Saturday, June 30, 2012

The Twilight Zone

Close your eyes for a minute, and listen to the words of the video posted below:

why does this music sound familiar??

That opening line, of course, it taken from the TV series titled, “The Twilight Zone”, which the late Rod Serling narrated (and wrote) from 1959 through 1964. (He died, at age 50, on July 2, 1975).

I JUST finished reading TWO books that describe the experiences of people who have died - and then returned to earth. The first book, Glimpses of Heaven, was written by a hospice nurse named Trudy Harris.

The second, “Crossing the Threshold of Eternity” was written by a former pastor named Robert L. Wise, who is now an archbishop in the Communion of Evangelical Episcopal Churches. In addition to the people that he wrote about in his book, he ALSO died - and came back to life.

One point that is brought home strongly by both books is that “the hereafter” is a wondrous place. Although no one that I know is in a hurry to get there, it’s comforting to know that we have nothing to fear as we near the end of our days.

By coincidence, the cover story for the June 11 issue of TIME magazine was “How to Die” Although the article is worth reading in its entirety, what stuck me the most is that the author’s parents died within 8 weeks of each other. By now, I’ve come to realize that a fairly high percentage of married couples who have been married a long time often die fairly close together, generally within a year (or less) of each other.

Since virtually every person in both books has met someone they knew in this life in heaven (on their brief stay there), there apparently is an “other worldly” explanation for both partners to leave the third planet from the sun at roughly the same time.

“Near death” experiences are far more common than you might suppose. There’s actually a website titled “Near Death Experience Research Foundation”, which contains roughly 3000 near death experiences.

What is heaven ACTUALLY like?

Believe it or not, both books will give you some brief snapshots, and a video titled “Heavenly Music” will put you in a more receptive frame of mind.

If you’d like to hear some REAL angels singing, the clip below will allow you to do just that:

is that you, Gabriel?

Regardless of what you may think of the books, or the choir of angels, the most accurate description of heaven is probably this :

You unlock this door with the key of imagination.

Beyond it is another dimension.

A dimension of sound.

A dimension of sight.

A dimension of mind.

You’re moving into a land of both shadow and substance, of things and ideas.

You’ve just crossed over into - the twilight zone.

Can you say, “Amen”, brothers and sisters?

Monday, June 25, 2012

Fishing in Alaska

Most of us will never get to Alaska, so we’ll need to enjoy its amazing beauty vicariously through the adventures of others.

Despite Andy Warhol’s assertion that we’ll all get our 15 minutes of fame, few of us will ever get to be world famous.

The purpose of this exercise is to give you a little taste of both, but you’ll first need a little background information.

Since I didn’t have any of my own fish stories, I had to rely on o few other people for the stories that appeared in my post of June 20. Although I published two of Chet’s stories in their entirety, I wasn’t able to include the full text of “Igor’s” story in that post because it would have made the story too long (and you already know that I’m a little too wordy as it is!).

Igor’s real name is Ken, and I’ve known him since July of 1973, when we both worked for Crum and Forster Insurance Company in downtown Minneapolis.

He’s long been an avid fisherman and hunter, and he’s had the good fortune to be able to make a total of THREE trips to Alaska in search of fish. On one of the trips, he was also able to bag a Caribou, which made his trip VERY complete.

After he retired, he moved from Minneapolis to Brainerd, Minnesota.

If you like to fish, and you live in Minnesota, the best possible place to retire would be in Brainerd. Although there are several smaller lakes close to the town (Pelican Lake, Lake Edward, Gull Lake, and North Long Lake), the real reason to move to Brainerd is due to its proximity to Mille Lacs Lake, the second largest lake in the state.

It’s long been considered a “walleye factory” (due to the billions of walleye eggs that are produced there every year), but the lake also contains northern pike, muskie, jumbo perch, smallmouth bass, largemouth bass, black crappie, burbot, and tulllibee.

If you would like to explore it in more detail, the link below will allow you to get a variety of fishing reports, and it also includes a total of eight webcams that will allow you to view the lake from several angles:

sitting on the dock of the bay

For the sake of simplicity, as well as authenticity, I published Chet’s stories exactly as he had written them in my previous post . For the same reason, attached below you will find Ken’s story, published exactly as he had written it.

