“Why didn’t they ever haul up the Titanic?”

Marine artist Robert Lloyd's depiction of the sinking of the Titanic on April 12, 1912. (Courtesy of Frank)

Marine artist Robert G. Lloyd’s depiction of the sinking of the Titanic on April 15, 1912. (Courtesy of Frank Trumbour)

The Eight-Year-Old, like most of us, is fascinated on some level with the Titanic. After last week’s discussion of the differences between flotsam, jetsam, lagan, and derelicts, she naturally wanted to know why no one has ever tried to haul up the Titanic.

The answer, seems to be simply that the Titanic is too big and too deep. According to this March 2012 Smithsonian article “Why the Titanic Still Fascinates Us”, the once-unsinkable ship is now lying beneath nearly two and a half miles of water.

“Many people assumed that, after 50 years, the liner, and the myths surrounding it, would finally be allowed to rest in peace. But in the early hours of September 1, 1985, oceanographer and underwater archaeologist Robert Ballard from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution—together with French explorer Jean-Louis Michel from the French organization Ifremer—discovered the wreck of the Titanic lying at a depth of roughly two and half miles, and around 370 miles southeast of Mistaken Point, Newfoundland. “The Titanic lies now in 13,000 feet of water on a gently sloping Alpine-looking countryside overlooking a small canyon below,” said Ballard, on returning to America a number of days later. “Its bow faces north. The ship sits upright on its bottom with its mighty stacks pointed upward. There is no light at this great depth and little life can be found. It is a quiet and peaceful place—and a fitting place for the remains of this greatest of sea tragedies to rest. Forever may it remain that way. And may God bless these now-found souls.”

For a while, apparently, you could pay thousands of dollars to dive down to the Titanic wreck and see it for yourself.

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This is what happens when you keep the OED in the dining room

Mommyo, passing the plate of appetizers around the table: “The Seven-Year-Old, would you like some prosciutto? It’s like bacon, but doesn’t need to be cooked.”

Daddyo, correctly: “It’s like bacon but is already cooked.”

Mommyo, huffily: “Well, I suppose you could say that if you wanted to be technically correct.”

Daddyo, assuredly: “I say that because it’s true.”

Mommyo, pointedly: “The Seven-Year-Old, your Daddyo is so semantical.”

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What’s The Eight-Year-Old reading this week?

Our semi-weekly survey of the tidbits that cross The Eight-Year-Old’s desk.

In the news:

ICYMI: Bobcat dragging shark onto beach pic no hoax (Patch.com)

A hungry bobcat catches a small shark near Vero Beach, Florida. (Photo: John Bailey)

A hungry bobcat catches a small shark near Vero Beach, Florida. (Photo: John Bailey)

Last week, a bobcat went fishing at the Sebastian Inlet State Park and caught herself and her kittens a tasty shark for supper. Sadly for her kits, the bobcat dropped the shark after spotting John Bailey, the park visitor who took this amazing photograph. Mewls of protest were heard throughout Sebastian Inlet State Park and here in Caterpickles Central when we learned that the bobcat went home without her supper.

Colorful new dwarf dragons discovered (National Geographic)

Although we just got word on this new dragon species this week, this particular dragon lizard Enyalioides altotambo was actually discovered in 2005. (Photo: Pablo Venegas)

Although we just got word on this new dragon species this week, this particular dragon lizard Enyalioides altotambo was actually discovered in 2005. (Photo: Pablo Venegas)

Three new dwarf dragon species have been discovered in the wilds of Ecuador and Peru. Chances are they aren’t the only dwarf dragons out there. Although the lizards were originally discovered in 2005, political unrest in the region meant scientists had to wait nearly a decade to identify them. Names have now been assigned to each, however. Sadly, the names don’t include the word dragon. Instead, the new species have been classified as wood lizards: the Alto Tambo wood lizard (Enyalioides altotambo), rough-scaled wood lizard (E. anisolepis), and Rothschild’s wood lizard (E. sophiarothschildae), to be precise. The Eight-Year-Old is busily writing up a letter of complaint to the appropriate authorities.

A sampling of this week’s books:

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  • Farmer Boy by Laura Ingalls Wilder (Illustrated by Garth Williams): 
  • How to Draw Cats by Barbara Soloff Levy: Step by step instructions for drawing cats so simple even I can follow them.
  • Sir Cumference and the Dragon of Pi by Cindy Neuschwander (Illustrator: Wayne Geehan): Another in the series of math adventures that The Eight-Year-Old enjoys re-reading on occasion. A magic potion has turned Sir Cumference into a fire-breathing dragon. To save him, Radius must discover which magic number is the same for all circles. 

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Wordless Wednesday: Oh man, please don’t tell The Eight-Year-Old!

Canelo pops the last of The Eight-Year-Old's birthday balloons. (Photo: Shala Howell)

Canelo pops the last of The Eight-Year-Old’s birthday balloons. (Photo: Shala Howell)

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“What’s flotsam?”

Flotsam and Jetsam by John Singer Sargent, 1908. (Image courtesy of the Portland Museum of Art in Maine)

Flotsam and Jetsam by John Singer Sargent, 1908. (Image courtesy of the Portland Museum of Art in Maine)

On a road trip somewhere in the Midwest, The Eight-Year-Old asked, “What’s flotsam?”

Daddyo, authoritatively: “Jetsam’s brother.”

I was all set to file this under Funny Stuff My Husband Says and use it as a quick and easy Saturday post, but then my husband had to ruin it.

