They came in the night

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Lawmakers worked well into Friday morning passing a ton of bills. Normally, I would find this unprecedented legislative productivity refreshing. A lot of stuff got done. Much of it was pretty standard; the kind of things no one really pays attention to. However, there were some very interesting bills no one got the chance to pay attention to before they were enrolled.

In those early hours, Lansing was like an electronics store during the L.A. riots. Taking full advantage of the “lame duck” session, republicans approved all kinds of legislation; much of which nobody but them had ever seen, or heard about. There were more last second substitutions then an episode of Naruto. When the doors finally closed on the capital building, Christmas had come early for the GOP, and a fat stack of party legislation sent the the governor’s desk.

For a list of all the recent bills,  see here.

Guns. Check. Abortion restrictions. Check. New Emergency Manager Law. Check. “Right to Work”. Check.

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Wedding in the Wilds

I didn’t get lost in the wilderness, but I did get lost on the way. My friend’s wedding was being held at the Headlands, a few “cottages” located on the shore along the northwestern-most tip of Michigan. My ability to get lost while driving is legendary, but computers are rotten liars, and should never be completely trusted. Especially when operating a motor vehicle.

The Headlands was a nice place and it was a nice wedding; a simple little affair secluded in the woods along a beautiful coast. The weather couldn’t have been better, and the leaves had just begun to change. I haven’t been to a lot of weddings, but it seemed as close to perfect as you could get.  A nice place. About 100 friends and relatives. A short ceremony. An open bar.

The doves were nice too. I think one is probably still fluttering around there, somewhere.

The wilds and wild times are pretty good friends, but as far as I could tell, the reception was pretty tame.  Most of the guests had made their way to Mackinaw City hotels and those in the wedding party who had been medicating heavily all day had safely put themselves down for the night by about 10 p.m. Everybody else was left to dig through the remains of the bar. It was the first Tigers/Rangers game, and rabid Detroit fans gathered around handheld devices. There is no television in the woods. Eventually somebody started a bonfire for the rest of us to huddle around.

Only my nerves kept me from fully enjoying the evening. I hadn’t seen many of these people for quite some time, but despite this fact, I was on the fence about attending the wedding for several months. However, the bride and I had been friends for quite some time, even before grade school,  so I felt obligated to attend. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to go, it was that I seem to have developed a strange phobia of going anywhere and doing anything after several years of going nowhere and doing nothing. Five years doing something you hate with few real social outlets and even fewer people with which to share your real interests with do amazing things to people.

Wrist Violin Theater aside, I am glad I went, for a variety of reasons. It was great seeing old friends. I met some people as well.  I got to drink free beer.

I also learned a few things; if I don’t want to go crazy, I should probably go out more, mainly. I also learned it is impossible to tell whether or not you are listening to a Katy Perry song, because her “voice” is different for each one.

Also; the drive back was fantastic. The scenery along US 31 was amazing that weekend.


A wild Gyrados Appears!

Sometimes I do things that don’t involve a computer, work, or ponies. As some of you spam-bots might known, I like to go fishing. Lately, I’ve been able to make it out once a week.

While I (we) usually don’t get skunked very often, it did happen at Lake Arcadia about a month back. My fishing companion and I went back  for a re-match the next week and caught several nice smallmouth bass where the lake forms a channel to Lake Michigan, along with a few pike in the main lake body. We were pretty happy with how things went, so we went back for a third time.

We (I) only caught one fish this time, but it was a doozy. It wasn’t exactly a gyarados*, and I didn’t need a super rod. It was a large pike, and it only required at St. Croix. We didn’t have a scale and I didn’t measure him, but he was big. I don’t think I’ve ever legally caught anything so large. I probably shouldn’t have caught it all, considering I was using 8lb test, no leader, and the fish managed to wrap my line around the jagged remains of the boat’s transducer mount (the part of the “fish finder” that goes in the water).

I was pretty jazzed. Jazzed enough to post this post (I didn’t have anything else to write about, anyway) and edit the video of my catch.

So, here you go, spam-bots. Enjoy. Maybe you can try to link some bogus fishing junk site off me.

