Science and Sarcasm
31 December 2005
Happy New Year Everyone

Happy New Year 2006

Thanks for all the new friendships discovered this past year. I'm looking forward to many more in 2006.

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30 December 2005
For those pisci-centric readers

Today, I surfed across a blog entitled 'Steelhead Diaries.' It appears to be written by a young gentleman angler residing in Ontario. The photos are beautiful and the topic, divine.

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Katha Pollitt just sent a little Christmas present

It's for you too...if you're like me and little world-view-optimism boost is sometimes helpful.

14 reasons why 2005 wasn't that bad.

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29 December 2005
Pere Marquette fishing report [27-28 Dec 2005]

PM 12/27/2005B and I were lucky enough to enjoy 2 full days of steelhead fishing on the Pere Marquette River this week. We spent Monday with her family enjoying Christmas festivities, then Tuesday and Wednesday in the river. B's parents were kind enough to provide lodging and to take care of Dylan during those 2 days so we didn't have to feel guilty about leaving him alone at home. Dylan had a great time with their springer spaniel and I think he couldn't have cared less about our absence.

Last week, the weather forecast caused doubt that it'd be warm enough for fishing. But fortunately, the forecast changed as the target days neared and the weather eventually warmed up to make wading and fishing quite comfortable. We've enjoyed several consecutive days with high temps of 35-40 oF. The heat wave has melted most of the 12-18" of snow we've been shoveling around for the past few weeks. As a result, river levels have come up a bit and have been fairly cold from the 32-35o water trickling in. 35o fish are not particularly active but are certainly not completely inactive either. The weather was cloudy, overcast and occasionally rainy and we figured we'd have an excellent chance of catching some steelhead or at least a few trout.

Our plan was to fish on Tuesday by ourselves and on Wednesday, we hoped to join a couple of our favorite Flygirls, Jen and Mandy, for a more social day on the river. Sadly, Jen and Mandy couldn't make it (damn flu!) so we fished both days as just a tandem. We like the flys-only stretch of the PM and fished within this stretch both days.

Tuesday started badly and stayed that way until late afternoon. We waded well upstream from our access point to fish a large deep run where B has caught a steelie or two in the past. I hadn't fished for 20 minutes before I caught my hook on an underwater snag and had to break it off to free it. Now, this happens all the time during winter steelhead fishing. Cold steelhead lay on the river bottom and spend energy only when necessary. So to tempt them with a fly or other bait, it's necessary to drift them deeply, through all the submerged branches, rocks and potential snags. Most experienced steelheaders agree that "if you're not losing a few flies, you're not deep enough." So, it's not a big deal to have to break off your fly in order to continue fishing. We try to tie leaders and flies to make sure that the line will break at the fly or just a few inches above it and leave very little monofilament flapping in the stream. This time, however, my line broke at the wrong end - the loop attached to the fly line broke leaving me just a stump of floating fly line with nothing to re-tie or to attach another leader. Damn it! My fly, tippet, leader, swivel and float were left on the stupid branch that snagged me. Dang it! I did not have the necessary materials with me to repair this and it would not be a good on-stream tie-job for me anyway. B had another reel and line that I could use, I just had to wade and hike back to the car to get it. So off I went - I hiked to the car and back and worked up a pretty good sweat inside my neoprene waders and fleece in the process. But, at least I could continue with B's reel. Back at the stream, I re-rigged and got back to fishing - complaining the whole time because B's line doesn't cast like mine, yada yada. Neither of us had hooked or caught anything yet and I was now a giant crab.

