Posts Tagged With: sails

The Four Grossest Projects of 2012

The awesomeness of owning an older sailboat is surpassed only by its affordability. Boats made in the ‘70s are the reason we get to sail as much as we do. The comparable new boat would cost roughly three years of my school tuition. However, with affordability comes its … oldness. And oldness means that there’s always something to do. Unlike newer boats where the constant work is routine maintenance, with older boats the constant work tends to be larger, occasionally grosser undertakings.

In the grand tradition of yearlong retrospectives, here is our 2012 list of the four grossest sailboat projects:

4. Finding and cleaning mold off the underside of a memory foam mattress.
Be it condensation, the lack of a dehumidifier or bad luck, the underside of the memory foam mattress lacked circulation and gathered moisture which resulted in mold in the v-berth of our Columbia 34. There were a few different varieties as well as a distinct smell. A myriad of steps were taken to remove the mold, and our new boat has both a dehumidifier and a rubber mat under the mattress to improve air circulation so that we don’t have that experience again.

3

Patrick tries to figure out the wiring ...

Patrick tries to figure out the wiring …

The holding tank after its all been done ...

The holding tank after its all been done …

. Feeding new wire for a set of cabin lights through areas newly found to be `ridden with old raccoon poop.

I wanted more cabin lights. I wanted lights in the kitchen and lights in the bathroom. And not AC powered desk lamps that fall over and take up space. I wanted overhead LED lights. Patrick wanted safe wiring. So when we went to install the new lights, we found out that previous owners had made a complete mess of the wiring. There was absolutely no consistency in the wiring type or color. In an effort to create a safe circuit where all the lights are connected using marine-grade wiring, we had to feed the wires through bulkheads along the ceiling – where we found poop. We both remembered back to the original meeting with the person we bought the boat from. He had mentioned raccoons being on the boat, but just in the cockpit area – not inside. Oh well, now its time to clean raccoon poop.

2. Using a wet-vac to remove pee from a holding tank because the pump out pipe was clogged.
Yep. Pee. Thirty gallons of pee removed two gallons at a time by my home depot wet/dry vacuum. Each bucket had to be hand carried and properly disposed of. At least it was mostly my pee.

1.Clearing a pipe clogged with old man poo from at least two years ago.
When I bought my Catalina 27, I was told that the toilet didn’t work. And that it hadn’t worked for years. Boys, apparently, will pee down the sink if need be in the middle of the night. I, however, will not. Anyway, I promptly bought a toilet and installed it. It worked great and a couple months later, Patrick drove the boat down to the pump out station but the pipe was clogged. We bought a drain snake to no avail so, after drilling a hole in the holding tank and pumping out the pee (see previous gross job) we had to clear the pipe, which we found was clogged with corroded ancient poop. Patrick was a champ and cleaned it out, scrubbed the pipe and reattached it to the holding tank. He even sealed the hole we had to drill in the tank. But his hand covered in poo was the grossest thing of 2012.

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What We’ve Been Up To

The Story Sailboat has been busy this winter so here’s an update on some things we’ve been up to:

1. We’re working on our incorporation and 501c3 application. Once we have this status, we’ll be able to do fundraisers and allow for donors to write off their contributions.

2. We’re fine-tuning our mission statement to include working on literacy and library advocacy.

3. We sailed with friends and supporters in a lighted boat parade around the Peninsula for the holidays.

4. Joey got her tips on moving aboard published by Sail Magazine.

5. Patrick was elected Rear Commodore of the Peninsula Yacht Club.

6. Patrick fixed a couple small leaks we found in the first big storm of December – and bought a nice new dehumidifier to keep the boat nice and dry.

7. We’re actively planning a few fun events for 2013 – stay tuned!

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Anchoring, Book Seeding, and Near Disaster.

I’m not gonna lie or try to candy coat this last weekend. It was part wonderfully successful and part near disaster. I think it’s important though, in this case to discuss and focus on the near disaster portion of our trip. I’m not really going to make excuses for the incidents either so my only hope is to explain what went on while we were out giving books away to the kids at all of the amazing events that were occurring over the weekend in San Francisco.

