fishing for words

(and tossing out random thoughts)

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motorcycling, weather, and the Marine way

I must not fear.  Fear is the mind-killer.  Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration.  I will face my fear.  I will permit it to pass over me and through me.  And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path.  Where the fear has gone there will be nothing.  Only I will remain.”
               ~ Bene Gesserit Litany Against Fear
                  (from favorite book Dune, by Frank Herbert)

I made the mistake of trying to outthink the weather folks Thursday. Their guesses predictions had rain starting Friday. Treating weather forecasts as a step up from divination -and in light of the dry spell that’s made the Golden State so very golden – I figured it’d be safe to squeeze in one more commute on the motorcycle.

By noon errant precipitation dotted the pavement, but evaporated in short order. Nothing to worry about.

Mid afternoon brought consistent drizzle. Enough to coat the roadway. Time to begin worrying.

Departure time brings decision time. Leaving now means riding in rain. I’ve been told that every motorcyclist, at some time, will have to deal with this very issue. The question “It not now, when?” bounced around my brain.

You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face… The danger lies in refusing to face the fear, in not daring to come to grips with it… You must make yourself succeed every time. You must do the thing you think you cannot do.”
               ~ Eleanor Roosevelt

The fact that I’m writing this after the fact reveals that, with care, a bit of strategy and good riding gear, I made it safe (and dry), albeit requiring about 20 minutes more to reach home.

Riding in the rain. Something that wasn’t on my “bucket list.”

But feeling good that I adapted and overcame.


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riding against the rain

The first chance for appreciable rain in the “Athens of California” is forecast for Halloween night. And our fall weather pattern has settled in, with the rays of dawn struggling to slip through the fog. Faced with the wet stuff and signs of winter on the horizon, it was time to make tracks.

Warmed up the bike and chased my shadow on the way to work.

The microclimates of the Bay are no more evident than during the fall. Crossing invisible and mystical borders can nearly instantly bring one out of cold swirling mist and into crisp clear sunshine.

No fool here. Liners installed in my over pants keep the legs warm. Jacket zipped up tight. A lesson was learned, however, as to the value of heated handgrips.

Keep your coffee. The wonder of a beautiful morning marked by the crisp autumn air, a low hanging but bright orange sunrise and the companionship of hundreds of birds flying over the marshes shouldering my path serve me just as well.

Three thousand miles down. Many more to come.

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the insanity of it all

It just makes the brain hurt.

As erstwhile Alaskan cousin Bill points out, PETA’s begun a campaign that turns our formerly lovable feline companions in to blood-slurping cannibals. If not in reality, at least by name. PETA wants fish – a nutritional favorite of many a cat – to henceforth be called “sea kittens.”

We worry about terrorists training young children to unwittingly hate and kill. Now PETA, in a viciously clever manner, targets children who know no better in the hope that they will involuntarily imbue fish with cuddly characteristics, riddling these kids with guilt at the very mention of fish as food. Maybe the “war on terror” now has a domestic target.

Brainwashing of children? Maybe. Stupid? Yes.

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fun with family, apples, wine and birds

There’s nothing like family gatherings and a trip to apple country to turn a weekend into a barrel full o’ fun, and make it rush by in no time at all.

My lookalike devastatingly handsome cousin Bill and his wife Laura (and dogs Meika and Eugene) rolled into town in The GRYWHL on Friday. To hear Laura tell it, the familial visit was a ruse, but I’ll take that as a compliment to the staggering number of attractions in our immediate area; namely wineries and birds. And a few wineries named after birds, I’m sure.

The wife and I set out the everyday dishes – the fact that we set out dishes at all is an honor itself – and enjoyed a tremendous dinner and conversation. The wife outdid herself with a home-baked version of store-bought rotisserie chicken with the always welcome mashed potatoes. The visit also served to reinforce the similarities between Bill and me. That’s not a bad thing. Rest assured, it’s a compliment to be compared to someone so handsome, steadfast and just an all-around good egg.

Saturday our two groups took separate paths in pursuit of beverages – wine and beer for Bill and Laura and apple cider and related concoctions for us. A visit to Apple Hill is a 15-year-plus tradition for me, and no fall seems complete without a taste of apple cider straight from the press. We mixed it up a bit this year, arriving early enough to make apple cider doughnuts a part of our morning repast. This was followed by obligatory visits to a few other orchards, crammed full of craftsfolks and their wares, tubs of apples, refrigerators full of cider, and piles of baked apple goods. A heavy discount prompted my picking up a carved trout that will become part of my future fly tying room. And the wife got her world’s-best corndog for lunch. Throw in four gallons of cider, and you’ve got a great day.

In typical family fashion, Sunday centered around food. In an attempt to overwhelm offer Bill and Laura an opportunity to also meet my sister and her family, a group dinner was in the offing that evening, with plenty of visiting beforehand. My sister’s family – including my now-all-too-tall nephew – arrived in the early afternoon, after the rest of us had time to lounge, watch a bit of football and rave about our respective Saturdays. Though not said directly, I think that even Laura was a bit astounded at the sheer number of wineries only 20 minutes from our doorstep. And it may be a safe bet that if Bill can work it out, they’ll be back with motorcycle in tow.

Dinner was a simple affair of make-it-yourself tacos, but sharing extended family time was the main part – and most enjoyable – of the meal.

But mostly, it’s a great thing to have weekends consumed by family and fun. Eventually, Monday initiates the humdrum workweek (except for those retired or traveling without a firm itinerary in a big RV), and the weekend seems all the more cherished.

P.S. Bill and Laura, thank you for the goodies and thanks for stopping! Hope you have a safe trip further south (and enjoy a visit to the Jelly Belly factory today).  We’ll be watching your blogs…

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one more hobby

One more hobby — and boatload of money — and I’ll be ready to retire.