A few minutes later, while we were still fishing this particular hole, I could hear B just upstream around the bend, chatting with the occupants of an approaching drift boat. Then, GUSPLASH! "Whoa, are you OK?" asked one of the men in the driftboat. "Yea." and a small laugh from B. I headed upstream. The splash had sounded kinda big. Like more than just a little misstep. Sure enough, she was wringing a lot of water out of one looong arm of her outermost fleece pullover. Her entire left side was drenched. "Are you OK? Did you fill up your waders?" I asked, afraid of her answer. "Yea, I'm OK. No, I don't think I got any in my waders. Well, not too much anyway." she hoped. She had apparently stepped off the bank into a silty, schlucky river edge and it was a lot deeper than she thought it'd be. She lost her balance and tipped over sideways into the 2' deep water. I tried to help her remove her wet fleece pullovers and gloves, wring them out and get them back on quickly. "Do you want to change into some dry clothes?" "Nah, I don't think I need to. I think this'll be alright." "OK, but I've got more dry fleece in the car." We hoped the her fleece would be warm enough even though it was wet. This often works in warmer weather, but neither of us had never done this in 35 degrees before. "I can't believe those 3 guys didn't laugh their asses off at me. Huh." she said. Now, we were 2 giant crabs. Before 20 minutes had passed, B changed her mind. Her long underwear shirt was wet enough that it was making her feel cold. So we waded, crossed and hiked back to the car where we stripped her down to nothing and then layered on dry and not-too-wet fleece until she felt better.

Me @ PM 12/28/2005Putting her hat back on, she discovered that her favorite polarized sunglasses were broken. Snapped in two. "Damn it!" She dug out her backup glasses, we took a deep breath and headed back to the river. We didn't wade all the way back to where we started, but instead headed for a very long, fairly deep run that flows past a series of 2 or 3 downed pine trees and partially submerged stumps. It was probably 2 or 3 pm by this point. I'd briefly hooked a steelie by the tail in here before and B had hooked a great big one last year that behaved like a big fishy rocket and broke her off on an underwater obstacle.

Here our luck changed a little, a very little, bit. After drifting eggs and nymphs down this long stretch a couple of times - I'd made probably 60 casts - I returned to the top to fish it again. Am I drifting deep enough? Too deep? Not hitting just the right lane? Don't forget to fish the near side... My bobber floated and dipped as the split shot ticked along the high points of the river bottom waving the unweighted egg just off the bottom. Partway through, my bobber dipped and I lifted. Hmmm, something heavy, a stick maybe. A fish? Hmmm, I could move it a little to the side and toward me, but it would not come up at all. Oooh, defintely not a stick. A bit more pressure... and the hook came out of the water flying through the air toward me. Dang it! It was a fish. A big trout or a steelhead. I think I had a tough winter steelie that didn't even know he was hooked yet and I'd lost him. Disappointing, but an improvement nonetheless. I hollered to B just downstream at the next hole, then waded down to join her.

B had tied on a small olive wooly bugger and was drifting it through the tail end of a shallower, but sheltered hole. She caught 2 pretty little rainbows just after I started fishing the the top of the hole with her. The first was a nice 12" specimen with a narrow, bright pink stripe from his gill plate all the way to his tail. (My camera was too cold to snap a photo or you'd have a picture to go along with this description.) Right away, she caught another in the same spot. The second trout was a bit smaller.

Over the course of the day, we'd chatted briefly with 3 guide boats floating past and with a few wading anglers. The first gentleman said he'd caught a steelhead, but the others reported catching no more than a trout or two. I guess we fared about average. We quit fishing at about 5:00 PM and headed into Baldwin for a warm dinner at Deb's Sportsman's Lounge. A cup of hot coffee and B finally felt warm again.

On Wednesday, we got an earlier start and returned to the same flies-only stretch of the PM. The day was again very overcast and hazy and we endured the occasional misty rain. Air temperature was similar but the water was a bit warmer - as high as 40 oF. We fished the same holes we'd drifted on Tuesday, plus a few more. There was a bit more angler traffic to compete with and we were passed by another 3 or 4 driftboats. All anglers reported dismal results. No more than a trout or two caught by the lot. We caught nothing all day, but no one fell in, no one broke anything and no one was injured. On our way back to the car, we spotted a pileated woodpecker posing in the top of a tree on the opposite bank for a lengthy inspection.

Fleece quotient: 2 heavy + a rain jacket
Lost flies: next question...
Wildlife sightings: lots of red-tailed hawks, an eastern kingfisher, lots of tufted titmice and chickadees, a brown creeper and 2 pileated woodpeckers
River flow rate: 850+ ft3/s
Water temperature: 33-40 oF
Did I get to use a spey rod?: Not really, but 11'3" is almost a spey...
Enjoyment grade for the day: A

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The vacationing fisherpeople return

We're back home late tonight from a couple of days with family and fish. I've been unplugged from work, home, school and the internets and instead plugged into family visits, the outdoors and a beautiful fishy river. The remainder of the week will be work-free too, so I'll post more tomorrow.