Anchoring
Over the weekend we anchored in Aquatic Park with two other very small boats. We arrived very early in the morning and we tied ourselves together and dropped and set our Bruce anchor. We used at least 75 feet of solid heavy chain which we measured for the first 70 feet by taking the chain from the bow of the boat to the stern on a 35 foot boat. As a precaution and because I was nervous about the wind and current that day I put out quite a bit more chain after that (nearly 25 feet). We had decided on at least 75 foot length because the depth of the water at Aquatic Park is only 15 feet at mean low (someone correct me if I’m wrong). That would mean we had at least a 5 to 1 ratio at high tide and should have been enough. As a safety precaution, one of the smaller boats dropped one of their smaller anchors, although admittedly, this probably wouldn’t have saved us too much, instead intended to slow down any problems.

Everything seemed fine and we made breakfast and hung out for a couple of hours with no problems. We’ve dropped anchor at Aquatic Park twice before without any incident. Once, we stayed on a smaller boat and once we stayed on two bigger boats so we really didn’t expect much to happen this day. In fact, we had a discussion about how many boats showed up at Aquatic Park throughout the day and how little chain they were putting out. Some boats didn’t even bother to set their anchors! I watched as more than one boat simply dropped an anchor straight down, stopped at the first sign of slack, and then left their boats immediately without checking anything. Because of all of this, I was sure we had more than enough down to hold us firm and be safe. Apparently, I might have been wrong.

Book Seeding
So, this is what we came out to do. We had about 150 children’s books to give away throughout all the day’s festivities in San Francisco. In case you don’t know, there were a very large number of events going on and we wanted to get books into the hands of kids as much as we could. In fact, one of the things we did while we made breakfast and made sure our anchors were holding was to label our books. When this was all done, we had an amazing day giving out books to kids at the America’s Cup event and the Hardly Strictly Music Festival. At least this part of the trip was a huge success! Our joy was short lived…

The Near Disaster
When we were walking over the hill from the America’s Cup racing to the park we realized to our horror that we weren’t at all in the same place as we left! Our boat was much further than where we had left it and we ran as fast as we could to get back to our boats to see what was happening. Of course, we were much too late to do anything about it except hear about it from the other boats who had witnessed the incident and the efforts by the National Park Service to correct it. We could only go by what they said to us (much of which I can’t print, and rightly so) but we heard some pretty horrifying stories.

It seems like everything was said about the incident. We were told the boat was on one side of the park near Balclutha, to being told we were drifting to the other side towards the sea wall, to being told our anchor was dragging, to being told someone had knocked us loose, to being told we put out too little chain, and other people having the opinion that we put out too much chain and didn’t drag but swung wide!

What has been most interesting is the differing number of opinions. So many have been in favor of one or something completely opposite. In fact, there were so many that I was originally going to write a post about all of the different opinions about the speculated scenarios and what might and might not have happened. But if there is one thing I’ve learned while sailing it’s that everyone has an opinion and they’re entitled to them so I’ll just listen and learn from them all. I’m all ears. Really though, I think the most important thing is this…

Apologies and gratitude
No matter what happened, we’d like to say a big thank you to NPS and of course apologize to all the other boats in the marina who would be full in their rights to call us any number of names and even apologize to some of them who very rightly have called us names for giving them a scare. In fact, I can’t approve some of the comments on this blog for the language used (we flew a Story Sailboat flag so everyone knew who the trouble was coming from). There were other boaters who helped us in a couple of different ways to sort out what happened so we can avoid any mistakes later and I’d like to thank you as well. There have also been people who, when we told them story, related the time they had an anchor drag. While that makes us feel better, it still can’t make up for the scare we must have given the fine sailing community. We learned a lot on this trip and don’t plan on making these mistakes again. Sailing is a good way to stay humble.

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The Story Sailboat is Just… Library and Literacy Advocacy?

One of my friends asked me why we were giving books out in places Like Pier 39 or more affluent places in San Francisco. In case anyone has any of the same questions, let me explain.

We are really, really small. No, I mean SMALL! Our current boat is just 22 feet and we can only take about 300 books at a time at the maximum to advocate for libraries. We are also really busy. While I’m captain of the Story Sailboat, I’m also a full library Branch Manager of a library and while Joey is crew and education specialist, she is also a full time PHD student. Because of all of this, we have to choose a focus. For now, while we are growing and working towards some other goals, our goal is simply to advocate for libraries and literacy.

