Back in 2004, I was in the Big Bend area of SW Texas. That area is about as unwelcoming as a place as is yet it has a kind of beauty unlike anything found here in Southern Ohio. I was watching a video taken from the veranda of an old abandoned ghost town mansion that was being used as a two-room B&B. The sunrises and sunsets were spectacular and even during the day, the light changes the color and shapes of the hills and canyons. Every day is different as is every moment of every day. Except for the heat that veranda would be a wonderful place to sip a cold one and watch it all unfold.
Recently my wife and I were re-watching the 2009 blockbuster movie, Avatar. First time we saw it was with our entire family at an IMAX theater. Avatar on the huge screen is certainly candy for the eyes. But in reality it is just another retelling of the age-old tale about man finds paradise, paradise inhabited by nice but different beings, nice beings have something man wants, man rationalizes killing nice beings and taking their stuff, man destroys paradise, end of story.
The part of man is played by the owners of profit justifies anything big corporations and their army of highly paid, massively armed, and highly capable mercenaries. The part of nice beings is played by beautiful creations who live idyllic lives and are in perfect harmony with their world.
Late last summer the US Commonwealth of Puerto Rico was struck by two major hurricanes, Irma and Maria. Along with the US Virgin Islands these American territories were devastated. The physical infrastructure and economies of these islands remain far from recovery. NPR recently reported:
“Puerto Rico still has areas contending with terrible living conditions following Hurricane Maria and the lackluster response to the storm from the mainland United States. Even the deadly effects of the storm are far from over: With many still living without power or their lives otherwise disrupted, particularly elderly populations, the overall suicide rate in Puerto Rico increased 27 percent in 2017 compared to 2016 levels.”
These people are American citizens yet, in many ways our government has turned its back on them. Somehow America’s president appears to think that flying into the scene and tossing a few rolls of paper towels is all that’s needed. It gave him his photo opportunity.
A lot of laid off coal miners voted for Trump because he got them to believe in the lie that coal was coming back to Eastern Kentucky and Trump would be driving the lead truck. Well that’s just not going to happen if you believe in reality. There is not a single indicator lending evidence that coal is in out future.
While coal consumption has been dying in America the same has occurred in other nations. China just cancelled the construction of 103 coal-fired generating plants in favor of natural gas. China has stopped importing coal and has laid off tens of thousands of their own miners due to lack of demand.
It was around 1997, off the coast of NC, that I brought my first shark aboard my brother’s center console. We were drift fishing around a manmade reef near Morehead City when some deadweight thing took my frozen shrimp and began pulling. There wasn’t any fight or sport. Just an exercise in lifting a piece of lead to the surface.
Once it surfaced my brother identified it as a dogfish and warned me about the sharp spine in front of it’s dorsal fin. We didn’t keep it but when I got back to Joe’s home I looked it up on the Internet and learned that it was the world’s most common family of sharks and highly prized for its food value. One major market is Northern Europe and the UK where it is sold in fish ‘n chip shops and labeled rock salmon.
American fishermen who harvest dogfish export almost all it to Europe. The fins are sold into Asian markets where it’s made into a cheaper form of shark fin soup.
Since that first dogfish I’ve caught a ton of them. In the colder seasons of NC they may be the only thing you catch and you’ll begin to see them as a nuisance. Most species of shark are great fun to catch. A common one in NC is the Atlantic sharpnose and a 10-20 pounder will let you know you’ve had your string stretched.
I’ve yet to eat shark meat but it’s on my bucket list. I have some trepidations about cleaning one since I’ve read that they urinate through their skin and if you don’t clean them properly the flesh will have the taste and flavor of ammonia. I need an old-timer to be with me and teach me the ropes.
The largest shark, and fish, I’ve caught was a 110 pound spinner shark. I caught it off the pier at Emerald Isle, NC. Took me about an hour to get it to the pier and I had to cut it loose since there was no way I could lift it.
Check out this short video of spinning sharks.
I became interested in saltwater fishing in the mid 1990, especially around the Morehead City, NC area. The Gulf Stream runs along the NC coast about 35 miles out and is prime fishing for dolphin, king mackerel, wahoo, and several species of tuna. The most prized tuna is the Atlantic bluefin and can bring huge money in Japan. The US government and the state control the tuna catch and the penalties for bagging one out of season can be substantial.
My brother, who lived many years at the coast told me one year a couple of guys had been out in the gulf stream and hooked up a pretty large and very out of season bluefin. Greed got the best of them so they hid it in the bilge and brought it to shore. That they had the animal for sale quickly became known and it didn’t take long before the tuna cops tracked them down. When it was all said and done the fish had cost them many thousands of dollars in fines, some jail time, and the loss of their 35′ center console deep-water boat, it’s trailer, and the big dually they used to pull the rig.
This memory was prompted by a story I just read about the first fish auction in Tokyo for 2017. The highest priced tuna brought $632,000 ($1,300 a pound). The same restaurant that bought this fish paid $1.76 million for a fish in 2013. That represents the world’s record.