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24 December 2005

Merry Christmas to One and All

Deer in the backyard Jan 2005

"Christmas waves a magic wand over this world, and behold, everything is softer and more beautiful."

--Norman Vincent Peale

"The World is my country, all mankind are my brethren, and to do good is my religion."

--Thomas Paine

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23 December 2005
Rogue River fishing report [23 December 2005]

Rogue just before Christmas 2005A day off from work and what to do... what to do...what to do...?

We loaded the car and headed to the Rogue River near Grand Rapids for a few hours of afternoon steelhead fishing. Air temperatures were quite warm, near 40 oF, but the water temperature was a nippy 33o. The water was cold, clear and higher-than-average due to the melting snow running into the river. The sun peaked through occasionally, though the skies were mainly cloudy and hazy. We pulled away from the house a bit later than planned and arrived at the river at about 2:30 pm.

We headed for what has become a favorite steelhead stretch of this river. How many steelies have we caught here? Well... one. By the tail end. But it has so much potential... So much potential that we arrived at our parking spot to discover 3 trucks already parked and emptied of their fishermen. Such is the nature of suburban fishing. We slipped into our fleece and waders, rigged up at the car and headed upstream into the woods toward a couple of super good-looking holes. I chose my 11'3" 6-weight rod and B selected her beautiful 9'6" 7-weight. The first good hole was already occupied with a couple of apparently static anglers, so we opted to jump in below them and fish back downstream through less attractive, but still pretty fishy water. Since we figured to be fishing on the move rather than fishing hole-to-hole, we rigged up with sink-tip lines and started slowly dredging and gently swinging streamers along the bottom rather than drifting eggs and nymphs under an indicator. We fully expected this approach to reduce our probability of hooking a fish, but it's a pleasant way to fish and enjoy the day.

B's new Hex nymphWe quickly realized that for a year or more, we'd been hiking right past a very nice stretch of river. Today, we fished deep pools and runs that we'd previously ignored. I had always walked right past it, assessing that it needed to be fished from the opposite bank and never noticed an obvious crossing spot. Today, we realized that the river is easily crossed and that the stretch below is very fishy looking. We discovered 3 or 4 very nice holes and runs that we'll surely return to again. We didn't hook any fish in them today though.

Just after the sun settled behind the trees, we both began to feel a little chilly and decided to take just a few more casts and call it a day. A fishless but good day. B remarked, "If you're not going to catch fish, I'd rather do it here than at the office." Well said.

On our way out of town, we stopped by one of our favorite fly shops for some fly-tying materials, a fishing report and friendly chit chat. We learned that a few folks had found some fish today and listened to a few tips on their approach - slow, slower and still slower. We hung around awhile swapping some good stories and enjoying a really good beer from the shop owner. How can you beat that?

Fleece quotient: 1 mid + 1 heavy
Lost flies: 0 for me, 2 for B
Wildlife sightings: lots of red-tailed hawks, an eastern kingfisher, a little flock of yellow-shafted northern flickers
River flow rate: 200+ ft3/s
Water temperature: 33 oF
Did I get to use a spey rod?: Not really, but 11'3" is almost a spey...
Enjoyment grade for the day: A

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22 December 2005
I and the Bird #13 has been hung on the chimney with care...

IATB #13The holiday edition of the I and the Bird carnival is posted over at Woodsong. Cindy has really spruced the place up for the holidays. She's got a beautiful tree, a fire going in the fireplace, egg nog and hot cider in the kitchen and Christmas carols in the background. I'm bummed that I didn't have anything to contribute, but there's plenty of goodies to go around. Enjoy.

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21 December 2005
Northern life all right.

Clare, from The House & other Arctic musings, has posted a little video of a passing narwhal pod that he took while on a trip to the Floe Edge [73o 38' N, -84o 3' W] earlier this year. A narwhal (Monodon monoceros) is an arctic member of the whale/dolphin/porpoise family.

