fishing for words

(and tossing out random thoughts)


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Biggest Brother

Just finished reading “Biggest Brother: The Life of Major Dick Winters, the Man Who Led the Band of Brothers” and recommend it to all who enjoyed the Band of Brothers miniseries. While the focus is on his war years, it also brings into play much of his opinion and insight regarding the military of World War II and life in general. Some excerpts that I found interesting:

“The war in Europe ended officially the next day, May 8. While the fighting had ended, there were still objectives to be taken. …Winters got orders to pack up 2nd Battalion… The orders also stated that all captured German staff cars were to be left behind. Every man knew what that meant. Rear echelon staff officers were going to claim them as souvenirs. So Winters turned a blind eye as his men got careless. Cars were accidentally driven off cliffs or engines were allowed to run without oil. Sergeant Talbert heard that one car, supposedly used by Hitler himself, had bulletproof windows.

“They really are bulletproof, sir,” Talbert told Winters. “Unless you use an armor piercing round,” he added with a smile.1

Winters established his headquarters in the Hotel Kaprun in the center of town [Berchtesgaden]. … Shortly after he had set up his HQ, Winters sent a message to the local German military commander, a colonel, to report to his headquarters. The officer…dutifully showed up in full uniform, decorations in full display, pistol in a holster on his right hip.“Major,” the German said through his English-speaking staff officer. “I wish to surrender my command.”

He laid his pistol, a thoroughly cleaned Luger, on the table Winters was using for a desk.

“Very well, Colonel,” Winters said. “What I want you to do is spread the word through the valley that all weapons are to be turned in. You can deposit them at either the airport, the school or the church.” He picked the Luger up from the table and handed it to the colonel. “Officers may keep their sidearms, and so may any military police.”

Winters felt silly in his disheveled uniform giving orders to this fancily dressed, bemedaled officer twenty years his senior, but he continued.

“Tomorrow I will come out to inspect your camps, you kitchen and your men.”

“It will be done,” the colonel said. The two men exchanged saluted and the German left.

The colonel was better than his word. Next day when Winters and [Lewis] Nixon toured the areas where the weapons were to be collected, they found heaps of military rifles, pistols and knives. But also lying amid the piles were civilian hunting rifles, pistols, hunting knives, and even antique firearms. Winters’ order merely referred to military goods, but German efficiency took care of the rest.2

In order to on-site research, [Stephen] Ambrose and Winters traveled to Europe in 1989 and walked the old battlefields. … After a stop in Holland, where Winters posed outside the former 2nd Battalion HQ by the distinctive Schoonderlogt arch, duplicating a photo taken of him in full combat gear in October 1944, the tour continued into Belgium. In the Bois Jacques outside Foy, on a day when the warm, summer weather was considerably more agreeable than it had been forty-four years later, Ambrose began talking about Easy’s deployment for the attack on Foy.

“You take if from here, Dick,” Ambrose said.

He did. Although the tree line was now further from the town than it had been in 1945, Winters accurately pointed out his defensive positions.

“I had machine guns set up to provide suppressing fire there and there,” he said, pointing, “and there where Moria is standing.”

As if it had been staged, at the mention of her name, Ambrose’s wife began pawing at the cultivated field with her shoe. After a bit she stopped to pick up several objects. They were .30 caliber shell casing. Ambrose gaped in disbelief.3

1Larry Alexander, Biggest Brother: The Life of Major Dick Winters, the Man Who Led the Band of Brothers (New York: New American Library, 2005): p. 193
2Larry Alexander, Biggest Brother, 196
3Larry Alexander, Biggest Brother, 246


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diets and exercise

Things I’ve Learned About Losing Weight, Diets and Exercise…

Can cardiovascular exercise can prolong one’s life?
Not really. Your heart is only good for so many beats and that’s it. Don’t waste it on exercise. Everything wears out eventually. Speeding up your heart will not make you live longer; it’s like saying you can extend the life of your car by driving it faster.

