Fishing adventure ahead

Fishing…. Let’s talk about Eric and fishing.

I have a few distinct memories with a fishing pole. Obviously, they are not major life turning events…. Or you might see me packing one on any of my camping trips taken throughout the year.

One of my youngest memories with a pole was at my Uncle Joe’s house in Arkansas with my Brother, Don. We were around 7 or 8. We would cast spinners on his backyard pond and reel them in as if in a race to get back to the shore… Inevitably, a fish would attack the lure and get himself caught. My uncle would take them off the hook… And his wife, Dora, would do the dirty work of cleaning and cooking. It was a no mess, no fuss, version of “duck hunt”.

Later, as a camper at East Bay Camp in Bloomington Illinois… I remember the dread of a small black bullhead who grabbed my hook. This was no sunfish. I held this beast away from me at a full poll distance so that its Steve Irwin killing barbs would not reach my tender 12 year old skin. Thankfully some 8 year old Cub Scouts were there to handle the situation.

My last fishing experience of note was with my Dad on Sanibel Island in my early 20’s. We were casting into the ocean at a private beach on the northern tip of the island…. I caught something…. upon reeling it in…. I found I had removed a completely disgusting creature from the Gulf of Mexico. It looked like a bleached out lion fish with pointy off-shoots that harkened back to that fish at East Bay Camp.. There was no way I was touching that thing, and there was certainly noway I was going to eat it. I had my dad remove the hook and let the ugly critter go back in the water to scare other fish as he was obviously designed to do.

Today, I find myself on a plane to Alaska…. To fish. It certainly doesn’t follow the backstory outlined above.

3 months ago I got the first warning… “Eric, here are the standings on the “Alaskan Fishing Escape” contest for the Chicago region.” I looked… At that time, I was in second place.

Second place? That was fine with me. As a matter of fact… If some other service managers can get their game together, I might even fall down a few notches and get out of contention. I could rest a lot easier!

If you need more proof of fishing prowess, think about this… On my birthday… When the Social media photo posts from my Mother come out to publicly shame me for the sins of my youth. Among the dozen pictures she shares, you may see me with a mullet or a 1978 Plymouth… But you will never find a photographic evidence of me holding a fishing rod.

I think it comes down to the dismount. I’m always praying I won’t catch anything. In the over-air tv era that I was raised in, Babe Winkelman, would scoop up anything by its gills like it he was pulling a six pack of beer out of the water. The hook would neatly pop off the fishes lip, and all was right with the world. I never had that kind of grace in my transactions… I always felt like I was trying to pick up and secure a greasy, flailing, animated banana. On top of that…. I’m have to stick my good pliers down there throat to retrieve a swallowed hook. And that’s a load of malarkey too; my catches always swallowed the hook.

While I am digging down the gullet of this poor low iq beast…. I can’t help but think I am committing painful atrocities on this little Nemo in order to blow off a few hours on a Sunday.

How would I feel if aliens were dangling Chick-Fil-A sandwiches down on a string so that they could catch humans? Snatch me up to the stratosphere where I cant breath… Take a picture… An alien/human selfie. If i’m lucky, they release back in my natural environment. Well, I think there are reports of that kind of behavior… And I am pretty sure nobody has enjoyed it yet!

You can imagine my excitement when I got the email from my Corporate representative notifying me that I had pulled ahead and won the competition. I won the fishing trip.

Salmon fishing in Alaska. 2 full days of air travel… 3 solid days of ocean fishing with a bunch of service guys from across the midwest.

First, I attempted to dodge the prize. I tried to give it to my Assistant Service Manager, Chad. Corporate would have nothing to do with it.

Then a parrey… I have the Trail Team trip planned for the week after. Surely the boss would not want me to take that much time off. I informed the owner of this timing misfortune in hopes that he would say this would not work out. Mr. Fort said it was OK with him if I did both.


I’m going fishing.

