Monday, December 31, 2012

32nd Silver Treasure Riddle

Well, the new year rings in on Tuesday so the 32nd Silver Treasure Riddle will begin on Wednesday January 2nd 2013. Matt Vande Bunte from the Grand Rapids Press will be doing a piece on And Greg said he'd be following it on his site as usual. Greg does a nice job but he is a busy person and it never hurts to double check spelling and punctuation. I'm just sayin'.  :<)

Rules will be posted but remain the same. Anyone can match wits with me and play the game from anywhere in the world by using a map of the greater Grand Rapids Michigan area. However, You must physically retrieve the metal medallion that is hidden and personally hand it to me in order to collect the valuable prize. There are participants from South Africa, Australia, Germany, Scotland and Osh Kosh Wisconsin.

The purpose of this decades old, fun and sometimes frustrating treasure hunt is to remind us all of the ever present danger of Carbon Monoxide poisoning. CO poisoning almost killed me and did result in amnesia for two years causing my family and I no end to difficulties. I ask that you remember that and take proper precautions like CO detectors. When I was poisoned detectors cost a hundred dollars or more and were far from perfect. Today they can be purchased for under $20 each for the average home protection and are incredibly accurate. We need only to read the news to find tales of death or illness resulting from Carbon Monoxide.

So, now lets us get back to the 32nd Silver Treasure Hunt and have us some fun OK?

More on January 2nd. See You Then!............Joe A.K.A. The Wyoming Riddler

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Fiscal Cliff

I was pleased to hear that many of our elected officials returned to Washington, unselfishly interrupting their holiday vacations to join in friendly negotiations regarding the tax increases and budget cuts commonly referred to as the "fiscal cliff." Thus is renewed my confidence in our beloved political process.

I have poo pooed the nay sayers who so recently touted so many negative comments about how the politicians will allow the economy to dip back into a debilitating recession. I mean we, the voters elected those folks with confidence. History has proven itself that they know how to deal with this sort of thing hasn't it? Yeah, I rest easy with the knowledge that the process will fulfill the destiny of the ideals the founding fathers put down in the constitution. The spirit of the season will also play a hand I think.

Some ask why I have such a positive attitude. Some wonder why I fail to buy into all that fear. Some say I have a Pollyanna like juvenile lack of reality. Ha! I'm a real live adult type person who refuses to put on rose colored glasses at a time like this. Yeah, I know what's going on. I've seen it before about three years ago. This is the truth of the matter. You know how the one side says that the other side simply won't compromise? That's the majority right now. I personally think it's just a way of politics we, as outsiders just haven't grasped yet. But the proof of the pudding that all this will work out is seen in how smoothly the entire government came together in peace when the issues of health care came upon their desks when the speaker of the house made it look like it would get pushed through anyway despite the opposition fighting it so fiercely. That bill went through so fast it made our heads spin. In spite of the fact that no one knew how that bill would affect us and our economy because it was impossible to read such a huge piece of legislation. Talk about compromise eh?

That's what I mean. We, not being in the loop don't fully understand what goes on behind closed doors do we? This cliff thing will get handled just as smoothly because, other than  just a few new faces, its the same group of folks that got together and took care off us so well at that time.

I'm excited. Yeah, I really am. Nothing to worry about there. Enjoy the day and relax, plan something, dare to dream, everything will work out fine. Uh, hu, yeah it will.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas

Here it is, Christmas morning and, at least right here in river city, there is no snow. Global warming? A brighter sun? Simply the natural swing of climate due to the tides and volcano's and, of course the ever increasing gasses emitted from the rear ends of cattle. I wonder sometimes if it was the farts of dinosaurs that led to their eventual demise. But, perhaps I am drifting a bit off from the subject of the day: Christmas!

How are we celebrating this special Holy Day this year? Snow isn't really necessary is it? I mean, all those folks on the other side of the earth have sunny, hot and dry weather every year and they still have a good time. Not having to worry about driving through snow drifts or black ice or freezing water pipes or frost bit hands when shoveling, or worrying about the thickness of the ice under their fishing shanty. I think sometimes I must be some kind of a weirdo because I miss those sorts of things. I'm used to the challenges and adversity brought on by freezing temperatures and blowing snow. But, as I did last year, somehow I suffer through the mild weather. Yeah, I guess I'll make it alright.

Driving through the quiet early morning streets this morning was a shear delight, seeing so many homes lit by strings of colorful lights, nativity scenes and air filled figures and bags with candles running up the driveways lighting the way to welcoming hearts, a remarkable treat. Santa has long gone on to the next time zone, slipping down chimneys large and small to collect the edible treats of bribery and gratitude left for him by children and leave toys and other special things in exchange. All the while this chubby elf is spreading a message of charity, peace, happiness and comfort. Not overshadowing the true message but rather, in my opinion putting an exclamation point on it. Nothing wrong with the spirit of giving.

It's Christmas! Secret Santa's, wrapped surprises, twinkling lights, talking animals, family get togethers, egg nog, good food, Christmas carols, flying reindeer, a spirit of togetherness, Church services filled with joyful messages, children's eyes filled with wonder and amazement. What's not to like about that?

Not all of us have the same perspective about Christmas. But, I would like to join everyone in the celebration of goodness, peace, joy and hope that is connected with it. So, no matter who you are or what you believe, I wish you:

Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Wearing shoes.

"The Devil made me do it!"

A comedian, who's name slips my mind at the moment used to say that whenever he got caught doing anything bad. It drew huge laughs. Why is it that when we say something similar in real life, nobody laughs. Blaming others is commonplace in certain circles but, unfortunately it's not a laughing matter. A news story recently highlighted the kindness of a New York police officer in giving an apparently shoeless vagrant an expensive pair of shoes. What a wonderfully caring gesture of generosity. The man was back, sitting on the sidewalk, in front of a shoe store, the same place he was given the shoes, barefoot again. When asked where his new shoes were, he said he hid them because they were worth a lot of money. Then he went on to say that he "wanted a piece of the pie" because his picture was in the media without his permission. Makes a person kind of wonder about the people in this world. Such an honest and sincere gift was answered with such obvious dishonesty and greed.

Who made the police officer so generous, kind and considerate?

Who made the vagrant so selfish and greedy?

Some would say the officer was simply being an enabler.
Some would say the vagrant was simply a victim of an oppressive society.
Some would say it is a clash between good and evil.
Maybe the Devil made them both do it.

The truth of the matter is that the responsibility for the actions of both men lies withing themselves.

The officer offered a gift because he's a special person and chose to share his world with someone who appeared to be in need. No one "made" him do it.
The vagrant took the gift and used it for a different purpose than what it was intended and chose to remain shoeless because it got him the attention he desired. Obviously wearing shoes defeated whatever his goal in life is. No one "made" him do it.

That, to me is a good lesson in life. It's not them or it that makes us do things in most life situations. It's us making choices. It's when we don't like the consequences of our own decisions that we stoop to pointing fingers and blaming others. And yeah, I find myself doing that sometimes. It's part of the human condition But even then, it's "The Devil" that makes me do it.

Let's choose to have a happy day and take comfort in wearing shoes.....................Joe

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Fiscal Cliff?

I am so very comforted by the knowledge that we have such fiscally responsible people in charge of our national financial situation. Some people are concerned and fear that on January 1st 2013 the national budget for the United States will expire and trillions of dollars in tax brakes will disappear and still more trillions of dollars in government entitlements will go away too. To those doubting Thomas's I can only say that our worst enemy is fear itself. To find assurance that all will be OK we need only look at our elected officials in charge. With only a short period of rest, those dedicated souls actually came back from election campaigns and the Thanksgiving break to settle the problem. We all know that this bickering that's going on is all a charade don't we? When we simply look at the gravity of the situation in such a delicate economy, common sense dictates that every resource the politicians have available to them is being used to end the deadlock. It's just common sense isn't it? I am comfortable with that knowledge, aren't you?

This evening I will have the honor of speaking to a class of university students about my experience with carbon monoxide poisoning. What a fantastic opportunity this is in my opinion. When I was affected by chronic carbon monoxide poisoning and experienced amnesia for two years it took a terrible toll on my family and myself, the consequences of which still linger today. It has been my goal to share that experience with as many people as possible and hopefully save them the aggravation and pain we went through. Through dozens of speaking engagements, one on one conversations, writing "Joe's Story", the media and the Internet, I believe I have accomplished my goal as well as can be expected. Every time I speak with younger people I feel that a seed has been planted to further that goal. Who knows where this opportunity will carry my mission.

Where is the snow? Will it all be coming at once? We must be careful what we ask for mustn't we?

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Old, I really mean, old friends

It's early yet, the sun is still hiding behind the east coast somewhere. The streets are still deserted except for the dedicated paper carriers, going from porch to porch, depositing huge packages of sale flyer's wrapped in the daily news. Geez! I about busted a button picking mine from the front stoop. Somewhere in Detroit and other big cities the floats and balloons are being prepared. Scurrying volunteers make last minute adjustments and streets are being cordoned off along the route so thousands of people can enjoy the traditional Thanksgiving day parade. Lights are coming on in kitchens everywhere, coffee is on, overnight travelers are arriving at their destinations just in time for a short nap before the festivities begin. Food is the center of most activity. So different than the first Thanksgiving hundreds of years ago when, what with all the hardships it was a blessing just to be alive. We sure do got it good these days don't we?

For over 30 years it has been my tradition on Thanksgiving mornings to visit old friends who live alone, bring a small gift, play some cards, tell a few jokes, listen to their woes and delights, share a donut or some other treat and then move on to the next. It was always interesting as I am sure you can understand. With old guys, we never quite know what they will say and sometimes what they will do. I've had cards thrown at me, wet marshmallows stuffed down the back of my neck, heard confessions of long held regrets, as well as hugs and tears of gratitude. It happened quite suddenly but all of a sudden those guys are gone in one way or another. Two moved to warmer climates, one moved way up north with his grandson and another passed away last week. This morning, after so many years of those cherished visits is definitely a learning experience. First on the agenda when I'm done here is a walk while saying my morning prayers. Maybe find someone to say Hi to.

