Steelhead Benchmark (Still Stands)

I’m one of those fishermen for whom fishing is always great even when catching isn’t so hot.

When I go out on the Lower Deschutes river with my son, Chris O’Donnell (owner/operator of River Runner Outfitters) whether on foot or in his drift boat, my day is made just by being with him, enjoying the sound of the river, feeling the motion of the boat, or the thrill of navigating (with him on the oars) whitewater that will flatten on the rocks any boat with an inexperienced captain.

On a trout trip, a single fat redside rainbow trout will more than make my day. On a steelhead trip, a grab, as we say, or a bite will suffice. I don’t knock myself out to hook fish. They’re a bonus.

But sometimes you get a day for the books.

Late last month Chris took me out on a day trip on our homewaters, the Lower Deschutes River. (He was the guide, but I insisted that he fish too.) Our quarry was summer steelhead, a close relative of the rainbow trout, except that the steelhead is anadramous, that is, born in a freshwater stream and then grows to maturity after migrating to the Pacific Ocean. They return, like salmon, to spawn, but unlike salmon, may make two or three trips back and forth before cashing in their chips.

At Chris’s house, we had a pre-dawn breakfast of hot Quaker Instant Oatmeal and strong coffee. Then we headed for the river. A friend accompanied us.

This past year I’ve developed a knee situation that has curtailed skiing and I thought that it might end fishing – at least wading, which I love to do. I can’t flex and put weight on the right knee without support from the left. Makes climbing stairs awkward. But my son would brook no excuses during the arrangement of the trip. “I’ll be right next to you as you move through the run, Dad.”

True to his word, Chris put me in more easily waded runs (less big rocks to trip on) and stayed right with me. I also learned that I could take a stab of pain to avoid folding and taking an unscheduled swim, but his strong arm was what really kept me out of the drink.

Remember I said a “grab” meant a good day of steelheading? This was a day for my record book. Chris set me up for two hookups and two steelhead landed. (We released them both – one hatchery, one wild.) I had this feeling that I was experiencing someone else’s life. We were swinging Intruder-style flies using spey rods and shooting line that can reach out on the river a loooong ways, but both of my fish were hooked on a second cast, darned near at my feet.

Our friend was also two for two, and Chris, who spent relatively little time angling, fished the runs after us, and gave us first choice wherever we fished, finished up three for four (one got loose). He also hooked two big rainbows, but they didn’t count on a steelhead day. All fish were released.

Three guys, seven for eight. Not bad.

Save the Oregon Historical Society’s Research Library

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Today a fly fishing friend of mine who volunteered at the OHS museum and research library from 1979 to 2000 clued me in that the research library may be shut down for lack of funding. That would be a disaster.

Please visit the petition site to weigh in on the matter, and then let everyone you know about the opportunity to keep Oregon history available.

This resource must remain accessible to keep Oregon history alive. One of the first steps to obliterating a culture or a people is to cut them off from their history. We can’t have that happening in Oregon. Or anywhere else, for that matter.

Anyone else have any ideas on how to get the word around? Please comment here and I’ll do my share to spread the word.

As of tonight, only 20 people had signed the online petition. Surely more of us must care.

Had To Share This…Intergovernmental Whatever

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I shouldn’t say that I feel like she looks, but “bedraggled” may be an apt description of her situation and mine, although I’m glad to say, I’m happily bedraggled (and not wet). Lots of good stuff to do and not enough time in which to do it. Know what I mean?

Short update on our regular board meeting of 25NOV2008: All action items passed unanimously.

Short comment on Susan Gordanier’s recent Argus article describing the combined City Council/HSD 1J Board of Directors meeting: Susan, in her zeal to make a big deal out of the Thomas Middle School demolition discussion (a non-existent “stalemate”), ignored a great agreement of the combined group of elected officials, namely that the “policy makers” (the Mayor’s term for councilors and board members) needed to encourage high-ranking administrators in both the city and the school district to meet on a regular basis to maximize our partnership for the benefit of the citizens of the City of Hillsboro and the patrons of the Hillsboro School District. These officials do meet and strategize, but not on a regular basis. That’s what I call “news,” but when a reporter is in the preconceptive mode, he/she can miss a lot of good stuff. That was the high point of the meeting, but the promise of benefits to citizens never made print.

The so-called “stalemate” on the issue of the demolition of JB Thomas Middle School was not a stalemate at all, but a denial on the part of the Mayor and two of his Councilors who are apparently willing to follow him. School board members endeavored to help the those city officials understand that regardless of how “feasible” they thought the Thomas site is/was for the City, it would never be feasible for the School District, hence our reluctance to waste taxpayer funds on a useless “feasibility study.”

The School District defends the needs of children. City officials, in their quest for control over the Thomas site, never mentioned children or the needs of the children.

In other news, I’ll be presenting two break-out sessions at the international Educational Testing Service 3rd Annual Conference on Sound Grading Practices (the last frontier in education reform) this Thursday and Friday in Portland. A good number of HSD administrators and teachers will be attending. See you all there!

What Do We Do When We Want It So Badly For Them?

I think that The Science Goddess may really be a Muse. She’s inspired another couple of thoughts I want to get out here before they die of loneliness…

Late last night, Chris Lehmann posed the following idea on Twitter: Question on my mind: How can you demand that people to improve if you don’t improve the circumstances of their life / work / etc?

My response: Perhaps “demand” isn’t the right road? Perhaps we inspire or support or model?

CL: I agree completely. So why do we see so little of that in today’s educational landscape? Especially in urban settings?

SG: I think we do model another “reality,” but may be unwilling to accept that many are happy as they are.

If you’ve read her post, you may be feeling some frustration, a twinge of resentment, or even some outright hostility for the education system that seems not to be able to reach all students with the message that they can succeed in life (whatever the definition of success is) if they work hard and persist.

The fact is, most people, and that includes students, have their own agendas. Their desires and schedules for achievement of their personal goals may never be clear to us, but we can still do something important, and that is to, as The Science Goddess mentions above, inspire.

Before you comment about my apparent Pollyanna attitude, let me define “inspire.”

Science teachers know that grasshoppers have spiracles along their bodies. These openings play a big part in breathing for the grasshopper — like, that’s where the air gets into the organism.

The root of “spiracle” is the Latin spiro, a verb that means to breathe. (Can you see where I’m going with this?)

In Latin, the prefix “in” means “in” or “into.” Put the prefix “in” together with “spiro” and you get “inspiro,” to breathe into.

So if we cannot control, coerce, or command success for students, we can breathe into them our desire that they succeed by setting a truly professional example, by making available visions of possibilities, by teaching them well, assessing them accurately, and grading them fairly.

And most importantly, treating them as equals with the respect we’d give to our most revered elders. And that implies that we accept their decision about what to do with our inspiration. 😉

That’s what inspire means to me.