************************************************************ The one that comes to mind Tom is when I was on my first fishing trip to Alaska. I went with a group I brother knew two of which were attorneys he knew from his job and both worked in Anchorage. He made some inquiries and they had a opening for a fly in from Anchorage to 100 miles North of King Salmon Alaska .. In other words the boonies and it was a combo hunting trip for them and fishing trip via a raft down the river to a spot where our float plane would pick us up again to fly us back to Anchorage. I just fished this trip.

Well being a Chuchaco (Indian for stupid white man who knows nothing) I was appointed the camp cook which I didn’t mind and would have things all set up for breakfast and dinner … lunch was eat what you want and fix it yourself.

We stayed at our base camp for four days and I caught Lake Trout right outside our tent. After that, we packed up the rafts and started down river. Well Alaska being what it is it started to rain and when it rains in Alaska, it POURS !!! I knew that and came prepared for it with waders and good rain gear. What I wasn’t prepared for was the flooding of the river and what was supposed to be a slow float down to our pick up point .. We started out OK but after a day of solid rain, the river was running high and fast. I had one of those life vests you pull the cord and a CO2 cartridge would inflate it. Well after the one day of float not really floating but flipping round and round in the high current and and hitting rocks and taking in water and bailing water out of the raft (we had two for five guys and all our supplies) my knuckles were white from holding on to the cord so tight.

We would float part of the day and make camp and fish for trout, graylin,g lake trout etc but, all this time it was raining !!! And I mean raining. Something I was not prepared for was sharing the river with the brown bears who also like to fish !!! And I brought my .44 Magnum with me and it was stainless steel so I didn’t have to worry much about it getting wet but, I never thought I would have to be fishing and be ready to to pull my .44 out with brown bears a couple hundred yards away from me and we fished by ourselves and each person would find his own spot to fish. Well I always seemed to pick the same spots the Brown bears like to fish .. what luck !!

I was told to wear bells on my rain suit to always let them know I was around and they would stay away from me and what to do if one did attack it would only be a bluff (most of the time) and stand my ground and yell, and make yourself look bigger by waving my arms to intimidate them and they would back off and fire a shot over their head … yea, intimidate a 1200 pound bear charging you, right !!!???

They would hear the shot and come running with their heavy duty .375 Magnum rifles to save me .. Yea, by then I’m half way down the gullet of a bear .. Well nothing did happen because I learned they were happy fishing and catching salmon, as were we and they were usually doing better than me and thought “look at that idiot trying to catch a fish on a line .. All I do is wade in , wait for the right time and swat the fish with my claws or open mouth and eat it .. Boy are people dumb”.

After a couple of days of bouncing around the river t our pick up spot and making camp and fishing I got used to the “brownies” being sround except at night I would always empty my bladder before going to bed and NOT go out to relieve myself. We “floated” the river (it was over 100 miles due to its winding) in record time. One guy got a Caribou and had to hang the meat up in trees at night far enough from our camp because it was like ringing a dinner bell for bears !! Well it was never far enough from camp for me.

Now picture a five day hike in a solid rain all day and your bouncing around during the trip on the river, getting all soaked with water (the best of rain gear never stops an Alaskan rain) and sharing your fishing with bears … a city kid who fished lakes, and rivers in the lower 48 never worrying about bears who might want you for dinner (I forgot to mention also hypothermia), I think you get the picture , what the hell am I doing here ??

During our trip down river for pick up I got so cold, hypothermia was setting in and my raft partners could tell .. Well with me shaking and my teeth chattering anybody could tell. We made camp extra early (in the rain of course)

and I stripped down to by bear (pardon the expression) skin and they wrapped me up in blankets and built a fire quick and got some hot liquids down my throat.

We made what was supposed to take five days on a normal float in three days and made our camp and fished the river there for two extra days … no, make that three extra days because the float plane came on time but, could not land because of the high winds so we just sat in our tents and played cards for him to come back the next day and pick us up.

Well the meat from the caribou got wet and had rotted so we took it out in the raft and dumped it because we did not want it around camp and it was no good to eat although I did make a good breakfast one morning with eggs, toast and potatoes and fried caribou liver and it was great !!

The next day, the float plane came and picked us up for the trip back to Anchorage (he had to make two trips with five guys and all the gear).