That means, that right now, we are just an Advocacy Campaign. Our goal isn’t to teach people to read (at this point), it’s to remind people that libraries and literacy are one of the most important components of a free and fair democracy. We want people to know about what kinds of things a library does to promote literacy in a community. We want to remind our communities that the library is there to serve them, to teach them, to help create literate communities. I probably don’t need to explain how important libraries are to most of you reading this blog so I’ll stop there.

We also want to go where the money and voters are. We want to focus our advocacy on people who might not have visited a library recently. We want to convince the people who might have the money to buy all the books and literacy materials they need from Amazon that libraries and literacy are important and go hand in hand in a community. We are excited about getting those people re-engaged in their libraries and to understand all of the benefits that would be lost with the loss of libraries.

If you’d like to help us out in anyway, feel free to contact us on our Facebook Page or following either (or both) of us on our twitter pages. We are always looking for crew and book seeders, book donations, and of course… Money.

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Labor Day Sail

Ok, I know it’s really late to be writing about this, but so much has been going on that I didn’t get the chance to post earlier (more on that later). Over the Labor Day weekend, I took out a couple of my friends to help me crew the Story Sailboat to give out a bunch of books at Pier 39 in San Francisco. In fact, this was one of the better book seeding experiences yet as we got a great response from everyone who found the books.

In case you don’t know the geography of the San Francisco Bay, let me describe the route to you a little bit. We sailed from the Story Sailboat’s home port of Redwood City. Redwood City is pretty far south in the lower part of the bay and it takes about 8 hours of motoring to get to San Francisco because the wind comes from the North. Typically when we do a project we leave on Friday night and just sail to a place called Coyote Point about three hours north. In the morning we motor the rest of the way to San Francisco and Pier 39.

Once we got to San Francisco we started labeling books with our stickers and labels and packed up a couple of bags. This time, we had a whole bunch of children’s books that had been donated and not many adult books but it turned out to work in our favor. As we walked around Pier 39 and placed the books on the benches and different places we watched as parents sat down with their kids and just started reading to them! It was really amazing to watch this serendipitous parent/child storytime occurring amidst the commotion of a touristy area like Pier 39. Needless to say we had a lot of fun watching people interact with the books. This is why we do this.

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The Story Sailboat in the News!

In case you’re wondering what we’ve been up to since we’ve been so quiet lately, let me fill you in. Basically, Joey and I have been working every weekend and that has seriously cut in to our sailing time. But otherwise its been a whole bunch of great news!

Library Journal
A couple of weeks ago I received a call from Library Journal about our Story Sailboat IndgieGoGo campaign that so many of you contributed too. The two of you who are not librarians who read this blog should know that Library Journal is a publication directed to librarians about all library related news. They interviewed me about the project and what we wanted to do and how we were going to do it and then a couple of days later they had a post about it on their blog. Well, yesterday Hillary Westgate sent me a tweet with a picture of a page in the magazine we were very surprised to see that we made it to the print issue too!

The Boat
Besides that good news, we’re also excited because the boat is really looking great and is almost set up to safely single-hand. The roller furling is working great, I’m installing a lazy jack, and running all the lines to the cockpit of the boat. That means that I can sail it on my own around the bay when I can’t find crew. This is going to be great over Labor Day weekend because it’s a three day and three night sail and strangely enough, not a lot of people want to stay on that small boat with me for that long so it looks like I’m on my own.

But of course, I’m always looking for crew to help me out and you can come sailing with me.

Future Plans
We are pretty excited about the potential of expanding this project into a full fledge non-profit kind of thing. Part of that is more marketing of what we do in order to get the social capital we need to ensure we can continue. So, next week and the following weekend we have a lot of publicity events planned just in time for the America’s Cup. If you’re going to be in SF for the cup events and at the Golden Gate Yacht Club, we’ll see you there.

