Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Visitor from Africa

DISCLAIMER: I have been known to do dumb things from time to time when it comes to the outdoors such as (but not limited to) trying to catch critters that don't want to be caught, climb into caves to visit toothy animals who don't like visitors, or the outright handling of crazy reptiles and bugs that I should just leave alone. For this I blame my parents. They restricted me to a fenced in back yard as a kid in the Pennsylvania mountains until I was 5, when there was a perfectly good stream and vast forest I wanted as my playground. By the time I was allowed beyond the fence at an elderly age of six, I was way to big to fit into most of the holes my dog avoided.

So on to this story. Lets set the stage...

Sunday around 8 p.m. my girlfriend and I get home from a day of what-have-youzz and we hear a loud buzzing/grinding noise. We are no strangers to loud noises, coming from living next to some of the craziest neighbors you can have in our pasts, but this noise is definitely something ALIVE, crawling, stuck, baiting me to stick my head in a corner to find out – who knows.

We narrowed the noise down to an area we have a bunch of art, packages and posters rolled up to hang on our walls. I start the process of finding the source, pulling out each piece slowly as she anxiously watches, waiting for me to get pounced*. After some searching, I find a package tightly wrapped with tissue paper and tape. BINGO.. something is crawling around in this thing, and its not happy. As I unveiled my findings she informed me of something we both were not ready for... This package was a wrapped gift from a friend in AFRICA. Some sort of hand-made candle holder. We both freeze, knowing some creature has probably hatched in this package thats way out of our league.

(*) NOTE: It was this exact moment I learned women don't find it humorous when you grab yourself and start yelling like your getting attacked by something. Who knew.

We now know we have a problem on our hands, with two different solutions. She wants it out of the house, possibly to a local environmental lab or something who will contain it. I want to do battle. In fact I REALLY want to do battle. I want to open that package and show whatever this bug is who's boss. Ok, sounds a bit harsh but in all honesty my curiosity overwhelms me.. does it have giant pinchers, a stinger, polka dots? I'd at least like to get it out of the bag and into a jar or something so everyone is safe. We settle on a compromise and put the package in the freezer to wait out.

So onto Monday (yesterday for those paying attention). We decide to open it up after dinner. I can't lie, I've been thinking about getting a look at this thing all day. The mystery really gets me. I realize, when it comes to evolution, humans have come leaps and bounds with brain power and our ability to invent, yet have NO DEFENSE against something the size of a quarter with big fangs and pinchers – other than running away and hoping it doesn't fly. I need some weapons. At my side I stack a knife and a razor blade. Even though I have these things to only open the package, I like to thing if this bug brings fangs or sharp objects into the picture, I have him matched. In my other hand I have my trusty fishing pliers. Again, if I'm facing pinchers, I'm matched. Also, I can say I love touching critters, but there's no way I'm touching this one. If the bug can fly, I don't have much to guard myself, so I grab a hammer to compensate.

Open seseame:

And here it is. I can't take credit for it, the freezer did all of the work.

If you look closely, your eyes are not fooling you... It is 2 bugs; a roach AND a wasp. We think its one of these little buggers, a Emerald Cockroach Wasp: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emerald_cockroach_wasp

From wikipedia (trust the source with your own risk): "The wasp proceeds to chew off half of each of the roach's antennae.[2] The wasp, which is too small to carry the roach, then leads the victim to the wasp's burrow, by pulling one of the roach's antennae in a manner similar to a leash. Once they reach the burrow, the wasp lays a white egg, about 2 mm long, on the roach's abdomen. It then exits and proceeds to fill in the burrow entrance with pebbles, more to keep other predators out than to keep the roach in."

This process can take a while, which is why we didn't hear the little guy until almost 2 weeks. The insect is now back in our freezer in a glass jar. We'll be calling some local adgencies to ask about removal.

In all it was an experience, and a reminder that when you buy something from a different country, check for crazy bugs like wasps who eat roaches, because you may bring home more than you thought.

And if that happens, call me.. I kicked this bugs arse:

The black book

I was recently given one of those little pocket-sized black moleskin reporter books to use for traveling. With a 40 minute commute into the city via metro north, it made perfect sense to sketch up my own little fishing journal. Most of my book keeping in the past was basic: tides, wind, moon etc, but this was destine to much more. Each entry is a spot I fish, or place I scouted, which will soon open up to other tactics and whatnot. The drawings are roughly done with a basic black ball-point pen on a constant bumping train, which makes the drawings a bit "shaky" but that just adds to the challenge. Here are a few entries: enjoy

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Second interactive up

 Check it out: http://hosted.ap.org/specials/interactives/_lifestyles/simple_exercises/

My second interactive is up and running. After a few flash classes and some messing around, I decided to take the plunge and see if traditional mediums would work for my subject. Its a simple piece so a good one to start with. Enjoy.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

August rock hopping – Montauk

August 26-28

3:00 p.m.
I checked into my luxurious room at the Harborside Motel.

