Friday, May 30, 2008

link from a link

Over at the Volokh Conspiracy there's post about and a link to a news report regarding a concealed carry license holder who used his weapon to stop a bar shooting, though not before two had been killed and two wounded. He apparently shot the gunman as the killer was reloading. Unfortunately, the comments denigrate into all too predictable posturing.

Fortunately, as anodyne and a change of subject, from HunterAnglerGardnerCook one can find his way over to UK blog Sporting Shooter, who has a post with a great link to foul-mouthed chef Gordon Ramsay in one of his British shows going ferreting with his eight year old son. They catch a couple of rabbits (though not Florida football style). After that, they show the boy how to field dress them (they don't do it the way I learned, which is to skin first, then gut). What a cool show! I don't watch the outdoor programs, but back when I did catch a few things like field dressing were never addressed, aside from the occasional "how to" segment. Kudos to Ramsay, for including a segment like that in a food show. He seems to have a bit of a different face for this show- no swearing or confrontation for over two minutes. I hope it makes its way to BBC America.

Monday, May 26, 2008

@#$%&**!!! Snake!!

Hope you all had a good weekend. Ours was good, just interrupted a couple of times. Kind of a southwestern version of unwanted encounters. Saturday was devoted to chores- getting the swamp cooler hooked up and ready to go, pulling a mort of weeds, watering, mowing, and all those little things.
Sunday, A, the dog and I took the morning and headed up the mountain behind town.

Our exercise was cut a bit short by running into this fine fellow:

At least he had the grace to start buzzing right away. It's been a while since I've run into a rattler and I'd nearly forgotten the full body adrenaline rush that sound can inspire. Cue bad words and me skipping backwards yanking 95 pounds of confused Chessie behind me. The weather is nice enough for snakes, but I was a bit surprised to see him at what must be at least 6000 feet in elevation. Wonder what particular type? Not diamondback. (Edited to add- I think he's a Northern Black-Tailed Rattlesnake).

Since I was seeing snakes under every rock, and there were lots of rocks, we headed back down the hill. Booker is training for the summer backpacking season:

That evening, we blew up to one of my very favorite venues and caught Blue Rodeo. I'm happy to report that they are every bit as good, if not better, live as they are on album. The whole scene was definitely something white people might like, with lots of folks up by the stage, bobbing their heads and tapping their feet. No judgment, I was happily bobbing & tapping along, noting Los Alamos Barbie & Ken in the audience. All in all a very good time, great weather, lovely patio, good music, very good beer and a superior type of bar food. Get the Asian slaw as a side. That place is one of the things that makes me happy I live where I do.

Today we headed up into the mountains, looking to dodge holiday crowds and find some water. The dog was not impressed with the plan-

We had just bailed off the trail to head down to the water when we ran across three and a half feet of bull snake, an unwelcome surprise at 8000 feet.

I didn't think any snakes hung around up there, but he was big around as a ball bat in his middle.

I used the encounter to engage in a little snake training with the dog, as I saw the reptile first. Once Booker noticed him, I yanked to dog downhill, shouting and doing my best to instill a little aversion. Still, my equanimity had been lost. Soon, though, we got down to the creek.

Runoff swollen, but fishable. Swimable for sure.

Cold water? No problem:

That stuff was snow 10 hours ago.

I'm going to need to work with the dog a bit on the concept of fishing, though. He takes my interest in a stretch of water as a reason to check it out first hand:

Little mountain trout don't rise to the fly under these circumstances:

In the end, a beautiful outdoors day and a tired dog:

Hope everyone else fared as well.

Friday, May 23, 2008

thinking about the weather

We've had an odd and chilly spring this year- when I went to buy tomato seedlings a few weekends ago the nursery informed me that their stock had been nipped and advised me to check back in a week. I did, and the low the Friday before the plants went in was a chilly 33F. Even so, it turned hot and we seemed back on track. This last week started sunny and reaching for the 90s. The weather had the feel of the hot spell we frequently fall into in the beginning of June or late May and 100 degree temps seem right around the corner. Day before yesterday, though, a cool breeze came through in the late evening and both yesterday and today have been drizzly, cool and cloudy. It feels like fall, one of those best elk hunting days in mid-October when the clouds hang on the ridgetops and the woods are damp, curtains of mist and drizzle hiding the other side of the canyon. It also feels a bit like Alaska, at least where I've fished down off the Prince William Sound and drizzly, rainy, breezy and cool are the most frequent conditions. So, in reflection of the weather and anticipation of a trip only a few months away, here are some of my favorite Alaska shots, most from a few years back when we went out late enough for the colors to be well on their way to changing.

