Sunday, October 30, 2011

Happy Halloween

Been laid up with a bum I have made good use of a newly downloaded photo editor.  (Which by the FREE!)

From a go forward point of view: You can safely assume that I gonna let my "artsy fartsy" tendencies run wild. 

Photoscape Free Download

Here are some Halloween treats!  Enjoy.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Special Lego Fly Edition

I suppose the ultimate goal of creating a "blog" is readership.  No sense in doing it if no one reads, right?  (Well, there is a certain amount of catharsis experienced by the author...but I digress...)

I learned recently that there is a reader out there who seems to enjoy my musings and photos more than most. Bryn--this one is for you.  I have heard you like fishing.  I have heard you like Legos and I already knew you were one heck of a good soccer player.

We have similar tastes, so I dug into the archives and brought out a few pictures that I thought you might like.  Enjoy....  (and maybe some time you will come over and ties some flies with me and G-man.  We'd both like that)

Fire Fly

George S. Patton : "Better to fight for something than live for nothing" Fly

And..finally....the 2011 Halloween "Lego Zombie" edition Fly

One last pic for this is my partner in crime.  The "true" creative force behind several of my most original creations.  (stay tuned...he has VOLUMES of work to show off as we go)

G-Love rockin' a San Juan Worm!  (me so proud...)

Thursday, October 27, 2011

What can I say?

  I have a "thing" for roadside oddities.

Thankfully, my family is incredibly patient with me when we travel...This one was a gimme.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The time has come...

Photo credit: Natasha Vermeulen
I've tried.  I really have.

But, the truth is, I just can't keep my mouth shut anymore.

I just can't do it.

I'd like to be 100% clear about this:  I don't like our political system.  I think that if our country's forefathers and founders were to see the way things are done in the political system today, they would revolt against our own government the same way they revolted against jolly old England back in the late 1700s.

Relax.  I am not going to host a Tea Party rally.  Neither am I going to rant too long about politics because I think that most people are just too gutless to speak up for the things that actually matter.  Our society acts like and therefore is treated like an uninformed flock of sheep.

Again...our forefathers would be ashamed.

Right now, there are happenings at the legislative level that will dismantle our long history of preserving the natural resources in the state of Wisconsin.  On the short list of things to be "changed" in the name of business and profit, is our current policy on mining.

Talk about the ultimate weapon of mass destruction...  Mining will do for this state what the housing bubble, or the dot com boom did for the national economy.  It will give a quick boost that will look and feel like a true economic benefit.  But...when the ore, copper, or whatever they are digging for runs out...these cats will start to look for cheaper, more destructive methods to continue making a profit.  When that is done, they will pack up shop, leave most of their rusting equipment in place, and go to the next potential mineral deposit.  And they will take their money with them.  Guaranteed.

What will be left?  I'll give you a hint:  Look to southern Appalachia for your answer.  It is a place that should be so beautiful that it is considered a national treasure.  Instead, coal mines have absolutely decimated one of the oldest mountain ranges on earth.  For coal.  The mining companies are literally scalping the tops of mountains in the name of profit.

The economy of southern Appalachia is among the poorest in the nation.  And it is getting worse.  And now...they are left with a landscape that is so ecologically damaged, that there really isn't a way to repair and a local economy that is dangerously depressed.

The implications of trading our natural resources for profit goes WAY beyond just mining, but it just so happens that mining is presenting itself as the current  "gateway drug" for money hungry corporate whores.

One of hundreds of coal mines in West Virginia.  Photo borrowed from:

Here is a thought...What if...just what if...we decided to do something to stand up against mining or other industries that threaten our natural resources?  (Don't even get me started on bottling companies that want to tap into our natural springs to fill a few million more plastic bottles full of water...)

If we decided to protect our forests, wetlands, prairies and waterways, we would also be making a valuable investment in our economic future.   So here is a thought Mr. Walker and others who are chosing big business and profits over the environment...If the true goal in politics is to do what is right...then here is your out: Protect our resources.  If your ego is in need of the ultimate long lasting legacy: Protect our resources.

You want to make money, save jobs, look like a goddamned hero?  Save the land.  With this land, promote tourism.  Promote camping, skiing, cross country skiing, cycling, paddling, fishing, hunting, snow shoeing, photography, nature watching, bird watching, and so on and so on and so on.  In other words: instead of destroying our resources-be stewards of them.

