In Memorium

September 11, 2001

On the morning of September 11, 2001, an anonymous amateur photographer began posting on the Internet photographs he was taking of the horror that was unfolding before his eyes.  This photographer released the photos into the public domain, believing that the benefit to the public outweighed his exclusive rights to his creations.  The photo above is just one of the many he/she posted at the time.

There are many thoughts and emotions that run through my mind as I contemplate the events of 9/11/2001, and the subsequent actions that these events have led us to, but there is one in particular that I will comment about on this rural-oriented blog.  And the thought that comes to mind is the profound difference in the fear mindset that must be occurring between residents of highly populated metropolitan areas, such as the photographer above, who obviously lives in the New York area, and residents in sparsely populated areas, such as myself.

The anonymous photographer above witnessed the initial moments of the World Trade Center catastrophe from the window of his residence.  Grabbing his camera, he began taking pictures of what he was seeing.  He felt compelled to leave the safety of his home, and with camera in hand, began a photographic journey into the heart of lower Manhattan Island.  As I contemplate this, I cannot help but wonder if this person re-lives all of those awful, gut-wrenching pangs he must have felt on that day, each and every time he looks out the window, every time he walks down those streets, and every time he commutes into the city from his home.

I would imagine that people such as this photographer, who live in densely populated areas, encountering locations and situations where the threat of terrorist events are very real, must have a constant awareness (even if only in the back of their minds) that they are in a potentially risky environment.  Particularly when the public is bombarded by the near constant reminders that terrorism exists, and surrounded by some politicians who would exploit that fact to their own political ends, it seems that a person who lives in a “likely” terrorist attack setting might tend to become fixated on the potential threats around them.  At the extreme, they may become immobilized by the fear of becoming a victim in a future attack.

Living in a sparsely populated rural area does not seem to invoke the same type of fears that might flourish in an urban environment.  Terrorism relies on mass, random killing to promote the fear it seeks to create.  And by definition, a sparse population generally presents little opportunity for the “mass” portion of the definition to emerge.  What likely target exists in a hamlet where the sign at the edge of town reads “Population – 735?”  None, I would surmise.  Therefore, those who live in these areas, who travel the back roads and conduct their business in one-horse towns have little to remind them of terrorist activities on a day-to-day basis.

I suspect few, if any, rural people are paralyzed in their fear of terrorist attacks, while many urban dwellers might be.  Perhaps urbanites should consider the possibility of frequent “therapeutic” visits to bucolic rural areas, in order to relieve the pent-up stress caused by the constant reminders of their vulnerability.  And perhaps rural folk might consider an occasional foray into the “belly of the beast,” so as not to forget that there is still a very real threat to many people out there.

Flashback Friday #14: Why You Don’t Catch Me Fishing Too Often

Top ten reasons you seldom find me fishing anymore-

10)  No matter how many times I’ve done it, the task of baiting the hook never gets any more pleasant for me.  Sometimes it’s the critter that is being used for bait that I find distasteful, such as worms.  Now, I’m the first to admit that earthworms are our friends.  I recognize the valuable services that they provide in bringing good things to life.  But I will never get used to the sensation of impaling the helpless creatures with the barb of my hook, while I hold their wriggly, slimy bodies in the proper position so as not to pierce my finger as well.  Sometimes it’s the cruelty of the concept that I find distasteful to my sensibilities.  As in deep-sea fishing, where a hook is carefully inserted into the live bait-fish body, via the gills, in order to allow the live bait-fish the opportunity to swim around, tethered like a puppy, enticing the legions of game fish the angler is targeting.

9)  Removing the hook from a successful catch is another unpleasantness that I prefer to avoid.  Holding on to a thrashing, scaly fish, perhaps armed with sharp barbels or spines, and undoubtedly with razor-sharp teeth, while trying to dislodge a barbed hook from the gullet of the mullet is not my idea of fun anymore.

8)  Still, the task of baiting the hook never gets any more pleasant for me. 

7)  The equipment just keeps getting more and more elaborate and expensive.  Trying to keep up with the latest fishing techniques is challenging enough, but look at the new tackle and bait that I just bought.  I was assured that this was the latest, greatest setup for catching “tropical” fish.  Hooks this size don’t come cheap!

Rig for

6)  Still, the task of baiting the hook never gets any more pleasant for me. 

5)  There are already enough fishermen in the world, without my adding one more person to the fray.  Not only are there plenty of fishermen in existence, but they are incredibly efficient in bringing in the catch,  all too often to the point that serial depletion of species is the norm for the fishing industry.  When Retta and I lived on a trawler cruising the Channel Islands, it was very disheartening to frequently witness the following carnage that takes place in our oceans on a regular basis.

The fishermen and their incredible fishing machines

4)  Still unchanged, the task of baiting the hook never gets any more pleasant for me. 

3)  Catch and release, the politically correct fishing method de jour, strikes me as a cruel sport.  I’ve been told by fishermen, sometimes repeatedly, that the act of setting a hook deep into the mouth of a fish does not cause a fish to feel pain.  Nor does the act of removing the hook from the innards of the fish cause distress in the fish.  Having never been a fish, I can offer no first-hand knowledge of the pain/distress capabilities of fish, but if they don’t experience distress from these acts, I certainly do!

2)  Catching fish for personal consumption offers up the daunting task of cleaning the fish.  Some people have no problem eviscerating and cleaning a fish.  I suppose I might be more “squeamish” than most, but I confess to finding the entire fish cleaning process disgusting.  Which is why I am willing to pay others (seafood restaurants and fish markets, for example) to do this bit of dirty work for me.

1)  The number one reason you won’t find me hanging around the tackle box much anymore is more psychological than anything else.  When I was a young lad of 11 1/2 years (1/2 years were VERY important to my as an eleven year old), Dad took my on a deep-sea fishing trip while we were on summer vacation in Mazatlan, Mexico.  Many miles offshore, while I was taking a turn strapped into the fighting chair at the stern of the chartered sport fishing boat,  the live-bait on my line was struck by a sailfish.  Immediately, a crew member ran over to help me set the hook.  After about 15 exhausting minutes of fighting this sailfish (with the help of the experienced crew), I turned the rig over to my Dad, who spent the next half-hour or so strapped into the chair as he reeled in the giant fish.  As a naive 11 1/2-year old, I was horrified when the fish was brought alongside the boat, where a crewman proceeded to bash the sailfish’s head repeatedly with a baseball bat, until the fish succumbed to the brutal treatment.  But, despite witnessing this treatment of the sailfish, I was always proud of my little role in the catching of a sailfish, which my Dad had beautifully mounted to adorn the family room wall in our home as I grew up.

Successful catch of a sailfish

But I guess the real reason I don’t fish much anymore is that, once you have caught a fish such as this, anything else might be a little anti-climatic ;)