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Lyle Zapato

Oscar III, Mountain-Climbing Octopus

Lyle Zapato | 2011-05-28.8810 LMT | Cephalopods | Field Trips

Cascadia's beloved musician, businessman, and punny raconteur, Ivar Haglund, was well-known, both locally and internationally, for his publicity stunts promoting his aquarium and seafood restaurant. Here's a stunt I had not heard of before:

In 1947, Ivar organized an expedition to scale the newly discovered Mount Miller -- starting from the top! Mount Miller, you see, is underwater, part of the Gulf of Alaska Seamount Province. His expedition team consisted of one brave octopus, Oscar III, who was to be dropped from a boat over the seamount, attached to a two-mile line. Oscar's mission: bring back deep-sea edelweiss to prove he had scaled to the base.

From an April 4th United Press story (reprinted in The Portsmouth Times, p. 6):

OSCAR OCTOPUS TO TRY 'MOUNT'

Underwater 'Mountain' Subject Of Novel Trip

SEATTLE, April 4—A mountain-climbing octopus, Oscar III, and his trainer, Ivar Haglund, were en route today to "climb" the mountain-infested waters of the Alaskan gulf.

The 11,350-foot underwater "Mt." Miller was their destination.

Discovery of giant submarine peaks 900 miles northwest of Seattle by the U. S. coast and geodetic survey, is responsible for Mr. Haglund's latest stunt.

"Man still has not invented a diving suit to withstand the terrific pressures involved," said Mr. Haglund. So the actual climbing will be done by a "scientifically trained octopus".

According to the balding aquarium-owner, Oscar's greatest hazard in scaling Mt. Miller is that he must start from the top and "climb" down.

The incentive for Oscar—and proof that he reaches the base of Mt. Miller—will be his favorite dish, sea-edelweiss, which grows at great depths.

When the expedition glides over the peak of Mt. Miller Oscar will be dropped overboard leashed to a two-mile wire.

If he comes back with a sprig of sea-edelweiss clutched in any one of his arms—it's likely even Mr. Haglund will eat it.

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Lyle Zapato

Review: METAtropolis: CASCADIA

Lyle Zapato | 2011-02-09.5489 LMT | Cephalopods | Entertainment | Anarchy

METAtropolis: CASCADIA (2010) is an audiobook collection of six related stories set in Cascadia in the 2070s. The stories are: "The Bull Dancers" by Jay Lake, "Water to Wine" by Mary Robinette Kowal, "Byways" by Tobias S. Buckell, "The Confessor" by Elizabeth Bear, "Deodand" by Karl Schroeder, and "A Symmetry of Serpents and Doves" by Ken Scholes. Each is read by a different Star Trek actor. Run time is almost 13 ABT hours.

It's a sequel to the original METAtropolis (2008) which worldbuilt around the post-industrial, post-national collapse of the early 21st century. That collection included the story "In the Forests of the Night" by Jay Lake that introduced the setting of Cascadiopolis, an experimental green city hidden in the forests of Mt. Hood, Oregon (it's available for free).

CASCADIA picks up that story 40 years later in the opening "The Bull Dancers" (read by René Auberjonois), which explores the conspiracy behind the city's destruction by orbital missiles; the true identity of the mysterious Tyger Tyger and his connection to an ancient Minoan secret society; and how Cascadiopolis' daughter cities have, despite or perhaps because of the missile attack, gone on to thrive -- rewilding the land and building a new eco-anarchist way of life. This serves as an intro to greater Cascadia, as the following stories portray a changed and changing region in slow recovery.

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Lyle Zapato

Review: Spooky Washington

Lyle Zapato | 2010-10-24.8380 LMT | Cephalopods | Sasquatch Issues | Paraterrestrials | Entertainment
Spooky Washington by S.E. Schlosser

Spooky Washington: Tales of Hauntings, Strange Happenings, and Other Local Lore is part of the Spooky series by S.E. Schlosser, which collects Schlosser's retellings of ghost stories and folklore from around North America. This entry is all about the Cascadian prefecture of Washington. There are 26 short stories in total -- all assigned to a particular town, city, county, mountain, region, etc. -- and each is illustrated with a scratchboard drawing by Paul G. Hoffman.

