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Outdoors

James Drake

Most table clocks are powered by electricity they get from either batteries or by being plugged into a wall socket.

A California inventor named Mark Bedol thinks he has a better idea.

His newest design, the Squirt Alarm Bedol Water Clock, gets its power from common tap water.

Iím not joking.

When you think about the three billion sealed cell batteries sold in the United States every year, and most of them eventually ending up in landfills leaching out their heavy metals, a clock that is battery-free and doesnít contribute to any power plant pollution because it runs on water could be something thatís truly eco-friendly.

Every one of us should want to leave a lighter carbon footprint, and helping to reduce the 200,000 tons of batteries we toss out every year is a good place to start.

And, besides doing something nice for the environment, these clocks are just really clever and fun to look at as theyíre made of a semi-transparent plastic and you can actually see inside.

There are not many guys around who wouldnít want to have a close look to try and figure out how these things work.

Bedol sent me one of his new water clocks last week, and as soon as I filled the reservoir with water, the LCD digital face lit up.

The literature that came with it explains that it will work anywhere from five weeks to six months depending on the water composition. When the display begins to fade, you simply dump out the old water and fill it up again.

A memory chip inside will keep it running for two minutes, so you wonít lose the correct time. I canít vouch for that, but mine has worked flawlessly now for a little over a week and it keeps perfect time.

Itís shaped something like a water drop and is a most contemporary design about as big around as a softball.

They come in five colors: blueberry blue, kiwi green, tangerine orange, plum purple and smoke gray.

The water clock has an alarm function, but I wouldnít trust it to wake me up for an important meeting with the boss to discuss any upcoming raise.

Itís just too soft to get you out of a sound sleep or I guess maybe my old ears could be getting too feeble to hear it anymore. Still, I wouldnít advise putting too much faith in the alarm feature.

Bedol writes, ďInside of the semi-transparent water reservoir are proprietary metallic plates that allow ions in the water to be turned into current which powers the clock and alarm.Ē

When you look inside the clock, youíll see two little squares of metal, each about as big as a postage stamp. Iím guessing one of them is zinc, a negative anode, and the other has a positive charge. The water you pour in then forms an electrolyte solution or conductor and the whole thing becomes some kind of fuel cell.

But, you donít want to overthink it. This is just a really fun item and if itís also really good for the environment, then Iím all for it.

The suggested retail price is $26 and you can buy it direct at www.bedolwhatsnext.com.Many retailers such as Whole Foods Market, Bed Bath & Beyond, Dillardís Department Stores and Amazon.com also carry them in stock.

Fishing update

Superstorm Sandy certainly gave us plenty of high water and muddy conditions, but letís pray there will be no harmful long-lasting effects.

Ken Lamb at the Tackle Box in Lexington Park even sees a positive in the big storm because of a possible accelerated striper migration this year from the Atlantic Ocean to the Chesapeake Bay.

ďTrollers should find the ocean stripers in the Shipís Channel and in the lower Potomac [River] now as big storms are just what rockfish love,Ē Lamb said.

These quickly falling evening temperatures arenít going to hurt either in driving the striped bass back into the bait-rich bay for an early fall feast. Umbrella rigs should be the early number one bait choice.

Lamb also reported on catfish in the upper tidal Potomac hitting cut alewife.

Andy Andrzejewski with Reel Bass Adventure guide service (301-932-1509) has noticed only a small storm impact around the Charles County sector of the river.

Discolored water and plenty of floating debris are to be found out on the main river, but Andrzejewski said several creeks have remained fairly clear and very fishable.

Bass were responding to hard jerk baits twitched over grasses on flooded flats and schools of average size white perch were discovered foraging on small bait fish located near the marsh banks.

Down at Lake Anna, Carlos Wood at High Point Marina thinks it will be into the first part of next week for the lake to clear and return to normal.

Water temperatures are dropping fast now and the gulls are just starting to expose the bigger schools of stripers. Look for largemouths in the back end of creeks and crappies are moving up on points with brush on them in five to 10 feet of water.

The nicer crappie have been feeding on three-inch threadfin shad, so you might want to try a little larger than normal bait if youíre after specks.

For oyster lovers

Chesapeake Bay oysters are a luscious, lip-smacking, likable treat. And whether you fancy them fried, steamed, raw, Rockefeller, stewed or barbequed, youíll find your favorites at the Oyster Festival from 6 to 9 p.m. Saturday at Solomons Pier.

The cost is $29.95 per person and that will get you all you can eat of the bivalves plus you can also feast on delicious Maryland stuffed ham.

No sharing, no carryout and no substitutions.

Music will be provided by Bill Krauss.

zbasser@aol.com