Fly Fishing Troubles

Don’t burn yourself out; plan, coordinate, and circle dates on the calendar.  The enthusiastic fishermen has a desire to hit the water on most any day, regardless of the number of fish he or she might land.  But are the burning of resources worth it on those days when you know the fish aren’t going to bite?  Sometimes just being in nature is enough to balance the scales of catching fish and a hard day, but this wasn’t one of those weeks.  As a fairly amateur fly-fisherman I took the opportunity this week to tie various flies, learn new knots, and to coordinate how I will measure my learning during this independent project of mine.

Tying dry flies has always been difficult for me so I took time this week to become better at tying two distinct patterns; the elk-hair caddis and the red quill.  I found the experience to be quite therapeutic and enjoyable.  I’ve heard these are good patterns to try on trout streams in the fall and I hope they will help me land a brown or rainbow trout in a few weeks.  I tied these flies in practice.

I also took time this week to practice tying two distinct knots; the becker-knot and the eugene-bend knot.  The point in practicing tying knots while not on the stream is so that they are natural to tie when you are on the stream.  These two knots are stronger than the standard improved-clinch knot and are advantageous because of that.  I’ve had little experience in tying these knots and I want to gain a repertoire of knots to use in different situations.  Just a standard piece of nylon rope and a diagram helped me to become proficient with these knots.  I now feel like I can tie these quickly and efficiently while on the stream.

The thing that I loved about these four projects within my project is that it is not theoretical.  There is little contemplation about tying flies and knots.  It is basic trial and error, and only time and experience will make me better at executing them.  Moving forward with this independent learning project I would like to be able to tie ten more different kinds of flies, and ten more different kinds of knots.  I can measure my success on these flies and knots by putting them into practice on the stream.  With this project I would like to be able to catch three different species of trout, and at least one trout over eighteen inches.  I have managed to catch a few around fifteen inches, but the larger trout has alluded me.  I am starting to love my project because it allows me to separate from textual knowledge and pursue, what I feel, is a purely practical trade.


Manufactured Happiness

Upon viewing the TED talk “The Science of Happiness” by Dan Gilbert, I was left in awe at the human brain and how it relates to happiness.  Happiness is viewed as an unconquerable thing when in reality we have the tools to become happy through our own anatomy and physiology.  Human adaptability is an art form, and that art form is lost with the many choices we are forced to make in our lives.

The empirical evidence given by Dan Gilbert is very convincing on the scientific aspects of happiness.  It doesn’t have to be sought after through metaphysical measures, but perhaps only through practical measures by understand our own anatomy and physiology.  I found myself siding with Gilbert on his ability to draw parallels with happiness and number of choices.  It seems our brain(and happiness along with it), can go into lock down if we have too many choices in our life.  If happiness is viewed as this magical formula that can only be obtained through supernatural forces, then it may become impossible to achieve.  The only negative I viewed from the video was the slightly convoluted message about awareness of happiness.  Meaning if we know that our brain is tricking us into thinking that we are happy, then are we really happy?  In this case it is the sheer functionality of our brain that can convince us that we are not happy.  If this is so then our greatest tool, our brain, is working against our goal of happiness.brain-001-1172516-1598x986

The various scenarios that our brain can create is astounding.  Dan Gilbert suggests that if we limit those scenarios then our brain does not have the opportunity to trick us.  It doesn’t have that ability because it doesn’t have to formulate models on where or what will make us happ7.  Streamlining the utility of our brain directly coincides with the choices we have in front of us.  If I can cut out potential scenarios (good or bad) from my mind then it won’t matter on the scenario I chose.  This is because I chose the scenario itself and didn’t give my brain an inordinate amount of time to muddle through the options.  In time, because of this, I will be happy because a choice was made.  In a classroom this can be very useful.  By cutting down on choice within choices it will allow a student to expand in a specific area.  This allows them the opportunity for their brain to function at its highest because there are less distractions.  Happiness seems to thrive on knowing that our brain has made a choice.




Fly Fishing

I’ve always found, personally, that a balance must be obtained between intellect and practical.  Working with concrete objects is just as important as abstract ideas and philosophy.  Because both of them feed off of one another, I find it important to be aware of that balance.  With that being said, I’ve decided to pursue my independent learning project in the area of fly fishing and fly tying.