On this Thanksgiving day I am reminded of what a treat it is to have the friends I do. Especially the old, crusty guys that so very much like to tell me what I've been doing wrong all my life. Truthfully, my life is good, yeah I do alright most of the time. However, those guys would inevitably find something to correct me on. If it wasn't my working too much, it was that I didn't work enough. If it wasn't my having a bit of a belly, it was that I should put on a bit more weight just in case I got sick. Honestly, a lot of times I felt there was just no pleasing them. At the end of the day though, I always felt good because they took time to share their perspective, wisdom and concern. When all was said and done, after whatever kind of lives they had, they brought me their consul. That consul helped make me a better person.

I am a man wearing many hats: Business owner, family man, friend, writer and, of course the annual silver treasure hunt. Sometimes it's difficult to get it all done. Those old guys validated my efforts and encouraged me along the way. There will be no  visiting them today but there will be time to remember them and be grateful. I began the visits because I felt it was doing a good thing for them because of their loneliness. It didn't take long to realize it was a great thing for me. There are a lot of things that end up like that aren't there? I wish you a Happy Thanksgiving!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Maturity and what to do with it.

Now that I'm beginning to grow up the expectations of maturity become more muddled than clear for me. As a man fully growed I'm expected to make rational decisions, speak slowly and eloquently, be in control of my fortune, be wise beyond my years, understand women, (well maybe not that so much), in other words: successfully operate in a reality based upon common sense. To tell the truth, I'm not yet finding that an easy task. That's where the muddled part comes in, the reality stuff. The reality that is supposed to come with maturity gets messed up big time with the dreams, ambitions and aspirations I still possess in my still youthful soul. I ask you: What am I to do with those yet unfulfilled dreams that my mind still craves to accomplish?

Some things are simply fact:
*I will never run a four minute mile.
*I will not swim across Lake Michigan.
*No mountain climbing either.
*Driving in NASCAR is so completely over.
*Standing alongside Mr. Universe in muscle competition won't happen.
*Setting another record for push-ups, chin-ups or sit-ups is definitely a no-go.
*Although the desire still remains, driving a motorcycle at 145 miles per hour happened for the last time four years ago. (I made a promise.)
*And then there is always the not having much hair anymore thing.

I have no regrets mind you, I am happy with this stage of my life. This is not a lament sort of thing. This is rather a celebration of the future that still remains ahead of me and the planning, adjustment, acceptance and work that it takes to use all the wisdom, experience and common sense I have accumulated to pull off the dreams still remaining. What? You say! Why do I pursue doing ambitious stuff both personal and business while so many of my peers have resigned themselves to rest and retirement?

Because I am still able and having a great deal of fun and satisfaction from the responsibility and adventure. Kind of like politicians but without the money and other perks.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Internet, the knowledge of the world awaits you

This week has been filled with research surrounding business and personal decision making. As the intensity subsided a bit, it occurred to me just how quickly I could find information on any given subject due to the Internet and google. I mean, Holy Cow! Being raised in an era when the local library was the center of knowledge and research was done by collecting piles of books, correlating the findings into something reasonably understandable and putting together all that information in a conclusive way. Phew! Today, we boot up the old computer, type something into the subject line, click and there is the world's knowledge passing before us. Common place for those younger than I but totally amazing to me. My thinking is this: That information had to be inputted into the web sites by someone. At least in the beginning. You couldn't really lay a keyboard onto the pages of a book and have it absorbed could you? Thousands upon thousands of people collectively placed our sciences, knowledge and history into the hands of all of us. Hour after hour, after hour, day after day, etc. An incredible feat accomplished by people from all walks of life. The Pyramids were almost impossible to build until the collective efforts of hundreds and probably thousands of people worked together. With the computer we didn't have to enslave anyone, at least that I am aware of. Reading about the seven wonders of the world is made much easier by the eighth wonder of the world: the Internet.
Some of my research involved other countries and cultures: Likes and dislikes, freedoms and restrictions, comparisons of lifestyles. Obvious as it is to many of us, I was struck by exactly why there is such a drive in backward, third world cultures to improve their lot in life. That drive wasn't so apparent only a few decades ago. The reasoning is that those backward cultures had little idea what existed beyond their extremely limited view of the world. No wonder those countries that have totalitarian governments limit or completely outlaw the use of cell phones, Ipads and computers. With so many people, inputting information 24/7 into our collective resources those regimes have much to fear. Actually it's only a matter of time. Sadly they will not go quietly into the night. Case in point Syria. Maybe even the United States in some ways. But, conquer tyranny it will. The dams of ignorance are being knocked down and knowledge is flooding the world. I find that incredible still.

If only the Internet came with standards of civility and morals and all things good. We're still sorting that out aren't we?

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Letter To President Obama

President Obama, Congratulations on being re-elected for a second term! My wish is that this country receives a real benefit from your presidency. I do not know you other than the face and voice that I see and hear on the media. That is not a clear picture of who you are because of the bias of the reporting agency or your PR person. I understand that, it's the way of politics. If you have a zit on one side of your face, the camera shows you from the other side. What you say and do is filtered the same way. I do not favor or disfavor anyone because of what they look like or say. I am a reasonably intelligent person and my opinion is derived from what they do. Mr. President, I didn't vote for you in either election. However, I am one of those people who works, pays taxes and does his best not to receive anything from the government. A long time ago I really took to heart what one of my war time heroes said: " Ask not what your country can do for you, ask rather what you can do for your country!" It was John Kennedy. He's long gone but his words still ring true.

Mr. President, I am not one to worry and wring my hands and fear for our future. You are no doubt a well intentioned man. At least that is my hope. Whatever it is I am asked to do as a citizen and it is appropriate, I will do. With that being said, I would like to offer you some words from a lowly voter.
I ask that you carefully look at those things you champion and the reasons for which you champion them. For what you do could hold the country hostage or move it forward as a bastion of freedom.

 You are smart, that's good but knowledge without character is more a weapon than a tool. Are you a man of character?

We have seen how you operate in politics, sometimes the scene was blurred by spin and your principles were obscured. Are you a man of principle?

You enjoy having a good time. We've seen that. A good time is balanced by a good conscience. Are you a man of good conscience?

One area we do not see eye to eye on Mr. President is probably insurmountable. I challenge you anyway. I have heard you many times speak of the re-distribution of wealth in the name of fairness. Wealth without effort or work will destroy this nation and what it stands for. When you re-distribute wealth are you willing to destroy our freedom to do it?

Business is a necessary part of a thriving nation. Business provides us all with an avenue to improve ourselves and pursue happiness. Business without morals will in turn sap the energy of our citizens. Are you a moral person and able to honorably guide the business community of this country?

Science brings us hope and promise and inroads as the future unfolds. You are knowledgeable and can see the benefits of science I am sure. Science must be accountable to all of humanity and not separate from it.

And lastly Mr. President, I understand that on occasion you attend some type of religious services. From what I see you are not overly devout but that is your choice. We all have our preferences as to what we have faith in. That's the freedom America offers isn't it? I know and understand that my choice of worship is bound to bring sacrifice, it is virtually guaranteed. All I ask is the freedom to worship as I see fit not be restricted or forced to go against my beliefs.

Mr. President, you did not receive a "mandate" to carry on any particular idea or approach. You simply won the election by a very narrow margin. Listen to the voters that pay taxes. They are the ones paying the bills for your ideas. That doesn't necessarily mean they voted for you. When they run out of money or get tired of having it taken away and given to those that choose not to work, well Mr. President, that will be a day of reckoning I'm thinking.

Good Luck! God Bless! I will support the good stuff and resist the bad stuff. No matter what you do I am watching. We are all watching. As a voter I will remember how you apply your powers. That's what we do around here. It's not what you look like, it's not what you say. It is definitely what you do! Are you doing it for us?

I'm Joe and I approve this message!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012


Please vote!

It's what we do instead of throwing rocks, shooting at each other and burning buildings.

It's also a way to celebrate the end of political commercials and phone calls until next time.

I read a comment that this is the best time of year to pick out a turkey. Hmmm!

Yeah, please vote. Serious as it is we have much reason to smile.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Thriller and odds and ends

The best song ever to listen to at Halloween is "Thriller"! I mean it's got all the elements of classic fright and a great melody too. I never tire of it.

My attempt to carve a huge pumpkin with the seeds and pulp coming out the mouth so it looked like a vomiting Jack-O-Lantern came to an end when the high winds rolled it off the porch and smashed it on the rocks below. Next year maybe.

Only one more week of suffering through all those political ads. Last night a TV show I have been waiting to see was inundated with so many it was ridiculous. Five minutes of the show followed by eight minutes of political ads. After the first half hour of a 2 hour show I went out and planted flower bulbs instead. Back when pay TV started, all the extra so called premium stations were ad free. After all, subscribers paid for them. That's not the case anymore is it? Interesting how stuff like that sneaks up on us.

In reading the small print of one of those mailings for a new credit card a thought occurred to me about all that interest money: If the government is lending financial institutions money at the rate of 1/2% and they are lending it to consumers at the rate of 8% up to 23%, wouldn't it be a whole lot better for us to borrow that money straight from the Fed? BTW, isn't all money the government has derived from our pocketbooks through taxes anyway? I do get confused sometimes. Best approach? Listen to the guy on the radio and stay debt free. (Yeah, right!)

Unless we have an incredible heat wave this winter my bicycle trip around Lake Michigan is done for the season. Except for the usual short rides around town to finalize the clues for this coming treasure hunt the weather is too constricting for the lakeshore rides.