The book is divided into two parts. The first part, "Ghost Stories", is obviously all about ghosts. In general I don't find ghosts all that interesting (so-called "spectral phenomena" are usually just psychotronically induced hallucinations caused by malfunctioning mind-control devices or standing resonance waves -- deflector beanies will keep them from bothering you), so I wasn't that captivated by these stories. Your mileage may vary. (Spoilers ahead, but these all contain well-worn ghost-story tropes you'll see coming a mile away.)

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Lyle Zapato

Pre-Decision 2010

Lyle Zapato | 2010-07-30.6418 LMT | Politics | NWO

Once again the citizens of Washington Prefecture, Republic of Cascadia, are forced by Federalist occupiers to vote in a primary election to decide who will be the contenders for US Senator in their general election. In 2006, ZPi endorsed two candidates as most representative of the paranoid ethic from their respective parties and thus most likely to break the stranglehold of orthonoia that allows the New World Order to enslave society.

This year, those same two candidates are running, so we at ZPi are again endorsing them.

Note that our old friend Michael Goodspaceguy Nelson -- who replied to my request for his position on monorails with a short story and poem -- has now changed his name to just Goodspaceguy. He's also apparently become a collective entity on Google. Chovil is still the lone candidate speaking out against the New World Order and his hat provides excellent beanie camouflage.

Here are their entries from the official Voter's Pamphlet:

Goodspaceguy

(Prefers Democratic Party)

Elected Experience:
Ten times, voters rejected Goodspaceguy's economic program!

Other Professional Experience:
Owner.

Education:
Educated in America, Sweden, and Germany, Goodspaceguy experienced international living. Goodspaceguy earned two university degrees (bachelor followed by master)with important minors in economics. Nonsmoking, nondrinking, prosperous, healthy Goodspaceguy (Minnesota born) is a life-long student of knowledge, such as economics, individual liberty, ownership, repairing, rejuvenation, space colonization.... As an amateur astronomer, Goodspaceguy sees the big picture. Goodspaceguy loves beautiful stars in the sky and in the movies. The people of Spaceship Earth are his family.

Community Service:
Eleven times a candidate, promoting improvements, Goodspaceguy advocates upward movement in technology, rejuvenation, and worker wealth-building.

Statement:
Dear fellow sheeple, you are the fl im-fl ammed, manipulated power base. Please think of your Earth as a beautiful spaceship, traveling around your Sun in your solar system. Please think of yourselves as crewmembers, helping to operate and improve Spaceship Earth (for even the homeless.)

It is your destiny to start the orbital space colonization of your solar system. You have already spent the money! Consequently you should already have more than 200 habitats orbiting your Earth, Moon, Sun, and Mars. But you don't! Why? Because your wasteful leaders have not studied orbital space colonization. Instead, yearly, they routinely waste billions and billions of your dollars.

As a student of economics, I, Goodspaceguy, also want you to raise your wealth by increasing the profi ts and incentives that create jobs for everyone willing to work. The true unemployment rate reveals the degree of sabotage of your economy by your wasteful leaders. We are working way beneath our production-possibility curve! Let's unsabotage our economy and build a higher worker living standard. Vote for the small spenders. Defend the functioning of the competitive, free market. Please, defend the profi ts and other incentives that create our free market jobs.

To help unsabotage your economy and to increase employment for people with problems, please abolish your beloved, but evil minimum wage. Get both Washingtons out of their high-cost, low-profit, job-destroying straightjackets.

Also to unsabotage the economy, please increase the incentive for wealthy people to move to Washington State, bringing their headquarters here. Make if profi table to grow jobs in Washington State, a job-wealth-growing state of a job/wealth partnership.

If you google goodspaceguy, you'll find me and talented people who claim to be me: Goodspaceguy. Increase jobs by making employers profitable. Defend wealth building and the homeless.