Well you would think I learned my lesson and never went back to Alaska, but like a woman in child birth you forget the pain and I went back two more times and hunted on one trip and got my Caribou. By then I knew the bears by name and we exchanged pictures of each other and became pen pals … right !!! See what happens when you get hypothermia, your brain cells get cut in half !!

Great place to go if you have never been there and love to fish and enjoy the most boutiful country in the world. Give it a shot.


I mentioned in my opening paragraphs that this story would blend a taste of fishing in Alaska with a taste of world fame. Ken’s story fulfills the first part of that promise, so here’s the second:

Since starting this website more than 3 years ago, I’ve discovered that readers in more than 100 countries have read the thoughts I’ve “put down on paper”. I’ve actually never heard of a few of those places, and this morning’s viewing audience included folks in Russia, the Netherlands, Brazil, Canada, France, Malaysia, Poland Austria, and Australia.

If you look at the “page views” on the upper left hand corner, you’ll notice it’s perilously close to 50,000 page views.

When Ken made his trips to Alaska, he never could have envisioned that he would one day be world famous, and now he is - for at least 15 minutes.

If you’d like to get an “up close and personal” look at what it’s like to go salmon fishing in Alaska, the clip below will give you a better idea:

look before you leap

Keep on fishin’

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

A woman without a man ...

is like a fish without a bicycle.

I’m truly blessed to be related to a number of very talented and energetic women, all of whom have an independent streak. All of them also have a good sense of humor, all of them have roots to my home state of Minnesota, and all of them are outstanding in their field. As a matter of fact, the picture below is an image of one of them .. out .. standing .. in .. a .. field:

If you’ve read either “Why Men Don’t Listen, and Women Can’t read Maps”OR “Men are Like Waffles, and Women are Like Spaghetti”, you’ll recognize that it’s pretty amazing that men and women can get along at all.

After more than 60 years, I’ve discovered that the trick to getting along seems to be (1) finding some common interests and (2) letting each other “do their own thing”.

I’ll freely admit that I’m not fond of garage sales, flowery greeting cards, or shopping in general.

I’ll also admit that I like the occasional shot of scotch and a cigar, and I’m not at all adverse to “tinkering” with cars.

Guys are also supposed to like F-I-S-H-I-N-G, but that just hasn’t been an area of interest for most of my life. If my memory is correct, my dad took me fishing exactly ONCE. Although I’ve fished a few times with either friends or family members over the years, fishing just hasn’t been much of a priority for me.

On Father’s Day, I WON a Zebco fishing rod at church.

Apart from the obvious question of “what the hell to I do with this?” was another imperative: ”I HAVE to write a fish story.”

But …

I don’t have any, so I wrote a few friends and family members (who live and breathe fishing) for help.

First to respond was my brother-in-law Chet. For the sake of simplicity, as well as authenticity, I decided to reprint his stories verbatim:

“There are so many where to I start.

I was fishing in Rainy Lake in some pretty strong wind with a resort friend. I decided to use Vickie’s fishing rod from some unknown reason at this time and that was a mistake. I toss out the lure to start fishing and threw the rod out with it. Needless to say we must have spent an hour or so trying to snag it with heavy lures and nothing was working. When we got back to the resort my friend blurted out to Vickie what happen before I even had a chance to make it to the cabin. Well, the next day we went shopping for a replacement and everything was fine. We still talk about that one from time to time and now laugh about it.

There was another time that we were trolling in one of the busier bays with a lot of boat traffic that Saturday afternoon. There was another boater (a young girl) going back to one of the many islands with her grandparents and some cousins that she just picked up at the marina. The boat was plenty full and I’m sure there was plenty of noise in the boat. We were going one way and this girl decided to go between us and the shore. When she did that she turned out behind us and snagged Vickie and my lines and lures with their boat. The boat was moving at a high rate of speed and peeled out the line off of our reels. Vickie’s line broke, but she lost her lure, leader, and all her line. I, on the other hand, wasn’t so fortunate. I tried to stop my line from going out completely by placing my thumb on the spool while the line was leaving. This was not a smart thing to do. I instantly burnt my thumb and my reaction was let go of the rod. So I lost my rod, reel, line, leader, and lure. The rod and reel were a Father’s Day gift and was my first time using them. We promptly turned around our boat and followed them back to the island which we were gladly meet by her father. After explaining what happen amd showed them some pictures of the equipment we were given a check for the amount. On Monday morning we waited for the doors of the credit union to open and we cashed the check. We then spent the next couple of hours shopping to replace it.”

