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07/07/03 - The way ahead

Hey! Congratulations to my friend and casting partner Jon Allen for winning both days distance casting at the Scone Palace Scottish Game Fair. I haven't heard the full story yet, but I'm sure I will do so many times and the next shoot-out will be harder than ever.

Anyway enough of jovial frivolities, the Board's temporarily shut and it's a bummer… on one hand. And yet on the other it's quite peaceful hereabouts. I've almost got too much time on my hands and don't know what to do with it all. So I've been up to other things, such as site maintenance, something that I rarely do, and I've come to the conclusion that it's something I should do.

But first allow me to explain what's happening:

To big for our pants

Sexyloops is 550 Mb. The maximum hosting package we have, or can get, is 500 Mb. This gives me two options: one of which is to shrink and the other is to go it alone, stick Sexyloops on a Virtual Server and free the dragon. Let's face it, we're not going to shrink, we're expanding and fast and apart from which there are other advantages in having our own server, most of which spell c o n t r o l. So we're in a transition.

Had it been simple, it would have been over Thursday morning and I'd be in Germany lying in a hammock but no one said it was supposed to be easy, and the fact that it's been a bastard doesn't surprise me in the slightest. I like to think I'm ahead in this game and I'm just waiting for life to catch me up. Which it will eventually.

The problem lies within the cgi-bin, and the server's execution of these programs. It's simply a matter of configuration. I could go in there and fiddle with it myself, and have done so a little bit, but having had “a past” with this sort of thing, I've decided that I should call the fire-brigade. It's similar to flycasting instruction: if you don't know what you're doing, you're going to make an enormous boob and lose all Viking Lars' posts and probably burn his house down.

The wall

Sexyloops is currently hitting a wall. We have well over 2000 HTML pages now – probably; no one really knows for sure – and I would bet that 90% of readers haven't read 10% of them. I've heard that rule before and I'm going to change it. 2000 pages is the point when it all suddenly becomes difficult; X-linking is an impossible task, and navigation is a nightmare. Even I get lost in the site sometimes; hence Vortex. And so I've made the decision to take a positive step forward, into the unknown, and completely rebuild Sexyloops as a database.

I've had an estimate that, as it stands, and once the “design” has been agreed upon, it will take three months for two people (who know what they're doing) working full time to accomplish this. And that's probably a fair estimate, even for us. And it's going to be complicated because Sexyloops is dynamic and changes on a daily basis. It's going to take an awful lot of drive on my part to forge this exciting resolution. But I think it will be well worth it. The first task is to clean up all the existing pages. And that's my job.

So that's what I'm doing. I've completely cleaned up the Articles section, the Advice section and the Beginner's section. I'm now working hard on the Flycasting Manual. And frankly it's all a bit chaotic.

Over the edge

You see Sexyloops really has been put together “on the fly”. Even this latest version, with its bells and whistle includes, still comes out the back of a van, or tent, or friend's house, or the middle of a lake. It hardly ever comes from a desk. And inevitable short cuts are taken at 5 am when the page is still to be finished. Content comes first, delivery second.

Not only this, there are still pages from partway through the XML transitional phase, pages with a different layout to our standard format. These need bringing into line. So I'm setting aside time each day to create this. I'm quite enjoying it actually. For one thing it's enabling me to add images around the site and sort out the odd hasty mistake. This alone will make for a better site.

I'm also working on the Board. It's creaking and needs a sort through. This job is now urgent and I've been working through the old posts for the last fortnight. When I'll be able to go fishing next I just don't know – although very soon I hope…

FFF Conclave

My life seems to revolve around Sexyloops, by and large. But there's a lot of time spent casting (although not much this last week) and I'm still running and training hard; I quite fancy some endurance racing this winter in NZ (that's one to two hours per day right there). And I'm (sort of) learning the guitar. So basically my life as a trout bum is looking decidedly shakey… yeah right… I'll be fishing in Germany this week, and the week after I'll be proving to Mike that Saltfly is impossible.

Next month I'm going to make the FFF Conclave in Idaho. Unbelievably I now have someone trying to organise my life a bit; a “PA” (PA's PA no less), and so it's quite possible that I may actually get there on time. Simon Gawesworth's offered me a couch for the first five days and Bruce Richards has told me that we've got to go fishing and try out his casting machine. In fact there's numerous people I really want to meet; many board members and instructors I haven't seen in years. So I'm going.

