Sturm und Drang 2018

Is it any wonder nearly everyone is exhausted by the first year of the Trump presidency?

The ongoing tweets from the Orange Man combined with incoherent foreign and domestic policies; a Republican party that looks more all the time like a death cult with little agreement on anything; the echo chamber of the majority of mass media outlets breathlessly reporting every tweet; and the Democrats cynically embracing it all as the path to victory in 2018 and 2020 – without offering anything of substance and certainly nothing that offends their rich donors.

I’ve avoided lowering myself into the swamp of the 2016 election and the first year of Trump. But the start of a new year seems like a good time to take stock.

I’ll say only about the 2016 election that it was a choice between a depraved corporatist and militarist, and a boorish infantile narcissist – and in either case the lesser of two evils was still demonstrably evil.

But it’s important to state Trump won the election fairly – fair being relative to the voter suppression of black citizens that’s been legalized for years in key states. It certainly wasn’t the Russians, little green persons (to be politically correct) from Mars, or some astrological event.

The 2016 election results were based on two factors.

The first was a protest against the last forty years of bipartisan neoliberal policies that benefited the rich at the expense of the majority of our citizens.

The second was the Democrats ran an arrogant, inept and lazy candidate in Hillary Clinton who couldn’t get off her ass and get out to the Midwest in the last weeks of the campaign. Even with voter suppression she might have won. And I don’t care she won more votes – we don’t elect Presidents on the popular vote.

The electoral college may be an anachronism but I wonder how an election on popular votes would go. I suspect less than ten states would determine the election. What that would mean for the citizens in all the other states should probably be discussed before jumping into a change.

I’m skeptical of the Russian hacking of the DNC servers.

First, if the NSA had evidence of a penetration over the internet they would have said so. Second if the FBI believed the Russians had done so they would have seized the servers. Does anyone really believe the FBI was stopped from an examination because the DNC wouldn’t let them? And finally, there was a group of former intelligence professionals who said a forensic examination showed the files were copied to a local disk – likely a thumb drive.

Once the hacking storyline faded earlier last year we moved into the collusion between the Russians and the Trump campaign.

Of course there’s Russian money floating around DC. There’s also a great deal of Saudi money and Israeli money floating around – and everyone in Washington knows about it. All of that money is intended to buy influence – none of which is intended to benefit the citizens of this country.

That members of the Trump family and others in his orbit went after it is without doubt. They have enough shaky and likely illegal finances to grab all infusions of cash. If there was opposition research, they were doing the same thing the Democrats were doing. In the end I think Mueller will get prosecutions based on money laundering and obstruction of justice rather than nefarious shenanigans related to the election.

I’m guessing this byzantine investigation is going to go on for the rest of 2018.

I’ve heard the empty-headed talking heads say how all the alleged (and that’s a word that responsible news organizations used in decades past when discussing yet unproven allegations) Russian interference imperiled our democracy.

Give me a break.

The United States has a long and dirty history of direct involvement in other countries’ governance. To name only a partial list: Iran, Guatemala, Vietnam, Chile, Afghanistan, Iraq, Russia, Ukraine, and Syria. I suppose democracy – and a faux one at that – is only important when being discussed here. And even here there are the ongoing efforts at voter suppression that I mentioned above.

And in terms of what the Russians supposedly did in 2016?

Facebook ads? If that’s all it takes to throw an election – along with some emails that revealed the depths of corruption within the DNC and the Clinton campaign – it’s time to turn out the lights.

To all members of the pussy-hatted “resistance” who eagerly cheer the removal of Trump via either impeachment or the 25th amendment – be careful what you wish for. Waiting in the wings is Mike Pence, an avowed theocrat.

Maybe it would be better to try to get the Democrats focused on economic justice and clear out the neoliberals and finance whores; then win back both the House and Senate this year and find a good candidate for 2020.

For the most part, the impacts of a single term of Trump can be overcome.

