Wednesday, August 29, 2007


Well, I just got back from a fifth annual trip silver salmon fishing in south-central Alaska. As always, the company was great and the scenery fantastic. This year was one that drove home the point that in fishing, nothing can really be taken for granted. Our trip was a bit earlier this year, which happens to be one featuring an unusually late run in that area of the state. Complicating matters further, things were far more dry than we've seen in previous years. Little water in the streams means that few salmon head up them to spawn. Consequently, fishing was tough. For the first time, I found my wrist hurting more from casting (flinging a heavily weighted fly on a #2 hook behind a substantial split shot on a sink-tip line with an eight weight is hard on us five weight mountain stream fifteen-foot-no-backcast #16 Adams types) than from hanging on while a silver goes nuts on the other end. Sometimes you just have to grind a bit to catch fish and previous trips where my arm did get tired from fighting fish (not that tired, but still) probably built up a little earning-it time in the fishing karma bank.

Still, we caught fish, saw only bear tracks, saw moose

and a curious weasel and generally had a fine time. My limited experience in Alaska has shown it to be much like the Grand Canyon in that the scale of the scenery is so large there is no way to capture it with photographs.

This trip was sunny, so the mountains were unusually visible, requiring frequent pauses just to admire the view.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Richard Thompson

The last few days Richard Thompson's old song "Beeswing" has been running through my mind. The bit about "wolfhound at her feet" was the line that came to me and got the song going. I don't really wonder why. Like most of Thompson's best, it is an amazingly evocative song, which can bubble up in your mind at various times. In this case, I've been getting reacquainted with the feeling of having a dog regularly to hand and underfoot.

Earlier this year I had the very good fortune to catch Thompson in his live show, performed solo and acoustic. I'd read for years about his guitar skills and I've admired his songwriting for at least that long. Neither fact prepared me for the truly astounding level of skill Thompson displays, let alone his connection with the audience and his, surprising for a guitar god, humility. I was fortunate to attend with someone as appreciative as I and we spent the hour's drive home repetitively asking each other variations of "could you believe it when he..." and "wasn't it amazing when...". If you ever have the chance to beg, borrow, steal, or otherwise make your way into a Richard Thompson performance, do so!

As a last note, a few years ago I watched a televised program where Del McCoury"performed Thompson's "1952 Vincent Black Lightning". It really fits as bluegrass, theme and music. Surprisingly, the audience seemed nonplussed, they were primed for nothing but the "O Brother Where Art Thou" soundtrack and failed to respond much to any song not off that collection.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

In the meantime

Not much blogging lately. Work has been work and other things have been going on. Also, adjusting to the dog has required a couple of extra hours out of my day. Since at least one of those hours has been exercise, I'm well ahead.

In any event, I'm off on a fifth annual trip to AK here in a few days and hope to have some photos from that. Re: chessie in the desert- playing with the hose is all in good fun and exercise. Attacking the sprinklers buried in the lawn when they start spouting water and killing them is not so cute. Actually, short of a trip to the hardware store and the frustration of not being able to call him off, it was kind of funny.

A thought on books- has anyone out there read Neal Stephenson's "Zodiac- an eco-thriller"? Highly, highly recommended. Derring-do from an engaging protagonist who is not necessarily a nice guy, described by the author as a hard boiled crime novel in a different setting. I'd put it up against "The Monkey Wrench Gang" (in terms of eco-thrillers) any time, though I can't speak to the accuracy of the geography portrayed for the East Coast in the first as I can for the second, as I have been fortunate enought to knock around the Four Corners a very little bit. In any case, it is a strong early work from the guy who later brought us "Cryptonomicon", which is better than early Clancy or most of W.E.B. Griffin for a techno-thriller along with "Snow Crash" and "The Daimond Age", which are by far two of the best examples of cyberpunk. I'll note that the link for "Snow Crash" does not lead to anything directly about the novel, but rather to an interview of the author which is notable for the very funny answer to question#4 and the rather mysterious handle borne by questioner #7. "Snowcrash" also starts off in a very hard boiled fashion, by the way. To wit:
"The Deliverator belongs to an elite order, a hallowed subcategory. He's got esprit up to here. Right now, he is preparing to carry out his third mission of the night. His uniform is black as activated charcoal, filtering the very light out of the air. A bullet will bounce off its arachno-fiber weave like a wren hitting a patio door, but excess perspiration wafts through it like a breeze through a freshly napalmed forest. Where his body has bony extremities, the suit has sintered armorgel: feels like gritty jello, protects like a stack of telephone books."

Can you see it?

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Times changing

Well, this guy's world-

just got a lot more annoying. Now he has to share his house with this guy:

who is way too big, loud, slobbery, and just generally enthusiastic.

Of course, while the first one is pretty darn good on mice and other assorted pests, he isn't much for ducks.