My other brother-in-law isn’t as wordy as I am, but if he had to share his most memorable fishing experience, it would likely involve the time that he tore out the bottom of his boat …

on the very first day of his fishing vacation on Rainy Lake.

The next guy to respond was a former co-worker, whom I’ve nicknamed “Igor“. His response was fairly lengthy, so I won’t reprint it here. However, trust me when I tell you that if you’re planning to go fishing in Alaska, you’d better pack a .44 Magnum as a back up plan, simply due to the fact that bears like to go fishing, too.

On occasion, a fishing trip can be much more successful than even the craziest optimist could possibly imagine. The very best example of that is George Carmack, who did VERY WELL on HIS fishing trip to Alaska.

Fish stories inevitably involve bragging about who caught the biggest fish, but if you accidentally snag THIS GUY, you definitely are NOT going to be able to reel him in.

It’s been said that my native state of Minnesota has 10,000 lakes, but that’s not exactly true. If you define a lake as a body of water of at least 10 acres, there are precisely 11,842 places to fish in Minnesota, and at least a few of them look exactly like the lake pictured below:

Golden Pond

Not surprisingly, Minnesota also has the highest per capita ownership of boats in the country, and it’s neighbor to the east ranks second.

Since I’ve had some input from friends and relatives in writing part of this story, I’ll include a way for everyone who reads this story to participate as well. Buried in a link somewhere on this page are the answers to the following questions:

1) what was the name of the fish that Henry Fonda was trying to catch in the movie, “Golden Pond”?

2) after Norman (Fonda’s character) and his grandson Billy catch the fish, what do they do with him?

If you think you know the answers, just leave them in the comments section on this page. Incidentally, the link also provides some other interesting details about the movie.

If you know someone who lives in Minnesota and doesn’t fish, the 2011 Minnesota trout stamp pictured below may cause them to suddenly take up a new hobby:

Keep on fishin’ !!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Why English is hard to LURN

Kate, a woman who I met while I was a member of the Naperville Chamber of Commerce, wrote a children’s book titled, “The Gnome, The Gnat, and the Gnu”.

Her book was inspired by a poem that Shel Silverstein had incorporated into his third book, titled, “Falling Up”. (You CAN find “Falling Up” on Amazon, but you’d have to go to a Naperville book store to find Kate’s book.)

Silverstein’s poem, in its entirety, goes like this:

I saw an ol’ gnome

Take a gknock at a gnat

Who was nibbling the gnose of his gnu

I said, “Gnasty gnome,

Gnow stop doing that.

That gnat ain’t done gnothing to you.”

He nodded his gnarled ol’ head and said,

“Til gnow I gnever gnew

That gnocking a gnat

In the gnoodle like that

Was gnot a gnice thing to do”.

The Hmongs in Hminnesota have their silent “h”

Just as the gnome has his silent “g”

The English language is FULL of oddities

That can perplex you and me

In “The Silence of the Lambs”

Not even a Starling was hurt

But coal miners are in trouble

If their canary doesn’t blurt

Men aren’t mean

If their “a” goes to sea

And I DOUT if you’ll miss

The wandering “b”

There is a SIENCE about words

As you can plainly see

And the world won’t end

If we leave out a “c”

Let’s meet next WENZDAY

Over biscuits and tea

And discuss what happened

To our missing “d”

A slice of pie

And a cup of tea

May explain the absence

Of the sound of the “e”

Let’s all take a poll

(and let’s include Jeff)

To learn why Phone

Starts out like an “f”

Honor needs no “h”

To make one feel smug

But a hug without an “h”

Can only be an “ugh”

Let’s SEEZE the moment

And ask ourselves why

That “e” still sounds like “e”

If we add an “i”

Let’s not jump to conclusions

About the letter “j”

Until we get an opinion

From our old friend Jose

NOCK on wood

And come what may

But don’t waste time

Looking for the “k”

Why does the “l” go away

When it winds up in “talk”

But is plainly heard

When we put it in “talc”?

Why does hymn sound like him

If we include an “n”

And why does sign rhyme with mine

If a “g” goes in ?

