Thursday, June 11, 2009

Face This

A friend invited me to join Facebook several months ago. Now I have more friends than he does. One day twelve friends, the next day thirty! Geeez... Problem is, I don't know what to do with all those friends. Now, it's not like I'm the most likeable guy around. Hardly. I have a way of charming people so that they walk away shaking their heads.

But I do have friends; I do. I like 'em, and they like me, or at least it seems that way to me. Since I hail from the Midwest (I choose to think of it as the South) however, I have a way of being fairly direct; some people would call it "blunt". I'm a little short on empathy, sympathy, compassion, all of those "human" kind of traits and emotions. I'm not terribly politically correct in my speech, even though I probably am in my thinking. So I rarely interact with thirty friends all at once. Not a big party thrower, no wine tasting parties. No awards for being the best host, or any of that stuff. I did know someone once who could have won that award. That is not the way I relate to folks; it ain't me.

In some of my friend searches on Facebook, I can't find the right person; there's a couple dozen people with the same name as the people I know, but there is no picture. Since my friends have not posted a picture of themselves, I have to go look at the friends of the faceless ones. Say, there's a title to something, huh? "Friends of the Faceless Ones". I like it. Anyway, as I attempt to pull up pictures of their friends so I can see if I recognize their friends, a number of them say "Joe [Nancy, Judy, John, whoever] has no friends." How sad. No, really. That always makes me feel sorry for them. Feeling sorry for someone I don't even know! I think that means I've spent too much time on Facebook already.

A number of Facebook friends are fly fishing buddies. My friends and I fly fish for trout mostly. But unlike the strangers on Facebook, I don't feel sorry for trout. Don't know why; I just don't. And I don't spend any time worrying about that. It's probably a part of that not-feeling-proper-empathy thing. Ralph Cutter does feel sorry for trout, I think. He claims trout are his friends. John Gierach claims not to know who Ralph Cutter is, so why should I worry about what he thinks? You're thinking "which 'he'" aren't you?

Don't get excited; calm down. I don't mean that I do not have any environmental concerns, and especially concerns for fish as finicky as trout and Salmon. I do. I like it that they are there, and I want 'em to stay there. I release almost all of my fish, even though they don't thank me for it. I dutifully send off posts to my congressmen and state legislators. I'm just goin' for the body count, though; they won't read or pay any attention to what I'm sayin' about the fish, mostly that our policies are devastating steelhead and salmon populations. I do this stuff because I'm concerned about the health and continued viability of fish populations in this as well as other states. See, I've never taken a steelhead or a salmon on a fly rod, and I'd like to do that someday. But I don't feel sorry for 'em; I don't wanna make 'em up a picnic basket or anything.

Another thing about Facebook is that as soon as you express an interest in a hobby, such as fly fishing, you get advertisements from service providers directed to that hobby. Did I say "Hobby"? Now that sounds like blasphemy, doesn't it? At least it does to a fly fisherman. I don't fly fish as a "hobby". It's a life style. "Are you a fisherman?" a stranger asks. "Yes, but not the kind you are thinking about" I respond. "Oh, what kind, then?" "I'm a fly fisherman. I fish mostly for trout, mostly with what we call a dry fly; I cast the line, not the lure. I catch a fish, and then release it." "You release them?" Always a quizzical look with that question. "Yep, I like to catch 'em two or more times." The stranger doesn't get the joke. Then it gets kinda quiet, and the subject of conversation changes. Some people spend money on fine wine and dining, or fancy cars. I'll buy a new rod every time. That's a life style.

Back to the ads, though. When I click on them, I get all of these happy pictures of people holding up monster trout, smiles pasted all over their faces. Some of the resorts are fairly local, but some are in far-away exotic places in South America or some island in the sun. But I can't find the price for one of these wonderful monster-trout fishing getaways. The ads are filled with information about what hatch is happening now, how I can get there, who the guides are, the average size of fish caught by visitors, what the restaurant is like, what the rooms are like. But no price, nada. Hmmm...so, if I have to ask the price, then I probably can't afford it, right? Well, ok. Facebook this, you monster trout fishers, Tarpon chasers, Bonefish badasses and lodge lovers!

My fly fishing buddies rarely post on Facebook. They have accounts and all, but I think they are out fishing for trout, or over in the surf trying to catch those little surf perch instead of posting dumb stuff on Facebook. Me, I've gotta check out this new stuff; I mean, it's a gadget, isn't it? If you're a guy, you know what I mean about gadgets. If you're a female, don't even ask, don't go there.

Currently, almost the best gadget I have is a little thing that is a hook holder; hangs on my zinger. Who the hell ever came up with the name "zinger"? I mean, is that a marketing name, or did a real fisherman actually come up with it? I bought one from a well known outdoors store awhile back, and it didn't work worth squat. I wound up giving it away. A casting student of mine gave me one for a Christmas present this past Christmas, and it works great. Just goes to show, If you want the job done right, send someone else to do it.

A friend of mine saw my hook holder thingy. He liked it so well, he bought one when he was in New York City. Yep; went all the way across country to get it. Too bad, I coulda told him where he could get one locally. It looks like a ball point pen, but when you push it, the holder comes out. Let go of the back of it, and it locks the hook in place. Great for tying a fly on a tippet. Do you tie a fly onto a tippet, or tie the tippet onto the fly? Anyway, the holder holds the fly firmly so you can work with it, the fly, that is.

The next best gadget would be my digital recorder. I use it to store my brilliant ideas. Funny how my ideas don't really sound so brilliant when I listen to them a day or two later. So...don't know if that's such a good gadget or not. Maybe, we'll see.

Finally, my portable GPS for my car is a pretty good gadget. I rarely need it, but when I need it, I really need it. Went to give a casting lesson to a student in Nevada City recently, and I would never have found his house without it. Well, actually, I didn't find his house; had to call for directions. Turns out I had passed it when I didn't see his address posted in large red numbers because I was looking at the gadget.

Anyway, it's been telling me for the past five months that I need to get my maps updated. Why? did they move the road; did they put the state somewhere else? So, today I went online when they sent me an e-mail telling me that updates are available. I tried to download it, but they told me to log in. When I tried to log in, they told me my e-mail address had already been used. So then I had to request my password to be e-mailed to me, because I'd forgotten it. I had to wait for 'em to send me the password. Then, when I went back online, it turns out that I need 1 GB of RAM. But... I only have 1/2 Gig! So I can't do the download.

The maps have been ok for me for all this time; but now, they're not. One half Gig has been fine for all this time. Now it's not. So...I'm thinkin' maybe I should go out and buy that Apple Laptop I've been looking at. Say, there's a good idea, don't ya think, what with no job and all? Well, c'mon; it is a gadget, right? And I could do Facebook stuff much more efficiently with it, right?

© James Webb, 2009

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