August 27, 2008

Eating responsibly...I'm for it!

How do you feel about frilly toothpicks?

I try to eat with health, ecology and (personal) economics in mind. I do. I swear. I'm just not very good at it.

Alright, I'm just flat out lazy.

But I can appreciate articles like this one from Sustainablog. They're good peeps, even if some of them do run a little...well...green (even for me). I think one thing that many people miss when it comes to living a "greener" life, even if they do get the importance of it, is the simplicity of the thousands of everyday decisions you make, and their impact. That's where I think Sustainablog is strong, giving us simple (well, sometimes not so simple) measures that we have control over.

So back to food. Listen, I agree with JVK here that the key is to eat simply. Of course, I'll still resort to occasional fast-food and other prepped items. And who can live without the aged prime ribeye splurge every once in a while. Some of the points he makes are right on. Some do strike me as a little...misconstrued(?)...though.

"Choose organic. Although an organic label does not guarantee good farming or business practices by the company/producer, you can at least be sure that an organic product will have required less chemicals and toxins in order to go from field to table. Besides reducing pollution going into the biosphere, you also reduce pollution going into yourself with organic foods."

OK. In many instances, organic is probably better, especially if you're worried about hormones in your meat and dairy. Just be careful, as with anything, generalities can be deceiving. For example, "organic" pesticides might pack a little more punch than you expect. And just because it's organic does not mean it is not energy intensive. Besides, let's not forget that the "organic" label just confuses the issue with some foods (such as fish, which can only be certified organic if raised in a farm, being fed a strictly controlled, manufactured diet, and usually still receiving high doses of anti-biotic and anti-parasitic medications; thanks, but I'll pass).

"Buy local. Shipping foods across vast distances has tremendous costs for the environment–from fuels required by the vehicles (typically refrigerated) to pollution. You may love strawberries in January, but if you live in New York, they just are not sustainable! Buying local goods reduces the miles your food has to travel, plus it supports the local economy. Or if you cannot find local products, then at least try to choose domestic over imported–say, an apple from Washington instead of New Zealand."

Indeed. Buy local. Except when you shouldn't. This one can be really tricky. In general, the more local the better, so it's a pretty safe "rule" to go by. But you have to be careful. Subsidies, growing seasons, other climate and ecosystem influences can convolute an otherwise straightforward idea, depending on where you live and what you want. Sometimes (often?) imported goods carry a lighter carbon footprint (a term I hate and appreciate at the same time) than locally grown equivalents. Additionally, we may be entering a time of global food crisis...we may simply have no choice but to grow what grows where it grows and send it elsewhere. Hey, I'm a fan of buying in-season, local goods, but make sure you know what you're getting when you do.

His other suggestions, going vegetarian/vegan (or at least, more so), alternative foods, grow and prepare your own food, I like them all. Hey, it's a good discussion. One thing I would have liked to have seen is putting insects on the map...seriously. Honestly though, I found Lisa K's post about stealing the fruits of your neighbor's labor more practical, but hey.

Then there was this...

"Give thanks. Whether you say “grace” or simply pause to reflect on the things that make possible your act of eating, taking a moment to thank the Earth and its collaborators for the food nourishing you is a great way to cultivate respect for the planet and make eating holistically healthier. Food is a blessing, and blessing your food only increases your mindfulness of how all life is interconnected and interdependent."

Uhhh...whaaa? Well, whatever floats your boat.

Eating economically is easy. Eating healthy, safe and green is hard. It does take homework. There are no hardfast rules...yet...but there are plenty of resources out there. So take everything on a case by case basis. And don't be afraid to break your own rules once in a while. And in the case of food, you'll never get everything right...there is no do, only try.

August 26, 2008

Suicide Runs

Sometimes there are fish to be caught, and that's all that matters. So this past weekend meant a trip out to Lake Ontario to hang some hardware in the Fair Haven Challenge salmon derby. Unfortunately for me, that meant I had to be at the Oswego launch for a 5:30 am departure Saturday. Thankfully I didn't have any trouble getting some sleep in before my 3 hour drive...that is to say, I did not attempt any sleep.

Started Friday off with a nice, fully organic breakfast sandwich and coffee. Got out of work in time to head up the Hudson a-ways with Brian for some smallie action (lost a magnificent fly to the biggest bass I've had on a fly...barely had the hook set, turned to see if Brian was watching my skillful maneuvering...and it was suddenly over. now I don't have any olive bunny strips.). Headed home early (about 8 pm) for some food and a shower, a couple beers, one scotch, and some Always Sunny. A quick workout to get the blood flowing, re-upped the iPod with the Gnarles CD I've been forgetting to load since I bought it the day it came out, and hit the road.

