Friday, April 30, 2010

I don't want any more children. Especially feathered ones.

I happened to glance out our back door late yesterday afternoon and noticed something small and pale sitting on the ground near one of our feeders. It was a turkey egg, and all I can surmise is that one of the hens that regularly visits the back yard either just couldn't hold it or else picked the worst spot ever to scratch out a nest and start laying.

It's not unusual to run across turkey nests this time of year. Most of the hens have been bred and started nesting. It is, however, unusual to find a random egg laying a few feet from our back door.

Looking down at the egg, I had a dilemma: if I just left the egg there it wouldn't last the night. Maybe I should just pick it up and make an omelet. If I didn't the neighborhood racoons or opossums surely would. Plus, it might very well be an infertile egg anyway, and better me eat it than some other nest predator. Not to mention the fact that if a hen was trying to nest there it was doomed to failure. It's literally a few feet from our back door. The local hens are used to humans, but they're by no means tame and she'd be running off the nest every time we opened the door.

On the other hand, if a hen's nesting somewhere nearby maybe I can find the nest and slip the egg into it. If I can't, then my son - visions of a pet gobbler running through his head - is already pestering me to try to incubate and hatch it.

And if it does hatch - a long, long, shot - then what on earth are we going to do with a pet turkey? Hell, I haven't even shot one yet this year!

Honestly, I'd rather just eat it because the odds of hatching a single turkey egg - if it's even fertile -  are extremely low, but I'm afraid the die has been cast: If I can't find a nest to slip this thing into we'll put it under a lamp and see what happens, though I think I'm ruining a perfectly good breakfast...

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Anatomy of a gun trade...

It all started with a fly reel. An older USA-made Sage 3200 that I coveted and which should have by-gawd belonged to me in the first place. But no, my father inexplicably gave it to my little brother. My brother, who thinks flyfishing is mainly for wussies who can't operate a baitcaster...

Sibling jealousy simmered until I had an opportunity to shamelessly steal it from him. When he found out, he first demanded it back. I said,"OK, I'll bring it next time I come down." This, of course, was code for "there's no way in hell." He knew that as well as I did, so he countered with "why don't you just trade me your old 1100 for it. You don't use it any more anyway."

He was right. It was an old seventies-vintage Remington 1100 12 gauge that I had shot much when I was younger but had largely abandoned to the gun cabinet when I got into two-barreled guns. In fact, I had let my brother borrow it for a pheasant hunt the year before and he still hadn't returned it.

"You're out of your freakin' mind. I love that gun and I still use it all the time. I'm not trading it for a damn reel! Well, let me think about it." This, of course, was code for "I'm keeping the reel, and I'm stealing my gun back next time I come down."

"OK," he replied, which, of course, was code for "I know you'll try to steal that gun back next time you come down. Good luck finding it."

This uneasy truce lasted several months, until one day my brother called and said "Hey, there's an old 870 20 gauge in the pawn shop down here. I think I can get it for $140 bucks (he went to high school with the store manager and therefore got a considerable discount...). You want it?"

A quick description of the gun combined with a serial number search revealed that it wasn't just any old 870, but a first-year production ADL model in completely original, just-rolled-off-the-line condition with matching barrel and receiver numbers and a relatively rare matte unribbed barrel. And with the exception of a few faint rust freckles, this old 870, which was born in December of 1950, was also essentially unused. It had apparently been leaning in some closet for the past 60 years.

"Get it, and we'll work something out."

My mind churned. I wanted that gun. Lately I had been getting interested in early American pump guns, and although there are 10 million 870s floating around out there, you just don't stumble across first-year guns in this condition very often. So I called my brother back.

"Hey, tell you what I'll do. Man, you're getting to me, but I'll trade you straight across, the 1100 for that 870."

"But what about the Sage? I thought you were going to trade the 1100 for it?"

"You know that first-generation Shimano Curado of mine you've been wanting?"


"I'll trade you that Shimano and a brand-new BPS Extreme baitcaster for the Sage. That way you get the reel and shotgun you want, I get the reel and the shotgun I want, and we don't have to keep stealing things from each other." This, of course, was code for "I'm going to steal that Curado back the first chance I get."

"OK, that sounds fair." This, of course, was code for "you're screwing my eyeballs out here and the next time I come up I'm stealing something to make up for it."

