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Everyday carry: Pocket pouch

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Vanquest Husky with loadout.

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Here is a quick look at the EDC pouch I keep in my all-purpose Swiss Gear 2-liter Dash Pack — 

Pouch: Vanquest Husky EDC Maximizer — plenty of room. I like the orange interior fabric, makes the items stand out, easy to find. Elastic bands keep everything in place.

Kershaw Shuffle 2 folding knife — a robust blade with a screwdriver/pry tool pomel and a bottle opener.

Gerber Tempo flashlight — durable, single battery, LED gives good light. 

Mini Bic lighter — always dependable.

Gerber Dime multi tool — plyers and a few other tools in a small package.

iPod 4th Gen with Otterbox case

Zebra F-701 pen — a solid pen.

Button compass

Piccadilly Pocket memo book — plenty of pages.

Bandage carrier

Lens cloth

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Photo: Shadows

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Fishing trips aren’t good for catching fish when the river is out of its banks and sweeping past your campsite.

But as long as the current doesn’t start lapping at your RV, the outings are still good for catching up with family, relaxing with a beer and frying up some fish that your wife’s uncles had frozen from an earlier excursion.

So went last fall’s annual get-together on the shores of the Iowa River. Each year, the wife’s father and uncles and cousins carve out a weekend for casting sinkers monofilament and hooks and worms into the murky water and reeling out whatever bites. That summer was the first time women folk were included, and it just happened to be the first time I had the time and the ambition — not being a fish eater and not much of a fish catcher — to attend.

It was also the first time I realized the site was only about 90 minutes away from home. And it just happened to coincide with what Midwesterners call flood-nado season.

My teenage son and his friend soon got bored of casting into the rushing river from the shore and began to make noise about taking out the uncle’s flat bottom jon boat that sat dry docked on a trailer in camp. It was obvious the boat’s motor wouldn’t be able to keep up with the current. Or it should have been obvious.

After my son attempted to argue for a boat ride a few more times, it was time to teach him to art of reading the scene.

“These guy have been fishing since before you were born, heck, since before I was born,” I told him. “They didn’t haul the boat all the way up here to park it in the campground. They want to take it out. Really bad. But they know the water. And if they aren’t launching the boat, you know there is a good reason. How about we walk grandpa’s dog.”

I had seen an old corn crim a bit downstream, and the in-laws assured me the farmer wouldn’t mind. But you never really know. We set out with cocker spaniel, working our way around the mud puddles in the dirt road before we came to the building. 

It was empty, save a rusty filing cabinet and a few spent shotgun shells scattered about. My son and his buddy scaled the ladder to explore the upper level while I looked after the dog. A few minutes later they emerged having discovered a mannequin that someone had blasted with a shotgun.

Maybe not the most wholesome thing to stumble upon, but it beats getting washed down the river.

 

Two sentenced for harassing baby panthers 

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Two men have been sentenced for snagging panther babies from their den and sharing the experience on social media. Below is a recap from the Department of Justice.

Florida panther. Photo courtesy US Fish and Wildlife

Fort Myers, FL – On December 27, 2018, U.S. Magistrate Judge Carol Mirando sentenced Javier Torres (42, Miami) to 14 days’ imprisonment for harassing two endangered Florida panther kittens. 

The court also ordered Torres to pay a $1,000 fine, and sentenced him to complete 200 hours of community service and to serve three years’ probation. On December 18, 2018, Judge Mirando sentenced Alfredo Lopez de Queralta (46, Miami) to complete 100 hours of community service and serve two years’ probation in connection with the same incident. Both men previously pleaded guilty on September 12, 2018. 

According to court documents, in February 2017, Torres crawled into a Florida panther den in the Big Cypress National Preserve in Collier County and unlawfully removed two panther kittens. Lopez de Queralta filmed Torres as he displayed the kittens for the camera. Later, Lopez de Queralta uploaded and shared segments of the video on YouTube.

Florida panthers are considered to be among the most critically endangered large mammal species in the world, and experts estimate fewer than 200 Florida panthers are alive today.

Storm Lake Sunset

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A full day in trial and a four-hour drive home in freezing temps at the end of a Friday. Part way through the journey, I cut through Storm Lake. I had never been there but wanted to take a look, even though it was iced over and barren.

Just as I turned onto the lakeside road, the sun began to slip behind the horizon, the skyline erupting in colored brilliance. I turned around in the parking lot of the Sail Inn Motel, pulled over on the road and wrestled my work camera from its bag.

After stepping into the wind, I fired off a frame and realized the camera was still set for the interior of a dark courtroom. The image was washed out. I quickly re-metered and resumed shooting. One frame, and the sun was a sliver peeking out from trees on the distant shore. Another frame, the sun was a thinner sliver and gone on the third frame.
A lot of things in life involve just the right timing.

Photo: Foggy bridge

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After heavy show and record low temperatures, a swing to 40 degrees F floods the area with fog. (C) 2019 J.S.Reinitz

 

Video: Winter driving

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Photo: Winter hike

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Sawfish smuggling plea

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  A Virginia antiques dealer who once bragged that selling illegally imported sawfish blades was worth the risk because it would bring in more money has been ordered to forfeit $275,000 and faces possible prison time. 

