2018 - 'The Thirteenth'

Well now. What to do? Crossroads.

"Certainly any one who has the power to make you believe absurdities has the power to make you commit injustices." - Voltaire.

"And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music." - Friedrich Nietzsche.

"I always felt that a scientist owes the world only one thing, and that is the truth as he sees it. If the truth contradicts deeply held beliefs, that is too bad. Tact and diplomacy are fine in international relations, in politics, perhaps even in business; in science only one thing matters, and that is the facts." - Hans Eysenck .

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2018 ''Crossroads'' 19th February 2018. Fossils. Being something of a collector of unconsidered trifles, it's singular that a decade after I last picked up a fossilised echinoid or sea urchin, I find two in the space of a week. Consider these are at least 70 million years old and that the one on the right, the 'poorer' of the two specimens, has been deformed after its initial deposition by forces as unimaginable as its age.

Fossilised Echoids The first and more complete, found in a field. Fossilised Echoids The second, crushed by pressures beyond belief, found in my front garden of all places.

2018 ''Crossroads'' 17th February 2018. Mappowder. Three halves of an afternoon. It was too nice a day to resist, so I rooted through the fly-fishing bag to transfer over those bits that are part of both kits then nabbed some frozen bread and cockles. You can almost guarantee having Mappowder to yourself winter-time, plus being in the middle of nowhere it's good for the wildlife. Thus it proved.

I ambled over to 'Pheasant', walked the lake, annoying the voluble geese, then set up in a casual way, float-banding a quill, tying on a hook, pinning a cockle, and lobbing the whole into the margin while I thought about fishing. I watched the geese then turned my bag out to see what was inside. Meanwhile, the flat-float twitched twice but otherwise didn't move. I located the relevant bits, removed the 'porcy', slipped on float-stops and a mini-swivel. I located some fine 8lb hook-link braid and threaded on what looked like a size '10'. I loosely furled the last two inches of the braid, then combi-knotted it to the mono., so the hook-link was about 3" of looped furled braid. I clipped on a blue pole-float, a fettled foundling, 2 × no.4 shot then fished bread-flake for a time. As the rucksack-rifle had turned up the thermometer, I checked the water temperature. I didn't really need the thermometer to tell me the air was 7°C warmer than the water and that the ripple-patch on the opposite bank was a better bet. So, de-camped.

Mappowder LakesThe thinking pitch and the distant and more productive ripples Mappowder LakesThe flat-float Mappowder LakesFishing properly now Mappowder LakesThe second pitch
Mappowder LakesThe view of the afternoon's first half

The bank was too steep for the chair, so I sat on the un-hooking mat. I cheerfully fished laid-on bread, the little blue float pleasingly set at the same angle as the waves. The sun was warm, the wind necessitated a coat-zipper and carp came along at respectable intervals, not so often it was a nuisance but often enough to keep you watching the float. I was glad of the decision to fish the MKIV 'G' with 8lb on the 'pin, the 2-3lb fish could be removed smartly, although several 5-6lb fish bent the rod somewhat. I re-resolved to make a long handled disgorger, so I can poke the hook out without faffing about with the net. A raven appeared in a tree behind me, and ran through the oddest sequence of guttural utterances along with clicks and glottal stops. Fun though this was, I slithered down the bank to check out the interesting pool in the stream, made some mental notes, then re-decamped.

Mappowder Lakes The blue float in the waves Mappowder Lakes The MKIV 'G', the Kingpin and the tiny float-box Mappowder Lakes The largest carp. It was dark, looked feral and frankly, underfed.

I squelched back to, then around Spring Lake and reconnoitred the pond at the bottom of the spinney. I cut the loop of braid near the knot and carefully retrieving the hook from the wet grass, snell'd on a new hook that looked like a '14' and clipped on a little orange cork-ball bobber. For information purposes I fished for an hour using a few pills of bread and a couple of cockles and though the water twice moved in an interesting way, nothing came of it. I'll be back when it warms, there's something in this pool.

Mappowder Lakes The pool behind the spinney Mappowder Lakes The little orange float next to the rotting rushes

I'd planned to head home, but passing one of the last swims in 'Spring', I recalled several brown goldfish caught during a cold evening a few years ago. Hm. I flicked a few bread pellets in and carefully plumbed the depth, setting one no.6 at the top of the hook-link and the other 1" from the hook. A robin arrived to beg bread. I gave it a piece and while I waited, used a wooden ruler to flick crusts into the middle of the lake, to see if the carp would come up to play; which they did, but merely toyed with said bread. The little float sunk 1" then rose 1½". I struck, untangled the hook-and-line from a hazel branch, and re-cast. Some time passed and there was much dithering then a gentle submergence and the result was, disappointingly, a slender honey-coloured common of 3lb of so. I knelt on the wet ground, drew it to the edge and tweaked out the hook, saving the net. I recast and listened to a pheasant's short surprised squawk, followed by the sound of a thudding wing-beat slowly fading with its owner; whether a fox, mink or stoat got the bird I couldn't say. See, 'good for wildlife'. Blackbirds cautiously picked up their evening song and the float bobbled a bit and went under. This was a small humpy common also about 3lb, so I spared the net again, and decided that was good enough. Plus I couldn't feel my finger-tips.

