Jan. 23rd, 2017

Again, it's Edward Herrmann's measured and reassuring voice, recounting heroic male deeds in the water in an bygone era. Daniel James Brown's meticulous recreation of the 1930s feels very real.
  • (Rowing being physically demanding:) Rowing a 2000 metre race is like playing two back-to-back basketball games, but in 6 minutes.
  • (The amount of oxygen a rower draws in a 2000 metre race is about the same as a racehorse, but lactate acids build up almost from the beginning, which leads to PAIN.)
  • (Shed floating on timber:) when the tide surged back in, the water logged timbers on which the structure was built would keep it down and held it fast to the mud. Eventually with a swish and a roar, the logs would break the mud's hold and up would come the building like a surfacing submarine with the water rushing out of the doors at each end.
  • One of which was so rounded bottomed and prone to tip over that 'to keep it running on an even keel, you have to part your hair in the middle and divide your chewing gum tobacco evenly between your cheeks.'
  • It's maddeningly difficult, as if eight men stand on a floating log that threaten to roll over whenever they moved had to hit eight golf balls at exactly the same moment, with exactly the same amount of force, directly the balls to the same point on the green and doing so over and over every three or four seconds.
  • In the spring when the sap is running, it jetted up 3 or 4 feet into the air after the (enormous cotton wood) tree finally toppled over.
  • Perhaps the seeds of redemption, lay not just in perseverance, hard work and rugged individualism, perhaps they lay in something more fundamental, the simple notion of everyone pitching in, and pulling together.
  • And partly it was the deeply sensuous nature of the work. He liked the way that the wood murmured to him before it parted, almost as it if was alive, and when it finally gave way under his hands he liked the way it invariably revealed itself in lovely and predictable patterns of color—streaks of orange and burgundy and cream. At the same moment, as the wood opened up, it always perfumed the air. The spicy-sweet aroma that rose from freshly split cedar was the same scent that often filled the shell house in Seattle when Pocock was at work up in his loft. There seemed to Joe to be some kind of connection between what he was doing here among a pile of freshly split shakes, what Pocock was doing in his shop, and what he was trying to do himself in the racing shells Pocock built—something about the deliberate application of strength, the coordination of mind and muscle, the sudden unfolding of mystery and beauty.
  • (The US certainly experienced a lot of extreme weather events in the 1930s!)
  • (the nice interlude of a casual visit to President Roosevelt's stately home)
  • (tangential mention of the largely man-powered? building of the Hoover dam)
  • Carnegie built Princeton their private lake to practise rowing in.
  • (The description of all sorts of athletes training on board SS Manhattan recalls Sandra Boynton's The Going To Bed Book.)

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