Strolling Amok

Pops goes on tour.

Archive for the category “Navel Gazing”

Much Ado About Nothing

I regularly come across examples of how our perceptions can markedly contrast with reality. That always impresses me, and in the realm of major media, I’ve found that it takes quite a bit of personal digging to negate the filters of bias which tend to permeate their end products. If you want to know what they think about an event or an issue, all you have to do is read or see what they produce. If you want to find out what actually happened or what else is involved within an issue, you’re going to have to do some excavation yourself, elsewhere. You may be one of the those who trusts their news source these days, but Walter Cronkite passed away decades ago, so if you just turn on the news and accept it without question as accurate and balanced, you may find yourself becoming unbalanced. Editorializing does that. Propaganda does that. The difference between them is that editorials are labeled as such. Propaganda is not, yet purports to be a reasonably accurate representation of the true situation.

Straight news reporting and accountability for errors has become an endangered species. Propaganda works. If I listen to Fox News long enough, I find my opinions of facts and issues swinging their way over time. If I switch over to NPR, I find myself going the other way. In the end, we’re stuck with listening to the bias that we prefer, and become unable to understand Read more…

Rock Cut State Park

Picturesque.

Due to the 14-day limit at Chain o’ Lakes State Park, Rock Cut, out near Rockford Illinois, is the only viable alternative for a short stay. But with all the necessary activities and need to get out and about most days, I haven’t seen much of either of these parks, actually. Between that, the heat, and the frequent fronts of rain moving in, taking care of business is usually the order of the day. “Business” that has included seeing good friends, my beloved chilluns and grandchilluns, annual medical checks, and registering a home address change with the entities that I do actual business with.

The drivers license change will have to wait until next year, since they want me to produce mail with the new address on it, which is not easy when you just moved and you’ve selected “paperless” as your preferred receiving mode. I’ll have to remember to turn on the “paper spigots” next February or April at the latest, in order to accumulate mailings from the “proper” kinds of outfits in time for my next arrival. Pity my poor son, who will have to use a laundry basket to store my mail instead of a handy little envelope-sized bin.

Of necessity, life here more resembles a continuation of the Read more…

All My Problems Are Over!!!

Fraud is where you find it.

I just received the following email:

“Paymaster General Office,
Foreign Remittance Payment Department,
Federal Capital Territory Wuse Zone 11
Abuja Nigeria.
TEL: +234-08118516420

Attn: ,

Good news for you, We have been immediately assigned to effectively co-ordinate the immediate release of the sum of $2,500,000.00 ( Two Million, Five Hundred Thousand United State Dollars) to you from your approved funds. Kindly re-confirm the following details to enable us get this transfer done, as we only have 72 hours to make
this transfer happen for you.

Full Nmae:
Your Direct Telephone number:
Your Home Address:
Occupation:
Age:
Marital status:

Kindly get back to us immediately.You can call me on +234-08118516420 for more information.

Respectfully,
MR. JAMES MOORE
(FOREIGN  REMITTANCE DEPARTMENT)”


 

Apparently, Nigeria has had a problem with disbursing vast fortunes to deserving recipients for many years now, but their persistence to the task at hand should be an inspiration to us all. Admittedly, the chosen task itself is not so admirable, yet is a reminder that how we choose to live out our time on the earth – our basic orientation to it and how we choose to relate to others – is a very personal decision that reflects the kind of world we perceive and want to expand upon. Our answer to the simple question of “What is our purpose here?” can have a profound impact on ourselves and well beyond ourselves. As Batman once growled, “It’s not who I am, it’s what I do that defines me.” Yet what we do comes from who we are, or often, who we choose to be. There isn’t a one of us who isn’t flawed, but our aspirations and conduct are a better indicator of us than are our self-perceptions.

A Lesson for All of Us

A tree, just like any other tree, only more so.

Looking out the driver’s side window of the Intrepid this week got me frequent views of a pine tree. Well, I was surrounded by pine trees, but this one was special. This particular pine tree has seen better times. Caught in a forest fire at one time, it survived. The draft side of its trunk and branches are pretty well burned out. The large divot you see at its base is trunk burned away at ground level, and you can see plenty of branch stumps and scars higher up. But branches on the wind-facing side are still there, and since it can no longer grow upward at its trunk, it’s doing what it can to grow more substantial branches outward on the side that’s still there. It’s older than most of the trees around it, the others probably having perished. Though deformed from its trial, it also shows its glory, its victory in surviving. “I’m still here!” it seems to say with some defiance, “I have not given up!”

I found it inspirational. I know people like this, fortunate to have survived their crises at all, and they’re still cranking away, making the best of it, delivering a message merely by continuing to exist. They persist, and do not give up. That’s life, one very important opportunity, and one worth pursuing until the day when time finally draws it to its natural end. Keep going!