Except for one thing – North Korea. I am not a Trump supporter and while I think his border wall idea is pure idiocy his childish actions related to North Korea are truly terrifying (in that, except for the tweets I doubt Pence, or Clinton, would be any different). Miscalculation or error could lead the world into a bloody war that could involve the use of nuclear weapons.

Even without a terrible war it’s clear that climatic change is happening now. Last year’s firestorms in British Columbia and hurricanes in Texas and Florida, and the recent winter storm along the east coast are all part of the “new normal” – as I’ve heard it called.

Climate change is, except for nuclear war, the only real existential threat to life on Earth. If massive changes aren’t made in the way we live, and it may already be too late, our children and grandchildren may curse us all.

So, Happy New Year – and here’s hoping a year from now we’ll have managed to make it through the year as a society and a species.

Memory and the Return of the Chum Salmon

Donkey Creek Chum Salmon

Distractions abound in contemporary society with the increasing depravity in most aspects of public life – think big time business, entertainment, politics, and sport.

And now that it’s December, the endless ads for luxury cars, snooping servants masquerading as home electronics, and Christmas music that has been playing in most malls and stores since August have driven out the joy of the season. Even Dickens’ Ghost of Christmas Present has said enough already.

In all of the above, there is no past or future – there is only the Now for only the Now has commercial or political utility. But even the cynical use of the Now as distraction can not, and must not, destroy memory: memory of cherished past; memory of history, and memory of one’s self.

And there is another type of memory. That is the memory of the natural world and its cycles that stretch back farther than human memory.

All it takes is looking outside.

Here in the Northwest, the annual salmon return is one such cycle. December brings its own gift with the return of the chum salmon (Oncorhynchus keta) to Donkey Creek.

The name of the creek has its origin in a lumber mill. After the nearby Austin mill was built in the early 1900s, a donkey engine transport system was used by loggers to move timber downstream to the mill. The building used for the engine was demolished in 2002 but logs from the building were salvaged and used in the siding of the restroom constructed in 2004.

Today, the park of the same name leads by a path to the Harbor History Museum. The path allows easy viewing of the creek. And it is in the creek in late November and December where there’s the best chance of seeing a returning chum salmon.

On their return and out of sight of the public, the fish are captured, bucks and hens are separated, and milk and eggs are extracted – the fish are dispatched with a quick bonk on the head. And then the life cycle of another generation of chum salmon begins.

Their life journey begins in the Donkey Creek Remote Site Incubator System (RSI). The RSI was installed by local fishermen in 1974 in cooperation with the State Department of Fish and Wildlife. The purpose was to restore the chum salmon run that had been severely depleted by road building and urbanization.

The RSI processes 1.3 million eggs every year — 1 million eggs are planted in Donkey Creek and about 300,000 are divided up between Meyers Creek and Purdy Creek.

The eggs and milk are mixed together in incubator buckets, with incubation lasting four months until about mid April. When they hatch they are called alevins. They spend six weeks maturing in the incubator buckets before losing their egg sacs. They then leave the barrels through a small pipe and go into a bigger pipe that runs in Donkey Creek. When they enter the creek they are called fry.

The fry slowly move into Gig Harbor and out into Puget Sound – finally reaching the open ocean in late summer. They move northward along the British Columbia coast until they reach their destination in the Gulf of Alaska, where they will remain for at least three years, with most returning in years four and five.

Their journey out and back means a journey of over 2000 miles plus the miles spent in the Gulf of Alaska. It is an incredible journey out of sight to us except at the very end when we can watch a salmon swim, with all its remaining strength, to reach its spawning ground for the singular purpose of creating the next generation. It is truly awe inspiring to watch.

Standing along Donkey Creek also provides an opportunity to see the cycles in our own lives – particularly when we understand that others stood where we are now.

The S’Homamish band of native Americans spent winters in a village known as Twalwelkax meaning “trout” at the mouth of Donkey Creek. The chum salmon migration was a source of food during the long cold winters. While they spent their winters along Donkey Creek, it’s probable the band migrated during the summer months to Vashon Island for there is archeological evidence of them there.

