Wednesday, November 12, 2014

ISIS and the Roadwarrior---Revolution Watch

As we began getting images from the war in the middle east, the one were these Islamic State soldiers rampaged across Syria and Iraq, it seemed to me I had seen this before. There was these ratty-assed vehicles (some not so ratty-assed) all festooned with various weapons and foreboding individuals acting  menacing and hell bent. In the back ground were oil facilities and most interestingly a oil refiner.

Clearly, the ISIS group had an involvement with oil, or fuel, and was out to capture and hold those positions as if they were of great importance, if not imperative to their operations of marauding. All of their actions appeared indiscriminate as they killed every person in their path for dominance in the oily sands.

All of seemed chaotic at one point, but intent and focused on another. They wanted control of the oil facilities and the money they could generate. They wanted to establish a religious, rather fascist caliphate or region of their own making.

I knew I had seen this before. Oh yes, they have been doing versions of this theater before right in the same location, but memory was for another country. I realized it was in Australia. It was after the Apocalypse and they were fighting for the last remnants of the oil industry.It was Road Warrior. It was all the same. The Islamic State had introduced the Road Warrior gambit.

In the end the few survivors of the Road Warrior clash loaded up the last gasoline and headed out in an old school bus to a new life where there would be no gasoline. Wonder if that where this is all headed?

Foreign Affairs---The Shale Revolution---Revolution Watch

Every now and then I run into articles, actually I run into lots of them, that demonstrate how the predominate paradigm works at controlling the public narrative. I am sure this has always taken place and certainly in the past when access to the press and the public was much more limited, say post interweb, it was present in the usual form of propaganda. The sources of this propaganda are many faceted be it the church or the state, or  the corporations and it has always been there to influence the public opinions and public actions.

What I am getting at is this has always been going on even though there has usually been an attempt by the mainstream media to make an effort to be "News" organization providing there version of truth. We do have a free press which is real nice, but we are still going to get all kinds of jackass stuff like Fox and a hundred other right wingnut stuff, and this also goes on in the left but usually not as absurd as the right.

Any reasonable person can usually spot the nonsense and with luck pick out the drift in one direction or another. Right now the right has seized the narrative by effectively blaming Obama for every single problem in the world from Ebola to ISIS to the theft of money by the big banks and of course lying about global climate change. Oh ya, the last two dumb wars were caused by him.

The problem with all this bullshit is there are some real and very nasty problems out there, ones that are life threatening to the next generation. Having control of the narrative by the wrong group could prove are undoing. It simply is not a great time for much bullshit.

So here is an example of a steaming pile right here in the magazine called Foreign Affairs. One would think this was an publication that deals with thought out problems in an intellectual way and in a way that might benefit the readers knowledge, in a way that might help that individual shape the future of the nation. After all, one would think the reader of such a publication was not be your average Joe.

So in an attempt to latch on to this portion of the narrative, they proclaim in Welcome to the New Revolution that shale fracking is the answer to life on earth. There is so much oil and gas to be fracked that we should be kissing the hind ends of all the oil companies because, baby, we have enough to drive growth for ever. The link to it is attached and it is a good read for all you cornucopian types, unfortunately it is not even close to the truth. The comment section clearly points out the fallacies and the pure idiocy of the writer.

The worst part to me is there is no mention of the need to cut back on hydrocarbon usage due to climate change. To be cheering on finding more oil and gas is insane right on the face of it. It is absolutely appalling beyond imagination, but here it sits right in a glossy, respected magazine. For the love of Christ, we have to move away from this overt effort to fuck up the world.

Secondly, all this banter about this hydrocarbon wealth is not even true thus creating a false sense of security and the illusion we should not be looking for alternatives. It is a sad day to see this but , in truth, it goes on every day right in our own congress. Where do we turn?

Friday, October 24, 2014

Fishing as a Metaphor

Fishing and the metaphor

There lying ghost-like in the shallow water was the remains of a King Salmon. It’s head was not unlike the human skulls seen displayed and staring in religious shrines around the world. Its mouth was agape and eyes fading away in a distant stare, still seeming to look, but hollow and non-moving. The other skeletal remains were twisted, worn, and fast going back to the watery soil much like the bed of leaves it rested in. A metaphor for all of life.

It was the way of the King Salmon, a genetic scheme to venture out in to the fresh water seas of Lake Michigan, grow fat on the wealth of smaller fish, then in one final run, head up its home river for a thrilling week of frolic with other members of the tribe---all with the intention of laying the groundwork for another generation King Salmon. Once the big week was over, it would be a slow death in the shallow water there in the home ground, their own place of birth. The aging giant fish seem to just fall apart with their once silvery skin turning dark with decay even as they still cruised the ripples and went through the motions of mating. It was futile at that point, but locked in genetic intentions.

I stood quietly and studied with wondering thoughts the departed fish, all the while realizing I was getting old, maybe not that old, but my hair is gray and my skin is thin and discolored. Still, it didn’t seem like a bad way to go even though humans don’t normally strive to swim  up stream for a big whoop-de-do and then go gills to the wind. After a brief contemplation, I straighten myself up, flexed a few muscles, adjusted my new cap and decided to embrace another fine day on the stream----admittedly, the swimming and flopping up stream thing did have appeal---metaphorically speaking.

