Being a software developer by trade, I am more “plugged in” than most. I relish in new technology, applications, and moderism. New computers, cameras, and means of connecting with others digitally get my heart beating faster. On a daily basis, I work with an incredible group of passionate designers and programmers and we collectively dedicate our mental capacity to mastering an everchanging sea of knowledge in the creation of the intangible.
Perhaps that is why I’m inexorably drawn to the woods where things are simple and devoid of novelty. Wilderness stays the same. Every emotion, impulse, or cause for concern are drawn from the physical world around me. Life is slow, intentional, and quiet, if only for a night or two.
It’s good to feel hungry, cold, and without shelter sometimes.
It makes the intangible more tangible.
For the uninitiated, tenkara is a traditional form of fly fishing that originated in Japan. It's found a new home here in the United States thanks in large part to Tenkara USA, a startup founded in 2009 in California that brought global awareness to the relatively ancient practice.
I've been super excited and have posted on various forums about my success with tenkara. As a result, I've received quite a few emails and helped a number of friends get their own tenkara kits and I've given roughly the same advice. I realized it's time to create a resource for others to start tenkara, because more people should try it out.
My choices for the beginner tenkara fly fisherman are budget, practicality, and simplicity oriented. It should be cheap and work well.
The Gear List
Fly choice will depend greatly on your region and fishing style, but here in the PNW I tie and carry two currently. I fish predominately in wild areas where fishing pressure is minimal and the fish are starving. The need to "match the hatch" may be greater in your area.
Both flies are very productive, easy to fish, and simple to tie. There's nothing quite as satisfying as catching fish with a fly you made with your own hands. These are simple patterns that match the simplicity of tenkara fishing.
It's hard to follow the road when you're not looking where you're going.
I got my first computer when I was twelve. It was a 686 tower hand-assembled by some man in Salem who made them in his house. I drove with my mom to the man's house to pick up the computer in our Jeep Cherokee. It was large, heavy, delicate. Its case was textured, a dingy yellowing plastic even when new. The side door to the computer popped off as he placed it in the car, and the man was apologetic for not fastening the case securely. When we got it home, my brother and I rushed to plug in the cables, connect the modem and boot it up. It was so fast. We sat there, staring at that computer thinking, "now what?" The possibilities seemed limitless. Sure, my parents owned a computer before this, but this was the first time I felt ownership of a machine.
"This is mine", I thought.
Looking back to see a straight line of focus from then to now surprises me. My twelve year old self certainly didn't predict I'd be doing what I'm doing, but my passion for computers and the web have been rather unyielding for fifteen years.
It's hard then, to relate to those that feel lost or confused about how they want to spend their life contributing to the world. Time and again, I meet, hear, or read about people with diverse passions like winemaking or sailing thinking about getting a business degree or becoming an HR person. I want to shake them and say, "take something you love and find a way to make it yours."
Why would anyone willingly spend the majority of their life doing something—or being somewhere—that doesn't fill them with passion, excite them every day, and continue them down the road they likely started as kid?
Had a wonderful weekend along the northwest coast of Washington.
This is an extremely simple gem that adds a method (
has_pretty_param) to your ActiveRecord models in Rails. This scratches a tiny itch I've had when overriding the
to_param method on every model I make to get more search engine friendly routes.
Really simple in execution—no voodoo.
Love, like all worthwhile things, is a wondrous, challenging endeavor. I'm blessed to have someone like Christy to challenge me to be a better human and for adding so much awesome to my life. Happy Valentine's Day.
GooseFeet Gear is a cottage manufacturer of handmade down backpacking gear. The company is run by Ben Smith, a 21 year old backpacker in school for industrial engineering at Georgia Tech.
I just completed a new site for Ben that now reflects the quality and simplicity of his creations. I'm so excited by what Ben is doing at GooseFeet that I took the majority of payment in trade. Now having used a wide variety of his gear, I can whole-heartedly recommend his work.
A bookmarklet I made for turning any website into a seizure party. Reading an arduous article about a country you can't even pronounce the name of? Annoyed that your bank balance isn't higher? Bring the party to the Uzbecky Becky Becky Stan Stan article or your overdrawn notice!
You can try it out right now by clicking here.
Ryan Jordan, founder of the online publication BackpackingLight and accomplished outdoorsman and backcountry guide:
While pondering the state of equipment innovation for wilderness travel, I've reached the same state of despair that I find myself in when questioning why economists have lots of answers and no solutions, why politicians (pretend to) have lots of solutions but no mechanisms for validation, and why consumers have an unquenchable thirst for more (innovation, newness, shine, and storage) or less (cost, weight, time required to acquire).
Oh sure, there will always be a small influx of brand new customers into this little ultralight niche that will keep the cottage industry in business just enough so they can write off their backpacking trips and make payments on their logo-emblazoned trade show campers, but their quest for pursuing innovation doesn't seem to reflect the availability and cheap costs of new manufacturing technologies, state of the art fabrics, and real design. Instead, the cottage industry reinforces that paradigm of gear that is "made in my garage with substandard equipment from sketches on paper scraps using an uncalibrated ruler and dull scissors."
He sure pissed off a lot of people in the ultralight backpacking community he had a large hand in creating by posting this diatribe of the current state of innovation with cottage manufacturers of ultralight backpacking gear and the rampant consumerism of what he considers increasingly subpar products.
Mainstream backpacking companies have come around to the idea of lightweight backpacking over the last few years, and the industry is beginning to see the results of years of product design from the major players. It's easy to see cottage manufactured gear as subpar in the face of true industrial engineers and designers creating products with real R&D budgets now using the same innovative fabrics the cottage industry has been using for years. Ryan Jordan could have written an article as a rallying cry for the cottage industry to improve their process and products or die in the face of large organizations zeroing in on their market.
But, he decided to piss in the campfire instead of throwing a log on.
On October 29th, I started what became my second annual backpacking trip around the Three Sisters near Bend, OR. This year, I went with a friend (who I met through my hiking site Went Hiking) Chris. We decided on an agressive schedule—we planned to do the 52 miles in two days with and one night. That meant we had a minimum daily mileage of 26 miles.
I'm happy to say we survived without injury or ruin, and it was an exhilerating trip. Check out my full post about it on my Went Hiking blog.