Little is known of the S’Homamish, except they were one of the bands that signed the Treaty of Medicine Creek in 1854, which exchanged 2.24 millions of land belonging to nine Indian tribes and bands to the United States for three reservations, cash payments, and recognition of fishing and hunting rights. By all accounts it was a swindle, just like all treaties signed with Native Americans.

The fishing rights were in dispute for over 120 years until the Boldt Decision of 1974, which reaffirmed the rights of Indian tribes and bands to act as co-managers of salmon and other fish as well as continue their harvesting according to the original treaties. By that time, the S’Homamish appear to have disappeared as a distinct band. Hopefully they joined another larger tribe and their descendants live to this day.

If they do, they preserve the memory of the life cycle of the chum salmon – as we should for it is a reminder of the great cycles of nature and our own place in it. I take comfort in that when the Now attempts to crush all memory.

Misplaced Outrage

I had been having an internal debate on my road trip as to whether I should write something on the protests of NFL players when the shooting occurred in Las Vegas. As it is, I think I want to now say something about both issues.

First on the protests. It probably needs to be said as a reminder that the purpose of the protests was to protest racism and police violence against young black men. There was, as a result of the superficial reporting that didn’t put the protests into context, the predictable howls of outrage that such protests “disrespect” the flag and the national anthem and all members of the military. I won’t even go into my feelings again about how ignorant the use of disrespect as a verb sounds to me.

The song and the piece of cloth are symbols of this country and all it should represent. But the claim that they represent freedom and the protests are not respectful of that freedom seems to me to confuse cause and effect.

The freedoms we have exist precisely due to protest.

First, what began as protests led to the revolution and ultimately to the US Constitution that formed the legal structure of the republic. The Bill of Rights (as a reminder, the first ten amendments of the Constitution) were adopted due to protests of the anti-Federalists. The increasing protests over many, many decades led to the right of women and minorities to vote – not to mention a Civil War that freed black Americans from legalized slavery. Other protests led to increased rights and protections for American workers. Still other protests led to the rights of the gay and lesbian communities.

Protest – even more than gun rights (see below) – are part of the fundamental genes of this country.

As should be clear, the freedom and willingness to protest is what enables progress. And if something is wrong, it is the highest form of patriotism to protest.

One final point on this issue. I think it’s important that whenever those in authority speak of patriotism and the need for people to show their gratitude for the freedoms we have, it’s wise to pay attention to what freedoms they’re actually trying to take away.

Now to where the real outrage should exist.

Another city, another mass murder. How can anyone be surprised? In spite of the well meaning but facile commentary on various television and radio shows – how could this have been unexpected?

Columbine. Fort Hood. Aurora. Sandy Hook. San Bernardino. Roseburg. Orlando. Las Vegas. And others I’ve forgotten.

Where’s the outrage that as a society we have become numb – except in the immediate aftermath of each shooting – to the ongoing slaughter?

Where’s the outrage that I heard some former police official speak of this as the new normal?

Each time the identity of the shooter or shooters become important so the news media can label the cause of the shooting as terrorism, mental illness or unexplained. But does it really matter to the victims, their family and friends?

Where’s the outrage at Congresses over the last two decades that can only offer “thoughts and prayers” and “moments of silence”?

Where’s the outrage that the Centers for Disease Control have been prohibited for the last 20 years from studying the relationship between guns and violence?

Where’s the outrage that many hide behind the Second Amendment, claiming it gives them the right to own high-caliber military-grade weapons? And I’m not specifically addressing the AR-15/M4 platform used in many of the mass shootings. I’m talking about owning Barrett sniper rifles that can kill at 1800 meters that are sold in some gun shops.

I’ve heard on radio and television many of the arguments for the intent of the Second Amendment. Many have been led to believe the founding fathers put that in the Constitution to ensure the overthrow of a government in case it began to oppress the people. One caller I heard on Sirius said it was put in to ensure that people would be able to fight back in the event of the rise of socialistic communist government.

Where’s the outrage that we have an educational system that doesn’t educate on the founding documents of this republic?

