The Quantum Angler
He never gets Bohred of fishing.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Supperbowl XXII

The 22nd Supperbowl, at The Bell in Yatton, was won this Sunday by Dad with an easy victory over Grandma. Dad took the 2006 NFA (National Food Arguments) Championship with surprising ease, with the defending champion offering little resistance. After going behind to a well executed "but you paid last time" move, Grandma never recovered. Despite a late fight-back by Grandma with an attempt to walk to the bar with her purse, Dad was proclaimed champion when he paid for the meal.

A highly competitive sport, food payment arguing has been a regular feature in the Chard family calendar for many years. The rules of the game are simple; whoever pays for the meal, wins. Bonus points can be scored by paying for the drinks, or by convincing the rest of the family to have puddings (thereby increasing the bill).

Throughout the '90s Grandma was the dominant force in food payment arguing; she once paid for three consecutive meals, all including puddings (a record that stands to this day). But her period of success was dogged by accusations of foul play. In the famous Supperbowl VI at the Carpenters' Arms in Lacock, Grandma lost an epic match to Dad 3-2, only to be caught running out to the car to covertly pay for the meal by secretly giving extra pocket money to her grandchildren, a practice strictly forbidden under NFA rules [in all seriousness, this actually happened!]

In recent years, food payment arguments have been much more close-fought as Dad began to emerge as a prominent force in the sport. Tonight's victory sees Dad extend his lead at the top of the NFA table. It has been speculated however that Grandma intentionally threw the match in order to have the best chance of paying for her Grandson's upcoming graduation meal (Supperbowl XXIII, Sky Sports 1, kick-off 1.00 pm, 25 Oct). Experts predict this will be a pivotal match in deciding the future of the sport.

Friday, September 22, 2006

The one that got away

Greetings, minnows! In an effort to prove the Quantum Angler is not just a name, I shall regale you with a fishy tale!

At my local lake, I sat fishing. My rods (for I use two simultaneously) had sat motionless for the past hour, but this was not unusual. Two traps had been set, and now all that remained was to wait. Modern carp fishing is indeed a very lazy branch of the art; we need not even stare at a float, instead electronic bite indicators sound when a fish takes interest in your offerings. So, you see, not even the logistics of trying to catch fish could disturb my relaxation on this sunny afternoon.

That is, until a fish plucked up the courage to sample the delicious snack I had prepared for him. The scream of the bite alarm shattered the peace in my corner of the lake, and I picked up the rod to pull back against the fish. I knew at once from the ferocity of the take that this was not a small fish, and the power I felt at the other end of the line confirmed this. The fish had been hooked close to a bed of reeds, and he knew, as well did I, that he might free himself of the barbless hook if he could bury himself in them. So he instantly darted for the reeds, and I needed all the power of my rod to keep him out. But keep him out I did, and I worked on cajoling the fish into open water. Easier said than done.

By now this fish was revealing himself to be quite a lump. He was going to go where he wanted to go, and he wanted to go into more reeds. Finding another reed bed further down the bank, the fish darted once more, this time penetrating the reeds a few feet so that I could see them quiver as he pushed past. But once again I was able to force him out. One has to be careful playing a large fish such as this. With my feet on solid ground and the leverage of a 12 foot carp rod at my disposal, I was by far the stronger combatant. However the worry for the angler is the hook, which may pull free if too much force is applied. The skill in the fight is thus to gauge just how much force you can apply to steer the fish clear of obstacles - a calculated risk.

A very evenly matched battle of man against beast was taking shape, my only hope was to keep him out of the reeds until he tired - in a battle of endurance man would win every time. The fish now came closer in, in search of a third reed bed. The angle would make this one harder to deal with, but try as I might I still could not control this fish. In my mind I excitedly speculated as to its weight, definitely above 10 lbs, probably closer to 20, maybe more. What a prize it would be to land. This time, however, the fish dove for the reeds with more conviction, and I had no option but to take the risk of applying still more pressure. Unfortunately my luck ran out and the hook pulled free of the fish's mouth. I threw my rod down in frustration. To have been so close, to have beaten the fish twice only to lose the third battle. I thought of the fish, swimming off into the murky depths, chuckling sardonically.

I had still not seen my opponent.

Consolation for this defeat were the prizes of two carp later in the afternoon, one a beautiful Mirror Carp approaching 9 lbs (both of which were of course returned, if you were wondering!)

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Brakes on a Plane

Last month saw the release of adventure-thriller movie Brakes on a Plane. Staring Samuel L. Jackson, the film takes an in-depth look at braking mechanisms throughout the history of aviation. Jackson describes the film as "a horror-thriller-decelerative blockbuster epic"; critics have largely agreed.

Starting with the lassos and parachutes used by the Wright brothers, Brakes on a Plane charts the story of airline brakes through to the systems of modern times, and new developments such as regenerative braking. The movie also focuses on some of the all-time classic brakes. Jackson, capably playing the role of a disgruntled brake designer whose daughter has been kidnapped by terrorists, compares two legendary designs in the following classic line from the film. "The double-gauged Lockheed twin-disk XT-9000 Planestopper was one of the most efficient brakes ever used, but the XT-9000-A was a real bad motherfucker."