For More Information:
(206) 601-8172
goodspaceguy@yahoo.com
www.colonizespace.blogspot.com

William Edward Chovil

(Prefers Republican Party)

Elected Experience:
No information submitted

Other Professional Experience:
Caregiver & defender of our Republic.

Education:
I have a Bachelor of Arts degree, and a Bachelor of Education Degree.

Community Service:
The Republican National Committee, the National Center for Constitutional Studies, the National Rifle Association-life member, the Gun Owners of America-life member, the Washington Arms Collectors, The National Association of Letter Carriers, the Service Employees International Union, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints - Tacoma, Stadium Ward.

Statement:
What kind of America do Americans want? The one our founders planned for us? The one America's anti-founders are giving us now?

I am pro-life, pro-liberty, pro-gun, pro-audacity, pro-Sarah Palin, and John Gault, Pro-charter schools and home schools. I am against cap and trade, against Obama Care, and against the new-world-order.

For More Information:
(253) 229-0556

Lyle Zapato

Pitch-Chewing Tree Octopuses of British Columbia

Lyle Zapato | 2009-10-29.6120 LMT | Cephalopods | Food

Among the First Nations of Cascadia, tree pitch (more accurately, oleoresin) is harvested, hardened in cold water, then chewed for pleasure like gum. One of the trees traditionally used is the Sitka spruce (Picea sitchensis), also known as the tidewater spruce since it tolerates being near salt water (according to Wikipedia, its range never extends more than 80 km from the Pacific Ocean and its inlets).

Not surprisingly, octopuses, common in the tidal inlets along the Cascadian coast, have also discovered the joys of chewing pitch, and will come out of the water and enter the nearby Sitka to obtain the tasty treat. This behavior has long been reported by the people of coastal British Columbia, but appears to have gone little noticed by outsiders, judging by the paucity of written records.

Those who have reported pitch harvesting by octopuses include the Nuxalk (also known as the Bella Coola). The Bella Coola Indians (1948) by Thomas Forsyth McIlwraith, tells the story of one man's encounter with a pitch-chewing octopus in the trees:

[The Bella Coola] believe that [the octopus] is fond of gum and frequently comes to land to obtain it. It is said that the gum is never voided, but remains in a suck within the creature's stomach. One informant stated that within his mother's life-time, a man walking near Täl·io heard a smacking sound, like someone chewing noisily. He knew what must be the cause, but idly decided to investigate. It was an octopus. The beast was clambering down from the tree, using two of its arms to help it. Not realizing his danger, the man allowed himself to be seized and carried to the shore. He had thought that it would be easy to free himself, but he found it impossible and was carried under the sea. He bit frantically at the enfolding arms, until he succeeded in freeing his own, with which he pushed up the beak of the octopus, thus killing it. He rose to the surface and returned home none the worse.

This octopus bears little resemblance to the peaceful -- and non-man-carryingly large -- Pacific Northwest Tree Octopus (O. paxarbolis). Given the details, it is unlikely that it was a true arboreal species, but merely one willing to make a plunge into the Big Dry to get a snack, much like the olive-loving octopuses of Greece or the ara-eaters of Polynesia. (And as to its misanthropy, stories of octopuses both antagonistic to humans and huge -- some even capable of destroying whole villages -- are not uncommon throughout British Columbia and Alaska. But that's beyond the scope of this post.)

A more mythic story from the Comox of Vancouver Island suggests that it was the octopus that gave humans the idea to chew pitch. The details of the story aren't relevant here, and apparently there are regional variations that vary greatly, but in this version a son of Aie'len (the Sun) goes into the sky and encounters a pitch-chewing octopus in a scene oddly reminiscent of Alice and the Caterpillar (machine-translated from German with corrections by me):

When he had reached into the sky, he found a road that led through a beautiful, flat land. In the distance he saw smoke rising. He walked toward it and found an octopus lying comfortably, chewing resin. The young man asked him: "Oh, give me some pitch." The octopus replied: "What do you mean? But you can not use the resin for your teeth!" But the man asked again: "Oh, give me some pitch and your coat." And the octopus gave him both.