WE NEED TO INVEST IN WHAT WE ALREADY HAVE.  To do otherwise is irresponsible.

If we take proper care of it, our land will sustain us and continue to bring people to this state for recreational opportunities.  With those visitors...comes their money.  With their money, comes jobs.  With those jobs, comes a better way of life for our residents.

Need a model for this?  Costa Rica.  Eco tourism has completely turned that economy from one that was about as poor and corrupt as they come, to one of international prosperity and a model for the "new' world economy.  Oh...and the jungles and rainforests?  Yeah...they are preserving those too.  Proof that this is possible.  We can have our cake and eat it too.

So I ask you, good sportsman: what are you going to do?

Probably nothing, right?  You might read this article and nod your head in agreement, say to yourself that you are a sportsman who supports the land that provides your favorite pastime...and then shut your computer off and pretend that  it really isn't happening.  Or will assume that someone else is going to take up arms in defense of our resources.

Well, today is the day you need to do something, so stand up!

Don't believe me? Think I'm acting like chicken little?   Need to see it for yourself?  Here you go:

DNR Reform Bill Artlcle Wisconsin State Journal 21oct11

Huffington Post Article 06oct11

Chicago Tribune Article 25oct11

Ashland Current Article

Economic impacts of coal mining

AP-Reasons behind the coal decline

If you still don't believe me and want more info...send me an email.  I'll forward every bit of information I can.

** Blogger's note:  To those who read the original version...sorry for the language. While writing, it is easy to get caught up in the emotion of a piece.  

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Of mice and deer hair

Cute?  Um...sure...I guess..

Pretty sure I've mentioned that big trout eat mice.  Well, I am not such an accomplished angler that I can wax poetic about all of my success using mouse patterns under the cover of darkness.  But...I have been busy down in the lab preparing.  My time will come.  And when it does, I will be armed to the teeth with a whole pile of mouse patterns.

Well, unbeknownst to my family...the trip to the local petting zoo/kid trap/vegetable market secretly turned into a fly tying reconnaissance mission.  In the midst of looking at all the overfed goats, I was suddenly fascinated by an outdoor rabbit "display" that was almost completely overrun by field mice.

Brazen little guys.  And a lot of them. 

The side of me that doesn't like bugs, is also a bit weary of mice.   They are dirty, carry disease and generally not a welcome sight.  But from a safe distance, and with the help of a zoom camera...they are kinda interesting to watch.

More than that, they provided me with a visual reference from which to base some deer hair mouse patterns.

I had created a couple of mouse patterns that were based off of memory of the mice that I have encountered in my life.  No actual reference specimens that were running around my house (that I am aware of)--thank god, but now I have a whole pile of pictures of the these guys to work from..

I was fairly happy to know that I have not been too far off with my first fake mouse, but now with actual visual references (that won't poop on my kitchen counters) I think I can build an even better mouse..

Macloosh's Mouse Pattern  Version 1.0

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Add a caption!

Here at the MacLoosh has changed since the arrival of our children.

Ma and I used to be able to watch movies with plots and "mature" themes.  As far as I can remember, none of those movies  involved talking animals.

Not anymore.  Things have changed, my friends.  In fact, I am taken aback at the never ending supply of movies where the animals talk to that "special" person, and no one else.

This picture was taken at a local petting zoo/kid trap/vegetable market, where I walked around with my wife kids for over 2 1/2 hours today.  Paranoid.  Wondering which animal was going to pipe up and ask me for a little help unlatching the cage?

So...since I am on the verge of losing my mind anyway...I need your help.  This picture needs a caption!  Please post in the comments section.

Photo credits to Mrs. MacLoosh.  She's losing her mind too.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The Question

I was asked recently "why do you flyfish?  Wouldn't be easier just to use a worm and a bobber?"

Believe it or not, I had prepared for this question.  I knew it was coming, and had even visualized in my mind how this scenario was going to play out.  I had all the essential aspects of an epic fishing trip cued up and ready to spit.

It was going to be a carefully crafted dissertation about the silence of the stream, the beauty of the fish, and of course, the elegance of a well formed cast.

