The Cepia Club Blog

The Cepia Club Blog: The Cepia Club believes individual awareness and activism can lead to a peaceful and prosperous world. This blog contains the pertinent literature, both creative and non-fiction, produced by the Cepiaclub Director and its associates.

Thursday, April 05, 2018

Dark Frontiers of War in the Future: Part III: Stealth Fires and Nano-weapons


Dark Frontiers of War in the Future
By Tim Krenz
April 5, 2018
For Hometown Gazette

Part III: Stealth Fires and Nano-weapons

In the first two installments of this series, we examined the Next Frontier of Warfare model, specifically the Informed Command and Smart Base functions, as trends coming in armed conflict. As the model and these articles suggest, the Next Frontier will significantly alter the human, and very social, phenomenon of warfare. In this third part, the study undertakes the function of Stealth Fires, and we will discuss how the evolution of weapons in the short- and long-term future endangers civilian populations.

Increasing scientific and engineering breakthroughs rapidly change the means of warfare. Stealth Fires in the forms adapted from nanotechnology will increase war's unpredictable destructiveness. The effects of “Nano-weapons,” as we term them, may even change the way humans live on earth, in war or in peace. As with all weaponry, opponents will also try to develop counter-measures to them or to deter their use. But, as with near-open-ended investments in nuclear weapons and their accessories, the cure to nano-weapons may become as deadly as the disease.

Understanding that the fundamentals and principles of war remain the same throughout most of history (e.g. “unity of command,” “concentration,” “surprise,” etc. or “war is a political act”), a brief survey of firepower, called Stealth Fires in the model, will assist the evaluation of the Dark Frontier of nano-weapons. We will use the same criteria here as in parts one and two: What does the Dark Frontier mean? How does it compare with the old? What counter-measures can stop these new weapons of today and tomorrow? And how does it affect non-combatants?

In the dawn of the world, animals including early hominids did not use weapons, but had to grab and grapple with opponents in brute physical survival. From primitive weapons like sticks and stones, to sharpened spears and flint knifes, humanity's understanding and exploitation of nature always increased the range and types of weapons used. From Neolithic Age to Bronze Age, and Iron Age to Nuclear Age, the secrets of the universe found by the human mind created more precise and more lethal weapons. Ways of killing people multiplied. No progress either, humanity's reasons for armed conflict kept apace with the growth of human fear and greed.

At the level of warfare known as tactics, the goal became victory when meeting the enemy in battle, whether killing him or disconnecting his will to resist force. Tactics came at the tip of the spear, like the Macedonian sarissa or the Roman short stabbing sword, the gladius. Killing or wounding the enemy, or deterring or demoralizing him into submission, meant the difference between winning or losing. Whether for conquest or plunder, the methods have remained consistent. Only the means have changed, from rough rocks to ballistic nuclear-tipped missiles.

To place Stealth Fires in Next Frontier context, the phrase means using a protected “weapon” for delivering a lethal “blow” to the enemy. This same definition applies to armored knights to a hardened missile silo or to a hidden foxhole, all which served their purposes in history. Whether done with layers of physical protection or through deception as protection, the method of using the tactics directly to kill an enemy has also always remained the same. “Hurt the other guy and don't get hurt yourself.”

The means have changed, even within the indirect means of what history calls “missile” weapons. Ancient people made composite materials into bows that shot arrows with such force as to penetrate armor. The Roman Legions used their ballistae, or catapult-type weapons, to great affect to weaken their enemy from a distance before closing in cohorts with the pilum (a type of javelin) and gladius to bloodily cut up their enemy. Impairing and attriting an enemy from a distance with missile weapons before a decisive, full attack remains the norm through history.

Science and engineering advanced. With gun powder came some truly devastating weapons, like cannons shooting cannonballs, also know as artillery (a ballistics, “missile” weapon). The master of war and politics, Napoleon of France, studied as an artillery officer before the Revolution and his ascent to power. He kept large reserves of artillery under his central command in his battles, employing them at decisive points to weaken his enemies, and then launching crushing assaults of infantry and cavalry at those vulnerable spots at precise moments. He called his 12-pounder cannon his “pretty girls,” and he understood cannon artillery in his age as the “god of the battlefield.” He conquered Europe with it, only to lose it for the political failure of not having reliable allies in the end, inside or outside France.

Nothing has really changed about the tactical application of firepower, that means of killing or disabling an enemy and reducing his powers of resistance. Improvised explosives used by terrorist, carpet bombing of cities, or Viet Cong assassinations of school teachers, all use the Stealth Fires definition we describe. Only the extent of those people exposed to the gruesomeness of war has expanded, moving from soldiers to civilians. In the world, whether done legitimately or not, collateral destruction of enemy resistance remains the basis of tactics in warfare. The point remains, whether with limits or without, to put the spear to the enemy to end the war and end the killing. On the other hand, in the political act of war (the social phenomenon), the ends of the goal sought have to match the means used. Otherwise, as with any mass use of nuclear weapons if deterrence fails, no one will survive to claim a victory and everyone ends up exhausted, defeated or dead.

In the 21st Century, science has developed a new form of technology, one just as easily converted into weapons with how the research has progressed. Nanotechnology (“nano” meaning small) uses atoms, molecules, and possibly cellular tissue, to create working machines. The principles, understood and adaptable to weapons, will introduce the new Dark Frontier of nano-weapons.

These weapons can take many forms. From select viruses that kill certain enemies with particular genetic codings, to small explosives that can lethally attack parts of the human body (arteries, etc.), to small surveillance devices that guide precision guided munitions from a safe and hidden distance on target, nanoweapons open possibilities as wide as science fiction describes. The real problem with nano-weapons comes in their use under command, whether directed or assisted by humans in remote or close positions, or by “independent intelligence,” as scientists develop the artificial intelligence systems striving to get born.

Nanoweapons can sound like the spear tips of the Theban Sacred Band in ancient Greece or take the expanse of ground zero in Nagasaki on August 9, 1945. They can make killing or even deterring the enemy as selective or broadly undiscriminating as desired by political authorities and military commanders. Beyond the preemptive control of nano-weapons before deployment or full-scale manufacture, counter-measures will also get great attention at the same time. If civilization can find no personally moral or politically ethical means to restrain the development and use nano-weapons, it behooves human kind to explore ways to deter or defeat them. Such counter-measures might include electro-magnetic fields to disrupt them, lights and energy weapons within or outside the visible spectrum, or the use of aerosols and particles in the atmospheres (interiors or exteriors), or anti-nano-weapon-nano-weapons (the most likely)--all and anything that can disable or destroy nano-weapons. Whatever the counter-measures eventually developed, the weapons themselves and the means of stopping them will affect the human life and the world's environment in some way, depending on the scale or degree of use.

Taken as a whole, the Stealth Fires function and the nano-weapons division of the present and future must come with solutions to their use, in the scientific and political field. In the Second World War, the Allies developed the atomic bomb, and the world still does not know what to do with them or how to get rid of them. Wither will we go with nano-weapons? Unless the discussion and debate begins now on preventing their manufacture, their use, or humanity's tendency to kill for greed or fear by means of war, the dark frontiers of human history need the light of day to understand them. Let us talk about the future.