The coat is magical; it transforms the man into an octopus, under which guise he tricks the daughters of someone named Tla'ik into bringing him home as part of an elaborate scheme to woo the youngest one. He later punishes her father for disapproving of their marriage by spitting the pitch into the sea to create the thing that most scares Tla'ik: whales!

The story was first recorded in 1895 by the German-speaking anthropologist Franz Boas in his Indianische Sagen von der Nord-Pacifischen Küste Amerikas (in German, obviously -- "harzkauenden Tintenfische" = "resin-chewing octopus"). An English translation of Boas' work -- Indian Myths & Legends from the North Pacific Coast of America: A Translation, translated by Deitrich Bertz and edited by Randy Bouchard and Dorothy Kennedy -- states in a footnote that "it is a common Coast Salish belief that octopuses chew pitch".

The nearby Sliammon (or Tla A'min) also tell a variation of the story that includes the pitch-chewing octopus. Sliammon Life, Sliammon Lands (1983), by Dorothy Kennedy and Randy Bouchard, has a version as told by Rose Mitchell, this time with the main protagonist described merely as a "small person" named Thens (Wren):

Soon [Thens] heard the sound of chewing as he walked through a meadow, and when he went to investigate, he came across Octopus, who was chewing pitch. This pitch was Octopus' power.

Thens asked Octopus for a piece of this magic pitch, but Octopus only replied, "Oh, your mouth must be like mine." Three times Thens asked for the magic pitch and three times Octopus gave him this same answer, but the fourth time Thens asked, he was given some. "You can use this pitch for anything," Octopus told him. Octopus also gave Thens a robe with special power.

That's pretty much all I've been able to uncover so far on pitch-chewing and pitch-foraging among BC octopuses. Although I did find this interesting picture and description posted by "Dru!" on Flickr in 2007:

I was lucky enough today to catch a glimpse of an elusive Pacific Northwest Tree Octopus (Octopus paxarbolis). I have been trying to see one of these rare creatures for several years and with great patience managed to sight one migrating from tree to tree that was unaware of my presence and had not camouflaged itself.

There is some info about these creatures at zapatopi.net/treeoctopus/ but it is somewhat inaccurate. The PTO (Pacific Tree Octopus) is not only found near Puget Sound (as alleged on Zapatopi) but is also found along the western coast of BC as far north as Bella Coola. The Canadian population has not been critically endangered in the same way the American one has, although the PTO is red-listed in BC because of its dependence on undisturbed pathways from its aquatic spawning grounds and its forested habitat.

The range (north to Bella Coola, BC) matches the area where pitch-chewing octopuses have been reported, and that tree does look like a spruce. I'm going to have to disagree with Dru!; this isn't O. paxarbolis, but some other semi-arboreal or normally non-arboreal species -- possibly a juvenile Enteroctopus dofleini -- caught in the act of foraging for spruce pitch. (Also, the eyes don't look like those of O. paxarbolis. Perhaps Sitka has the same effect on octopuses as Spice has on the Fremen of Arrakis.)

Lyle Zapato

Book Review: Drome

Lyle Zapato | 2009-09-19.0440 LMT | Cephalopods | Hollow Earth | Lost Worlds | Entertainment | Retro
Cover: 'Drome' by John Martin Leahy
But why had they set out on a journey so strange and so hazardous -- through the land of the tree-octopi and the snake-cats, through that horrible, unearthly fungoid forest, and up and up, up into the caves of utter blackness, across that frightful chasm, up to the Tamahnowis Rocks, into the blaze of the sunshine, out onto the snow and ice on Mount Rainier?

Drome, written and illustrated by John Martin Leahy, is a pulp story about a strange underground world, home to a lost civilization that may be the progenitors of ancient Greek culture. It was originally serialized in the Jan.-May, 1927 issues of Weird Tales, and republished as a book in 1952. I'm reviewing the book, which I believe has some differences from the pulp original (a preface, footnotes, and some casual references in the main text to atom-bombs and television that don't seem particularly 1920s-ish.)

