fishing for words

(and tossing out random thoughts)


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backup? what backup?

This should not have been so easy. Having a love/hate relationship with the wizard behind the curtain that makes this blog run, I was totally expecting to embark on an adventure without end, one marked by wrong turns, erroneous Internet advice and little support when I finally decided to restart this blog with a clean slate. Instead, it took less than four hours last weekend to get things back up and running. Well, most of it.

To provide some background, during the last few months I’ve become better acquainted with my host’s support staff than I ever wanted to be. Invariably, each email began with some mention of “excessive usage.” First it was brute-force attacks, then a wonky plugin.

Next came fear. Fear that the next post would spike my usage, earning a prolonged shut down of my site. Fear that I’d lose every post and image uploaded since 1997.

Then I got over myself. The wife had been patiently listening to my grunts, ramblings and cursing for much too long. It was time to do something. Anything.

Most anyone will first search Google, through which you will find contradictory advice on how to handle restarting a self-hosted WordPress blog from zero. After too much time spent looking for the right advice, I just dove in, accepting that it’d either be a surprising success or fantastic failure. I backed up the data, wiped the directory clean, reinstalled WordPress with a new theme, and imported the previously backed up data.

And here we are, up and running. Mostly.

All the words are back. The photos, not so much. (I blame much of the increase in CPU and memory usage on a gallery plugin previously employed, a plugin that became bloated when commercialized.)

The biggest benefit is that everything under the hood is current and up to date. It’ll be a few weeks before all of the photos are restored, but I figure that few folks are interested in my history.

After all, blogs are generally about moving forward, one new post at a time, aren’t they?


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two birds, one stone

I tend to keep the soapbox tucked away when writing for this modest blog, but sometimes errant thoughts are worth sharing, particularly when they might just benefit all of us while making the most use of federal tax dollars. The following is presented without further editorializing.

Gun Control Proposals Marriage Control Proposals
Require universal background checks for all gun sales, including those by private sellers that currently are exempt. Require universal background checks for all marriages, especially those performed by private Las Vegas chapels.
Limiting ammunition magazines to 10 rounds. Limiting marital arguments to 10 rounds.
Financing programs to train more police officers, first responders and school officials on how to respond to active armed attacks. Financing programs to train more marriage officiants on how to respond to and dissolve ill-advised engagements.
Starting a national safe and responsible gun ownership campaign. Starting a national safe and responsible marriage campaign.
Send a letter from ATF to licensed dealers with guidance on how to facilitate background checks for private sellers. Send a letter from The Library of Congress to licensed marriage facilitators (civil, religious and otherwise) with guidance on how to facilitate background checks AND DNA TESTS for both engaged parties.
Remove barriers that prevent states from reporting information on people prohibited from gun ownership for mental health reasons. Remove barriers that prevent states from reporting information on people prohibited from marriage for mental health reasons.


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blog appreciation, or just do it

I wouldn’t normally write something for a Monday, but I’m sitting here between Super Bowl commercials marveling at the breadth of the ‘raw honesty’ discussion resulting from a post asking if this raw honesty is needed and how it may be connected to the success, relevance, or execution of a fishing blog, fly or otherwise; or any blog for that matter.

An acceptance that there is a place for anyone’s blog, even if just an opportunity to ‘howl at the moon,’ seems to echo through every opinion and observation, and an inherent support of an interpretation that ‘raw honesty’ means writing what you want to write and letting your personality separate your blog from the herd.

The Internet is a very public place, and an increasingly accessible space in which blogs in various forms arise. According to statistics from Technorati and Blogpulse, the estimated number of blogs ballooned from 3 million in July 2004 to 164 million last year. This diversity gives voice to authors that may have never been read if not for a blog, and I think we are all the better for it. I’m happy to see that I’m not the only person who’s grateful.

There seems to be little glory in blogging, and it’s generally fleeting. But like fly fishing, much of the fun of blogging is in the doing. Hooking a fish/reader is a welcome consequence.


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really? asking for raw honesty from fishermen? a response

Dear fly fishing bloggers,*

I have a confession to make. I have been reading many of your blogs. You don’t know this, because I don’t comment much. My wife disagrees, but often I don’t feel my words will add much to the conversation. I lurk, looking for writing that will take me away from the everyday, writing that will inspire, now and again enjoying others’ stories about water I hope to fish, and some that I probably won’t.

I won’t pretend that my encouragement will reach that many eyes. But, occasionally and perhaps more than admitted, blogging isn’t about catering to readers; it’s about the act of writing. This post, itself, is a modest reaction to a claim on [name redacted]’s another blog that “…99% of fly fishing blogs are boring…” and have followed “…the boring/cyclical path of print.” This seems an unfair assessment, though it is unclear whether this judgment and call for bloggers to “…put it all out there…” is leveled at blogs in general and includes those written by the vast majority who fly fish when they can, and for whom their blog is a hobby and another welcome diversion.