My father fishing- this is my screensaver:

My uncle on the same trip:

Scenery everywhere:

And then, a tangible prompt to memory:

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

recent trip

This last week and a bit I was off doing a bit of fishing and some visiting. Back to the lower Laguna Madre on the Texas coast and then to points east. For us, at least, fishing in the bay was slow.

A ladyfish, or as we know them colloquially, a skipjack:

If skipjacks ran a consistent five pounds and larger, rather than the usual one-to-three pounds, bay fishermen would all have to use heavier gear anytime they were in slightly deeper water or else sacrifice a lot of gear. Skipjack jump and run harder than their size would indicate, frequently throwing the hook on the second or third jump. Though they lack teeth, the rough patches on their lips and their sharp gill covers will pretty regularly cut you off or tear your leader up to where you have to re-tie. Since they aren't edible, they're considered "trash fish" and an obligatory "darn skipjack" must be muttered once your line heads for the surface and that first rattling jump is made. Aside from being a bit slimy to handle and the risk of getting cut off, it's good fun when a skipjack rockets to the surface and darts off in short runs, zipping line off against the drag.

Better luck next time, perhaps.

Friday, May 09, 2008

wine post

Via the Volokh Conspiracy, I see that Eric Asimov in the The New York Times has an article regarding the correlation between price and satisfaction with wine. It seems that the more something costs, the more likely you are to be satisfied with it, including a bottle of wine. The study in question did not require the test subjects to pay for their wine, though. I think a good follow up would be to have the test subjects use their own money to buy the same bottle twice, once being charged $20, the next time $50 but without being told it was the same wine. This would test the effect of thrift on the wine drinkers' perception. Personally, I've had lots of "not bad for $5" bottles of wine and quite a few "not great for $25" bottles. If the latter had been priced like the former, my pleasure in them would have been greater. A nice bottle of wine at $7 is a find. A nice bottle of wine at $30 is expected.

My very favorite wines are all under $15, though it is a short list. Gruet Blanc de Noir is a really good sparkling wine, made in New Mexico by a family of Champagne makers and is fairly regularly placed on sale for $12/bottle.

My taste for plonk-priced wine has another explanation than thrift. In the same article, Asimov writes a bit about another study where 500 volunteers samples 540 wines and rated them, regardless of price (which they did not know). The study is discussed in a new book to be published soon called "The Wine Trials" and, as described by Asimov, "... the book shows that what appeals to novice wine drinkers is significantly different from what appeals to wine experts, which the book defines as those who have had some sort of training or professional experience with wine." While not a novice wine drinker, in the sense of having twenty-some years of imbibing behind me, I think the lack of sophistication of my palate explains my enthusiasm for low end wines, as opposed to those loved by the experts. Then again, I like lots of garlic, lots of black pepper, lots of green chile, plenty of any spice but cumin and salt- strong flavors generally appeal most to me.

With respect to the more expensive bottles, while back there was an article on Culinate about picking up an otherwise bland evening with a good bottle of wine, I belatedly came across knowledge of "open that bottle night", or OTBN, created and advocated by a pair of writers for the Wall Street Journal. They set aside a day each year to open one of their best bottles and advocate drinking those bottles set aside because they are sentimental or too expensive, rather than leaving them up on the shelf to admire. Rather like taking out that old shotgun or heirloom rifle and using it, rather than stashing it in pristine uselessness in a safe.

I'm guilty of stashing good stuff, prime cuts of elk or redfish fillets or a good bottle of wine, sometimes past the best due date. Friends and family laugh at my spare bedroom (when I forget and leave the door open) and the cases of wine stacked in two corners. From a high of eight or ten cases a couple of years ago, I've whittled it down to six or eight after resolving to drink up everything but two, for the sake of space if nothing else. Not that I've only consumed two cases of wine in the last year or two, by any means. Regular purchases of every day drinking wine as well as the occasional nicer bottle, or half-case if I find a deal, has complicated the project. Time for a new resolution to drink before I buy.