Tuesday, April 03, 2018

Cepiaclub Directory Report-March 21, 2018


Cepiaclub Directory Report
By Tim Krenz, Director
For Ubet Gazette
March 21, 2018

The Cepiaclub Directory, the managing committee, held a meeting of principal members on February 24th, the first quarterly meeting of 2018. Four attended.

Our meeting began with a discussion of my director role as executive agent, and in my capacity as the single owner and manager of the legal entity, The Cepia Club LLC. The Directory, having served mainly as an advisory body until now, will continue to seek the near-unanimous consensus on substantive issues, with the director maintaining a firm veto power on any decisions. The director's veto ensures compliance with the legal requirements of the business and to prevent liability infractions for those acting on behalf of the legal entity or Cepiaclub in general. In addition to its advisory capacity, the full directory and others helping it, will gradually become more operative and representative agents in the management and activities of the entire Cepiaclub organization from here forward.

--Organizational Goals

We next looked at the modus vivendi of Cepiaclub, and we reexamined our end state analysis as presented last year, the arrangement that should unite us all in the common endeavor. In the analysis, we reaffirmed the ultimate goals of Cepiaclub's program, the reason why we deem “Connecting people. . . with community media” so important. Those ultimate goals we base on the “Four Freedoms,” famously delivered by President Franklin D. Roosevelt eleven months prior to America's entry in to the Second World War. Those freedoms, enshrined in the memory of that generation, stand the test of time and humanity. We read that all peoples of the earth should forever ought to have: “Freedom of Speech and Freedom of Worship; Freedom from Fear and Freedom from Want.” Later, these freedoms found their incorporation into the Atlantic Charter and into the declaration of the United Nations Alliance that defeated the Nazis, fascist, and militarist in the Second World War.

We, as the Directory, believes that as all democracy struggles to maintain these freedoms universally, that those Four Freedoms succinctly represent that for which Cepiaclub fights peacefully in its grand effort—to preserve or implement them for all time. Without those goals, no society can claim a moral obligation over any matter of person or state of self-governance.

Cepiaclub adheres to its core commitment to protect the unending existence of true democratic systems of government, under any form of constitution, whereby citizens anywhere maintain the choices to determine, collectively or individually, how they shall govern themselves. Some may question the commitment to democracy, and its efficiency, as a core function of our organization. However, the Directory believes it can find and support no other means of institutional coherence that fulfills a practical way for people to live together, and voluntarily enjoy the fruits of peace and labor.

--Organizational Status of Cepiaglobal

The Cepiaglobal Associated Membership Program, the method by which we accept subscribers into our organization, came under extensive discussion. Currently at 34 of the premium subscribers, Cepiaglobal as a program has built a powerful and supportive base. With the various projects of the past 10 years since we initiated it, we have successfully tested its potential and the fellowship's capacity to function. While some projects had ad hoc work groups, other projects have continued with these individuals.

With Cepiaglobal, we aim at an activist core of associated members aiming toward the common goals, as expressed in our effort to preserve and advance the Four Freedoms. Keeping in mind the organization's need to keep the activist interested and productive, and give meaning for their own individual causes and our collective good, we approach this next step in the growth of Cepiaclub and the activity of Cepiaglobal from several directions.

First, we would like to ask Cepiaglobal subscribers, and others interested in becoming such associates, some questions: How do you want to participate in Cepiaclub? How can we assist the specific acts of participation? What volunteer opportunities on your own initiative, outside of Cepiaclub, would you like to do? What do you want to do, more specifically as an activist in an individual and independent mission in your community? What assistance would the Cepiaglobal subscribers need from other individual associates in our activist fellowship to accomplish their missions?

Second, with these simple questions in mind, Cepiaclub will host a Cepiaglobal meeting, or mini-conference, Friday, June 15th, starting at 7 PM, at the historic Folsom House, in Taylors Falls, MN (directly across the river from St. Croix Falls, WI). At this “meet and greet” and informal occasion, we invite Cepiaglobal associates and invited guests to bring their ideas, copies of their business cards, resumes, outlines, or activist briefs, or other relevant material, to share at our rather social and relaxed function.

While we will have a limited program that evening, outlining how “connecting people. . .with community media,” works toward our end state goals, most of this occasion on June 15th will simply focus on knowing and hearing, and understanding and listening—to each other. We will discuss, in depth, the questions from the previous paragraph, to discover how we can more effectively work as a group and individually—in our community that ends public ignorance and apathy. (Non-subscribers who wish attend should use the contact form for Cepiaclub at www.cepiaclub.com to reserve credentials, or directly contact me).

--Other Business

As the Directory moved forward, we reviewed the website and determined some improvements for easier and better use of the “hive site.” We also discussed the need for a social media facilitator, with action pending on this item. In looking at our publishing enterprise the past year, we felt very happy with the publication of five issues (4 issues alone in the first volume collection) of our NormalcyMag. It has received great enthusiasm from readers and critical commentators. Also, we felt okay with the two issues of Strategikon done so far. Finally, we hope the new updated versions of Ubet Gazette will improve over time.

We also hope that the current 34 associates in the Cepiaglobal subscription all renew dues in 2018, by either monetary payment or trade in-kind. We discussed using our ambition to renew audio-visual productions as a promotional means to attract more followers into the general CepiaclubNet and into the Cepiaglobal Associate Membership Program. In 2018, The Cepia Club LLC will move ahead on a coupon release. (See more on this coupon matter in future issues of Ubet Gazette). Finally, the Directory reviewed the need to expand, refine, and clean the broader CepiaclubNet information system, a data based names and organizations of those interested in our free publications and bulletins. Cepiaclub does not, I feel, serve exclusively the interest of only dues paying subscribers, but of the larger population. Therefore, the more widespread we can post our free things, like NormalcyMag, the more outreach we can accomplish toward our end state goals—The Four Freedoms.

The Cepia Club had a great year in 2017 and a great start in 2018. We will continue to work hard the rest of this year in the noble venture to empower people to remain free in their choices and conscience, and to live free in peace and prosperity.

Sincerely,

Tim Krenz
Director/Cepiaclub
Owner-Manager
The Cepia Club LLC

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Low Adventures—Trekking Superior Hiking Trail Part 5—Proto-Typical Family Vacation


Low Adventures—Trekking Superior Hiking Trail
Part 5—Proto-Typical Family Vacation
By Tim Krenz
February 14, 2018

When camping with one person or a small group over many trips, divisions of labor and routine establish themselves. Chores get divided and done pretty much by mutual consent of everyone involved. It works pretty good that way. Add new elements and other people and new adventures happen, and in new dynamics of having fun. With our trip to the Superior Hiking Trail in June 2003, I settled in as one member of the “Craig Mueller family,” which continues to the day of writing this memoir, 15 years later. And many good, and different, adventures we have all had.

In our camping trips over the years, even from before Craig's two-year stint in the Peace Corps, we had done camping in the St. Croix River backwaters, and now had done three two-person expeditions to the trail in northern Minnesota along Lake Superior. I had only once before camped with Craig and his wife as part of a group. Craig and Jen met in the Peace Corps, both serving in the east African nation of Kenya. Although I did not attend the wedding in 1999 when they arrived home in the States that fall, I nonetheless had met Jen as a pen-pal almost as soon they both left our country in 1997, so we all did get along rather well.