The truth is the Second Amendment was adopted at the insistence of the southern states to ensure they could form state militias to put down slave revolts. It said nothing about individual citizens owning Barrett sniper rifles.

The Second Amendment is an anachronism and should be repealed. But that will likely never happen. Even if it were it would change little.

Gun ownership is not dependent upon the Second Amendment. National, state, and local laws would allow individuals to own weapons for hunting, sport shooting or self defense as is true in a number of countries. And yes it would still allow some to use those weapons for homicide or suicide.

Confiscation is never going to happen no matter what the NRA and a hard-core minority say.

And I don’t think it’s desirable in any case. There are legitimate reasons and purposes for gun ownership. However, I remain unconvinced that civilians need anything more than shotguns, bolt or lever action rifles, and revolvers for the purposes of hunting, sport shooting, and self defense.

In the end, writing this is just a waste of time as nothing is going to happen except the next inevitable massacre.

From a long history of wars and military expeditions to sports violence to the never ending (and ever growing) war on terror, we have become a militarized society that celebrates violence. Popular entertainment promotes violence as solving every problem – whether in an hour on television or several hours in movies. The “warrior hero” is celebrated as the paragon of a society that sees itself as exceptional and indispensable.

And behind it all are the manufacturers of weapons and war; the manufacturers of propaganda labeled as entertainment; the philosophers and preachers of American exceptionalism; and their paid whores in Congress and national media. And they have chosen our god for us.

Thanatos – the Greek god of death – is our civic god. And that choice will lead to violent death for many, many more.

As I said in a previous post, I only hope no one I know is involved in a coming massacre. And I feel outraged saying that.

A River Runs Through It – 25 Years Later

Robert Redford Directing Bradd Pitt

It’s been 25 years since A River Runs Through It was released. Based on Norman Maclean’s novella of the same name, the movie resulted in, by many accounts, a major growth in Montana immigration and tourism as well as interest and participation in fly fishing. I think it’s safe to say without “the movie” (as it’s often called somewhat derisively), interest and efforts in protecting wild rivers; the quality of gear; and travel opportunities for fly fishing – none would not be what they are today.

And yet, as many of those involved in making the movie reflect (see here), the movie is less about fly fishing than the issues of family. It is a movie that brings tears every time I watch it as it touches on questions of how love is expressed and how we can or can’t communicate with those we love most.

I too an haunted by waters.

A Pox on Both Their Houses

Hurricane Maria tore through Puerto Rico in the last few days destroying the territory’s fragile electrical grid. Just so you know, Puerto Rico is an unincorporated territory of the United States of America and its citizens are natural-born citizens of the United States; at the same time they have no representation in Congress and are not allowed to vote in the Presidential Reality Show.

I bring this up because Puerto Rico is going to need large amounts of aid to at least minimize the misery that’s going to go on there for a very long time. The needed aid will come on top of the aid required for parts of Florida and Texas (and other states) due Hurricanes Harvey and Irma.

While I think some aid will flow there, without Puerto Rico having powerful representatives in the halls of Congress, the aid will not be enough. It will be enough to provide the appearance of relief for the beleaguered people of Puerto Rico – at least until television moves on to other news stories as it has already done with the victims of Harvey and Irma.

At some point we will then hear the debates in Congress about how “social programs” need to be cut because aid packages and unfunded liabilities are drowning this country in debt. The “liberal” Democrats will cry crocodile tears for those who will be affected by cuts and they will lament how they can’t bring Medicare for All to reality so we need to stick with the corporate friendly Obamacare.

All in all, more bullshit.

Because none of them will volunteer or will be asked on the empty-headed news channels why they all voted to increase defense spending. The 2018 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) was passed with overwhelming bi-partisan support this week. The act approved $700 billion for defense – $80 billion more than last year. As reference points, that $80 billion would be enough to make public colleges and universities tuition free or only $47 billion of that would be enough to fund Bernie Sander’s Medicare for All.

Think about the opportunity cost of voting for more war at the expense of taking care of the people. Then think about who supported the choice made.

