Fishing Philosophy

The picture above is the best picture of my son in existence. It is arguably the best fishing picture in existence. Perhaps you have one you like better. I like this one, not only because it is personally valuable to my reminisces, but because it reflects my own philosophy on fishing.

When I am at a lake, pond, river or puddle casting out a line in hopes of a bite, I sometimes strike up conversations with fellow fishermen. It occasionally happens that someone will notice what I am using as bait or how my lure is attached to my line or my methods of letting the bait sit or reeling it in. On most such occasions, I’m given advice on “The Right Way” to fish. Or “The Right Bait”. Or “The Best Spot”. On one occasion in particular, I met a co-worker/friend/apocalypse-survival-strategy-co-planner at the very lake my son is pictured near above. We were just approaching the lake as he was retreating toward his vehicle and we stopped to chat. A few minutes into our conversation he pointed at my pole and asked what I was doing with “that rig”. I did as I always do when confronted by someone who feels my fishing is sub-par. Which, by the way, is a valid argument because I rarely catch anything. I shrugged my shoulders and said, “I’m just messing around.”

That is my fishing philosophy. I don’t want to try the newest bait or most sophisticated lure. I want to sit on the bank near my son (or daughters or wife, preferably all of them at once) and mess around. I cast and reel and sit willy-nilly. We laugh, we talk, we find neat things laying around in the dirt. We watch turtles poke their heads up above the surface and express amazement when a fish jumps out of the water. We get bug-bit and sunburned and sweaty and thirsty. I have become an expert at untying ridiculously intricate and confusing knots produced when my son continues to fling his pole around without pushing the release button on the reel. I’ve become adept at determining when a tree’s hold on a bobber is too strong to fight.

I’ve learned that if I go home without a fish, I am not going home empty-handed as so many serious fishermen claim. I almost always go home with a memory such as the one pictured above, as my son reflects my philosophy. His eyes aren’t on the lake. He is obviously entertaining thoughts that are deeper than any lake, made possible by the serenity of fishing.

If he catches a fish, well, that’s just the crispy, golden breading on the filet. Or perhaps it’s the tartar sauce on the side. Whatever it is, it certainly is not the icing on the crab cake. That would be disgusting and goes against my fishing philosophy.

I bid you adieu…and a don’t.

Adieu…fish to catch fish if that’s what you like. Just be sure to make time for all the other stuff too. Fishing goes well with just about anything.

A don’t…forget the worms. I mean the Canadian Night Crawlers. No, wait…you need the stink bait. Or some biscuit dough dunked in chicken blood. Whatever the best bait is these days, just don’t forget it.

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Fishing Stories III

This is perhaps the best fishing story I have. I went through a phase in my early twenties that resulted in my presence at Lake Eucha every evening after work. My younger brothers would come with me and, although we rarely made it home with an impressive catch, or any catch, I certainly enjoyed the experience.

On one such occasion, my brother became frustrated with our lack of success and defiantly tied a small hook he had found on the ground to his big toe. He sat at the end of a small wooden pier and dangled his foot over the edge. He had just enough line to allow the bare, sinker-free, hook to float on the water’s surface. My other brother and I made jokes about his supreme idiocy and focused on serious fishing. We became entranced by the delicious solitude and our cares floated out to the middle of the lake upon the misty silence where they died a horrible drowning death as befits their station. They sank like a Salem witch and, if they surfaced again, were labeled as such and dismissed with righteous derision. It was great.

The tranquility was soon broken by my idiot brother’s raucous celebratory noises. My sensible brother and I turned quickly to see ol’ dumb-dumb hopping up the pier with one bare foot in the air. Hanging from his big toe was a piddly perch hopelessly hooked on the bare hook the dingus had heretofore been hopelessly dangling in the depths of the lake from the joint of his largest podiatric phalange. His excitement was infectious  and we found ourselves senselessly overcome with an unexplainable euphoria.

We laughed ourselves silly as we unhooked the fish and returned it to its home, cementing in our minds a unique and wonderful memory.

I bid you adieu…and a don’t.