Their daughter, Anya, coming up on three years in the summer of 2003, made up the rest of their family, until they added Syd the dog two years later. We never did know quite where I fit into the super-nuclear family. Like on my visits to their different homes, I just sort of show up, and they never have had the heart to get rid of me since. On that summer of 2003 trip to the Superior Hiking Trail, the four of us spent three nights in a privately-owned campground near Two Harbors, MN. The most memorable part came when Anya almost got carried away by a flock of white gulls.

After Jen and I toured Glenshein Mansion in Duluth on the way up, while Craig and Anya occupied themselves outside, our troupe checked into Big Blaze Campground around 3 PM on the last Thursday of June. The first night we did not do much, except eat very, very well. Our supper, well balanced, consisted of salad, pork chops, potatoes, peaches, and the ever-present coffee around the campfire until rain drove the Mueller family to their safari tent and me to my two-man Eureka. For the trip I had brought along the texts of the Lincoln-Douglas debates, and I read for a couple of hours that night, dozing for a snoring nine hour nap. When Craig woke me at 8 o'clock, he had made a hearty breakfast of sausage, eggs, and of course, coffee. I would carry extra heavy weight on the morning's short hike of the trail, as indeed we always did. At least we did not eat McDonald's, which never. . . well. . . .

All four of us drove up to near Silver Bay, MN, where we hiked in sunshine along a section of the main trail starting around 10:30 AM. Craig carried Anya most of that morning in a child carrier backpack, a far lighter load, perhaps, than he would have carried had we had full packs for camping on the trail. The hike that day followed over hilly ground but the trail itself kept mostly to the ridge lines. It looked rather unremarkable except to note the heavily used ATV trails the Superior hiking path followed or crossed.

We saw some industrial development, too, like pipe line pumping station buildings and a huge, possibly man-made lake for iron mining debris, surrounded by scree of huge, sharp rocks coming down the hillsides of the reservoir's valley. We saw power lines, too. On the other hand, the most striking and serene aspect of that day hike we saw at the bottom from one cliff side look out: A beaver lodge in the middle of the the clearest pond water, all surrounded by evergreen trees, with all the hills and green reflected off the mirror-calm surface of the small pond. We could even see the bottom of that very clean body of water. At least the beaver had it right.

After a picnic by the car in Bayside Park, we drove back to the campground. That night, using some precious dried oak Craig had brought from home, we had a good and willing fire. We ate another well-balanced meal, this one featuring not only salad, canned corn and buttered herd rice, but a big slab of buttered grilled salmon Craig cooked in foil on the fire. After I almost blew myself up lighting my old red Coleman lantern, I read for a couple of hours outside my tent after the Muellers withdrew for the night. We may have had a good afternoon of clear, sunny weather, but the night got a little damp and chilly, and the air began to feel like a lot of rain the next day, a Saturday.

I woke first the next morning, around 6 AM, made coffee and spent the morning reading and reflecting thoughts perhaps now forgot. The drunk kids who camped right next to our not-very-private site had at some point all passed out from the alcohol and other things. Judge not, lest I get judged. I counted my fortune in my head like gold that I no longer suffered myself any things like that former part of my life. I, indeed, enjoyed the serene quiet morning, hearing in my thoughts how Lincoln and Douglas would have sounded, debating in 1858. I heard a storming rush of Lake Superior water lashing loudly against the shore less than 60 yards from our campsite. Then, I wondered why the guy who parked across the campsite road on the lake side of the campground actually needed to carry camping gear in a small U-Haul trailer? That seemed overdone, for reasons I could not know, except that he really wanted all the comforts of home at the campsite.

The campground, full by Friday night, had many motor homes and camping trailers, R.V.s in the lexicon. The different couples and families really went all out in their camp set ups. The people directly opposite of us actually spent two hours Friday night getting their little love shack all perfect, including spending too much time, in my opinion, hanging little electric Chinese lanterns dangling from the awning of their pop-up camp trailer. I suppose I developed a different habit of camping in my life. I spent my youth camping in Boy Scouts or with my family's motor home, but even then I got shoved out of the campers and in to the Camel pup tent I got at age 9. And still, my backpack could could weigh a ton, too, on backpack camping trips. But as Craig would always say, “you can take it on the trip, Tim, IF you carry it yourself.” Yet, for the car camping trip to this base camp at Big Blaze, we brought some heavy and cumbersome crap, too—lawn chairs, coolers, group cook kit, etc. We judge not, lest we get judged, right? But at the least, we did not need a whole damn U-Haul trailer.

When the others woke that morning, emerging from Craig's large, blue dome tent near 7 o'clock, we ate dainty and yummy French toast of Craig's creation and the clumpy scrambled eggs I whipped and cooked from dry-powder and water. We could have skipped the eggs. By 9:20 AM, Jen and Anya dropped Craig and I off at Wolf's Rock for the Crow Creek section of the trail. While the girls drove to Duluth to shop, Craig and I descended to a bridge, where the hill slope we walked down had a large stretch of heavy, icky poison ivy on each side. Well marked by signs, Craig believed this particular part had the only known poison ivy “orchard” along the entire trail, or so the guide book might have said so.

Once across the creek, we walked up yet another tall hill, 1000 feet above sea level. We passed two guys coming down some of the steps which formed along parts of the hillside, and they carried a lot of gear in huge, heavy looking packs. They had not a speck of filth on them and spotless gear and bags. Craig commented later that we probably carried as much heavy crap on some of our trips, and that he and I probably would look as ridiculously burdened as those two men. Judge not, lest we get judged, right? From then, I always tried to carry a lighter backpack in future camping trips, mostly unsuccessfully. With only day packs that day, at least we did not have to carry all the normal gear with us and we traveled rather lighter up that hill. Still, the climb exhausted me, if not Craig, too.

As always the rule when day hiking or backpacking, when we saw a bench, we sat on it. And we saw a bench at the top of that hill. And we sat on it. Shaded by pines, looking out over a drop from the cliff where we sat, the sky looked more like rain than it had earlier in the morning. Sitting there, on cue, the drizzle, and heavier drizzle started to fall and mist.

Once we put on our rain coats, we walked the topline of that cliff and the connecting ridge line, passing an open field on that hill. Trees of the forest enclosed that field, with the grass of the open space all tall, thin, and densely growing with blades of greenish yellow. After a mile, we snaked the other side of the hill in a slow descent, in the rain that began to really fall. At least it did not have a whipping wind.

Over the Encampment River, we traversed a high, sturdily built and well-engineered bridge, which impressed Craig, a working civil engineer himself. It even had heavy metal cables holding it lashed to trees on either shore's hillsides, to prevent the structure from washing away in rains or spring melt, as Craig explained to me.

At the top of yet another hill, we arrived at yet another thrilling overlook. Approaching the cliff side from behind, we startled another memorable stranger on our many low-scaled adventures to the Superior Hiking Trail. Stony, as we nicknamed him later, sat on a log, wringing the water out of his muddy, wet socks. We talked to this recent college kid, who wore a “Gilligan hat” in the heavy rain, and he said he just moved back to Minnesota from Washington State, where he had gone to school and done much camping in the mountains. Little did either I, or more importantly, Craig, realize then how that state and those mountains would figure into our own lives and more low adventures a decade later.