It’s not all tears. (This is my mental prep about what’s positive about the trip) I get to go to Alaska. A state that I have not been to yet. That will tick off 49 on my goal to get to 50. Only Hawaii remains on the list. Secondly… We have been promised a share of the fishing bounty. Approximately 50 pounds of fresh caught Salmon and Halibut will travel back to Peoria with me to fill the freezer at La Finca. Those two facts alone might make up for the fact that I am going to be cold and wet in a small boat in the Pacific ocean in July.

Maybe this will be my most successful fishing adventure ever…. or the final nail in what will be a closed coffin of my attempts to learn the sport of angling.

Wish me luck!

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Immigration and the great hype

I cant believe I am succumbing to this…
You are all being played. All my Right leaning friends.. Played. Left leaning folks… Being played like a fiddle. The parties and media have you parroting everything. The hot button tweets and memes that you think make a difference… Are just part of the big wedge they want to drive between you. Its embarrassing. Whats worse… I am playing into it with this post.
Immigrating to any country is inherently dangerous. Its never been easy. If can you take the risk to rid your life of all its earthly possessions, other than whats on your back, and take your family to an uncertain destination. You are mentally ready for the consequences of what happens if you dont receive a warm reception. You have probably already been warned of what happened to others who failed on similar attempts.
You can die in a desert trying to make the journey.
You would risk being locked in a container truck and dying of heat.
You would risk your children and family for this chance at a better future.
You have done these things in the past. Risked it all.
If your caught. You know whats going to happen. You know that your kids might even be better served in detention in the USA while you make more attempts to make it through.
As of a short time ago… You would have been happy if half your family made it over the border… Soon enough, you would give it another shot.
Yes… Even with chain link fences and dog kennel style holding facilities.  You have made it over the first hurdle…  Surviving the trip with your life.  Frankly… I surprised they dont have pictures of the kids in orange jump suits with shaved heads.  Disease, bugs and sanitation can lead to a whole host of problems.
3 generations ago in my family… My Italian forefathers were in similar situations. The US Government would not take everyone at Ellis Island. We had children stripped from their family and left to fend for themselves while others had to go back to Italy and make more attempts to come to the US.
Amazingly… Those orphaned kids grew up and survived! (Sarcastic tone… I’m sorry) And yes… Those that were rejected at Ellis had to cross from Mexico illegally.
I will have to get more clarity on what actually happened from my Mother and Grandmother at some point. Guardian Angel home in Peoria had a role to play for those left behind in the US.
Back to the point. Your social media activism only serves to divide.  Its worthless.  I know everyone of my friends on Facebook who Hate and Love Trump.  Not much middle ground with folks anymore. 
Get some fresh air.  Turn off the TV.  Turn off the radio.  Go outside and pick up some litter. Go volunteer at the Soup Kitchen or the Mission. Help out at TAPS. Do something local to help people at ground level. Its what YOU have the power to do NOW.
When the elections come around… Quit voting for these clowns that dont share your values or listen to their constituents.
Dont like tax breaks for local developers? Remember that for tomorrows elections (Proverbial Election)
Dont like impound policies that take away a persons car before being proven guilty? Remember that.
Dont like traffic cameras, facial recognition software running on every citizen or blacked out squad cars? Remember these things when the locals want a vote.
Ugh…  When did you all become slaves to the whims of the parties?   You know that next week you will be outraged about something else right?
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Great albums not on Spotify


PIL – Greatest Hits (Specifically missing “Dont Ask Me”)  The rest of the album is in their catalog. But this one song released as part of the greatest hits is one of their best, and relevant to today.

Schleprock – Americas Dirty Little Secret.  Amazing Ska-Core band from the West Coast that had some killer hooks.

Rob Jungklas – Closer to the Flame.  Memphis rockers debut with some memorable tunes.

Pere Ubu – Cloudland.  (Also:  Modern Dance, Dub Housing, Story of my Life, Worlds in Collision)  Pere have decided they will forgo the streaming service option.  See my Peter Gabriel rant.  While I can appreciate a small band needing the funds that come with song sales… They risk sliding into an even more obscure corner of music history if no-one can hear their music.  Not sure what the solution is, but I dont see this being the answer.

House of Freaks – Tantilla.  Another obscure 80’s band that will probably fall by the wayside of musical history.  One of the duo was murdered after their 3rd album and I think their legacy left with him.  Original songwriting like theirs is hard to come by.

