Thursday, February 26, 2009

Home Sweet Home

The image above is my newest Desktop Background and was a shot I took out the door of the ice shack looking westerly toward a small community of shacks that can be barely made out spread across the lake surface. Throughout the two days of fishing this little group of shacks provided hours of entertainment as we watched through the binoculars at snowmachines and ATVs racing across the ice.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Big Bait Big Fish

This video shows just how voracious Mud Trout can be when they are hungry! The fish in this video was one of the larger specimens caught at 24 inches. Note that even after captured the fish refused to give up the large 8 inch sucker Brett had been using as bait. Most of our fishing lines (including this catch) were set 1 foot off bottom on a large shoal in about 8 feet of water. None of the Lakers that we managed to take were in water deeper than 20 feet.

New Desktop Background

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Great Catch!

Above is an amazing video from this past weekend. Featured is my cousin (youngest Registered Maine Guide in the State!) and footage of the only Salmon we caught while fishing the hard waters of West Grand. As you will plainly see, these fish like nothing more than frustrating fishermen by managing to tangle themselves around every available piece of bottom structure. This typically results in having to break or cut the fishing line. In this particular case the ice fishermen struggles through a couple obstacles and finally wins in the end! Expect to see much more (video and photos) outlining an incredible weekend landing Salmon, oversized Mud Trout (Togue) and White Fish from a very memorable ice fishing adventure!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

The Nexus

Here I sit at the nexus awaiting the phone call that will signal either the beginning or the end of a trip to the north country 8 months in planning. Lake trout are our intended target species and by hook and crook we have even managed to secure a stay at a very fine lakeside establishment. All that is left is 3 hours of white knuckle driving through heavily populated moose country in near whiteout conditions . . . sigh.

Most of the morning was spent struggling through an extensive list of trip items and preparatory measures that kept my mind occupied as the blizzard raged outside the living room windows. Now, however, the packing is done and all I have left to do is watch the birds and wait for the call, watch the birds and wait for the call . . .

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Ice Fishing For Perch

I have heard tell of an old home remedy for people suffering from the general malaise associated with a Maine winter. The ancient elixir consists of equal parts muscular torment drilling holes in the surface of an icy lake, a health dose of freezing your butt off and adrenaline laced rock ride when the flags are up and the fish are biting. If that doesn’t give you a swift kick in the rear and jump start your winter then nothing will.

At 55 acres we weren’t fishing what would actually be considered BIG waters but foot travel and deep snow has a way of making even small distances seem massive. As I crossed the frozen lake my exhalations created huge plumes of frozen vapor that circled my head and fogged my sunglasses. Each deep breath of the cold dry air the negative air slammed into the back of my throat causing me to break into a coughing fit. The deck thermometer had registered -10 F before the sun had awoken from its fitful slumber. Now, since rising and despite the intense solar rays the mercury still refused to budge.

With the annoyance level of a small child dragging their fingers down a chalkboard; each of my footsteps creaked nosily across the snow surface causing intermittent shivers up my spine. Peering through my ice encrusted Oakleys I could faintly see our destination, a small finger of land jutting out into the small pond. From many previous trips to this location I knew that an impressive yellow perch fishery lay just 14 inches below the ice.

The old Jiffy ice auger coughed, wheezed and finally sputtered to life like an asthmatic struggling for a strained last breath at a dust mite convention. Despite the bitching and complaining the old warhorse had drilled five impressive ten inch holes within minutes and rattled just about ever filling out of my skull.

As we spread out over the hard water drilling hole after hole our combined efforts left the lake surface the consistency of well aged Swiss cheese. With perch fishing it is all about location, location, location and we were searching for the prime real estate.

Well, it didn’t take long to get the yellow perch to start biting and even with several jig pole working overtime, our tempting minnow supply soon become depleted. Thus was the signal to pack-up the equipment and make the hike back to civilization. Returning back to the homestead I had fun trying out the 30 second perch filleting method and only managed to lose one finger in the process. Not to worry I reattached it myself using some duct tape.

