their own weight and crush their organs, because they have no hard bones.

5. Sharks smell in 3D
Sharks can smell a teaspoon full of blood in a body of water the size of Loch Ness. They move toward prey within less than a second after smelling it, because they're able to distinguish which nostril received the scent first, and then zoom in the direction of that nostril. This gives them essentially a 3D sense of smell, which gives them a sense of where the smell is coming from as well as what it is. 14 percent of the shark's brain is devoted to the olfactory, or smell, system.

6. Sharks can also smell electrical fields, using a sense called “electroreception.”
Slate's Daniel Engber explains:

Electroreceptive organs (or “ampullae of Lorenzini”) sit inside little pores on the shark's snout. Living things submerged in salty seawater produce a faint electrical field that the shark can feel at short distances, allowing it to suss out creatures that bury themselves in the sea floor. Muscle contractions also produce little surges of electrical activity that a shark can detect using electroreception. (Research suggests that some sharks may use electroreception like a compass, to help navigate underwater.)

7. Sharks have ears all over their bodies
Running down the sides of shark's bodies is a set of sensory organs called the “lateral line.” It is partly made up of the electroreceptors that allow the sharks to pick up DC and AC electrical fields. But it is also packed with “neuromasts,” which scientists say “consist of canal receptors and pit organs and are mechanoreceptors that are sensitive to water movements caused by external sources as well as the animal's own swimming movements.” Basically they are underwater ears, or perhaps a combination of ears and motion detectors. Either way, they mean that any movement in the water near any part of the shark will be instantly picked up – and possibly subject to attack.

8. Sharks have self-cleaning skin that allows them to move ultra-fast through the water
Shark skins are covered in tiny, sharp scales, resulting in the common observation that they are smooth when stroked head to tail, but will cut you up if you stroke them tail to head (also, tip of the day: don't stroke sharks anyway). But shark skin isn't just there to mess you up. It also creates a cushion that allows sharks to slide rapidly through the water. As one shark guide put it, “Shark skin has . .. . dermal denticles. By trapping the water underneath [the] little dermal denticles, it basically creates, like, a cushion where the shark can glide through the water much easier.” Dermal denticles also keep shark skin free of pests and barnacles, which basically means it is self-cleaning. 9. They can swim across the world in less than a year
Great white sharks can swim 12,400 miles in 9 months. This is the fastest and lengthiest migration of any sea creature ever recorded.

10. Sharks never fall completely asleep
Sharks breathe by moving through the water, pulling oxygen water as it moves through their bodies. As a result, they can't ever fall completely asleep – they have to keep swimming. Recent studies demonstrate that they do this by shutting down parts of their brains, essentially falling asleep in in different regions of their brains at a time.

BONUS superpower: Sharks can be born by immaculate conception
When no male sharks are available, female sharks can have children via parthenogenesis, which means they can fertilize themselves. That's right – sharks can survive and have children without sex. They are basically unstoppable.