Month: November 2014

The dark side of success: Or, how to stretch a hat.

In order to achieve balance in life there must be highs and lows; good and bad; dark and light. You know—that old Yin & Yang chestnut.  And so it is that with the great success of a blog like mine comes an equally great downside: a swollen head. I realized this recently when my lucky fishing hat no longer fit.

My hat has always been a bit snug; something I’ve just lived with, and kept my hair fairly short to minimize the discomfort. But when recently I donned the lucky lid it seemed to have become even smaller since the last time I wore it—so much so that wearing it was now out of the question. Everything seems to shrink as it gets older, and I readily accept that. But this discovery was particularly troubling. My lucky fishing hat, while not really lucky at all, has been with me for a lot of years. And it shows: Weathered and worn, it’s been rode hard and put up wet often. And therein lies the problem: it’s gotten wet and been allowed to dry many times over the years; each time it has dried it has gotten just a bit smaller.

What to do?

I went to the library and used the vast microfiche system to do a bit of research. I discovered options with regard to increasing the size my hat. One of those options was to find a hat shop and have them stretch my hat. Problem: where does one find a hat shop in this day and age? Baseball style caps abound, but do enough people wear brimmed hats to sustain a business based solely on hats? Perhaps I could find a hat specialty shop somewhere in Texas, where everyone wears cowboy hats, but that wouldn’t be a geographically feasible option. I quickly dismissed this option because even if I did locate a hatter within 25 miles of my home I assumed that they’d likely refuse to service my hat. It is, after all, a little on the crusty side. And there’s an odor…

The next option was to purchase a hat stretching device. These seem like the perfect tool for stretching a hat like mine that had become too small. The problem with this option was that I didn’t want to spend $15-$20 (plus shipping) on a device that may or may not work, and may only get used one time. I’m practical, and cheap. Spending any amount of money on an old hat in an attempt to get it to fit seemed impractical and foolish. That $20+ could be put toward a new fishing hat—something that fits; something that might actually bring me more luck.

And then I discovered instructions on how to use steam and a bowl, or similar round-ish container, to stretch a hat. I could find no bowls that would suffice, but I did find a small (6-quart) tapered bucket in the garage that seemed to be about the right size for my task at hand. I decided to forego the steam and just submerge the hat in hot water instead. I measured neither my head nor the bucket to determine the proper target diameter for stretching the hat—I simply slipped the hat over the bottom of the bucket and forced it down until the hat was very snug and could be forced no further. Did I mention that I didn’t take any measurements? I left it on the counter to dry overnight.

Did it work?

The next morning I awoke eager to see if my home-remedy had been effective. I ran downstairs like an excited kid on Christmas morning and proceeded to remove the hat from the bucket. I could tell that some change had taken place, but it wasn’t until I placed the hat on my head that I realized just how effective the hat trick had been. Whereas the hat used to sit fairly high on my head (unless I pulled it down, and in doing so felt like I had put my head in a vise), it now slid down easily—too easily, in fact. Now it rests too low on my head, causing my ears to fold over like certain terrier breeds.

This could be a problem.

I guess too much of a good thing really is bad, because now my lucky fishing hat is too big. Luckily I believe I can remedy this by dampening the hat and then tossing it in the dryer to shrink it a bit.  If it shrinks too much I know how to stretch it again.

Or maybe I’ll just let my hair grow out, or get a new hat. Maybe both?


This Nation be Dammed


I am not an advocate of tearing down every single dam on every single river in the country. That would not be economically feasible, or smart. However, there are many dams across the nation that should be looked at closely and many should be removed because they’re doing more harm than good.

I recently lent my signature to a petition with the intent of tearing down dams. More specifically the petition needs 50K signatures before it can be submitted to President Obama, urging him to issue forth the mandate to remove, among other outdated dams, 4 dams on the Snake River.  These dams are controlled by the federal government so your tax dollars pay to keep these “run of river” dams that generate very little hydro power and only serve as a passage (via a system of locks) for barges moving cargo. Ironically a perfectly good railway system parallels the river, making the dams completely unnecessary and completely wasteful. These dams also serve to block passage of salmon and steelhead, making their natural spawning journey more difficult than it already is without man-made barriers. So these dams should be removed to benefit the taxpayer and the fish.

I would ask you to do one of two things:

1. Watch DamNation on Netflix.  It’s an amazingly well done film. You’ll learn something and enjoy doing so. If you don’t already have Netflix, they’re giving away a month free. Use that free month to watch the film.

2. Sign the petition HERE.

I have a feeling that if you do #1 above, you’ll then do #2.

On June 12, 1987 President Ronald Reagan said, “Mr. Gorbachev tear down this wall.” And he did.

Now the people will be asking President Obama to tear down some dams.  Will he?

At this time less than 15K signatures are needed for the petition. Please sign.


Fly fishing and tragic school shootings

The shootings at Marysville-Pilchuck high school on October 24th affected the entire nation and beyond. It was a tragic event, as have been all similar events across the states, but this one hit a bit closer to home for me, personally, because Marysville is only 30 miles to the north of where I live. But everyone across the nation knows the horrible events that took place; the innocent young lives that were taken; the other lives that were forever wrecked. During times like this it can be easy to lose faith in humanity; to retreat into darkness.

Last night on the local news I watched with keen interest an interview with a former Marysville-Pilchuck teacher by the name of Jim Pankiewicz. He has a blog, and on his blog he writes of the shooting from a unique perspective, and offers words of hope and encouragement.  He’s a man of passion and compassion, and on his blog he also writes of less important matters pertaining to fly fishing—yes, Mr. P. is also a fly fisherman.  Give his blog a look, send some love his way—offer a comment to let him know his words were seen.