Twenty one and a half foot waves out on Lake Michigan yesterday. There were a few guys surfing in that water. Am I missing something or does that seem a little extreme in such cold water?

Something has spurred a little burst in sales of Joe's Story this month. A couple requests came from England. That's just plain fun.

Negotiations are continuing for the eventual publishing of a Christmas story I wrote. It would have already been in print by now except for my slow progress in understanding all of the ramifications surrounding editing and art work. So much more complicated, in my mind than Joe's Story which involved a minimum of art work and the editing went smooth as silk. I'd be a whole lot more comfortable with an editor and an artist from this area. The long distance stuff doesn't allow for eye contact. As I've said before, it's just me.

Kids and candy tonight. Maybe play Thriller a lot. Don't eat too much.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Conversation style and another "special" word

That hurricane "Sandy" is really making a mess on the East coast. The damage and devastation is mind boggling. On the other hand, the resilience, determination and hard work of the people affected by Sandy is incredible. They survived the storms of last year and they'll survive this year. My thoughts and prayers go out to them.

"Oppositional Conversation Style"

Just read about that. It describes someone that will correct, nullify, embarrass and belittle you during the course of a conversation, even if they agree with what you say. They are simply combative, lack empathy or concern and are always more interested in making themselves the fountain of knowledge on whatever subject is being discussed. Do you know anyone like that? I do! It seems they become much more obvious as the political elections draw near. It would be a blessing to have caller ID right about now. Otherwise completely likable friends seem hell bent on saving me from my total lack of ability to make a rational decision when voting. If they had their way they would walk right into the voting booth and guide my hand to the proper dots to mark. I pulled that description right out of "Reader's Digest" Knowing what they are called probably will not prevent those folks from being so confrontational but at least I can get some satisfaction from knowing I'm not alone. "O.C.S." has a certain ring to it doesn't it? Sits right there next to "C.R.S."

With the progress of hurricane Sandy the local and national weather people are hauling out the big words again. It happens every time we experience a weather event of this magnitude. regular words don't work at a time like this. Nope! Something memorable other than the storm itself I guess. And, I'm sure you've seen the silly reporters standing on the edge of a beech somewhere along the Atlantic, wind blowing so hard they are almost standing perpendicular, the microphone is so muffled and distorted we can hardly understand what is being said, waves splashing high in the air and suddenly, actually predictably, one of those waves knocks the reporter and all that expensive TV equipment into the next county. Exactly how valuable was that news report?  Then, the picture fades to the meteorologist in the studio, face all wrinkled and distorted showing false concern and magnifying everything that is said so as to validate their own importance, after all, even the news is entertainment these days, background monitors showing devastation everywhere, bringing us to the edge of our seats, carnage and destruction similar to that shown on the silver screen years ago in the movie, "The Day The Earth Stood Still." We can't help but feel the winds, flooding, building collapses, electrical outages, overturned vehicles, uprooted trees and resulting homelessness will all fall onto us too. Any minute! Glued to our sets we await the next words from our meteorologist, she looks into the camera, eyes wide with worry, face contorted with concern, lips part and the word hits us like a falling comet: This storm is "EXPONENTIAL in magnitude!" Aaaaaarrrrrrggggghhhhh! I gotta go now. It's time to lock myself somewhere safe with water, batteries and toilet paper. Lots of toilet paper because of my own exponential nature when it comes to stuff like this.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Gasoline prices and elections

Having voted in several presidential elections I've gotten to see some of the trends that present themselves around election time. Case in point: Gasoline prices!

Do you ever get the feeling we are being played? There is the OPEC thing that's been around since the late 60s or early 70s with certain suppliers controlling the faucet of oil supplies in their petroleum rich areas. Squeezing the hose to bring up the price gets more money into their coffers. Good business sense they call it. Then, on a regular basis we have to deal with unstable governments of oil suppliers and the on again, off again liquid energy spigot. When we import so many gallons upon gallons of oil each day there are so many variables it's mind boggling. The feeling of being played doesn't come from them though. Those elements aren't really predictable are they except that uncertainty is itself guaranteed. What I mean is the gasoline prices at election time.

What was gasoline a year ago per gallon, maybe $3.90? But at that time no one was involved in a battle for the presidency with the cost of gasoline as a huge issue to the average driver. Who exactly controls the prices is simply not open to the public. There are so many doors and dummy corporations we'll probably never know. There are also so many excuses as to why the prices shoot up around traveling holidays and after elections it would be hilarious if it weren't for the huge hole it leaves in our wallets.

I don't know enough to point fingers and place blame, or if it even is a control issue. But, facts present themselves in a way that makes me wonder. I wonder of more is in play here than supply and demand. Is there someone behind the curtain like in the movie, "The Wizard of Oz"? Oh yeah, I almost forgot last year $3.90, as high as $4.10 around here, now, a few short weeks before the election: $3.20 and probably going down. Just like the last election! Why do you suppose that is?

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Dealing with a bore.

Ever notice that occasionally, when you are having a conversation with someone, suddenly you realize that, in their opinion all your things and ideas are crap and all their things and ideas are "special"? You know what I'm talking about don't you? We like this kind of coffee, they think it tastes terrible because that kind is better. You like this kind of car, they like that kind of car because ours is terrible and bad in every way. It's the same with almost anything. If we don't like what they like we are obviously ignorant, uninformed and in need of their direction and advice which they are more than willing to spend an enormous amount of our time imposing on us. We are left with the feeling that according to them, we cannot make a rational decision. Period! Nope, we are not capable of making up our own minds. Besides an acquaintance or two I get that feeling from more than a few salesmen and, of course, political ads and those news reporters and the subtle facial gestures
and head movements they make while reporting in an "unbiased" way.

The advice from those in the know says that when you are faced with an opinionated know it all, your weapon of choice is the question. Any question will do to start but it is important to stay with an aggressive attack of inquiry so as to deplete the resources of the offending social bore. Who, what, why, where and how, with the occasional, "really?" Salesmen, news and the political stuff aren't really a problem for me, I find it (according to the latest poll) almost equally balanced between humorous and annoying and I am in charge of being there or the on/off switch. It's when meeting this problem face to face in a social setting that I need to sharpen my strategic maneuvering abilities. I'm looking into this question weapon thing.

My first question?
"Did you know there is a booger smeared on the side of your nose?"

That should get the conversation started in the right direction shouldn't it?

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

History class one-O-one

You can't go back to the past.

Over time, children's TV cartoons have evolved to, in part bring down the level of violence. Mighty Mouse was always doing big timer damage to villains, Penelope somebody had a bunch of crooks as her protectors and Wiley Coyote wrought terror upon the helpless desert habitating Road Runner. On the retail side, pop guns, cork shooting rifles, cap loaded revolvers and bows and arrows are so totally avoided so as to not put the tools of violence into little Billy's hands and create anti social behavior. Cartoons most often in recent years have become a horse of a different color. Cute, non violent, complete equality and so obviously non argumentative. Powder puffy, soft, calming colors, low voices, big eyes,  able to show emotions at a single word, apologetic and unconditionally forgiving. All this change coming about because the theory is the old cartoons showing the battle between good and evil confused the little minds of our kids. How's that working for us?

Clothing is changing too. Now that our kids are so much more mature at a much earlier age modesty is considered old fashioned and stifling to imaginations filled with all those mature ideas of dressing up like their older "equals". Walt Disney brought us the Mousketeers for our safe amusement half a century ago. Fun, innocent and entertaining while maintaining an element of modesty and good taste. To the point of using constricting undergarments so as to not overemphasize the bust of blossoming teenagers. Parents could safely allow kids to watch without supervision to explain the stuff about sex. Today's kids are way too smart to give that much fun a second look.

School dances at one time were having all sorts of difficulties because the guys would make themselves sick drinking a bottle of Coke straight down without swallowing or the girls would get caught with too much make up. Gum on the school grounds was considered a huge problem. The more mature, well adjusted and informed teens of today don't even mess with that kid's stuff. They only dress revealingly enough so as to validate their sexual prowess they learned so much about in class, dance as if they were about to pro-create and speak with a four letter word category I never even knew existed.

Cap guns are scarce but paint ball guns and soft air rifles resembling assault rifles and machine guns are sold everywhere.

You can't go back in history. All of those changes were made to help us live in a better, less violent society. How's that working out for us?

Monday, October 22, 2012

Melting polar ice and swimming

While reading the newspaper the other day, (yes, I still faithfully read the newspaper) I came across an article regarding the melting of the polar ice. Seems the ice is melting at an alarming rate, in part due to global warming but mostly because we are in the middle of the 150 year earth temperature cycle. Rather confusing if you ask me. Imagine, us little people changing a world that has existed millions of years without us meddling with it. There was even a time when the world got sick of those huge prehistoric reptiles and sucked them up into bogs and turned them into oil. Us humans weren't even around at the time but the benefits of that reptile purging and subsequent production of oil have definitely brought about a quality of life we wouldn't have otherwise had. A lesson in evolution I guess. But I'm drifting away from the melting of the polar ice aren't I?

Anyway, this ice is melting and it is logical to assume that the water resulting from that melting has to go somewhere. I'm wondering just where it goes? The great lakes are at an all time low. We've got ships entering the great lakes from the oceans this water is melting in every day. How bout we take some tankers, fill them with the water from melting polar ice, bring them up the waterway into the middle and dump that water to fill the lakes back up. Might as well use that water otherwise it's just going to make the oceans overflow, right? Some may assume that we, as insignificant humans can't possibly take on such a task, but I think if we are the cause of all that melting, we can make use of what we've done. Or, something like that. Then again maybe I just didn't read far enough into the article to get the basics of cause and affect, or effect whatever the situation is. That's the trouble with trying to learn about the world with limited information. An old saying goes, "He has just enough information to be dangerous!"