Not that I have the slightest idea where Idaho is.

Der Stich

So yes, Germany. Strange place Germany, and it's been a strong feature in my life for some reason. I've had a few German girlfriends (take my advice: just say “no”) in the past, and I even considered living there at one point (in my defence let me add that my head was really screwed up at the time) and once again I'm going back. What is it with this place? How come I keep meeting people – girls mainly – who live there? The weather's crap, no one understands me – even the people who speak English… in fact especially the people who speak English – and you can't fish Germany unless you know how many scales ze average perch haben.

I don't even like Europe all that much, although Spain is starting to appeal to me. But that's understandable since they have sunshine, Tortugas and electric saltfly action (which doesn't work) and I'm trying to get to Valencia as fast as I can, and I will get there, finally… although it may be after Idaho (wherever the fuck that is).

In touch and off base

But it is strange. Germans stay in touch. Well all apart from one of them. How amazing is that? I'll meet some German dudes in NZ, say, although it doesn't have to be NZ, it could be Germany or anywhere else, and five years later they'll still remember me and go out their way to say Guten Tag. English people don't do that, although I do try to myself.

In my position (International fish-porn playboy) you get to notice these things. Ex-girlfriends for example. Good subject. I'm not in touch with any ex-girlfriends from Australia. Well actually I'm in touch with two, but only very occasionally. In fact ex-girlfriends isn't a good example since they're all a bit screwy. So let's take normal people instead.

Now there aren't any normal people in Australia, but there are quite a few other people there. I sort of lived there for a bit myself like, and have spent as much time living there as anywhere else. I'm in touch with practically no one from Australia (two ex-girlfriends occasionally, Garry Castles – certainly not an ex-girlfriend; too hairy, even for one of my flies – and one other friend, who drops in from time to time, wherever I happen to be).

Take NZ: English culture again, I know less people in NZ than Oz, and they're all fishing friends and therefore considerably smarter and more in touch with themselves than the ordinary fella, but I still only hear from a small handful of them. All of whom wear camouflage.

Without roots

And in my humble opinion the average Kiwi or Aussi is considerably friendlier than your average Pom: I'm in touch with even fewer of them (except when I'm here of course). Okay I'm a bit of a free spirit, and maybe that would explain it, and although I meet a hell of a lot of people, and get on with most of them, the English generally don't stay in touch. You may not believe this incidentally, and for the first year or so of travelling it isn't true, but after a while it's just how it goes.

Not that I mind it; the great thing about the English, Australians and Kiwis is that you can just drop in after a couple of years and everything is as it ever was, exactly as when you left… so leave on good terms.

Anyway, that's not the point, the point is that Germans do stay in touch and I think that's fantastic, and although I've never actually lived in Germany, and nor do I ever intend to for that matter, I'm in contact with more Germans than all the rest.

So I'm going to Soest, which should be interesting, for a number of reasons, and I'll be fishing (of course). I'm looking forward to finally meeting Mike Connor in person. We may even go on a trip somewhere. But that's for the following week. Next week is a week of planning. Recently I made some decisions concerning Sexyloops that I must realise if I'm going to continue to be a fishporn playboy and that stuff needs organising.

And nowhere, absolutely nowhere, knows how to organise better than Germany.

This week

I have an incredible amount of top-quality content lined up, including Max Garth's series which was delayed with the changeover difficulties, a video review from Pete Sutton, more Viking Tips, a “hairy” Fly (not sure what Ben's been up to, although I have my suspicions) and a whole bunch of images from Carlos Azpilicueta.


Essential Bush Skills

The start of any flytying good flytying sequence involves squirting The Light of Apgai on your polyprops
Both alarm and curiousity set in when the polyprops start melting
Putting the lid back on the jar to stop *that* happening again
The flytying proper is underway
Notice the composure, that's true class that is
A difficult bit, you can tell that from the vacant expression
Essential bush skills: the third hand
Notice my hat here, it's quite daring
Snip, snip
I'm not quite sure what I'm doing here, but it's cool
Trimming an oversize hackle that appears to have become trapped in the whip finnish manoevre
Delicate precision work, the hallmark of any good flytyer
A sexy catch...

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