Last year I got a new obsession, crabbing. And when I say “obsession,” it’s not hyperbole – after I went on the docks in Long Island and New Jersey fo...moreLast year I got a new obsession, crabbing. And when I say “obsession,” it’s not hyperbole – after I went on the docks in Long Island and New Jersey for the first time in July I was in crab overdrive for the next 3 months, only foiled when I wrecked my car on Southern State Parkway in October on my way out to the Captree docks. I then went into withdrawal and finally remission by Christmas, helped along by my current obsession – reading about crabs.
That said, I must say that most of the joy of crabbing is simply pulling up a trap and seeing what’s in it (besides blue crabs, I caught spider crabs, leopard crabs, hermit crabs, puffers, croakers, baby bluefish and one summer fluke), so there’s not much an instructional book can tell you. I’d even venture to say the subtitle “Catch ‘Em, Cook ‘Em, Eat ‘Em” conveys the necessary instructions sufficiently.
But the book did tell me a few things I didn’t know from 3 months of crabbing, like some alternate methods of crabbing, like scapping (a fancy term for catching them with a net), trotlining, handlining (basically, throw a chicken leg out in a piece of string and pull it back when you feel a crab eating it) and seining. There a re also some recipes that sound worth a try, and some scientific information that was moderately fascinating – did you know, for example, that crabs are the marine equivalent of spiders, and the only reason they’re bigger is that the water helps support the weight of their shell? Maybe you did, but I didn’t. Hey, I was an English major. (less)
Every now and again I get back in the running habit. And what with it being so long since I've done any formal training and my bust ass not being able...moreEvery now and again I get back in the running habit. And what with it being so long since I've done any formal training and my bust ass not being able to afford an actual coach, I usually call on my Brooklyn Road Runners Club buddies to recommend a decent training book.
Turns out Jack Daniels, the author of the book they recommended, lives less than an hour from where I spent my summer in 2006, in upstate New York. Not that it did me any good, as he's almost 80 years old and not taking in new athletes. Too busy taking in new wives, I guess - the newest one is as young as I am and has borne him a child that probably can't remember when her father wasn't farting dust.
But I digress. Geriatric standing aside, he's written the running book I've always wanted to find - very little of the confessional, running-as-spiritual-quest crap or Runner's World-style product mongering of the newest insoles or energy gels - just distance-specific training plans, time conversation tables, and scientific (as far as I know) reasoning for all of his advice.
There is some padding throughout - the "Training Essentials" unit is kind of general and not very useful, he puts runner's profiles at the end of each section that are uniformly dry and uninspiring ("Sara's ability to graciously accept both success and disappointment, her resolve to take one day at a time, and the faith we both share make me a fan of hers," "It's amazing how favorably his lab tests results compare to those of Jim Ryun"), and the "Training for Fitness" seems to have been added after the rest of the book was written just to get people who've never run before started. Come to think of it, some people may get something out of that section; I didn't even read it.
Overall though, a great textbook - easy to read, what's useful is easy to pick out, and the inevitable padding is easy to page through. So, like all good textbooks, the key word is "easy." (less)
I tell you, I think I may read every book in the In-fisherman line of instructional books. The combination of sloppy editing and formatting (this part...moreI tell you, I think I may read every book in the In-fisherman line of instructional books. The combination of sloppy editing and formatting (this particular edition has blank facing pages for the first 50 or so pages), cool pictures of ugly fish and men, solid if 20 years outdated fishing advice, and blatant nostalgia have me hooked! (So to speak.)
This volume is dedicated to perhaps the ugliest fish of all, the catfish. Not only are they ugly, but their feeding habits are perhaps the most disgusting of any freshwater fish. They don't just eat dead matter, they prefer it. The most popular baits for this fish are dead fish that's been allowed to rot at least 2 weeks (the book includes the procedure for properly "ripening" this bait), worms, dough bait (don't ask what's in it, just wash your hands 12 times after using it), chicken livers, and coagulated blood. Catfish are perhaps, in my opinion, the most delicious freshwater fish around, but I try not to think about their own diet while eating them.
Catfish season is just getting started around now so I'm about to put this book to use, but a just as compelling reason for my reading it is the presence of two of my childhood heroes, Toad Smith and Old Zacker. Obviously brought in for "color commentary" around the drier and more scientific writing of Doug Stange, Steve Quinn and the other In-Fisherman editors without cool nicknames, these two old codgers were the kind of men I wanted to become when I was a kid (especially if they moonlighted as professional wrestlers). Toad Smith is catfishing's resident yeti, and Old Zacker is the resident Grumpy Old Man. Toad looks like he could be less than 3 generations removed from the first catfish to walk on dry land, and Old Zacker spends more time complaining about river damming and these new pansy-ass state regulations on trotlining and snagging than giving actual fishing advice. And they are what kept me reading the book. (less)
Not to be mistaken for Crappy Wisdom, this is an instructional book for catching the small but frisky panfish known as the crappie. This is the first...moreNot to be mistaken for Crappy Wisdom, this is an instructional book for catching the small but frisky panfish known as the crappie. This is the first fish I ever caught, on the docks at Clinton Marina with my Uncle Mike. I was just finishing up an essay on him last year so I thought I'd read this to spark the ol' creative juices. But I'm also fishing more again these days, so I went back to the book to glean the wisdom contained therein.
The book itself was written in the late '80s and doesn't seem to have been updated since then; lord knows the pictures haven't. Or maybe these fishermen just haven't changed their clothes since then - perhaps that's what makes them part of the "In-Fisherman" crowd. Anyway, the information on locating crappies (the most important and difficult part of crappie fishing) is sound, reinforcing what I already knew while giving me some new insights into deep-water crappies for the days in the future when maybe I'll have a boat. (less)