Where's all this going? Well, I know a person that is so caught up in cause and affect that when she goes swimming, after she dries herself off, she wrings out the towel over the lake or river so as not to change the destiny of that particular body of water. If she finds some sort of aquatic life on the shoreline, she places that aquatic life thingy back into the water so as to carry on the proper cycle. She's a nice, intelligent person but I guess maybe I don't have enough information on that thought process. I would never make fun of anyone doing their thing to preserve the world in an educated and thoughtful way but I'm lost when it comes to extremes. Lions, and tigers and bears, which exist just as naturally as we do, do not concern themselves with all that stuff. Beavers aren't worried about the environmental impact of their dams, birds don't take make surveys of cause and affect before letting loose with droppings, and the world keeps moving on regardless.

So, what I'm wondering is this: If the water left on my body after a swim is wrung from a towel back into the pond, now saturated with my sweat and other stuff, does the now polluted water have the affect of eventually melting the polar ice? Maybe, just maybe. Is this climate situation being generated by nature to make us extinct and turned into some type of energy for the next type of creature that attempts to rule the world? Now there is something to think about.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Home again!

"Be kind to your enemies: It messes with their heads!"

Well, alrighty then! What's been going on in the world in the past few weeks? Whatever it is certainly has taken me so far off the beaten track I haven't had time to be here. I hope to change that. At any rate I'm here now and just put the fingers to the keyboard and we'll discover stuff together OK?

The bicycle trip around Lake Michigan is on hold for the moment. Frankfort was my last stop. It'll all happen in good time but not just now. Geez! I certainly live in a beautiful state.

A fellow from England, Dave Mitchell sent me a few encouraging words regarding my book: Joe's Story. He says he found it amazing and heart warming. He also found it very informative and enlightening on the issue of carbon monoxide poisoning. He has a friend that contracted CO poisoning and had to be treated in a hyperbolic oxygen chamber but is doing fine now. Dave it seems owns Scarthin Books somewhere near London overlooking a scenic river. They have a site on the web.

I've been very excited since receiving the news that Joe's Story has been chosen as a text book for a course at Grand Valley University. Adding to that was the honor of speaking with the students of that course this past Wednesday for several hours. After speaking there was a question and answer period. I was pleased to find how knowledgeable and serious those students were about the book, the story and life, choices and consequences. I hope to speak with them again in the near future regarding a more intense discussion of carbon monoxide.

Planning is not my strong suit. I have a friend that plans her day by the hour and maybe even minutes. She is happy and gets all kinds of stuff done that would be impossible for me to fit into a day. I really admire that. I don't even have a calendar I can write things on let alone an hour by hour appointment book. I've tried it ands it lasted for about an hour or so before my cluttered life got in the way and I didn't have time to write any more. Planning is a learned skill. I guess I'll have to plan enough time to learn that skill......................One of these days.

I had an Internet service provider for 13 years. Kind of a neat, albeit slow wireless unit that plugged into the computer. It really got slow the past year. The service, Altel was purchased several years ago by Verizon and they are discontinuing the service in the next month. I've known about it for over a year now and procrastinated on going in and transferring to Verizon. I feared the higher cost of 4G. I live on a budget and wasn't looking forward to giving up something else to get Internet service. An unfounded fear it turned out. After all was said and done, the new service is faster, much more flexible, far less restricting and last of all..............Cheaper than the older, slower service. Yea!

The political robo calls have me almost convinced to get caller ID. The political emails are a bit much too. Lets not us get involved in political stuff OK?

Go Tigers!........................SeeYaLaterGator!

Friday, September 28, 2012

A thief in the night

I live in a very nice, middle class neighborhood. We neighbors mostly know each other at least casually and the children run freely without fear. The yards are decorated with nic nacs and blooming flowers. Bicycles often lay on the grass over night where kids left them in a hurry to get to dinner or a TV show. As I said, it's a very nice neighborhood. Don't let that fool you though. Nice neighborhoods don't mean that you can become lax in keeping your things protected. I drive a nice car with a remote locking system. Almost every night just before I shuffle off to bed I pick up my key fob and push the lock button. It's almost a guaranteed habit. Several years ago a thief snuck into our back yard, opened the unlocked door of my car, threw my stuff all over the inside of my car, making a huge mess and also stole my cell phone, a camera, several tools and flashlights and about $10 in small bills and change I keep for minor emergencies like a snack attack or parking ramp. I felt violated but there wasn't a huge financial loss. I did proceed to purchase a remote door locking system to prevent that from happening again. I was diligent about locking the car and made it almost a habit. I would bet money that in the past three years I've only forgotten to lock the car three or four times at the most. Last night I forgot. Last night that thief sauntered into my back yard and opened the unlocked door of my car, only three feet from my back door mind you, stole about $10 in cash, a camera containing priceless pictures of my bicycle trip around Lake Michigan and my two granddaughters, a couple flashlights and a jack knife and then, for some unknown reason, threw most of the rest of my stuff all over the inside of the car. Must be some sort of "total conquest" thing. Maybe proving in some way that this sneaky thief is the master of his domain and can do anything he wants. He did leave my phone this time but I know why: I have a basic phone. My phone has buttons and no apps. It's like no all powerful thief would be caught dead with a phone like that.

I "almost" all the time locked my car. I figure that in order for that thief to get into my car on the "almost" day, then he's been there lots more times when it was locked. He's a persistent thief. That means that I must unfailingly lock that car but even more I need to watch outside more often during the night. Maybe get some sort of security camera. That thief needs to be caught, he doesn't belong around my neighborhood. He got a computer from another neighbor a couple weeks ago. We all knew he was sneaking around. The fault is all mine, I knew better than to leave my car unlocked. No huge financial loss but the feeling of being violated is more than before. I hope I've learned my lesson. It cost me some irreplaceable memories this time.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Art Prize: Art? Really?

Being of limited exposure to the art experience, there are times when I experience a bit of confusion when it comes to the precise definition of what is and is not "art". Art Prize is in full swing in Greater Grand Rapids. From huge to miniature, whispy to solid, beautiful to ugly, ridiculous to sublime, tasteful to detestable, attractive to repulsive, art is an elusive idea. Last year a beautiful, tasteful, colorful, non-controversial portrait won first prize. It was magnificent. The art world was up in arms over it. Evidently, a work of art isn't a work of art unless most people of good taste find it repulsive. In that vein, this year there is a professional group of judges thast will determine the winner. That way the prize won't be recieved by an artist who isn't really an artist because they created something beautiful. The judges will make sure that the winner will be someone who challenges good taste to such a point that only the elite and knowledgable will appreciate the value of such a unique item.

I guess true art will always bypass my little world of ignorance and bliss. I just don't have the time to study the value of tasteless, repulsive junk arranged into some meaningful and thought provoking form. This Art Prize event is quite the thing around here. I applaud the promoters for bringing it to area. Hundreds and thousands of folks swarm into the city and see art forms in all sorts of venues. A very special time. It spurs thought and conversation and in some cases I am sure, action of some sort. I do feel somewhat sad however for those folks who's special art is stuck in a far corner of the city, way off the beaten path and few visitors get a chance to see it. Yeah, that's kind of a bummer. But let me tell you, in my personal opinion, as fun and enlightening and thought provoking as all this art is, some of those items, pretending to be art are better off in the bottom of a garbage can or the tank of a porta potty for obvious reasons.

I guess this is what art is all about, discussion. I guess that's good. I have noticed though that when it comes to the discussion of art and how it can be so obviously contraversial and repulsive, if you or I actually state the obvious: Some of it is simply tasteless garbage. We are berated for being ignorant and opressive. Truth be known, I believe that when some of this art is displayed in public, in the name of freedom, in front of anyone, it is actually a type of tyranny and opression to an otherwise sensible society.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Do laws work?

In reading and hearing about certain events lately the thought occurred to me that many laws are only laws for some of us. Depending on who we are and how much influence we have makes a lot of difference in the enforcement and consequences of breaking the law. Not being judgemental or whether their actions are right or wrong I look at certain striking factions. From what I understand, they are conducting illegal strikes. As long as I can remember it has been illegal for school teachers to strike. Right now teachers are carrying on strikes in certain school districts. I haven't read anything regarding prosecution or sanctions resulting from those illegal strikes. The students look to those teachers for instruction of course but as teachers they are also a moral guide towards being an upstanding citizen. After all, we certainly don't want criminals teaching our children do we?

So anyway, I simply don't understand the law when it comes to a huge voting block of professionals with almost unlimited cash resources for lobbying and political influence. A legal strike is an important tool in maintaining a level bargaining position improving the work place through cooperation between those bargaining factions. Necessary and useful. However, because the educational system is funded by tax dollars, and technically teachers are civil servants, it is my u8nderstanding that teacher strikes are against the law. If that is indeed the case, what is keeping the government agency in charge from disciplinary actions? I'm just asking? I think kids should be in school without worrying about whether the teacher is a criminal or not. Being taught by someone who has disdain and disrespect for the laws of this country. Who decides which of us has to be law abiding and which does not? But, maybe that's just me.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Interesting to me stuff

Some things I may find interesting may be simply old news to others. Such is the transference of information isn't it? Some things that you and I may consider common sense can be cause for enlightenment to others. And then there is always the controversial stuff like politics that brings the hair up on the necks of some of us.
The mundane: The Carpel tunnel surgery I just had was a piece of cake. The results are unknown but at least I had it done after 30 years of sleeping hands. Did you ever try to wash only one hand? It is an acquired skill isn't it?
The controversial: A judge (female) explained to a groping victim that she had been in a bar when the offense happened. What did she expect? The offender was convicted and sentenced for the crime but afterward the judge felt the victim needed some educating concerning putting herself in danger. Some people argue with the judges reasoning, others simply see it as common sense.
The truly enlightening: I had the opportunity to send a small, one and a half pound package to a town in England. Not ever having dealt with trans-oceanic shipping before I assumed it would be on the expensive side. Shipping to California for that same package is about $16. Assuming (remember the phrase about assuming) that England was maybe a thousand miles further I figured double the price, on the outside maybe triple the price. Yeah right! $98.90. I call that enlightening.
Downright laughable: A TV news reporter was commenting on the differences between Democrats and Republicans. Asked what the biggest difference was he replied: Well, they don't agree on the way they should spend tax money. I guess we are all guilty of stating the obvious on occasion aren't we?
Life teaching moment: Attended the 50 year class reunion of my high school this weekend. In years past the affairs would last far into the night and early morning hours. We left around 9:30 pm and there were very few people left then. What did I learn? As I we grow older, we have become so efficient at everything, even reunions that we can have hours and hours of fun in a much shorter time. Yup! We've become that good at enjoying ourselves.