So we both went away more or less satisfied, but wary, and biding time for the first opportunity to start stealing back what we had just traded away. Such is life for brothers...

Monday, April 26, 2010

Lonely Roads and Field Trials

The middle of Kansas is a pretty good haul from my house, but on Saturday I decided to forego domestic responsibility, fishing and turkey hunting to go watch the Jayhawk Retriever Club's spring field trial in Kingman, Kansas. I hadn't been to a field trial in a while, but Bill Burks, the breeder of my late male Lewey, would be running Lewey's dam Dinah as well as his littermate, Judy, and I wanted to watch them compete against the black dogs.

I had trained once or twice with Bill when Lewey was younger and had watched both his dogs compete at the American Chesapeake Club field trial specialty in 2007, but hadn't spoken with Bill since, at least until I called to tell him Lewey had died. I originally bought Lewey from Bill with the intention of getting into field trials, and then - as it so often does -  life sort of got in the way of those plans. I've always regretted that and have carried around some guilt that whatever potential Lewey may have had as a trial dog was ultimately wasted by my having owned him.

So it was with a degree of ambivalence that I decided to go. I love watching field trials and I really wanted to see Bill's dogs, but going would no doubt also be a little reminder of my personal failings. But, I figured, that was just my cross to bear and it might even do me some good.

So I loaded up and hit the road, heading north on those wonderful and forgotten little plains state highways that never quit receding into the horizon no matter how far or fast you drive. Up into that wild, lonely, starkly beautiful and largely unpeopled border country along the state line. But there are reminders, if you care to notice them, that it wasn't always so lonely, so remote. Right below the Kansas border I stopped, as is my tradition, at a little roadside rest area from another era, back before the primacy of the interstates.

I discovered this little rest area years ago on one of my many random explorations of blank areas on the road atlas. It sits on what must be one of the least-traveled state highways I know of, a windswept ribbon of asphalt that originates in nowhere, transects a helluva lot of nothing, and has its terminus at the junction of empty and lost. My kind of road, and my kind of rest stop. Not much in the way of amenities (I once found a prairie rattler curled up under the picnic table) but it's got a helluva view...

 I don't doubt that a few local teenagers have consummated their love on that table, but I'm guessing the last time it hosted an actual picnic was some time prior to the launch of Sputnik 1. If you poked around, you'd notice -  mixed in amonst the buffalo grass, soapweed and sage - clumps of iris gone wild. At some point this little roadside stop was a homestead. The home, its occupants and their dreams are long gone. All that's left are the irises, the wind and the occasional - very occasional - traveler. I sat at this rest stop one spring day on a storm chase, waiting for the weather to pop. For the better part of two hours I ate my lunch, read a book, listened to the weather radio, watched the sky, poked around the rocks and waited. In all that time not one car passed by on the road. It's lonely country...

But  I had a trial to watch, so I snapped a few pics and hit the road. Eventually I made it to Kingman, met up with Bill and watched some of the trial. I had a good time...

Bill and Dinah waiting to run in the amateur

Bill sending Dinah on a blind in the open...

Judy in the holding blind at the amateur. About 20 pounds lighter, a couple inches shorter, but in every other way the spitting image of Lewey. I might have teared up just a little, but holding a camera to your face helps hide that.

And Bill getting ready to send Judy on a mark in the first series of the amateur.

Unfortunately Judy went out in that series, but Dinah went on to Jam the amateur. Rain forced me to leave early, but I'm glad I went. I didn't know how I'd feel, because I still miss Lewey terribly. But it was nice to see a little bit of him this weekend.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Why Morons Thrive...

I believe this Wikipedia entry is the single best summation of the publishing industry - and indeed, the human condition itself -  I've ever run across...

The Dunning–Kruger effect is a cognitive bias in which "people reach erroneous conclusions and make unfortunate choices but their incompetence robs them of the metacognitive ability to realize it".[1] The unskilled therefore suffer from illusory superiority, rating their own ability as above average, much higher than in actuality; by contrast, the highly skilled underrate their abilities, suffering from illusory inferiority. This leads to a perverse result where less competent people will rate their own ability higher than more competent people. It also explains why actual competence may weaken self-confidence because competent individuals falsely assume that others have an equivalent understanding. "Thus, the miscalibration of the incompetent stems from an error about the self, whereas the miscalibration of the highly competent stems from an error about others."