What you don’t hear so often is how the demand for horribly expensive sushi is making tuna horribly rare. There is a worldwide need to place the fish on the endangered specie list before it ends up dead as the dodo birds.
I have a friend who lives in Eastern Kentucky and often speaks about the horrors that coal has brought to his mountains.
One of those horrors is the power of the entrenched mining industry. A power that makes it okay to rip the heart out of the earth and leave the spoils for future generations to deal with. The power to hold working people hostage to an industry that is no longer needed. America really doesn’t need the filth of coal to meet its energy needs. If the power of the coal barons could be broken coal could easily be replaced by wind and solar.
It’s been fifteen years since I’ve taken the back roads through Kentucky and West Virginia but even then you could see what explosives were doing to the land and the environment. In those years things have only gotten worse. More of nature has forever been mutilated, more made toxic, and more people put out of jobs because mountain top mining doesn’t require the labor that shaft mining once did.
Just look at this picture and try to argue there’s enough good to out weigh the bad.
Somebody on Facebook posted a photo of a dung beetle rolling a ball of manure. It reminded me of something that we did back in the 1970s at Yankee Peddler Bicycles. Here’s the picture…
I responded with the following…
“Back in the Yankee Peddler days I read an article about the dung beetle being threatened in the Eastern US because of the dwindling supply of horse manure, it’s shit of choice. Norman Gingerich decided something should be done to save the beetle so he founded a movement to raise monies to buy Western horse turds and ship them east. Our trademark was a hand drawn image based on this photo. One change was the ball had the continents drawn on it so the ball of poop was the earth. We had a board of directors that included myself, Dave Allen and Bill Ingle of Ingle’s Greenhouse in Bainbridge. We also had brochures, flyers, and possibly t-shirts. Obviously it was a farce but Norman loved to have fun with things like this.”
Today Bobby Everhart emailed me a photo he took of the button we had made to promote the effort. Bob knows what is important in life and doesn’t throw it away. I thank him for that. Here’s the button…
I recently had reason to search for a quote from the comedian Sam Kinnison. When he was alive I didn’t much care for him because of his screaming delivery. He’s been dead since 1992 and now that we have the Internet and have access to his written words I’ve discovered that, damn he was funny.
Here’s what pisses me off. Oil prices are at a six and a half-year low while we in the Mid-West are experiencing rapid increases in gasoline prices. The claimed cause is a major Indiana refinery being on the fritz.
But that’s not what’s pissed me off. What’s pissed me off is that refinery being owned by BP with whom I’ve had a major beef going back to the 1980s. For the better part of thirty-five years I have boycotted BP in every possible way. My dislike of them was only heightened by their negligence leading up to the environmental rape of the Gulf of Mexico.
During the first decades of my BP boycott I never purchased their products but I would occasionally stop by one of their stations to pee on toilet seat in the men’s room and on the way out stop by the women’s room and leave the seat up. Following the Gulf rape I don’t even do that. I just wanted to forget they even existed. To erase my memory.
Just when I had reached that blissful world of BPlessness, BAM, the bastards are back in my life! Reminds me of that line in the Godfather, “Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in.”
A friend of mine is in the business (GreenBird) of providing products that help improve the habitat for our bird populations. I recently received this post from him with ideas about turning your property into a recognized bird sanctuary. We have been ardent bird feeders for decades allowing
My wife and I were near Bainbridge this past week and spotted a pair of bald eagles perched in the top of a tree along Paint Creek. We’ve seen a single eagle in that area on several occasions but this was the first for a pair.
Today I sat in a meeting with representatives of the Army Corp of Engineers and the Ohio Department of Natural Resources. The topic of our area’s eagle population came up and it was reported we have three nesting pairs and a fourth that “may” be trying to nest.
Specific locations weren’t revealed but one pair is near Bourneville, another near Bainbridge, and the third at Rocky Fork Lake.
A truck driving friend of mine reported being along the upper Mississippi River and spotting a grouping of around seventy-five golden and bald eagles. Wouldn’t that be a traffic stopper?
On a recent drive to Miami, Florida we took a side trip to the Sebastian Inlet State Park area. For the past fifteen years I have camped and fished in this area and have become pretty familiar with what to expect in the way of wildlife.
However, on this occasion, as we approached the park, a rather large black animal came out of a shoreline cluster of grasses and quickly ran across the road, disappearing into a stand of dune grass. It wasn’t a house cat, fox, dog, or anything common. We all immediately concluded it was a panther or other large cat.
When we got to the park we stopped to report our sighting to a ranger. After we described what we’d seen the ranger said we had seen a jaguarundi. A wild cat found in Central and South America but that was often showing up in certain parts of Florida.
For several years now, Greenfield resident Ron Dudley has been working to evaluate the status of the village’s tree population and take action to restore or improve the tree canopies that once lined our streets. To be honest, not much has come from his efforts.
The central problems include economic resources and public apathy. Trees can be expensive and not everyone sees value in planting a few in their back yards or along their curbs. On the other hand I live in a deep forest and everyday see the benefits. Besides the beauty it is always much cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter. Our trees have saved us unknown amounts on utilities while bringing us great joy.