Briefly I reflected on a story I had heard from a friend, probably the same friend, Dennis, whom I was fishing with on this very day. It seemed a couple of chaps had been plying for Steelhead on the Brule River in northern Wisconsin and one of them fell in the water and disappeared floating down the river in a very inappropriate position, face down. Other fishermen along the stream noticed the individual going by but were unable to attend to him and kept fishing not knowing what else to do, as the individual was much in the position of the King Salmon. It was later learned the departed angler had suffered an unfortunate heart attack. The paper recorded he had died doing what he loved---mainly being on a beautiful flowing stream.

It would seem fishing is like that, a metaphor for the rich texture of life that we have been afforded here on the whispering streams and rivers.

I remember an incident in Ontario back in the sixties while fishing for pike with my then new bride. Even though we were being consumed by black flies, I had been catching numerous Northern Pike with nothing more than a Dare Devil, almost on every cast. The fish were just everywhere. On each retrieval the shining lure was surrounded by naïve, heavily-toothed torpedoes who wanted nothing more than smack the rather obnoxious bait. I was sure Ann was impressed with my prowess and probably marveled at the unbelievable abundant fish life in this cold Canadian lake.

In an act of shared participation, at the moment of hooking a smallish pike, I handed her the casting rod and encouraged her to reel it in. In great glee she hauled away with the wonder of a child. The fish flopped on the surface, jumped and made a great show of it. Then, without warning a giant Pike rocketed up from the depths and latched on to its own brethren in its moment of struggle, and right then and there began to swallow it whole. Talk about a metaphor. We did release the fish, or fishes, the larger one now protruding the smaller much like Groucho Marx mouthing a cigar.

Yesterday, the day wore on and while the wind was light and the river clear, not a single fish approached our flies, not one. I did see a delicate but wounded Blue Winged Teal scurry around in the shallows of a backwater. It looked at me with frightened eyes knowing it could not fly. I walked away hoping in the coming winter it might find open water and live out the season to breed again.

We fished hard, we tried in our best form to find the Steelhead, or a fat Brown Trout but not once could we make contact. Other fishermen said they had caught a few and another related a story of catching a fifteen pound Brown, one all filled with eggs. He released it. And so the metaphors move on.  Maybe this is why I fish.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

CO2 Emissions---Revolution Watch

So today, just after I did my last rant on global warming, this article shows up in the local paper---interesting in that the local Gannet paper usually will not broach such issues.So with all the talk about controlling emissions, all we get is more of them. It is a joke. As I have previously mentioned, in recent years our emissions have been going down a bit and as I pointed out that was due to the recession and to out-sourcing our pollution to China and elsewhere.

As a result of our continued consumption of fossil fuels, and that would be world wide but we are by far the worse per capita, it would appear that nothing is being done and I mean like nothing.

Two things happened to me in the last 4-5 days that got my attention--again. First off, and maybe the most disgusting, is that I just drove 500 miles to go fishing for 2 days. I can't believe that because it is so wrong, and so not possible in the future even if my Golf gets 45 miles per gallon. I don't know if anybody can just say no. I know the problem and I don't do shit.

Then, today I read this article with statistics on GW and find myself even more floored. I am including some of their graphs because they really lay it on the line.

 The above graph shows possible projections, possible scenarios. Clearly not good as it would seem the most likely is toward the worse.

 This graph demonstrates how the developed countries have off-shored many of their emissions. It is not like we have really cut ours--in fact, even though we have off-shored our emission, ours are still going up as the article mentions. Good God. From the article, "Here's another tricky issue. Emissions can also be "outsourced" abroad. Say, for instance, a US factory moves to China and produces goods that are then shipped back to the United States. America's emissions decrease. China's emissions increase. But who's responsible for that carbon, really? This isn't a trivial issue. The Global Carbon Budget 2014 report notes that virtually all of the reductions in emissions made by wealthy countries like the US and Europe since 1990 have been offset by "outsourced" emissions to places like China. These emissions transfers are now growing at a rate of 11 percent per year."

This one may be the most telling and makes me feel all the worse about my 500 mile fishing outing. It is insane but I still did it because I could, I had the money, the fuel was cheap and I am an American but that is why our per-capita consumption is way the hell above everybody else. What do you do? This will be one very hard transition. This revolution is going most poorly and I am a part of it. Holy shit!

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Revolution Watch----Global Warming and the War Machine

Yesterday there was a large march in New York city and the day before one in Washington calling attention to Global Warming. Today I looked at the Yahoo News on the interweb and noticed zero coverage of the events even though there was rumored to have been in excess of 300, 000 people there. What I did find is about 20 (at least) articles on our efforts in Syria, Iraq and news of various atrocities, actions of the Islamic State. Considering that those efforts, the ones reported on the news, the military ones, are all efforts to make sure the oil flows out of the Middle East, I found myself uncomfortable.