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A Weekend of Work

The Story Sailboat has been trapped in the slip for the last two weeks for some repairs. It wasn’t anything too major, just some things that I thought needed to get done. It’s going to come out better on the other side. As you know, we were able to buy our new Jib and roller furling thanks to your help and we’ll be buying the new Mainsail soon! But, because it’s a boat there’s still a hundred little things that need to be done.

New mast support
One of the things that has been driving me crazy since I bought this boat about a year ago is the support that was under mast. Whoever had it before installed a kind of metal pole under the mast that blocked the easy access to the v-berth. The problem with that, is that the v-berth can be used for a bunch of stuff and I couldn’t get into it. Already we store the extra sails in there and it would be great to also be able to sleep in that area on the longer trips, or at least store more supplies up there to keep us going. So, last weekend I recruited some folks who helped me remove that post and install a better support system that allowed us to get into the v-berth easily.

Some of the crew!

Moving the Roller Furling Lines
When I originally installed the lines for the roller furling, I placed the blocks to far forward and when I was single-handing the boat I could never reach them. We took those blocks and line and moved them further aft and now I can single hand the boat much better. I won’t have to rely on finding crew for every campaign I try to do.

A Compass
The boat hasn’t had a compass on it this whole time. Not having a compass is typically fine because I can see just about everything I need to in the bay to keep up my point of reference when navigating. The problem is that I’m always worried about getting fogged in and lost because I can’t see anything. With a compass I can basically navigate blind.

New lines
Another problem has been that the lines were getting old and worn and while they probably wouldn’t have failed anytime soon, its best to replace them before they do. So, we spent the weekend replacing the Mainsheet, the Boom Vang Line, the docklines, and we’re about to replace the halyards. I’m excited about everything running so smoothly through the blocks.

At the end of the weekend of working on the boat in the perfect weather with good friends and cold beers, I have to say that the boat is looking fantastic and it’s almost like sailing a whole new vehicle! Now I all I need are more folks to crew it. Who wants in?!

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A Night Well Spent and You Can Too

Last night I went to the story sailboat to fix up our new lines for the new roller furling. The problem with the lines is that they didn’t have the whipping at the end. Basically, this means that the lines come undone and fray and unravel. Of course, because they’re brand new I didn’t want that to happen. Plus, it was a gorgeous night for sitting around and puttering about the boat. If you want to know how to whip the bitter end of the lines on your boat, there is a great video that shows you how to do it here-

The best thing about owning a boat though, is that after all that is done you can just go out and play. Because it was a perfectly cool summer night I decided to single hand the boat out into the channel for a little while. Once I got out there, the view was perfect for the sunset and the wind was just enough to move me with just a little bit of speed. It was extremely relaxing and wonderful. I really love this life.

Now here is the part where you can come in and enjoy it too! If anyone wants to crew the Story Sailboat for a day or two, we’d love to hear from you. We typically sail to Coyote Point on Friday night from Redwood City at around 6:30pm and have drinks at the Yacht Club when we get there. On Saturday, it’s a trip up to SF, Berkeley, or Alameda. We get into the marina at around 2 or 3pm and then we start delivering the books. We drop them off everywhere we find a space and you can help with that part too. On Sunday, if we have time we drop off some more books in the morning. Then, around 9ish in the morning we start an almost always beautiful sail downwind to Redwood City. You can jump on for any leg of the journey! If you’re interested in joining us for this, you can like our Facebook Page and let me know. I’d love to take you sailing.

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Our First Real Book Seeding Sail and a Librarian Meetup

Since we reached our goal we got excited and ordered our new Jib Sail and our roller furling. Of course, we couldn’t wait to use it and really get this project started so we took off for the weekend on a two night and three day cruise out to Berkeley Marina for our first extended book seeding project. Here is the whole story that you made possible with your funding!

The first night of our sail is usually the most uneventful. That was not the case this time! We left Redwood City Marina at about 6:30 and we were really excited to get our sails up and cruise to Coyote Point Yacht Club where we get a free overnight berth about 2-3 hours away. Unfortunately the wind was around 20 knots (Nautical Miles per hour) with gusts up to 30 and it was coming directly from CPYC. Not only that, but the waves were huge. The boat went up some large waves and crashed down in the trough spraying us with water driven by the high winds. By the time we bashed our little boat all the way there under power of outboard engine we were drenched in salt water and ready for some hot food and a drink at the club.

