Reduction In Force: It is What It Is

One constant in life is change; a cliché certainly but true nonetheless. While many changes are minor and soon forgotten, others offer a moment to make a choice – a choice of embracing and seeing opportunity, or resisting and seeing tragedy. And I think in most cases the latter is futile and self-destructive, however difficult it often is to appreciate at the time.

I face one of those moments as I was given a Reduction in Force notice last week; my last day of work will be September 18th.

I’m actually okay with it. I’ve grown bored by an increasingly tedious job and jaded by the corporate life I’ve had for many, many years. My working plan was to retire by midyear 2016 as I could tell my job role was shrinking and it was time to leave for emotional, mental, and physical health.

So this isn’t too much of a shock.

There are number of financial decisions to be made in terms of severance package, healthcare, and retirement benefits, and I’m very conscious that what I have available is not shared by many millions out in the workforce or those who have lost their jobs.

I’m certainly aware already that the financial situation will not be as good as before.

At the same time, there will be no 80 to 100 mile daily commutes. There will be no tedious staff meetings, no management drivel, and no self-serving “leaders” lining their own pockets while reducing the middle-class jobs beneath them. And there will be no more fear of the continuing repetition of layoffs and reductions that have gone on – almost without stop – over that last two decades.

Still, it would have been nice to go out on my own power at a time of my choosing.

But, it is what it is.

While some people may cringe at that expression, it is not a call for the complacency that is often attributed to it in modern use. And its modern use does not reflect its original intent.

Rumi, the Persian poet and Sufi mystic, published a work of prose in 1316 titled Fihi Ma Fihi. The title has been translated both as “it is what is” and “in it what is in it” – and which is more correct is a subject of some debate among those given to translations of ancient Persian.

But Rumi was not writing about complacency. The 72 discourses (speeches) in that work reflects his life-long teaching: life is about the pursuit of the divine essence that permeates the universe and about reuniting in love with that divine. Whether that divine essence is called God, the Great Spirit, or the Force is up to each of us.

I think then the point of “it is what is” lies in understanding that everything in life is a part of the divine essence. So everything in life gives us an opportunity to find that divine essence, even in the tough times, and grow into something better than what we are.

And that includes getting a WARN notice with 60 days left of employment.

And that also means more time to go fly fishing.

Tom Larimer Joins G. Loomis

Tom Larimer announced yesterday he’s joining G. Loomis as Nation Sales Manager.

Based out of Hood River, Oregon he is a well known guide on the Deschutes River and highly respected Spey-casting instructor.

His move to Loomis follows a long association with Winston Rods where he was a technical adviser; he was also the designer of the very popular Winston MicroSpey rods that were released last year.

He didn’t explain the reason for the move, but I might speculate that at some point he realized he wasn’t getting younger and he needed financial stability for him and his family – a real job will provide that.

Two other thoughts:

First, I also heard Steve Rajeff is going to become much more involved in the marketing of G. Loomis rods to increase market share. The hiring of Tom Larimer is probably part of that strategy. And Hood River isn’t that far from Vancouver Washington so geographic proximity is a plus. I think they’re going to give the Sage marketing machine a run for their money

Second, Larimer’s departure from Winston isn’t good for that company. When long associations end, there’s often more to it than is discussed. I note that Winston is bringing out a new rod called the Boron III Plus. While other rod companies (e.g., Sage and Scott) used the week of IFTD to introduce the rod on their web sites and Facebook pages, Winston had no announcements or Facebook posts. I just wonder if these are two unrelated issues or part of a pattern.

You can read Tom Larimer’s announcement here.

Lefty Kreh – More Than a Legend

The latest issue of Fly Fisherman has an article on Lefty Kreh, providing the life of the real man who has grown into a legend of fly fishing.

Bernard Victor Kreh was born in Maryland in 1927. Growing up in the Depression, he supported his widowed mother by hunting and fishing. Like most men of his age, he fought in the Second World War. That I knew. What I didn’t know until this article was that he was a forward artillery observer he was at the Battle of the Bulge.That battle in the bitter winter of 1944 left him with a lifelong disdain of cold weather. He also participated in the liberation of a concentration camp and was part of a unit that met the Russian Army at Torgau on the Elbe River.

From there, the career that made him a legend began. You can read the article here.

Angler, I (Probably) Don’t Feel Your Pain

I am far from the only angler who’s been asked whether fish feel pain when hooked. While having no definitive answer, my feeling has always been the answer is no. Now a study at the University of Wisconsin, and reported in the scientific journal Fish and Fisheries, has attempted to put the question to rest.

A team injected acid or bee venom into the jaws of rainbow trout. They reported little effects on the trout, suggesting at the same time a human similarly tested would have experienced significant pain.

While a test of a single species may not be considered by some to represent all species of fish, it is a strong data point. And some might argue, as People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals do, that fish exhibit other behaviors that represent pain.

So the debate likely will continue.

At this point, I think the best approach is to treat fish, like all other animals – and people for that matter, with respect. Fish hooked should be landed quickly to prevent the buildup of lactic acid; if sport fish they should be left in the water and quickly released; and if a fish is to be killed, it should be done quickly.

You can read the article here.

Trout At Risk – The Canaries in the Coal Mine

Two recent reports have provided an alarming view of the future of trout in this country. Taken together they should also serve as a warning to us about our future.