Take Care!

DOE Health and Wellness Team

Last week I was asked to join the Health and Wellness team at work. This officially sanctioned state group was organized with the express purpose of assisting people in living happier healthier lives. Their mission is to work to provide support for the complete physical and emotional needs of all department staff. This broad arching goal is accomplished through the organizing of a large variety of healthy living activities (Everest Challenge), lunch and learn workshops, massage therapy sessions and a variety of other seminars. In addition, we work throughout the year to bring attention to important issues in men’s and women’s health (Prostate Cancer, Breast Cancer, Women’s Heart Health, etc.). I considered it an honor to be asked to participate!

One of the current issues that the group has brought to my attention is how to get more employees involved in our various health and wellness activities. At my first attended meeting I plan to discuss the use of blogging as a great way to market our various programs and bring public attention to our various causes. I envision a blogsite where employees can go to get updated information on all of our various physical and mental education programs and activities. By using the “multiple authors” feature several of us will be able to post and provide DOE staff with up to the minute updates. It is my hope that by being better informed people will be more interested in becoming more involved. I plan to search around and see if there are other blogs that discuss general health and overall wellness but if anyone has any suggestions please post a comment. Now I just need to think up a name for our new site!?!?!?

I suppose at the heart of this discussion is: Why should we be interested in improving the health of the state employee? Aside from the important fact that it will help people lead a life with fewer health related issues. Statistics also show that increasing numbers of health related issues plague a majority of the state’s population and will continue to cause a significant drain on the state’s health care system. Investing now in helping to improve the overall health of an individual is a long term investment that in the end will yield big dividends. It is estimated that a $1.00 per person spent on health and wellness education now will within a 20 year period drop medical costs for that individual by over $1,000.00. This is a significant savings of tax payer dollars! If this idea works maybe I will get a promotion!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

The Great Everest Challenge V

Well I did it! The post picture is of me taking the very last step of the Everest Challenge! (As promised I did the last rep in full on mountaineering gear!!) I arrived at 29,037 feet at 11:50 PM today bruised and battered but not broken! It was one heck of a challenge that really stretched me physically and mentally. Some afternoons I had to really push myself to get up the drive to get into the stairwell and some days it even took a supreme effort to talk myself into doing just one more rep!

Planning to take a couple of days off before completing the entire circuit again (this time at a much slower rate). I am really excited that this little "stunt" has caused so much discussion in our small office building. People have been stopping me in the halls and questioning me on the stairs everyday to ask what I am training for. To each I take a few minutes to explain that this is women's healthy heart month and that I am trying to stress to everyone the importance of good physical health through exercise and proper nutrition.

Thanks everyone for following along this past week and providing positive comments it was great to have a few individuals pushing me along!

Approximate Final Figures: 333 Reps, 43,623 Steps, 29,082 Vertical Feet, 20-25 total hours.

The Great Everest Challenge IV

UPDATE: As of 12:00 PM today I have completed 297 Reps (OR 25,938 vertical feet). This means I only have about 36 reps remaining! Post picture is me on Mt. Rainier in 2001.

I had a number of people approach me this week and say they really enjoyed my talk last Friday at the lunch and learn "Kick Off" event for the Everest Challenge. So, I thought I would include my notes from that meeting in this post incase others were interested. Enjoy!

Health and Wellness – Safety Discussion

1. People must decide on a level of health and fitness that fits their life goals. We all aren't olympic athletes nor do we all need to strive to be.
2. Good health isn’t necessarily about losing weight. Muscle weighs more than fat. It is possible to lose 3 inches on your waist but gain 4 pounds.
4. BMI – Me at 6 feet at 180 = 24.4 or in the normal weight class by only 0.5 points. When climbing I tend to weigh 185-190 or in the “overweight” classification.