This is the same oil that is causing Global Warming, so I was at a bit of a loss as here we are talking about bombing the shit out of a bunch of blood-lusting religious fanatics because they may slow down the oil flow at some time in the future. They really might, that I know because Iraq is now pumping in excess of 3 million barrels a day (the same as they did under Saddam) and Saudi Arabia is pumping close to 10. That is like 13 million barrels a day or almost 20% of the total consumed ever day on day in the world. While damn little of it comes to the USA, all of it is used to drive the capitalistic system of the world and our corporations that run that system. So sure as hell, we are in the middle of it because we have to keep those corporations going and keep the oligarchs here happy.

Crazy thing is, that same oil, the oil that we are burning is contributing to global warming. It is a weird dichotomy to me, particularly when the news is only covering the efforts to secure energy stability, and ultimately consumption, while there are huge demonstrations going on to slow that very train down. Generally, I was pissed because in reality, our government is hell bent on burning every ounce of fuel it can get its hands on and will go to any length to make it so.

 Now, I know there is more to the story, in that I was not born yesterday nor did I just fall of the turnip truck, but we have an issue here. As pointed out, 98% of all competent scientist believe Global Warming is anthropogenic. It is also becoming obvious that if it is not brought under control our children and grandchildren may well be subject to horrific situations that are clearly life threatening.

Here is a great talk by Admiral Hering, that is right, a friggen Admiral from the US Navy, on the seriousness of the situation. (His talk starts at 7 minutes.) This guy is not messing around and I suspect he is on the money. Also in the last few days Naomi Klein released a new book called This Changes Everything  With this information in mind, it is hard not to be concerned. I mean, concerned if you have kids and grand kids.

So while I may know the system of oligarchic capitalism has to go away and that is going to be one tough call, and we are getting absolutely no where, I decided today to go to a small rally in Stevens Point to make a little noise and at least say I care. The big trucks rolled by and a fingers were thrown but many honked.

As for the sustainable revolution we have a long way to go---it would seem we have yet to start.  I suspect the only action we will see on Global Warming will only come as the fossil fuels begin to run out--which interestingly may be next summer. World wide liquids production has been stable or dropping for a number of years (graph below of world production minus the US) with only the USA and its fracking keeping the total production climbing slowly. Hopefully, next summer the Red Queen will catch the frackers and the downward trend will start. I'm pissed.

Capturing Wild Rice with Simple Tools.

Wild Rice Adventures

 Old Lenard once said when asked about his efforts to secure some wild grapes, “Yah, they was wild alright, but I didn’t have no trouble getting up next to ‘em.” He was one very backwoods character in the little town we called home for twenty three years out there on the high plains of Colorado. In the fall he just went out scrounging for what he thought he might use.

Now me, getting up next to a few wild things has always had more than a distant ring to it. Don’t think I got the interest from Lenard because he was not a totally admirable man---- he was also a yahoo who tried to sell me firewood that mostly resembled compost. Still, if he could “find” good things to eat out in the frequently dismissed backcountry. Why not take a look around.

Here in Central Wisconsin, wild rice does show up around lakes and rivers and with the assistance of a canoe, and some good advice, or better yet an experienced guide in the form of an old friend, who interestingly passed through our Colorado home some forty years ago, it is possible to harvest enough wild rice to pleasantly grace a winter meal on many a cold night.

A couple of years ago Ann and I tried gathering rice south of Amherst in the Harrisville mill pond. The place was filled with giant stalks of “wild rice” but it was, as I learned later after coming home with but a partial cup of grain, the wrong wild rice. Wild it was, but big grained, and yummy it was not. We were but fools on the local pond, the scoff of every duck that flew the airways. 

This year, with Rollie and Crow in tow, we headed out on a most glorious day, into the rice marshes on the Wisconsin River, marshes that I cannot fully disclose due to personal security issues. Ann was our picker as the other two marsh moguls wanted little to do with our inexperience and lack of physical prowess. Oh, they liked us but we were slow. After a brief demonstration on the appropriate ways to approach the project, we
were turned loose to find our way. 


The method of picking was simple enough. The idea was to take the outside picking stick and carefully bring a clump of rice over the edge of the canoe and then with a single smooth stroke of the other stick gently tap off the ripe rice. The tap could not be too hard as there was still rice that needed ripening. It was also pointed out that some rice would not fall in the boat but rather into the water where it would sink and thus plant next year’s crop. The person in the back would propel the boat through the marsh with a pole, or in our case with a paddle. It was a team effort and as I learned later while picking with Rollie, it is a time to exchange chatter and ridicule the other’s weaknesses---any and all weaknesses including personal appearances. I thought his sodden hat was too western. He consistently reminded me that my central Wisconsin double tap was crude, unaesthetic and pointless while the Rollman Smooth Stroke was one of the finest in the state. Unscathed, and filled with the day, we flowed onward.