Daddyo, irritatingly: “But I bet they have technically different meanings. Mommyo, why don’t you look it up?”

The Eight-Year-Old, eagerly: “Yes, Mommyo, you should ask Caterpickles.”

My ship was sunk.

So here’s the difference. Flotsam and jetsam are related, in that they are both types of ship-related ocean litter.

  • Flotsam is the floating wreckage of a ship or its cargo.
  • Jetsam is similar, but instead of being the carcass of what’s left after the shipwreck, it’s all the stuff the crew tossed overboard in hopes of avoiding the wreck in the first place. Jetsam can include parts of the ship, its cargo, or its equipment.

The legal distinction between the two is important. Under marine law, flotsam can be reclaimed by its original owner. But jetsam belongs to whomever scavenges it, generally by finding it on the beach.

If the offloaded cargo, ship parts, or equipment sink to the ocean floor they stop being flotsam or jetsam and start being either lagan (or ligan) if they can be reclaimed, or derelict, if they can’t.

Confusingly, the term derelict is also sometimes used to refer to abandoned ships left to drift on the sea. Which I would think would make them flotsam. But I guess that’s why I don’t practice maritime law.

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Weekend at Caterpickles

Housewares2015Daddyo, reading the billboard at McCormick Plaza as we drove down Lake Shore Drive on a recent Saturday afternoon: “Housewares 2015. Mommyo, there’s an entire convention devoted to furniture and tile and stuff.”

Mommyo, excitedly: “Why aren’t we there right now?”

The (then) Seven-Year-Old, dejectedly: “Awww…”

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What’s The Eight-Year-Old reading this week?

Our semi-weekly survey of the tidbits that cross The Eight-Year-Old’s desk.

In the news:

Brontosaurus deserves its name after all (Science News)

(Image: Davide Bonadonna, Milan, Italy via ScienceNews)

(Image: Davide Bonadonna, Milan, Italy via ScienceNews)


Old friend and loyal Caterpickles reader, Susan, alerted us to this week’s top story. After  being written off as just another Apatosaurus for more than a century, the Brontosaurus has finally been recognized as the unique genus (and species) every right-thinking lay dinosaur lover has known it to be. Turns out, the original Brontosaurus discovered in 1879 has a thinner, more delicate neck than the average Apatosaurus. According to the 2015 study, two other dinosaur species previously considered to be members of the Apatosaurus family are actually types of Brontosaurus as well.

Somewhere Othniel Charles Marsh, the paleontologist who first discovered Brontosaurus during the Bone Wars of the 19th century, is shaking a jubilant fist at his archrival Charles Drinker Cope and saying, “I told you it was a unique find! That brings my total to 81. What did you have again? 56?” [insert irritating little chuckle]. I suspect Elmer Riggs, the guy who reclassified Brontosaurus as an Apatosaurus in 1903, is reaping his share of O.C. Marsh scorn now as well.

So who does come out smelling like a rose in this debacle? The curators of the American Museum of Natural History in New York City, who through some combination of inertia, stubbornness, or deference to public opinion and tradition have steadfastly refused to update the label on their Brontosaurus specimen since 1903.

Child, 4, Finds 100 Million Year Old Dinosaur Bones in Mansfield (NBC News)
In a development certain to have children digging in retail construction sites nationwide, a four-year-old boy and his father have stumbled across a 100-million-year-old Nodosaur skeleton near a Mansfield retail center that was under construction.  The pair, who were out hunting for fish fossils, immediately turned over the specimen to researchers at SMU for analysis.

A sampling of this week’s books:

April10

  • Toby Alone by by Timothee de Fombelle (Author), Francois Place (Illustrator), Sarah Ardizzone (Translator): From the description on Amazon: “A Lilliputian world. A tree under threat. A boy hunted by his own people must protect his father’s secrets in a gripping and witty eco-adventure.” From The Eight-Year-Old: “You have to read this, Mommyo. It’s awesome.”
  • Toby and the Secrets of the Tree by by Timothee de Fombelle (Author), Francois Place (Illustrator), Sarah Ardizzone (Translator): Toby continues his struggle against the evil forces intent on destroying the tree in which he and his people live.
  • George’s Cosmic Treasure Hunt by Lucy Hawking and Stephen Hawking (Illustrated by Garry Parsons):  George and Annie explore the galaxy in the second installment of the George’s Secret Key series. Like the other books in the series, this book features easy-to-read essays by Stephen Hawking on the latest developments in cosmology and space travel.

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Wordless Wednesday: Bookshelf with Cat

(Photo: Shala Howell)

(Photo: Shala Howell)

It’s all fun and games until someone breaks the fossil.

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“Why do they call it a blue moon?”

(Photo: Janet Skarzynski)

Driving home late on April 4th, The Eight-Year-Old noticed that the moon was full.

Mommyo, incorrectly: “It’s early in the month. I wonder if we’ll have a blue moon in April.”

Thanks to her on-again, off-again obsession with space, The Eight-Year-Old already knew that the modern definition of a blue moon is simply the second full moon in a given calendar month.

The Eight-Year-Old, perplexedly: “Why do they call it a blue moon, Mommyo?”

In my search for this answer, I’ve come across all sorts of fun facts. Continue reading

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Happy Birthday, Grandma!

(Photo: Michael Howell)

(Photo: Michael Howell)

The Eight-Year-Old wants to know if Grandpa got you another Giant Box this year. Also, do you still have that adorable tree?

Related Links:

  • “How long can jellyfish sting after they are dead?” (Caterpickles)
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