The story has two elements of interest to me: 1) it starts in Cascadia (the entrance to the underworld is on Mt. Rainier) with references to regional history and culture and 2) it mentions Cascadian tree octopuses, albeit of an unusual and deadly subterranean variety. So naturally I had to acquire an original copy for the ZPi library and review it.

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Lyle Zapato

Book Review: The Procession of Mollusks

Lyle Zapato | 2009-02-14.6090 LMT | Entertainment | Cephalopods

The Procession of Mollusks, a novel by Eric E. Olson.

(Disclosure: I received a free copy from the author and am thanked in the acknowledgements.)

It's the 49th annual March of the Mollusks festival in the Pacific Northwest town of Newport Bay and a strange murder has taken place: the body of Board of Supervisors Chairman Snodgrass is found hanging upside down, naked, drained of all blood, with a saucer-shaped wound on his back. The initial suspect is Dr. Roberto "Berto" Fiori, a malacologist with controversial theories about mollusks, in whose house the body is first found. But things become more complicated as the victim has trouble staying dead.

Olson's first novel is told through the narration of two characters: Torrence Haflek, a reporter with a fondness for parks who may-or-may-not actually be employed; and Jimmy Wilson, a 13-year-old fascinated with sealife and videography. Both discover they're suffering from an unexplained medical condition that gives Haflek waking hallucinations and Jimmy a voracious appetite.

The plot thickens as the two -- along with Berto and Angela Angraboda, Haflek's ex -- uncover Snodgrass' involvement in a plan to end the danger of red tide poisonings for shellfish consumers (and thereby promote the shellfish industry,) with a neuromodulator implant, now undergoing clinical trials in Newport Bay. And then there are the giant, seemingly-friendly snails that have begun to appear in the area by the thousands, bringing with them the attention of Sir Richard Attenborough.

Also, the Pacific Northwest Tree Octopus plays a role in Dr. Fiori's research. I won't go into details, but if the sasquatch find out what humans have been doing to their food supply, there's gonna be some delimbings. Tree octopuses are watching from the woods and parks around Newport Bay, and they've taken an unusual interest in Haflek, whose relation to them is reminiscent of Tyrone Slothrop's relation to V-2 rockets.

The Procession of Mollusks is an enjoyably bewildering tale of hermaphroditic gastropodan sex, transhumanism (of a sort), and the existence of objective reality itself in a world mediated by nature documentaries.

Lyle Zapato

An Octopus In A Saw-Mill

Lyle Zapato | 2008-12-28.7770 LMT | Cephalopods | Nature | Art | Politics | Retro

Here's an interesting political cartoon by Ryan Walker from the July, 1904 issue of The Comrade:

'Will it hurt the octopus?' by Ryan Walker

Of interest isn't the political message of the cartoon -- a condemnation of the Republican-controlled US congress' refusal to prohibit government contracts with trusts -- but rather the metaphor being used: an octopus in a saw-mill. Although this trope is all but forgotten in the modern political cartoonists' lexicon, the ecological horror of its origin haunts the forests of Cascadia to this day.

As mentioned previously, the Pacific Northwest Tree Octopus will instinctively hide deep inside the branches of its tree if the tree is violently disturbed -- as when being felled by loggers. This often resulted in octopuses going undetected until the trees got to a saw-mill, where the octopuses usually met an unfortunate demise in the mill works. Besides killing the innocent cephalopods, these accidents cost timber companies thousands of dollars every year during the 19th and early 20th centuries due to valuable timber and pulp becoming stained with octopus ink and mills being forced to shut down for the better part of a day for deoctopussing.

Needless to say, this did not please the timber companies, nor the workers who had to clean the mangled, inky octopuses out of the works. To the timber industry, tree octopuses were nothing but costly nuisances -- a view that led to anti-octopus eradication campaigns being promoted in logging camps. Sadly, these profit-motivated cephalopodicidal outbursts were one of the major contributing factors to the tree octopus' current endangered status.