In addition to technique, we learned of the other distractions in the marsh, one being the six pound spiders as Rollie called them. He insisted we tie up our cuffs to prevent them from running up our legs. He made a point of showing us a giant Wolf Spider in his backyard as a way of creating fear and apprehension of the coming adventure. There was also the issue of the birds, meaning the Bald Eagles, The Rice Rails, murmurations of Red-winged Blackbirds and all that waterfowl distracting us from our task, the harvest of great quantities of rice much needed to get us through another winter. It was going to be brutal out there. Yah, sunburn was another problem not to mention the changing of fall colors. 

The work was not easy. That is the truth. The distractions were there in full force but the six pound spiders proved to be many pounds smaller but numerous and friendly. The rice came to us well even though I am sure Ann did more planting than harvesting. After four hours we had a great carpet of rice on the bottom of the canoe. We were puffed up like a couple of toads under a summer street light. At the dock, Crow and Rollie pulled in minutes after us noting they had close to one hundred pounds while we had a dribbling eighteen.

That evening we learned about the processing, the history and how what was being done here was no different than how it was done thousands of years ago in these same marshes. The indigenous peoples pushed their bark canoes through the same paths we had traveled using the same methods. As we started leaving the water’s edge Rollie removed one handful of newly harvest grain from his boat and threw it back into the water as a offering, probably a gesture that had also been done many times before by others.

The rice is wild but with much pleasure, some hard work and the struggles of watching birds and changing colors, we were, in fact, able to “get up next to  plenty of ‘em.”

Friday, September 12, 2014

Mushrooms are our Friends

While I have been hot on the trail of edible fall mushrooms, my luck has not been with me. There has been wild talk of Chickens of the Woods being out there but lordy be,  they have not been in the woods I have been in . No Hens, no Chanterelles, no Oysters, nothing. I have been wondering home like a wet dog unable to find a gut pile.

The upside is the forest floor is being penetrated with other fungus of all sorts. It is a fungal holiday out there, fit for any itinerant mycologist. Why, there are fungi on fungi, if you will. The moisture has brought out all the mycelium of the world and forced them to consider reproduction and thus, the fantastic fruiting bodies we all admire.

I have a couple of well-positioned oak logs out back that have been giving me a few Shitakes but those wooden breeding grounds have grown old, like me, and are not reproducing all that much. Hell, they are not even trying. I at least still try. It may not be pretty, still----

At one point in the deep dark forest floor, I looked down and there was this brownish toadstool that looked very much like my Shitakes but on picking and flipping over, there was those little pores that put it firmly in the Polyporaceae and not in the gill fungus family. What a shame.

Oh ya, there was a smattering of puffballs but I never had a positive experience eating them. Too bland and the only real flavor came from the garlic and butter. They are nothing but a platform, one that is too often penetrated by worms. They are best used, I have concluded, for stepping on at which point they give a great puff of brown smoke, spores I would suppose.

Here and there the dead trees are invaded by the bracket fungus and while they seem to be able of working as a table for forest animals, or maybe a launching pad for raptors, I have yet to find a use for them. Can't smoke them, can't eat them but they might make fire wood---then not everything has to have a human use.

I did like the two sentinels that showed up in my wood shed. There in the darkened corner were these two just taking over in a quiet way. They had found a nitch, unchallenged, alone and comfortable there in the damp darkness. They do not ask for light, nor food other than the few nutrients hidden in the duff of the shed.
In the end, I latched on to a flowing, larger leathery mushroom and decided I'd take a attractive selfie with it, you know, as a way of showing my admiration for the forest mushrooms. Too bad the beauty just happened to stink rather loudly, loudly of rotting meat. Then again, I would think there might be another organism out there that would find this intriguing and want to lock a lip on it this spreading the multitude of spores. I had to wash up.

Please show me a delicious, appropriate smelling, edible mushroom. I have been a good boy and I want to eat locally. I want to forage---but no.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Revolution Watch----Thoughts from My Collected Pictuers

I collect comments and information that come in the form of pictures. Here is a sampling.

 This one is very much related to studies being done now that indicate humans may lack the genetics to actually deal with long range, pervasive problems due natural selection in the past for not being depressed and racked with hopelessness. Just don't what to hear about it. Put-head-in-sand syndrome. Probably won't play well in the years to come.

 Growth is a tough one to get rid off in that our form of capitalism is totally based on it. It is such straight forward logic that we can not have never ending exponential growth in a finite world , one would think it would be known by everybody but it is known by few.

 This is why we have art. We look. We know it is true and then we move on, not wanting to really talk about this as dealing with reality of GW will, as John Boehner says, hurt out economy.

 What can you say? Winston may have loved a wee dram or two but he hit this one.

 This is the mind of the corporate CEO who must by now actually realize that what he is doing will alter the lives of their own grandchildren in a way that well may be life ending. Still, they move ahead unaltered. Why is that?

 You are so right Kurt but who is listening? It will only change when the stuff starts to go away and then we will have to adjust and the sustainable revolution will take a new twist.

 Ho, Ho, Ho not me. Still, I like money and what it can do. What a game.

 Who will stop them? Get rid of Citizen's United and put in some campaign finance reform and we might have a chance---maybe bring back Glass-Steagall.

Ain't that the truth/.

Pudgy Pies---A Culinary Delight just Found.