I will add more as I run across them!


Albums added late:

Warren Zevon – Sentimental Hygiene

Peter Gabriel – So

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Peter Gabriel… “So” you came around?

I randomly came across the Dead Kennedy’s on Spotify this past week… And thought, “I wonder if Peter Gabriel is on here?”

A quick search revealed that his albums are now on Spotify.  Yeah!

You can go back a while and see my thrashing of holdouts like Gabriel.  I understand the financial aspect of his holdout.  But lets be real… The longer you stay out of the streaming business… The further from relevance you music seems to get.  I had pretty much given up on his catalog.

Sure, I own his CD’s. But I am not toting those guys around!  And I will be damned if I am going to buy this album on iTunes.  I’ve owned “So” on LP, Cassette and CD.  He’s gotten me three times over already!

I think I am going to start a post with albums that I love that are not on Spotify.  Really, just so I dont forget about them!

Peter Gabriel Lands On Spotify — Official Playlists

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15 Greatest Albums of all time… As of March 2009

Right now on Facebook there is a little thing going around were you post album covers and talk about your faves…   I remembered writing this years ago.  Its in my Facebook “Notes”.  Funny enough… Its still holding about 75% accurate nearly 10 years later.  

15 Greatest albums of all time? According to me!

Think of 15 albums, Singles, CDs, LPs (if you’re over 40) that had such a profound effect on you they changed your life. Dug into your soul. Music that brought you to life when you heard it. Royally affected you, kicked you in the wazoo, literally socked you in the gut, is what I mean. Then when you finish, tag 15 others (or more!), including me. Make sure you copy and paste this part so they know the drill.

In no particular order… Take that back… Some order

1. Men at Work – Business as Usual. This might be the only album I can listen to all the way through now… Just like I did then! I bought an extra LP version of it because I wore my first one out… And then proclaimed that this was an album I would share with my kids someday. (I remember this fact because Uncle Steve reminded me of that conversation from 1981) While its not a remarkable album… There were some great songs with a little off center-ness that probably started the ball rolling for me to be on the outside of mainstream music.

2. Duran Duran – Rio – Even if I wasn’t cool… I felt cool listening to this LP. (Yeah, I’m still talking LPs!) I couldn’t dance, didn’t have designer clothes, or even know where to start… But reading about these guys and digging on this album kept me from being a complete hick!

3. Peter Gabriel – So – This was the first CD I ever purchased… Still have it… Back when they made CD’s to last! I rode up to Walton’s on my BMX and picked up a General Electric CD player and “So” with my saved up paper route money… While I was sucked in my Sledgehammer…. It was songs like Dont Give Up with Kate Bush that once again started knocking down the walls of what was considered popular music.

4. Kate Bush – Hounds of Love – WBNQ went out with the bathwater when I heard this one… Music can be this??? Characters, theater, drama… Her wonderfully eccentric voice along with being backed up by some of the greatest musicians in the world. This really opened me up to looking for more in music than what the top 40 was dictating!

5. Ramones – Animal Boy – I’m not a punk guy… Never was… But, the Ramones gave me something to play loud! Violently loud! The songs didnt amount to more than some of the pop music at the time… Except for Bonzo goes to Bitzburg… It was almost a political statement song… But who could take the Ramones seriously for that?

6. The Dead Kennedy’s – Frankenchrist – Oh man… Jello Biafra can write some dialog! These guys had many albums that were punk… But this one was a fine piece of musicianship and lyrical conquest… You just through in the cassette and held on… Singing along to Anti-Anthems! This album still stands up… And you can find plenty of similarities between the Stars and Stripes of Corruption then, as you would now.

7. The Screaming Blue Messiahs – Bikini Red – As usual.. Always a story to go with the purchase… Bob Brown had bought this cassette on my insistence… After listening to it for a day… He said he didn’t like it. We had both agreed that “I wanna be a Flintstone” was a great song… Unfortunately… Nothing else on the cassette sounded like that. WHICH IS GREAT IN RETROSPECT! Its the weakest song they ever wrote! When I heard Jesus Chrysler Drives a Dodge for the fist time.. I was blown away! This guy was making his guitar scream! I have said it before.. And I’ll say it again… If I could play guitar.. I would want to play like Bill Carter. Controlled chaos! Evidenced in their live material!