Adieu…take fishing for what it is. A time for solitude and brief outbursts of excitement.

A don’t…put too much stock in the fanciest equipment. You can still meet some sort of success with the barest of supplies. Even if the catch isn’t impressive, sometimes simply catching something is impressive enough.

Fishing Stories

Anyone who has ever fished has a story. In most cases these are embellished accounts of the approximated size of the one that got away or exaggerated size specifications regarding the one that didn’t. In a few rare cases, a large fish is landed, photographed, boasted of.

The following stories include none of the aforementioned qualities.

I am a poor fisherman.

My first fishing foray with my children included my two year old son suddenly jumping from the bank into the water and nearly drowning. I entered the water so fast that I was wet before I hit the surface. The only thing caught that day was, surprisingly, a severe case of athletes foot on my part. My son thankfully survived with no ill effect, other than a severely swollen pull-up.

Another occasion in the same location resulted in a much surprising encounter. Have you ever fished with three young children? You have no chance to catch anything. My son was insistent on throwing every bit of equipment and paraphernalia into the water every time I turned my back to help one of the girls unstick a hook from the weeds. On one such foray, I heard a frantic rustling of leaves and assumed it was my son making another beeline toward the bank for a self-drowning experience. Turns out, it was a recently-skin-shed snake. It, in hindsight as scared as I was, slithered its stark white and loathsome body furiously toward the water. I disregarded its escaping from me, focused on the ferocity of said evacuation and scared my children by ascending the steep bank, in the opposite direction taken by the snake, mind you, screaming. My frightened youngsters fled toward the road, arms above their sweet little heads, inspired by my flight of unnecessary fright. I nearly had to tackle my son to keep him safe.

Just today my son, now six, was insistent that catching a big fish required putting an entire hot dog on his hook. I indulged him, then watched as nibble after nibble garnered no landed fish. One bite, however, was a farce. The bobber dunked furiously under the water, inspiring a mad dash on my part to assist my son in landing a real lunker. Turns out he had somehow gotten the line wrapped around his shoe…who knows how?…and had jerked the bobber trying to reach his tepid Sprite.

One final account includes my wife-type-person catching three fish, which she nobly let the children land, whilst I myself got nary a nibble. My manhood has been suspect since that fateful day. She fails to believe the tales I share, fraught with inalienable truth, that I have, at least once in my life, caught a fish. She has never seen me do it, therefore it never happened. Instead she laughs at me. She shares stories of her dad yanking too hard to set the hook and reeling in naught but a set of fish lips. Would that I could, in her presence, catch a fish. Even if it were lipless.

I bid you adieu…and a don’t.

Adieu…fish despite your failures. Catching a fish is fun. Fishing with your children is fulfilling.

A don’t…let a fish emasculate you. Sometimes they are just too dumb to eat soggy hotdogs, plastic or stinky clay.

About A Billion Tadpoles; The Neglectful Nature of Frog Forebears

There are about a billion tadpoles in my decorative pond. Last month, we heard frogs serenade us every night. It was loud. I was worried the neighbors would call us in as a nuisance. Either they didn’t or the cops don’t care if frogs are in your yard. Anyway, we were worried at first because we saw this string in the pond that looked like a strand of carpet. Very crinkly and colorful. I thought the frogs would get tangled in it and suffocate and almost pulled it from the pond before realizing it was a massive strand of eggs.

The neglectful frog parents have since moved on. They abandoned their young as they are apparently wont to do. Now every time we look at the pond, it is literally wriggling and squirming with aquatic life. I don’t know how I feel about this. It certainly makes for some nutritive water for my tomatoes, but some of these things have swum up onto the lily pads and dried and died. I blame their neglectful, abandon-minded amphibian, certain slang for the gluteus maximus parents. How dare you leave your babies to dry to death on my lily pads?