Truthfully, this posting was way longer and substantially more profound but for some unknown reason the electronic demons from hell saw to it that much of it was sent to the sun and burned up in a solar flare. Uh, huh, yeah, that's what it was.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Taking care of me

What are you going to do today, simply for yourself? Do you set aside days or parts of days to cater to your personal needs? Some of us don't know how to do that. Some of us so totally immerse ourselves in responsibilities towards business, charities or other people that we forget about what it is that keeps us happy and we wind up being miserable. Well, I am here to tell you that is not the case with me today. As soon as I extract myself from this keyboard I am going for an early morning bicycle ride through the backstreets and trails surrounding where I sit right now. Going back and forth, further and further North is and exciting experience and gratifying accomplishment. I am a casual bicycle rider. I don't set out on any given morning with a certain amount of miles to travel. Wherever my legs carry me is good enough. Today I just want to ride for the sake of riding. Say hi to whomever I meet, stop to search for fish in the creek, pass the early golfers walking the dew covered course, back yard gardeners harvesting, folks sitting on the porch enjoying a fresh coffee. A ride this early is far less crowded, less people or traffic is riding without the stress of fending for my life.

The ride around the lake will proceed on another day. Today I need to just ride. I wonder of any of this means anything to anyone else other than me. But then again, this morning I am taking care of me. Just letting you know. Maybe I'll even have a cookie. Wow! This taking care of me opens up a whole new world of possibilities. Maybe you want to give it a shot. Good Luck!

Monday, August 20, 2012

Biking North a bit more

Not much time this morning, lots of work starting early. A good day at the office.

Yesterday afternoon found me pulling into Frankfort Michigan on my bicycle trip. I'd left Manistee early as the sun rose in the Eastern sky. Surprisingly, I was not the only biker going North. Two people passed as I was unloading and waved a friendly hello without slowing down. One on a traditional bike and one on a recumbent. The weather was cool but not frosty, a welcome change from a few short weeks ago with the temperatures in the 90's and flirting with 100*. Onekema was my original objective but with my early start, good weather and pretty good leg strength I met my support guy and decided to go further. The road was very bicycle friendly with wide side paths, I was put at ease with all that room concerning passing vehicles. I did not pass any other bicycles but was overtaken a dozen times by both single riders and groups as well. No stopping for chit chat though. We were all pretty intent on the ride. Probably because of the healthy sized hills with the magnificent views spread out before us. Taking my time and using all the gears properly I felt encouraged by my slow but sure method of grinding up those hills and the suddenly being rewarded by a smooth glide down the other side with little effort. I did stop for a few pictures before the camera batteries died. I took apart my rear tail light and used those batteries for a few more pictures but they also died and some for the most panoramic scenes went unrecorded. I hope to get a few when I ride up to begin again.

It is difficult to ascertain exactly what type of experience I was expecting on this trip. Whatever it was is definitely not what I am getting. My expectations were based upon my walk around the lake almost 50 years ago. I am a different person, subject to totally different perceptive abilities. The ride is not even close to the walking as far as observation and ability to penetrate the surrounding countryside. Especially the lake shore itself. I am still dealing with that. I am still finding the true experience. Hard to describe. I'm working on that skill too. So far by car, on the roads the miles amount to about 188. By wandering bicycle I passed 231 miles yesterday. For a hardened purist bicycle rider that is just about a two day ride. For me it is monumental. A matter of perspective isn't it?..................Later............Joe

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Writing and blogging

Time has a way of altering the normal doesn't it? The change is often so subtle those of us who are being changed hardly notice it. This blog and my writing has changed many times for many reasons. In reading an article regarding writing in general the author made a statement that sort of hit home. I've read it before somewhere but, of course felt it didn't pertain to me. "Every writer reaches a time when they simply write thoughts that are only of interest to themselves. Very much like thinking out loud in a crowded room." I dearly hope I haven't done that very often but I can see that the thinking out loud part has occasionally presented itself on this blog site. I wonder what it is that causes us to think that anyone else is interested in if my foot hurts or the coffee was cold or my window has rain drops on it.

When I write, I am alone with my thoughts except for you. That's the thing that brings out the trivial I think. Usually I write in the early morning hours, long before I meet any real live people except those hard working souls that serve me food and coffee at the drive thru window. Morning is the most wonderful time of my day, so I write. Without questions or human contact my interactive hungry mind makes up stuff. Similar to a puppy running aimlessly through a field without a fence. Just loving the freedom, the sheer pleasure of being alive in the moment. A puppy desires companionship to share his exuberance but isn't about to give up the fun just because there is no one else around. Why waste the opportunity. Me too!

So, there we have it! On any given morning I am beginning my puppy stage all over again anew. Writing because it brings me a sense of purpose and well being and enjoying the moment. Truthfully I can't run through an open field like I used to. However, I am not about to give up the fun. I hope you join me and leave with the sense of newness and opportunity each morning brings. Yip, Yip, Arf!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

It's our money!

Being unable to continue my ride around the lake at this time is not only somewhat frustrating but also leaves me with too much time on my hands and I even resort to viewing TV at times. Something I almost never do. And then, to top it off, the airways are filled to overflowing with political news. The presidential campaign is in full swing and everyone is saying something about just what the government is going to do with it's huge, almost unlimited financial clout. You've seen and heard all that stuff before haven't you? Well, so have I. We are a voting country, we use our vote to continue or change the direction of our government instead of guns. It's a great system. However, we have a problem at the moment: The politicians have forgotten one thing: "It's not their money!"

I am a lowly individual and have no right to say much of anything about the government. My place is generally to pay my taxes and trust the politicians to disburse it properly. Right? That's what a good taxpayer does. Yesterday I watched a politician state how he was going to spend those tax dollars to help the poor people. Then, about a half hour later I went to the store. Two of those poor people walked leisurely across the parking lot, effectively blocking any traffic while they discussed whatever it was that they were discussing. Stopping and starting and showing no concern whatsoever regarding the fact that they were obstructing others. The world began and ended with them. When a lady asked them to please move so she could park they displayed disdain and actually slowed down so she had to wait even longer. Eventually they found it in their heart to go inside the store where they continued to obstruct others in various ways. Dressed in designer clothing.

I did my shopping and went to the check out to pay for my goods with hard earned cash. As it was, the two leisurely people dressed in designer clothes were in line just ahead of me. They had two purchases, neither of which qualified for their government card. They put up such a fuss the manager was called to quell the situation. I don't know how it ended, they were still going at it when I left.

Here is my point: (You knew I was going to make one eventually) The two leisurely folks and politicians have something in common. Neither of them realizes that it ain't their money! In all my born days, I do not recall a politician being anywhere near what I would consider being "Grateful" for any money derived from our hard earned tax dollars. Stuff like that is what goes through my mind when I have too much time on my hands and watch TV or go to the grocery store.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Voting rights and American history

After being privy to some guys discussing how to cure our country's political problems I felt unschooled in history surrounding our voting rights. A sight popped up during my search for information and my education began. I'm sure that somewhere during my 12 plus years in school and college, some time was spent on the subject of the evolution of our ability to vote. I forgot. Being of this generation much of the concerns of our forefathers escapes me. I am not faced with the British oppression, taxation without representation, Religious persecution, prejudice, constant bickering between parties or any of that other stuff so prevalent back then. The basics of the voting rights were well meaning. Freeholders, or landowners voted. They had vested interest and because of their holding showed they were enterprising and able to make mature decisions. Women didn't vote because the were otherwise occupied with domestic obligations. Most minorities couldn't vote in that, that is the way it was during those times of positioning. Common belief was that someone had to take the helm and carry out the mission. "Too many cooks spoil the broth!" Although exceptions were often made for anyone that was a freeholder, regardless of race. In the beginning religion wasn't much of a factor but after a while Catholics and Jews were refused the vote. It took hundreds of years to refine voting rights to where they are now. Because we are an ever changing landscape of humanity, I am sure those rights will continue to evolve.

In reading up on this subject, taking into consideration all the pitfalls, I wondered what other country offers so much to such a vast collection of differing cultures? I wonder that most likely, because of all those differing cultural approaches to what is considered fair voting rights for all of us, the arguments will probably continue far, far into the future. I find it an interesting subject to ponder as it is critical to our ability to collectively proceed and build a great country. No less than it was back when they wrote the Constitution.

I find it very entertaining to view from a distance how the mistakes of the past provided a complicated set of checks and balances on the road to where we are now. A common phrase says: "The pendulum always swings back!" I can see that. Right, left, middle but always swinging.

Monday, August 6, 2012

On the mend, gardening, taxes

Oh my goodness! The weather has taken a turn and a cool breeze swept through the blue room for the entire afternoon yesterday. How totally refreshing! The yard and garden work, cutting, trimming, edging, weeding, watering, fertilizing and a touch of harvesting, all completed in in full sunshine and low 80's temperatures were almost as enjoyable as a day at the beach. I worked when I felt like it, sat when I felt like it, took a break when I felt like it and watched or listened to the fantastic, world class, Detroit Tiger baseball game, lasting 4 hours and filled to overflowing with competitive drama only found in baseball. We won!

