Sunday, September 07, 2008

Take the Treasure Map Quiz!

Editor's note: Here's a sample from our new companion website for children, Notes from a Miniature Submarine 4 Kidz.

Here's a fun project for boys and girls of all ages. Grab a pencil, some sheets of paper, and a flash light. When you are ready, come back and read on. If you have trouble reading big words, ask an adult to help you.

Treasure Map Quiz

Did you know that the Earth's oceans are full of hidden treasure? That, if you or I were able to locate this treasure and recover it, mommy and daddy would suddenly become very proud of us, never, ever requiring that we go back to school again? It's true! More treasure than you can dream of is hidden in the hulls of pirate ships and merchant vessels that sunk to the ocean floor hundreds, even thousands, of years ago. The only problem is . . . how to find them?

The ocean is a big place, and it is very hard to pinpoint where those ships went down. Sometimes, people who survived those shipwrecks drew treasure maps back to the location. But until recently, people did not have the equipment to travel to the wreck sites and recover all of the lost loot. Even twenty or thirty years ago, it was much harder to get to that treasure.

Do you know what a treasure map looks like? In movies, treasure maps are usually very beautifully drawn, and use a letter X to mark the location of the treasure. Most treasure maps, however, are not so pretty. Often, a fisherman or a scuba diver locates a wreck site by accident. He dashes (or flaps) back to the ship's cabin to record his bearings. But, when he gets back to the ship's cabin, all he can find is a pen and a wet napkin. So, he draws the coordinates on the napkin, or whatever paper he can find. Or (if he is really well prepared) he'll already have a map, and he'll mark the location of the treasure on the map with an X or a square.

So, when searching for your treasure map, be sure to keep an open mind. They come in many shapes and sizes.

Are you ready to take the treasure map quiz?

I sure hope so!

Part One

1. How many of your relatives have spent some, or most, of their lives at sea?

2. If you answered "none," don't worry. I'll explain more ways for you to help in a minute. For those of you who do have mariners in your family, have you overheard them talking about the location of a wreck site they discovered, say while fishing or diving, many, many years ago, and for many years have been planning to return, as soon as they can "get the old crew together," and "get ahold of the right boat"?

3. If so, you might want to poke around in grandpa's chest for a while and see if you can find a treasure map. If you can't find one, you might hint to grandpa later on that you are interested in seeing what a real treasure map looks like.

4. Now, say you don't have any mariners in your family, or you just can't find a treasure map no matter how hard you try... the next step is to grab a phone and do some research. Call all of the friends you have ever had. Do any of them have mariners in their families? If so, repeat steps one through three.

5. Go door to door, looking for mariners. When you find one, charm him with your little explorer smile and ask if he has a treasure map. If he does have one, ask to borrow it for a project for school. Do not mention this website.

6. Once you have found a treasure map, the real fun begins! Take the treasure map you have found, and spread it out on the floor. Using a piece of heavy white construction paper, trace every line and number on the treasure map very carefully. When you are finished, scan your entry and shoot an email to:

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Sub-Rising: The Rebirth of the world's most popular submarine-themed blog

To all the loyal readers of Notes from a Miniature Submarine, those who have remained faithful over the span of years:

Are you INSANE?!?!?*

*If you were expecting some sort of in-depth follow up to this question, you are out of luck. That is all I had intended to ask those who have stuck with Notes for this long, considering that it has not been updated in two whole years.

To everyone else:

You may be asking yourself, "What ever happened to that blog about the submarine, my favorite blog, the only one I ever bothered to read that did not feature pictures of girls in bikinis?"

Furthermore, you may be asking yourself, "Before I find out, where did I stash that last can of Milwaukee's Best so my roommate wouldn't take it?"

The answer, it so happens, is two-fold:

Fold One: It is in the Crisper droor of your refrigerator, behind the bag containing pears that have turned a deep brown color over the past six or eight weeks, where no one would ever, ever think to look. Good hiding place!

Fold Two: This is not an easy fold to access. Which is why I have been stalling....

Prologue to a Painful Explanation

Do you know what happens to people, innocent scientists such as myself, when the government decides to nose into their business? I'll tell you what happens: they get their submarine taken away.

...or nearly taken away.

Little details like "accounting," making the numbers match up to within one or two digits, the scrutiny of earmarks called "Porsche," to even stupid things, like claiming to have been on an expedition to Hawaii, when in fact one was on vacation in Hawaii, are enough to raise the scrutiny of the Feds. Before you know it, hefty looking men with Miami-Vice hairdos and dark sunglasses and pin-striped shirts are knocking on the door of your laboratory demanding to be let in. Simply saying, "Not interested, thank you," or "No solicitors," and closing the shutters simply won't do. You have to let them in, or they will get feisty: the knocks get louder, backup is called, the threats of charges becomes more creative, and before you know it, you have what appears to be an Italian mafia hit squad assembled on your lawn, but which is really the United States Government.

Fortunately, long before the raid, I knew something was coming...I knew something (for lack of a better word) "fishy" was going on. For months prior, I had been receiving notices in the mail, strange notices, official looking documents with red lettering that read "COURT SUMMONS." Savvy of such schemes, I would immediately toss them into the paper-shredder in my office marked "Spam." I was not about to be taken by some clever hacker/indentity thief, who had expanded his operations to the normal mail.

Then came the harrassing phone calls. I assured the hackers, etc., that I was not interested....which only seemed to make them more agitated. Fearing for my livelihood, I decided to...

[Let me interrupt this dialogue by stating, unequivocally, that I do not know where the submarine is at this current moment. I am pretty certain that it still exists, in that I took it out for old times' sake a couple of days ago and it runs fine etc., but I digress.]


By the time of the raid, the laboratory was nearly empty. The trick was on them: having already cut the funding for my research, I had used up nearly all of the supplies on hand. The important point, though, is that the submarine was gone. No one could find it. Not one of the detectives, though smartly dressed, etc., had a clue to go on. I certainly didn't have a clue.


The Body of the Matter

So, it's been two years. I lost my laboratory. I lost my interns. I lost my dignity.

What was even worse, I lost the ability to update the blog. Until yesterday, I was under a court order not to post any new messages. And yesterday, to be perfectly frank, I was just too lazy to update it.

The good news is that, from this day forward, I vow to once again obtain funding (through some means) to continue the vital research to which I have devoted my life. I vow to bring you, dear reader, along for the ride: even if that means forcibly placing you in the submarine, which is unlikely to happen unless you are a Brazilian model of sorts.

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