Should I cut down on meat and eat more fruits and vegetables?
No. Let’s take a look at this question with logistical efficiencies in mind. What does a cow eat? Hay and corn. And what are these? (Say it together now.) Vegetables. Ergo, a steak is nothing more than a more efficient mechanism of delivering vegetables to your system.

Need grain? Eat chicken.

A pork chop can give you 100% of your recommended daily allowance of vegetable slop.

Is beer or wine bad for me?
This goes to the earlier point about fruits and vegetables. We all know that beer and wine are not animal and they are not on the endangered species list. So have a burger and a beer and enjoy your liquid vegetables.

How can I calculate my body to fat ratio?
Well, if you have a body and you have body fat, your ratio is one to one. If you have two bodies your ratio is two to one, etc.

What are some of the advantages of participating in a regular exercise program?
Nope. “No Pain Is Good…”

If I stop smoking, will I live longer?
Nope. Smoking is a sign of individual statement and peace of mind. If you stop, you’ll probably stress yourself to death in record time.

Aren’t fried foods bad for you?
You’re not listening. Foods are fried in vegetable oil. How could getting more “vegetables” be bad for you?

Will sit-ups help prevent me from getting a little soft around the middle?
Are you crazy? When you exercise a muscle, it gets bigger. You should only be doing sit-ups if you want a bigger stomach.

Is chocolate bad for me?
— No! Cocoa beans are another vegetable and the best feel-good food you can find!

Hope this helps.


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falling behind in the heat

The current heat wave has broken.  At least here in Benicia.  Woke up last night…more accurately two a.m. this morning…to find the outside temp was lower than that in the house.  Opened most of the windows.

My apologies, still have to catch up on posting.  Haven’t finished our Disneyland trip as the heat sapped my strength, and what little I had left was sucked up by the treadmill, looking for our (apparently) lost camera and by the playing of video games.

But I promise to get back on track now that things are cooling down.  Just after I finish power washing the driveway, doing yardwork, installing the new used microwave, putting the suitcases away, cleaning the garage…


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an adult view of Disneyland

While I do still enjoy the various rides, sights and sounds in Disneyland (and the smells in California Adventure, I find myself, as an adult, more than fascinated by the “behind the scenes” aspects of world imagined by Walt and his many imagineers.. For example, nowhere in Disneyland have I seen gum (or any junk) on the walkways. Dust doesn’t settle anywhere it’s not supposed to be. Every chain and pole in the queues are shiny. Pretty amazing…

We spent most of today in California Adventure, which seems to me to be more of an overgrown carnival and can’t compare to the “experience” of Disneyland. I did enjoy Soaring Over California and the Grizzly raft ride, but the remaining rides are tuned more towards the thrill seeker. (For those who know of inclination to avoid roller coasters, I did get on Screaming Over California for one ride. And one ride on this beast was enough for me. …oh, Chris also lied to me, saying that California Screaming didn’t turn upside down. It does. I also braved out the Hollywood Tower of Terror, which wasn’t all that bad. During half the day I spent at California Adventure, I did see the Muppets 3-D show, which was fun, thought not as funny as the original Muppet Show.

It was nice to take a long break that afternoon before returning to Disneyland, where we spent the evening chasing down FastPasses.  That evening we again sat in front of It’s a Small World to watch the entire fireworks show. This time, the pathway into Toon Town was blocked off, I’m guessing to keep folks out from under the fireworks, as the trains were also stopped. In the end, we had missed only ten minutes or so the previous night, but it was good to see the whole show.