Our three leg course to Berkeley and back

The next morning after drying out what we could we started the sail to Berkeley. But this time, instead of huge wind and waves, there was neither. We had to motor almost the entire way to the Bay Bridge and we were disgusted that we didn’t get to use our new Jib yet. But that was ok because it gave us the time to sticker all the books for the books seeding. Luckily, once we hit the bridge the wind picked up and we were able to put out our sail. It worked perfectly! The boat cruised along a hull speed (around 6 knots) and we sailed around some of the barges that blocked the way to Berkeley Marina. We thought it was going to be an easy sail in, but we were wrong.

If you aren’t familiar with the Bay Area, there is an old dilapidated Ferry Wharf that jets out from Berkeley about two miles and is seriously dangerous. I thought we made out far enough to go around, but once we rounded the last barge we realized that we had about 100 yards to go to get around it and the wind was not coming from a direction to help us out. In fact, just as we rounded the last barge we were about a half a mile away from running directly into the wharf and the wind suddenly jumped to MUCH MUCH more than our full sails could handle. This is where that roller furling comes in.

The waves grew and the wind picked up and we were able to safely take in the jib with the roller furling with just a few mishaps with only about 50 yards to spare before we ran into the wharf. We kicked in the motor just in time and bashed directly into the wind to make it around by just a couple yards. Our hearts were definitely racing and we made it past the wharf watching the waves crashing against it knowing we would have been tangled in the old cement pier if we were still using our old non-furling jib system. Thank you all for basically saving our lives with the indiegogo donations!

We made it into Berkeley at around 2:30 and we were exhausted so after checking in with the harbor master we made some sandwiches and took a quick nap before we began book seeding. When we woke up, I packed our bag with 25ish books and we headed for the laundry to dry out our clothes leaving a trail of books on park benches, tables, and the laundry room waiting area as we did. We were really excited that we actually saw people pick them up, read the stickers and take the books with them!

After we dried our clothes we were out of the books in the bag I had with me so we went back to the boat to refill the bag and head out to the Information Amateurs Social Club meetup at the bowling alley in San Francisco. Along the way we left another 25-30 books in the Bart areas and all along the walk from the Bart Station through the Mission District to the bowling alley and once again we were excited to see people picking them up and reading them. Of course the meetup was great, the bowling alley was amazing, we met some awesome folks, and hung out with a lot of great librarians!

That night we crashed early and slept through the night on the boat completely passed out and exhausted. We got an early start and had one of the best sails I’ve ever had back to Redwood City perfect wind conditions for our boat nearly the entire way. It took us just 5 hours to make it all the way home running with the wind and the waves coming from behind. When this happens the boat actually surfs down the waves and we can speed along very quickly with the sails completely out!

We haven’t planned our next trip but we’re really excited to see where else we can go now with the new sails. Next time though, we are definitely going to bring a whole lot more books, more coffee and caffeinated things and more foul weather gear for when we have to bash into the waves again. Other than that, all we really needed were those new sails to make the trip possible at all. Thanks again for everything!

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Help us Fund Our Literacy and Advocacy Project on IndieGoGo!

I’m super excited to announce my Literacy and Library Advocacy Campaign on indiegogo.com! I was originally planning on releasing this project on Kickstarter but they don’t allow advocacy or awareness campaigns. Check out the description of the project below and help us advocate for literacy by giving money on the project home page.

Who Are We?

The Story Sailboat is a independent bookmobile on the water that will set sail around the San Francisco Bay area and Sacramento Delta in the summer of 2012 setting a course that promotes literacy and libraries. Our goal is to give out 1,000 books and install 100 small, easily accessible libraries through our Guerrilla Library and Book Seeding Campaigns. We want to remind people that reading is one of the most fundamental influences on in a person’s life and we will do this through promoting reading and libraries.

Why Literacy?