I have been camping (real camping) for 65 years or so, 48 of them with my first wife, and 44 of them with our ratty-assed kids and while I thought I knew just about everything about camping, but one thing managed to get by me. It is the frickin' Pudgy Pie. It is true we tended to do things on the cheap, and on the lighter side even though we spent years camping and actually living in a tepee. We did not have many "contraptions" but we did have cast iron pots and pans that could do up a nice beaver stew---even though that is not something to brag about.

In camping, we did meet others, who like us, spent much time carousing the backwoods of the west and they too never had a bloody Pudgy Pie maker. I wouldn't say we were more sophisticated, actually we were very primitive in that being in a tepee required a certain attention to history and tradition. A fresh road killed deer or even a rabbit was all well and good---except in the hot summer when the microbes would get a real jump on us and those legs started sticking out.

In the winter or fall, or say weather below 60 degrees, many good thing can be found on the ribbon of death. Even got a nice Porcupine once that didn't offer much table fare but did give us a handy supply of quills that could be traded for other swag at a rendezvous. Found a good Musk Rat in good fur right in the middle of our little town here--smack in front of the bank is a $10 pleu.

Pudgy Pies? Well, the other day we were camping on Madeline Island and low and behold everybody there among the 12 of us, except us, had Pudgy Pie irons. With great glee that hauled out these rather heavy devices that consisted of a cast iron cups on the end of two steel handles. They looked more like some weapon form the Crusaders, or maybe Roman times and were used to kill Christians. They were club-like and weigh in at 10 pounds per unit.

The idea was to take two pieces of store-bought white bread (the good organic stiff didn't seem to fly), put one in each side of this iron and then fill the sucker with all the good things found in the camp cookies larder. This would include meat of one's choice if you were of the omnivore persuasion, vegetables, spices and cheese. Close the contraption up and then hold it in the fire like a marshmallow cooker. After maybe 10 minutes, roll it over and hit the other side. Bingo, flop it open and here is this sandwich type thing all steaming and looking good. Where the hell have I been hiding?

So the grand-kid shows up, and he is a bit of a pyro to say the least, and fire is his middle name. So, like, I head over to the Fleet Farm and there on the big wall are Pudgy Pie Irons hanging like they have been there since the freaking Romans invented them. Damn, how could I have missed one of modern man's greatest inventions?

Saturday, August 30, 2014

The Strange Travelling of Time.

So here I sit on a moist Wisconsin evening, face into a nice grass of wine, thinking about some of the interesting things that have passed my way through what is now a rather long life. Somehow I got off on thoughts about covered wagons of the type used by early settlers moving into the west, the west we used to live in. In a way, it was along time ago, I would suppose, but in thinking, I recalled Art Miller who moved to Elizabeth Colorado in the early part of the 20th century. I knew Art and that seems in a way strange because that means I knew someone who came west in a covered wagon. This was ours---but it just moved in the yard---or was used for a camp for a few hippies.

Yes, it was 1970 and that was some 45 years ago, but I still find it strange that I would know someone who so many years ago was a part of that history. He came on the Smoky Hill Trail that came into Colorado from what I suspect was the Oregon Trail to the north. He told me the trails were still being used in the twenties which was hard to grasp. But in truth, in 1970,  that was only 45 years earlier, the same amount of time that has now passed since knowing Art. History is so recent it is almost impossible to comprehend.

In Art's early time there was no airplanes, no autos, no phone, no sound systems, just horses and wagons, telegraph. I knew this guy and I knew George McClellan who was born even earlier. He was a man who remembered a gun fight in front of the salon in Elizabeth where the local superintendent blasted some other bar room occupant over a disagreement. We drank beers in the same bar but had no gun fights, even though on one evening during the rodeo, I did get out my lever gun and scared the shit out of some drunken cowboy---that is a story in itself.

How can it be that we have come so far in so little time. I know that I am getting up there but to realize I knew folks who saw the wild west is almost hard to fathom. Still, I do remember in my early childhood reading how the last Civil War veteran had died---a drummer boy. Then, there was the death of the last slave. That was in my life time.

I talked many times with Art and George and they told of those times. We sat on the bench in front of our shop on Main Street, the same bench that sits in my backyard today here in Wisconsin. The street in Elizabeth was still dirt and some 200 ft wide to allow the cattle to be driven to the rail head behind our shop. What a memory. How can it be so close? Throw in a little wine and the brain has a way of remembering things once told. I guess I like that.

But here we are so many years removed. Tonight old songs of the west are adding to the memories and sitting on the bench, maybe with our covered wagon out front, bringing back Art's stories. Damn, it has happened fast. I can still see the dust of the streets in Elizabeth kicking up much as they did in George's time. We too had horses running through the town. I would seem age has an advantage of having memories from other times. I will rest well.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

A Tough Trip through Paradise

A Tough Trip Through Paradise. (The Community Spirit Column of the month)

Many years ago, a book came out with the title, A Tough Trip Through Paradise. It was written by Andrew Garcia and described his adventures as a mountain man in the late 1800’s. He knew what he was seeing, the glories of it all , the untouched frontiers and the lives of the Native Americans.  But, it was a tough go. We recently learned a paradise trip is still no “walk in the park”.