*I just realized the names of pokemon are capitalized, when the common names of most animals aren’t. Therefore, I did not capitalize gyarados. I did a quick search, and it appears there is, or was, a big debate about this. What a surprise.

I Hope You all Choke on Your “Electronic Books”

Really, I do. I know it is kind of extreme. I don’t even know if people “reading” books on gadgets is the cause of the “local” Borders going down.  I’m sure it didn’t help. Besides, I will really miss that bookstore, and somebody has to pay for my inconvenience.

For those of you who don’t know, Borders is a Michigan based all-encompassing bookstore chain like Barns and Noble. It is going out of business. I used to frequent the Borders in Traverse City, and now I will have to go downtown to a much, much smaller bookstore. Except I probably won’t because I hate downtown traffic and the store is 75% smaller. I don’t think they even have a  section for comic books.

While I probably won’t know all of the reasons the chain is closing, the usual culprits, online booksellers and “eBooks”, were implicated. Since their arrival, both have been viewed as potential bookstore assassins. Some even suggest “eBooks” might eventually make print books obsolete.

The online bookstore “threat” is certainly real. No single store could ever, or would want to, have the sheer selection of Amazon.com. You can buy almost anything from Amazon; usually cheaper. It is hard to compete with that.

I would argue that online booksellers are great if you know what you want, but not very fun to browse. Amazon and other sites give you lots of suggestions based on what you’ve looked at and purchased, but you’ll never find that “odd” book you’ve never heard of before unless you’re doing some very serious clicking. I can’t count the number of books I’ve bought and series’ I started reading that I’d never heard of until I saw it on a bookstore shelf.

As far as the “eBooks” go, let me tell you something, chumps. Electronics become obsolete. Books don’t.

Think of how soon that Nook or Kindle will have to be replaced to continue downloading books in the next 10 years?  How soon will “book” formats change, making your old books unreadable on new readers? Do all readers read all “eBooks”; no.  How many “eBook” sellers carry more than the classics and currently popular books? How does a nice tabletop art book carry over to digital format?

I’ll concede there are situations in which “eBooks” are very handy. I can see people who travel an awful lot (i.e. for a living) finding them very convenient. However, there are way, way too many reasons why they can’t replace books.

Good luck finding a copy of this on your Nook.

Fishing Trip 2011: The Video (part 2)

Just when I wanted to do more blogging to please my spambot masters, I have a few “off” weeks. By “off”, I mean all of the colors in my life turned to grey and several superfluous body parts withered and fell off.

That being said, the release of the second half of my fishing trip video was delayed further by trying to figure out how the hell Youtube decides something is violating copyright laws. I know how it is supposed to work, I know what they say, but it doesn’t necessarily make sense. For example, I know damn well I’m not supposed to use music I didn’t create in my videos, especially when that music is owned by a large record company. However, everybody does it anyway. Half of the time they get away with it too. Just look at the first part of my video. Do I own the rights to use Primus?

No.

However, it seems one of my music choices for the second half resulted in getting my video blocked. Mind you, it didn’t block that particular segment with that particular song when I uploaded it separately. It just warned me. When I uploaded that particular video segment with that particular song in a larger video clip containing other songs, that’s when Youtube has a problem.

So, I ditched the Enigma and added some Daft Punk. I guess those boys  don’t mind me violating their copyright as much as Michael Cretu or his owners do.

So, here it is, the second part  of The Best Fishing Trip Video Ever. If you want to know the story behind the video, read my blog post about it (with actual field notes) here. Enjoy.

 

Fishing Trip 2011: The Video (part 1)

It’s been a while since I posted something to the blog. It is possible I don’t have enough time (horrible time management skills). Perhaps I’ve been spending my time constructively instead (watching cartoons). Maybe it is because I’ve been working on a video.

Yes, it is true. I have, I have been and I did make a video of our fishing trip. In my past life, I wanted to make film. Now I’m just a washed-up fry cook who patches together clips of his last fishing trip with a lousy video editing program.

To be fair, It is an interesting video.

So, here it is, part one of The Best Fishing Trip Video Ever. If you want to know the story behind the video, read my blog post about it (with actual field notes) here. Enjoy.

