Tuesday, December 8, 2009
Monday, December 7, 2009
I never thought that this far into being back to school that I would miss working so much. It's not just the money either. That's definitely a big part of it, but I miss the actual job too. Like many teens, I started working around the age of 14/15 and have been ever since. I've had a number of great jobs that I'm very happy to have had. My favorite jobs by far have been the ones that many people don't even know exist. I have worked for a total of about 4 years as a dog handler for Canada goose control companies and programs. It all started at the golf course my father works at. Canada geese are a widespread problem on the east coast of the U.S. due to the fact that the geese more or less follow the coast during migration to the warmer weather of the south in the winter, and back to the milder north for summer months. The problem is that they have had it pretty easy for decades, and now populations are much higher than they should be. They thrive on the lush grass that folks work very hard to grow nicely in parks, athletic fields, lawns, and the #1 choice: golf courses. Back in the early '90's a local guy started a company called Geese Police. 10 years ago he was charging over $300 a week to come to the golf course once or twice daily to chase the geese away with his border collies. Now he has a multi million dollar company with franchises all over the east coast. So anyway, the golf club decided that it would be cheaper to buy their own dog. $3,000 later Roy came to live with us from a breeder/trainer in NC. He was a 2 1/2 year old border collie with 2 1/2 years of training. With a little bit of tweaking he was a goose clearing machine, and a great family pet at the same time. I love working with border collies because of their super high intelligence. Not only are they incredibly smart, but the instinct they are born with is quite impressive. Within about a week we had Roy trained to not step foot into certain rooms or the upstairs of our house. He would drop down and stay if you so much as whispered "lie down". One of my favorite ways to show off his obedience was while running him with a golf cart I would have him lie down, drive as far away as I possibly could, yell or whistle for him and watch him start from a little speck and sprint right up to my feet at his confirmed top speed of 25mph. I had been working with Roy for years when I found an ad in the local paper in the spring of 2005 for a dog handler position. This turned out to be a unique new project initiated by 8 NJ shore towns in order to keep lakes, parks, schools, and athletic fields clean from the messes associated with Canada geese that everyone was all too familiar with. I worked with a border collie named Cam who lived with a local family in Belmar. It was nearly a dream job, I got to hang out with a cool dog all day, drive up and down the beach, kayak, and skim around the lakes in a little motorboat. The program was very successful, but state funding ran out in the Fall of 2007 and I was laid off. The next year I found an ad for a similar job being offered by a private company. It required that I take the dog to live with me full time. This was a big step, especially since we already had Roy, who was a great family dog, but as most loyal dogs go, he is not too friendly around other dogs. I ended up moving into a house with some friends and I was able to take the job and the dog. Her name was Phoebe and she was one of the friendliest and most well behaved dogs I've ever known. When I got accepted to DelVal this past summer, I had to leave the job, and that meant giving Phoebe back to the owner's of the company for the next employee. Even if they had given me the option I wouldn't have been able to care for her (or afford her) as a full time student here. We developed a great working relationship and I still miss her very much, but I hope to have another border collie some day that is half the dog she is.
Sunday, November 29, 2009
I just got back to Doylestown from a nice long Thanksgiving break. It seems like its been forever since I've been in my apartment but it also seems like the break went by in no time. I guess thats how it always goes. Its nice to be back at school in the peace and quiet of my apartment, but on the other hand I did have an awesome time at home. I got to see my family from Virginia that we usually only see about once or twice a year. My two cousins are a few years younger than me, and they also brought their foreign exchange student along to experience Thanksgiving. The student's name is Ivonne. She is from the Netherlands. She speaks fairly fluent English and it was great hearing about her home and very interesting to discuss and learn about the cultural differences amongst us. Overall the week was a great time with family and friends (one could argue maybe even TOO good of times with friends), but I'm glad to be back to wrap up my first semester at Delaware Valley and I am now looking forward to doing it all over again for the Christmas time holidays.
Sunday, November 15, 2009
The great thing about fishing at the shore is that theres only a small period of time where there's not much to fish for. As far as saltwater/ocean fishing goes, theres pretty much always something to catch, as long as you're willing to brave freezing temperatures, higher winds, and higher seas. The summer flounder, or fluke season in and around NJ waters runs May through September. This is what most people go out for this time of year in the inshore waters (within a few miles of shore). They're one of the better fish for eating around here. Another popular game fish in the spring is the striped bass. They are a migratory species, so it's very exciting in the early spring and the fall, around this time, for stripers. Last weekend my friend and I went out on his boat around sunrise traveling up and down the coast in search of the elusive and highly sought after striped bass. We started the morning out of the Manasquan Inlet aboard his 25 foot center console fishing boat, "Relentless", and headed south trolling a couple hundred yards off the beach. No hits. We then headed north and tried fishing by hand this time; jigging lures and fishing clams. We moved around to a nuber of different areas with not much luck, just a few skates (similar to a sting ray, not a desirable catch). Finally we ventured further offshore, about 3 miles. We began to notice fish breaking the surface of the water feeding on schools of baitfish. By this time it was gorgeous out, about 65 degrees and sunny, in November! I threw out a few casts with a weighted jig and sure enough I got a hit. It was a big fish, and these things put up a great fight. We battled for a few minutes as the fish kept taking line. Finally I got the fish up to the boat and it nearly pulled me overboard, bending my rod nearly under the boat. Travis grabbed the net and scooped him up. It was a 36" striper, well over the legal size limit of 28". This was the biggest fish I've ever caught and my first keeper striped bass. Needless to say I was very excited about my catch, as some people go through multiple seasons without landing a fish like this. Dinner was delicious, and the beast ended up feeding about 10 people.