A healthy weight and fitness level is directly connected to consumption and expenditure of calories.
1. Ten extra calories (one life saver) a day equals about one pound a year.
2. One pound of muscle burns 35 calories to the two calories burned by fat.

Move More and/or Eat Better (not less):
1. Park at auto lot at a distance
2. Use bathroom on 1st floor
3. Discontinue elevator use
4. Eating your veggies (1/2 a plate)
5. Eat several smaller meals throughout the day
6. Consume empty calories cautiously and in moderation (soda, candy, snack foods)

The Everest challenge is based on the premise that with a busy life many of us may not be able to go to the gym. Instead what little things can be done day-to-day to improve health and overall fitness?

1. Check with your Doctor before beginning any exercise program
2. Wear sneakers or other shoes that offer arch support and traction
3. Warm-up by starting slowly and stretch before starting anything more strenuous.
4. Be careful to protect your knees and ankles . . . especially on the downhill.
5. Be cautious of slippery surfaces due to tracked in mud, water, sand and cleaning use railing if you feel uneasy.
7. Keep your back straight
8. Watch every step and concentrate to protect against a fall
9. Use the mountaineering step to take things slowly.

Extra Challenges:
1. Leg weights
2. Step only using the balls of your feet
3. Complete the circuit more than once
4. Two steps at a time

Closing Thoughts:
1. Even the longest journey must begin with a single step.
2. In the battle of the bulge it isn’t about the individual battle it’s about the war.
3. If you are always looking at the mountain summit you are more likely to stumble on the pebbles under your feet.

Set short-term goals and figure out what you are going to do today to improve your overall health!!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The Great Everest Challenge III

UPDATE: As of 12:00 PM today I have completed 243 Reps (OR 31,833 steps equaling approximately 21,222 vertical feet). This means I only have about 90 reps remaining!

Awoke at 5:30 AM this morning feeling tired but significantly better than I did the day previous. A good healthy breakfast of whole wheat toast, all natural peanut butter, honey and a banana washed down with a cup of coffee gave me a good start. By the time I was half way to work I was actually looking forward to hitting the stairs . . . I am beginning to strongly believe that I need a mental evaluation.

Used the “classics” today for motivation . . . AC/DC, Van Halen, Beastie Boys, Def Leopard, Ozzy, Led Zepplin, the Who, Doors, Whitesnake, Kiss and even a touch of the Scorpions. It was kind of fun trudging up and down while my mind wandered over decades of memories stirred by the “oldies”.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

The Great Everest Challenge II

In my haze of "summit fever" I somehow forgot to mention that February is Women's Heart Health Month and this exercise in self abuse is meant to educate the public that women run the same risk of contracting heart disease as men and should take similar steps and processes to protect themselves against some of the dangers. Check out womenheart for more information and resources.

UPDATE: See the yellow post-it note in the picture for my progress on climbing Sagarmatha, Chomolungma, Qomolangma, Zhumulangma or in english plain old Mt. Everest! Arrived at work today (Mon) at 6:00 AM and spent about an hour climbing the stairs. Managed to complete 25 reps this morning and an additional 5 at my first break and 10 at lunch. Feeling a little bit sore and definitely tired, however, still managed 25 more slow reps at the end of the day. Arrived early this morning (Tues) felt great and very energized. Between 6:00-7:30 I completed 25 more reps as the likes of Korn, Godsmack, Disturbed and Ozzy assaulted my ear drums.

Currently at 181 reps or an equivalent height of 15,807 (YEAH I AM OVER 1/2 WAY!) vertical feet!

Monday, February 9, 2009

I'm A Fire Starter!

"There's something not quite right with you boys!?!?!" and thus was the beginning of an interesting conversation I had with my Dad on the ice Saturday afternoon. Inquiring with the slightest bit of hesitation and an equal measure of what the #$%& am I getting myself into I asked "why do you say that?".

