What is a "tiehacker"?

"Tiehacker" is a term originating in the Ozark hills of southern Missouri. It referred to a class of people from WAY back in the hills that made a living cutting trees into ties for the railroad. I first heard the term from my wife shortly after we married. I had been working outside all day and was dirty and stinky. She had learned it from her father, and thought it just meant "a bum". Never having heard it before, I looked it up. Although I am not really a bum, I thought it was interesting, and I do have a life-long love affair going with the Ozark hills, so ... there you have it!

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

This past week has been, well, ....

I haven't posted anything in quite awhile. Mostly, I guess, because I really haven't had anything to say that I wasn't already blathering on about on Facebook. But, I'm going on three days free of Facebook. Detoxing, if you will. So, it's starting to kind of back up in me. So you, dear reader, are the beneficiaries (or victims?) of the overflow. So here we go ...

SUNDAY, Nov 6, 2016
The applesauce I made yesterday turned out well, Really surprised me how much the apples cooked down, though. It was easy enough to make. I peeled and cored and chopped enough apples to fill a full-size crock-pot. The "Back To Basics" brand gadget the Debster has had since forever did a great job.
Image downloaded from Cutlery & More's website
(Ours is green, not red, but otherwise identical)
I added a little water, about 1/3 cup each brown sugar and regular granulated sugar, a few healthy shakes of cinnamon, and a little nutmeg. Set on "high", and let it set for about five hours. I stirred it a couple of times, and then used a mashed-potato masher to squash the apples up fine and make sure everything was thoroughly mixed. Tasted great! The 4-quart pot-full yielded about 2-1/2 pints, maybe a little more.
OK. It is now late Sunday afternoon. Watched Fox news for awhile. Listened to Hillary go on and on about the need for jobs programs to put our people to work rebuilding our infrastructure. Hmmmph. Didn't we hear almost exactly the same thing eight years ago, with Obama prattling about "shovel-ready" projects?
I've never been a fan of Steve Martin, and I really detest John Candy. So wouldn't you know, I'm forced to sit hear and listen to "Planes, Trains and Automobiles", which the Debster is watching and laughing herself silly over. I'm hoping that maybe a home invader will break in and steal the TV, or shoot me, or something.

MONDAY Nov 7, 2016
Well, the dead continue to vote in the good ol' People's Republic of Illinois. But for an unusual twist, this time it was downstate, not Chicago, and by a Republican, not a Democrat. An 88 year old Republican election judge was nabbed for forging her late husband's signature on an absentee ballot and sending it in. She claims that her late husband, who had died in September, had fully intended to vote for Trump, but the absentee ballots arrived a couple days after he died. 

Just gonna say this: I'm glad I'm not on Facebook these days. I'd be willing to bet it is going nuts over this. The Trump people twisting in knots to justify what she did, and the Hillary crowd jeering at full volume. Yeeesh! 

TUESDAY Nov 8, 2016
A friend posted this picture this morning.
I couldn't agree more.
WEDNESDAY Nov 9, 2016
Well, I guess what I'm afraid of actually happened: one of the two candidates actually won.
Interesting, in a train wreck sort of way, watching Hillary Clinton & her minions making nice-talk about wishing President-elect Trump well and calling for healing of our national rifts and divisions. My prediction is all that good-feelings stuff will last, at most, a week.
I have to confess that I did not vote yesterday. I could not stand any of the major Presidential candidates. I would have been happy to support Gary Johnson, but his Libertarian Party platform is pro-abortion. There is the Constitution Party, but I don't think they were even on the ballot. Write in for Ted Cruz was a possibility, but also a waste of time. Maybe he'll mount a primary challenge in 2020. Can only hope so.