In mid-August, we headed to Madeline Island in Lake Superior with a group of friends intent on basking in paradise while sipping an appropriate beverage, maybe catching an evening fish, or going for a late afternoon sun-lit walk. Like all adventures, measures were taken to accommodate all of our pleasures and needs, luxurious tents, sleek boats, holiday clothing and a wild assortment of garden goods.

The first evening, the rains came and dampened our enthusiasm, but only a wee touch, although each drop of warm rain aroused a few mosquitoes. Not a festive soul was deterred. The morning brought the sun and a crispness that can only be found from newly washed leaves and trees, a settling of the dust and a cleansing of the air we breathed. Yes, it was paradise.

Glenn, the sailor in the crowd, brought along his catamaran of some 21 feet, a craft of significant sail, a boat he planned on sailing for the better part of a week. With the help of friends, it was fully rigged and stood elegant on the beach some four miles from our campsite. Once the two-hulled sailboat was ship shape, Jim and I manned the two-person skin covered kayak and headed toward the distant campsite around a couple of rocky points and across some cold open water.

There was no hurry as the weather was pleasant and the breeze stood at a comfortable three knots. Good fortune put us in the lee of the island and the mild, late-summer wind, was pushing us homeward. We knew Glenn was trailing us as he still had to get the craft in the water and then catch a fair breeze to make the easy journey. It was a morning paradise on the crystal clear water as the gulls chatted away and the distant loons greeted us.

Within minutes the breeze picked up and in looking back, we could see Glenn had caught the eye of the new zephyr and was headed out to bigger water to speed to his waiting wife and friends. All was well and good,  and I am sure he was aglow with the spray of Gitchigoomie releasing his wild spirit.

The breeze continued to increase as Jim and I bounced and pitched in our small craft. Maybe it changed direction from north to northeast and a bit of the lee was lost. The ride, while still pleasant, was accompanied by splashes of water coming in over the deck of our kayak. We knew Glenn was in heaven out there, all alone, pitched over a touch and gliding in great style.

In due time, we pulled up to see how he was doing and if he was actually catching us or if he had decided to head off to upper Michigan to learn to talk correctly. We couldn’t see him. The sail was nowhere in the open expanse as if he had either run far ahead or had been sunk by a U-Boat.  We pulled up hard to get a better view and finally found a speck on the horizon but it was not a sail. An individual appeared to be walking on the water. Not expecting to see a holy event, we realized it was Glenn standing on his boat but the sail was missing.

Shiver me timbers, he had lost his mast and was adrift on the high seas. The wind was still picking up. Without hesitation we headed in his direction thinking we would have to save him---whatever that meant. But one half mile later we were making little ground into the wind and we were taking on some water. In a moment of frustration, we decide it would be better to head for land and call the Coast Guard but halfway through the turn we saw a large sail about  three quarters of a mile out heading in his general direction.

With the last of our effort, we headed toward the sailboat to give them the message that our colorful sailor was adrift. With pointing paddles we let them know there was an issue. They sped on approaching the floundering craft but for some reason continued on. About then we noticed Glenn had some how managed to lift the boom up and catch some wind so that he was once again headed toward dry land.

After a long few moments, a large motor craft that we assumed was our gallant Coast Guard, came out from a distant port. They circled the disabled craft but Glenn, in all his glory, waved them off and signaled he is fine while looking like Captain Ahab standing on a white whale. We held back to find that he was now gaining on us and headed toward our waiting crew. As he approached us on the high seas, we saw the smile of a noble sea captain in charge. The mast had been shot away but he was standing tall.

Once ashore, the narrative was passed around and the struggles of the seas were related to all that would listen. The loss of a single cinch pin had disrupted the glorious water crossing. What it comes down to was that traveling through paradise is not always an easy ride. It can be a tough trip.

That night we also learned Glenn had been misled on the nature of his camping tent---someone had packed two rain flies.  The thought of him being in anyone else’s tent was sure to stretch the meaning of paradise. Oh, I had an extra tent, a small one just big enough for two. Moments later we learned our beloved blow up giant, very comfortable air mattress, was dead, flat to the ground, cushionless. Every joint I own hurts, so this was not a pretty picture---but there were a few extra smaller sleeping mats around and the day was saved---with some pain.

Oh, this trip through paradise can be tough---but it is still paradise. Glenn is still all smiles to this day---plus he has another story to tell.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

The County Fair Parade

The Big Parade: (The photo is our son's entry in the parade in Fairbanks. Makes me jealous.)

The participants stacked up in front of the school, all fidgeting with their get-ups and contraptions, all anticipating the slow run through town. The adult spectators were mostly comfortable in their folding lawn chairs, many trying to get as close as possible but others seeking refuge in the shade. The kids, of all ages, had it figured out and were expending considerable energy running and screaming knowing what I forgot to remember, this is going to be a candy haul. Youthful hungry hands flew in the air as others rolled on the grassy lawns preparing their young bodies to lunge for the thrown morsels.  It seemed even the toddlers were on to it, as if it was in the air.