Only eight Senators voted against the bill: Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Pat Leahy (D-Vt.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Ron Paul (R-Ky.), Mike Lee (R-Utah), and Bob Corker (R-Tenn.).

Voting for it were all the supposedly leading liberals who are considered the party leaders – some of whom are talked about as contenders for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination in 2020. That would include Cory Booker (NJ); Diane Feinstein (CA); Al Franken (MN); Amy Klobuchar (MN); Chuck Schumer (NY) and Elizabeth Warren (MA). Also voting for it were both of Washington State’s supposedly liberal senators: Maria Cantrell and Patty Murray.

The reality is that this country has a single war party masquerading as two parties to give citizens the illusion of choice. As George Carlin said, you have no choice, you only have owners.

Remember that in 2018 or 2020 when you’re told you have to vote for the lesser of two evils. Evil is evil.

Tom Morgan: A Tribute

Tom Morgan died on Monday, June 12th 2017, at the age of 76.

As a life-long fly fisherman and later a rod designer, he had owned both the R. L. Winston fly rod company from 1973 to 1991, and Tom Morgan Rodsmiths from 1996 to early 2017.

Tom was widely admired for his extreme commitment to craftsmanship as well as his focus on casting rods designed more for fishing than casting long distance; he rejected the industry trend of rods that overperformed for the line weight for which they’re rated. Tom said those rods robbed fly fishers of the joy of casting a properly flexing rod.

And there’s one other thing you should know about him – he hadn’t gripped a fly rod in the last 20 years of his life. For you see, Tom had suffered from Multiple Sclerosis (MS) since the early 1990’s. He took his last fishing trip (to New Zealand) in 1994; a year later he could no longer walk.

He loved fly fishing so much that even when he was unable to fly fish himself he committed himself to designing and building what many consider the worlds finest rods. They are known for reel seats made of exotic woods, cork handles crafted to fit an angler’s hand, burgundy graphite rod blanks that shimmer in the sunlight, ultrasuede-lined rod bags and rod tubes topped with a minted coin of his logo.

Unable to do the hands-on work himself his wife Geri Carlson became his apprentice. He provided the ideas and she became his hands as they grew his company.

What is truly remarkable is that the disease that robbed of him of his physical health and ability did not rob him of his joy for life. As he said in an interview on CBS, he could be brought to tears by realizing his efforts brought so much joy to others.

Few of us know how we would face a similar debilitating illness that shattered the life we had and the thing we treasured most. The best we can hope for is to have a passion for something so strong that it can overcome even the worst life can hurl at us.

Rest in peace Tom.

Commencement Speech 2017

In 2015 I wrote a commencement speech for the faceless graduates of that year. This year I decided to update the speech based on some personal experiences and meeting some of the people discussed in this speech.

Graduates, congratulations and welcome to the adult world.

You’ve already heard – no doubt – the soaring words of renowned speakers from business, entertainment, or government – who may be, or deserve to be, on their way to prison. By now, your asses are sore and your minds are weary from the half-funny anecdotes, inspiring rhetoric, and trite advice from those who have already achieved incomparable success.

You’re now thinking hand out the damned diploma; I have to endure relatives I can barely remember and attend a number of parties.
Before that, may I add several thoughts of my own? I promise to be relatively brief – or not.

Might I suggest that the stirring words of the eminent commencement speakers related to the unlimited opportunities you all have are just so much bullshit?

Listening to someone who defied the odds and achieved so much success – generally, that means obscene amounts of money – isn’t going to be a model or a possibility for most, if not all, of you.

Remember, I just welcomed you to the adult world. Adults acknowledge reality.

The truth is many of you have limited opportunities – and I only will mention the debt load you now carry that will limit your choices for a number of years; for some, maybe your entire working life.

I do hope we as a country get smart and, recalling the Book of Leviticus, declare a Jubilee year for all your college debts. You need to get on with your lives as previous generations did and do and all the things your parents and television taught you is part of being a grownup.

And to be completely honest, it will allow you to pay your taxes to keep Social Security going to take care of your parents and grandparents as they move out of the work force. And if you think Social Security is just something for all those old people – just wait. You’ll be one of them before you know it.