But during the time when tree octopuses were still abundant in the forests of the Northwest, "an octopus in a saw-mill" became a common idiom for an annoyingly messy accident waiting to happen. This makes the joke of the cartoon clearer: Not only will the buzz-saw hurt the trusts octopus, it'll also gum up the blade of legislation and splatter ink on Uncle Sam's patriotic finery, tarnishing his image. Presumably the Socialist editors of The Comrade found this prospect darkly amusing.

UPDATE 2009-10-02: Google Books has a collection of full issues of The Comrade, including the one with the above cartoon. Also, if you are interested in political cartoons or propaganda featuring octopuses, do visit Vulgar Army, a blog devoted almost exclusively to just that.

Lyle Zapato

... And An Octopus In A Christmas Tree

Lyle Zapato | 2008-12-26.2760 LMT | Cephalopods | Nature | Sasquatch Issues

James from Seattle/Olympia writes in with a discovery he made in his Christmas tree:

2008-12-25: "Pacific NW Xmas tree Octopus"

Just letting you know, we spotted this adventurous tree octopi feeling particularly festive.

Xmas Tree Octopus

Sometimes tree octopuses hitch a ride in Christmas trees harvested from farms on the Olympic Peninsula. When its tree is being jostled violently, a tree octopus will hunker down deep inside the branches near the trunk and camouflage itself to look like bark. This is a defensive mechanism to protect it from wind storms and sasquatch trying to shake octopuses to the ground. They may stay hidden like this for days after a particularly violent shaking, such as experienced by Christmas trees when they are chopped down and transported.

Many octopuses have a natural instinct to decorate their lairs with attractive baubles, and O. paxarbolis is no exception. When it finally comes out of hiding and explores its tree, finding it covered in shiny ornaments and sparkly lights, it will become so mesmerized by the baublely abundance that it'll hardly notice that its tree is sitting in some human's living room.

Scandinavian immigrants considered it good luck to find a tree octopus in their Christmas tree. Granted, that's because they like to eat them. But for us more enlightened cephalopodophiles, we can consider it a sign of good luck that the species hasn't yet gone extinct.

And to keep it that way, please remember to remove any octopuses you find before disposing of your Christmas tree. They can be put in a shoe box -- with a bit of moist branch to make them feel comfortable and some tinsel to keep them distracted -- and taken to your nearest chapter of the Friends of the Pacific Northwest Tree Octopus for reintroduction into the wild.

The Philatelist

Stamp Nook: Posta Pneumatica Update

The Philatelist | 2008-12-17.1015 LMT | Philately | Pneumatics | Technology

Welcome to a special addendum issue of Stamp Nook that contains no stamps. Shocking, I know. It does, however, contain a footnote on postal history, so we shall maintain an air of patience while hearing it out.

The blog Division of Labour has found an interesting New York Times article from Dec. 15, 1908 on the rejection by the office of the Postmaster General of a proposal for the U.S. government to own and operate pneumatic tube systems for the delivery of mails. The article in full:

"That it is not feasible and desirable at the present time for the Government to purchase, to install, or to operate pneumatic tubes," is one of the most important conclusions reached by a commission appointed by the Postmaster General to inquire into the feasibility and desirability of the purchase and operation by the Government of pneumatic tubes in the cities where the service is now installed.

The report was to-day transmitted to Congress by Postmaster General Meyer. He approves its conclusions. The commission, however, recommends a further investigation of the subject of Government ownership of the pneumatic tube service in five or six years. The pneumatic tube service is in operation at present in New York, Philadelphia, Boston, Chicago, St. Louis, and Brooklyn.

The report commends the service as an important auxiliary for the rapid transmission of first-class mail and special delivery mail. It, however, adds these conclusions:

That pneumatic tube service appears to be still in an experimental condition, although progress has been made toward the development of a fixed standard of machinery;

That with the above reservation the regularity and efficiency of the tube service are commendable.

The commission was composed of Postmasters Campbell of Chicago, Mansfield of Boston, Roberts of Brooklynm Wyman of St. Louis, and a number of officials of the Postal Service.

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