Did you know that it’s estimated that 30 million people who are over 16 in the United States can’t read past an elementary school level? Literacy is absolutely essential for an individual to understand information in the information age. Without basic literacy skills a person will have trouble with fully comprehending math, technology, science, and other basic subjects. A person can’t apply for a job, full out an application, or use computers to further their careers. If we are to eradicate poverty at home, it begins with our workforce having a grasp on literacy skills. We want to remind people that Literacy and our library system that supports adult and child literacy is intensely important to the success of our country and improvement of ourselves.

What Is a Guerrilla Library?

A Guerrilla library is part social service and part street art installation. It can be any repurposed box, shelf space, nook, or cranny that holds books for the public to take and enjoy – for free. Discovering a library in an unexpected or repurposed space adds to excitement. There have been many versions of this in quite a few cities across the country and the world. We want to bring as many of these installations to the San Francisco Bay Area and Sacramento Delta as we can.

What is Book Seeding?

Bookseeding involves placing books in widely populated or highly trafficked areas – like subways, bus stops, coffee shops and parks. Within these books we’ve placed information about the importance of literacy and libraries. Not only will people find something to read and inspire them, but they will also learn about why reading is important. Book Seeding and Guerrilla Libraries let people serendipitously find something that inspires them, encouraging them to re-engage with their love of reading and libraries.

Why do it by Sailboat?

Sailing is the world’s oldest green energy powered transportation. The entire Bay Area and Sacramento Delta are accessible by our little 22 foot Sailboat and the majority of the population in this area lives within a few miles of the coastline.Our boat has taken us all over the bay and has allowed us to access some otherwise hard to reach coastal communities. Our boat has taken us all over the bay and through some fairly heavy wind and weather without any trouble. In the same way, we believe that reading and literacy can help everyone weather life’s tempests and come out on top.

You Can Follow Us Along the Journey

We invite you to follow along and see where we drop the books and install the Guerrilla libraries. We have a website that describes everything that we are doing on our journey. Follow us on this journey as we rebuild our larger ocean going boat called Surprise Me II, or follow our long-term goal of journeys across the ocean to spread literacy to coastal communities around the world.

We Need New Sails!

This is the reason we’re here. While we already have more books than we can handle and all the supplies we need to get the book seeding and libraries up and running, we’re still just a couple of folks who are paying for all of this out of our own pocket. We desperately need new sails to reach out to communities who are further away and to more safely navigate the Bay.

We spent the winter shaking down our boat and sailing it all over the bay and now our over 20 year old mainsail (the triangle sail on the mast) is too blown out of shape for us to safely use anymore. It’s also summer sailing on the bay which means that there’s no wind in the morning and in the afternoon there can regularly be wind well over 25 knots! The problem is that right now we have three Jib Sails (the big sails on the front of the boat) of different sizes instead of rolling furling. So, when the wind starts to blow, we have to send someone to the front of the boat to take a large sail down and put up a small one. This can be pretty dangerous! With a Roller Furling system and sail we can change the size of the sail with a pull of a line from the relative safety of the cockpit.

What Your Money Goes to

1 Main Sail ~$500

1 Roller Furling Jib ~$500

1 Roller Furling System ~$500

Other Miscellaneous bits, pieces, shackles, lines and of course… IndieGoGo’s cut – $500

If We Go Over Our Goal

The worst and best thing about owning a boat is that there’s always something to fix or improve and a day spent messing around on boats is a day well spent. So, what we can do depends on how much money we get. Some of our outstanding projects on the Story Sailboat are:

New Lines

New Anchor Chain

New Outboard

New Standing Rigging

New Paint

New Self Steering

New Solar Panels

New Navigation and GPS Devices

New Electrical Systems

How about a new boat altogether?!

But really, all we’re really looking to do is get some new sails to extend our reach and make it safer for us to sail our little boat to all of those hard to reach communities.

If We Don’t Meet Our Goal

Well, lets be honest… We can still sail! But only on days when we’re sure that the wind will be good for the whole time we’re out. This rarely happens on the Bay, especially in the summer, so we’d be hugely limited to where and when we can sail and how far we can reach with our advocacy for literacy and libraries. Basically, we won’t be able to take trips that span multiple days or go long distances from our home port in Redwood City. You can help us reach more people and make a bigger impact all over the bay. Of course, if we don’t make our goal, some kids may never learn to read and they will most surely be led astray into a life of crime and drugs.

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