Wednesday, November 4, 2009
Wow...and oops. I can't beleive it's been this long since I've posted. How can 6 weeks go by that quickly. (I'm trying to rewrite the entire paragraph I had a few minutes ago that I just lost when I was trying to figure out how to add these pictures, so needless to say now I'm in a pissed off mood). I don't know why it's so hard for me to sit down and post on this blog. I find it hard to start writing if I don't have a clear head or have my thoughts organized. But I always forget that this is a casual blog. It's more of a flow of thoughts than an organization of words. It should be really easy, but I make it out to be harder than it really is. Since I have a hard time coming up with topics to write about, I decided to start integrating pictures into my posts. I take a lot of pictures on my cell phone, and as I've said in previous posts, I love to explore and be outdoors, so I find myself trying to compose a shot quite often on my Motorola Q with the screen cracked about 5 different ways. For an advanced cell phone, this thing takes pretty shitty pictures. My camera crapped out a while ago and I'm putting off buying a new one because I want to make sure I get a good one, and I can't really justify putting a few hundred dollars on my credit card since I have very little income now that I'm back in school, not working for the first time in about 10 years. So the pictures I put up are of Peace Valley Park, just outside of Doylestown. I think it's technically New Britain Township. It's really a beautiful place, the park itself surrounds and includes Lake Galena, the main attraction. What led me to this spot originally was the 6 mile paved bike path around nearly the entire lake. It's an easy ride or walk, not too much in the way of elevation changes, but enough twists and turns and little hills to make it interesting. Check it out at sunset, its just a nice peaceful, natural place. The first 3 pictures are from Monday evening, the second 2 are from back in September.
Monday, September 21, 2009
So I'm having a real tough time getting started on this writing assignment for tomorrow. Tougher than usual I should say. I think I just have too many distractions, so I thought hitting up the blog might help a little. Good thing I'm stuck at 11:30pm the day before its due haha. I went and checked out an awesome new place today with my bike, Peace Valley County Park, just outside (northwest) of town. Its a long narrow lake, Lake Galena. Theres a great trail that goes around the entire lake, through the woods, meadows, fields, real nice variety. Apparantly you can rent kayaks and paddleboats there too. I was out there a little before sunset and it was just gorgeous out. I'm trying to get out and enjoy these nice days and evenings as much as I can before it really starts cooling down. If anyone has any cool local spots for mountain biking or hiking or anything like that please let me know!
Friday, September 18, 2009
I feel like I've learned more so far in the first two weeks here at DelVal than I have in the past 6 years that I've been in school. I guess I don't really mean this literally but it sure feels like it. I think maybe it's that I'm more receptive to everything than I have been in the past? Either way its a great feeling. This is the first time that I've actually been the least bit enthusiastic about school. I think this is why it's taken me so long to get to this point. I'm currently 24 and I'm just now seeing the light at the end of the tunnel as far as getting an undergraduate degree. In high school I was never really sure what I wanted to do, but I had ALWAYS been into cars, tools, building and fixing things, various hobbies like radio controlled cars, model rockets, that sort of thing. But at that age with so much going on it's hard to look that far into the future to see or know what you're going to want to do years later. I feel like I still don't know exactly what I want to do but at least now I have it narrowed down enough to get it done. I was accepted into the Mechanical Engineering program at the University of Delaware after high school. I knew this would be a challenge, but I didn't realize I would pretty much have to devote 98% of my life to school all of a sudden. I ended up failing a couple of classes in the first year there. I did well enough to get B's and C's, but the harder classes like statics, calculus, etc. were extremely difficult just to get a passing grade. After that first year of just getting by, I decided that wasn't what I wanted, and switched over to another area that I've always been interested in, the environmental field.
Sunday, September 13, 2009
One thing I've noticed every night that I stay out here is the bugs, they're nearly deafening! I try to keep my windows open since its such a nice mild time of year, temperature wise. I'm sitting here now at my computer with music on and its definately louder than it would be if my windows weren't open. It sounds like mostly crickets and cicadas, but I'm sure theres plenty more I don't even know about chiming in. I love being able to hear them though, so much better than a highway or something obnoxious. Combined with a nice breeze coming through my apartment every few minutes it provides such a nice relaxing atmosphere.
So I wasn't really sure what I was going to make this blog about. I wanted to do something broad enough that I could actually write about under a similar theme week after week. I always seem to be pretty aware of my surroundings and I really try to take time to appreciate them whenever possible. I've always thought of myself as being fairly in tune with my natural surrounding in particular; what's left of the world that has and has not been affected by us humans. I love to follow whats going on with the weather, I love checking out new parks and natural areas like woods, lakes, rivers, you name it, I love to explore. So on that note, I decided to try to write about cool things i come across on a daily or weekly basis, or anywhere in between. Some of my hobbies through which I stay in touch with the natural world around me are mountain biking, hiking, kayaking, camping, fishing, and boating. I'm always looking for new places to check out, so if anyone has any ideas for me for the Doylestown area please feel free to share. I just moved here to go to school so I'm open to any suggestions!