The Nature of God – Part 1

Oh no! Look at that title! Not a post about religion! Not another gag-inducing diatribe from somebody trying to shove their beliefs down my throat! I’m not gonna read it!

Relax. You don’t have to. You’re free to stop right here and go on your merry way. It’s called “free will”, and I’m all for it. Whenever I find something else that’s interesting to write about, those articles will be right here as always, posted scattershot as usual. This post is one piece of a lengthy series, each part of which will be added now and then.

But why would I even bother posting a series about my personal beliefs here on a travel blog, when the topic itself has selectively become a pariah in our culture, and merely sharing one’s faith is often now viewed the same as force-feeding? Even Dr. Francis Schaeffer, an influential 20th century theologian, noted, “Non-Christians don’t care what you believe.” I suspect that he’s right. After all, people come to this blog merely to find out how just one more ordinary guy is exploring a somewhat unconventional mobile lifestyle, and to find out what he’s seeing or discovering or thinking about along the way: information, quasi-adventures, mishaps, outlooks, and little victories. Why louse up a good thing?

The answer to that is easy. First, I won’t actually be rummaging through my beliefs as such, the doctrine and dogma of some denomination within the Christian church. That’s not what this series is for. What I personally find interesting are people’s stories – the why and what that happened in their lives to put them where they are now. When they share, I don’t necessarily want them to do nothing but recite the pithy points of their current outlook to me, but instead to describe the why of that outlook – what they observed and felt as each event unfolded and how their reaction to it shaped them. What were their thoughts, and what did they walk away with? Different people react differently to the same circumstantial blessings and hardships. It’s only then that I can properly understand any outlook that someone may present. What you’ll get in this series is as close to the “what happened” as I can muster, with my takeaways from those experiences – brilliant or faulty.

Second, the story that is behind what I believe has been shaped by my experiences, and this blog has from the start included those as well as my own reflections upon them. Just like the rest of it, this is part of what I’ve discovered along the way. After all, this hasn’t really been Read more…

Risk Management Rebooted

Here’s something to consider. I found the two videos below to be supremely interesting despite their titles. That’s because “Survival Planning” is a fooler for us Norte Amerikahnskis. The interviewee, Mac Mackenney, is not a survivalist in the hopeless gloom-and-doom apocalyptic zombie warfare sense that we gravitate toward. He is a genuine adventurer who makes it his business to manage risk in inordinately risky conditions. In that way, I found his approach, his simple way of recognizing risks, sorting through them, prioritizing them, and addressing them as helpful in an everyday sense for anyone who boondocks. Technically, anyone who hits the Interstate for a decent trip might benefit as well. There are three parts to this set from Andrew White, but I have included only the two most pertinent. Each is 25-30 minutes long, so if you have limited cellular data or an overactive bladder, this might be an issue. If you could hardly care less about simple ways of looking at risk and survival, but do enjoy rather impressive campfire stories, these are also for you.

I present these to you principally because first, they helped me recognize how what I choose to do and how I go about it affects my safety, and how simple changes can decrease exposure to risk. Second, because it is easy to go on assumptions and fail to recognize the inherent risks within our choices, it is easy (at least in the Great Southwest) to wind up in what are potentially very serious situations, without realizing it. I keep stumbling over accounts of everyday people caught by surprise and unprepared for what is around them. Sometimes they get aided or rescued, and sometimes they do not. The videos below are not a “how to” so much as a wake up call to recognize potential risks in your rig setup choices as well as how you camp, and prioritize them so that the most effective  and influential solutions come first. None of this is miracle-level brilliance – it simply clears away the chaff and helps you recognize your most important needs first. If you can only see one, the meat of it is in Part 2.

Part 2:

The Americanization of Overlanding

Like a modern-day Norman Rockwell painting, this photo has every possible “Adventuring” cliche packed in. Photo Source: Expedition Portal

Travel has always been popular, but ever since the 1920s and 1930s, world travel picked up as the thing to do, if you had the funds. Hollywood glamorized it as a way that sophisticated people could take in other interesting cultures in exotic locales. Whether by ship, by train or even by aircraft in the later years, travel and stories of travel and adventure held a fascination for people unable or unwilling to take on the very considerable challenges that world travel could sometimes impose. Modified cars and trucks tended to be used only for well-funded “expeditions”.

World travel tends to be very different today, because the world is very different. One has to look hard for areas that have not been heavily Westernized such that such that the original dress, diet and culture that were once so alluring have been largely erased. With business, political, and military interests driving colonialism and the forced installation of accommodating governments, conditional foreign aid payments or covert operations where direct force would appear a little too obvious, a sense of moral and even racial superiority, plus tourism itself, where the clientele expect Western accommodations, diet and conveniences after they’ve viewed what they came to see, and individual corporations striving to change the local culture enough to accommodate them – these have all taken their toll over the years. In the end, many of the culturally-based things that people go to see are now recreations maintained just for the sake of the local tourism industry. Once authentic, they are now museum performances. Any authentic vestiges of the culture are often only viewable by making the effort to get away from the areas of even moderate development.

