Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Yeah, Ixnay on the Ringspray, Apparently

"It's just bushes.  They won't hurt."  Dad of the Year.

This should end well.

I think I know where this (above) is headed (below):

Gotta represent my home territory!

Last week of March in my neighborhood...nary a largemouth bass!

Monday, March 25, 2013

Spring Backward

What began as a pleasant coup of foul weather during January's late duck season has become a real hindrance to fishing in March.  That thing?  Our pattern of twice-weekly ice, rain and snow.   It's been basically dry enough to work outside, and dry enough to do a little gardening, but our runoff-soaked rivers and lakes are cloudy and cold.

I was at a fundraiser the other night and someone asked me, "When do you usually start fishing?" and I had to honestly said, "Shoulda been about a month ago."   Spring's arrival is at a near-standstill and honestly, I'm annoyed.  Annoyed that the squirrels, who normally turn their attentions to wildflowers and green weeds by March, are chewing buds off of my shrubs.  I'm annoyed that the weather's not nice enough to even want to go fishing, let alone actually go fishing.  I'm annoyed because I know that June's hot weather and hot, dead water are not so far beyond April, which starts next week.  I've also been pretty agitated and active with the Maryland Governor O'Malley's proposed gun control bill, which I like to call, "The Let's Pretend We're Solving an Important Problem but Not Really Bill of 2013."    Interestingly, the more I write to my legislators, the less I'm inclined to write for fun.  I need to remember that.

Nice jumbo crocus, until Hank attacked it with
his "sword" (an elderberry switch).

My fishing gear is organized.  I've purchased my license and stamps.  I've got about 60-90 days of fairly flexible office work before my next really serious stream construction job begins.  Hopefully, spring will eventually show its face....

Little Man is definitely ready for spring!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Gun Control and Garden Beds

I try to be a good American.  I believe in our Constitution, and God, and charity.  I vote consciously, and not on party lines.  I believe that the government generally passes laws in good faith that are intended  to lift us up, or even protect us as a nation.  I don't think that profits are bad.  I don't think that big government can solve the world's problems, but I've seen many cases where no one but the government is willing to clean up the mess.

 On that note - the role of government - two indirectly related current events are converging to change me.  Don't jump ahead - I am not signing up to get my (R) card to acknowledge that a de-regulated Wal-Mart somehow equals "free market," and thus "free society."  No.  These two specific things are changing how I live.

The first of these is Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley's assault on legal gun ownership in Maryland.   SB 281, as it's currently called, seeks to ban assault weapons, and for other gun owners, mandate a thousands-of-dollars cocktail of mandatory training, licensing, and fingerprinting that O'Malley must hope will limit legal gun ownership to the extremely wealthy, and by some impossible hope, also have an impact on illegal gun ownership and use.  As a legal gun owner, obviously, this causes me great concern.  I believe in certain limits to the 2nd Amendment, for instance, that I shouldn't own a Predator Drone armed with Hellfires.   But I don't believe that somehow expensing me out of legal gun ownership will make one tiny impact in the state's epidemic of drug-related gun violence, or the growing epidemic of mass murders by sick individuals.  At home, we're discussing whether to stay ahead of the proposed changes, because having access to a reasonable suite of defense equipment is a reasonable thing.  Some of you will know what this is.

Sales of this item are up 600% from 2012 (and 2000% over the long term average) 
since Maryland's gun control legislation was proposed in January. 
 I don't think that was the Governor's intention. 

Why does it matter to me?  Well, I could write about it for days, but here's the meat and potatoes of the issue:  in a city where 250-350 murders per year are committed, I've called 911 for help on four occasions, over the course of 15 years.  The shortest response time I've ever received is 35 minutes. 35 minutes is a long time to wait for the good guys to show up.

I don't want assault weaponry.   But the state seeks to take it away from all of us except for career criminals.  Amendments to the bill which would strengthen criminal penalties for using a firearm in a crime were stricken down.  The state's firearm bill isn't about criminals, or crime.  It's about gun elimination, and guess what - the bad guys aren't giving up theirs.  Nor are corrupt cops.  Just you and me.

Photo from . Independent polling shows that  while 85% of Marylanders support
some form of gun control (January 2013),  97% of Marylanders specifically oppose SB 281 (February 2013).  
Over 1,300 citizens testified against the bill.  32 testified in support of it. 

Which brings me to the second issue:  my community garden is the epicenter of an ongoing gang war between the Black Guerrilla Family and the Bloods.  For those who don't know, the BGF started as a prison gang, then became a prison GUARD gang, and then became a street gang!  How crazy is that? I mean, literally, it's f*cking insanely ridiculous and stupid that this type of thing is allowed to occur in our society.  So.......a gang war at my community garden.  With actual murders!