After talking with Stony quite some time, the rest of the walk south toward Two Harbors passed rather quickly. Thank goodness for light day hiking pack bags. We came to a couple of roads, where I whined in disappointment that we still had more walking to do to reach my car which we shuttled with Jen in the morning. Craig also found a smudged dog's print in the fresh mud on the way to my car. “It looks like a wolf's,” he said, perhaps jesting me. He startled to howl and made fun of my sudden unease and slight discomfort while we stood over a huge ass footprint of a really BIG dog.

Back at the campground, with Jen and Anya still away for the afternoon, I took a twenty-five minute shower in the campground bathhouse. It soothed and warmed my bones, freshened my attitude, and cleansed me of the mud and muck. I even shaved my beard stubble under the hot water streams using a hand held mirror. I really did not feel like getting out and into the cold air of a concrete building on a cold, rainy Lake Superior June day. In camp, I read in the tent or outside when the rain subsided. We did get a fire going, using the last of the precious dry oak, those extra scrappings of shelves Craig had built in the Mueller condo in West St. Paul, MN. Over the cracking and snappling fire, we made brats and hot dogs, and baked beans. We decided to not hike the next morning, a Sunday, and would pack instead and go our different homes Sunday.

Around supper time, in the early evening when the gray and black clouds took away the sunlight earlier, Anya started feeding birds with bread crumbs. She stood in the middle of the dirt between the rows of campsites, throwing bread and attracting white-grayish gulls who fed along the shoreline. She threw more bread, attracted more gulls, and danced around. Then, suddenly, she looked like a Tippi Hedren munchkin, in Alfred Hitchcock's movie, “The Birds,” getting swarmed around and dived bombed by a hundred of the very aggressive gulls. Craig, Jen and I would have laughed, but we all seemed too worried. When Craig told his daughter to stop throwing bread, she got bored and the birds tapered off in numbers, just as magically as they appeared—from nowhere.

That Saturday night, I slept warm, and despite the drunken party and the music racket coming from the campsite next door, I nonetheless slept well and thankful. Judge not, lest I get judged, right?

The trip home in my own car by myself passed uneventfully, with one exception. My old greenish-blue Dodge Shadow, which I had named “Grushenka,” after a Dostoyeski character, would only go uphill about 25 miles an hour. Heading up the steep incline of I-35 heading south from Duluth, I had to watch the Muellers pass me, and I had to watch all the other frustrated drivers line up behind me to pass, too. I could only laugh. That seemed the hardest hill to surmount that weekend. But, I did have a fun weekend. As the years have rolled by us, I became even better friends, unto a brother and brother-in-law and uncle to Craig and his entire family, and even an adopted poor relation to his parents who still live near me. The low adventures would continue. They would get Craig and I closer to the goal each time. We actually only had but a total 260 odd miles to do the whole trail, but it took us so long that we seemed slackers. But, I would not have had it any other way, brother.

Sub Terra Vita: Chronicle #50 Battles of “Snow-maggedon”


Sub Terra Vita: Chronicle #50
Battles of “Snow-maggedon”
By Tim Krenz
January 25, 2018

Remembering winter from my youth in the St. Croix Valley, I recall the snow most of all, and although we got conflicting weather patterns and snow from different compass points in western Wisconsin, it always came down from the sky. Sometimes it even pistol whipped us sideways, whenever a good blizzard and the winds hit us just at the wrong time. It always seemed to come down in instant drifts in the 1970s and 1980s, as heavy snow and wet in swirls, or so my imaginative memory thinks today. A village buried in snow meant pleasing words to eager and attentive ears listening to the radio during breakfast on school mornings. “Osceola Public Schools—CLOSED.”

A snow day! A fun day it always became on those not infrequent days in January, February, March which followed the snow storms of the century. For a snow day usually involved some epic, special recreation.

On a normal winter's day, the kids on the upper part of the village, south of the Soo Line tracks, did the normal things—on weekends and AFTER school. Bundled and stuffed in multi-colored snow gear and black and blue snowmobile wear, we sledded down hills in the neighborhood, in front of my house or out back in the Industrial Park. When not dodging huge oaks and elms and pines in the runs, we jumped creek beds on toboggans, until someone like a cousin broke her leg landing on the ice of the stream. Even though that would end the fun, we went back and did it again anyway the next day.

Most of the normal freezing days, we built snow forts out of the crusty, hard old snow. Those never stood up well but served their purpose. Digging dangerous snow tunnels in the plowed-up banks of snow? Yep, we did that, too. Like all kids everywhere, we did kid stuff in the snow. Under the water tower, in the park on top of the railroad embankment, we played hockey at the small ice skating rink, next to the tennis and basketball courts all buried in snow. Some of us had hockey skates, some figure skates, and some just shuffled on the ice in black rubber boots or moon boots, with the felt or cotton ridiculously lined with bread bags to keep the feet dry. Few of our neighborhood gang knew about hockey, but it served us well to try. We learned the manly art of cross checking more than we learned to handle a deft stick to put a puck on goal. Still, we played hockey, though badly.

All of these things we did, normally. But a snow day from school? That demanded something different. A snow day meant a different aspect in the snow, a change in the way we played, and a true duty to other suckers in other districts who had to go to school that day. We owed it to all boys and girls everywhere to have the ultimate battle Royal of the winter months, in our neighborhood, and in the name of all others, everywhere. We owned that duty.

The days school stayed closed for snow invariably meant we had a deluge of the heavy wet kind of “sky snot,” the type of snow with which we could do something useful. This particular type of snow came with a warmer temperature, still tipping around freezing, but not the deep Arctic freeze that arrived following the light, fluffy sorts of “sky dandruff” snow. If warm, the snow stayed wet, causing especial strain when we shoveled out the house entries and the driveways and mailboxes, those places where the snowplows rumbled up huge banks of dirty, road crud snow. Once we finished our grueling chores of shoveling snow, the playing on the snow day began by rallying at the funnest places for a heavy duty snow day of fun.

One particular day when school closed after a warm and deep snow storm, the south hill gang of the village all gathered at a usual play site. Located at the southwest corner of the railroad tracks where it intersected “old M” road, it did not have any of the usual playground amenities. It had no swings, no slide, no merry-go-rounds. What did it have to attract us so near a railroad intersection? Well, it had a narrow, tree-free, dug out side of the ridge line that formed the upper area of Osceola. Since the earth of that exposed embankment, without snow cover, looked and felt a grainy, very reddish and heavy muddy dirt, we knew it by its colloquial name, “the Clay Pit.” And when the heavy snow came, and it gathered against, on top, and below the sheer and steep face of it, the Clay Pit served as the ultimate in death sliding and cliff jumping down into snow piles.

The face of the pit did not drop too treacherously far, but it did provide its own unique fun, terror and challenge for all kids. We would bring sleds to jump and tumble, helplessly, down the bank. After a couple of superman flops down, the red muddy streak marks from the mix of earth and wet, melting snow left our clothes and faces a series of smears in sepia brown. Eventually, on that one particular snow day, like others, we all geared and itched for “the Battle.”

It never happened by any deliberate game play, or the choosing of sides, or by capturing any nebulous flags, nor according to Marquise of Queensberry rules, either. The battle just began with whoever found themselves on the top versus those under the handicap of standing at the bottom. It seems to me, that day like many others, the battle for the Clay Pit supremacy just started when someone threw the first snowball.