As for state and local candidates, I'm generally anti-incumbent in principle. I much prefer frequent turn-over in order to prevent any individual from becoming too entrenched and powerful. However, the non-incumbent was almost always someone just as bad if not worse. Hence, no one to vote for there, either. (On a side note, I did find it a little interesting that Republicans ran the table in all the state-wide races in Missouri.)
I just read an interesting post on "The Cripplegate" blog, titled "Commander In Chief". I very seriously recommend this in-depth examination of the seemingly-simple phrase "The LORD reigns", found in 5 places in the Old Testament, once in 1st Chronicles and four times in  the Psalms. Eric Davis discovers ten distinct truths about our Almighty God: his certain identity, his exclusivity, his aseity (means self-existence), his sovereignty, his activity, his universality, his majesty, his potency, his certainty, and his eternality. Great stuff! Check it out. Even though it contains a lot of really deep concepts, it is written in an easy-to-understand style.

FRIDAY Nov 11, 2016
Saddened but not surprised by the reports from around the country of mass protests, rioting, looting and other violence in response to Trump's election victory. 


It's Sunday morning, and time to post this. More coming next week. (Hopefully <grin>) Stay tuned!

God bless
Ron (& the Debster)

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Thirty Day Writing Challenge, Day Two: Your Earliest Memory

Continuing on with the 30 Day Writing Challenge .....

My Earliest Memory

I can't actually extract my "earliest" memory. I have several memory fragments from the same general time frame, but I really couldn't tell you which one is "the oldest". So, I'm going to bore you with a few of them.

One is actually a memory of a memory. I was about 4 or 5 years old, and our family was visiting someone in the city. I don't remember for sure who it was, but it was probably my Uncle Clyde. We were in the backyard, and I remember noticing the attached sunrooms behind the four-family flat next door. I remember saying that we used to live in a house that had one of those sunrooms. My parents were quite surprised at that pronouncement, because although we had lived in a flat like that when I was an infant, we had moved out before my second birthday. So, although I no longer remember the flat that we lived in when I was a year old, apparently I did retain that memory for at least a few years.

When I was not quite two years old, we moved from the city to a house in a small semi-rural area about 15 miles from the city, an unincorporated village called Horine. We lived there for about 2 years, maybe 3. My earliest actual memories take place there.

We had a propane tank along side the house, that fueled our furnace and stove. I remember getting spanked for using my tricycle as a step-stool to climb on top of it. More than once. I was already exhibiting the stubborn streak that has been my hallmark all my life!

We had a German Shepherd mix named King. He lived in a flat-roofed doghouse in our back yard, and I would ride him like a pony. I still miss my dog, more than 50 years later.

Me and King in Horine MO, c.1963

We had a gravel and stone driveway. I still have a scar on the crown of my head from when I was throwing rocks straight up in the air. My next-door friend and I were seeing who could throw the highest, and mine came down and bopped me on top of the head. Although not enough to require stitches, like all scalp wounds it bled like a stuck pig, scared the tar out of me, and left a scar that is still visible.

The most horrific memory I have is the day the car fell on my dad. He was working on the muffler, with the car held up with just a bumper jack. Something caused the jack to slip, and the car came down, trapping my father underneath. I remember my mom, who had witnessed the accident through the kitchen window, running outside screaming for help. A couple neighbors helped get the car off of him while we waited for the ambulance. He suffered several broken ribs, a broken clavicle, a cracked sternum, and some internal injuries. He was in the hospital for quite awhile, and when I was finally allowed to visit him, all I could see was plaster casts.

One more memory from Horine, and I'll call it a day and leave you be, faithful reader. It was February, 1963. All of a sudden there was a lot of frantic running around, getting bundled into the car, dad driving like a bat out of hell, running into the hospital, then dad driving me to my aunt's house nearby, and leaving again like a mad dervish. I was so confused and upset that my aunt, whom I normally adored, couldn't keep me calmed down. It all was resolved the next day, when I met my brand new sister for the very first time.

Those were the days, my friend. I thought they'd never end!

God bless
Ron and the Debster

Friday, April 1, 2016

Thirty Day Writing Challenge, Day One: Five Problems With Social Media

Hi everybody. I know that It has been awhile since I've posted a blog. Sorry about that. But a few days ago, I saw something that is giving me a boost, a kick-start if you will.

The Writer's Circle on Facebook posted this on March 28:

Having had a severe case of writer's block, this was just what I needed.

