Strolling Amok

Pops goes on tour.

Archive for the category “Navel Gazing”

A Vital Reminder

How about a little inspiration? How about a lot? What is your dream for this time of your life? How determined are you to realize it?

The video below says it’s about piloting the fastest manned fixed-wing aircraft ever built, but that’s just the dressing, complete with some of the most impressive in-flight photographs I’ve ever seen. The majority of it is a message about life and living, for every person that Brian Shul can reach. With humility and uncanny humor, he delivers an account that I believe you will get much out of. I sure have. Runtime: 1:11.

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Problems vs. Opportunities

I received the missive below  from a good friend of mine, who happens to instruct art classes at a local college. As an admirable artist, teacher and person, now and then he gets an inspiration to get creative with problems. In this case, fashionable school policy prohibits the possession of a recyclable water bottle on school property, so reusable water bottles abound and are frequently mislaid. Thing is, not one person in this class has ever reclaimed theirs. That’s odd, because commercial water bottles can get pretty pricey if you don’t want your water to leak and taste like plastic, so my friend has not yet found an alternative to adding them to the waste stream – other than relabeling his little lost & found display collection as…

“Dear friend,

“In the future, examples of lost, misplaced and recovered water bottles
will be used to determine dynasties and earth ages of forgotten
civilizations and generations.

“Unearthed pottery shards and extinguished campfires are uninteresting and
commonplace.

“Oakton Community College is proud to announce the first museum-level
collection and overview of this kind.

“Subscribe now and receive minute-by-minute updates as to how this dynamic
new field of anthropology develops!”

Mitchell, South Dakota!

The view out of my passenger-side bunk window.

I guess I won’t bother asking for guesses as to where I’m overnighting this evening. Mitchell is a good-sized town and, as there appears to be a Ford dealership a half-mile away, I’m considering a timely oil and filter change. I’ll take a look at the place tomorrow morning before beginning the next leg of my journey, to see if it is worthy of my esteemed presence. An oil change might take awhile, so I will have to remember to take my walking stick with me in order to beat off the showroom sales personnel while I wait. This has worked in the past, usually by merely posing at bat. A few blows about the head and shoulders always convinces the more aggressive remainder. Dressing down also works quite well, as long as it is down so far that a $20 loan approval looks unlikely. Wrinkled shorts, a stained T-shirt, and one missing sandal have always worked so far. Sure it’s embarrassing, but since this isn’t my home town, there is no unwanted fallout. Once the service has been completed, I’m outta there!

I’m going to hijack my own thread here, which if you look at past posts on this blog, is not unusual at all. Most of my trip that began in March has been Read more…

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…

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