The battle involved snowballs, but it also took form as an inelegant ballet of king of the hill, on a real tall hill with a straight up climb. The hard and packed snowballs we prepared, sometimes secretly minutes ahead, hit with the impact of ice balls, but ones with hard mud and gravel mixed in them. Some fired less effectively up at the defenders; yet, most of the ice balls plunged with full force downhill. If kids got to the top, they of course tried to toss the defenders down, onto the slithery slope and into mud below. Most of the time, the topside hoplites paired in teams to toss the Light Brigade chargers over the side and back from whence they came—dropped to the muddy snow drifts. As the ice cannon balls flew, they caused some pain, though less on the breastplates of snow suit armor. If hit in the face, the projectiles left red and cold marks, perhaps a cut on the cheek even. Some cried, but all tried to share the laugh.

That day, like always, at some point those below the hill gave up their futile charge. If anyone made it to the top to join those happy fewer who outnumbered the attackers at the start, they all claimed the victory of good, or bad (?), in the winter struggle of Snowmaggedon, “The Battle for the Clay Pit Heights!”

And like other kids everywhere, following the snowball fight, we trudged in our small gangs to someone's house for stories and soup and hot chocolate. Everyone victors, we all shared the honors.

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Zenarises.org, Zena Lefler and MS


Zenarises.org, Zena Lefler and MS
By Tim Krenz
February 16, 2018

Every single living person can forget the true and simple blessings which walk with us, every single day. Everyone, at some point, will also feel the challenge of their life running away from them, when the reality can knock us down without mercy. The most tragic circumstances almost always, and unfairly, happen to the young. And in the greatest of tragedies, true champions can step forward.

“Its crazy how life can change in a matter of days,” says Zena Lefler, age 20 and from St. Croix Falls, who awoke one day and could not use her legs. That started a process of extended hospital stays, ER visits, testing, specialists, more testing, etc. Still, the condition worsened; bringing more specialist visits, and more testing. Now four months later, Zena has received a confirmed diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis (MS). Expenses rose. And more changes must come, like MS treatments, needs for special equipment and access, and occupational and physical therapy.

All this will hopefully make Zena Lefler better able to live a more fulfilling life despite the MS, a disease in which the immune system attacks the protective sheaf that covers the nerve fibers. This assault on the nervous system hinders the communication between the brain and the body and sometimes causes the communication to completely fail. And still, this early on, with someone so young, Zena keeps the attitude of a true champion. “It just takes motivation and a positive outlook on your situation to make it through.”

As a full-time production worker at Smith Metal Products in Center City, MN, Zena already had the insurance, but that does not cover everything. In addition to Zena herself in her outlook alone, other champions did step forward. . .

Co-workers, including her mom, Barb Fenton, and friends and family, started Zenarises.org and a Gofundme page, but they have creatively organized a benefit, with the usual attractions, this Saturday, Feb. 24th, at JJ's Club 35, in Milltown, WI. The event from 10 AM to 2 PM includes a noon spaghetti lunch, but it brings a new twist to raising awareness about the blessings we take for granted, like taking a few short steps.

Proclaimed as the all “Age Group World Championships,” the “Running Race for Everyone” does have the more traditional longer races at 10.01k and 5.01k, but the main attraction comes in the form of 32 feet, a unique world championship race for all different age groups at .01k, just under ten yards.

The benefit is planned as an inter-generational event. Grandparents, bring grand kids. No matter what your age, you've got a shot at becoming a world champion,” said Paul D. Smith of Osceola, one of the organizers and a co-worker of Zena. In the spirit of the athletic season, the organizers also plan to treat contestants and champions, young and older, with Olympic-style glam and flair.

With a minimum suggested event donation of $25/person, and then a little more to register for the 10.01 and 5.01k races, the event focuses on the larger picture, based on Zena's experience. “We won't take our mobility for granted,” says the event poster. For others facing any struggle when simple blessings thoughtlessly or tragically walk from us, Zena keeps the perspective humble. She says, “Just stay positive and you can do just about anything,” like coping with MS. To say that in her condition, we can all take that advice, and walk or run with it as a larger Valley community that cares for one another.

Tuesday, February 06, 2018

Dark Frontiers of War in the Future--Part II: The Smart Base of Orbital Dominance


Dark Frontiers of War in the Future
By Tim Krenz
February 5, 2018
For Hometown Gazette

Part II: The Smart Base of Orbital Dominance

In part one of this series we examined the changes for waging war due to scientific development and technical advances. The first article introduced the four concurrent levels or divisions of war fighting in the Next Frontiers model: Informed Command, Smart Base, Stealth Fires, and Connected Maneuver. Specifically, we surveyed the Informed Command through history, and also that level's dark frontier in the union of cyber-bionics, and the implications of that union and its counter-measures.

In this part, we will survey the history of another division, the Smart Base, and the dark frontier of Orbital Dominance. We will do so according to the same criteria as the previous article. What does the Dark Frontier mean? How does it compare with the old? What counter-measures can stop these new weapons of today and tomorrow? And how does it affect non-combatants.

In the dark frontier model, Smart Base gets defined as getting weapons systems and their operating personnel to the decisive points in the battle space, and to sustain them there, and move them forward until enemy resistance ceases. When it comes down to an understanding of a smart base function, “strategy equals (=) logistics.”

People may often forget the proper departure point where leaders choose a political policy and make a decision to wage war. Policy then should never separate itself physically or morally from the actual the battle space. For at that point, the other webs of strategy (like the Smart Base concept), and the tactical and operation functions all join toward the success or failure that political policy decision by military acts. Nothing happens in warfare without extreme physical cost and a high moral-intellectual effort

Supreme physical-logistic efforts cost premium prices. And to avoid intellectual or moral bankruptcy in the types of warfare that we will discuss, political policy has to successfully terminate in victory, and has to do so by putting all elements of power together and in the places they will serve most efficiently. That applied power, theoretically, achieves the objective sought in the political decision, but on the other hand, nothing ever occurs according to plan.

Nations implementing a “strategy=logistics” approach use a Smart Base concept traditionally in direct or indirect avenues to achieve political objectives. A maritime strategy—using the world's oceans, with fleets of warships and support ships, seaborne commerce, and the ability to sustain these assets both from and onto land peripheries—made up one kind of Smart Base concept. The best examples of maritime strategy included: ancient Athens, the Roman Empire, and later the Venetian Republic, the British Empire, and the United States throughout most of its history.

Conversely, a Continental “strategy=logistics” approach involved raw land power, armies (and later air forces) designed to dominate neighbors and distant areas accessible to such power. In this example, we see ancient Sparta, the Persian empire, the Byzantine empire, Napoleonic France, Germany after its unification, and the Eurasian colossus of Russia throughout the latter's entire history. All used a predominantly Continental strategy to pursue political objectives in war and peace.

Another Smart Base approach comes from the use of a People's Liberation struggle. Although ancient in its form, dating back to before Roman times, it has a particularly 20th Century flair. The Arab revolt in World War I, led by T.E. Lawrence (“of Arabia), who invented its modern potential, and other low intensity conflicts of the past 100 years have used it. However, the modern master of People's Liberation struggle, Mao Zedong, gave it its firm philosophical and intellectual underpinnings as applied to the realm of modern politics. Using the nationalist mass of people as its material support and mobilized resource, other practitioners like the team of Ho Chi Minh and Vo Nguyen Giap in Southeast Asia used it, brutally, to tame giants.