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in the last week released a report (Climate Change in the U.S. – Benefits of Global Action) on climate change that concluded by 2100 there will be only one small trout population east of the Mississippi River (and that in the northeast corner of Vermont). In addition, with unmitigated climate change there will be an overall 62% decline in cold water habitat across the country.

This report follows another recent study by Trout Unlimited, called the State of the Trout. This study was not limited to climate change, but included looking at the impacts of energy development, non-native species, and water demand (other uses).

Consider the following highlights from the Trout Unlimited study.

The United States historically had 25 native trout species. Now, three are extinct. Of the remaining 22 species, half occupy less than half their original habitat. Each of those 22 species also has at least one moderate or major risk factor.

Those are looking at the overall patterns. The regional patterns – in terms of the areas that might interest here in Washington are as troubling.

The Pacific Coast region, including western Oregon and Washington (and roughly half of the eastern parts of each state – and western California faces threats in climate change, non-native species, and water demand. They classify the coastal cutthroat population – near and dear to us in Puget Sound – facing only moderate risks in climate change and water demand. Other species including Dolly Varden and bull trout are classified as having major risks in multiple categories.

We should not be smug in western Washington. As this summer reminds us, high heat can impact our streams and surface waters too, and forest fires destroy habitat for all species, including salmon.

The northern Rockies, including the hallowed ground of fly fishing – Montana, face risks to their native populations (e.g., western cutthroat and bull trout) in terms of non-native species and climate change. I suspect that many people don’t recognize that the prized trout of Montana – the brown and rainbow – are non native species.

While their future was not examined in this study as they are non-native, other Trout Unlimited studies in the past looked at the risks of stream warming. As might be expected, they are in trouble too.

Combined these reports add to the growing list of publications and studies that highlight the threat of climate change. For climate change is happening in spite of the efforts of the fossil fuels industries, their paid agents, and useful idiots to deny it.

And water demand – and supply – is not an issue for only fish.

Forks, Washington – on the western coast of the Olympic peninsula and one of the wettest places in the country – has imposed water restrictions this summer due to the water levels in the wells dropping. Water rationing may become a future we all will learn to live with.

Denial of the problem may be easy for some; thinking those problems will occur long after they’re pushing up daisies in some boneyard.

But no one knows when exactly the tipping point will occur and rapid climate change commences. Beyond that, it doesn’t matter if we are alive when the apocalyptic events begin. We have children or grandchildren, or know of people who are younger than us. We owe it to them to fight the future that appears inevitable if we do nothing.

You can read the reports at the following links:

EPA Report

Trout Unlimited Study

What They Fought For: Reflections on the Confederate Flag

The murders at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina have led to calls from across the political spectrum (including a remarkable speech by the son of Strom Thurmond) to remove the “stars and bars” – officially the Confederate Battle Flag – from official displays on government buildings in the South.

I do hope there is follow-through on the commitment and promises in the face of the building backlash, which will be abetted by the distraction of the next tragedy, primary politics in the 2016 election, or a Kardashian sighting. The outline of that backlash has already been seen on network news following the first calls for iconoclasm, that is removing the Battle Flag and all that it represents.

Typically, someone is seen objecting that the Battle Flag represents some brave ancestor who fought in the Confederate army during the Civil War and calls to remove the flag is an attack on their heritage.

I think any counter-argument need to start with a fundamental truth: those who fought on the Confederate side or supported its struggle were guilty of treason.

Harsh words, perhaps. But treason is a truth that needs to be brought out into the light of day. Article IIII, Section 3 of the United States Constitution describes treason against the United States as “shall consist only in levying war against them, or in adhering to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort.”

As defined in that Article, the leaders of the Confederacy and their soldiers were all guilty of treason. And yet, Confederate government leaders were not hanged and military leaders were not jailed for the rest of their lives. Reconstruction was brutal in many aspects, but not as brutal as it might have been if the intent was to totally destroy the South.

The reasons for the above are complex and will not be discussed here.

The point I want to make is that treason is the first truth of the Southern rebellion even if it has been lost in the depiction and understanding of the Civil War in our time.The second truth is that the Southern cause was about slavery and white supremacy. Any doubt about the latter can be found in the contemporary writings of Southern leaders both before and after the Civil War. The Atlantic magazine has captured many quotes in recent issue. You can read the article here.

It is clear Southern leaders clearly understood their cause was the continued existence, and expansion, of slavery and the claimed right of ownership of black people as property. And to carry on with their aims they were ready to, and did, commit treason.

The Confederate Battle Flag then is the overt symbol of treason and white supremacy – pure and simple.

So to address the point about someone having a Confederate ancestor. honor their history and service in an army if you must, but not the cause.

Any claim that a Confederate ancestor was actually fighting for “state rights” or because the Yankees were in their state is self-serving in light of history, At the time those may have been the beliefs or understanding of individual Confederate soldiers. Soldiers are always being lied to about why they are fighting and dying. It continues to this day.

But then, as now, political leaders understand the real reasons for the wars they start. And the rebellion (and treason) was about slavery.

The Battle Flag is part of American history and has a role in that history. But it has no place in official display on any government building – state or local – across the land.It belongs in museums.

Symbols have value – but only if the values they represent are worth cherishing.