You know the is straight out of the movie "A River Runs Through It".  Yep, that scene where Brad Pitt's character makes this flawless cast to a seam of water (on the opposite bank), gives the perfect mend to his line for a short, perfect drift...and WHAM!  He hooks up on Troutzilla.    Then he fights Troutzilla through rapids and boulders the size of minivans, only to land the fish.  With his hat on.

THAT was to be my answer.

Except...that in the space between the question being asked, and it traveling through my mind to my mouth, I knew I couldn't sell it.  I couldn't sell it for several reasons, not the least of which is that it would be a lie.  A HUGE, fat old lie, if for no other reason than because I don't live in Montana, and my hat never stays on.

At that very same moment, I sure as hell couldn't admit that most of my presence on the water is about as graceful as a water buffalo.  The truth is:  I could give a pretty solid clinic on ways to completely disrupt the natural order and foul the most promising fishy water.

What can I say?  It's a gift. 

But in that short distance between asked question, formulated answer and realization that I couldn't pull off that lie, and the fact that I definitely wasn't going to tell the the truth...I had (another) realization: I flyfish because I like it.  I don't worm fish because I don't like it.

(...and cue the "Worm lover's of America" your hate mail below!)

So, despite all of my preparation, a flash of honesty took over and the best I could come up with was "When was the last time you knew me to anything the easy way?"

Tuesday, October 18, 2011


**It appears that the writing staff here at the MacLoosh Chronicles is vexed by an issue tonight.  Going from a picture of Budha in one post, to what you are about to read just  doesn't seem quite right.  We agree, but sometimes a little venom is warranted.  We promise to put our fangs away after this and return to the regularly scheduled programming.

Knowledge is power.  

Or so Sir Francis Bacon said.   Well, I guess he would have known…being the father of empiricism and an early revolutionary in scientific theory that he was..

I can’t help but wonder if SFB knew how this simple, elegant and truthful quote would be interpreted in the modern age?  I mean really, who doesn’t want power?  With power comes privilege.  With power comes status. With power, you can literally stomp on the psyche of all of those pesky idiots around you.

Well, congratulations power hog.  You must be terribly proud of yourself.  By hoarding the things you’ve learned, keeping secrets and sharing that knowledge you’ve gained with no one…you, my friend, have gained power.

God.  That must feel good.  REALLY good.    I can’t imagine how great it must be to demoralize everyone around you in an effort to keep that power trip a rollin’.

But I offer you this:  Be careful.  Those toes you intentionally step on might just be the ones you need later on in life. 

Those of us down here in the trenches getting kicked around?  Yeah, remember us?  That’s OK if you don’t because we will remember you .

What goes around, comes around.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Zen and the art of fly tying

Perhaps the ultimate "search" pattern?

Set the hook on the invisible strike.  Grasshopper. 

*Blogger's note:  The saying "set the hook on the invisible strike" was borrowed from a John Geirach book.  I just don't remember which one.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Imperial Birds and a day with my boy

Whooping Crane

For the first time, I got to go on a field trip with my son and his classmates.  Been meaning to do this for the last 3 years...but it just never seemed to work out.  

This wasn't just a trip to the local dairy farm, or meat department of the local grocery store.  Nope.  Apparently since the mid 70's or so since I was in grade school, field trips are definitely cooler now than then were then.  (.....and insert age jokes here.....)

Today's trip was to the International Crane Foundation in Baraboo, Wisconsin.

What an amazing place!  If you haven't been there, then you need to make a trip.  For those of you who live in Wisconsin...Go.  Don't wait.  Just Go. For those rare readers who aren't local...make a trip!  It is conveniently close to some excellent trout water too.  (Bonus!)

Not only did I get to spend a great day with my favorite son, we got to see some REALLY cool birds too!

I was saddened to learn that it is illegal to collect any of their feathers.  Which sucks because after a look at the Grey Crowned Crane (photo below), I was IMMEDIATELY trying to figure out how to get my mits on an handfull of that plumage.  I could have some serious fun downstairs in the lab trying to create that perfect fly.

Check out the headgear on this cat...

For a first field was definitely worth the wait. 

Tuesday, October 11, 2011


 Ha!  With a post title like thought I was going to rock another rap tune, didn't you?  Nope.  Not this time, but I promise I'll do it again.  Just for you.

Today, bugs are on my mind.

Fishing has offered me several life lessons (and reasons to write), but perhaps none of them have been as challenging as learning what's on the menu for a given day at the stream.  In order to catch fish, apparently it helps to understand what they eat.  Who knew?!

