Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Turns out I'm a ninja

So I just got back from fishing the Beaverhead River in Montana. The fish there see a lot of flies, see lots of fishermen and so they're smart. Many have postgraduate degrees. You can talk art with them.

Catching these fish with a flyrod was proving to be a chore so I changed tactics and just pulled one out of the water with my bare hands. Really. Swear.

Here it is, pictured below.

You might notice that this fish has seen better days, what with the decomposing head and all.

Sure, this rainbow was on its way out -- but still, technically, this is a living fish in a stream and you wouldn't think you could just pull it out of the water with your hands. But you'd be wrong.

I watched a video recently where a guy explained that if you can get your hands underneath a fish and rub its belly, they calm down and you can just pluck it out of the water.

So I tried it. Got my hands underwater, moved them upstream slowly and the fish was getting agitated, moved away a little bit but then I snuck up, made contact and he kind of flinched, but then settled down when I gave him a little belly rub.

Then I got both hands under there and just ... pulled him out of the water.

At that point I realized I was ninja so I spent the rest of the day sneaking around in the river breathing through a reed, jumping out of the water to karate kick other fishermen, used throwing stars to cut the ends off cigars of rich guys that like to float down toking on giant stogies ... used nunchucks to swat mosquitoes back at camp and caught caddis flies with chopsticks. Things like that.

So that's how a ninja spends his time when the fishing is slow.

I've got to go practice doing backflips now.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Keep your eye on the kids with purple hair: Graduation 2011

Wallowa Chieftain column from 6/9/11

Wallowa County schools have turned out another fine roster of graduates and there should be high-fives all around. Graduates, teachers, parents, coaches and everybody else who helped these kids along through their schooling careers—you done good. All of you. High five.

I don't have any photos related to high school graduation, so this sunset symbolizes attendance records. Beautiful. Except the ones you missed.

It’s tradition to fill these graduates full of last-minute nuggets of advice as they step over into being adults. But I’ve been thinking. These graduates just sat through twelve years of instruction, they’ve seen how our ideas are working out and I’d like to hear what they have in the way of advice for us.

We had plenty of time to tamp our message in. They’ve been tested and graded along the way so it seems fair that graduates get a chance to evaluate us on this world we’re handing over to them.

We hear from valedictorians during commencement ceremonies, but what about the kid with the record for being sent to the principal’s office the most during the past twelve years … I’d wager that would be a lively address and I’m sure we could all use some insight on getting into a little trouble but still managing to come out alright.

What about the shy kids? They’ll be quietly running things before long anyway so we might as well get a sneak preview. The kids with purple hair. They end up surprising you. I’ve seen it happen. The ones going after rodeo buckles instead of college degrees. The ones who want to travel. The ones wanting to stay put. I’d say there’s valuable insight to be heard from all of these newly-minted adults.

Still don't have graduation-type pictures, so here's an image of the chimney of life, shown emitting vapors from the fuel of your earthly toils that you keep adding and adding, except when the weather's nice and you don't need to. Think about that for a minute. Yeah.

A big long commencement ceremony where every graduate gets to speak would feel like it’s taking twelve years, so instead of that we could have sort of an open house where all the graduating seniors are on hand and you can walk up, congratulate them on finishing school and warn them against taking wooden nickels or advise them to buy low and sell high or whatever. Then it’s their turn to tell us what they think. If they feel like giving advice, I’d probably ask for help in making sense out of cell phone plans. Used to be that teenagers were the only ones able to program a VCR but these days we need younger folks to explain phones.

All these kids—pardon, young adults—have something worth hearing and I for one would like a breakdown on what our twelve years of telling them what we think they need to know has boiled down to. Lay it on me, graduates. Send your general observations, advice and detailed instructions on how to turn off the annoying voice command thing on my phone to jonrombach@gmail.com.

So bon voyage, graduates, whatever your voyaging preferences might be. College, run the family ranch, or my favorite—don’t really know. If ever I do stumble on a pile of money I believe I’ll set up a scholarship to assist those interested in pursuing I Dunno.

I majored in Business at first, then changed it five minutes later to Art, then Taking A Year Off, then I forget what and -- oh, I declared just about every major in the catalog except for Accounting and ended up with History. My academic advisor liked to drink.

Just like offering advice, it’s tradition to give a graduating senior analogies. Life is like (something) and you’ve got to (something). So here’s mine.
Graduates, life is like an analogy. It’s one thing, but some people think of it another way and you’re both probably kind of right, depending on how you look at it.

And just like an analogy, sometimes it won’t really make much sense but that’s OK. So just remember that little bit of wisdom and you should be fine. Now go out there and make us proud and make cell phones easier to understand and maybe clean up all this international conflict and do something about the economy and don’t take no for an answer unless it’s the right one and a bunch of other stuff. You’ll figure it out.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Gearboat Chronicles Theater: Shuttle Monkey

Rolling out a test product here, from the Winding Waters video archives.

This first round of Gearboat Chronicles, video-style, shows Morgan, me and Shuttle Monkey on a lower Grande Ronde trip. It really livens up a shuttle drive if you have a video camera, some elk and a stuffed animal with bendy arms.

Darren Senn wrote and recorded the Gearboat Theater theme music, though he wasn't aware of that at the time. I lifted it off his record, I Gotta Get Organized. Track 2, Cute Little Cowgirl. Look him up at darrensennmusic.com before he looks you up.

In-flight mower refueling

Pretty sure my grass is on the juice. Shooting up illegal growth hormone. It's angry all the time. Moody. Has pimples. I mow it and next day it's just taller.

Had to rig a refueling system so I can stay in motion at all times and get gas while I'm on the move. Only way to keep up.

I mean, look at the size of the dandelions. You could make lumber out of those things.

Jacey jogs behind the mower and pours gas in while I keep cutting grass. Took some trial and error but we're getting it. Just don't ever drop a match on my lawn.