At the dock by 5:30; lines in by 6. 4 salmon (24, 17, 17 and 15 lbs each), one laker (21", released) and one missed fish. Weigh-in at 3, placed 5 out of 73, made enough back to cover expenses (a free day of fishing beats a free day of sitting around), back to Oswego to get the fish cleaned (Chuck is a master) and batten down the hatches. In bed by 7 pm.

Awake again at 4:30 am. LET'S DO IT AGAIN! Sunday was a little rougher somehow. The water started out rougher, but that wasn't the issue. The kicker motor was acting up, we weren't catching much (ended up with 2 20+ lb'ers, still good), and by 11 am, the wind was dead and the sun was blazing. Still...better on the water than the sofa. 6 hours of driving, 14 hours of fishing, 10 hours of sleep in 3 days. It was a good weekend...now if we can get rid of some of this fish....

After this, wasn't sure we'd be trolling again...ever...(this is what happens to suicide-runners)
Alas, here we were. I love this view. Every time I see it. Something about duality. Some day I'll actually get a good picture of it.
The Cap'n with Saturday's catch. Trust me, those fish are bigger than he makes them look.

August 24, 2008

I wasn't gonna...

...but then I read Part II.

Kamchatka...heard of it? Doesn't matter, you have to read this...so far Page 38 is my favorite...

Seriously...you have to.

August 21, 2008

Some, some, some I, some I murder; some I-some I let go

That'll be the story (hopefully) this weekend. Generally C&R all the time (99% of the time, all the time), this trip the big boys stay in the cooler. When you feel a need for suspected carcinogens and bioaccumulated inesctisides, you head for the fish with "lethal poison through their system." Granted, Great Lakes salmon are relatively clean by modern, local standards...I guess...
So, now that John's boat is repaired, I'm playing 1st mate for the derbies this weekend. Hopefully we can sign up at least one other person...never been so hard to find people to go...not sure if it's because of Travers or...well...what happened last time (if I can find the pic, I'll show you).

Yeah, I'd rather be standing in the river with a brand new spey package (anyone...anyone...? hey, I'll take used, not picky) but this will do for now...cant let a guy down.
No one on the corner has swagger like us. (Why is this song stuck in my head for 3 straight weeks? Thanks Nate.)





This is just a baby compared to what we want this weekend.

Alternative salmon?

I was always told this stuff isn't edible...I guess $30/lb for the more traditional counterpart is making it look much more appetizing. Hey, the pros are doing it, it must be worth a shot.

August 20, 2008

Why? Why would you do this to me? Playing me like a drum...



Note the left-most section of the graph...really...is that necessary?

August 19, 2008

You're beautiful...I miss you.

It just occurred to me I haven't caught (or even targeted) a rainbow yet this year (at least not with the fly).

What is wrong with me?

Even this absolutely horrible picture of a 10-11" baby (my hands are big) from Vermont last fall shows her beauty. Gotta gets me sum dat.

Can you spot what's wrong with this quote?

"Over half of the world's native plants require animal pollinators, and most of those are bees," she says. "Native pollinators are serving as a backup plan for the honeybee."

Now, I take issue with the article itself to a certain extent; the title alone is sensationalist (Saving Our Bees: Implications of Habitat Loss) considering the bee populations that are undergoing significant declines in recent years are generally "domesticated" honeybees.

What have they found so far to correlate to these declines?

During the course of the summer months, they found that the further a colony was from natural areas, the fewer worker bees it sustained.

Ummmmmmm...no shit? Nature is better at providing for animals than man? Interesting.

Their point is that "domesticated" honeybee populations that are isolated from wild(er) environs in favor of seasoned crops often fare poorly due to growing season issues and potentially lack of diversity. I get it...but what does this have to do with our native bees...unless we end up farming the entire land surface?

Back to the original quote.

To start with...what exactly qualifies a plant as one "of the world's native..."? The fact that it exists? To my knowledge, we do not have any earth non-native plants here...could be wrong though.

OK, so that's a little comical and irrelevant. The real issue is that these researchers (or, at least the media portrayals of them) are still looking at this from the wrong angle. Yes, some bee populations are crashing. Yes, it sucks. But the fact is, for the most part, they are non-native livestock. The sad thing is, the natives are being addressed only as "a backup plan," or "insurance." Um, excuse me, miss, you do realize that those "native plants" are best served by the animals they evolved with, correct? Shouldn't the beekeeper's crops be considered the backup in this regard?

Hey, it's nothing new, imported and potentially destructive species favored over natives. "Mustangs," livestock, illegal/invasive fish stockings, dam issues, birds, more incidents than you can count. It's just what we do. We fuck things up.

The point? I don't know. Maybe it's if somebody doesn't start thinking about these things from the native, natural side first, we're going to end up working our magic on the entire, flawless, natural world that surrounds us until it is completely sterile.

(both articles via Ted Williams)

Don't be an a-hole...