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(mini) California adventure

While I do still enjoy the various rides, sights and sounds in Disneyland (and the smells in California Adventure, I find myself, as an adult, more than fascinated by the “behind the scenes” aspects of world imagined by Walt and his many imagineers.. For example, nowhere in Disneyland have I seen gum (or any junk) on the walkways. Dust doesn’t settle anywhere it’s not supposed to be. Every chain and pole in the queues are shiny. Pretty amazing…

We spent most of today in California Adventure, which seems to me to be more of an overgrown carnival and can’t compare to the “experience” of Disneyland. I did enjoy Soaring Over California and the Grizzly raft ride, but the remaining rides are tuned more towards the thrill seeker. (For those who know of inclination to avoid roller coasters, I did get on Screaming Over California for one ride. And one ride on this beast was enough for me. …oh, Chris also lied to me, saying that California Screaming didn’t turn upside down. It does. I also braved out the Hollywood Tower of Terror, which wasn’t all that bad. During half the day I spent at California Adventure, I did see the Muppets 3-D show, which was fun, thought not as funny as the original Muppet Show.

It was nice to take a long break that afternoon before returning to Disneyland, where we spent the evening chasing down FastPasses.  That evening we again sat in front of It’s a Small World to watch the entire fireworks show. This time, the pathway into Toon Town was blocked off, I’m guessing to keep folks out from under the fireworks, as the trains were also stopped. In the end, we had missed only ten minutes or so the previous night, but it was good to see the whole show.


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southward ho!

Today we traversed much of the Golden State…which is quite “golden” right now. With these golden hills comes our season fires, and we saw one as we buzzed down the highway and evidence of others.  Of course, we stopped at Split Pea Anderon’s in Santa Nella, where our short walk from the car to the restaurant hinted at the heat we would face. Still love that soup, though! While it took us about six hours to travel from Benicia to Los Angeles, we found ourselves in stop and go traffic at the junction of Hwy 5, 10, 101 and 60. It took us about an hour to travel the last 17 miles to our exit!

After a quick check in, it was off to Medieval Times. Everyone else in the family had been there and were quite excited. I didn’t know what to expect. I’ll tell you what, it is quite the experience. The food was good and the entertainment nonstop, with knights participating in full contact games in the arena, which was less than fifteen feet away from our seats. Then it was off to bed with visions of Mickey dancing in our heads.


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the “highlighting” of my hair

Looking at my longer hair in the mirror prior to a haircut this week, it seems that it’s become my time to shine. I found little hints of silver sparking as I turned my head.  I don’t take it as a sign that I’m getting older, after all, even you, gentle visitor, will never be as young as you were when you began reading this sentence.  Truthfully, I don’t care what color my hair becomes, so long as it stays on my head.  I did make a few observations of late, howver, that I am “older”:

For someone somewhat technically inclined, I not only don’t text people using my cell phone; I don’t even know how to do it.  Also, some people are shocked that I still pay some bills by check and have been known to physically step into a bank branch to interact with live human tellers.

But I still like my free “highlights.”


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on “googling” friends of the past

Every now and again I am plagued by regrets stemming from an internal disconnect between a desire for friendship and the actions it takes to maintain such a relationship. Though only three times have I overtly expended effort to rekindle old friendships, twice through e-mail and once at a high school class reunion, I do know what some of my ol’ chums from Humboldt State University are up to thanks to the now-recognized action of “googling.”  (My thanks to the editors of Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary.)

I must say, however, that googling former classmates and friends might skew one’s opinion of one’s self.  As I plow ahead as a managing editor at a modest publishing company — and not, by any means, saving the world — some of the people I once knew seem to have climbed quite high on the ladder of professional (and hopefully personal) success. 

A former roommate of mine seems to have written a number of research papers on the flora and fauna of Pu’ukohol & Heiau National Historic Site on Hawaii.  A friend with whom I spent many hours laughing at reruns of Star Trek — that’s the Original Series starring the ever so subtle Mr. Shatner — ascended through the ranks of academia, completing work for an M.A. in San Francisco and a Ph.D. in New York, teaching at USC and, from what I can find, is now an Assistant Professor of English and Comparative Literature at American University of Kuwait.  Another friend works as an Interpretive Specialist for the California State Parks system at the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park.