And so, the Community Garden Experiment has wrapped up, if not failed.  Not because of poor soil, or rats, or laziness.  But because Maryland's current gun laws - some of the most strict in the country - cannot prevent hardened convicts from conducting gang business, buying and selling fully automatic weapons, and committing murder in City parks.  And those same laws make it nearly impossible for me to legally carry a weapon to defend myself where I should not need to - on City property.  

Rather than use this space to indulge my usual complaints, like, "Why does government cost so much if it doesn't work?", we're turning inward a bit, inside the marginal protection of our six foot fence.  Realizing quite clearly that no one is out there to help us, to protect us, to help deliver food to us in time of crisis.   So let's store water and build a garden! 

Two years ago, we stored no rainwater.  Now, we store 350 gallons.   Should be 500 gallons by the end of the summer.   Due to the natural grade of our lot, we are able to send water away from the house, to be stored and used for later. Sustainability and self reliance are more simple than words.  See:

165 gallons will rest on this platform, umm....requisitioned... from a 6.5' countertop pallet.  The elevation will allow head pressure to build, driving gravity-fed drip irrigation.

And unlike the war zone two miles down the road at the Community Garden, I can actually teach my son how to take care of himself here, too.  Safely.  Hey, bring your kids over, too.  Black, white, whatever.  Bring them over.  They can learn.  They can play in peace.  Until someone falls on a saw or hits their thumb with a hammer, anyway.

I started wearing safety goggles after a scare with a grinder last year.  Hank wears his, too.

And while I need to rescue my raised beds from Gangland for a retrofit into the new home garden , I also need to start my early spring crops.  How about a few rabbit proof raised beds?

Look, I don't know what's going to happen.  But it's good to be focusing on home.  And it's great, once again, to have my helper with me in the garden.  If he can learn how to take care of himself here, I believe he can take those skills and that mentality anywhere.

Post-script:  For reasons uknown to me, this post is being heavily spammed.  Any comment left below that is concise, related to this topic, and more or less respectful will be posted.  I respect your first amendment rights, even more than normal if I disagree with you.   However, I delete all spam comments on all posts (all 600+ of them), and this post is no different.  Those are the "deleted comment" references you may see. 

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Strange Things Are Afoot at the Circle K

It's been a crazy month and a half.  I haven't purchased my fishing license, which is unheard of for me in mid-march.   Work is busy, which is a good thing, and has totally been outdoors, which is mostly a good thing, although it seems to have deprived me of my writing mojo.  I guess that means I'm happy.  Who knows.

I attended an all-day meeting about stream restoration permits earlier this week, followed by a four hour biodiesel laboratory experiment with my students.  The people I'm dealing with act like small children.  Oh, I'm not referring to the students, who incidentally, are acting like small children because spring break is just ahead.

I stopped by a nearby gas station on the way home to grab a cup of cheap coffee, and heard this sound, "RAWR chunk chunk RAWWWWWR" under the counter.  I asked the skinhead who works there, "Hey dude is that death metal playing under the counter?"  He responded, "Yeah, I need it to get through the night in this place."  Sounded legit, so I was like, "Right on." He then launched into an apology on the topic, to which I honestly responded to him,

"No seriously, it's OK.  This is the least absurd conversation I've been in for the last 14 hours."

The other day at the office, our major donor coordinator was trying to recall a term (sand bar), and just said, "I don't know, the thing underwater, it has a has moving sand...what is it called?....?"

I answered, "The Kraken?"

It's time to go fishing.

Monday, March 4, 2013

February Journal (Feb 2013)

To Do Nothing By Accident.  It's an incredible concept, the subject of an upcoming blog post, and really my theme for the month.  In February, I managed the construction of a wetland project I helped fund three years ago, I had an article published in the Backcountry Journal, I turned down two corporate sponsorships for this blog (just didn't work out), consulted on a National Geographic film about swamps - pretty sure that was a professional blunder on my part, as I didn't ask for any recognition or anything, and I, as usual, tried to juggle two jobs, fatherhood, and marriage.

For the first time in several years, I didn't push myself to get outdoors in February.  For the first time in the 6 year history of this blog, I did not complain that I wasn't getting outdoors enough in February.  I can't wait to go fishing, but it's been nice to not worry about it.  With three wetland and stream construction projects underway in the same month, it's not like there was time for it anyway.

I also started back at the gym....more on that soon, as it marks a year since I started on the fitness thing again.  But for now, it's waiting out the end of winter, working hard, and chasing the Hankster around.