Today, Clare followed this up with a short video of an Ivory Gull (Pagophila eburnea). Clare's video clips are a bit large, so access them with a highspeed connection if possible.

Great. I and the Bird is never gonna be the same now that we have to compete with this kind of thing...

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The Daou Report

An excellent description of the Tush Scandal and Response protcol. He's nailed it.

The Dynamic of a Bush Scandal: How the Spying Story Will Unfold (and Fade) - The third button on the Daou Report's navigation bar links to the U.S. Constitution, a Constitution many Americans believe is on life support - if not already dead. The cause of its demise is the corrosive interplay between the Bush administration, a bevy of blind apologists, a politically apathetic public, a well-oiled rightwing message machine, lapdog reporters, and a disorganized opposition. The domestic spying case perfectly illuminates the workings of that system. And the unfolding of this story augurs poorly for those who expect it to yield different results from other administration scandals.


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19 December 2005
I can still type

McGruff the Crime-Fighting Dog...just in case you were wondering. I've just been a bit distracted from blogging for the last few days. I had a final exam, in the form of a presentation, last Wednesday. Then my wallet was stolen out of my bag in my office on Thursday afternoon. I discovered the problem on Friday by double-checking account balances online. I've been spending my 'free' and some of my 'not-normally-free' time on the phone with bank and credit card companies and police officers since then. It'll all be sorted out eventually. One positive observation - after I discovered the felonious credit and debit card charges and cancelled all cards on Friday, I returned home to 2 voice mail messages from the bank and credit card company asking me to call back about some suspicious, flagged purchases. They had discovered it accurately at the same time or before I did. Their algorithms worked well.

Someone, apparently in SE Michigan, is having a really, really nice Christmas this year, partially at my expense. Partially at yours. Spread the joy I say.

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14 December 2005

Takes it all back.

From a Triangle Foundation release this afternoon:

Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Organizations Commend Ford Motor

Hail “Reaffirmation of Commitment to Our Community and American Values”

A broad coalition of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) organizations today commended Ford Motor Company for reaffirming its support for the LGBT community. In a statement released today, Ford reaffirmed its commitment to its progressive workplace policies, said it would place corporate advertising in LGBT publications on behalf of all of its brands, including Jaguar and Land Rover, and would continue financial support for LGBT organizations and events consistent with its business condition.

Coalition Statement

“We welcome today’s statement from Ford Motor Company and commend their firm stance in support of inclusion. It is an unequivocal reaffirmation of Ford’s historic commitment to our community and the core American values of fairness and equality. Moreover, it is conclusive proof of what Ford leaders have repeatedly assured us -- that there never was any deal with anti-LGBT organizations concerning Ford’s support for our community.

We are proud to be back in gear with Ford and look forward to working with them in the years ahead.”
Commercial Closet Association
Family Pride
Freedom to Marry
Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation
Gay and Lesbian Leadership Institute
Gay and Lesbian Medical Association
Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN)
Human Rights Campaign
Mautner Project, the National Lesbian Health Organization
Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund
Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center (NYC)
Los Angeles Gay & Lesbian Center
National Black Justice Coalition
National Center for Lesbian Rights
National Center for Transgender Equality
National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs
National Gay and Lesbian Task Force
National Minority AIDS Council
National Youth Advocacy Coalition (NYAC)
Out & Equal Workplace Advocates
PFLAG National (Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays)
Pride at Work
Servicemembers Legal Defense Network
Triangle Foundation
World Congress of GLBT Jews: Keshet Ga'ava

How 'bout that?

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Tangled Bank #43

The Tangled now being served at Rural Rambles. Larry has included posts on subjects ranging from menstruation to GM food regulation to intelligent design debate and true bugs. A certain snow/soil temperature post from S&S is also included.

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Fêtes des Lumières à Lyon

My sister-in-law Jan, who now lives in Lyon, France with my nerdy brother Bill and their little boy Laurence, sent some photos of their recent night on the town enjoying Lyon's festival of lights (Fêtes des Lumières). Jan says the pictures do not do the scene justice, that the lights were extremely vibrant, were often in motion and were quite stellar.

