Strolling Amok

Pops goes on tour.

Ooo! More Junk Mail Friends!

Apparently, I’m more popular than I thought! Witness the following emails I received recently:

I am Judece Michael Tisioh, writing with due respect, trust and humanity, I got your email address after an extensive on-line search via network power charitable trust for a reliable person. Please exercise a little patience and read through my letter, I feel quite safe dealing with you in this important message, I will really like to have a good understanding with you and i have a special reason why i decided to contact you, I decided to contact you due to the urgency of my situation. I’m writing you from hospital bed, therefore this message is very urgent. I have a donation to make which I will need your assistance to carry it out, I will be 62 years old this coming month, I’m a widow and a government worker for many years here in Ivory Coast. I have sum of $4.9 Million, Four Million Nine Hundred Thousand United States Dollars with my late husband Hon. Michael Tisioh, I want to donate to orphanage homes and Charity organizations through you.
“I have a serious cancer disease and will be going for my third surgical operation, although the doctors had already confirmed that I will only last for few months but I am glad that the lord has kept me safe and guided me to accomplish my desires. I want you to contact my house helper, I have given him the documents of the funds and have directed him to a lawyer that will assist you to change the documents of the fund to your name to enable my bank transfer the fund to you.
Victor Bailly Joshua.
Address: Avenue 16, Wade Ave,
Abidjan 16, Cote d’Ivoire.
He will give you the documents and direction on how to contact the lawyer i contracted to assist you, the lawyer will do everything on your behalf here in Ivory Coast to ensure the success of my fund transfer to you.
This is the favor i want from you after you received the fund under your control.
(1) Give 20% of the money to Victor Bailly, he has been here for me throughout and i promised to support him, therefore you will take him as your child.
(2) Give 60% of the money to charity organizations, orphanage homes e.t.c, on my name so that my wishes will be fulfilled.
(3) The remaining 20% should be for you and others that you may personally wish to assist.
Remain Blessed,
Mrs. Judece Michael Tisioh.

This message has been scanned for viruses and
dangerous content by MailScanner, and is
believed to be clean.”

And the following personal message from one Susan Williams, entitled “Hello Dear”:

How are you? I must confess that you’re a nice looking gentle man on your profile.Are you married?, Can we be friends?????

The latter is especially engaging because it was marked “To: undisclosed recipients”, which means it was broadcast to a ton of people like myself. You know, guys with that same kind of sensual masculinity that I have. Makes me feel special, because “Susan” knows I’m handsome by the photo of me that is missing from my profile page. Somehow, I have the feeling that any reply will eventually turn to the topic of finances. How is it that my mail program segregated these great opportunities into my junk mail folder?


Road Locomotives

Once cutting edge technology, these steam tractors are still very impressive accomplishments.

Different weeks here in Butterfield bring different sights. This week, it’s a couple of steam-powered threshing machines that have been moved out of a large shed and parked on the grass. This won’t do the grass much good in the long run, since the prodigious weight on the rear wheels of these things visibly compacts the soil! These two are not the largest I’ve seen, but they are certainly large enough.

Advance Thresher Co., Battle Creek, Michigan. 1881-1917. At their peak, they produced 1,000 annually, along with much more harvesting machinery of various kinds. (The rear platform and boxes on this one are not original.)

They are referred to mainly as steam threshing machines, though the terms traction engines, road locomotives, and tractors are often bandied about. We think of them today as steam tractors, but that connotes plowing as the main function, which is not really accurate. They were actually designed mainly as Read more…

The Butterfield Marauders

Not having been started for months, this little motorbike sputtered for awhile before it was able to idle.

Out for a walk a couple of weekends ago, I returned to camp to find that a motorcycle gang had moved in. Okay, maybe it was more of a motor scooter gang, and all of their bikes were vintage and very similar. The rider in the photo above told me that his mount was a Hirscheiser, spoken in a tone which assumed that I had heard of it, or at least should have, had I been civilized or at least housebroken. You know, Hirscheiser! Nope. My memory banks coming up dry, I didn’t think to ask for the spelling, and a modest search online didn’t produce anything. Nonetheless, a half-hour later, fifteen riders of the little bikes putted down the road toward downtown, happily looking for trouble.

I thought these were all there was, until I later peeked out of the Intrepid to see a stream of them heading toward town.

Nearby were parked two Indian motorcycles, 1946 and 1951 models. The stuff of legend, Indian motorcycles predate Read more…

The Nature of God – Part 7

[If you are just now stumbling onto this post without having read the various parts in this series from the beginning, I strongly urge you to go back to the start and continue on from there through each successive post. None of these individual entries stand on their own, and you may wind up with little but confusion and unanswered questions by starting here. That is easily done by entering “The Nature of God” in the search box on the home page, which will list links to all available parts.]