While these charges offer valid advice for all writers, the simplicity of launching and maintaining a blog has redefined freedom of expression. It’s clear that the intention behind some blogs is a simple sharing of experiences with family and friends, and the occasional visitor. They may be written for the joy of the task itself, or to satisfy ego, record for posterity, or to push an idea, belief, or agenda into or onto the world. (Or perhaps, as a response to something read somewhere else?) This blog grew out of ego years ago, initially as a website, to share my life with those few who might be interested. Sure, I’m grateful when more than three readers visit in a week, but this has evolved into a more permanent record, a journal of sorts, through which even I occasionally revisit old memories.

I’d also respectfully submit that many bloggers could be considered the essayists of today, making observations of daily life. It’s easy to recall more famous essayists such as Ralph Waldo Emerson, Sarah Margaret Fuller, Arthur Miller, Jonathan Swift or John Updike. But for each one of these writers, many others shared anonymous and perhaps less polished observations and opinions in leaflets, pamphlets, or other media that has since disappeared.

In one respect, blogging is a most public form of learning, with all of one’s mistakes on display. It’s inherent in the learning process that bloggers might unconsciously test styles used by others as they find their way, leading to a sameness. Writing, particularly regularly and regularly well, can be difficult. It requires a well of ideas, opinions, and experiences. These experiences may be limited, and not everyone cares to divulge every personal hiccup in their life. Here I decided early on that certain topics would be verboten; a voluntary limitation on “raw honesty.” I’d suspect this is true with other bloggers. (I can’t help but wonder if in today’s world the term “raw honesty” no longer has any real meaning.)

More widely read bloggers have a better understanding of communal attraction of wistfulness and humor and how rooting posts in common experiences can make writing memorable without need for flowery language and a vast vocabulary. These are plain ideas not so easily applied. And, frankly, I don’t expect this level of writing in every blog, understanding that countless blogs were started out of passion, not because the author was a writer.

Blogs become my favorites simply because the writing or topics touch me in some way. At times I want to escape through the eyes of another, especially when I can’t fish. There’s an attraction in stories that offer differing perspectives of familiar or nearby places. Many times it’s merely catching up with the goings on in a friend’s life.

Reading over what I’ve written here, I asked, “Is this raw honesty?” Honest, yes. Raw, no; that’s just not me. I’m just a regular guy, working a job, with a family, who fly fishes when he can, usually less than he hopes; and for whom his blog is writing and sharing without expectation. Judge my blog as you will.

P.S. A discussion with a friend about whether the wording of this post should be strengthened, interestingly enough, led to an answer in the understanding that being true (honest) to my style offered a subtle metaphor.


* I excised “fellow” originally inserted before “fly fishing bloggers” with the consideration this is not a fly fishing-only blog.


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fishing for words turns five after fourteen years in the making

fishing for words (ffw) was born on April 19, 2006. However and without knowing it, my blogging started fourteen years prior to that.

During the mid ‘90s — the beginning of the end for most grunge bands — I joined the few civilians who could make sense of this thing called HTML to launch a website with the unoriginal title “My Little Corner of the Internet.” It was a kooky little site for which every new entry required incorporating text into hand-coded HTML.

The trend at the time was to post a relatively static website about one’s self, and looking back one can see that the early “posts” — stories about trips or family events — popped up once or twice a year from August 1997 through July 2003. There seemed to be more to write about starting in 2004. I don’t know if was the fact that the kids were growing up and it didn’t take a trunk full of diapers, bottles, food and a stroller to travel more than five miles, or the fact that my new wife actually encouraged me to enjoy some adventures on my own.

My writing was largely directed at family and a few friends. Though a student once thanked me for my page on Aloha shirts (apparently it aided him in writing a term paper), I suffered no delusion that anyone would take an interest in what I wrote if they didn’t know me personally.

The Future of Outdoor Blogging

Perhaps the future will bring a new immediacy to outdoor blogging. (That’s not me...it’s my son with a wild rainbow on Stream X.)

Things changed in 2006 with this stuff called CMS and easy-to-use blogging platforms — both of which coincided with my first experience brandishing a fly rod over a Sierra Nevada stream. It was all in place: a website/blog that could easily be fed and a hobby that could provide material.