I picked up the hobby of fly fishing a couple of years ago and it has been an ebb and flow relationship.  For weeks at a time, for reasons unknown, I find the inspiration and the time to further expand my skill in the area.  However, most of the time I don’t have the time or the patience to pursue areas of the sport that I would like to.  I still consider myself an amateur in the event and I would like to change that.  I think this project will afford me much needed separation from being completely locked inside my head with study.  Whether it’s the relative simplicity of the sport, or the invisible variables that draw me, I’m not sure.  But I think this project will help to clarify that distinction.

Many of my heroes are fisherman, and some of them are fly fisherman.  The fly fishing and outdoor writers (Gierach, McManus, Harrison, Paulsen) have a certain grip on life that fascinates me.  They seem to have a key that alludes people who aren’t outdoor tradesmen, specifically fly fishing tradesmen.  While they may say it isn’t about the key so much as it is about a jovial day, their work still holds power for me.   Pursuing a certain grace tying flies at a desk or catching and releasing browns on a little known stream, to me, is powerful.  It’s a form of art that is black and while in many respects but with shades of gray.  The elements of fly fishing that are completely inhuman can help me understand my placeklinhamer-special-1436040-1600x1200.  A day on the stream can yield metaphorical elements that I couldn’t grip without the stream.

My biggest draw to fly fishing is two things.  The work put in will usually result in things that are tangible, and it is only the tangible that defines that work; do this, do that, and let it fly.  Second, if I try my best and the results are still short of expectation then it’s still okay.  It’s okay because the drawing board is still there and I still love to do it.

Knowledge and Creativity Outside of Education

Anyone can tell you there is nothing worse than being crushed, creatively.  Very few people have told me that it is okay to be creatively selfish.  People of all ages, young or old, have felt shunned because people have told them that their creative interests don’t matter in our society.  More importantly, that their loves don’t matter.  Generally, if someone loves something in school, such as a subject or activity, then they are creative in that area.  Yet it seems that our education system stifles that creativity.

Why is it that I deemed myself a more creative person outside of the education system?  I’ve often thought about this and it brings up important questions, and they align directly with LaPlante’s TED Talk and Bud Hunt’s blog post.  After I graduated from college I read books, pursued creative interests, met people, and asked life questions; all of these on a more frequent basis than at any level of education.  It can be argued that outside of education I had more money and more time to do these things.  I look at it a different way.  I had the freedom of mind to do what I love, unrestrained.  Bud Hunt might say that I was “playing.”  I was working a full-time job but within that day-to-day scope I was still playing, and discovering what I wished I could’ve discovered in my formal education.    Out of school I recognized the importance of the subjects that LaPlante expands on: nature, recreation, community, etc.  I understand that an education system can never be as free as doing what you want without obligations; that would be chaotic.  However, schools can make an effort to grasp what makes people bloom. So there aren’t students with no sense of life direction coming out of our schools.

(photo from stock.xchng)

Schools strive to teach the importance of the group; they expect students to understand that the world is an economic center that they will one day be involved in.  And they do their best to try to equip students with the right tools to “make a living,” as LaPlante and many others put it.  Educators in school districts and government curriculum create a system that tries to tackle this problem by going directly at it.  The schools forget that the greater importance of society and “making a living” is lost on the students because it is not fun, it’s downright boring.  To prepare students to make a living they have to recognize that students have to feel personally inspired to pursue what they love.  They don’t have to convince students that they must know exactly what they want to do, but they need to have the ability to recognize what their students’ passions are.  Once that is accomplished through expansion of subjects (some LaPlante talked about), community involvement, hands on learning,  enthusiastic teaching, and genuine concern for the students, then the teachers can give students the tools they need to best utilize those passions.  If the tools (language, math, science, etc.) are given before the teacher has any idea what the student loves, then the tools will be irrelevant.





Is Digital Literacy That Bad?

There is no denying the power of digital literacy.  Going beyond just the number of people involved in literary forms found on the internet lies a larger question.  Why is it viewed as having little capacity?  This is so because with anything online there is still a stigma found in incorporating the digital literacy format.  This format is mainly thought to be found in social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook.  Until digital literacy is clearly defined, until literary sites are recognized for their positives in literacy, and until it is realized there are more formats for digital literacy beyond social media sites, it will be a struggle to use them for their value.

Digital literacy has few traits that are different from non-digital literacy.  It’s still ideas, thoughts, and discussion of issues.  It’s also still the ability to comprehend postings and formulate objective writing on issues read.  From there the writing is merely typed, instead of printed.  Digital literacy could be any useful work of script, either comprehended or written about, that is projected into an online format and then shared with a select group or groups.  It is a very similar literary learning experience shaped into a different format.  Understanding literacy in a new format is very achievable.  Definitions of digital literacy are dabbled in at the home page here.