And oddly, although it involved far less bloodshed than full-scale war, the mahatma Gandhi used the material and manpower mobilization of People's Liberation struggle. As deftly as any general in his non-violent and non-cooperative resistance to free India from British colonialism, Gandhi nonetheless used similar strategic patterns in peace as Mao used in war. It gives truth to the idea that not all wars get hot or and not all political conflict gets overly violent.

Presently, the United States uses a hybrid strategy, one we may call Global Positioning, composed of elements of the maritime and Continental “strategy=logistics” system of achieving political goals. As both an active means of war fighting and a deterrent to it, Global Positioning lets the United States' armed forces strike any spot of the globe with relentless power from weapons platforms placed in all areas of the world. Global Positioning has the advantage of deeply impacting nations removed from lesser forms of coercion, and only the United States currently possesses such power to strike anyone, anywhere. Russia, with its nuclear weapons, though not with its conventional arsenal, comes as a close and second rank as the strategic competitor on that level.

The United States controls all battle spaces, outer space, air, land, and sea against any individual nation or small coalition. Only a vulnerability in cyberspace, where weaponized software and hardware remain available to any state and even non-state actors, does United States remain at risk of not achieving political objectives by warfare or peaceful (read: deterrent) means.

Hence, we arrive at the dark frontier of the future: Orbital Dominance, an area now open to any country that can willfully implement the financial or intellectual effort to challenge all others. Orbital Dominance, the Smart Base that uses the ultimate high ground for armed force to control politics on the earth, transcends the current capabilities of nations in low and high earth orbit. Space-based military platforms of the past 60 years got used for defense communications, planetary-wide intelligence gathering, and targeting assistance. They, including nuclear energy, its by products, and other derived weapons applications as both sources of sustainment and counter-measures, will only get improved over time.

At the moment, the United States and Russia lead other nations in using the orbits to enhance terrestrial weapons. However, the Smart Base approach to the militarization of space remains wide open, to nation-states who can make the commitment to challenge U.S. and Russia superiority. The race to get there first with more, in the “strategy=logistics” construct, and to sustain the effort to keep the systems there and battle worthy has only really begun. The race for Space Supremacy only now begins.

The immense expense of researching and building this Smart Base space system creates prohibitive costs for most countries. And not only the weapons systems themselves, but the personnel and earth-bound industrial and military infrastructure to support them, make the project feasible and only a matter of political willpower to invest in it. While treaties make it unlawful for consenting nations to use space as a military zone of conflict, when national survival on earth or a chance to conquer any nation presents itself to radical political actors, consent to treaties means nothing. We see this already in China's development of non-territorial waters in the western Pacific for military uses in its national defense strategy. In this instance, China clearly ignores international legal rulings. Why could not or would not a nation ignore treaty law over militarizing space?

Space development as an industry does indeed contribute to commercial uses, but does that matter? While one can believe that space research and development can enhance an economy, the earth's people could better use the resources soon devoted to Orbital Dominance for more earthly, more vital and practical investments in humanity's future. And then beyond that, if space-based exploration and exploitation remain in humanity's future, how would one country, or a small group countries controlling the orbit, prove a detriment to humanity's access and use of space to enhance life for people on this planet? These questions clearly point out to themselves the answers we need. In the Orbital Dominance manner of a Smart Base, this division of the dark future of warfare will cast shadows over the future of Earth.



Monday, February 05, 2018

Dark Frontiers of War in the Future: Part I Introduction & Informed Command


Dark Frontiers of War in the Future
By Tim Krenz
December 7, 2017
For Hometown Gazette

Part I

Introduction

Wars have always had direct cost, deadly costs, on peoples in the zones of conflict. Where wars once could limit themselves in their damage within a geographic area, in the zones of conflict that political choices declared as combat areas or theaters of war, wars in the 21st Century will make a massive expansion in their affects, both in terms of geographic range and direct impact on non-combatants.

Since the invention of nuclear weapons married to long-range delivery systems, the entire globe became a potential war zone in a general war involving such weapons systems. Beneath the specter of nuclear Armageddon, people everywhere remain under the implied threat of total and unrestrained destruction. A mix of diplomacy, economics, geography, and culture, combined with fear, threat and deterrence, thus far has saved humanity from drowning and choking in the sour milk and bitter honey of its harvest of science for war.

Now, in the era of a new, dark frontier of potential conflict, with yet another technical level of weaponry in development and early deployments, even in a so-called conventional war without nuclear-derived explosives, people everywhere stand in even more risk from modern war. While the technology advances, the zones of conflict have not necessarily expanded by political choices. Yet, the dark frontier of war in the new era of weapons casts its shadow over those directly within and those far removed from the active theaters of war or even lesser, ill-defined conflicts.

How the near-term conflicts play themselves out put everyone, everywhere at risk as potential casualties and victims of policies that start, fight, and finish war as a political choice. What does the new Dark Frontier of warfare mean? How does it compare with the old? What counter-measures can stop these new weapons of today and tomorrow? How does it affect non-combatants?

To describe these new technical additions to the old problems of arms, one can look at them within the framework of model based on four concurrent levels or divisions of war fighting: Informed Command, Smart Base, Stealth Fires, and Connected Maneuver.

The first division in the model, Informed Command, represents the deciding brain, the moral willpower, and the intellectual gifts that fight a conflict to its inevitable conclusion. In the past, one supreme person gave the motive and intelligent purpose to their army. Kings like Alexander the Great, Frederick the Great, the Emperor Napoleon, or a constituted and commissioned commander like General Washington, could use their singular abilities to directly command and control their army. At those relatively primitive times with the available technology, one person could exercise such authority and genius to command their forces and direct them to the objective of a victory.

With the rise of national armies, the staff system of technicians and specialists, beyond the assistants of the kings and supreme commanders, gave the single power of a commander greater scope to exercise their decisions, their moral willpower, and the intellectual plan over larger and larger forces using more complex technology. And this command and control spread over greater geographic areas, with all efforts engaged in operations and local combat, all still working toward the singular overriding aim in war—the victory over the enemy's powers of resistance.

Currently, the Informed Command model uses a staffing system, but utilizing even greater advances in technology to do so. The command functions of modern armed forces have moved even beyond the simple technicians of war, like a Ludendorff using the analog systems of war to direct operations. Command has become digitized. In networks of systems that still rely on the single will of power as its guiding light, and a staff to implement plans and execute actions, the Informed Command has morphed to include remote sensors, near-instaneous communications, and technical, even social means of intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance.

For lack of a more precise term, the current command system gets labeled here by the acronym “C4ISR” (Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance, Reconnaissance). Its purpose remains the same as with a single king or officer and the analog staff of technicians directing operations. However, now that new levels of technology have expanded beyond the limits of simply digitizing an analog war of fighting and killing enemies, the next dark frontier of war makes it both logical and feasible to proceed.