“ In the modern world the stupid are cocksure while the intelligent are full of doubt. ”

— Bertrand Russell

Monday, April 19, 2010

Weekend Training: A little good, a little bad...

The second weekend of turkey season dawned wet, cold and miserable. And call me a seasonal pansy if you must, but I don't do wet, cold and miserable during spring turkey season. So I didn't. As a  result, I remain turkeyless, despite the tom currently gobbling in my back yard, who is very close to getting a BB in the ass if he continues destroying my grass...

In truth, I would have gone hunting anyway, but an inch of rain makes the county road ("road" is a charitable description) to my private ground essentially impassable (we're pushing two inches and counting) and I have a hard and fast rule about avoiding public ground the first two weekends of the season.

I did, however, manage a little training. Recently Tess and I have been revisiting some basics, like prompt whistle sits, steadiness to shot and and "No, gawddammit! Over!"

But I wanted to get her on some long marks and work on water blinds, so I loaded up the stuff and went to a local city pond that truth be told sucks for training, but when you live in an arid area largely devoid of surface water, you take your training grounds where you can get them.

Here's Tess waiting to be released on a simple fifty-yard or so water mark. But she has to bust through a really thick tangle of reeds and willows to reach the pond. And she doesn't know it, but on her right there's a bumper about 150 yards down the clearing. I'm wanting to start stretching out her blinds in cover and I'm hoping easy no-cover longer blinds like this will give her more confidence when I send her on a blind in thick cover.

Easy mark, straight in and straight out, but she does have to climb through some pretty gnarly brush...

And she lines the blind no problem...

But then here's where things start going wrong. I had thrown a bumper parallel to the shoreline hoping it'd drift into the reeds so I could send Tess on a water blind (Tess is crated while I'm planting these bumpers). But of course it snagged on a branch before drifting into the reeds and Tess saw it immediately when I brought her up.

It's only forty yards or so (because there are people fishing on the other side of that little point, people fishing on the other side of me and people fishing across the pond. So much for long water blinds...)

Not the most challenging blind in the world...

We then moved on to some loooong marks in cover. Or so I thought. Mistake number one: make sure your Bumper Boy (which is this thing right here...) charged before you go train. Otherwise when you press the button you'll get a "quack, quack" and no boom, which makes you look really stupid in front of your dog...At three hundred yards the unit had enough juice to make the duck sound, but apparently not enough to trip the little servo that fires the .22 blank that launches the bumper. So we moved up to about 250. "Quack, quack." Nothing. So we moved up to 200. "Quack, quack." Nothing. So we moved up to 150. "Quack, quack." And then, finally, a boom.

And Tess pinned it...

Good girl! You're a good dog, even if your master's something of an idiot.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Some Souls Remain Unknown

The eyes of the animals I hunt and fish for are endlessly fascinating to me. I look and I look, but I cannot fathom the depths contained within them. When I try, all I see is myself. They are an immutable weirding glass, bending the world into a wavelength only they understand, offering me no clue what resides behind that implacable stare.

And I can't help but wonder: how do those eyes see me? How, exactly, do they translate my reality into theirs? I will never know. No matter how long I look, how hard I stare, those eyes will keep their secrets, reflecting nothing but what I choose to see in them. 

I guess that's why I keep looking...

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

So Long, It's Been Good To Know You...

No, I'm not quitting just yet. It's the title to a song penned and sung by the greatest artist and one of the greatest individuals the state of Oklahoma ever produced.

And it may be an apocryphal story, but legend has it that Woody Guthrie penned the opening lines to "So Long It's Been Good To Know You" while hunkered down in Pampa, Texas, on April 14, 1935, riding out what would forever be known as "Black Sunday."

Seventy five years ago today a whole lot of people in my part of the world were convinced that world was coming to an end. It didn't, but that massive April 14th, 1935 storm was the one that coined the term "Dust Bowl."

The writing I do for Field & Stream is vastly different (not by choice, but editorial decree...) than the random stuff I do on this purely personal blog, so I don't often link between the two. But I kind of liked my blog post on Black Sunday, so what the hell.

Also, here's  an excellent synopsis of the event on the National Weather Service Norman, Oklahoma webpage, as well as a really cool weather graphic of the event.