8. Pere Ubu – Cloudland – Another expansion on what music is. Weird clicks, sound effect and whirrring noises in beat with a great band… Oh, and that singer… What in the world is he singing??? It was always hard to understand the first time through… But their hooks and pop grooves were usually enough to keep me entertained. This was the first of my Ubu albums for me!

9. Oingo Boingo – LIVE 2CD – Total summer music in 1989… I was aware of the band from movies like Weird Science and Back to School (Thanks to Kennedy for that memory update)… But these guys are sooooo much more! Phenomenal musicians… Brilliant lyrics and a wild look. More of a New Wave throwback… I probably caught them on the tail-end of their career. No matter, I dug their whole catalog and still love to listen to all of it today. This album had a great live sound that didnt have the dated keyboards and drum machine sounds.. Probably why I always cue it up first with in an OB mood!

10. Julian Cope – St. Julian – Big time British rock sound with complete lyrical weirdness! I couldnt figure this guy out to save my life… But I loved playing this album loud!!! Pulsar is one of my top 10 favorite songs of all time!

11. Robyn Hitchcock – Spooked – This one is not that old… But it revived for me what an artist can be… Even with an acoustic guitar… You can be clever and relevant. I am not huge on one man guitar shows.. But Robyn sucks you in on this one and you live in his world for a while. I have almost everyone of his albums (Thats a lot!) and this one still holds as his breakthrough for me.

12. The Decemberists – Castaways and Cutouts – I had given up on new music. Resigned that all new music sucks! I was ready to listen to Julian Cope and Oingo Boing for the rest of my life! Thank God for these guys! Lit rock? Is that a term? It should be. These guys breathed air into my CD collection when it was needed most. They are current, but timeless… I suspect I will be listening to their albums for many years ahead.

TIE 13. Lou Reed & John Cale – Songs for Drella | Lou Reed – Magic and Loss – Never a huge Lou fan… I was pleasantly surprised when Jon Etter slapped the Drella VHS in the player. (They did a VHS whole album recording, its not on DVD.. I’ve checked!) Its Lou being tender and soft… Really the beginning of a sound that he was holed up in for the next 20 years! All the songs tell a story and you can feel his love for Warhol and the old gang in this. Magic and Loss was a some of the darkest recordings in my collections. I normally like pretty up music… But the feeling that is brought out in the songs of this album really draw you in. When he is singing (If you call it that) about awkward conversations at funerals… Or taking a boat out to spread ashes in the Atlantic ocean… You feel like you are living it. Lou’s finest!

14. Talking Heads – Naked – Not a typical Talking Heads album… It was more influenced by David Byrnes dabbling in Brazilian music. It totally took me to another place… Letting me open up to artists with a south of the border texture. Once again… It expanded what I new about music. Rio Momo, some Ozomatli…. And a bit of Jobim later… And I can see where that branch of my musical tree came from!

15. The The – Infected – Yeah, that band name is right! OK, Lou wasnt the only downer in my collection. Matt Johnson gave me some gritty stuff that dealt with bad relationships, societal decay, and inner turmoil… All wrapped in a punchy, sometimes pop-ish package. Johnson’s voice always sounds troubled! Johnny Marr played guitar on this and the next album… And they still sound as good today as they did back in 1990 (Earlier?)

Honorable Mentions:

Afghan Whigs – Gentleman
They Might be Giants – They Might be Giants (Debut album 1986)
The Refreshments – Fizzy Fuzzy, Big and Buzzy
Ben Folds Five – Whatever and Ever Amen
The Blue Nile – Walk across the Rooftops
The Cars – Candy O
Counting Crows – August and Everything after (Only meaningful if you have had your heart ripped out!)
Fishbone – Truth and Soul
Goo Goo Dolls – Hold me Up

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The Lead Hair

The lead hair. 