My oldest child is a girl of 10. She says we have to live here for five years to observe the growth of these tadpoles. She says it takes five years for a tadpole to become a frog. I freely admit she is smarter than I am, even though I am currently a college student with a 4.0 gpa, and because of this, I haven’t bothered to fact-check my child. It may take five years. But if it does, those poor tadpoles are doomed. They swim up onto lily pads they can’t get off of and dry to death! I’m more than happy to be some weird frog baby surrogate parent since I didn’t have to incubate them within my body, but I can’t be out at the pond 24/7. I have to parent my actual human young.

Who are these frogs to spray their offspring into my decorations and disappear? If I knew the number to frog 911, I’d have them arrested for neglect and abandonment. Its easy to identify them by their slimy green skin and loud, disrespectful, croaking nature.

Also, these billions of tadpoles will grow into billions of frogs that, without any frog-parent-figure guidance will simply continue the cycle of croaking in a loud, off-key and peace disturbing cacophony and the spraying and abandonment of young into unauthorized water sources. They’ll decimate the tranquility of my back yard with their inconsiderate caterwauling, should they survive to adulthood.

I’ll let them live, though. Despite their irritating qualities, they fascinate my children. I begrudgingly admit that they fascinate myself and my wife as well. Let ’em be, I suppose. If nothing else, they are a part of nature that I’ll simply have to tolerate and can perhaps learn to love.

I bid you adieu…and a don’t.

Adieu…appreciate nature for all of its quirks. Nature cannot be helped.

A don’t…take my rant as a sign that I’m anti-frog. Frogs are fine, and cannot be held to human standards. I simply dislike the idea of a billion croaking frogs. I like sleep.

“Don’t Worry About What Other People Think” – People

I worry. I worry a lot. I worry that any statement I make will be found offensive and that those offended will seek me out and attempt to harm me. I have no doubt that I am sufficiently capable of self defense. I did the whole Army year in a combat zone thing and currently work in a capacity in which physical assault on my person  is a daily probability. I have been trained, I’d simply rather not deal with defending myself. I want to watch T.V. and listen to podcasts and paint the trim on the outside of my house a garish blue in relative peace. I want to reach in amongst the proliferation of weeds I haven’t gotten around to weeding to pick my tomatoes and, when I do this, I want the only red I see to be the skin of the tomatoes. I want to live in peace.

Throughout my life, my excessive worry has been addressed by many. People say, “Don’t worry about what other people think.” The problem is, the people who have said such things to me were, themselves, people. If I’m not to care what people think, does this also apply to the people who tell me not to care about the thoughts of other people? They never bother to specify. They never say, “Don’t worry about what people other than me think, and only worry about what I think when it applies to what I think about what you should think about what other people think.” So I’ve no idea what to think. What am I supposed to think when I don’t know what to think about the thoughts of people who think I should fail to think about the implications of what other people think?

I bid you adieu…and a don’t

Adieu…think about this.

A don’t…overthink it. If you do you’ll think that you’ve gone crazy.

Worn Out Glasses and Being Stuck In One Spot: A Few Ideas With Little, If Any, Philosophy Behind Them

Would it not be strange if the lenses of your glasses could be worn out simply by looking through them? It would be. But it makes some sort of sense. Clothes wear out, but they are admittedly more roughly used than glasses. A science teacher once told me that glass is actually a liquid and that the panes of old windows will be thicker at the bottom and thinner at the top because the glass has run down like very slowly melting ice. I have never bothered to verify this claim, but it is interesting. Suppose that after many years of looking through the same lenses, they develop small holes where your pupil focuses most of the time with thinner glass surrounding these and then glass of fairly normal thickness around the periphery. An interesting idea indeed.

Pray let us consider the fact that everything that is a particular person can only occupy one infinitesimal space within the universe and that everything that is that person is confined in a meat-bag. It is so commonly true that it may not occur as weird to many people. But it is weird. There is an absolutely enormous universe out there and we are confined to one itty bitty space. All the travel a person may do in a lifetime, including space travel, equals a fraction of a fraction of the totality of all there is. The number is so laughably minute that it boggles the mind to consider it. It boggles mine, anyway. Why are we trapped in a meat-bag?