The next step in Informed Command will come in the form of Cyber-Bionics, a union of soldier and higher authorities, where machines that enhance physical human capacities combine with near artificial intelligence interfacing for increasing the combatants ability to achieve objectives. With quicker thinking and action and much greater tempo of both understanding situations and exploiting opportunities, the advantages clearly points the way ahead. In a way, generals become grunts and vice versa. As a practical union of man and machine for making more effective war, but absolutely not as some sci-fi robot zombie, humans harnessing machines and nuanced digital thought-enhancing awareness pose all manners of moral and ethical, and legal, and even health questions, in their creation and employment. If it helps to win wars, it has a logic for proceeding. Hence, comes the danger with this particular dark frontier of warfare in the near future.

As a counter-measure, a physical and intellectual way of defeating cyber-bionics, bio-viruses and network viruses both represent feasible means of defense. Such counter-measures allow a defender, or an attacker, to disable the Informed Command function of the enemy, which can lead to the opponents overthrow. A series of viral attacks that could infect larger populations or networks, while winning a war, definitely pose serious problems.

Some questions, in terms of international and domestic law and even public health, arise in the use of such counter-measures. Also, game theory of the type developed for nuclear operations come into play. A pre-emptive use of a viral counter-measure reflects a counter-force nuclear strike to disable, or deter a larger retaliation by, enemies. Also, a second strike retaliation, again as in nuclear game theory, on a scale of massive destruction to populations or networks, also comes into the mix of deterring the use of Cyber-bionics in modern war. Whether it involves such complex rationalized thinking or international treaties on the use of biological or cyber weapons (the latter sure to come in the future), the effects on populations of such counter-measures to destroy an enemy pose the greatest dangers of all in the new Informed Command structures of armed forces.

(End Part I: Next Up—Smart Base and Orbital Dominance)

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Low Adventures—Trekking Superior Hiking Trail Part 4—Cold as Hell on Split Rock Loop

Low Adventures—Trekking Superior Hiking Trail
Part 4—Cold as Hell on Split Rock Loop
By Tim Krenz


Sometimes it takes a rude, crude endurance of a conquerable challenge to learn lessons. By learning through sheer survival of something bitter, we should hope to gain experience and knowledge of how to do something, and do it better next time. In the trip to the Superior Hiking Trail in late April 2003, I learned the value of proper preparation for the weather, and never to take a few degrees of latitude and a radically different geography for granted.

When Craig and I connected to travel together on Interstate 35 to the northern touristy wilds of the state, we had sunny weather and mid eighties in degrees of temperature, and I had come from home in Osceola, Wisconsin, out of a promising spring and a very beautiful clime. As a result, I packed some layers of clothing on me and in my bag, but light layers. “Pack layers as they work to keep you warm,” I heard somewhere. I did so because I did not want to carry heavy stuff. When we left the fast food place in North Branch, Minnesota to begin our weekend journey, I took one of the free tree saplings in a plastic bag, in order to properly celebrate a beautiful, temperate, and warm Arbor Day weekend.

A couple hours later when we stopped at the visitor's center overlooking Duluth, Minnesota, we got out of the car under gloomy, overcast skies, sparkled with some rain drops. As the hard wind came off Lake Superior and barreled up the harbor into the hills, I realized, to my horror, that I would freeze myself senseless in that peculiar lake-effect weather. I made the greenhorn mistake camping the north shore: I packed the wrong clothing.

North of Duluth, the skies did brighten, a little, as we drove into Gooseberry Falls State Park. Once parked, Craig fiddled in the visitor's and interpretive center while I sat outside scribbling in a new journal. Craig had brought me a partly used, orange, hard cover forestry notebook for me to log the journal of these infamous low adventures. I wrote my first entry in the book, “my fate of harm from nature or a heart attack rest with god. May he bless all these trips herein described.” With that dedication, Craig and I put our packs on our backs and off we walked.

Up the Gooseberry River in short order, we crossed under the highway bridge and up and around to the building by the highway we walked past the year before. The rustic and boarded-up stone and timber park building, built by a Depression-era conservation corps, looked even more dilapidated and forlorn than when we saw it last. Yet it looked more holy as a relic, a temple to an age long past, when the scale of things seem to have had a more noble, defined, and simpler character. The sight made me wonder if modernity does not actually see or even understand, if seen, the heritage of which history gives us a sense of going from whence we came. Perhaps I wondered a little to oddly, overtly reflective, and too philosophically, a useless question. Yet it seems more pertinent now to ponder such things than 15 years ago from when I write this memoir.

We walked for two hours, with some breaks, including one when I had to put my feet up to relieve chest pains from a horrible gas reflux attack. At least I did not have that feared coronary in the first hour of walking. The trail north that day from Gooseberry Falls did not, surprisingly, go up every damned hill. It followed some of the flat ground, too. We would find this phenomenon an aberration of the trail over the years. Over the course of trekking that day, I saw my first bear paw prints. It freaked me out seeing them smudged in the water-filled mud holes. Craig tried to ease my mind by telling me that they looked like just rather large and mis-formed deer tracks. “Bolshevik!” I thought.

We arrived at Blueberry Hill campsite a little after 2 p.m. Once done with the warmth of walking, I put on every scant of clothing I could find in my gear. Craig and I did the usual camp chores, and we put up my new Eureka two-person tent, which Craig had picked up for me in the Twin Cities. White, gray and dark green; roomy, spacious; with a good three-sided rain fly; and a front door vestibule; I liked my new purchase right away.

After the chores, Craig made a pot of coffee, drawing our water from the stream that ran next to our campsite. We did not do much the rest of the afternoon. I read George Orwell's novel, Burmese Days, and he puttered with a book that looked uninteresting to me. Craig re-hydrated a stew he made and dried with a machine at his home. It introduced to me a flavorful spice he discovered in the Peace Corps during his stay Kenya. Called Mchuze Mix, the spice made the stew edible.

The temperature dropped after early sundown with inclining worry to me. The coffee we kept making kept me warmed, and also kept me using nature's facilities too frequently. We putzed with a fire until 8 p.m., and then settled into the crowded tent. I slept horribly. The temperature dropped into the thirties, and I only had a foam pad and sleeping bag, a combination which did not keep me in a cocoon of warmth but rather in a frigid shake. Even though I wore all my clothing, including a light, threadbare nylon pullover windbreaker, I lost most of my body heat to the cold ground. I spent the night chilly, shivering, and determined to get a better air-filled, self-inflating ground mat for future trips.

We got out of bed at 6 a.m. Coffee, cold pre-cooked bacon and hard-boiled eggs from home made up breakfast. I shivered that morning sitting on a hewed log, wrapped in my sleeping bag, shivering to berate the devil of cold out of me like some dog left out in snowstorm. When packed up, and before we left Blueberry Hill campsite, I planted my little Arbor Day tree, near the latrine next to the campsite. Craig took photos. He also made some disparaging comments, although not an unusual occurrence of his. We left the camp at 8 a.m. and moved onward with the cold low adventure.

On that day's six hour walk, we came to an overlook from which we could see the big lake almost one miles away. We noticed some kayakers through the binoculars, small looking due to the distance and the huge enormity of the lake behind them. Kayaking on Lake Superior on a cold April morning seemed extreme in a way, but with the sun now out, a cold calm, and no waves on the lake, those kayakers seemed to have no cares. I respected that freedom. They must have prepared for their high adventure better than I prepared for mine.