...fish barbless.

Badass movie, badass tie...


...if purple can be badass. I submit that it can. Especially in capable hands.


Unforgiven by Shaq




August 18, 2008

Pennsylvanians love their bread...apparently...

Seriously? You've got to be kidding me. This is the most controversial thing you have to fight about? (via Ted Williams)

Here's a kind of an open-ended question...what percentage of high-public-use areas that sustain wild- (or pseudo-wild-) life that you have visited display signs about not feeding the wildlife? There's a reason they're everywhere, it isn't just to rain on your parade.

In this case, the authority in question even accounted for the emotionally defended and entrenched practice of feeding garbage to garbage-fish by providing for a cleaner, and supposedly healthier alternative. OK, so they're going to be making the money off of it instead of the bakeries and local stores. OK, so you might only get a couple handfuls of pellets for the same price as a loaf of bread. OK, so you lose out on decades (decades? are we serious people? decades? fine, the 30's...that's almost 80 years, i can respect that) of tradition.

I will completely agree with you that these are all extremely important and equally terrible and destructive issues if you will agree with me that you are all morons. Seriously...why are you even fighting this...the fish will be there...the ducks will be there...you can still feed them...suddenly all the 300k tourists are going to stop coming because the fish food costs twice as much per pound as the bread? Grow up people.

Mining is a dangerous issue to debate.

This is a bit old but I forgot to finish it last week...ooops...

BWTF picks up on a NYT editorial on the need for mining law reform.


On some level (the main level), it's a no-brainer. When it comes to mining, and the bill mentioned in the editorial, there are three major issues of concern:


1) Environmental and safety risks associated with mine development and operation.


2) Environmental and safety risks associated with abandoned mines.


3) Royalty payments as a method of "insurance" and/or revenue.


I work extensively with the mining industry in New York State (hopefully this post doesn't come back to bite me...it shouldn't, but I do feel a little uncomfortable), and I find it incredible that other states have not taken the initiative to address these issues directly. I realize I'm a little close to the issue, but in my opinion, New York State's Mined Land Reclamation Law, and it's application by NYSDEC, does an excellent job of addressing environmental and public safety concerns.


The specific concern cited in the editorial, the dangers of abandoned mines, is spelled out right in NYS's program...Mined Land Reclamation. The entire program is built on the foundation that the site will be reclaimed for a future use, consistent with the surrounding area (anything from a field or lake to a golf course to industrial parks). In addition to all the environmental permitting hoops (including public comment periods, stormwater and process water planning, spill controls and procedures, blasting, etc., etc.), mining applicants in New York State must provide a reclamation plan (for approval by NYSDEC) and a financial surety that is held as bond to ensure reclamation, and in the event that reclamation is not completed to NYSDEC standards (ie the approved reclamation plan), is used to complete reclamation objectives.

What should happen (if you ask me) is a re-vamping of the federal regulations (or at least some guidelines for states to implement) that addresses these issues. Storm water and pollutant discharges have been addressed by EPA and are administered (at least in NY, I assume elsewhere) by state regulators. A similar system might work for mining. Hell, if they want, they can hire us to write it for them.

The issue that I think should be separated from the debate is mineral royalties. I personally think they are an inappropriate measure to ensure reclamation. I think ours (NYS MLRL) is a better system for that. However, royalties definitely have a role. Regardless of mineral, the landowner should maintain a share of the profits from material taken from their land. But, once environmental and health issues have been addressed, royalties should be an economic factor only. Hey, this is America people.

August 17, 2008

If it swells...ride it

One of my all-time favorite t-shit logos...even if it is immature (so is Dave...and it's his shirt).

Anyway, life is good, this weekend was awesome, and I'm just gonna ride that wave.

Disclaimer: I don't really get people who blog about their personal life, and at times that's where I've been lately, and this is no exception, so just bear with me people.


Reminds me of another favorite shirt..."Awkward mornings always beat a boring night."

Work was pretty stressful this week, so to relieve some of that Thursday, met up with Brian to hit Alive@5 in Albany...music wasn't great but met some cool people and had a really good time...someone (not naming names) had a "better" time...

Friday, hung out at home, met some more cool people, had an amazing night.

Saturday, did some more hanging out with said cool people, hit a new (to me) spot on the Hudson with Brian, caught a bunch of smallish and one decent smallmouth, had an all-around great day.

Today, caught up on some sleep, got some cleaning done, had a relaxing day.

Hey, it's my blog, I'll write what I want.

No, I didn't make it out to the mountains...my alarm went off at 5:30 this morning...then when it went off again at 6:30 I decided I just didn't have it in me. Hey, you can't have it all.

Life is good, and I'm just riding the wave right now.

August 12, 2008

Inspiration

Where, when and how did your passion start?