Strange as it may seem, we found ourselves, that would be all four of us, all mature, food conscious adults holding out our hands to signal for the candy toss.  I tried to hold back but the thought of a toffee was just too great and while I did not abscond any sugary sweets form some hapless kid, I had my wife hustle out and snag a couple of favorites. That got a look of disgust, but I did score the swag----and I was not the lone adult as Rick and Maureen couldn‘t hold back.

The military carried the flag much as they did when I was a kid back during the Eisenhower administration. They didn’t have the combat outfits but still were crisp and dignified. Oddly, they seemed to have the old M1s brought back from the big war and no black guns with banana clips.

I couldn’t help but notice the cars, or  I might say remnants of cars, that were destined for the demolition derby. A favorite was the two rat rods that looked right out of Road Warrior. As a motor head, it was not  hard to be impressed by how well the engines ran. The exhaust pipes penetrated upward above the engine emitting a sound both mean and hungry but exciting to my personal ear. That was enough to scare me into Thunder Dome right there. Then there was the pink dented unit piloted by a attractive young lady who I am sure was hell bent on smashing the grinning guys in the other wrecks. Ya, pink. The news on the street the next day was she didn’t last long. Next year.

Of course, the Wisconsin Marching Band was huge for me but I did miss the backwards hats they used to wear after a football win. They high stepped in the hot sun as I sipped a nice iced tea. Oh, how I remember following the victorious band as they headed down State Street in Madison all to the cheering of a rowdy crowd of glass raising students. On Wisconsin, oh ya.

A number of shiny new tractors went by demonstrating where agriculture had moved while I was sleeping. My wife mentioned in amazement that one of the units was bigger than our first home after which I remarked, and cost about 5 times a much. I found myself wanting to see a nice old International M or maybe a pre-war John Deere with its two cylinders popping in rhythm. I know I am a nostalgic old coot but I could understand those. The new ones are more like space ships all digitized and GPSed, tools out of Star Wars. All they needed was some furry creature at the wheel howling at the moon.

There were plenty of aspiring policemen all wanting to be the high sheriff. My favorite was the individual who brought along a flashy red Corvette with  a pleasant collection of beauty queens. Another had a meandering marching collection of waving supporters. We scored two magnetic Packers/Badgers schedules for the refrigerators from one sincere candidate. Gotta be some votes there.

The fire truck collection made me secure as it appeared that just the magnitude of the many vehicles could scare the dickens out of any fire. I am not sure they rolled the sirens enough but there was some honking and of course the casting of unlimited amounts of candy to all those scrambling kids who after the first few acts had accumulated enough carbohydrates to power the entire first through fifth grades for a full year. The parents were only slightly amused---but did tote the laden bags.

As the last outfit slid by, we just sat and reflected, yes reflected on the fact  I had just consumed 8 toffees, 3 frozen sticks of unknown flavor and composition and a Tootsie Roll. Our senses had been over-whelmed by apparatus and unimaginable activity. Wow! I had to go home for a nap, as the kids fired up the after burners.

Exciting Backyard Wildlife

The backyard is not necessarily the best place to see wildlife but here in Wisconsin it can be pretty good considering we live smack-dab in the middle of the village. It is also true that a number of animals and, I suppose insects, have become urbanized, even though this is hardly what one would call urban. We are just a small tidy village sitting on an old fading mill pond in the middle of farm country.

 I will not go into a rant about the wealth of it all because most of our friends do live in farmettes where wildlife runs wild---from bears, to fishers, to wolves and many butterflies of all sorts. To hell with them (the friend), for I have to concentrate on what is here as we have our tea and biscuits each morning.

This summer has been a pretty good run including what I believe was a Brown Thrasher. There was this bird, a mid sized bird, thrashing around in the garden, just hoping and flitting about all in a great rush. I found myself asking, "What the hell is thrashing around in the garden?" It was very brown and had a long tail. Didn't seem hurt or deranged, or have whirling disease, just generally thrashing. Looked in the book and what do ya know, a Brown Thrasher.

Well, that is not the end of it all. We have had a fair amount of butterflies and very much a shortage Cabbage butterflies---which does not break my heart. I have yet to see a cabbage worm--those little green bastards that feast on my various mustard family plants. We have seen White Admirals, Red Spotted Purples and Red Admirals. Not a bad trifecta of that family. The Tiger Swallow Tails seem down a bit but we do see them. High on the list was a Giant Swallow Tail, but the truth is, it was not on this property but on Blue Mound by Mt. Horab. I have only seen two in my life so I almost wet myself. The attached photo is lame-ass but still lends the truth to the sighting. Been a few Monarchs but folks are worried their numbers are down due to too many humans. One or the other. Also included a picture of Ann collecting butterflies.

I guess.

Sure we have squirrels, rabbits, and chipmunks which to some extent are the enemy but I have let them live even though I did find a dead rabbit stinking the place up behind the wood shed. No idea why he chose to check out but he was like real dead and is now doing a nice dirt nap in our garden.