That's how my day of complete rest went. I am pleased to report my legs are showing signs of life once again. I wobble just a little bit less this morning. If this healing continues I will be back in the saddle again soon, riding my bicycle into the wilds of mid to upper Michigan seeking adventure. By the looks of it, although any kind of weather around here is a treat temperatures are moderating a bit and riding may become less of a sweaty event. I do look forward to that. I'm running out of t-shirts to soak it up.

The harvest continues in the garden and the job of preserving it for a later time becomes another matter. Canning, freezing and in some cases dehydrating take some education on my part. There are now a grouping of jars on the shelves filled with a cacophony of mixed vegetables I never knew could be mixed. The test jar sits on the cupboard awaiting the obligatory 3 weeks for curing and then the taste test. Thankfully, I've never experienced a bad batch of preserved food from the garden. I'm still looking up the recipe for Ketchup because the tomatoes will be maturing any day now and they are definitely bountiful.

That's my chatter for the day. I just came from a short meeting of friends. They had some breakfast and took shots at solving the worlds problems as usual. One guy said that in the early days of our country, only those people that paid taxes could vote on taxation legislation, not those people that only took money from taxes. I'm not sure but I think he inferred that even legislators couldn't vote for more taxes because that's where they received their incomes, unless they had another job where they paid taxes. Interesting. I'd not heard that before. I think I'll look it up. I wonder when it changed?

Sunday, August 5, 2012

A real eye opener and food

I was determined to work off the discomfort of last week's little escapade of showing off to a couple young guys. I figured that riding around 10 miles a day or so would eventually release the cramps and muscle aches. "Work it off!" Is what I heard in my head. Watching professional sports figures do that is implanted in my Psyche. Every time an athlete gets smacked or develops a cramp or s into a pole, they go to the sideline for a few minutes, walk around grunting and flexing and snorting and then come back for the next play. If they can do it, I can do it. So, I worked at the shop during the day, worked in the garden in the evening and rode my bicycle in between. You know what? By Thursday about noon I could barely stand up. I am not a professional athlete I guess. Back to the drawing board and a new plan was formulated: Until further notice and the pain and cramping subside I am hereby on Light duty and only a mile or two occasionally on the stationary bike just to stay loose. No ride from Manistee to parts North this weekend. No practice run on Kent Trails or any other trail for that matter. Just some time in the garden to assure a proper and prolific Tomato and cucumber harvest for canning. I'm going to attempt to make catsup this year, I heard it could be done. And I enjoy bread and butter sandwich pickles far beyond normal. I could put them on anything and there is only one small pint left from last year. Wait, wait, I was talking about riding a bike wasn't I? Yeah, I guess so but suddenly the thought of fresh eggs fried in butter, bacon, fried potatoes, toast and a glass of tomato juice crossed my mind for some odd reason. I am in a weakened state and cannot resist. I'm gone, I'm outa here, the butter is already melting. I'm continuing my recuperation with proper nutrition. Later..............

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Old people and bicycling

Well, another leg of my bicycle trip along Lake Michigan and another lesson learned. A couple weeks ago I pushed myself a little too hard and had a little trouble with my legs for a few days. I swore I would never push myself that hard again. That oath lasted almost a week. Last Saturday, just as my legs showed signs of becoming useful once again for walking halfway normal I set off on another stage heading North from Pentwater towards Ludington and maybe, if I felt OK a little beyond. Everything went well, the weather was perfect, the wind was almost non-existent and I felt pretty good. All was good with the world and my camera was at the ready to record all the beautiful sights on my leisurely ride. Then it happened! I had ridden, perhaps a half mile when off from a side rode came two, young, svelt, slim, sun baked bike riding guys also enjoying the day. As they road alongside a few words of pleasantry were exchanged and they said they were headed up to Manistee to meet some (hopefully bikini clad) girls for a swim. I mentioned my hope of reaching Ludington and they sort of chucked together. " It's nice to see an older guy trying to ride and stay in reasonable shape" one of them said. "Except for your age we'd invite you to tag along" the other said with a smile on his face. "Oh, oh!" I thought. "They'd touched a cord regarding my male pride." I could feel the, "I'll show them" internal, competitive, stupid, get in trouble thing that rears it's ugly head at times like this. "I'll try to keep up for a little while just the same" I said. Dumb, dumb, dumb! In surveying the situation I had observed that they were both riding fat, knobby tired mountain, all terrain, single speed bikes. I, riding my skinny wheel, feather light touring bike just might be able to stay with them for a short distance which would feed my ego at least for the moment. They took the lead and off we went at a faster pace than I had originally intended and also leaving no time for the leisurely picture taking but I was committed and enjoyed the astonished look on their faces as I remained behind them feeling very much like the sneaky guy waiting his chance to pass in a NASCAR race. Up and down those pesky hills, rounding curves, retracing our paths as we mistakenly went down dead end streets. Past cottages and small stores and knick knack shops with narry a passing look. The chit chat was kept to a minimum due to the intensity of the ride. I believe they were bound and determined to see me drop back from "elderly" exhaustion. I didn't! On we went, not even stopping for most cross road stop signs and before I knew it we had passed through Ludington and headed toward Manistee and their feminine beach playmates. My physical ability seemed OK so I just kept going. Finally we ground up the hill going into Manistee from the South and turned onto Main street headed to the beach. I had called ahead and my support ride was waiting, surprised just West of downtown in a Motel parking lot. The young guys congratulated me on my ability to stay with them and off they went to the next part of their day with the ladies. I rode my bike in circles until they were out of sight and stopped my bike next to a post to hold onto. My legs were down there somewhere but I had absolutely no feeling in them. I had to watch where I stepped so I wouldn't fall down. It was arduous and, frankly painful to extract myself from that bike, place it in the back of the truck and finally sit down. It took quite some time to regain my composure and walk in a reasonably straight line. A small snack, another short rest and it was back to good old Wyoming for a long nap. Here it is three full days later and I continue to wobble like a drunken derelict. Did I learn my lesson yet? Yeah, I did. At least until the next young guy challenges me again. I'm riding about 10 miles a day right now to keep the cramps away but I think maybe this will take a while to get over. Dumb, dumb, dumb! I sure showed them though didn't I? Now I have to at least drive through there just to take a few pictures.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Olympics and Gardening, what you say?

My philosophical take on Olympics.
Anyone that planted a garden this spring here in Michigan has had some sort of surprise. The early warm spell followed by freezing temperatures and then the hot dry weather of summer has caused all sorts of challenges. When to water, how much to water, where are the pollinating bees? No matter what I do how come the beans don't grow? Why are those cute little rabbits and ground hogs performing their own harvest of my veggies? I can only attempt to imagine how these conditions affect those farmers who depend on crops for a living. A friend who raises "grass fed" cattle to augment his income is bringing them to slaughter several months and a few hundred pounds early because without rain there is no grass to feed them. A loss of thousands of dollars. Multiply that into unimaginable costs for a full time rancher or farmer. Billions of dollars across the country. They'll make it through somehow, they've done it before, they are stubborn, hard working and resilient. It won't be easy but they will. And that is my point.

During this time of Olympic competition I am constantly reminded lately of what it takes to overcome and conquer the opposition. Olympians usually require training throughout their lives, constantly moving toward the next goal to gain the strength to persevere and win against the odds. (wasn't there a movie about that a while ago?) It is never more evident than at the world games just starting. Going full circle here: it is the constant battle of unexpected challenges that tests our mettle and brings us to succeed in our every day lives. If our lives run smoothly, as nice as that may sound, we learn nothing really. We watch the Olympics and cheer, yet we are surrounded by people who every day overcome obstacles just to get through the day. Strong people, brave people, determined, unselfish people of character who strive to make this a better world. Sometimes we forget them because they don't wear bikini's and play beach volleyball or grease up for swimming or jump higher than anyone else. We meet them every day, they are all around us.

I enjoy the Olympics. They remind me of the struggles we all face. When it comes to winning or losing, that's the way life is. Score: beans-0  zucchini-a gazillion

Wednesday, July 25, 2012


Riding up the hill into Pentwater I was greeted by a neat little sign that read: "Welcome to Pentwater." Swell, I thought. This is going to be a real treat riding through yet another quaint little lake shore burg. The streets were lined with nicely manicured lawns with beautifully appointed homes painted in bright, happy colors nested in the middle of them. I was impressed! Rising to the top of the hill I saw on my left a magnificent church, pure white, tall steeple, wide, double door, welcoming entrance atop a dozen steps or so. Must have been a couple generations old but beautifully maintained and with hundreds of stories to tell I am sure. St. Vincents was the name and I snapped several pictures. Then proceeded down the hill. The side of the rode became lined with vehicle towing boats awaiting their turn at the launch site. The view opened up and I was amazed to see so many of those boats already in the water and to my eye leaving very little, if any room for even one more. That was only the beginning. Turning right onto the main downtown street was another enlightening experience, now I didn't think that "quaint" quite properly described this teaming little metropolis of tourist attractions. Store after store lined the street on both sides, car were moving at a snails pace in bumper to bumper fashion, no doubt looking for the next parking space so they too could visit one of those stores and bring home some priceless artifact of memorabilia. People happily scampering across the road back and forth so as not to miss a single retail establishment. I have to admit the excitement was catching and fun although I myself did not enter a shop. Just all this smiling faces and cheerful voices after a long solitary ride seemed a nice contrast. Making my way between the traffic and then going West to the state park and beach I saw car after car lining the street with people lifting the trunks to fetch their chairs for the long walk to the shore. The beach itself was packed to overflowing with those same happy, sun loving folks out for a days enjoyment and perhaps just a touch of a tan. No room for me to stop to relax really so I returned to main street and headed North out of town. It was rather a shock as to how fast the people disappeared behind the very first turn and the vision I had of a quaint little town unfolded before my eyes right down to another park at the Northern border with a sign welcoming everyone to Pentwater. Nothing saying good bye though. I guess they don't want you to leave. Another two miles of smooth riding and I met up with my ride home at the entrance to US 31. Can't wait for the next time, it's been great riding weather lately too......................Joe

