Friday, January 11, 2019

Is “Life" just another 
"Escape Room”?

Blind folded... because I was a dangerous outlaw you know - I was taken into an old cell from the 1800’s out in the "Wild West”.
Then I was shackled to the wall and told to sit on the bench below.  
The rest of my “gang” was brought it and shackled too.
Only then could we remove our blindfolds.  
“Escape Room”
And so I was introduced to the game of the “Escape Room”!  Wikipedia describes it as: a physical adventure game in which players solve a series of puzzles and riddles using clues, hints, and strategy to complete the objectives at hand. Players are given a set time limit to unveil the secret plot which is hidden within the rooms.
It’s an opportunity for “team building”, for example, to see how you can work together, listen, think creatively and keep trying other ideas if some don’t work.
Here’s the plan…
My college age grandchildren had chosen a scenario they thought I would like.  Rather than being locked in with zombies or pirates, etc. they decided we would perform a “Wild West” jail break - Time Period: 1800’s.    
Now keep in mind that when I come to visit them I like it really relaxed.  You see, I’ve got enough “adventures” in my regular life keeping up the farm.
   Just let me sit on their couch, with their little dog keeping me warm and a good book in my hand and I just watch them hurry along on all their busy activities.
On with the game… 
But the six of us, including their parents, settled down and scoped out the cell to make our escape.  I was the first one to get out of the shackles around my ankles.  I couldn’t figure out the code locking them that I was supposed to decipher… but I figured I could just slip out of my shoes and out of the shackles.  
I don’t know if that’s cheating but we were planning a “jail break” you know! 
Here’s the plan…
I climbed on the bench and found a loose bar in the cell’s “window”.  Then my son-in-law figured out how to get the key to the cell which was hanging across the room.   
But getting out of the cell was just a part of the scene and we still had to get the outer door opened.  
Actually, when the others got out of the cell into the open jail area ahead,  the “Jailer” stepped in with me for a moment. Now I was standing next to the cell door so I just slid out and snapped it shut so I could lock the jailer inside!   
I’m still smiling.
But the “jailer” had a “heart”…
I think the jailer felt sorry for us though as we heard little “hints” muttered by him when we were stymied.  (Thanks Jailer!). 
Many ideas were tried and failed and some succeeded.
If I had been alone - I think I would still be in the cell.

Even so… it took us almost the full hour time limit to get out.

And finally I could go back
     to the “Escape Room” 
of my regular life.


Tuesday, December 18, 2018

 Whats up with the 
"New Sheriff In Town"!

 Looked like the new sheriff in Goodhue county got in a fight… but it was with a large tree… and his weapon was a chain saw… and although the sheriff won… he’s got some “warrior wounds”.  
(I interviewed Marty Kelly and 
his wife Mary via email.)

                                              Photo by Jack Kelly

This is his story… and he’s sticking to it!
Our new sheriff, Marty Kelly’s version: “I was cleaning up the old Belvidere Trail on our property to open up trails for walking or snowmobiling this winter. I had a fire going and was enjoying the day off. 
“There was a dead tree leaning over the trail. The branches had blown off in a prior storm so I thought it was an easy cut. 
“Having cut thousands of trees in my life I notched it where I thought it would fall. When I got through the back side the tree spun around. I didn't know where it was going to fall. 
“I was on a bit of a hill so I jumped down and attempted to run out of its way. I ended up tripping on some branches and the tree landed on my back and left side. 
“I believe adrenaline and several guardian angels got me out from under the tree and to my ATV. I did not have cell reception where I was at so I knew I had to get myself out of the woods. 
“I drove myself back to my house which was about two miles. When I got home I called my Dad, who lives close by, and asked him to come and drive me to the hospital. 
“I then called my wife and informed her I was headed to the hospital and asked her to meet me there. I walked myself to my van and waited for my Dad to take me to the hospital. 
He feels the pain…
“As we drove to the hospital the adrenaline and shock must have wore off. When I arrived at the ER, Dr. Kays and his trauma team did a wonderful job getting me out of the van and assessing my injuries. 
“My injuries included; 5 fractured ribs, 4 fractured vertebrae, punctured lung, fractured right hand and damage to my left wrist. This injury required surgery to repair the damaged tendons, ligaments and cartilage. 
“I have five pins holding it all together.  Soft tissue damage to my right knee and left shoulder. 
“The doctors say my wrist will be the most difficult recovery but as of right now my ribs and back seem to hurt the most. 
Change in plans…
“Prior to this accident I was putting in about 20-25 hours a week preparing for my duties as Sheriff. This has been on hold but Jeremy Lerfald, Chief Deputy, has done a nice job stepping in with some interviews that have taken place for positions that will open up in January. 
“Current Sheriff, Kris Johnson, has also been incredibly helpful during this time as well. 
Cop jokes?
“I have not yet heard any jokes about the incident but I am sure they are coming. At this point it still hurts to laugh, so hopefully we hold off for a little while. 
Taking office…
“I will be sworn in December 28th and will start my position as Sheriff on January 9th. I will have some doctor appointments but should be ready to begin work on the 9th. I am excited to get started.” 