P.S. I like how I sent all (3) of you Facebook people to my blog instead of straight to Youtube in order to make it look like I’ve got more readers than spam-bots. I’m not fooling anybody, I know, but it makes me feel better.

Ye Olde Fishing Trip

Every year I go on a fishing trip. I’d say an annual fishing trip, but that seems a bit redundant with “every year”, so, it’s just a fishing trip. It is usually the only thing I have to look forward to each year. I think four days of fishing and drinking beats the hell out of a couple hours of video games and drinking, which is pretty much what I do every night;  so you can see why adding fishing makes it so exciting.

Sometimes we go to exotic locations like Canada. Lately we’ve been going to a little place in Alpena County Michigan called Fletcher’s Pond, or alternately known as Fletcher’s Floodwaters. Sometimes we don’t feel like driving very far, so we go to a lake a little closer and just tell everybody we’re out in the boonies. Why risk co-workers calling us to come in and help because we’re “only and hour” away.

It happens.

The latter was the plan this year. With gas prices as high as they are and our limited time frame, driving for half a day always seems like a waste of time. People are always coming our way to fish, too, so we figured we might as well see why everybody from the city areas come out to us in the summer.

Our target, Arbutus Lake, a small chain of lakes near a bunch of other chain lakes.

It beat our ass.

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Read these

First of all, the trip was still great. It takes a great many things to ruin 4 days off work, fishing and just not being home. None of those things happened, but the fish were too smart for us. To be specific, the lake was too smart for us.

All of the lakes that make up Arbutus are very, very clear. It also got deep very, very fast. I could see the bottom in 20 feet of water. Indeed, it wasn’t until about 25-30 feet that the water was too dark to see into. It wasn’t uncommon to find weeds 5 feet offshore in 15 feet of water.

It was also very, very sunny for about 3 days prior to our trip and the first 2 days of the trip. Normally not a bad thing, but fish in clear water don’t really like the sun. It makes them feel vulnerable, even if they’ve got weeds to hide in.

These are all conditions we weren’t used to. Our previous locations were shallow lakes with little structure, lots of cover and stained water. Arbutus is just the opposite. We just didn’t know how to fish it.

We caught fish, sure, but not that many of them. Mostly smaller bass, in shallow areas.  I had plenty of ideas. I’d crammed enough fishing books into my head to know these bass didn’t want me to walk up to them with a 3 inch crank and just ask them out, they wanted to be “finessed”.  Unfortunately, the drop-shot and shaky head are techniques I don’t use a lot. We gave some of these ideas a try, but the fish just didn’t seem to be going for it.

The other problem was we had no sonar. No “fish finder”. It had somehow gotten “lost” (likely pawned by house-mates).  We couldn’t look for the fish where they were most likely hiding and ready to bite; in the depths.

So, we stuck to trying to catch the fish from weed beds we could see, staying as far off as we could and trying finesse tactics. We probably could have slowed down our presentation even more. However, it is hard to convince people who just want to catch fish to stick with something that doesn’t seem to be working, also. After all, we had a limited amount of time, and limited patience.  I love a challenge when it comes to fishing and I love to learn how to catch fish in situations I’m not familiar with using different techniques.

Not everybody else is like that. Some people just want to throw a crank all day and sip brew.

I can respect that.

So, we went out to a different lake for the last two days of our trip. A shallow lake with stained water and lots of cover. We caught quite a few fish too, before they suddenly cooled way down with a cold front that came through after 6 days of bright sun.

I entirely believe with the right knowledge and techniques, fish can be caught everywhere, all the time. However, there still are slow days of fishing; even for the pros. I think maybe we  caught a few of those slow days.

Still, the trip was great. We had some fun being frustrated. As I mentioned, I brought my camera to record anything crazy that happened, and so nothing crazy did happen this year. It was actually one of the most “quite” trips we had. No sleeping in lobbies. No wheezing, shirtless ogres.

I’m working on putting together a video of the trip, but in the meantime, here’s a little clip of the smallest bass I’ve ever seen being caught on line.