So, without further ado, let's give this a try, shall we?

Five Problems with social media.

Social media has done a lot of good, to be sure. Just one example is how it has enabled me to connect with and get to know a lot of distant relatives. Distant in both degrees of relationship, and in geographical distance. That has been great!
But, there are also many problems with social media, perhaps more problems than benefits.
In no particular order, here we go: First, I would note the obvious problem of people disconnecting in order to connect. We are so connected to people around the world, that we have become disconnected from the people that are physically close to us. How many times have you seen a group of people sitting around a restaurant table, or on a park bench, or wherever, so engrossed with their phones and pads and tablets that they are completely oblivious to what is going on around them? How sad.
A second problem is simply one of safety. More and more people are being injured or killed because someone was texting while driving. Operating a motor vehicle is a very complex activity requiring a great deal of concentration. Yet at the same time it seems to be so easy as to be almost automatic, requiring no conscious effort. So people tend to allow themselves to become distracted by their phones and lose track of what they are doing. The result, too often, is a nasty crash. Police, fire engines, tow trucks, ambulances, coroner's vans, hospitals, morgues, funerals. All because some numbskull just couldn't wait to type LOL and press the send button.
Yet another problem is that we are losing the ability to write complete and coherent words and sentences. In the interest of speed and expediency we have developed a shorthand version of our glorious, rich English language. Sure, shorthand has been around for a very long time, but only as a tool, to transcribe spoken speech into the written word. Not as a means of communication by itself. Believe me, this is not something to LOL about.
Yet another problem is that people, especially young people, tend to forget about remaining private and maintaining some semblance of personal security. Girls post risque photos of themselves. Or even very innocent posts that reveal enough information that a sexual predator can easily track them down. The 'net is awash with examples of people posing on social media as someone they are not, in order to lure unsuspecting victims into their webs.
A fifth problem is that of false courage. Keyboard commandos. Trolls, as they are commonly known. Cowardly little people sitting at a computer terminal taking potshots at people, being complete jerks, saying things that in person would get them knocked on their tail ends with missing teeth and bleeding noses and black eyes, yet since they are hiding behind their screen name anonymity they get away with it.
This exercise called for an essay about five problems, but I'm going to mention a sixth one, just as a bonus for all of you that have slogged through to the end: False information, and those gullible enough to believe it. For example, I love the satirical website "The Onion". It is so well done that the satire often fools people into actually believing it, and then re-posting it as real. and then some other fool reads that post and forwards it yet again. There are other satirical websites besides The Onion, and it is just mind-boggling how many people fall for that stuff.
Satire is great; those sites have disclaimers all over them; it is not their fault that people ignore them. However, there is another, related, problem. There is a large group of people that deliberately twist facts, misrepresent things, and outright lie through their teeth, in order to advance their own agenda. The false statements are often easily refuted by anyone that is able to think about them for even a moment; just a modicum of common sense and logic reveals the impossibility of the statement. Others are easily refuted with a few seconds of fact-checking. Yet there are people that are so stupid, so gullible, so mindless, that they blindly follow them because they appeal to what they believe. I remember an instance a few years ago. Someone "quoted" President Obama saying something that was so absurd that even a hard-core conservative like me didn't believe it and easily found it to be false. Yet my nephew, a full grown man, with above-average intelligence, bought it completely. When I pointed out to him that it was, in fact, completely false, my nephew responded with, "Well, maybe he didn't actually say it, but he could have because it's just like him." I tried to point out that there are more than enough TRUE things to go after Obama about without resorting to lies, but he just kept scrolling through the web posts looking for anything that would bolster his personal conceptions.
Social media. As a whole, I think we were better off without it.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Seriously, I want to know who decides the "rules" for "bushcrafting".

I have been an outdoorsman most of my 56 years. My very earliest memories are of going fishing with my Dad and my Uncle, and family camping trips. I did my time in Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts. I've done overnight backpacking trips. I've floated countless streams. I've caught just about every kind of fish that exists in Missouri and Illinois waters, and eaten most of them. I've done more solo camping trips than I can even begin to count. I can build a fire a dozen different ways, and cook more dishes on a campfire than many can on a kitchen stove.