And since I'm in a Woody Guthrie frame of mind today, here's a link to a 1929 recording of Guthrie singing "So Long..."

And, for no reason whatsoever other than I like it, here's a link to one of my two favorite Woody Guthrie tributes, "Way Over Yonder In the Minor Key" from Mermaid Avenue, the simply awesome 1998 collaboration between Wilco and Billy Bragg

And for no other reason that I like it, too, here's a link to a song (sung by Ellis Paul) from my other favorite Woody Guthrie tribute, Jimmy Lafave's equally simply awesome two-disc Ribbon of Highway Endless Skyway Guthrie tribute tour. If it's possible to wear out a CD, I think I have this one...

In related news, the Oklahoma Mesonet site recorded a 44 mph peak gust in my county yesterday and a 54 mph wind gust in Boise City in Cimarron County. No black clouds rollling across the horizon. Yet...

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Vote Early and Vote Often...

I just learned that Joe Cermele's Hook Shots video series over at Field & Stream has been named a finalist for the Webby Awards  in the Travel and Adventure category.

Now, that's a great honor. The other finalists are from the likes of (among others) National Geographic, Conde Nast and Vice.

But here's the deal: Joe is Hook Shots. He's the creator, producer, writer, editor, cameraman, host, sound guy, fixer, troubleshooter and - for his guests - babysitter, fishing guide, tour guide, motel, cook and chauffeur. He's also the guy who, after doing all this, insists you take the first fish, even if it turns out to be the only fish...

You think National Geographic or Conde's entries were wholly created by just one guy? Doubt it. Joe's a wonderfully talented guy and deserves to not only win, but to have Hook Shots get picked by a big sponsor.

I never watch fishing shows because the vast majority of those fake cornpone travesties suck, and suck horribly. But I'd watch Hook Shots even if Joe weren't a friend. Although the music and the tone may not be for the tweed-encrusted traditionalists among us, I love it. It visually embodies a lot of the spirit of experimentation and excitement I'd love to see in more print mags, and watching sometimes makes me wish I'd been a TV/broadcast guy rather than a boring old writer.

Congratulations to Joe and Hook Shots. Here's a link to the Webby Awards trailer and here's a link to vote for the People's Voice awards. Vote early and vote often... 

Monday, April 12, 2010

Turkey Hunting Essentials...

My oldest son recently turned nine, and is now getting to the age where I am beginning to take him along on real hunting trips, as opposed to the "hunting trips" we've taken in the past.

Such was the case this weekend, when I asked if he'd like to go turkey hunting down at the farm, actually an old homestead that has been in my wife's family for over a century now, and will, I suppose, eventually be passed on to our sons.

I was hesitant to ask him, however, because while it's a good place to take a kid deer and duck hunting, it's not so good for turkey hunting with a child tagging along. Virtually all of the area's turkeys roost along a creekbottom a half-mile away and feed along the creek as well, so locating and setting up on a bird coming off a roost is out, and finding scattered and close-mouthed mid-day toms involves a lot of walking, spotting and stalking. Combine that with the fact that it's early season and many toms are still shadowing unbred hens and therefore require a higher level of calling skill than I possess, and it was looking like a low-percentages day.

Of course, it mattered not. When I asked if he wanted to go, he immediately jumped up, ran to his bedroom and began preparing for the following day's hunt. In hindsight, I probably should have supervised that...

The next morning I got up, drank my coffee, got my gear together and in the truck, then went to wake my son. I drank another cup of coffee as I waited.

What emerged from my son's bedroom was not my son, but a camo-clad, clinking, clanking child-sized blob of "survival gear" wearing a headlamp and a backpack he himself could have fit in. Around this creature's waist was a belt containing his "survival knife", his "hunting knife", his Leatherman, a canteen and an official Field & Stream survival kit (including pocket knife, sewing kit, compass, signal mirror, whistle and flashlight). I have no idea where he got the survival kit. I think my father-in-law got it as a gift for subscribing to the magazine.

He had an old pair of binoculars slung around his neck. An additional pair of "Eye Clops" children's night-vision binoculars was stowed in his backpack, along with an additional flashlight, granola bars, string cheese, a water bottle, a roll of kitestring, various items of clothing and - inexplicably - one of my old Jimmy Buffet cassettes.