Here are the details from the U.S. Department of Justice:

ALEXANDRIA, Va. – The owner of an antiques and specialty shop in Middleburg pleaded guilty Dec. 19, 2018, to violating the Lacey Act by illegally selling and transporting between $250,000 and $500,000 worth of items made from endangered species, migratory birds, and other wildlife.

According to court documents, Keith Foster, 60, of Upperville, was the owner of The Outpost LLC. The Outpost specialized in selling foreign-sourced merchandise, a portion of which included wildlife products made from endangered species such as crocodiles, sea turtles, and sawfish. To evade enforcement by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Foster relied on a shipping company to falsify import records in order to hide wildlife items and avoid inspection by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and other law enforcement officials.

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Fin-dictment in shark harvest

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  Members of a fishing vessel have been charged with harvesting sharks for the fin of it. More from the Department of Justice:

HONOLULU – The owner and officers of a Japanese-flagged fishing vessel were charged in federal court today with aiding and abetting the trafficking and smuggling of 962 shark fins into and out of Hawaii on Nov. 7, 2018. 

According to court documents and information presented in court, the Japanese-flagged fishing vessel, M.V. Kyoshin Maru No. 20, engaged in longline tuna fishing in the southern Pacific Ocean for approximately one year. 

 The officers were Japanese nationals, and the fishermen were Indonesian nationals. During the voyage, the fishermen harvested fins from approximately 300 sharks, in some instances while the sharks were stunned but still alive, and discarded the finless carcasses into the ocean, all under the supervision of the Captain, and at the direction of the Fishing Master and First Engineer. The Captain, Fishing Master, First Engineer, and many of the Indonesian fishermen all kept shark fins to take home with them.

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Wildlife charges added in murder plot investigation

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From the Department of Justice:

Nov.7, 2018

OKLAHOMA CITY –Joseph Maldonado-Passage, also known as Joseph Allen Maldonado, Joseph Allen Schreibvogel, and “Joe Exotic,” 55, formerly of Wynnewood, Oklahoma, has been charged in a 21-count superseding indictment that includes the two previously charged murder-for-hire counts and also alleges nineteen wildlife crimes, including the alleged killing of five tigers and the illegal sale of tiger cubs, in violation of the Endangered Species Act and Lacey Act, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Oklahoma. 

  On September 5, 2018, a federal grand jury returned an indictment that accuses Maldonado-Passage of hiring an unnamed person in November 2017 to murder “Jane Doe” in Florida. According to the indictment, Maldonado-Passage gave the unnamed person $3,000 to travel from Oklahoma to South Carolina and then to Florida to carry out the murder. He allegedly agreed to pay thousands more after the deed. The indictment alleges Maldonado-Passage caused the person to travel to Dallas to get fake identification for use in the plot. According to the indictment, the person traveled from Oklahoma to South Carolina on November 26, 2017.

In a second count, the September 5 indictment alleges that beginning in July 2016, Maldonado-Passage repeatedly asked a different unnamed person to find someone to murder Jane Doe in exchange for money. The second person put Maldonado-Passage in contact with an undercover FBI agent. Maldonado-Passage met with the undercover agent on December 8, 2017, to discuss details of murdering Jane Doe.

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Photo: Snow flood hike

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Our seasons in the Midwest are starting to butt up against one another, sometimes creating an overlap. It has been said that our area is graced with five seasons, but the grim reality is three of them are winter. There is also spring and fall, but each of those are only half seasons. They don’t last too long, maybe a few weeks apiece. That gets us to four so far, and the remaining season is what we like to call flood-nado, which brings us all the excitement of damaging winds and the predictability of river flooding.

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Such was the case last weekend when I ventured outdoors for my annual autumn walk to Bullfrog Bayou. Catch some fresh air, admire the turning of the leaves, maybe spot some wildlife stocking up for the winter. Before I arrived at the parking lot, I had to switch on my windshield wipers to brush aside the light, fluffy snowflakes. Once I took to foot, I had to wade across a low point in the path leading up to the proper trail, a raised ridge that had once been train tracks and still boasted the occasional railway infrastructure rusting away.

Either side of the trail was a now a submerged forest, snowflakes hitting the flood waters, churning with orange and golden fallen leaves. A green-headed mallard and his female companion floated past, trying to figure out the weather, probably thinking “what the duck.”

Winter is coming early this autumn, and flood-nado doesn’t want to let go yet.

No place like home, slippers recovered

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Dawn Wallace, a conservator for the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of American History, analyzes one of the recovered slippers at the Smithsonian’s Conservation Lab in Washington, D.C. (Smithsonian photo)

 from the FBI:

A pair of ruby slippers featured in the classic 1939 film The Wizard of Oz and stolen from the Judy Garland Museum in Grand Rapids, Minnesota, in 2005, was seized in a sting operation conducted in Minneapolis earlier this summer.
While the FBI has identified suspects and has executed multiple search warrants in Minnesota and Florida in connection with the investigation, investigators are seeking the public’s help to identify all parties associated with the initial theft and the more recent scheme to defraud and extort the Markel Corporation, the owner of the slippers.

The ruby slippers are one of several pairs used in the production of the movie classic. Only four pairs of the shoes used in the film are known to remain and are widely viewed as among the most recognizable memorabilia in American film history. Current estimates value the slippers in the millions of dollars should they be sold at auction.

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