World travel today isn’t so much “travel” as “arrival”. Whatever romance or inconveniences the slower mode of travel included, those are gone.

World travel in the twentieth century has always been principally based on mass transportation. It still is today. You use it to get to a destination directly, then depart it, explore, and experience. What is today called overlanding is a branch of world travel that dispenses with mass transportation and substitutes getting yourself across the landscape to Point B by way of a personal vehicle. Classical overlanding is planned vehicle-based travel, typically including border crossing(s), making or providing one’s own shelter, and carrying enough food, water and fuel to be able to reach various supply points along the planned route. This not being a jaunt from motel and restaurant to motel and restaurant, self-reliance is required for both Read more…

Action Trumps Sentiments

Last evening, I was watching Expedition Overland’s set of videos about touring down into Central America (Season 2). I had downloaded them earlier on my DSL Internet service at Rancho Begley, to watch later. This is a bunch of guys who know how to get sponsors for their overland voyages, let me tell you! They got contacts! I had seen them at Overland Expo West last year, but didn’t know much about them except that they were working hard to produce and promote videos of their travels. The first couple of episodes are little but gushing praise for the various sponsors who donated equipment and installation services, but along the way there is also some insight as to what true overlanding involves, as opposed to Campsploring, which is what I do.

At any rate, I hit Episode 6 of the series, and the tenor changed from antics and coughing up tainted food to Read more…

It’s Past That Time of Year Again!

Just looking at this image makes me wince! Subtract one or the other item, and it’s all okay – energizing, even. Too many project deadlines in my past, I guess, with the vast majority being arbitrary.

This year, March 5-7 was National Procrastination Week! Naturally, right about now is the proper time for actual observance, in the spirit under which it was founded: humor. Take a human weakness, and celebrate it as if it were a good thing. If you have to force it to mean something, National Procrastination Week is really not a time for putting off essentials, but about setting aside the busywork that doesn’t count for much in the end, and reminding ourselves what’s really of value, and paying attention to that. I don’t know about you, but I tend to be captivated by the inconsequential…like National Procrastination Week. Its reminder to me is to take a little time to reflect upon what kinds of things I tend to put off, and why I choose those things. Plus, it also tends to evoke thoughts about priorities and time management. Things are set aside for a reason, not because they are crowded out by unreasoned chaos.

But there is unhappy news to report this year as well. In the past, the observance been criticized by humor-challenged control freaks who rarely pick up on either sarcasm or wit, and who assume that people are actually being encouraged to procrastinate. Seriously. But that’s to be expected by the few who just don’t get such things, and that’s okay. You just kind of ignore the Read more…

When a Photograph Leads The Way

D. McCall White, prominent automotive engineer, circa 1920. (The limitations of the photographic film most widely used at this time included an inability to capture blue eyes well.)

D. McCall White, prominent automotive engineer, in a marketing shot for his new Lafayette automobile for 1920. Clicking on the picture will allow view of a larger image. (The limitations of the photographic film most widely used at this time included an inability to capture blue eyes well.)

While I anticipated being carved up like a hapless captive at a Mayan religious offering last summer, I found the above photograph heading up an article in Traces, a magazine published by the Indiana Historical Society. They culled it from the photographic collection of one Robert Hamilton Scrogin, who was the principle driver of The Hoosier Motorist, a publication of the Hoosier Motor Club. Scrogins’ name was somewhere on that publication’s masthead from before 1919 to 1952. At that time, the rag served up club news, hotel and garage directories, trade news and travel articles.

Traces notes that the Hoosier Club’s origins evolved from a group that called themselves the Flat Tire Club, a collection of “automobile enthusiasts” in Indianapolis. This was an apt club name in that era, since the club formed in 1902, when the horseless carriage was an adventurous hobby for members of the upper class. (In those days, wealth alone didn’t cut it. You had to be considered to be of good breeding, the standards for which were judged by those of…good breeding.) 1902 was a bit of a milestone year for horseless carriages. Ransom E. Olds was the first to build his almost-affordable and very successful Oldsmobile Runabout on an assembly line, no doubt noticed by Henry Ford, who was still struggling unsuccessfully to build and market more upscale vehicles. Prior to that, these conveyances were built one at a time, on one spot on the floor that was surrounded by parts bins. It might be rolled closer to other bins along the way, but that was about it. This earlier method was hardly crude, since the market for automobiles was exclusive to Read more…

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