So after a few times out as I was learning to fly fish, it occurred to me that I would need at least minimal knowledge of what kind of bugs they are eating.  You've probably heard the expression:  "Match the Hatch" .  If not, the general idea is to watch the water, and see what kind of bugs are buzzing.  That is then your likely food source for the trout, so find an adequate imitation.

My first thought was "super.  I have to try and catch fish with a mosquito?"  And my second thought was "Oops.  Maybe I shouldn't have worn quite so much bug spray".  My third, and probably most telling thought was "I don't LIKE bugs.  Fly fishing is dumb."

In classic fashion, I was seriously determined to prove that you didn't have to be Bill Nye the Science Guy just to have a little fishing fun.  The result?  A LOT of fishless trips.  (Affectionately called "getting skunked")

By that time, I was fully addicted and heavily invested in equipment and I couldn't give I gave in.  I am now learning about bugs.   Thankfully there are LOTS of resources out there to help learn about insects.  My personal favorite is the University of Wisconsin Insect Diagnostic Lab.  (Yeah...I was surprised that there is a whole lab devoted to this too...)   Well, they do and here is the link-it is a fantastic resource:

(Also extremely useful in identifying household pests, or bugs captured and brought home by your kids)

As if to add insult to the injury of not wanting to learn about bugs in the first place...I have recently started to tie my own flies.  For reference:  When tying flies, it REALLY helps to know a little about the bug you want to imitate.   But again, in my usual fashion...I am bucking the system.  I am bound and determined that the imitation bug be similar to, and act generally like its real life counterpart when on the water...but not be an exact replica.  (Translation:  I'm not that great at tying flies yet...)

My best effort to date is the one below, and I have to be honest:  There is NOTHING like creating your own lure, then fishing it successfully.  This grasshopper imitation has quickly become my "go to" fly for the late summer/fall.

Which is hopefully similar to this:

And so it goes...

I still don't like mosquitoes or "no see ums" but I have given in to the notion that I should at least have a base knowledge to work off of.  (I have just started to learn about REALLY big trout taking that is now on my radar...)

Monday, October 10, 2011

Don't blame the cow

After watching football yesterday, it occurred to me that the awareness of breast cancer and the support behind the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure is absolutely staggering.  As a family member of more than one family matriarch lost to breast cancer….I think it is just downright cool to see all those athletes wearing pink as a sign of solidarity.  I have personally given up large parts of my life to fight against cancer, and if there is one thing that I hope for the future, it is a cure for cancer.

But honestly, I also hope for just a little more focus on fire prevention too.  

It is, after all, National Fire Prevention Week.  We have, after all, been recognizing this week (and the month of October) since President Woodrow Wilson signed the very first presidential proclamation of National Fire Prevention Day in 1920. Fire Prevention is; after all, the longest running public health and safety observance on record. 

Don’t get me wrong.  I am not trying to pit one cause against another.  I am simply asking that Fire Prevention not be lost in the mix of “causes” to be remembered and taught.

Here is what I propose:

What if at each of those football games-where there are anywhere from 50,000 to 100,000 people in attendance and millions more watching on TV--we had one less “Go Daddy” Commercial with Danica Patrick talking about a website?  Instead, she would remind people to install smoke detectors.  Or change the batteries in their existing smoke detectors.  Hell…put her in a bikini if you REALLY want to draw attention to the message. 

To be fair there could be a second Ad with Clay Mathews flexing his man things while wearing a Speedo and reminding the viewing audience that he practices E.D.I.T.H. (Exit Drills In The Home), all the while asking the viewer if they have too? 

I GUARANTEE that either of these ads, could -- in a single advertisement -- capture millions of viewer’s attention, and would likely get national press.  More publicity would mean more times the message gets out to the people who NEED to hear it as much, if not more than the kids: ADULTS. 

Yep.  I’m crazy like that.  Fire Prevention Education for people who think they already know everything:  Adults. 

We, the "adults" are the ones who are supposed to be teaching our kids and leading by example…right?  So let me ask:
  • How careful were you when you lit that charcoal grill? 
  • Did you use too much lighter fluid? 
  • Did you laugh when it went “WHOOOOFF”?
  • Did you joke about the singed hairs on your arm? 
  • Who was watching, listening and learning from you that making a big fire is funny, fun and exciting? 
  • Where did you put those matches and lighter fluid when you were done? 
  • Who was watching where you put those items?

