Hi there blog readers. So earlier this week Mike posted about the kinds of books one needs in a good boat maintenance library: the kind my husband likes to read. Books like [amazon_link id=”0071475354″ target=”_blank” ]Marine Diesel Engines[/amazon_link] by Nigel Calder are light reading for Mike. He loves to snuggle down on a rainy day with a good book, and since he’s already read the entire Oxford English Dictionary, fine print edition, this book on diesel engines will do.
This is where we part company. Unlike Mike, I did not grow up reading the dictionary for entertainment. No, I grew up reading Nancy Drew, like all red-blooded American women my age. If my husband had read The Hardy Boys rather than the dictionary and various other reference materials, we’d probably be on the same proverbial page about good literature and what constitutes reading entertainment.
There are two basic problems here. First, Mike has the kind of brain that can pick up a book like Marine Diesel Engines and understand what the bloody hell the author is talking about. He can see it in his mind as Nigel waxes poetic about tracing fuel lines, Pneumatic Sensors, and Flexible-Impeller Pumps. When Mike reads about ‘four-cycle’ engines, he knows the author is not talking about permanent press, delicate, pre-wash, or soak. The term ‘planetary transmissions’ does not, to him, mean that Mercury is retrograde until August 2012.
Now, I don’t want to be accused of stereotyping here (a crime that never goes unpunished in our household), but I submit to you that part of the reason we are different this way is that Mike grew up a boy in Tennessee. He carried a knife because it’s a useful item. He cut his teeth on screwdrivers, pliers, hammers, and their ilk. While he was busy taking things apart, I was busy putting things together in artsy craftsy ways. My tools tended toward needles, thread, scissors, and glue with the occasional wood thrown in as a test. I think you know what I’m saying here without getting into the whole ridiculous nature/nuture argument, as if there is a way to separate those things. In a nutshell, Nigel speaks Mike’s native tongue. I, however, am from a different planet altogether.
Here’s the other reason I will never be able to get cozy with a book on diesel engines. My brain cannot cope with it. I believe this issue is more closely related to the whole ‘native tongue’ issue than to my ‘native intelligence’, but regardless of that it’s a good thing I have a rather decent amount of self-esteem or I’d be pretty upset. I mean, who wouldn’t like to think they could get cozy with diesel engines at any time, any place?
Rather than try to explain, let me illustrate the difference between what goes on in my head when I’m reading such a book and what goes on in Mike’s head while reading the same passage. I use a passage on page 36 of the book, under the heading ‘Wet and Dry Exhausts’ ( It certainly does!).
“Noise is a rather complicated business, but one of its major causes is the velocity with which gases exit an engine. Another is the sudden pressure changes created as each cylinder discharges its exhaust gases. Decreasing the volume of the gases or expanding them into a larger area reduces velocity. A certain amount of back pressure in the exhaust system smoothes out pressure changes.”
“Noise is a rather complicated business,……. I need to think of something to take to the brunch on Sunday. It shouldn’t be egg based… Shit! What did I just read? Focus, Melissa, Focus!….Noise is a rather complicated business, but one of its major causes is the velocity with which gases exit an engine. Another is the sudden pressure…..I forgot to take the clothes out of the dryer. Damn! Now I’m going to have to get out the iron. No, I’ll just run them through the dryer again…. A certain amount of back pressure in the exhaust system smoothes out pressure changes. I need to add coffee to the shopping list. And I need to make sure the long underwear is on the boat. I think I left my sailing jacket there, but better check the closet to be sure. Crap! Noise is a rather complicated business….”
No, Nigel. Noise is really rather simple. But reading this book is a VERY complicated business for me. I think I will go makes some dolls.