I briefly considered making him leave it all there, but I saw the excitement in his eyes and kept my mouth shut. He's only nine. There'll be time enough for all that later.

 No turkeys died that day, but we had a lot of fun. God I miss the sheer joy and excitement and magic dust of being a kid...

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Litera Scripta Manet? Ehh...Not So Much.

My oldest and dearest friend and I have had a long-running conversation about the promise of the digital literary future versus the reality we find ourselves creeping toward. And the conclusion we've come to (he's as generally disillusioned with well, pretty much everything, as I am) is that while there are positives, by and large the ephemeral binary promises of cloud computing, e-books, Ipads, Kindles and their ilk cannot compare to the solidity, the tactile experience, the permanence, the sheer physical presence of an actual book.

Take my copy of "Ulysses" for example. There's nothing special about it, really. But this product of the Gutenberg 1.0 Operating System is always on, never needs re-charging or a software update and its basic function will never be supplanted or made obsolete. Barring fire, flood or fundamentalist book-banners, it is absolutely fail-proof. And being some sixty-odd years old, it smells wonderful when you riffle the pages with your fingers.

It - like all books - is a simple, affordable enchantment. When I was younger I would walk through the dusty old stacks of the University of Oklahoma library (before they ruined them with remodeling) and lose myself in their worlds (I would also stumble across the occasional lovestruck couple lost in theirs...).

So sure, e-book readers are cool, but come on, they'll never replace books, right? The written word, the real written word, will endure. Right?

Book Sales Dipped 1.8% in 2009; eBook Sales Rose 176%

And if that wasn't bad enough, I also saw this this morning...

USA Today's website has started running thousands of pieces of original travel editorial from the Demand Media content farm, making USA Today the latest traditional news publisher to incorporate editorial from an outside supplier and a big win for Demand Media's content-generation effort.

If you don't know what Demand Media Studios is, it is quite literally the publishing equivalent of a third-world sweatshop, employing desperate freelancers who agree to churn out three to four hundred-word "stories" for...wait for it...about fifteen buck per. Demand Studios then sells this content to media outlets that used to assign their own stories and produce their own original reporting.

Welcome to the future. It's freakin' rosy...

Maybe I just feel like being an iCrank today. At least I don't need an app for that. Yet.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Of Gundogs, E-Zines and Idle Dreaming...

Flyfishing e-zines are legion. You have This Is Fly, Catch, Sleeping In The Dirt and probably several more I'm not aware of.

Up to now, however, I haven't really seen much in the way of hunting or fishing e-zines beyond the flyfishing genre (If anyone knows of any, please point me to them...). But that is slowly changing. As I was perusing the Internet(s) yesterday I came across this site.

It's the new electronic version of the Retriever News print mag, and it's very well done. The look and format is very similar to the above-mentioned flyfishing mags. It's fairly intuitive, easy and pleasing to the eye. Unlike the others, it is subscription-based and only the first issue is free, but I was very impressed with how it turned out.

Wouldn't you love to see an upland and waterfowl hunting e-zine along those same lines? Or maybe a general-interest hunting and fishing e-zine?

On a somewhat related note. I was sitting here contemplating my losing lottery ticket (see blog below...) and I got to thinking...what if I had won? What would I do?

Since I'd be a newly-minted member of the nouveau rich loaded and idle class, I think I'd start a magazine. A hunting and fishing magazine. A literary hunting and fishing magazine. But not like Gray's or Sporting Classics or the others. Different. And I wouldn't care if it made money or not. Did the Medici family care if Leonardo paid his way? Would any Renaissance patron stoop to the lowly expectation of making profit from the noble creation of art?

Of course not! And what is hunting and fishing literature if not art? It needs a patron, an outlet for unfettered expression, free from the corrupting influence of balance sheets and profit margins.

But different how, you ask? What would I do to make my creation singular, unique? Hell, I don't know. I'm a big idea guy. Specifics just confuse me. Maybe I'll let you know when I hit the lottery. It's my time. I feel it. I had...a sign.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

When "It's a Sign" Isn't. A Cautionary Tale...

A few days ago I was forced to venture into town for milk and gas. My normal driving ritual for such errands involves punching the "seek" button on the radio and cursing the absolute wasteland that is the radio landscape in my little slice of paradise.

