Friday, April 10, 2015

Headed South to Find Spring

Can't wait. Have to go.  Hoping to find warm air, small, welcoming waves, and just a few eager fish.  See y'all soon.


Wednesday, April 1, 2015

To Understand and Define Legacy

Here is your life, right now.  You have an impact much greater than those around you, especially than younger people. Look at it.


Now, when the tiniest wave washes over those two footprints, we can get a glimpse at what mortality means.   Logic tells us that the smaller footprint will be decimated by the grinding surf.


But time and mortality don't care about logic.  Despite its tiny size, the child's footprint persists (to an extent), while the man's footprint is unrecognizable, nearly indiscernible.   There are forces at work, most notably the temporary nature of our society and the absolute impermanence of human-created things and ideas, that destroy what we think must be dominant.  In fact, a counter-intuitive two-step process occurs.  First, the man's deep footprint creates vertical gradient, which instead of allowing water to wash over it, forces water to fall into the footprint, creating destructive hydraulics within the print.  Second, as a result, the nearly destroyed adult footprint is indiscernible from a billion other past footprints in that same sand. The child's footprint is still a bit more discernable, plus, that child has moved on, having made a hundred more footprints after this one.

When you sit and wonder what our legacy might be, how we might be remembered, I think it's important to consider the hydraulics of the situation.  Can you list the forces that work against a permanence of your memory, your face, or even your life's work?  

Hint:  all of them.  Every force on this earth.   Every bit of physics and Facebook and 140 tiny characters per unit measured.....The opioid, glassy-eyed search for the tangible, for 8 second videos, for likes and follows and retweets.  All disappearing as quickly as they "virally" appear.  Newton's Second Law of Physics states that energy is neither created or destroyed, and at the end of the day, I measure my son's endless energy against my cracked hands and aching back, and it's clear that Newton was right.

So what is a legacy?  The easiest answer to me is that a legacy is what's been invested by someone who will not ever see its realization.   A legacy is the tree, the savings bond, the piece of writing that each of us initiates or plants, with a known maturity date roughly 10 years past our death. A legacy is the child's footprint as it advances past ours, as we've help set their course in a safe direction - though likely not the direction we'd have chosen ourselves.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Conservation Needs Soldiers, Not Cheerleaders

It's been a tough several months for hard-line conservationists.  The EPA's much-embattled Waters of the US Rule continues to list to port, northeastern states created a variety of destructive harvest measures for the striped bass population two months ago, and most recently, the US Senate voted to spend federal taxpayer monies to sell off protected federal lands.   Here in Maryland, anti-hunting equestrian lobbyists floated a bill to allow farmers to kill and sell (for profit) wild deer meat 365 days per year.  And a bill in Virginia to prohibit trespassing with hounds failed....mightily.   My opinion on these and other proposals are nuanced, and I've made a point to express them on this blog, in other publications where I write, by testifying in person, by emailing my elected officials, and by submitting written comments on these legislative proposals. I dedicate the time I can to making my voice heard.  Sometimes it seems to have an impact.  Sometimes not.

In doing so, my voice has been among the many, most recently several buddies writing in Hatch Magazine, to advocate - really, to beg - for America's 49 million anglers to get involved with policy that affect the future of our resource.  Across this blog's nearly 800 posts, you'll find that it's an ongoing plea.   I plea - we plea - that you care.  Unlike some of my friends, I'm not concerned with where you fall on these various legislative proposals - for example, most of them are steadfast believers that the EPA's "New Rule" will forever protect streams and wetlands - despite the fact that the EPA approves between 98-99% of proposals to drain and fill in federally-protected streams and wetlands.  So you can guess where I stand on that proposal.  I read it and I had concerns.

But don't mistake my feelings on the topic in general -  I'm ecstatic that they are engaged directly against me.  I'm ecstatic that other anglers read the proposal rule and created their own opinions.  Most importantly, I'm ecstatic that they wrote the EPA, their legislators, and other non-profits who are engaged (unlike one of my favorite non-profits, Ducks Unlimited, who refused to pick a side on the New Rule, and even refused to answer my emails requesting their comment on the New Rule).   The EPA's New Rule went out for public comment in 2014.  Over one million comments were received - it's estimated that 60-80% (many - but not all - are email form-generated) are against the proposal.

Why does America have 49 million anglers, and only - perhaps - 1% of us bothered to make a comment on a critical federal policy attempting to tackle "how do we federally protect clean water?"   Again, I'm less concerned about whether you oppose or support it.  I'm concerned that you're simply not there.

Adopting the mantle of "conservation radical" in the face of paid anti-conservation writers, as the Hatch writers did last week, is absolutely fine.   Wanting to wage verbal battles on social media is absolutely fine.  But given recent admissions that our last Secretary of State never opened a government email account, and in response, that at least one current US Senator has never sent a single email, let's not think that we are advancing awareness or political change via social media.  Again, the vast majority of comments on the EPA New Rule oppose the rule, and were received via email.  The EPA is likely to pass the final rule this spring anyway.   Before you cheer, read that again.  Your email comments don't matter much.   I'm going to ask a big favor of you.  I want you to be there.

Visiting your elected officials in Washington DC is powerful, but expensive.  Visiting them in their hometown office is easy.  Attending your county councilman/councilwoman's annual fundraiser is easy.  Visiting your state delegates in their district office is easy.   Getting to know the people who speak for you in government is easy and it is imperative.    I don't want you to click on the automatically generated email that says, "Yes, I support this measure."  I want you to put on your boots or a nice suit, and I want you to show up.

It's in no way imperative that we all agree.  But it's critical that sportsmen and outdoorsfolk speak and are heard.  It's critical that our voice is heard and not ignored.   The rallying cry from Hatch Magazine is noted, and it's important first step.  But it's only the beginning. 