Fêtes des Lumières à Lyon 1 Fêtes des Lumières à Lyon 2

I found this site with some more dynamic examples of what Jan was talking about. I see what she means. Thanks for the pictures Jan!

I had a similarly wonderful, unplanned St. Nicholas Day experience in Amsterdam a few years back. As an American, I don't normally mark St. Nicholas Day on my mental calendar, so I didn't realize what I was stepping into when I arrived to an unusually snowy and seasonally light-hearted city that day. It's a very warming experience to see merry holiday celebrations in a slightly different culture. Firsthand. And I think it helps to be alone; there's no groupthink to prevent your complete adsorption onto the moment. I think a few in the "War on Christmas" sect should get out more and try a European Christian celebration on for size. They'd realize some of the broad range of traditions within the Christian world and perhaps focus less on feeling generally superior to non-Christians. But I digress....

For some cross-Atlantic balance, here's an over-the-top Christmas lights display, set to music. It's gotta be from somewhere here in the U S of A... [Video link]

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12 December 2005
More graphs

WaPo Abramoff $$$The Washington Post has an interesting set of graphs depicting the sources and sinks of all lobbyist Jack Abramoff's dirty money. If the Post had listed recipients down to the smaller ones, they'd have listed Dave Camp, a very righty Michigan Congressman. Camp used to be my representative before some district reshuffling. Now my rep is Mike Rogers. Rogers prefers DeLay money.

Most of Abramoff's cash came from Indian tribes and it went to both Republicans and Democrats.

via TPM and Michigan Liberal.

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Over Nerdy

I am nerdier than 59% of all people. Are you nerdier? Click here to find out!

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09 December 2005
A snowy day

Michael & Nick enjoy a snow dayWe had 6-8" of snow overnight and all area schools are all closed for the day today. My sister's family on the east coast is also enjoying the same snowstorm, a few hours later, with a snow day and a little outdoor fun.

This reminds me of a book I read, a few times, as a kid...
The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats

ADDENDUM: When Dad got home, he used the snowblower to 'build a mountain' for the boys in the back yard.

You gotta do whatcha gotta do when you're a flatlander. Way to go Chien!

Hey, send a little of that snow up north to Dave in Alaska. He says they're all out after a day of 47 oF. You're going to lose it all this week anyway...

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08 December 2005
I and the Bird #12

I and the BirdMy my my. Just when I figured the IATB hosts had thought of pretty much all the imaginative ways to present our little birding blog carnival, David at Search and Serendipity managed to top us all. I mean no disrespect to any previous hosts, he just came up with another creative gem of a carnival post. His version is called Ye Canterbirdy Tales and is part poem, part prose and all elegance. Now I'm really bummed that I didn't have anything to submit this time...

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07 December 2005
Anybody wanna buy a Ford? How 'bout now?

Ford Klansman

Optional equipment: gun/baseball bat rack; 12-pack of beer holders; KKK package includes extra cross-lighters, a longer cargo area for lumber, flame-resistant side panels, and HD hitch and towing package for dragging 'brown people'; NASCAR or 'Dukes of Hazzard' graphic detailing package;high-torque engine for peeling out in liberal neighbor's lawn; a premium audio system with Limbaugh, Dobson and O'Reilly presets. Image stolen from Jesus General.

The Ford Motor Company is in full blown embarass-themselves mode this week. They've caved to demands of the right wing, homophobic American Family Association (link intentionally omitted) and agreed to withdraw advertisements from gay publications and to cease funding gay- and lesbian-themed events. AmericaBlog is all over this - they're leading the backlash charge with promotion of a phone-in campaign to upper level Ford officials. AmericaBlog also exposed the top 2 Ford officials responsible for these decisions as former Tush White House spinmeisters.

I won't claim to be shocked by this week's events, however it's an opportunity to score a few foil-touches. I really don't care who advertises where; I trust the ecology of that system to work itself out. However the principle of this whole fiasco is what got my attention. Ford wants to skate around on an image as a greenish, environmentally-friendly, diversity-oriented, open-minded corporation yet they operate by selling gas-guzzling, fume-spewing SUVs and by valuing right-wing threats more than forward-thinking, progressive policies. It doesn't fly with me.