And why must we eat and defecate? If evolution is true, why would we not have evolved past the need to do these things. On the other hand, why did God place these burdens upon us? It is my understanding that he expects us to work and strive for sustenance, but why would this occur to him? I will freely admit that good food is one of life’s singular pleasures. I may oft be found dining upon the greasy gloriousness that is a cheeseburger or slowly ruminating over the flavor of a complex soup as I masticate the chunky bits. But the need to eat and eliminate still baffles me. What on earth is the point?

Lastly, let us extrapolate the profundities of everything. I garden. I garden hard and I garden often. I am known, to my wife’s chagrin, to stand in the midst of my vegetables, stock still and staring. It is fascinating to me, the process by which plants grow, mature and ripen. From a miniscule seed bursts forth abundant sustenance! How? I recently observed my tomato seedlings and wondered how this puny plant would be capable of ever producing a second set of leaves from its tiny stalk, much less a 1/2 lb. fruit in a couple of months. So many miniscule transactions take place in a single thing such as a tomato plant on a daily basis that if we lived in “The Matrix” it would require a computer bigger than the universe itself to keep track of it all. And these things happen on a massive scale every second of every day. Cells divide. Plants photosynthesize. Worms squirm. We digest our food at our own particular metabolic rates. Chicken eat bugs which, until they were eaten, ate poop and other such. It all happens whether we notice it or not! Mind blowing.

I bid you adieu…and a don’t.

Adieu…consider these things which I have presented. It is sublimely insane.

A don’t…think me high or otherwise intoxicated. I think about these things completely sober and it makes me want to do drugs. I won’t. But I have to shove the thoughts out of my brain quite forcefully sometimes. I think the thoughts are my drugs. Also a don’t…think that I think these thoughts originate with me. Similar things have surely been said and written in the past. This is simply my take on them.

Chickens and Volcanoes; The Donner Party Goes to Dinner; Baklava Re-Imagined and Staying Unfit: A Few Unrelated Thoughts

In the past I have posted about opening a horrible restaurant with dishes whose names are subtle puns. The dishes are guaranteed to inspire vomiting and a general hatred of me on the part of whoever falls victim to them. I’ve come up with a new dish; although it is more fit for outdoor eating than for faux fine dining. To make this new dish I’ll have to go to Hawaii. I’ll obtain hundreds of chickens and throw them into a volcano. Then I’ll invite hundreds of people over for baklava. When they show confusion at being served heavily charred chicken rather than a sweet and flaky dessert type item, I’ll explain the reason for the name. “When I throw the chickens into the lava”, I’ll explain, “they scream ‘Bok! Lava!'”

Now that that is out of the way, have you ever imagined the Donner Party going out to dinner in modern times? I imagine it this way. They arrive at an elegant restaurant with a long wait for a table. They sign in. Donner; Party of Eight. They sit on the benches provided and the hostess periodically checks on them. The wait is long and as the hostess prepares to call their name, she makes eye contact with the party members…”Donner; party of…seven?” She questions. The Donners follow her to their table and she dismisses any concern. It is not unusual for a member of a group to grow weary of waiting and walk away. The party is seated and menus are issued. Dear Daddy Donner subtly takes note of the disclaimer at the bottom of the menu: “6% gratuity will be added to parties of 6 or more.” By the time dessert is served, the Donners are a party of four. And so on until there is only one remaining Donner. I apologize that I can come up with no more reasons why a cannibal might eat a friend at a restaurant. Perhaps you can supply your own fates for the remaining 3.

Now on to the unfit portion of the post. A coworker got beeped at by a thing on her wrist the other day and began walking in place at her computer. She explained that it was a “fit-bit” and told her when she needed to move more and raise her heart rate. I don’t want that. I want a fat-bit. Or, if you prefer political correctness, an unfit-bit. I want something on my wrist to tell me I’m moving too much. I want something to tell me to sit down and watch tv because I’m burning too many calories. I want my unfitness to be justified by some doohickey on my wrist.

I bid you adieu…and a don’t.

Adieu…enjoy the traditional version of baklava. It is delicious and no chickens are harmed in the making of it.

A don’t…go out to dinner with the Donner party. Unless that’s your thing. Do your thing.