Admittedly, much of this is in the past, and because of current and chronic health issues most of it will have to remain in the past. But that doesn't take away my qualifications for doing this little rant.

I recently watched a delightful young man (with autism) try to make his first fire with a ferro rod. It was a damp and windy day, and his fire materials were not ideal. Yep, he "failed", and he had to use a Bic lighter to get it going. And he apologized for "cheating". Friends, that is NUTS! Why should this young man, just starting out on his first outdoors adventures, think that he had somehow "cheated" by using a lighter?

I also recently watched another person, a woman outdoorsmanperson, carve a beautiful spoon with a really whimsical look to it, and sort-of-apologize that it wasn't really a "bushcraft" spoon. Says who?

I have kibbitzed on countless Facebook debates concerning the difference between "bushcraft" and "woodscraft" and "outdoorsmanship" and "camping" and several other terms. These things can get downright heated, as the keyboard commandos and internexperts get their grooves on.

The last I heard, there was no governing authority over our hobbies. There are a few widely respected, almost legendary, individuals such as Mors Kochansky and Ray Mears still around. But there is no person or group of persons that has the right to tell you or I how or how not to camp, what gear we can and can't use, what method is acceptable and what isn't. Nobody!

Mitch Mitchell, of the Native Survival YouTube channel and History Channel's "Alone" fame, thinks that friction fire such as a bowdrill is the ultimate fire-making skill, because it requires absolutely no unsustainable materials, no matches, ferro rods, no chemicals, not even pieces of steel. But he also carries a lighter and flint-and-steel most of the time. So is he "cheating"? Is he violating his own dictum? No, of course not. Sure, if you can master a bowdrill fire, you are pretty much set even if you find yourself completely naked. A sharp rock to shape your kit, a little natural cordage for the drill, and you'll have fire. Doesn't mean it is wrong to carry and use alternative means. It isn't breaking a "rule".

I just watched another guy fly a tarp over his tent, as added protection during a rain-storm. And he all but apologized for it, because it "usually isn't done". So what? Did it work? Did it serve to keep him and his gear dry and comfortable during a storm? Then WHY should it be considered "wrong"?

Bottom line is this, people. There are certain rules of safety that of course we should all follow. Boil your drinking water. Cut away from your body. Don't look down the barrel of a gun. Don't eat a plant unless you are positive that it is not poisonous. Keep your matches dry. Don't break through the ice to go swimming. You get the point.

There are certain rules of physics that can't be violated. Gravity hurts, so don't fall down holes or out of trees. Crap rolls downhill. Heavy crap rolls downhill faster. Don't stand and wait for it to magically go around you. Whatever goes up, must come down. Don't be underneath it. Again, you get the point.

Then, there are certain temporary rules put into place for a specific time and reason. These usually involve skills challenges. Can you build a sustainable fire in the rain using just your ax and locally found resources and no other tool? Can you put together a kit that in the aggregate weighs no more than five pounds and then spend at least 24 hours out in the woods with only that kit and the clothes on your back? These kind of challenges and little games can be a lot of fun and educational for everybody involved.

But to start declaring general and arbitrary rules that are supposed to be "for everybody" is just plain ridiculous!

People, get out into the woods and fields. Stay safe. Have fun. Enjoy the beautiful nature that God has given to us. Take photos. Draw and paint pictures. Use whatever gear you have or want, and don't listen to those that say you MUST have this or that, or that you CANNOT use this or that. There is just not enough time for that kind of crap in my life, and I suspect not in yours, either.

OK, done ranting.

God bless!
Ron and the Debster

PS -- feel free to comment, and don't forget to subscribe to get email alerts for the latest posts!

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Don't simply make the world a better place to go to hell from.