You face many challenges as you start your careers.

Some of these challenges are the same previous generations faced: tensions between nuclear-armed states; prejudice and oppression based on gender and race; increasing rates of economic inequality; public health issues; military adventurism in little understood parts of the world; and jobs being replaced by automation or being shipped overseas.

But you also face significant challenges that no previous generation sitting where you are now has faced.

I will cite only one: dramatic climate change is happening now and may threaten human existence in your lifetime. As David Brower, founder of Friends of the Earth, said, there is no business to be done on a dead planet.

Scary stuff indeed – particularly when you are looking forward to a long successful career.

But you sitting here means you still have more opportunities than members of your generation who didn’t have the ability or means to get where you are now.

Don’t forget them – more on them in a bit.

And you may not have thought about it, but you have already limited yourself by your choice of the major degree you just received. At least for right now, it will define your salary, your choices as to where you will live and where you will work, and who you will know. It may even affect whom you can – or can’t – marry.

Now you probably don’t see it that way.

You are at an age where you may think your life will go on forever and you can decide to do anything, so most decisions and choices are of little consequence as you can make up for them later.

Trust me on this. Life is more fragile than you may think. Strong and powerful one day – flat on your back struggling to be alive the next. Never take life or how long you will live for granted. And sorry to break the news: every one of you is going to die someday no matter how well or poorly you live.

Even without a serious illness, life will happen, and as much as you dread or deny it now, you will become just like your parents by being first caught up in the distractions and temptations of your twenties (not that there’s anything wrong with that) until you move into your more mature thirties and become loaded down with a mortgage, diapers, daycare, parent-teacher conferences, and soccer.

And hopefully not, but the odds are increasing you will find yourself unemployed as your chosen career evaporates.

You have lived your entire lives with iPhones Facebook, Snapchat and all the other technologies in a way no previous generation on Earth has. You have taken it as a given that all this technology is so terrific.

As you enter the workforce you will see the crushing side of that technology with demands for your constant availability at all hours – at least until your job is sent overseas or taken over by a robot.

Remember, immersing yourself in virtual reality with your phone will never ever be as real or important as holding someone’s hand or taking a walk in the woods.

Whatever happens, one day you will look up and realize you haven’t lived the life you planned or dreamed of when you were sitting where you are now. It’s not necessarily going to be worse – or better. But it will be different. For most of you, that will mean making peace with the choices and compromises you made. For a very few, that will lead to dramatic changes or unfortunate outcomes.

As I said earlier, adults acknowledge reality.

A few other thoughts.

You didn’t get to choose your parents or the circumstances of your birth. And neither did anyone else. So be cautious when judging anyone.

The homeless person might be a battle-scarred vet from this country’s endless wars or someone who fell out of the bottom after an illness bankrupted their family.

The guy in the dirty looking jeans just might be an NFL quarterback looking to buy a car.

The barista at Starbucks may be a law school graduate unable to find a law firm willing to hire her.

The sandwich maker at Subway may be desperate to find a way out of his dead-end job but unsure how to proceed in an economy that has done away with the blue-collar middle class.

The attractive well-dressed couple driving the Benz and who live in the gated community may have nothing in their house and are a missed paycheck or two away from losing it all.

Many of you will spend your working lives slouching in a chair, or maybe standing, starting at a glass screen – and it doesn’t matter if it’s in a corporate campus, your home office, or at a café in Prague.

You will be valued not for who you are, but only for how much you add to the bottom line each year – no matter what you’re told during the hiring process; and you need to understand those expectations will increase every year, often dramatically.

In other words, your career, even if you can hold onto it, may not turn out as well as you hope. So have a plan B.

Along the way you will encounter other people who earn their money doing more physical labor: the road crews working to repair the roads you drive; the truck drivers who come and haul your trash and garbage; the plumber who fixes your pipes; the carpenters who build the addition on your house; the people who serve you food or help you at Home Depot; and all the others.