There came a time when I was encouraged to attend a church again, and I put it off for quite awhile. I finally agreed to go on the grounds that it was promised to avoid the sleep-inducing traditions I was used to. It turned out not to be so bad as I expected. The few songs were contemporary, and without hymnals to open. The sermons were brief, challenging, and to the point. The people there were just regular folks, thoughtful and friendly but not cloyingly so. I wasn’t a target or potential signee, so it was okay. They called it “non-denominational Christian”, which tended to free it from the debates over scriptural details. No robes. No choirs. No obsolete Middle English dialect that was purported to be the language that God spoke in. In the few visits I had made, there was no mention of classical sin, salvation, Heaven, or Hell. There was no mention of believing in something just for the sake of a someday, pie-in-the-sky future. No warbling Texas drawls, and no guilt trips about the offertory plate. No threats of a stern God eager to pounce on and punish disobedience. Only a calm voice and a consistent urging to examine your life carefully, and consider the unthinkable. The orientation was not for a future benefit, but one that waited to begin now, today. Left unsaid but painfully apparent: you wouldn’t be there if it wasn’t obvious to you that you had screwed things up, lacked a real solution and the ability to carry one out even if you had it, and that something critical was missing in your life. Want to see what God is truly like in the most direct and filter-free way possible? Look at the historical accounts of Jesus the Messiah. Examine what He does, and reflect upon what He says. That’s about what I picked up.

One Sunday, the preacher painted a verbal picture that went something like this: “Imagine there’s a parade going down the street where you are, and that it’s a parade about Jesus. There are lots of people lining each curb, cheering and clapping and smiling, and there’s Jesus too, in person, walking along. A few people are walking along with Him, around Him. He slowly passes by, and you hear Him inviting everyone to come and follow Him, to walk with Him. Everyone claps and cheers Him on of course, but that seems to be all. Once the parade has passed by them and the cheering has died away, the people along the sidewalks are turning to go back home. Jesus’ eyes turn to you and He invites you to walk with Him as well, as He walks past you. What will you do? Will you too clap and cheer, and turn to go back to what you know? I urge you to consider. Step off that curb and follow Him. Walk with Him. Step off the curb.”

I hadn’t really listened too attentively to the rest of the message, but this last part hit my psyche like the blast from a 10-gauge shotgun. I sat and thought while the service finished up. If there was some kind of altar call that day, and there might have been, I sure don’t remember it. Still, this mental picture weighed heavily on me. Returning to what I was familiar with was no bargain, and no safe haven. All I knew was what had failed. It had for a long time felt as though I was in an old four-engine bomber trying to return to base on only one engine and, despite chucking everything possible overboard, it had still been steadily losing altitude and wasn’t going to make it over the cold ocean of life. I had little interest in returning to live within what I knew. But, I shy away from change or the unfamiliar, and I had no idea what “following Jesus” and “walking with Him” through life really meant. It seemed abstract and unknown. Potentially disastrous. I wanted an abbreviated outline, at least. What lay ahead? What would it mean? This certainly hadn’t been described in that paperback review of 52 religions. Much to the great frustration of car salesmen however, I was not one to make an impulsive decision, especially right then and there in a rented movie theater.

The issue continued to weigh on me on the ride home. I found that my circumstances and emotional state provided a strong draw to step off that proverbial curb, but that wasn’t the heart of it. There was an odd, deep-down pull of both quiet desperation and absolute certainty that this was the only way out or through, for me. I had run out of options. I felt no Presence, no anointing, no discernible “calling”. There was only now, and an inward soul-deep pull of taking a step toward something that I didn’t know, and which had nothing to do with joining a particular denomination or a promised future. It had to do with a relationship, an asking, now, one on one, with the Presence who had once intruded to ask me what my hobby car was really worth. He had known its true value, while I was unaware. He knew me, while I was still unaware. This step-off into the unknown even made sense to me as the only reasonable option. Being at the end of my own resources, this was something I had to do – for me.

I knelt down in my former little temple of automotive worship, my garage, and laid out everything I had, which was nothing but my disastrously screwed-up life, such as it was, and my need for help to get through it, the kind of help that is not obtainable here. I was wide open for suggestions. I handed my life, my wreckage, over it to Christ and asked Him to make it His. I wanted to live it His way, whatever that would mean. My previous assumptions about God breaking my legs and making me learn to play the flute evaporated in desperation. My ailing bomber, losing altitude as it was trying to reach home, was as good as in the water, and I didn’t know what to do anymore. I wasn’t gonna make it. I had made critically vital commitments, but had no more energy to fulfill them. I handed it all over. I wanted to step off that curb and follow Him, come what may.

I felt nothing afterwards. No feeling that my prayer was heard, or that I was now changed in any way. No burden was removed, no comfort bestowed. No magical signs appeared. I got back up and sensed this, thought it notable, and didn’t care. I wasn’t going to continue on the way I had. I did what I could do for now. I was fully committed to something I couldn’t see or sense, no matter what came in the future. It felt crazy. It felt risky. It felt right. That would have to be enough.