Shouldn’t that be a sin?

Why does SCURGE rhyme with splurge

If we plug in on “o”

And why does RECEIT rhyme with repeat

If we get a “p” to go ?

I won’t get any FLAQ

If I don’t pick on “q”

I’ve got a PLAK on my wall

And I won’t KWIT until I’m through

“R” and “s” are always there

But don’t MENSHUN “t”

Because it just wouldn’t be fair

“U” changes sounds

If you add a letter

So “put” becomes “putt”

But it doesn’t make it better

“V” is for victory

And for that we will vie

But a REN doesn’t need a ‘w”

In order to fly


Without using a “x”

Y is a vowel, but maybe not

And that is something that will always vex

So with the SINE of Zorro

Let’s get to the point

English ain’t EAZEE

So let’s get outta this joint

If you are still not convinced that English is difficult to learn, the link below will help you to understand:

more crazy English phrases

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

I like Ike !!

I always think of Dwight Eisenhower on the anniversary of D-Day, since he was the Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces in Europe during WWII, and was an integral part of the planning for Operation Overlord (which we all know as the D-Day invasion.)

Eisenhower was a VERY capable individual, even though the mention of his name always brings up the following picture, simply because he bears a strong resemblance to the cartoon character pictured below:

(Do you see the resemblance to his official portrait?:)

I was still a wee lad when Eisenhower was President, but have since discovered that he made some very significant contributions to our society during both of his terms of office:

1) his threat of the use of nuclear weapons concluded the Korean War with China (the main support of North Korea)

2) he covertly opposed Joseph McCarthy, but contributed to the end of McCarthyism by openly invoking the modern expanded version of Executive privilege.

3) he was a “moderate conservative” (there aren’t a lot of those left any more) who continued the New Deal agencies started by FDR

4) he launched the Interstate Highway System, which President Obama tried to improve last summer - but House Republicans blocked his attempt:

how can we rid of John Boehner?

5) he sent Federal troops to Alabama to force integration of schools

6) even though he was a superb military commander, he warned of the emerging military-industrial complex in his “Chance for Peace” speech in 1953:

Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children. The cost of one modern heavy bomber is this: a modern brick school in more than 30 cities. It is two electric power plants, each serving a town of 60,000 population. It is two fine, fully equipped hospitals. It is some fifty miles of concrete pavement. We pay for a single fighter plane with a half million bushels of wheat. We pay for a single destroyer with new homes that could have housed more than 8,000 people. This is, I repeat, the best way of life to be found on the road the world has been taking. This is not a way of life at all, in any true sense. Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron. ... Is there no other way the world may live?

Republican leaders in Congress today, naturally, want an INCREASE in military spending, at the expense of the poor and disadvantaged

More news about “Ike” can be found at the link below:

I like Ike

Although it’s fairly well known the Eisenhower was a golf enthusiast later in life, very few people know that another one of his passions was oil painting. Click on this link to see some "art by Ike".

Although Eisenhower was, arguably, the reason we got into Vietnam (due to his speech about the domino theory), his 1961 farewell speech is still worth watching today:

do you remember discussions of guns verus butter?

Since this is the end of this article, it seems appropriate to close with a song titled The End

Saturday, June 2, 2012

thoughts on D-Day, volume three

By now, we’re all pretty familiar with the details of the D-Day invasion, which occurred 68 years ago:

the D-Day invasion

I’ve also published a few articles of my own about the invasion:

thoughts on D-Day

volume 2

Since few of us can afford to travel to France to visit the site of the landing, it seemed more appropriate this year to provide a guided tour of the cemetery:

Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial

The Normandy American Cemetery is just one of the 24 permanent American burial grounds on foreign soil that are maintained by the American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC). Presently there are 124,905 U.S. war dead interred at these cemeteries - 30,921 of World War I, 93,234 of World War II and 750 of the Mexican War. Additionally 6,237 American veterans and others are interred in the Mexico City National Cemetery and Corozal American Cemetery

Sometimes, fewer words are better, so I’ll close by including a well known song:

military taps

To EXPLAIN the song, I chose a man who exhibits some "true grit":

who the heck is Marion Robert Morrison?

THIS is what the Duke would say about Normandy:

All battles are fought by scared men who'd rather be someplace else.