They have their hopes and dreams too. You could have been them – and you still might be. In other words, there is dignity in all work and you should probably become familiar with the business end of a shovel.

Don’t accept at face value the words of anyone in a position of authority in business, government, or religion. They represent institutions that work for their own interests, and they will use you up – and maybe kill you – in the process. And they all lie all the time.

Remember that political ideology is a crutch; in recent years it has become a form of secular religion. Be wary of the political parties’ articles of faith and whom they establish as your designated saviors. Believe nothing said even from politicians you like and respect until they demonstrate actions beyond elegant phrases.

Always think for yourself, and given the seductive messages and sophisticated controls in place through the mass media think everything through again – and still be skeptical.

Here’s some final reality-based advice.

Stay awake to what your life is and where it’s headed starting right now. Associate only with people who have integrity and love in their hearts.
Be open to what life offers.

Nearly everyone when they’re your age has something offered to them; it could be a job in a different location; a blind date; or a chance to meet someone. These are doors to be walked through. Most of you will be presented with a number of these opportunities over the next few years.

But unless your family name is Clinton or Trump these opportunities will only come for a brief period. Sooner than you think, everyone will see the wide-eyed look you have now will have been replaced by the slightly glazed look that comes from having a job and responsibilities – a life that has few parties, no final exams, no year abroad, and no semester or summer breaks.

So when a door opens, if it feels right in your gut, take the chance and walk through it. It won’t always be what you hoped; it may not work out. But you won’t know unless you try.

And as means of encouragement, you may have heard of the 80/20 rule. It’s actually called the Pareto Principle, which states 80 percent of the effects comes from 20 percent of the causes.

So if you try enough times and take enough chances you’ll get most of what you want. We’re all adults here now, right? So most doesn’t mean all.

But for the majority of you, that will still give you an extraordinary life filled with people you love and who love you, and with a sense of personal worth.

Now, get busy. You need to take the lead and be the generation that fixes the problems I mentioned earlier.

Congratulations and well done.

Thank you.

The Beach is Back

Narrows Bridges

Well, to be honest…the beach never went anywhere. What’s back was me on the beach. Today, I finally got out to the beach to get my waders wet and cast my fly. It was the first time fly-fishing since last year – before my daughter’s wedding and before the medical adventure.

I could not have picked a better day.

It was sunny with scattered clouds. Neither is notable, except for the notable fact the sun has been scarce in these parts for many months. And the amount of sunlight did affect one’s comfort, as the temperature swing was notable as the sun played hide and seek.

Still, with only zephyrs for wind and an ebb tide this was a day to go fishing. I had planned to go to Purdy. But as I came to the parking area the seven cars there were enough to suggest that it was already crowded. So I made a beeline for Narrows Park.

There were a few fly fishers and spin casters on the beach, but given the length of the beach between Point Evans and Point Fosdick, crowds are never an issue. Starting with a pink shrimp pattern I began casting as I worked my way to the bridges. The chum fry are moving out of the creeks but I thought it might be a bit early for them to have made it to the Narrows so I kept my chum baby flies in the box.

I did need to focus on my casting for fishing. Don’t hold the rod too tight. Lengthen the casting stroke as more line was out. Let the rod do the work. Focus on a good back cast. Those are easy to remember in the backyard – less so when standing in the water hoping to catch a fish.

I made progress in putting them all together again. A few more times and they’ll be back in muscle memory. Then it will be time to work on the fishing double haul.

I made my way past the Narrows Bridge, casting along the way with nothing to show for the effort. No hits and definitely no fish brought in. And it did bring back a truth about fishing in Puget Sound – the only consistency is inconsistency.

But there was nothing to complain about.

The day was beautiful. Lots of boats were passing both down and up the Sound. Gulls were overhead. And out in the middle of the Narrows – where the currents are the strongest a couple of harbor porpoises (Phocoena phocoena) were playing.

I sat on a log and watched the world for a time, thinking about how lucky I was to be where I was. As my hunger alarm clock went off, I switched to a chartreuse Clouser tube fly and began my trek back to the parking lot – stopping again at the places where trout or resident Coho can be found – if they’re there. As on the walk out there were none. And I wasn’t the only one, no one I spoke to was having any luck.