Anybody wanna buy my 2-door Ford Explorer?

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06 December 2005
It's cold! What difference does snow make?

I've been noticing, for the past week or two, an interesting phenomenon about the soils I've been treading upon between home, work and several field sites. Our daily maximum temperatures have been in the low 20s F (-5 oC) with nightly minimums in the low 10s (-11 oC) for about a week. Yet, the 2 to 4" of snow we've had on the ground has completely prevented the soil from freezing. The soil remains soft and very 'diggable.' In fact, I planted a some small bare root tree saplings at home the other day for lack of any better alternative. I've also been out soil sampling a bit. Digging holes to a 20" depth was no problem at all and I rarely encountered even a small chunk of frozen surface. However, the soil froze immediately to my tools once exposed to the cold air.

I think we've all heard the old adage that snow is a good insulator, but it's hard to fully appreciate snow insulation directly in such cold winter temperatures. I remember attempting to apply this often-repeated principle a few times as a kid. We'd dig holes in the snow drifts and lie inside them expecting, waiting to warm up. I was always disappointed. It didn't seem to work. Or did it? Perhaps my impatient nose and toes were not the proper instruments to measure this effect.

Escanaba, MI Winter Temperatures 2004-05The graph to the right depicts average daily air temperature and average daily soil temperature (at 4" depth) during the winter of 2004-2005 near Escanaba (45.8551 Lat, -87.1844 Long), a very northern Michigan town along the northern shore of Lake Michigan. Though the average air temperatures frequently dip below freezing, and often below 20o, the soil temperature remains above freezing until early January. I can't be sure, but I strongly suspect the soil was covered with an insulating layer of snow during this time. A sudden drop in soil temperature occurs in mid-January - typical of a snowmelt or a big wind event, leaving the soil surface bare, which allowed the subsequent big decrease in air temperature to below 0 oF (-18 oC) for a few days to penetrate the soil and reduce its temperature to below 20 oF (-7 oC). I suspect the soil was re-covered with snow again in late January resulting in a return to soil temperatures right back up around the freezing mark, even though air temperatures remained in the 10-20o range.

Often, winter near-surface soil temperatures are not tightly correlated with air temperatures because of the insulating effect of snow at the surface. Snow cover insulates the soil below in two directions. It prevents cold ambient air temperature from cooling, and it also prevents warming via solar radiation. Snow reflects more solar radiation than soil, so less heat is absorbed into the surface. Snow cover also reduces the temporal variability of soil temperature, reducing number of freeze-thaw changes while the soil is covered. An deeper snow cover insulates the soil more than shallow or compacted snow.

All these effects of snow are extremely important in determining the outcomes of living systems beneath it. Soil and air temperatures under the snow layer, and the number of freeze-thaw cycles the soil endures, affects small animals, microorganisms, insects and invertebrate life and plants in addition to the physical characteristics of the soil itself.

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04 December 2005
No fishing report report

Fly-tying Expo 2005We were not able and/or willing to fit a fishing trip into our weekend. It's a little bit cold for us, 20-25 oF, and we didn't have a whole day to spend on the river, so instead we got a 'fishing fix' by hanging out with like-minded folks on Saturday at the 6th Annual Fly Tying Expo hosted by the Great Lakes Council of the Federation of Fly Fishers. We had never attended before, and we both agreed that we'll be regulars from here forward. B was there all day, as one of the 100 folks who were set up for actual fly tying at the Expo, while I was just a non-tying admirer. Several famous tyers were demonstrating techniques and designs - Dennis Potter (MI), Ray Schmidt (MI), Royce Dam (WI), 'Bear' Andrews (MI), Chris Helm (OH), Rusty Gates (MI), Dick Walle (OH), and Julie Nielsen (MI). The non-headliner tyer folks were really good too. Julie tied me a Royal Christmas - a parachute-style coachman-modification with a green and red body - designed to attract brook trout, but she says it works well on other trout species too. I believe her, it's beautiful, as are all her flies.