Doh!  There it is.  The reality that strikes a nerve in all of us.  Whether it is a camp fire that has gotten too big, a candle that we "forgot" to blow out, or simply just a "relaxed" attitude that we can "CONTROL" fire......We're all guilty of this (myself included), and our kids are watching.

So, Mr. and Mrs. Joe Public -- what do our actions tell our kids about fire safety?

Think about this a little bit.  If we are REALLY doing this correctly: we will teach our kids that fire is a tool.  It is used carefully and for a specific purpose.  Fire is not unlike a hunting rifle, chain saw, or any power tool that we use carefully, then put away.

Truth is, all fire safety messages begin at home.  With us.  The adults.  I think we should start there, before we work on that ad campaign. (Oh yeah...I have ideas on how to get this off the ground...stay tuned for later posts...)   In the mean time, here are a couple of truths to get us going:

Truth #1:  You are being watched and learned from.  What is your attitude towards fire safety? (I’ll give you a hint:  Watch your kids as they mirror your own actions)

Truth #2: I bet your kids know more about prevention than you do…but they are in no position to make a change at home.  Listen to them.  Learn from them, and ask them to help make your home a little more fire safe.  Trust me when I tell you that they will jump at the chance to help!

And last but not least, back off the cow!

We really aren’t 100% certain that it was Mrs. O’Leary’s cow that tipped over the lantern, starting the Chicago Fire on October 8, 1871.  But we are sure that there was also another giant and deadly fire that same day (Peshtigo, WI).

Between Chicago and Peshtigo: more than 1300 people died, 16 towns in Wisconsin, the entire city of Chicago, and more than 1.2 million acres of land were burned because of two PREVENTABLE mistakes made with fire.

We also realized at that moment, that it was time to make a change. 

Dunno about you…but I’m just not interested in repeating that kind of history and I'm starting with my kids.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

First Cast

"So just let me introduce name is Humpty, pronounced with an Upmpty.  All the bloggers in the top-ten...please allow me to bump thee.  I'm steppin tall y'all, and just like humpty dumpty you're gonna fall when the internet pumps me"

Let's get something straight right now: I am NOT afraid to take lyrics from 80's hip hop songs and alter them gratuitously to make myself feel cool.  I am also a frustrated fisherman who likes to write.  The Wisconsin Inland Trout season has just closed, and frankly, I need something else to do.

Whew!  Glad to get that out of the way.  Now...on to business.  Liking to fish, and liking to write about fishing does not give me any excuse to go global with my stories.  No, it most certainly does not.  But, the fact is: an internet connection, a computer, and an opinion are all the criteria a person needs to become a "blogger" these days.  So, with a wink of my eye, and a twitch of my nose...up the cat 2 cable I rose.  Pow.  Bam.  Poof.  ....and....with a simple press of the handy dandy "Enter" button.....I am now a "Blogger".

Move over Arianna Huffington.  MacLoosh just joined the club.

So what will I "blog" about?  Well...mostly fly fishing and (my "other" new found obsession) fly tying.


I will try to sprinkle in a little bit of this and that just to make it all smell pretty.  Parenting has offered me a healthy slice of humility and new way of seeing things too.  So much so, that occasional snippets of parenting by the seat of my pants should liven things up nicely.

Relax.  I'm not going to post every picture I take of my kids.  I'll only post the REALLY embarrassing ones.  (You know...the ones they won't want their boyfriend or girlfriend to see.  EVER)  And I will be sure to put their real  names with the photos just so "Google-ing" them later in life is MUCH easier.

Oh...and I work in the fire service.  As an inspector.  (you can stop snickering now) So an occasional rant on the absurdity of my chosen career path from time to time isn't out of the realm of possibilities.

So with that, if you don't like the content, go ahead and send me a nasty email.  I might even post it.  Delete my blog address from your browsing history and then do the good old fashioned thing and write your congressperson or senator.  I am sure they will care.  Especially if it's an election year.

If you like what you read...let me know that too.

And thanks for reading.  This should be fun!

My weapons of choice: G Loomis reel and St. Croix Imperial (4wt) Rod.  Booya!