After googling friends for a while, imagining their homes, their families and what they may look like some 20 years later, I had to stop. Not because of those little pangs of regret, but because now that I have found them, I find myself wrestling with a decision to act. These people might never pause to think of me, or google me, but I can still hear their laughter and encouraging words. 

In the end, I am humbled to think that all those years ago I could call myself a “friend” to these pretty amazing folks.


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fast cabin weekend

We headed up to the cabin last Thursday…it was nice to make the drive during the week and avoid traffic! My nephew Nick was attending summer camp in Twain Harte, so, since my sister would be in town, I offered a chance to stay a few days. I met Luci and her youngest son, Nathan, at the Tracy In-N-Out, a favorite lunchtime stop, about [singlepic=119,150,,right]noon Thursday. We parted ways but soon joined up again at the cabin. After I quickly whacked the weeds, we headed to Twain Harte Lake, where the weather and water were great. Truthfully, the water wasn’t that great. Water weeds — one of Luci’s least favorite aspects of lake swimming — were quite high. The lake had recently been treated for the infernal vegetation, but the affects were not yet evident.

A decision was made on Friday that I would take my nephews to Moccasin Creek, so after a morning of playing games and generally being lazy, we headed west on Hwy 108, then south on Hwy 120. We arrived just before the hatchery was to close, but did get to ogle some of the brood fish and the mass quantities of trout ready for stocking. We first wetted our lines at the base of the dam, but the fish were running deep and not interested in what we had to offer. While Nathan and his mom played in the water and chased crayfish, Nick and I ventured through the blackberries and bugs to my favorite spot. Using PowerBait, Nick got one nibble. I was lucky enough to hook three decent-sized rainbows using my favorite Panther Martin (red body/gold blade). Then it was back to the dam, where the boys splashed around and skipped rocks…including the biggest boy.

I left the cabin mid-morning Saturday to head to Modesto, where I picked up Chris after lunch at Garcia Jo Jo’s. On our ride back to the cabin, we stopped at Moccasin Creek, where the catching was again a bit slow. I landed one rainbow after my fist cast, but that was about it. It was back to the cabin and to the lake, where we had a great 4th of July hamburger dinner, even if the wait was a bit long. As the sun set, Chris, Nick and Nathan headed to the lake inlet with fishing poles in hand. Chris did catch some fish.  However, they were a bit difficult to see…none were longer than my pinkie finger. (Big-mouthed baby bass.)

Sunday started early, with Chris and I out the door by 6:30 a.m. We planned to spend the day at Kennedy Meadows, but fast and high water changed our minds. We saw numerous fishermen pass by, but all were empty handed. Finding that we were close to Sonora Pass, I figured we could head on over to the “Eastside,” where Chris wanted to hit one of his favorite spots: Lee Vining Creek. The water was again high with none of the regular pools. No rises to flies and nothing on spinners. I suggested heading up the Tioga Road for a look at Saddlebag Creek, which we also found running quite fast…so fast that one fly fisherman who was there teaching a buddy had no expectations of a bite. On our list of streams to check out was the section of Lee Vining Creek that goes between Tioga and Ellery lakes, so off we went. Chris was again skunked here, but I happened to hook three small trout on a gold Mepps, but only pulled one — a nine-inch brook — to shore. (In fumbling for my camera and minimize any stress on this trout, the little brookie opted to release itself from my barbless hook.) After lunch, we stopped at Pickle Meadows, another spot we had wanted to check out, and chatted with some fly fishermen who were departing after fishing the West Walker River most of the day. One of these gentlemen has fished the area for going on a decade and predicted that it will be another two weeks before the West Walker might even be ready for fishing. Chris and I walked a stretch of the river to find, like everything else, it’s still running very high and fast, though the color is clearing up. Though there was little catching on this trip, the weather was beautiful and my batteries were recharged!