The Wild Turkey moved into the little woods across the street right during Turkey season and used the neighborhood to drum up swag for his crop. I tried to call her in but she really didn't seem interested even though I sounded like a big studly Tom but with a marginal selection of tail feathers. She has stayed out of the garden.

We like the very black toads that were found under a pile of wood chips. It was early in the spring and they had to fatten up but I am sure they were getting ready to hold court under the street light behind us next to the church parking lot. I didn't know why they have the light unless it is to keep bad guys out of the church. Doesn't seem to work because people are still attending.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Immigration revisited---Missionary's Position

 Wow, here we go again. This immigration thing has turned into a spectacle with so many emotional strings attached it is almost impossible to sort it out. Clearly, doing any serious reading on the nature of migration of people and one can not help but realize that this is just the beginning of this issue. Since the invention of man and the many struggles that have gone with them, humans have migrated and, I suspect, frequently for the same reason----a shortage of resources.

Even in the days of early man it was very possible for a small group to deplete those resources that allowed them to get by. If the neighboring  areas were uninhabited, no problem. Just be nomadic and allow your previous area to regenerate and wander about living the life of a nomad. but if one group wandered into the territory of another group, there was a confrontation that may well have led to death. As we became more numerous the conflicts became bigger. Germany needed resources so they invaded everything they thought possible----and then some. Big war.

Virtually every conflict we have now has in some way a connection to resources. Classic case, Iraq. As Allen Greenspan said, "It is all about oil." So when we begin to see this massive migration into the USA, and in truth, all over Europe as well, it is obvious the people are moving because their own homeland is no longer livable. They want out and they want out bad, so they go to places they think are better. It is a simple migration.

The problem is the world is now full and we are close to being at a point where we can not produce enough resources to care for everybody. As a result, conflict starts, a conflict of immigration. Every rich and developed country has an illegal immigration problem. They are rioting in Sweden, France, England and very close to it in the USA.

We come from this long tradition of taking in your tired and your poor because we had space and jobs and resources but now it is becoming clear that the resources are running out, like oil, natural gas, copper, even water. They are running out everywhere, worse in the lands of the poor. It is simply stressed caused migration.

The tragedy of the issue is that no one has done any work to prevent this from happening. Many have seen it develop from "The Population Bomb" to "The Limits to Growth", to "Endgame". This is no secret, but we have done nothing and now we are confronted with this flood, and it is probably only the beginning. That wall down there is not just for what is happening to day, but for the future when countries to the south become total failed states.

How many can we absorb when 2/3 of the world's people are living under some sort of stressed condition right now----and would like to leave. We all cry for the individuals we hear about, the ones being sent back. How can we care for them when we have 15% unemployed, and underemployed. Are we a sovereign nation that can control our borders? What do we do now with the teaming, starving, ill-kept immigrants banging at our doors? I can say one thing and that is if they flood in here at the rate of the last 20 years which is 2-3 million a  year, we too will become over-populated  and under resourced. We too will be living as they do back in their home countries.

Do you think we can have a discussion on these larger issues, Over-Population, Resource Depletion (oil/all liquids very close to being in decline) global warming stressing ecosystems, and an economic system that is showing signs of being incapable of providing a fair possibility for all people. NO, WE CAN NOT. We will continue to fight to hold our borders from the migrating hoards.A tragedy on all accounts.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Hard-fighting Bass Caught from Belly Boat

 It was a brutal evening but food was needed for the table, so in a fit of self sustainability, I headed out to one of my secret spots to fish the illusive bass and blue gills. The struggle was immense as the wind blew in from the west at a pounding 1/2 mile per hour and the temperature hung dangerously at 72. While noting the folly of an elegant Flycatcher, I landed the first of many Large-mouthed Bass. He came to me in a fit of froth as I plied my trade as colorful fisherman. Sheer excitement hung in the air as a lone mosquito attempted to unload on me but with the strength of many men, the fish were landed and then held motionless before being released. The 12 inch Leviathan seemed massive there in the fading light.

My imagination ran unfettered from the pure glory of the evening. The wild wind died and the sun worked its way through the western trees as the fly line flew about. The fish, the bass and blue gills  swallowed the large white poppers in a Monica-like lust. Oh, to be on the pond alone throwing the line of a five weight and not being encumbered by another soul. The water was mine, the fish were mine. But admittedly, the thought of being sustainable never occurred to me as each fish was released, not so much that I didn't want to eat a few of them but due to being of non legal size. I didn't care. It was the adventure, the trip, journey not the destination.

,An Eagle passed over and I landed an impressive sun fish who, with its inflated ego, thought he could consume a one inch fly intended for a bass. What a night as the Sandhill Crane lifted off the west end and passed over only 100 feet up. It is too good here, to beautiful, so close, so easy. This land is my lover.

I arrived home close to dark and started a fire in the pit, felt the warmth and cooked a bratwurst to go with the salad of this year's garden greens. Such a comfortable warmth, so close to the ground away from the merry band. The wine of my own making was robust but not pretentious. It was the fire. The even glow of coals made of oak. Another warm day in paradise.