I hope to see you all in the trenches.  I hope to see you all on TV, in front of lawmakers.  And I'll raise a toast to your dedication, even if you and I disagree on the issue of the day. 

Get out there, soldier.  






Wednesday, March 25, 2015

With All Due Respect to Introverts

From malandarras.com - graphic about the foolishness of being extroverted

Those of you who have met me in real life, know me.  I have a good handshake and a warm smile that shows the gap between my front teeth and a little more of my big nose (five times broken) than you probably want to see.   I'm an over-sharer.  Want my opinion? I'll give it to you, in detail.  Don't want it?  That's fine too.  Let's talk about something else.  But I want to learn from you and about you, so we're going to talk.

From Tumblr 
I can also be very reflective.  I enjoy listening and learning.  Information is my drug.  Well, caffeine...but...information.  Right.  Information.  I love learning about other people.  I want to hear about their mistakes and their scars and their calculated and accidental successes.  I really enjoy thinking about those things, and processing them.  We're far more connected - all of us - than many people believe.

For all of this to matter in personal life or in business, you and I need to be able to have substantive two-way conversations that are as meaningful as introverts want, in timeframes as brief as extroverts want.  That's a tough bridge to cross.  I think the gap between the two extremes as widened recently under the tireless, web-based (and mostly anonymous) anti-extrovert tome of  "You don't understand introverts - and you're not allowed to understand us, so go away."

Don't think I "don't know" introverts.  I've been married to one for almost 15 years.  I'm a biologist (nearly 70% of biologists are introverts) and I work with engineers on a daily basis (over 80% of engineers are introverts).  Both of my parents and both of my brothers (as well as my in-laws and brother in-law) are all introverts - some of them are chattier than others, but all prefer to have time on their own, on their terms.

With all due respect to introverts, I don't care that working in an office with people, in and of itself, makes you exhausted.   Know yourself well enough to know that your skills are minimized and your challenges are maximized in a highly socialized work environment.  And take charge of it.  Don't change on anyone's account.  But change how (and probably where) you work to make sure you are valued as close to what you're worth as possible.  Go be happy.  And don't take a job where you'll be asked to be someone who you aren't.  That's not fair to introverts - seriously.

Pretty sure this has not been
scientifically verified.
With all due respect to introverts, you don't get sole ownership of ideas like "You see things.  You keep quiet about them.  And you understand."  Which I read recently online in a glorious ode to the uber-wisdom inherent to mega-introversion.   As a relatively successful extrovert scientist with three degrees,  I believe that I (like most extroverts) am able to assimilate the kinds of facts, relationships, and trends, that introverts also assimilate.  How I choose to gather those facts and figure them out is quite certainly not an indictment of my intelligence or ability to "understand the world."  And it means that you haven't quite figured out extroverts.  Which leads me to....

With all due respect to introverts, the constant meme of "you can't possibly understand us!" is incredibly ridiculous.  The internet, with its anonymous commenting, false bravado, and ability to quickly "leave" (or delete) awkward conversations with no social consequence, has led to a brave new world of introvert valuation, which is fine, except themes have started to emerge that increasingly display the thought that introversion = exceptionalism.    Since many fields (not mine) are dominated by extroverts, and I can see where in many facets of life, extroverts have traditionally run roughshod over introverts, and so some real awareness of that continued behavior (and its negative impact) is a really good thing for us extroverts.

But with all due respect to introverts, to what extent have introverts attempted to understand where extroverts (many times their boss) might be coming from?  I've seen little to no web space devoted to introverts' attempts to gain greater understanding of extroverts.  And why would you, when you can fall back on hilarious extrovert stereotypes like "Talky Talky" and "Mr. Overshare" and "The Mayor." Websites like this one brag about how introverts can be home working late on their next projects, while extroverts are out drinking and throwing money around.  THOSE FOOLS!  Here's a graphic from that website:

Source:  malandarras.com

Allow me to further clarify the above artist's intent:


As you can see, increased focus continues on extolling the traits of introversion as exceptional, with an increasing vilification of extroversion as banal and mundane, if not drunk and wasteful.  I've known people all of my life who have never asked a question about anyone else, simply insisting that everyone should work harder to understand them. Because they're so special.  A bunch of introverted, special snowflakes.  So unique, all of you.  As unique as all the talky-talkys and over-sharers that you disdain so openly (anonymously, online of course).

In the end, and with all due respect, dear introverts, we all need to do a better job of understanding each other, and making sure that ourselves and each other find the best work environments and personal relationships for who we are - to ensure that people aren't having to pretend to be something or someone they are not.

To all of you quieter people who have been told at some point during your life that if your opinion isn't heard, it doesn't matter, I'm sorry for that - it's not true.  But you will have to figure out a way to get your opinion heard - if you want it to be heard - beyond the dark halls of reddit and tumblr, which may involve going outside of your comfort zone.   With much of what we individually achieve in American society being far more results-based (and statistically / financially demonstrable) than it ever was in past generations, many prior advantages to extroverts have been whittled away or eliminated.  

However, that being said, socializing is important.  Important decisions will be made with or without you on the golf course, in the baseball luxury box, and at fancy charity auctions.  Maybe you shouldn't go - but by all means, send someone in your place.

Extroverts have been well advised to not underestimate introverts, their talents, and their potential.  In coming years, introverts will be well advised to not forget that many extrovert stereotypes they'd wish to be true won't be true often enough to save a business deal, close a loan against a hostile party, or negotiate a tough contract.  To assume that extroverts are dullards, aren't internally reflective, or aren't strategic enough to plan a few steps ahead are all the makings of a job-destroying or relationship-wrecking maneuver.