Archives: Parrotfish Poop

A Cautionary, er, Tail

My good friend Jeff Mann, the true Yard Ramp Guy, has asked me to revisit some of my original posts. This week in my From the Archives series: that beach only looks beautiful...


The Source of Your Sand Castle

Caribbean beaches are beautiful, even by the standards of tropical beaches, which are pretty high to start with. They're also made largely of poop. Parrotfish poop, to be specific.

(Okay, full disclosure: I’m not currently on a beach. I write this on a Sunday morning, in my robe, from my man cave next to the house here in suburbia. I’m safe. And thanks for caring.)

Move past the thought of that, and it’s a fascinating process:

The brilliantly colored parrotfish possesses a hard beak it employs for eating coral. The fish grinds up the coral in that beak to get at algae and other marine microorganisms growing on it, digests the algae, and then poops out the ground-up coral as a fine sand.

Parrotfish produce a LOT of sand, too. A single green humphead parrotfish can produce more than 200 pounds of sand each year. As much as 85% of the sand on many of these beaches is produced by parrotfish.

Watch it in action HERE, if you dare.

People used to think that parrotfish just ate coral for the polyps and were damaging the reefs. It turns out, though, that most parrotfish species go primarily for dead coral, clearing it for new coral to grow. So, they’re providing a sort of public service.

Parrotfish also eat large amounts of sea sponges, which grow faster than coral and can smother young ones. As it turns out, our parrotfish have a largely symbiotic relationship with the corals they eat. And as we learn more and more about the world, we begin to find more and more of these relationships.

It's not just the Caribbean that owes its beaches to parrotfish. The Maldives, the white sand beaches of Hawaii, and other locations around the world do, as well.

Gorgeous white sand beaches in tropical areas around the world are all made of poop. A little gross, I know. Which is exactly why I'm telling everyone: I’m simply trying to clear out a few of you so that my next beach experience is less crowded.

Yard Ramp Guy Blog: Toward Better Steel

This week, my friend The Yard Ramp Guy is all in on responsible, net-zero steel.

Click HERE to learn why he loves Swedish innovation.

Archives: Landing Instructions

Or: You Traveled a Gazillion Miles to Earth & Left Us Some Stones?

My good friend Jeff Mann, the true Yard Ramp Guy, has asked me to revisit some of my original posts. This week in my From the Archives series: I'm not trying to alienate anyone, but...


Whoa.

I'm convinced that there are aliens out there somewhere, but I'm equally convinced they haven't visited us yet.

There was a book called Chariots of the Gods? written by a hack named Erich von Däniken in 1968 that claimed the aliens visited us in ancient times and were responsible for the construction of the pyramids, Stonehenge, the stone heads of Easter Island and others.

The book was extensively rewritten by its final editor, Wilhelm Utermann, who had been a bestselling Nazi author. The book also claimed that the Old Testament, other ancient religious documents, and countless other folktales and legends were also inspired by visits from aliens in ancient times.

The key to the book's claims of aliens constructing various ancient wonders revolved around the idea that the wonders were far too technologically advanced to have been built by ancient peoples. That's just plain wrong. (I wrote about how the pyramids were built—in my first-ever blog post.)

Every single one of von Däniken's claims of that nature can be rebutted fairly easily. Simply put, our ancestors were incredibly smart and innovative.

Unfortunately, von Däniken's ideas are still floating around in the form of that, ahem, television show “Ancient Aliens,” and it still relies on the ridiculous idea that our ancestors couldn't build anything on their own.

For example, crackpot theorists frequently claim that the Nazca Lines are landing instructions for aliens. I’d say the aliens would’ve developed better methods for setting up landing strips. (Not to mention that the terrain around the Nazca Lines would have made terrible landing strips. Landing on or near the lines would have utterly wrecked the delicate constructions.)

Also, if aliens had visited us in ancient times, do you think they could have given us better gifts than big stone monuments? You know, like plumbing, the germ theory of disease, democracy? Even just some nice farming tips?

Yard Ramp Guy Blog: The Safe Yard Ramp Angle

This week, my friend The Yard Ramp Guy answer a potential customer's concern.

Click HERE to read his response.

The Yard Ramp Guy for Troubled Times

 

My friend Jeff Mann, the true Yard Ramp Guy, is honest as the day is long. He's also humble, which means ⏤ beyond the necessary marketing campaigns to keep competitive in the industry ⏤ he might not readily draw attention to himself or his business.

I, McCoy Fields, am not so humble. That's why I'm proud to share with you just a bit of what Jeff and his team are doing in response to the coronavirus pandemic that has so quickly altered our landscapes and disrupted our world.

YRG Response During Coronavirus

Ramping Up in Troubled Times

There's a difference between what we can see and what we can't. COVID-19 is invisible to the naked eye, an insidious, lethal virus that does not discriminate, that transmits from person to person through proximity, breath, and touch. It's a frightening thing with all-too-often devastating results. A yard ramp is a tangible three tons of steel: an incline with purpose and utility.

The clamping off of much of the country to limit transmission of coronavirus is having devastating effects. The alternative is worse. Essential businesses continue to operate. That's why the supply chain keeps our grocery stores stocked. And that's why The Yard Ramp Guy continues to sell and rent its inventory.