As mentioned before in this space, fall’s close to the top in my list of seasons, and motorcycling in the crisp morning air with a glowing sunrise at my back is part of that greatness. I’m closing in on the first year anniversary of owning my bike and now that I’m back in the saddle after a month-long forced sabbatical, I’ve found that it’s another one of those things that prompts sudden smiles.

Those smiles turn into dreams about moving up from my vintage — yep, it’s 26 years old — 1982 Honda CB650SC to something a bit more contemporary. Preferably with locking hard saddlebags. The dream is a late ‘90s BMW R/R series bike or an even younger K/RS-series. Then again, if the price is right Honda’s ST1100 looks nice…  Like the Goldwing too, but a contemporary model’s out of my price range.  Regardless, gotta start saving the pennies.

While motorcycling gives me something to do throughout the year in sunny California, it’s more of a spring/summer/fall thing. Same goes for fly fishing. That means I need a winter hobby.

It’ll be a while before I can set aside money for myself — seems for now I’m ensuring my parents’ social security checks don’t bounce — but it’s never too early to start thinking. This is your chance to throw ideas in my direction as to a suitable winter hobby. But forget skiing. I already know about winter steelhead and can tie only so many flies. What do you think is a good rainy day hobby?

P.S. Flying to the tropics doesn’t count.

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forget brownlining; call me “guppy hunter”

Forget the too-weak magnifying glass on the fly tying vise…we’re gonna need a microscope.

And no fish will be safe.

While others resort to fishing the foul-smelling irrigation ditches — brownlining — close to home in the off season, I’m betting my marbles on “buckypaper” for that smallest of fly rods…maybe a size .01 wt¹ for those guppies in my fish tank. (It’d all be catch and release, of course.)

A thin nanotech “buckypaper” developed in a Florida lab offers a super-thin material 10 times lighter and about 500 times stronger than steel when it’s stacked in sheets to form a composite. This “paper” is made from tube-shaped carbon molecules 50,000 times thinner than a human hair, so putting a few of these tubes together should yield a dandy super-ultra-lightweight fly rod.

The problem will be tying those size 44² flies in a “flake” pattern.

¹ For non fly fishers, the smallest fly rod currently is a 0 wt.
² Roughly one-eighth of an inch long, maybe smaller?

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the “other” konoske website

That’s really a cousin of mine — on some level — at

Despite my displeasure three years ago that he squatted on long before even posting a single photograph, it’s hard to ignore the quality of the end product. Sure, might enjoy recognition as THE Konoske Web site, but for anyone who enjoys cars, Brian’s portfolio is something worth a longing look.

Brian’s work takes aim a various vehicles — new, vintage, mild, wild, on road, off road, fast, not so fast and probably not mobile at all — in typically wonderful compositions. It’s camerawork like this that can be blamed for my infamous fetish renowned fondness for a well-cleaned car.


Good work Brian.

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brown trout named as an invasive species. I say airlift ’em my way.

Just about booked a flight to for long stay in Dullstroom, South Africa.

One might not expect to find the words “plague” and “brown trout” uttered in the same sentence here in the Queen’s North American Colonies, but it seems the British Invasion of lo’ so many years ago created just such a problem in South Africa.

From a Time magazine article in the Oct. 27, 2008 issue:

Here, in the waters that feed the grasslands and carve out the escarpments of the Highveld plateau, trout are a plague. The lakes, dams and rivers are overflowing with them. So is the town. Almost every shop, hotel and gas station in Dullstroom features a picture of a seven-pounder curling around a fly. (And no prizes for guessing which delicious, pink-fleshed fish dominates the restaurant menus.)

The kind of plague I wouldn’t mind in my backyard.

But you’d better get there fast.

As part of its Africanization program, the [South African] government is considering poisoning the [brown] trout in its lakes and rivers. This sounds drastic until you get to Dullstroom, on the edge of Kruger National Park, east of Johannesburg.

Don’t know how the folks of Dullstroom view this plan.  They tout their town as “South Africa’s premier flyfishing region.”

So, those with more money and time on their hands might want plan a trip after reading more on the Time site, and anyone willing to drag along a wanna-be trout bum companion, gratis of course, can email me here.

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what California water shortage?

Thanks to climbing flows, plans for the club fishing trip this Saturday to the Stanislaus River have been abandoned. Guess I’ll clean the nine months of accumlation from my desk instead.

We were to hit the Two Mile Bar section after flows hovered just above 200 cubic feet per second; eminently fishable. The flows climbed to 225 cfs on Oct. 8, to 425 cfs on the 9th, peaked at 669 on the 10th, and seemed to have settled around 655 cfs; definitely not fishable.

The "Stan" was good until last week.

The Stanislaus looked good until about a week ago...

Seems a bit odd to see so much water flowing downstream. It’s been a heck of a year for our reservoirs — the average level stands at 59.6% of capacity and as low as 21% — so one would think we wouldn’t see massive releases.

Seems I’ll have to head upstream when I’m fishing the foothills next month…

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small mistake fills gas tanks at 1968 price

File it under wish I was there (but not worth the 2151-mile drive):

A Citgo station in Wisconsin Rapids, Wisconsin, was chock full of customers this morning after an employee made a mistake and sold gasoline for just 34.9 cents per gallon of premium unleaded instead of the $3.439 that the station advertised on its sign. The bargain prices lasted long enough for about 40 transactions, or about 250 gallons of gasoline.

Station owner J.P. Raval changed the prices after 90 minutes when the attendant on duty alerted him that there was a mistake and he didn’t know how to change the prices.

“People kept coming, so fast,” Raval told the Associated Press. “Everything was crowded; it was like a fairground.”

Apparently some motorists were even filling up gas cans to cash in on the savings.