Is he the idealistic soldier who steps forward when he hears the call?  Or is he the brave soul who stands his ground while the others retreat?

Would I deny his nobility and strike down his impotence with one quick slice? Do I let him grow and attempt to thrive in a territory that he has been bold enough to settle for himself?

I know that his days are likely numbered. It seems cruel to cut short what we know will end soon through its natural course.

Live another day doomed soldier! 

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School Musical Clip

I didn’t want to film the whole thing… Here is what I grabbed from the show at St. Joes last night. Aiden was great.

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Video shorts from Spring Break 2018

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Tazewell County Litter

If cleanliness is next to Godliness…  then Tazewell County IL is going straight to Hell!

Every year about this time…  We see the first glints of greenery budding on the trees and bushes of Central Illinois.  Its our first whiff of the changing season and it comes with small bit of joy as we feel the sun’s warmth trickling back into our days.

Also, as part of this special time, we get to see what the winter snow melt has left us…  Litter.  Every ditch… Every field.  Its a plethora of plastic bottles, fast food containers and random plastic bags from the mega retailers and the grocers of Pekin.

You might say…  “Eric… Your really nitpicking here if you want to complain about garbage in the ditches”.  Yeah… I agree.  It should seem like a tiny concern in the scheme of things for a county with lots of other problems.  I could be talking about Meth or Heroin overdoses and certainly get more people to agree with the level of concern.   I think it comes from the time change.  With our newly acquired evening sunlight, I see these ditches everyday on the way home.  This is not the first time I have written about this.  I have posted similar articles before… It was particularly bad when I was driving to our old home on Christmas Tree Rd.

Throwing trash out of your car is a decision.  I can recognize the flawed reasoning with beer cans and bottles.  Beer cans are thrown out of your car to subvert the law and save yourself an open container ticket.  Or worse yet… A DUI!  Do not think for one minute I am condoning the behavior…  It’s very prevalent In these parts,  but I would never risk my livlyhood.  Others do even though the penalties are large and life altering.   They lessen their risk by casting their “empties” out the window.

Littering is not like drugs. Its not an uncontrollable addiction.  (Not getting into that right now)(Then again… If online shopping can be an addiction… Who’s to say.)  Throwing trash out of your car is a complete and utter disrespect of the land and shows a lack of consideration for yourself and fellow man.

Take a look at the pictures.  This is one ditch on Allentown Road outside of Pekin.  I can tell you that 5th, 14th and Rt 29 are as bad. Look around and every other road around town that has a ditch looks like this to some degree.

It is so bad that I have to wonder where we are lacking in our roles as citizens and peers.  Was it something in our parental guidance?  Do we not throw this kind of education at our kids in downstate Illinois?  What do people think happens to this garbage after its thrown out the window?  Do people around here lack the sense of presence.  I mean, do they understand that everyday they contribute to this behavior, they are leaving an ugly mark on this earth.  And really… For no reason at all.  There are gas stations with trash bins all over.  There are public trashcans.  Its shear laziness and disrespect to pretend that throwing it out the window is a better option.  Something is amiss here.

A friend of mine saw my Instagram post about this  a few weeks ago (Same Pictures BTW) and said every kid should see the video we had shown between cartoons in the 70’s.  The iconic Indian looking over the wasteland of 70’s urban America.  Lets play it now show we?

We have to start young!  Kids need something like this to latch onto.  I don’t care if its Sponge Bob!  At least they would stop what they are doing and listen to him.  Keep American Beautiful was the Government agency involved with the Ad Council in the 70’s that ran these PSA’s.  I did a quick google search.  They are still around and have moved past those blurry commercials.  They have a chapter in Peoria.  See the links at the bottom.

Also…  What about the old Litter Bug?  I never hear that term anymore.  Time to dig that guy back out!

Image result for litter shaming

I think I am going to see if Aiden has any thoughts about doing an anti-litter program for his Eagle Scout project.  I am honestly interested in helping out myself, but just like everyone else… I have have the excuse that I dont have time!  Maybe when we get these kids out of the house?  I can collect garbage on my sailboat?


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The more things change…

I am noodling here… So, if this is not coherent… I warned you.