So what are some positives in digital literacy that can be pitted against the negatives?  Bridget McCrea goes into why they can be cost effective.  Secondly, once one understands how to navigate digital literacy sites they can be a cinch in on-going, personal exploration.  Continuing, one can have their voice heard through personal, substantial postings.  Lastly, it’s innovative.  It’s a break from normalcy that can unlock creative traits within the individual.  However, with these positives there are clear drawbacks, directly inverse.  Yes, they are cost effective but less secure.  Allowing them on chance to be tampered with in a negative fashion.  Navigation of sites can be too daunting, too much of a different kind of work,  and hold little appeal to different groups of people.  The largest drawback to a reliance on digital literacy is the social realm.  Postings are pointless, maybe too personal, and intangible.  A person can choose what they want to read, but there is an abundance of clutter to wade through.  Like any social site feelings are at risk, making it a risk of incorporation, especially to younger individuals.  Rather than a safe haven to explore personal, fresh beginnings, it could be another medium of personal attack.  The positive is close to the negative, but implementation in a chosen moderation and digital literacy can unlock doors.

Digital literacy is beyond just Twitter and Facebook.  Twitter can be a great feed for accessing these different sites, mind you.  The current site, WordPress, is an example of a digital literacy site that can step away from the clutter found in social media.  Digital literacy sites for education are in abundance .  If someone finds Twitter and Facebook lacking then other sites using digital literacy are never far away.

In closing, digital literacy can be effective depending upon the individual and what makes them tick.  These sites are in abundance and can be tailored to fit a person’s needs in a literary format.  Most importantly is trying this method of learning, efficiently, before detecting it insubstantial.


Choice and Chance

An academic mindset, for me, couldn’t start in a classroom.  I know that now, but when I was a child there couldn’t have been a teacher in the world able to implant the lasting importance of classroom duty.  While my early elementary teachers gave me an unparalleled foundation, I know now my earliest surviving education came from nature.

As a child, I loved the mountains; fishing, hiking, and camping balled up into one week was an adventure that couldn’t be formally understood as a child.  Yet, an over the shoulder glance of this time leaves the image appearing closer than expected.  Existing in the wild for a week lit the smallest of matches, but provided a fire to be carried into the classroom where I could absorb books detailing the human connection with nature.  I still find nature inspiring and therapeutic to this day, leaving it seldom far from my education.

2016-03-24_08.40.59                                   (Photographed by Teah Renken, friend, hiking trip, 2015)


In jumping ahead to my early teen years, a break in my learning curve happened.  I literally broke my left femur in half while playing an innocent game of pick-up basketball.  Whether or not it was a learning experience at the time, it would certainly come to be one.  While most of my ailments I consider to be mental, this one was definitively physical.  Knowledge acquired during and shortly thereafter this event would be to never doubt a touch of luck.  Meaning if I had been born a generation earlier chances were good I could’ve been crippled.


              (Photo Courtesy of Salina Regional Health Center; my broken left femur)

     With any heightened learning comes failure.  I nearly failed out of college my first go-around.  It was not pleasant.  It was embarrassing.  It was unsympathetic.  Feeling like a leech to society because of laziness and indifference was a dirty feeling.  And I realize there are greater problems people have encountered, and I hate pulling out a petty sob story on myself, truly.  This has to be included in my timeline of education though, for it relates directly.  Luckily I overcame this act through reflection and personal direction.  The direction may still not be true to all points, but it has kept me in good academic standing in the four years of college since.


     While patience may not be the best word an industrious student should live by, it is a great virtue to have especially when attempting to acquire a new skill.  Being out two years of college I had time to pick up fly-fishing and ran into one of the best learning experiences of my life.  I thought it would be peaceful and relaxing, not frustrating and taxing.  I discovered that I could put in an inordinate amount of time into something and gain zero ground, zero.  However, the love of the hobby was still there and eventually it began to roll over into results (minor results, mind you).  Patience and persistence in an area that is desirable to someone almost always pays off.


                                                                   (caught and released)

     The fifth and final step, also the most recent, in my personal learning experience has been a rekindled liking for books, especially novels.  It was eye-opening.  Reading had been stressed to me at a young age, and as a child of course I liked to read.  That got lost somewhere in the rush, I’m not sure where.  I picked up Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky a couple years back (I have no idea why I choose that book).  I’ve read books that I’ve enjoyed more since then, but I consider that to be my gateway book, so to speak.  The books that I read give me a better sense of reflection, and I find that to be valuable.