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Mile after mile rolled under my tires. I felt at times that I was on some sort of physical endurance test. The hills undulated relentlessly along this shoreline roadway. Wooded areas followed by sandy, grass covered meadows and then a creek would flow under the road with cattails and water lilies growing everywhere in the small ponds. Moving, even slowly limited my view of animal life but I almost nailed a groundhog I think with my front tire. Maybe it was a beaver but I didn't get a look at any flat tail. (It wasn't a platypus though, that's for sure. I didn't get that far off course.) A small unnamed town of closely nestled cottages sent me through it's streets twisting and turning to avoid huge trees, rocks and deep gorges with the buildings set amongst them as if pieces of an intricate puzzle. When it comes to the lake shore people can certainly become ingenious and tolerant just to be close to that jewel of nature. Picturesque doesn't even come close to this little town. But, I never saw a name. I plan on looking it up one of these days when I reminisce. Onward once again and the undulating hills returned along with more intense curves but the road itself was very smooth with only the occasional pothole. The fruitless orchards I passed between were a sad legacy of this unpredictable unusually hot spring, cold snap, and then the hot and dry summer. Not what we usually see: Branches bent with the sweet abundance of this area and the stands on the roadside touting boxes overflowing with dark mouth watering cherries. Nope, not this year. Somehow we'll make it. We always have. A long steady dropping turn to the left and I came across the bridge into Pentwater. Two guys leaning over the railing, cheering loudly and hauling in a huge fish from the channel. Might have been a cat, might have been any of a dozen other species. Huge will do in this case. Civilization came at me with the speed of light. More Later..........Joe

Monday, July 23, 2012

My life of late can be described in one word: "Suddenly." Any minute can bring an unexpected change. Sometimes disappointment, other times, such as this Sunday morning, excitement and happiness. Responsibilities and priorities appeared to eliminate any hope to further my goal of riding my bicycle around Lake Michigan for this particular weekend. I'd have to stick close to home and limit my riding to short runs around the neighborhood. Saturday was spent on errands and chores at home and work. Things that needed to be done but not necessarily then. Mixed with a quick 2 or 3 mile ride here or there just to keep up the spirit of adventure. Sunday dawned with me puttering in the yard in an attempt to keep the lawn from turning that sickly yellow of dormancy we see everywhere in the drought like conditions so far this summer. I find it cooling and relaxing to accomplish my work in the dark and early morning of the day. On Sundays it is an excellent time for prayer also. Then it was the shower and dressing for church. I had no idea what would come after that. I have learned not to plan. My choices of options are limited right now. After church I spoke at length with an acquaintance about a new car purchase and what services we offered at my shop. Then home to the news that the planets had aligned and I better suit up to travel on that bike ride. I was surprised and elated as well as stunned but not so much as to slow me down from being ready to go and out the door within 10 minutes at the most. Off we rode to Mears where I had stopped last week, Jumped on the bike, retraced a few miles almost to Silver Lake and turned North heading toward Pentwater if I could make it that far. My legs hadn't quite recuperated from the previous week's ride. The rode was hilly and a curve was always within sight. Narrow as it was there were plenty of other daring souls riding bicycles along the route as well. This time I made sure the camera worked and I took a few pictures. It didn't slow me down too much and the scenery is so spectacular I felt I needed some sort of visual memory of it or else I may forget that something so beautiful really exists so close to home.

Those responsibilities are fast approaching so I will leave some other talk about this til next time.........Joe

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Going too far, too fast, not so good.

I love my bicycle. Riding it is one of pure enjoyment for me. Last weekend, although I felt a bit tired, the length of the trip seemed very managable right up to the end. I didn't really feel anything as far as discomfort until Wednesday. I took short rides during the week of perhaps a couple miles to stay in shape. Some discomfort there but nothing I felt was out of the ordinary. This morning however, I rode close to 15 miles and my legs turned to rubber just like they did on my first stage of the around Lake Michigan experience. All sorts of things are running through my mind, rashional or not it's like a steady stream of goofy stuff: Didn't I warm up enough? Did I mess something up big time last weekend? Is this part of the aging process? Am I drinking enough water or sport drinks? Was it too cool in the early morning darkness for my muscles to stretch properly? I think you get the idea. I'm still in the learning process. I don't know everything yet about my personal endurance capabilities. I think there is a good chance I simply over did and I have to ease my way back into riding again. Some challenges have arisen of late and I'm not quite sure if I can put any more miles in this weekend but I know for sure if I do I'll stop to rest way more often and try to tune into my inner self and when it's telling me to back off, rest or stop entirely for the day. The trip will happen. There is no immovable time line here. If I over extend myself it will take even longer. It's much too enjoyable to make stupid mistakes like that. Being a whole lot younger and having way more time available, walking around almost 50 years ago was a huge success. In order for this to succeed I have to remember those advantages are no longer in effect. In their exuberance, "Mature" people can sometimesa forget that. I am living proof. Ouch, I have to go rub my legs with Ben-Gay. Later.............Joe

Friday, July 20, 2012

Biking towards Mears

Two things today really if you don't mind. First of all a problem arose on Monday afternoon due to someone not hiding my email address when they forwarded some information to another site. My computer received so much spam and other undesirable stuff over the next two days that I had to use another person's computer to get my work done. No time for anything personal. "Bob" the IT guy is working feverishly to flush out the offending electronic matter and we're hoping to have it all fixed by this coming Monday. Of course, "Bob" will walk away with a significant amount of my money. I ask anyone that receives anything from me that can be forwarded for any reason: Please, please use the BCC for multiple mailings. This has not been the first time and it is, quite frankly a pain in the butt.

That brings us to the bike riding I did this weekend past. I was unable to post again on Tuesday as promised so her it goes. Once I get going I am caught in between two goals: riding around Lake Michigan and experiencing what I am riding through. So far I feel I've maintained a reasonable balance. Going North from Montague and through a rather tranquil marshy area the terrain slowly changed around me from flat, sandy, ponds and grassy to somewhat hilly, wooded and enclosed, suddenly opening up onto a flat and spacious series of fertile fields planted with beans, corn straw or hay. Placed strategically amongst the fields were the ages old farm houses, barns and livestock buildings. Single rows of trees every so often to keep the winds in check and differing colorful vegetation arranged in neatly arranged squares took me a little by surprise. During my walk almost 50 years ago I hadn't wandered quite this far from the shoreline. A real treat for the senses. And, of course after the hills and curves of the beginning of the day's ride the flat, smooth and straight roads of this open farm land provided a more relaxing, actually effortless time to simply see, smell and listen to my surroundings. Pleasant to be sure. Cows and a few horses grazed while birds soared above in the blue sky supporting a dozen or so soft, billowing, pure white clouds. As beautiful as this scene was, when I came to a crossroad, I took a hard left back toward the shoreline and the lake itself. The road became narrow and winding in less than a half mile and within a few hundred yards more the hills, curves and overhanging trees returned as I entered the land of vacation cottages and resorts. Once again people were walking and jogging and holding leashes while their pets found interest and relief at the base of trees and bushes. (No hydrants here) The shoulders of the roads were sandy and something to be avoided with my bicycle tires, if I wanted to remain upright that is. Taking a tight curve right placed me onto a sort of causeway between Stony Lake and Lake Michigan. I remembered this place from long ago but the progression of civilization was apparent everywhere. And, boats and slips crowded the shoreline as if a strong wind had blown them together haphazard. Beautiful and busy and packed with humanity. Somehow it all worked out. I road off. Anxious to see around the next turn. Hill, curve, corner, lean left, lean right, another hill, road narrows, ends, another begins and suddenly I am at the base of the sandy hills of Silver Lake sand dunes and the state park nestled in it's shadows. What a magnificent sight those dunes are. Of course, you have to look in between all the tourist attractions and restaurants to get a decent view these days. Everyone I passed seemed to be having a great time. Along the street itself dune buggies and huge off road vehicles were passing, going to or coming from the motor sports part of the park. Lines of vehicles wound towards the center of town. I wondered how they would all fit. Many years ago this was a busy place but far less developed. More like an open free for all, with a cacophony of hand made vehicles that only distantly resembled anything remotely close to what we think of as safe these days. Today everything is roll bars, crash bumpers and seat belts. Almost no one used those things 50 years ago. Using the last vestiges of my strength and stamina from the efforts of the day I road up the winding hill leading away from that magnificent, albeit very touristy and busy area. Looking back over my shoulder often as I went. When will I be here again? What will it look like then? Time will tell. At the top of the hill the road straightened out for a bit dropped to a crossroad and a right turn and I rode up and down hills until my travels ended in quaint, colorful downtown Mears. Very similar in appearance to the town this days ride started in. I was so pooped I was more than ready to go home to the couch and a well deserved nap. Yeah, that nap sounded real good about then. Next time it'll be north towards Ludington if I can make it. My bike riding has taken me 149 mostly shoreline miles so far. Not bad, only about a thousand to go. Sounds more manageable every time I go.