Looking around one last time as I got back to the path up to the parking lot I had the same regret at leaving I always do. Why that is will be for another time.

For now, it was only the first time out this year – it won’t be the last. Fish on.

Social Media and The Loss of Serendipity

Recently I read a post on the Chrome Chasers‘ blog that got me thinking about social media and the way in which it threatens the unexpected in the things we do and encounter in our lives.

In his post, Keith Allison – owner of Chrome Chasers – observes that social media is one of the biggest threats to steelhead. Where fly fishers used to drive for hours in the hope of finding steelhead – with some incredible trips while others wound up as busts, now people consult social media for up to the minute status, guaranteeing that once quiet lightly peopled rivers are flooded with crowds and boats all wanting to hit the “epic” conditions.

He went on to say that he’s seen out of area guides posting about their success – thus bringing in more people, and in one instance he helped out a guide in trouble who was taking clients down a river the guide had never run before. I guess you can’t blame the guide; after all he was after the epic conditions for his paying clients and didn’t have time to do his homework. I wonder if his clients knew how poorly he served them.

Social media is now omnipresent and here to stay. Some estimates suggest that by 2018, 2.4 billion people will be using social media (up from less than one million in 2010). That expected increase is in spite of the revelations that every communication online eventually winds up in some government big-data store.

And it’s not to say that social media doesn’t have its uses from enabling societal change as happened in Tunisia and Egypt, or being used as a focal point for communication between family or friends during disasters. And it’s handy for being reminded to pick up something from the grocery on the way home.

The problem I see is that social media eliminates the separation between the private and the public. Everything we see, do, think or feel winds up posted, texted or tweeted. There is no pause to reflect on whether what is being done should be closely held or broadcast (literally) to the world.

As individuals, I think we have to own the responsibility for deciding what to post, text, or tweet. And I think we also have to be responsible for deciding what we read in social media.

In fly-fishing or any other activity in nature, it’s often better not to know and just show up and be open to what happens.

There have been mornings spent on Puget Sound where no sea run cutthroat trout were to be found. But then again, on many of those mornings there were eagles overhead and seals just off the beach. One morning, I looked behind me to see a deer looking at me.

I would have lost those opportunities if I had read a post saying there was nothing to catch in the Narrows and then decided not to go or go somewhere else. And I would have deprived someone else of the same random chance if I had been the one doing the posting.

We all need to be responsible for protecting the natural world and what it offers in terms of privacy and solitude. And maybe take a moment to think about what and when before posting or tweeting after landing that steelhead or trout.

You can read the post here.

The Medical Adventure Completed

It has been a long while since my last post, which reflects how long it took for my medical adventure (discussed in my last post) to be finished.

I did have my gall bladder removed in early December and thought that would be the end of it. However, that wasn’t to be the case.

Two days after Christmas, we went in for the two-week followup with my surgeon. After a few errands we stopped in for lunch at Subway. No reflection on Subway, but while standing in line I grew faint and passed out just as my wife got me into a booth.

That resulted in a Medic One ride to the emergency room; riding in their rig was sort of cool.

At the hospital I was diagnosed with another round of e coli; in addition I had an abscess at the site of the surgery. Both resulted in another four-day stay in the hospital and another drain – this time for the abscess.

Two weeks later I went in to have the drain removed, and the radiologist said what they thought to be a side pocket of that abscess was actually a second one. In addition, its location meant another drain would have to be inserted – this time through the liver. Yikes.

That drain was finally pulled on January 26th. Since then I’ve been free of fever or infection with no further complications. The doctors said as there was no infection while I had the last drain in (and being off all antibiotics) odds were more than good I was finally done with this. As it is, that’s the case.

Now comes the effort to rebuild my strength and endurance. During the last three months when I wasn’t looking someone had taken my arms and shoulders and replaced them with the same from some old man. I need to get mine back.

And sometime soon it’s time to get back fly fishing.