(My personal thought: I’m waiting for the “cop jokes” to start! 
Then you'll know youre getting better!  

Friday, November 9, 2018

Saving Private... who?

 Saving Private… who?
It was the ravaged aftermath of WWII in europe - with its bombed out buildings haunting its cities - that still captivates my memory.
I was a child when I saw them after the war was over.  I grew up in the U.S., but I was uncomfortable seeing movies that didn’t portray my understanding of the pain and anguish of war in its reality.
I was recently touched by a reference to Steven Spielberg’s movie, Saving Private Ryan, mentioned in the book, On Combat by Lt. Col. Dave Grossman.
He reports that Spielberg’s movie is “an incredibly realistic depiction of the violence and horror of combat.”  
But he makes an important point. 
The story has U.S. Army Rangers going behind enemy lines where each man dies trying to save one young paratrooper: Private Ryan.  
In Grossman’s mind: “that band of Rangers represents every American warrior who ever willingly gave his life to give us freedom, the lives and the liberty that we have today.”
Grossman explains: Those Rangers are the same as the soldiers who died in the Civil War… In the bloody tide at Normandy Beach and Iwo Jima.  They are the police officers and firefighters who rushed up the steps of the World Trade Center on 9-11.  “… and they represent the cop who died yesterday… alone and afraid … somewhere in America”.  
Dying words...
At the end of the movie, when the last ranger lays dying, he looks up at the Private they saved… and his dying words are: “Earn it”.  
“Earn it…”
And isn’t that what we all need to consider when we make decisions that protect these precious ideals they fought for us to have?
In seeing and hearing the accusations tossed around today I wonder:  Who is the enemy?  
They said that?
When researching public attitudes during the Revolutionary War, Civil War, etc. I find some very unpopular statements about those folks that today we think are heroes!
So consider this...
Are we the “Private Ryan’s” those Rangers struggled to save?
If so...What are we “protecting” for the future?
Just a thought… 
Picture yourself in the position of the surviving paratrooper as he listens to the dying soldier who saved his life… and his admonition to protect these ideals for the future.
Can we do this…
Saving Private ___________   (Put your name here).

Monday, November 5, 2018

Knock-Knock... ouch!

Is it just your problem?

Who’s there?
(Remind you of a joke?)

But it was no joke to the speaker on the podium… or to the bird who was repeatedly flying into the long window behind him.  The speaker knew the bird’s attacks would be very distracting to the audience, so he called their attention to it.  
A red cardinal was apparently seeing his reflection in the window and deciding it was an adversary, he flew at the window to attack his replica. 
He did this on and off for about an hour.  (Yes, it was distracting but what could you do?)
Theoretically the bird could have decided not to attack the reflection.  Or after doing it a zillion times he could have decided he wasn’t making an impact on the problem.     
Teaching moment!
So it seems like there is a “teaching moment” in this cardinal/window episode.
Can it relate to our “life”?
Can we find ourselves attacking a reflection of what we think is an enemy?  Or a problem?
You focus on it… you attack it.
But the “enemy’s response”…
But “it” doesn’t attack back.
It just remains there.
It doesn’t go away… no matter how much effort you make attacking it.
And so…
So how much time do we spend in our lives just attacking a problem that is simply a reflection?
Maybe we should ask ourselves:  What does this “adversary” represent?
Is it just reflection of something we don’t like in our life?
  Are we the only one who sees it as an enemy? 
Maybe we should consider this…
  What are we accomplishing by attacking this “reflection”?
  Should we do something different?
Could it be that we might just be distracting others?   
  I probably missed a lot of what the speaker said that day because I was watching the cardinal “attack” its self-designated “problem”!  
But this is where friends can help.  Or strangers.  Someone else might see what we’re doing… and help us identify the situation… and find a better solution.  
And “Knock - Knock” can be a joke again!

(This column was inspired after hearing the authors of the book: How to Stop Freaking the %#$@ Out! by Erin Pasch and Kyle Keller at the Cannon Falls Library.)

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

"Ghost dog"?

 "Ghost Dog"... 
Explaining the “unexplainable”? 