Mappowder Lakes The view from Peg 1 at 'blackbird' time Mappowder Lakes The little orange float waiting in vain for a brown goldfish.

It occurs to me that the two 'lakes' are 'ponds' and the 'pond' is really a lake. Heh. Cool day.

2018 ''Crossroads'' 15th February 2018. A Beautiful Game by Mark Nicholas.  star rating 

Nothing to do with fishing of course, but still worth mentioning. I've had this book sitting on the 'to read' stack for a year or so. Finally, yesterday, I picked it up, started reading, then pretty much read it through, barring coffee collection intervals. Well written cricket book are not as rare as (say) well written fishing books, but are still uncommon. 'A Beautiful Game' is a joy to read, and author's love for the game radiates from every page. If you like cricket, you'll like this, if you love cricket, you'll love this.

2018 ''Crossroads'' February 2018. De-Flashing.

One of my bug-bears is the incredible shininess of some items of fishing tackle and have a particular dislike of very shiny rod-rings and other rod fittings. I've sorted out a way of dealing with chromed surfaces that doesn't do a bad job. Firstly, you rough up the surface of the metal. Use '000' grade wet'n'dry perhaps, although or toothpaste or wire wool might work. Once mildly roughed up, colour over the offending metal with a dark grey indelible pen, more than once if you like. Black works well also, but green tends to produce a finish that's a smidge too Christmassy for me. This is surprisingly durable, and can be easily re-applied. However if you really wish, varnish over the colour, matt varnish obviously.

You can remove most indelible pen using nail varnish remover on a piece of kitchen-roll, but take care not to get it on the rod itself or glue, varnish, etc. As with all fettles, it's wise to do a tiny experiment somewhere where it won't show, otherwise you can end up with a tip-ring that looks like a Christmas-tree bauble, to give a random example.

2018 ''Crossroads'' 7th February 2018. Phew, finished. There's a few small tweaks to do and 'all the pagesIt's a site-map.' are listed here. I need to spend some time riffling through the entries and standardising variable names. Plus a bit of editing, something I've resisted while coding.

In other news (I swear this is true), an employment agent who had sent my CV into a potential employer called me to give me some feedback - this in itself is welcome, if rare, but I'd not got an interview, "...but it was probably because your CV didn't read very well. But I did change it a bit before I sent it to the client."

JAA; "Pity, these things happen, I would have liked a shot at that role."
JAA (inside voice); "So, in summary, you changed my CV without discussing it with me, fecked up the opportunity and are blaming me? You utter dipstick."

2018 ''Crossroads'' 1st February 2018. I've been occupied of late with the search for gainful employment. Nothing wrong with that of course. There is however, a problem; it is almost impossible to find potential employers. Leaving aside the unnecessary details regarding the type of post I am looking for, it is the case that typing "job title" and "county" into google generates literally scores of pages of advertised positions that apparently match my criteria. However, all of said positions or posts are being advertised by employment agencies.

"Oho," I thought to myself, "what I need to do is create a custom search string which excludes all those result that are listed by agencies." My next discovery was that google allow a maximum of 32 words in a search string. OK. So after some diligent cutting-and-pasting, I arrived at a search string that excluded the first 29 employment agencies that appeared in my original search. Even then, the first five pages yielded a lone 'No Agency' web-site and one direct vacancy advertisement. The other several hundred results were, you've guessed it, 'agencies'.

Working from my own data, the first twenty-odd agencies were all advertising duplicate positions. Any employer trying to maintain a sensible working relationship with twenty agencies would find themselves rapidly swamped by the process and keeping those twenty on, e.g., a retainer is barely worth discussing.

I suspect potential employers may be frustrated by this; their own vacancies on their own websites are virtually invisible to the job-seeker. Unless the job-seeker already knows of the company, they simply won't be able to find the advertisement. In consequence only agencies are able to provide a steady stream of potential candidates, which costs said potential employer, a handsome four-figure sum of money for each candidate they employ. They barely have a choice.

In addition, and I am in a position to know, the front-line employment agency staff barely understand the roles they are collecting CV's for. I've yet to have any dealings with somone with the professional qualifications or experience that aligns with the roles I'm seeking. Yet, these folk are gate-keeping CV's, that they'd barely understand even if they read them. One might have more respect for such an agency if it, e.g., carried out some kind of psychometric testing, or in fact any objective selection process at all, as justification for its four-figure fee.

Some might consider this the 'blind leading the sighted'. It's certainly hard to see how the prospective employer benefits, never mind the beleaguered professional who would like to discuss a role with someone who understands it, even a bit would be nice, before passing on their CV.

This situation and process has the outward appearance of a group of apparently independent suppliers, whose goal is to increase collective profits by means of limiting supply or by other restrictions.

This is a cartel, is it not?