4:30 p.m. I got to the lighthouse and started my pre-night tides scouting. I worked my way about a mile into the South side, scouting boulders, drops and currents while making a mental note for wading at high tide. August fishing is tough, but the advantages are no crowds and a trophy fish if your ducks are all in a line. Since it was my first night out there, it was basically a shot in the dark (literally).

10:00 p.m. After a run back into town for some eats, I returned to the point and geared up. My setup goes something like this: shorts, fishing shirt – usually an old tackle shop shirt or something of the like with a history of mojo (with thermal undershirt) long socks, ankle support braces (braces I once used in basketball – the support they add while hiking over miles of bowling ball-sized rocks is irreplaceable), wader belt with built in back support, wading boots, korkers (ducttapped on boots) NRS semi drytop, waterproof watch with compass and tide chart, aquaskins medium plug bag stocked with 3.5 oz needles and SS darters – with knife and water bottle attached, 10 foot St. Croix rod paired with my beloved VanStaal, lucky fishing hat and red waterproof head lamp, whistle and cellphone packed away in waterproof bag, just incase something goes wrong. I swear I try to only bring the essentials eventhough sometimes feel more like a paratrooper than a surf fisherman.

10:30 p.m. After FINALLY getting all my gear on, I had to hit the bathroom.. never fails.

11:00 p.m. I made my way to the first spot I scouted earlier, a nice flat rock about 50 yards out in the surf. I have plenty of extreme fishing under my belt, but this would be the first time I climbed onto a rock on the south side of Montauk at night and all alone. I slowly made my way through the bouldered surf zone, with the added support of my rod as a wading stick (have to love the VS). The water was about waist deep at my spot, with the rock around chest level. "Simple" you may think... I
patiently timed the waves and tried to climb the rock like a ladder, but no dice. My next try was to "military crawl" up the rock on my belly, and roll to my feet. It sounded good in theory anyway. I made it to the top, rolled quickly onto my back when I heard a loud WOOOOSHing sound. White water rushed over my shoulders, picked me up and tossed my back in the drink. I rolled around and got my footing, and gave out a laugh thinking how rediculous I must look. My third try was basically throwing myself on the rock with a bear hug. Although it wasn't pretty, it worked a charm, and standing ontop of my rock with waves breaking over my feet, I was finally doing it... finally rock-hopping the south side of M!

11:00 p.m. - 4:00 a.m. I worked my way about 2 miles South, stopping at each fishy point. My plan was to plug the rips entering and leaving each cove. In doing this, I thought (and imagined) if I wanted a shot at a trophy, my best chance would be at these ambush points, where small bait, snapper blues and small weakies washed around as they traveled into the coves.

About a mile into my hike, I hook up with a decent fish on a Gags 9" needle, olive over white, but drop her after a few seconds. The fishing was tough, but it was exactly what I expected August Montauk to be. A lot of hard work with a chance of a big payoff. I had the water to myself with the perfect tide on a beautiful night. It was exactly where I wanted to be. I dug through my plug bag and pulled out a black over chartreuse SS darter (I once worked with a fishing photographer that said "It aint no use if it aint chartreuse). Repeating this line out loud I tied her onto my 80lb mono leader. Second cast, BAM I'm hooked up onto something heavy. I smiled from ear to ear as my face was getting slapped with water splashing off my reel from the spin of my drag screaming. Finally, a good fish. Maybe a 30 lber... definitely not a fourty, but I hope AT LEAST a thirty. I reminded myself... "concentrate moron" and got back into my groove. BIG bass love structure and I was standing on a rock, in the middle of a boulder field. It was no time to make assumptions. After a 100-odd yard run, I was fighting my trophy like a pro, pressuring myself to stay on top and not give up an inch. I would say around maybe 2 minutes into the fight, I felt a few headshakes and a tail-slapping jump... DAMMIT.. BLUEFISH. The jump gave it away. So much for my first quality bass in Montauk. I was now hooked up with a crazed yellow-eyed demon. The tug of war continued for about 10 minutes, and ended with a BIG gator blue at my feet.

The rest of the night was all blues, without a bass in sight. I threw the towel around 4:30 a.m. and returned to my hotel for some R & R. My back was burning, and my hands were bleeding. Just another night as a surfcaster.

A medium size blue with a darter problem:

Coming up next... Night 2