At a little creek that ran downhill into the Split Rock River, Craig took out his fishing rod from a p.v.c. pipe attached to his pack. He assembled it, with a spinning reel, and he proceeded to cast into the creek. I read Orwell, which I found an intriguing book, like all of Orwell's less widely read books. About a policeman in Burma with a disfigurement, trying to make his way to social respectability and into a marriage with a society girl, Orwell captured the futility of opposing fate. It reflected Craig's futility to catch fish. When we moved onward, I signed as a guest in a spiral notebook left in a covered wooden box on a pole. Once in while on the S.H.T. we would see those, and as a rule, we always signed some name, real or pseudonymous. A few steps later we entered Split Rock River State Park.

The walk took us westward along the south shore of Split Rock River. The going got rather treacherous, when the trail crawled along the cliff sides of rock with mud and dirty water streaming down them. At one point, we held the rock with our hands above our head, facing the cliff as we scooted along a narrow board walk. On a flat stretch, we got passed by a German man with a light pack and two ski poles to guide his speedy trot. This guy, who we gave the trail name of “Gunther,” had only two more short sections of trail before he completed the entire course of it. He chided me for my walking stick, a piece of wood painted half black and half red, which I had once used as a Halloween prop. Gunther did not think much of my “light saber.” Even so, we stood in awe of him when we saw him walking opposite us back toward the lake on the north side of the river. His fitness shamed Craig and I. Then again, we both vowed to never, ever use damn ski poles as they would make us look almost too fit and in shape, and far too touristy and trendy. On the other hand, I never brought the light saber on another trek along the trail.

We came to the first campsite on the Split Rock Loop. Stuck in some copse of cedar trees, it provided no sun light. Craig insisted, however, that we move to the site upriver, next to the footbridge, because the ice along the shore looked unstable. We would have had to stand on the ice to draw water. Craig thought it unsafe. After six hours of walking already, I protested with “frankness.” Nevertheless, I followed Craig, while I cussed and swore with frankness, another half mile to the last campsite upriver, which fortunately had plenty of sun. The footbridge, which replaced one washed out further downstream, looked rather sideways but serviceable for crossing.

We pitched my new tent over pine boughs that some idiot(s) had cut from trees to give their tent ground insulation. While we both felt upset at someone or some people having cut down the branches in high impact camping, we used the available ground cover nonetheless. The boughs would at least provide me some insulation from the cold ground while sleeping. Again, after camp chores, I put on every stitch of thin clothing, and for the rest of the day while I read the rest of Orwell's Burmese Days, I tried very hard to stay in the sunshine on a cold damn day in northern Minnesota. Craig made some re-hydrated ghoulash on his rickety, unreliable camp stove. He flavored it with some sort of dull and zany tomato paste. It tasted very bland; rather awful,in fact. I did not eat much that night. Now cold,, tired and hungry, I went to the tent around 10 p.m. after dithering over a fire, a couple of hours after Craig turned into bed. With a better sleeping arrangement, including putting my empty pack under my legs for insulation, I slept better.

We woke early again, 6:30 a.m. Our breakfast consisted only of that vilely crap-i-licioius form of “camp coffee,” as we planned to stop for burgers and pies outside of Two Harbors, MN. We would eat a hearty lunch after Jen, Anya, and Liz picked us up at Split Rock Lighthouse to bring us to Craig's little green truck at Gooseberry Falls. Craig and I crossed the bridge by the site for the final leg, and we made our way along the north side of the Split Rock River, heading east toward the big lake. We rested mid-way in a storm shelter, a wooden lean-to building on top of a hill, from where we could clearly see the big lake to the southeast.


By the time we drove into the restaurant parking lot, I started to feel warmer after three days of dry, twitching cold. I did not prepare myself to endure, but I did endure nonetheless. When I arrived back in Osceola at my apartment later that afternoon, we still had the weather I left behind on Friday—mid eighty degrees, sunny, warm, and summerish pleasant. I took an hour-long hot, hot shower which started to thaw the very cold bones deep in my body. Beginning with that trip to the Split Rock Loop, I always brought a little extra clothing and sleeping gear, just in case nature did not do as I expected.

Sub Terra Vita #49: My Own Time Out for Christmas

My Own Time Out for Christmas
By Tim Krenz


For those who like the holidays, we all remember some Christmases more often and with better, warmer thoughts than others. Christmas some years means more to us than at other times, and the highs and lows usually reflect our relationships with family. I can recall some things about Christmas time in my youth, and I take those times to the present, very pleasant thought how more understanding I become with years of living.

At the time too young to remember, as I heard in the story, my mother bought my father a very stylish, brown leather overcoat one year for Christmas. And in another time I do remember, I got a severe disciplining on one Christmas Eve for misbehaving before we left for church. The next year, because I taunted my everyone over my “time out” the year before, I received another of those archaic “disciplinings.” Disciplining these days has a different approach than since the early 1970s. Now, and since a long time past, kids get that “time out” in a different way, but I learned to behaved better growing up and did not get that style of “time out”too often.

My immediate family celebrated our own Christmas Eves, with the big dinners, gifts and games the rest of the evening until time for midnight Mass. On Christmas Day, we spent the afternoons and evenings at my aunt and uncle's house across the St. Croix River from Osceola, Wisconsin, at their big house in Scandia, Minnesota. All the aunts, uncles, cousins, and pets on my mom's side of the family would gather for a night of feasting and fun and presents.

Christmas holidays bring their memories, and even the small things of a child's life can transform a person to such feats of stardom and greatness, and plainly become joy, sung like odes of a symphonic chorale finale.

My father always worked from early afternoons until late evenings at his life-long job at a factory in St. Paul, Minnesota. He slept until late mornings and did not arrive home well-after 1 a.m. I rarely saw him growing up, except on the weekends, but he sometimes worked then, too. He almost always took a few vacation days around Christmas and New Year's, but the rest of the year he never had time to do much. Father just worked and he did that very well to give us a steady living.

In fourth grade at Osceola Elementary School, my class did a Christmas play, which aside from this story has its other legendary elements. For our play called “Time Out for Christmas,” I co-starred opposite my classmate, Greta. I played a Teddy Bear and she played a Rag Doll. Paul, my best friend then and to this day, played some kind of time on the holiday calendar. I also remember my friends playing “Tick” and “Tock,” in a secular story about toys at Christmas. I do not remember much else about the actual plot of the play but neither does it matter. I surprise myself that I remember that much of it, almost 40 years later.

On the day we had our big afternoon performance for the entire school and for parents and teachers in the elementary auditorium, we also had a special morning performance in our small classroom, part practice for the big show, part performance for those who could not attend in the afternoon.

We had the sets out, the props ready, the costumes on, and everything else ready to go in the room. Outside the classroom, we waited for show time. When that time came, we entered the room of our little “theater in the square.”

In front row I immediately saw my Mom and my Dad. Dad smiled his big grin right at me when I noticed him, completely surprised. He wore his white collared work shirt and black tie under his very stylish brown leather overcoat. He had woke early that day, readied for work, and did it all so he could come to my school play!


I believe our cast and crew performed well that day. That did not matter so much. My father would later come to one of my freshman football games in high school with my mom, and of course they came to my high school graduation. Still, that first time attending something meant the most. I do get it, now, all of it, in fact. My biggest ever “Time Out for Christmas” absolutely rang out all odes for joy. And still, today, after he gave it to me after graduation, I sometimes wear that old, very stylish, brown leather overcoat.