Perch'perca fluviatilis'...(and back to the top of the page) PerchStripey Perch'Sarge' PerchA 'swagger' of perch Perch'Sarge' PerchA 'swagger' of perch PerchA 'swagger' of perch Perch'perca fluviatilis' PerchStripey Perch'Sarge'

2018 ''Crossroads'' 16th January 2018. The 'MK III'; Part 1.

A tube arrived today with a cane rod-blank in it...I've always wanted an actual 'MK III'. That is, the Richard Walker double-built cane carp rod, a 10 foot two-piece compound of two straight tapers. In his own words "Of course it was designed for fish of 10lb and upwards..." ('Drop Me A Line' p.198). I alway fancied, notwithstanding 'the narrative', that this rod was the more likely conqueror of the 44lb record, although I can't substantiate that. But it has always intrigued and over the course of a long set of sporadic emails, the idea was born and an offer was made. The tapers for this rod are on Page 27 of Drop Me a Line, and these technically, make the rod a compound taper, the top an bottom sections have different tapers. On the opposite page (p.26) there is a ring spacing, which I may or may not use. Here it is: (pictures on the way)

The blank itself has a slightest odour of charring, perhaps a slight smell of treacle, and on the ends the double-build can clearly be seen. The tip section has been left a trifle longer than 60" to allow for the fitting of a tip ring. The first order of the day is to lay it on a flat surface to work out which face the rings will end up on. Once marked (pencil), I'll then varnish it once to seal the cane, while I seek out a good quality reinforced ferrule. Once the ferrule is on, and a little time has passed, then I will give the whole thing a waggle or two and consider my next move. I have no set date for completion - it will be built bit by bit and if it's not ready until September, then it's not. But where to try it out? Now that is a question.

2018 ''Crossroads'' 14th January 2018. The Saxon Ponds. One of several work parties, as we prepare the ponds for dedging and some landscaping. I was helping Pete clearing a patch of rhododendrons where the ground was boggy and the path, defined by a fallen tree on the uphill side, is a quagmire even with two drains run under and a timber'd walkway.

After some lopping, it was clear that there was one primary source of water, a spring perhaps, and that the fallen tree, in form, but in reality a loose collection of rotten wood held together by a shell of bark, had simply dammed the natural path of the water and turned the area behind into a small bog. It was immensely satisfying to cut a new channel from the welling spring next' the fence, to the pipe sunk under one of the paths' timbers. This involved, variously, pulling out rooted rhododendrons, clumps of matted roots, digging out some grey-and-greenish clay and finally cutting a gap in the fallen tree, achieved with only a shovel, so loosely was the rotten wood bound by its bark.

The 'bog' drained before our eyes and two further trickles of water, under sleepers and through gravel, dwindled to nothing in less than an hour. A slick of silt drifted down the shallow water left in the pond itself, but the spring-water, after the initial rush, ran clear. Why this was all quite so satisfying I can't tell you. But it was. It's an engineer thing. It's been fixed, that's what it is.

The Saxon Ponds and its meadowThe view across the meadow on the south side of the Lower Pond

On the way home, rattling along the top road, I was flashed at by a man in white van who was making 'slow down' gestures. I assumed, assigning low integrity to said driver, a speed-trap, primed by the 'white van' and its popular notoriety. Around the bend was a lady struggling with a horse. I wasn't exactly pelting along, so slowed, stopped, to give her time to get the fairly panicky mount under control and off the road, achieved in the end, by dismounting and leading it off. This is how assumptions can get you into trouble...

The Saxon Ponds' cowsThe resident livestock, and although I for one do not like cows, I've grown used to these woolly faces watching me wrestle with wellingtons, and to the warn sweet smell of the silage and hay.

2018 ''Crossroads'' 10th January 2018. "The Navy Lark; Johnson's Diet". Sub-Lt. Phillips speaking of Wren Chasen;
"She's making a fuss about her pom-pom."
Which is funny, but not nearly as funny as Heather Chasen then corpsing and Jon Pertwee 'in character' pulling her leg. Still great.
"Left hand down a bit..."

2018 ''Crossroads'' 7th January 2018. The Saxon Ponds. A slash and burn party, bank clearing and bonfires of previous clearings. All good fun, even the charred potatoes.

The Saxon Ponds The smaller of the two bonfires, nearing its nadir. The Saxon Ponds The large land drain in the corner of the Lower Pond The Saxon Ponds The view across the drained Lower Pond, the dam wall, the sluice and the other bonfire.
The Saxon PondsLooking up the pond on the north side of the island

2018 ''Crossroads'' 1st January 2018. Shortly before realising I wasn't watching comedy, but a stylised diatribe, a 'comedian' declared with the utterly erroneous belief of the fleeting-famous, "You can't change an old person's mind". Point of fact you can, as I've decided that particular funny-man is no longer funny, so will in future avoid the twit. There. Two birds etc.

"It's not worth doing something unless someone, somewhere, would much rather you weren't doing it." Sir Terry Pratchett, of course.

Happy New Year.

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07:07am on 2018-02-20 JAA