They act as “Go Betweens” - meaning between humans and the supernatural.
Several members of the Dakota County Paranormal Society (DCPS) explained their position at a presentation recently at the Cannon Falls Library. 
Their website explains, they gather the data that leads to a better understanding of ghosts, hauntings and the paranormal in general.
It explains they are not professionals.  They are a “group of men and women committed to the study, research, and investigation of the Paranormal.”
Juli Glazebrock, team leader, commented: they also want to help anyone having problems with or understanding these situations.
Or they will put them in contact with trained professionals who can assist them.  This could be others in their field or medical help professionals.  
They avoid situations where people have used Ouija boards because, Juli explained, that is like opening a door and other types of entities can come in.   
They do not charge for their services.
They operate in Minnesota, western Wisconsin and northern Iowa.
Is something wrong with me?
Sometimes the person requesting help explains the weird situation they’ve experienced and asks: “I just want to know I’m not crazy.”  
The members of DCPS are very serious about investigations.  They use a variety of electromagnetic field equipment including voice recorders, a variety of cameras including a Polaroid, etc.
The hours of recordings are later reviewed as they compile their insights as to sounds and images.  Some of these they may not have noticed during their investigation.
Favorite haunting places…
One of their favorite places to investigate seems to be the previously known Mississippi Belle restaurant in Hastings.  A recent investigation was held at the Le Duc Mansion.
“Ghost dog?”
After returning home from the meeting of the “ghost hunters”, I settled down at my kitchen table to read awhile before calling it a day.  
It was quiet as I chose the book: Killing the SS.  It’s about the hunt for Nazi death camp officers over the many years since WWII.  
It’s a vivid tale of intrigue and suspense.
It’s also probably not the best choice of reading material after the meeting about spooky experiences. 
The light over my table highlighted the brutal events.  All of a sudden in the silence I heard the growl of a dog.
This was curious because I don’t have a dog.
It wasn’t a scary growl… kind of like a vibrating motor running.  Or like a “purr” from a cat.
So what?
I didn’t pay much attention - except noting it at the time and I kept reading the book.
About two minutes later I heard the “growl-purr” again and I actually looked under the table to see if some kind of wild critter had gotten into the house out here in the country.
Nothing there.
I thought it was curious but that was all.
A couple minutes later it happened again. 
Then a fourth time.
OK folks!  Now I'm paying attention!
German Shepherds
I thought of all the German Shepherd dogs we had over the years.
Was this a suggestion to get one?   
        Or is there a dog already here? 
*** Let’s get back to the book…
I went back to reading about the concentration camps but I freaked out with the next page explaining how women guards used vicious German Shepherd dogs to control their prisoners.
I decided to do some other chores that night.  
Explaining the Unexplainable…
I thought about the paranormal investigators and their deductions as to what the sounds and/or pictures they were studying really were. 
The audio they interpreted to be voices from the supernatural was not understandable to me.  But could it be that the difficulty in discerning this is that we are trying to explain the “unexplainable”? 
Many ancient belief systems seem to have tried to do this.
Are we all trying to interpret this “voyage” we are on in ways that make sense to ourselves?   Even though it doesn’t make sense to someone else?
But maybe that’s the challenge we are to take.

Is this where all the "lost" socks in 
wash machines have gone to?

Graphics from the CDPS website.

Thursday, October 18, 2018

They did WHAT?

Surprises at candidate’s meeting!

A couple days before the panel discussion introducing the two candidates for sheriff was held, I was informed that we had no moderator.
Not good.
Actually, I had tried to get about seven different people to be the moderator and all had excuses. (Some of them were really lousy excuses in my mind.}
So… since I have interviewed many people over the years - I could do this.
And then I decided it’s not going to be a debate.  Reason?  I hate debates. I have a short attention span and lose concentration easily!  So their responses were limited to two minutes. And not every candidate is good at debating.
  Plus, it was “my party”!  That’s what I call it when I have to do all the planning.
Candidates accepted.
Anyway, I had already invited the two candidates for sheriff to participate at a meeting of the Cannon Falls Area TRIAD.  It would be on Cable TV and Youtube.
The night before the presentation I was told that there was a problem for one of the candidates. He had just been put on administrative leave from his police department and had his gun taken away.  (That last part seems a little dramatic but that’s the way they play it.)
The problem was that neither the candidate nor the public could know what he was being accused of.
Didn’t we just go through something like this out in Washington, D.C.?
What do we do with this?
So I thought it would be best if I mentioned the situation to the audience before the program began.  Both candidates agreed to let me do it.  One wanted to express his understanding of the problem and the other one wanted to say that he had nothing to do with the accusation.
My problem was that I couldn’t think of any words that weren’t sensitive to the issue!   I asked a couple other folks and we were all stumped.
So it was suggested I just let someone in the audience ask it.
And I did.
Googled the questions!
Now I had already “googled” other questions and run them by members of the TRIAD board.  
We came up with some real “stoppers”!
Example.: Why do you want to be sheriff?
OK.  The other questions were a little better.
Then came input from the audience…
First was the question about the administrative leave.  That was handled as mentioned.
Then another member of the audience had brought a sign to emphasize his point.  He wanted to know when the deputies were getting body cameras.  
This got to be a little tense as he had his own concerns and was vigorously defending them to local police.
I was getting a little uncomfortable with the situation and got up from my chair as moderator to be prepared for… I didn’t know what!  
And I didn’t know what I would do since I liked both of them and also realized that they’re both bigger than me!
But everyone settled down and the “party” went on.
Vote for…?
So… now do you know who to vote for?

More than one person said… either way we’ve got a good candidate for sheriff!

Saturday, October 6, 2018

The most beautiful 
Christmas tree... 
I wish I had never seen!

Many 30-40 foot pine trees 
went down at our farm. 

This is the top of one of them. 
It was shorting out the fence line 
and endangering the critters.

It’s fresh pine boughs 
and perfectly shaped cones 
make it a beautiful Christmas tree… 
but one I wish I had never seen. 

I would like it to still be alive.

It’s all lit up now. 

Like a sentinel… 
to the many trees and dreams

that were lost in the storm...

that dark and windy night.

(See it lit from 7-9 p.m. for a while.)