B's tableB was one of 3 women tyers at the Expo (Julie and Jen Nelson were the other 2), and was one of the few tyers I noticed that was focusing on nymphs and wet flies. There were lots of dry fly, streamer and foam-bodied bug tyers. One gentleman from Howell, MI had some really amazing, and large, deer hair 'flies.' I snapped a photo of one of his oversized display boxes (click the picture below). In another box, he had a deer hair bat fly. That's right. A bat. I do not really want to know what fish species he targets with that. OK, yes I do want to know. Must be something big, toothy and predacious.

Very cool hair bugsThe Expo was a fun social opportunity as it draws fly angler-types from around the Midwest. It's an annual fundraiser for the Great Lakes FFF Council. We ran into lots of Fly Girls - Dorothy, Jen, Mandy, Julie, Nancy, Colleen and a few others - and other folks we've come to know around the fly fishing world. I said hi to Dennis Potter briefly. I got to fish with him in a Fly Girls 2-fish contest earlier this summer. He was a lot of fun and a serious fly fishing expert. B ran into a few folks she's come to know from online fishing-related bulletin boards and fishing report sites. I would've appreciated another hour at the expo to check out the vendors more carefully. B found some very good deals on hooks and well-tied flies.

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03 December 2005
Cool online discoveries

The holiday/Christmas shopping season is upon us and we're all draining our brains in an effort to come up with thoughtful, personal gift choices to convey our love, affection and admiration for our family and friends on our gift lists. I know I put a lot of pressure on myself to find just the right gift and often worry that I've fallen short of my noble intentions. How can I be sure I've selected a gift capable of conveying such emotional gravity? Maybe I'm putting too much stock in a material thing, but I think that is the ultimate goal nonetheless.

www.musicplasma.comHere's an online music and movie-searching tool that may aid your selections if you've included music and DVDs on your shopping list. Liveplasma is a relatively new online tool that visually 'maps' music and movie preferences. Artists and bands are arranged according to interest and style. A map is generated based on an artist or band that you enter. On the generated map, the size of the colored halo around the band indicates popularity and similar colors indicate similar styles. Relative proximity indicates probablility of listener preference. In the map to the right, I've mapped Gillian Welch. The other greenish halos mark similar styles of music with distance to neighboring halos to show the liklihood that I may also enjoy those musicians. I can confirm that this map nailed my music tastes pretty well, as I have many of these bands in my music collection. This is a fun and mostly accurate way to 'discover' new music that you, or someone on your gift list, might enjoy. Liveplasma's movie mapping works very similarly, though you can flexibly search by movie titles, directors or actors.'d also suggest that you check out Tony G's newly compiled list of obscure, but good movies. Tony, of milkriverblog fame, recently circulated a meme requesting that participants forward their favorite, obscure movies - similar to the book meme that went around awhile back. Tony has posted the complete list of submissions on his blog - and continues to update it. It's quite a compilation, including well over 100 entries submitted by blogger-friends everywhere. The list includes old and new films alike, as well as English language and subtitled foreign flicks. The only 'filter' on the list is that these films are relatively obscure and we are likely to have missed them. Combine the info in Tony's list with the Liveplasma movie mapping site, and you've got no reason not to find a good gift for yourself or others this month. The Sundance Channel's got nothing on Tony's list. Check it out.

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01 December 2005
A good blog find

Technorati tracks about 22 million blogs, and the 700,000 new posts typed into the internets every day. That sounds like a lot, but I'm sure there are at least a few more blogs that Technorati doesn't know about. Admittedly, many of these blogs are not worth one single mouse click. Many others, however, are written by smart, insightful, articulate bloggers with really interesting and helpful points of view. Given this enormous number of blogs and posts, it seems like I'd come across blogs that I like and that capture my attention quite regularly, but it doesn't happen as often as I'd like. Today, via a random and unrelated cirumstance, I was directed to a blog that belongs to the interesting category: Rubicon, written by Robert Silvey. He's a lefty science fan like some folks around here...but more articulate.

UPDATE: Robert has written a very nice contemporaneous-historical piece in observation of World AIDS Day.

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Fashion industry to ban only 'actively gay' designers

11-30 Bad Reporter

Bad Reporter is another very funny, very sarcastic comic strip that I like. Here are Don Asmussen's Bad Reporter archives.

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