Recently I've been so focused on fishing that I feel like I've almost lost sight of my true passion, the outdoors. In reality, fishing, and particularly, fly-fishing, is just a small sub-passion. And while I have always been "interested" in the outdoors, I can remember exactly where, when and how that interest turned into a full-fledged passion...no, obsession.



It was the summer of 1997. I was lucky enough to have been sent to NYSDEC's Environmental Education camp at Lake Colby for a week. I had no idea what to expect, but it was a turning point in my life. Too many "cool" things went on during that week for me to recall, or even count. Outdoor rec, natural resources and bio-ecology education, general fun and games, it was a great time. But there was one event that really stood out in my mind.



Pitchoff Mountain. My first mountain. Not a mountain so much as a series of tall, rocky hills. But the experience, the views, the exertion, the raw beauty of every aspect of it all. There is nothing quite like climbing above the trees and sitting on a warm (or, sometimes, ice-covered) slab of rock with a sandwich and just soaking it all in.



So many times I have been questioned on the sanity of such a passtime; why would one walk up a mountain and then back down when there are perfectly good chairlifts to bring you and your skis to the top of one? Why so much work for a few views? Just plain why? I never knew, and I'll never be able to explain it, but as anyone who enjoys it knows, the reward is in so much more than just reaching the top. And it's become a whole philosophy for me. It's more than enjoying the journey...more than "life's a journey"...it's that there is no destination. Everything we do in life is just another step down the road; I don't know if that road has a terminus or not, and frankly, I couldn't care less. The road is beautiful.



Alex's partial recap of this past weekend really got to me. There's just a feeling that comes with being in the mountains that he really seemed to capture. I miss that feeling. I need that feeling. One way or another, this coming weekend, I'm going for that feeling again. Call me a copy-cat, but to me, it's just getting back to basics.




Champlain and My ADKs in the distance, from Mansfield

August 7, 2008

Apathy

Maybe it's the weather. Maybe it's boredom. Maybe I need something exciting to do. Maybe it's just nothing, but I just don't feel like typing this week.

Maybe it's the high prices of tying materials. Quite honestly, I have more than I need, but who doesn't want it all...and you could spend a grand and not even scratch the surface. Not to mention my need for a new vise (or perhaps a new vice...nah, they never lead anywhere good). But then again, I don't even feel like tying at all this week.

Maybe it's because the trout have snubbed me. Water has been perfect, and they have been there (even had some takes and noisy refusals), but nothing to hand. Of course, bent hookpoints are never good for hooking fish (watch out for that metal guardrail).

Maybe it's because last weekends trip north never happened...rain and other obligations and such.

Maybe it's just because I'd rather be fishing...always...well, virtually. Last night's trip to the Mohawk revealed a surprise...stripers. Lots of them. Just babies though, nothing over 9". Still, it was cool. Cast, little smallmouth, cast, cast, cast, little striper, cast, little striper, cast, cast, little smallmouth, you get the idea. One hefty smallie in the 15" range. Nothing spectacular, but a good day.

We'll see what today brings. Mohawk flows were down all day (below 1k cfs), but now look headed back up to 3 or 4...hopefully not much higher.

Work is tiring...or maybe just boring this week. These weeks are few and far between, so I'll take it as it comes.

Of course, it's tough to write when you have too much to read...as always, my GoogleReader list keeps expanding...50 outdoors-related (loosely) feeds and counting...who has time for real news.

The boys are back in town this weekend (a few of them anyway)...and weather permitting, check out an new/old area with FT on Sunday. Hopefully just what the doctor ordered, a little re-invigoration.

Oh yeah...turns out NYC does have somthing to say about drilling in the Marcellus...everyone knows you don't mess with Texas, but F- with NY's reservoirs and you'll likely end up anchored to the bottom of one.

August 6, 2008

Irony

...

August 1, 2008

It Comes in Threes (and 7's?)

What a week, what a week, what a week boys and girls.

A breakup, food poisoning and a minor hit-and-run sideswipe of the old horseless carriage.

Add to that 2 skunkings at the creek. Hey, at least I confirmed the trout were there. I saw them. Even got some takes/last second refusals. And I'm convinced that if I had looked at my fly a few casts earlier, I would have had at least 1 trout landed (a second bend at the point resulted in a total 360 degree bend to the hook...not too useful as far as penetration goes...damn that steel guardrail).

Headed north Sunday to try a real trout stream for the first time in a long time...hopefully this string of "luck" does not continue...should I head to the creek again tomorrow to get #3 out of the way...what if something actually takes? Does that doom Sunday's trip? Is it worth driving 2+ hours knowing nothing will be caught?

HAZAAH! I almost forgot! I already got my 3rd skunking this week...at the Mohawk. Still, I am at a loss as to the best game plan for all this.

I need a drink to settle my thoughts.