Matt 28:18-20 ESV: And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority iin heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
The Great Commission that Jesus gave to His church is to make disciples, or learners / followers, in all nations, baptizing and teaching obedience. We are to preach the gospel of repentance and salvation. It is a theological gospel, a "soteriological" gospel, NOT a social gospel. We are to point people to Jesus, and guide them on the way to spending eternity with Jesus. And although part and parcel of our life as a Christian is to be compassionate and loving to all, that does NOT mean that our purpose is to make the world a pleasant pit-stop on the way to hell.

Abortion is a heinous sin, the cold-blooded murder of an unborn infant, and should be treated as such. Yet even if we reverse Roe v. Wade and outlaw every kind of abortion, as we should, we still have done nothing to advance the kingdom of heaven.

If we build and staff and fund and operate free health clinics on every block in every city, and heal every injury, we still have done nothing to advance the kingdom of heaven.

If we provided food, clothing, shelter, and health care to every orphaned or homeless child in the world, that would be a wonderful thing, yet we still have done nothing to advance the kingdom of heaven.

All of these things, and many others, are good and wonderful things. Yet the net result of those things by themselves is simply to make the world a better place from which to go to hell.

Christian, by all means go out into the world and do good. But do not use the gospel as an excuse to just do good. Or worse, do not allow doing good to replace the gospel of salvation. Use your good works to reach people with the gospel! 

Heal their physical wounds, and introduce them to the Great Physician.

Soothe their troubled minds, and introduce them to the Wonderful Counselor.

Feed their bellies, and introduce them to the Bread of Life.

Be a Scout leader, and introduce them to the One who said to bring the children to Him.

March in front of an abortion clinic, and introduce them to the One who formed them in the womb.

Be an arbitrator bringing together squabbling parties, and introduce them to the Prince of Peace.

Use this new year of 2016 to serve a desperate and needy people both body AND soul!

God bless you all
Ron and the Debster

Friday, January 1, 2016

New Year's Resolutions? Are you KIDDING me?

image downloaded from Google Images
New Year's Resolutions. I gave up on them years ago. I have no will power; just ask the Debster, she'll tell you.

I do, however, look at it this way. I am not perfect. There are a lot of things in my life that need changing. In fact, anyone that is even remotely honest with themselves would have to say the same thing.

As the expression goes, "Be patient with me, God isn't finished with me yet." Though it is a bit of a cliche, there is truth in that. 

Philippians 1:6; 2:13 ESV - "And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ .... [F]or it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure." 1 Thess 2:13 tells us that He works on and through us  through His Word, the Bible. We absorb His Word by reading it, by memorizing it, by hearing it preached, by meditating upon it, by discussing it with other believers. Full-immersion in His Word is the ideal for any follower of Jesus.

This, my friends, is an ongoing thing. Growth in our faith, as evidenced by growth in our walk, in our speech and actions and thought patterns. Rather than so-called "Resolutions" that we make on a late night once a year and then fail quickly, we should be growing daily, little by little.

Growth in faith and maturity, evidenced by a lifestyle that continually grows more and more Christ-like, takes time. Peter spoke of babes longing for the milk of the Word (1 Pet 2:2). The writer of Hebrews spoke of those that need milk and those that need meat (Heb 5:12-13). Paul used a similar expression (1 Cor 3:2). 

A human baby does not become a mature adult overnight; it is absurd to expect that. But on the other hand, for a person to REMAIN a baby and not grow up is a tragedy; to call an adult "childish" is an insult.

Change is necessary, and basically inevitable, for all believers. As I go through my daily life, absorbing God's Word, one thing I should constantly be on the alert for is what needs to be changed? Is there sin I need to confess, repent, and forsake? Is there a good work I need to be doing? What needs to be done to help me to be conformed, not to the world, but into the image of Christ?

image downloaded from Google Images
Don't make a "New Year's Resolution" and grit your teeth to accomplish it by your own strength and will-power, then fail miserably, then give up until the next New Year. Day by day, allow God, leading you by the Holy Spirit through His Word, to decide what needs to be changed in your life, and then to accomplish it FOR you.

Forget the world's version of "self-improvement". Embrace the work of God instead.

May God richly bless you all throughout this coming year!

Ron and the Debster