He took a deep breath and then started . . . "Well, you boys layer up in all this new fangled super insulating clothing, and then sit out in the middle of the lake all day, despite the blasted weather conditions, in lounge chairs drinking beer and something you boys affectionately call "white lightening". Then when it comes time to eat you wolf down sandwiches warmed under your armpits and a couple little debbie snack cakes and call it a meal?!?! Lastly if you do somehow magically manage to catch a fish you take it home and put it in the freezer . . . where it may not get eaten for 3-4 months!"

Well, at that point I stared blankly at the old man trying to figure out exactly what was wrong with the series of events he had just relayed . . . I got nothing . . .

Clearly exasperated, the old man took another breath and continued . . . "I taught you boys better than that! Don't you remember all those times fishing pickerel ponds as little kids? Don't you remember warming frozen toes and fingers on a warm lake side fire? Don't you remember eating freshly caught fish wrapped in tin foil and gently steamed on the fire? Don't you remember cooking hot chocolate in an old tea pot? AND lastly PLEASE tell me you remember eating red hotdogs and marshmallows cooked on freshly cut alder branches?"

I again stared blankly . . .

Disgusted the old man staggered across the deep snow to the opposite bank and started hacking down dead branches with a small hatchet. As I drilled holes and prepared lines he worked tirelessly to organize a sheltered "hangout" area. As I finished baiting the last hook the smell of acrid wood smoke drifted across the hard water bringing with it a lifetime of happy ice fishing memories that began slowly seeping back to my conscious mind.

As I walked over to the old man my brother and I both asked in unison "Hey Dad did you bring any of those red hotdogs?" "Certainly" said Dad . . . I thought you boys would never ask!

I wanted to share this story as it really is interesting how ice fishing had and has changed tremendously from my Dad's generation to mine. He and his friends were without snowmobiles and would hike up to 5-10 miles to access good ice fishing waters. They enjoyed only tea (who can walk 10 miles drunk!) and ate everything that they caught fresh from the icy waters. When I compare that to our "modern" fishing lifestyle I begin to feel a little bit disgusted with myself and what I have allowed to be stolen from the enjoyment of this great outdoor activity. Well, with my eyes now open I vow to make more of a concerted effort to look at the "old" ways and make sure these excellent traditions and treasured memories are carried forward to my children!

Friday, February 6, 2009

The Great Everest Challenge

The great Everest challenge is on! The health and wellness team here at work is virtually climbing to the top of Everest. People who wish to participate can do so in teams or individuals in the race to the top. Getting to the summit (29,037 feet) will require going up and down the 7 flights of stairs (131 steps) approximately 334 times.

Since this competition was my brain child this afternoon I was asked to give a motivational introduction to the competition. In that discussion, one of the participants asked “How long would it take you to do the 334 reps?” Well, I opened my big mouth and said I will finish the entire competition in one week from today (next Friday by 12:30PM). To reach my goal in the time allotted I need to complete approximately 50 stair reps a day.

Let me assure you that no matter how good of shape you “think” you are this is a monumental task and one I readily embrace. There is just something about a challenge (especially one that pushes my physical abilities) that really gets me excited!

UPDATE: Managed to get in 20 repetitions up and down the stairs today between 12:40 and 1:40. My energy level felt a little bit low as I had inadvertently forgotten to eat lunch. Planning to do 20 more at my end of the day quitting time to finish statistically strong with 40 total. Stay tuned to see if I make my goal or DIE trying!

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Smelting Desktop Photo

The picture above is currently the desktop on my laptop. The photo was taken this past weekend on a great Saturday night spent with family and friends in Randolf, Maine at WORTHING'S Smelt Shack Rentals (207-582-3199). These guys have the knowledge and right set-up to make your smelting super enjoyable with spacious shacks, onsite food service, and wood burning stoves with plenty of dry firewood. If you have never tried smelting, I suggest you give it a try. The story of our trip and more photo's to follow shortly!
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