I had no idea of what was coming, if anything. I had dug myself in pretty deep. What I would receive was not at all what I expected.

Lake Voss Walkabout

Minnesota has no shortage of pleasant scenery.

Since I’m here in Butterfield, Minnesota for awhile more to wait out the heat wave, I thought I’d show you a little of what’s here. Athough the village of Butterfield is a one-horse town with businesses you can count on one hand, the houses are substantial, their yards treed and well-kept, and the people are friendly and welcoming. Biking around town is a pleasant silence, with nary a barking dog to be seen or heard. That’s unusual, in my experience.

This pier and boat launch is on the park-side of the lake. a sand “beach” has been added, with a tiny swimming area being roped off.

The campground is vast, and before long is expected to be packed to the gunnels with participants and attendees of the upcoming threshing bee. The park grounds have quite a number of large buildings made by local hobby clubs, as well as many old, semi-historic buildings that have been relocated here and re-purposed. Judging from the other campers here, Voss Park is used as a Read more…

Last Call for Senior Passes

Grand Canyon

I’ll quote from an emailed notification:

On August 28, 2017, the price of the America the Beautiful – The National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Senior Pass will increase from $10 to $80. This increase is a result of the Centennial Legislation P.L. 114-289 passed by the US Congress on December 16, 2016 and is the first increase since 1994.

The lifetime Senior Passes provide access to more than 2,000 recreation sites managed by six federal agencies:

  • National Park Service
  • US Fish & Wildlife Service
  • Bureau of Land Management
  • Bureau of Reclamation
  • US Forest Service
  • US Army Corps of Engineers

The passes cover entrance and standard amenity (day-use) recreation fees and provide discounts on some expanded amenity recreation fees. For more details about the pass, visit Changes to the Senior Pass.

To purchase this pass any federal recreation site, including national parks, that charges an entrance or standard amenity (day-use) fee. You can also purchase online or through the mail from USGS; an additional $10 processing fee will be added to the price. Visit the USGS store.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…

The Nature of God – Part 6

[If you are just now stumbling onto this post without having read the various parts in this series from the beginning, I strongly urge you to go back to the start and continue on from there through each successive post. None of these individual entries stand on their own, and you may wind up with little but confusion and unanswered questions by starting here. That is easily done by entering “The Nature of God” in the search box on the home page, which will list links to all available parts.]

By the time I was entering my late-twenties, life began to resemble some kind of grim endurance contest. By cultural standards, I was doing just fine, thank you very much. Internally, something big was missing. Since my 52 Religions paperback came up dry, I thought that perhaps I could look for some significance in Science, since it had earlier seemed competent in explaining things. I more deeply researched the theories and evidence behind evolution, and the deeper I looked past the confident and reassuring patter, the more disappointed I became with it. It felt kind of like a betrayal, after my former fandom. The series of complete human skulls fabricated from a few random shards had clearly been forced to show things that were imagined rather than indicated or justifiable. The defining shards did not support the speculated whole, yet I was being assured that they did.

They were presented as scientific fact instead of what they really were: more religious icons forcefully hammered into a new dogma of belief. Even the basic tenets of how biological creation and evolution worked began to present a long train of required logic miracles that wound up needing a lot more faith than I had available. I felt like Dorothy looking behind the curtain in Oz. The only thing that seemed to evolve over time was the direction its dogma took. Theories changed, and when they became referred to as facts, the facts changed. Truth was merely Truth du Jour, which is handy for scientific inquiry, but hardly something to lean your life’s weight on. The Science I was familiar with, the one of logic, observability, measurability, and repeatability was clearly missing in this area. It was rife with speculation parading as something else. It became apparent to me that cooly logical, impartial and reasoned Science and its proofs were being controlled by Read more…

Voss Park Campground

Not much info is available online for Voss Park Campground, and what’s there is out of date, including the park’s own website. Best to go check it out personally, when possible, before financially committing!

Intense research last night and this morning as to my camping options to avoid the brunt of the current heat wave produced the affordable option of Voss Park, a large city park in the tiny town of Butterfield, Minnesota.

An aside: The town of Butterfield exists today only because of a poultry processing plant in town, Butterfield Foods. It suffered controversy earlier this year after Read more…

Gang Aft Agley

In 1785, Robert Burns penned To A Mouse, which includes the lines, “The best laid schemes o’ Mice an’ Men, Gang aft agley, An’ lea’e us nought but grief an’ pain, For promis’d joy!

I’m apparently just about to hit the “gang aft agley” part, since a prolonged heat wave expected to last at least through the third week of July will make camping a distinctly unpleasant experience, and it gets markedly worse the farther west I go. Please, no cheese with my whine, thanks. We’re talking triple digits here, folks.

Currently at a rest stop near the western edge of Wisconsin near Sparta, I just found all this out while Read more…

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