Yard ramps classify as essential tools to emergency service and product providers combatting the pandemic. The Yard Ramp Guy has placed ramps at Coronavirus Emergency Distribution staging sites and rented a ramp to a hospital in New York City ⏤ sadly, to provide access to refrigeration trucks serving as temporary morgues. I've known more life-affirming examples. Yet this is important and, yes, essential.

The Yard Ramp Guy is listed in ThomasNet's COVID-19 Response Suppliers.

In good times and bad, Jeff's yard ramps are workhorses, functioning without complaint to help movement between points.

I've never been prouder of my friend Jeff and his team.

Stay safe and be well.

Archives • Switchbacks: Ramp Diversity

My good friend Jeff Mann, the true Yard Ramp Guy, has asked me to revisit some of my original contributions. And so: my From the Archives series. This week: Italy makes me dizzy.


There is one kind of ramp I absolutely love, except when I'm using it, in which case I absolutely hate it. That ramp is the switchback.

Anyone who's done much mountain driving learns to hate switchbacks, even though they're some of the most cost-effective engineering tricks we have in the mountains. (Much, much cheaper than tunnels, that's for sure.) Truckers especially hate them. I've known some who will go hours out of their way to avoid them. I think gearheads are the only ones who enjoy them.

stylized photo of Stelvio Pass in Italy

Careful, there.

One of the craziest examples of the breed is the Stelvio Pass in Italy. It's one of the highest roads in the Alps and has 75 switchbacks. Seventy-five! Not a road you want to drive fast on, or even drive on at all if you can help it. Apparently, it’s so dangerous during the winter and spring that they close it completely during those seasons.

Of course, being dangerous, gearheads flock to it. That British car show everyone likes, “Top Gear” (I don't watch that show anymore after what they said about the F150), declared it the greatest driving road in the world. (Or at least in Europe. Have you seen the pictures of the crazy roads they have in the mountains in India?)

The Italian bicycle Grand Tour frequently goes through Stelvio Pass. (The Giro d'Italia, sister race to the Tour de France. I try to catch all three of the Grand Tours when I can.) Thousands and thousands of cyclists ride through Stelvio Pass every year.

It's easier to find info on battles fought at the pass than it is to find anything beyond basic info on its construction or maintenance, but that's pretty constant. Historians are obsessed with wars, despite the fact that construction and architecture affect us way more.

I'm working on persuading Maggie on this European vacation bit but, as carsick as she gets, I don't think that Stelvio Pass will be on the itinerary.

The Yard Ramp Guy Blog: Moving Your Yard Ramp

This week, my friend The Yard Ramp Guy provides some astounding weight comparisons (and gives me newfound respect for the blue whale, from which I'll never ever wish to receive a tongue lashing), then transitions from heavy to smooth and shows how easy it is to move a yard ramp.

Buckle up, then click HERE to read all about it.

From the Archives: The Ramp Incident

My good friend Jeff Mann, the true Yard Ramp Guy, has asked me to revisit some of my original contributions. And so: my From the Archives series. This week I return to a ramp from my youth, one that taught me—the hard way—to always seek out the best quality.


I broke my first bone when I was eight. My cousin John and I had decided to build a bike ramp in his back yard. His mom was asleep, so we couldn't play inside the house, and we'd already read through his comics a dozen times before.

McCoy: Reflecting

A Disarming Story For You

We gathered a bunch of cinder blocks and boards from the shed my uncle was building and hauled them out to the top of the big hill behind the house.

I had a brand new Schwinn, and he had one of those heavy black Raleigh bikes from England. The boards were resting on the cinder block at about a 45-degree angle. I went first, on account of John being quite a bit smarter than me. I moved right up against his house to get the fastest start I could. I came at the ramp straight on and made it onto the board I was aiming at, which then promptly broke in half, and I crashed full speed into the cinder blocks.

Somehow I wasn't seriously injured, beyond a couple of scrapes and bruises. We rebuilt the ramp with a much, much lower angle this time. I went first again, again proving John was (and still is) much smarter than I am.

I hit the ramp at full speed again, and this time it held. I must have launched a good seven feet off the ramp, though at the time it felt closer to a hundred. I stuck the landing and shot down the hill faster than I'd ever gone before. I would have made it all the way down, too, if it hadn't been for a cinder block that had fallen down the hill when I crashed into the first ramp. My bike flipped over it, and I landed on my arm, breaking it just above the wrist.

How Far I Probably Fell

Both Arms Now Working Just Fine

John, meanwhile, hadn't bothered to watch me go down. When he saw me ramp, he just had to go himself. He used a different, longer board than I did. As soon as his back wheel hit the end of the board, it flipped up into the air like it were part of a catapult, flew through the air, and somehow managed to land on one end on my injured arm between the wrist and elbow, breaking it a second time before bouncing farther down the hill.

John had lost control of his bike after the failed ramp attempt. It came tumbling down the hill in loose pursuit of the board and landed right on top of me, which didn't feel too good. John was chasing his bike, but when it came to a sudden stop, he didn't, and he fell right on the bike, which forced all of that weight onto—yes—my injured arm again between the shoulder and elbow, breaking it a third time.

To add insult to injury, I got grounded for twice as long as John. There is one continuing advantage to the whole escapade, though: John always buys the beer when we go fishing. I guess he still feels a little bad.

The Yard Ramp Guy®: Ramping Up For The 2019 Holidays

This week, my friend The Yard Ramp Guy has apparently become a big fan of the IRS. I’d be concerned, though his perspective makes perfect sense.

Audit his words HERE.