At home I had long since given up on local radio in favor of Sirius, but I've never had it installed in the truck for fear of coming back to a public hunting parking area some morning or evening to find a smashed window and a stolen radio tuner.

So for 14 years driving for me has been an auditory nightmare. For roadborne entertainment I rely on my ancient factory cassette player (yes, the truck's that old) and a half-melted, worn-out collection of cassette tapes from my youth.

But that evening, something happened. As I was traversing the dial and wincing at the normal melange of hellfire and brimstone preaching, Christian rock, lobotomizing pop country and loony-toon talk radio weirdos, the tuner locked on a frequency, one I recognized  from a long-defunct local radio station that had begun life as a really cool classic alternative rock format before the economic and social realities of conservative rural America doomed it to a quick and ignoble extinction.

But what I heard coming from the speakers was...Thelonious Monk? Could it be? Yes, in fact, it was. NPR, at last! One of our state stations had apparently installed a local translator station at that frequency. Spirits buoyed by this fortunate turn of events, I turned up the volume and jazzed on down to the road. It was...a sign.

A mile down the road a strutting tom strolled imperiously across the highway in front of me, shadowing a small group of hens. His metallic bronze feathers shone in the late afternoon sun. Turkey season was about to open. It was...a sign.

Upon reaching town I hit the main stoplight, and while waiting I heard the sudden, ear-splitting roar of an aftermarket motorcycle muffler behind me. That could mean only one thing, so I looked in the rearview mirror. Yep, there he was, right on my ass: a typical representation of the genus douchebaggus,  imperiously revving his engine, strutting, as it were, in a vain attempt to draw attention to his large reproductive organ. Or lack thereof.

The light turned green, and being the model driver I most certainly am, I simply stayed abreast of the car beside me while maintaining a safe, legal speed limit. Evil Knieval did not like this. He revved his cycle, he gestured, he got within inches of my tailgate and roared. He sped up, slowed down, sped up, slowed down and finally when the car beside me turned he passed me at a high rate of speed (in a school zone). I offered a friendly gesture as he passed, which was ignored. He then repeated the procedure with the car in front of me before disappearing down the road.

I stopped, got milk, and as I was walking back to the truck I noticed a police cruiser speeding by, sirens blaring and lights ablaze. Then another. And another. I got in the truck, pulled out toward the gas station and as I was driving through the next intersection, there was Evil, with his helmet off, standing next to his motorcycle, which was on its side and jammed completely under the rear-end of a one-ton Dodge. He was surrounded by three unsmiling police officers. It was beautiful. It was poetic. It was...a sign.

I'm not a gambler, have zero interest in games of chance and indeed I view Las Vegas as the physical manifestation of a personal nightmare, but mamma didn't raise no fool. I immediately drove to the nearest convenience store, purchased a lottery ticket, went home and waited anxiously for that night's drawing...

Not one number. Not one stinkin' number. To hell with signs.

So now I'm left with a worthless lottery ticket and the knowledge ( Yes, you can put a price on knowledge. Mine cost me two bucks...) that random occurrences, however serendipitous, are just that. Reason and logic trump all.

Turkey season opened today, and I've learned my lesson. Henceforth I will be looking for no signs to help divine how it'll turn out...

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Something Wicked This Way Comes

"A thunder-storm on the prairie, as upon the ocean, derives grandeur and sublimety from the wild and boundless waste over which it rages and bellows"
                                                                                    Washington Irving

When you live on the plains, the first day of April heralds the real beginning of the spring severe weather season, although I shot this particular photograph (which actually made it into the New York Times the next day) on March 28 several years back. (For those interested, the pic was taken on US 412 in the Oklahoma panhandle and this tornado -  which was a monster -  killed two people moments after crossing the highway.)

Oklahoma - and indeed all of the plains states -  are a convergence zone for truly mind-blowing atmospheric violence. And in the spring those who live here feel it: the innate, unshakeable sense of impending weather. The feeling that on certain otherwise beautiful spring days the lazy droning of cicadas and the warbling coda of the meadowlarks can't mask a subtle tinge of coming threat.

Those days can also make for some insanely good -  if nervous -  bass fishing. Cast. Cast. Cast. Look over shoulder. Run like hell...

Thus far, this year has been fairly quiet, at least in my little corner of the prairie. But soon enough that will change. Here's hoping it changes out over the empty plains rather than over my house...