Below is a picture of a google image search for “animated trump image” or something like that.

Anyone who knows me…  Knows that my political alliances lie with neither major party, and I generally stay out of the fray when it comes to complaining about the morons who run this country.  (That indie streak has me signed up as a card carrying Libertarian right now, more on that at the end.)  That said… I have a indie streak that runs all the way back to the 80’s and I am loving this newfound vitriol for government officials.  This rage at the current administration has been splattered all over the internet in Instagram, Twitter and Facebook in the form of memes and animated GIF’s.  Some of them are awesome and you have to admire the level of skill it takes to make them.

But is it this kind of artistry newfound?  Looking back over my High School days…  I remember very similar work.  All done in analog.   The digital age makes it easy for anyone to whip up a meme… But we have been doing this for decades.  You just forgot!  Instead of photoshop or imageflip… We used collages and ‘zines done on a xerox.  Were you seeing stuff like the picture above in HS?  Probably not unless you were hanging with the indie crowd.  My friends and I were as anti-establishment as Midwest kids could reasonably get… Even if we didn’t have a clue what that meant.  We would stop at Mother Murphy’s and grab weird magazines.  We would read the liners of all our Dead Kennedy albums and subscribe to the latest Alternative Tentacles ‘zine.  Its so similar.  I almost believe that everything used against Reagan is now being spun on Trump.  It didnt really work back then… It got the ground troops riled up.  But, as we should know by now…  It didn’t stop anyone’s political careers or aspirations.   “There is no such thing as bad publicity” is the new mantra.  It keeps you relevant and in front of peoples faces.  Thus I wonder if Trump’s people even care about all these caricatures.

Maybe… Just maybe…  If you have a problem with this guy… Or the other guys…  Or those gals over there…  (The guys in the bushes look evil too)  You might decide to do something yourself starting at the local level???  Really…  The old adage that change begins within yourself…  Is completely relevant.  How can you really sit there and post Twittervism’s or Facebook posts complaining… When all you do is accept the clowns that are paraded onto your ballot?

Turn the TV off.  Stop reading political news online.  Get out and talk to other human beings.  Try to talk to folks with opinions other than yours and you might find that most of us want the same thing.  You just dont vote that way!  You wont allow it.  You have been brainwashed into thinking that a complete win is the only acceptable outcome.  Compromise is failure.

Here is a good site for you:

The Three Branches of Government

Delegates at the Constitutional Convention also wanted to divide power within the federal government. They did not want these powers to be controlled by just one man or one group. The delegates were afraid that if a small group received too much power, the United States would wind up under the rule of another dictator or tyrant.

We teach our kids that one party or individual with too much power is a tyrant or a dictator.  But, when we elect our executive leaders…  Both sides…  Want to have absolute rule of law.

Our system of government really only works with compromise.  Flipping switches on executive orders is nonsense.  That is not how the Founding fathers wanted our people ruled.  I believe that they did see the evil that can come from lopsided power and laid out a plan to negate that behavior.  Equal power distribution with checks and balances serves a valuable role in keeping our country from tilting too far in either direction.

Its naive to think that the Reagan and Tip O’Neil working relationship can come back…  Hell, I thought Obama and the Boehner (Was that his name) might have been on to something when they had their beer.   But, that all went sideways as well.  Somebody wasn’t “winning”, and it ended up in deadlock.

It sure would be nice to think that all parties, R, D and Independents could see past differences to knock out what I consider moral subjects like war or government waste.

Until we start looking hard at what we expect from our officials, or start looking hard at who is greasing their wheels…  I think we are in for lots more years of gridlock.

Oh…  Speaking of my indie guys.  I have been putting my efforts behind the local Libertarian Party groups in Central Illinois.  Yes, I called out anyone who complains about not doing anything…  And I back that up by getting out and helping make a change locally.  My guys have a page now!!!

Its still a small movement… But as we learned from the last election…  Big things can happen fast!  Seems like every monthly meeting has new members showing up.

And, Tazewell County has a Libertarian group now…  We meet…  We talk about local issues and elections.  We will make a difference!

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