Now, 139,512 words and 458 posts later, I still resist defining my blog. It remains a place for family and friends…with a loose definition of “friend.” Over the years, nearly everyone in my immediately family has made an appearance in my blog — whether they liked it or not. Friends run the gamut: fly fishing club members, fellow bloggers I’ve surprised by actually showing up on their doorstep met face to face; folks who thanked me for suggestions on where their kids might have a good first fishing experience; even a few buddies met online with whom I eventually shared a fishing trip or two. Every reader is a potential friend, just like the older gentleman and younger guy wearing waders that were too clean and waving barely used rods.

While ffw doesn’t subscribe to any specific definition, it’s definitely been about sharing a personal story. It’s about stepping out of my little universe to share encouragement, a laugh, an experience, a tip or a trick. And every once and a while I’m pleasantly surprised to learn that my words do encourage or earn a chuckle.

Some folks might lament about how much things have changed in five years. I’d say that it’s only our methods of our interaction that have changed; the folks behind it remain much the same. Take a look at the Outdoor Blogger Network, for example — a group of good folks coming together over common interests. They’ve got to be good folks; they let me and my little blog join in the fun. And fun it’s been, sharing my misadventures and adding a couple of new readers every year.

As for the fly fishing, the places I fish usually are not covered in the slick pages of magazines. These are places that can be reached with relatively modest means and without a 4×4. (I did learn last year that a 4×4 would be helpful on the roads to and from Yellow Creek.)

My hero shots find heroism in fooling small wild and skittish brook trout with a fly tied with my own hands. (This summer, hero shots may include a fly rod built with those same hands.) And though the “body count” isn’t so important to me anymore, it’s still about duping that first dozen fish and the story that comes with it.

I’m hoping that there will be many more fish to write about.


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…they’re the people that you read each day*

This post brought to you by the writing prompt “Which Outdoor Bloggers
would you like to Meet?
” from the Outdoor Blogger Network (OBN),
though not all of the bloggers mentioned here are OBN members…


Contemplating this question I realized how lucky I was to meet Kirk from The Unaccomplished Angler in person before his recent retreat from fame. It certainly brings your inflated online impression of someone who’s written a few books and maintains a consistently enjoyable blog down to earth when you sneak up on him while he’s doing yard work. Though I’ve already met him, I’d still like to someday take up Kirk on his offer to spend some time on “The Forks.”

I started my blog before the term existed. I started in 1997 with a simple website that was cumbersome to update, and because it was hand-coded HTML, new content (e.g. “posts”) appeared periodically. (Those of you who recently stepped into blogging don’t know how easy y’all have it with CMS and blog publishing applications.)

Then one day I came across something quite wonderful back in aught-six of the third millennium. One of the first blogs that actually looked pretty nice. Tom Chandler had pieced together a good-looking layout for The Trout Underground. My more modest talent has allowed me to make some money in the field of writing, and Tom’s prose gave me the inspiration to reach outside my training as a journalist for the creative side of writing. Just as much as I enjoy Tom as a writer (regardless of whether his Fly Fishing Underground Writer’s Network is competition for OBN), there’s also the lure of joining him on some of his home waters, which are open during the winter, when I’m often jonesing for a fly fishing fix.

Linking from The Trout Underground, before I knew it would be against better judgment, I ended up on Singlebarbed, where Keith Barton‘s skewed outlook near the shores of the Lil Stinkin’ can alternately leave you laughing, crying or shaking your head. His take on fly tying is what I like best…there’s no recipe that doesn’t deserve to be messed with, whether that means cheap different materials, methods or colors. Keith fishes some less-than-pristine waters near me, but meeting and fishing with him might require a 55-gallon drum of body sanitizer and a hazmat suit.

I’ve found that recovery from a visit to Singlebarbed can be aided by a visit to David Knapp’s The Trout Zone. David’s got a keen eye for photography and a “quiet” writing style. David fishes some prime trout waters in Tennessee, particularly the type of small streams I enjoy; all the more reason to want to meet him for some photo pointers and fishing.

It’s possible I could go on writing for pages and pages screens and screens about various bloggers that I’d enjoy meeting and likely fish with, but to finish up I’d have to include Chris Hunt over at Eat More Brook Trout. How can one not love his blog’s irreverent name? Personally, his story is one that I could make my own — a journalist who retires to work for Trout Unlimited, write essays about fly fishing and spend his free time fly fishing in a pretty awesome place. Even if only for a few days, Chris would be another guy with whom I could spend some time.

In closing, I’d certainly have to add Rebecca Garlock (The Outdooress) and Joe Wolf (Flowing Waters) to my list. Not necessarily because I’ve enjoyed reading their blogs (I have), but to possibly get a glimmer of a hint into their plan for OBN’s worldwide fly fishing blog domination.


*”Oh, who are the people in your neighborhood blog network?
In your neighborhood blog network?
In your neighborhood blog network?
Say, who are the people in your neighborhood blog network?
The people that you meet read each day”