Monday, July 16, 2012

A little farther on the bike trip

Mears! Yup, Mears. That's how far my bicycling has gotten me as of this weekend past. I started at the park between Whitehall and Montegue with the idea that I would take the excellent bike path north. As it was, although the bike path is rather nice in and of itself I chose to ride on the local, shore hugging, sometimes perilously narrow roads instead. My support vehicle closely following behind with flashers going when there was no side area. Traffic was very light so that didn't create any difficulties. My reasoning behind not taking the path was that when I walked around the lake almost 50 years ago I wandered as much as followed any particular path. I can tell you, wander I did on those streets. I think in Montegue I actually went backwards a couple times on the curves, twists and turns. Beautiful little town with flags a flying and flower baskets a hanging and neatly carved bushes and painstakingly manicured lawns. The route I took through town kept me mostly away from the touristy spots and it was nice to meander in the midst of every day life in a lakeside town. I wondered if the inhabitants ever considered just how lucky they were to spend their time only a stone's throw from such a treasure. I passed, perhaps a dozen and a half of them either walking a dog, jogging or passing the time with someone else. Houses were often painted in brightly contrasting colors, evoking a sense of a cheerful, pre-industrial existence. Reminiscent of the homes I saw in the movies while growing up. Trees draped over the roadways as if designed to provide a tunnel of leaves shielding me from the rays of the hot sun. Drifting in and out of the neighborhood I found differing approaches to lakeside life. First a shuttered cape cod somewhat modest in size and decorations and then, right next door a lavish, sprawling, wealth flaunting semi mansion. Quite a contrast but at the same time enlightening. We are all different, even here. After what seemed to be an inexhaustible number of hills and tight curves I rounded a downhill right turn and headed north winding between marshes, white beeches and ponds of varying sizes. That is where I passed my first fellow bicycle rider. Her lack of response to my friendly wave sort of surprised me. Head bent down, legs churning, speeding along as if trying to elude some sort of evil. We all ride for different reasons and she was indeed intent on hers. Just the same, I enjoy a wave of camaraderie. I'm not the French racing type of competitor. I could smell the differing aroma's provided by the landscape. A little more about this trip next time. Too much for today.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

A friendship, or not?

I received a telephone call from and old friend and mentor early this morning. He was a little short with me because he hasn't heard from me in two weeks. "You know I worry." He said. "If I don't hear from you I don't know what to think and start wondering about the worst that could happen." It took me by surprise at first and I felt like addressing him as Mom. Then it dawned on me just what our relationship has become. I thanked him for his concern and told him I would try to do better in the future about calling him or writing letters more often. I just dropped a long letter in the mail box and he should receive it on Monday. I wrote about everything I could think of. That's what he needs right now. I am pleased to provide it.

John lives alone in a small apartment up north. Unfortunately, he has no friends left in his life. John has been a not so nice person to almost everyone he was close to over the years and through unguarded comments to them he has burned many bridges and they will not talk to him any more. He is now alone with the memories of what he's said and done except for the long distance correspondence and conversations we have. In short, he needs me. Over time I have done my best to help him apologize and make amends for the past through letters and attempted phone calls. As sad as it is, he actually had to learn how to do that. The family and friends from his past have chosen, and with good reason from what he's told me, not to reply. At least he's given it his best shot.

We met by chance 20 years ago and in his own way he advised me through a very stressful time, struck up a friendship and here we are today. In his words when he unselfishly gave me advice he experienced something he had never experienced before, consideration of someone else without expecting anything in return. That was a turning point in his life and he has worked on being a better person ever since. I can tell you from my own observation, he's had quite a job to do in that respect. But, he keeps working on it. Through his efforts I continue to learn and improve my own life.

The cornerstones of John's new life are A.A. meetings and his new found faith. For my part I guess I simply am some sort of human contact. Although he is working hard on becoming a better person he is still extremely abrasive in his talk and actions. If he didn't live way up north I'm not so sure it would be an acceptable situation as a friendship. It's workable by letter and phone calls though and also the fact that I didn't know him at his worst and don't have that insurmountable baggage to deal with.

Maybe it's a true friendship, maybe it's not but so far so good. We are both the better for it. At times he has some very interesting things to say.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Getting on with everything

If a person expects to get on with life on a regular basis they just better get used to jumping hurdles. That's been my experience anyway. I'm not saying I always enjoy those pesky hurdles, I'm just saying I have to expect them. Sure as I'm sitting here looking at the screen, in a short time something I hadn't planned on will happen.

Hurdle number one: Ever since Monday past my inbox has been filled with spam and advertising of huge proportions never before seen on my computer thereby slowing down my server to a snail's pace. I am grateful for my security system or I'd be off the air.

Hurdle number two: I jumped on my trusty bicycle, pushed down on the pedal to get it moving and busted the pedal bolt. Luckily I didn't injure myself except for a minor ankle scrape. My goodness, I could be talking in a much higher voice instead. By chance I had a spare pedal and bolt on hand.

Hurdle number three: A well meaning friend saw a loose wire hanging down from the front bumper of my car and attempted to stuff it back up into the light socket. Unfortunately, the wire was live and shorted out my lighting system. One wire at a time I am slowly replacing those that burned up.

Actually, I think you are getting the gist of things. You know what I mean. Life is not necessarily a bowl of cherries nor a bouquet of roses. Even so, cherries can spoil and roses die quickly. We have to be ready and able to tackle hurdles and keep moving along grabbing for all that is good. Which brings me to my continuing opportunity concerning the lack of time to ride that bicycle so I stay in shape to complete my expedition around Lake Michigan. Mornings see me at work early and evenings see me taking care of at home responsibilities late into the evening. Hence even riding back and forth to work has been sporadic at best. Walla! I keep the bike by the door of my shop and when I have a little time I ride back and forth up and down my street. I am beginning to know the sights well enough to recite them verbatim but at least I'm getting some wheel time. Just typing this it appears rather boring but in actuality it is quite exhilarating and somehow makes me feel as though I am a little kid getting away with something. Some people call it making lemonade if you are given lemons. Call it what you will but I am determined to get around that lake. Just bear with me and we'll share the ride.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Bicycle addiction

Aaaaahhhh! I finally went for a 19 mile, morning ride on my bicycle. Unfortunately it wasn't part of my ride around Lake Michigan but a great experience never-the-less. What with personal, business and weather related hurdles I hadn't been able to ride for almost two full weeks. I was suffering from some type of cycling withdrawal syndrome. Wanderlust, day dreaming, loss of focus, a yearning for the road passing under me with the wind in my face, stuff like that. I could tolerate it no longer and grabbed the opportunity on Saturday morning past. Woke up way before dawn broke, watered the flowers and garden while partaking of the mandatory intake of strong, dark, heart jogging coffee, walked into the garage for a rake, looked at my trusty two wheeler and made the decision to throw my other activities to the wind and go for a ride. Oooohhh! How nice it was. Down the street, around a couple corners, over a hill and onto the Kent Trails bike path. It was barely light enough to see the pathway ahead of me and already there were joggers, runners, bikers and skaters moving along in staggered positions, most with ear buds and some type of radio or Ipod or whatever it is that people listen to now. Exhilarating, to say the least. Trees, bushes, birds, creeks, bridges, ponds and even a water treatment plant leading to and coming from John Ball Park, back to downtown Byron Center and finally my driveway and home. The time passed way too quickly and here it was over two full hours in the saddle and a full 19 miles on my new tires. My legs were a bit testy and I wobbled for a while as I walked off the adrenaline but otherwise I had gotten my exercise fix after such a long stay of inactivity. I am back to being myself once again.

It is amazing just how much I missed riding and how it affected my every day ability to cope with stress. Every new day is an opportunity and on Saturday I took advantage of it. I encourage you to give something a shot also that perhaps you may be missing. It put me in a wonderful mood to savor meeting new people at a dinner party later in the day. I wasn't caught up in dreaming or doing the wanderlust thing. A great day all around. I love that bicycle.

Monday, June 25, 2012

More progress even.

I am so very pleased that over this past weekend I was able to ride an even greater distance than in the past. Of course, I also may not travel that distance any time soon. I'm pooped! On Saturday I departed from the North end of Grand Haven on US31 going North. Through Spring Lake, Fruitport and Norton Shores. Tree lined roads were the norm but not until after I left Spring Lake. Holy Cow! Some streets are definately not intended to be bicycle friendly. Moving onto Shoreline Drive the roads widened and became a whole lot less unnerving as the vehicles had plenty of room because of the wide shoulders I was riding on. I didn't hit the beeches until Pioneer Park and then I just took a short spin to the water and back. There were way too many people for my liking. I love people but I also was on a higher mileage mission and talking to much would be my downfall. Taking a few pictures along the way so as to help record and preserve the memory, I traveled on. After a well deserved rest saturday night I went back to Grand Haven Sunday morning and stopped at a store called "Bookman" A nice little book store tucked into a small part of downtown right next to a busy restaurant on Washington Street. I dropped off a copy of "Joe's Story: The Book of a Lifetime" They are going to look it over and may begin to take orders for it or maybe stock it if need be. Nice folks there at "Bookman" On Sunday the road took me to the Muskegon beeches and what a delight they were. Clean, accessable and relatively uncrowded. An excellent place to spend a day by the lake. I had forgotten just how beautiful it was there. After the beech I found a north bound road and went without rest or hesitation straight through Muskegon itself. There are plenty enough attractions in Muskegon to appeal to almost anyone. Especially some of the old, restored lumber baron and other rich folks homes. But speed through town I did and on to North Muskegon and past the electric generating plant and beyond. This weekend the wind was not pushing me back two feet for every three feet I went forward. The air was cooler and the clouds and light showers brought some relief from the sun on occasion. The next time I passed near the water was at Duck Lake and it was a joy to see the families with their young kids frolicing in the shallow water as I road by the Lake Michigan shoreline. The sound of laughter stayed in my head for many miles afterward. After what seemed a long solitary ride I came to the road leading into Whitehall. Once again the roads were packed with tourists as well as local people. I rode down the winding hill leading to the city park on the shore of the river there and the feeling I had when I sighted my support vehicle ready to take me home was one of complete and exhausted relief. I enjoyed the ride, saw many things, went a long way into God's country and satisfied my curiosity as to how far I could go if I set my mind to it but it was indeed time to go home for this week. Nap time!!!!!!!!!! So far, so good! Til, next time.......Joe
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