Thursday, December 3, 2009

The Divine Within

It’s been said that it’s not the receiving of the gift at Christmas that’s important, but the giving of said gift. Giving something to someone else helps us to overcome our nature, which is to hoard or keep for ourselves. When a baby is born, be it human or animal, the survival instinct is to retain that which is important, because of this survival instinct. Babies need food. They don’t ordinarily share what they have. Puppies all want the favorite teat. They all instinctively know that once the milk is gone, it will be a while until there is more. Hunger is a powerful motivator. Self preservation drives them in the struggle. Those who don’t prevail can die.

While the human animal is more civilized, in general, than the beasts, instincts are hard to overcome. It becomes an “Aaah” and “Oooh” moment when we see a baby hand his favorite toy to a friend, offer a bite of cereal from a slobbery hand, or a lick of a very sticky lollipop to another child. Instinctively we understand that the child is overcoming the instinct for self preservation.

It is a great obstacle to overcome to donate money, the fruits of our hard labor, to benefit others, and yet we do so with gusto as we give to churches, disease cure research organizations or other charitable groups, including bell ringers and even panhandlers. All of these acts are evidence that we are gaining attributes of the Divine.

What’s more is that when we do things to help others, rather than cringing at relinquishing our funds, we feel good about doing something for our neighbors and co-runners in the human race. It is a somewhat indefinable feeling of accomplishment. The feeling must release endorphins because doing good is addictive. Whatever the reason for the exhilaration, we like it and want to do more to feel more of the same.

We may not be able to change the world, we may not even change the people who benefit from our philanthropic activities, but in giving of ourselves, our time and our means, we slowly change ourselves from our animal instincts to the divine within.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Survival of the Most Prepared

The fittest may look better, but the most prepared last longer. I've been interested in survival techniques, kits, gadgets, etc since I was a young Boy Scout. I've always tried to be prepared to stay alive by knowing what to do and how to do it. Lately I've once again been trying to compile what I think is the perfect small survival kit. I even included some of my ideas in my book, Tall Trail Tales. A couple of the items on my list are really bigger than I'd like, but I would still include them in my ideal kit. Here's my list of what I've come up with so far. If you have a favorite not on my list, let me know what it is and why you'd include it. Remember this is trying to be space conscious.

Obviously my ideal kit would be a motorhome full of stuff.



Hot Spark Flint
Fire starter chip
Plastic Magnifying lens
Small Bic lighter
Tinder wick


Duct tape
Orange bandana
Parachute cord
Pencil / paper
Signal mirror
Small knife
Survival cards
Wire saw


Dental Floss
Snare wire


Emergency blanket
Tube tent


Gallon ziplock bag
Mesh bag
Plastic sheet for solar still
Potassium Permanganate
Water purifier tabs
Water tubing for seeps


Candle wick
LED light
Small glow stick

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Farewell to Pat

Uncle Pat just passed away tonight. About 20 minutes ago. He went to the hospital a week ago to have stomach surgery. There were many problems which pointed to things getting worse instead of better. All his organs were shutting down and he was not expected to last the weekend. I understand his family was able to be with him at the end.

When I think about Uncle Pat a lot of things go through my mind. Their dogs they have had over the years. Baseball games. Family History. Cincinnati. I remember a chicken coop in Panguitch and a belt spanking afterwards for my Kelly. Butter ice cubes. The Dugout. Mustaches and sideburns. Spam.

I once had an email folder labeled “Uncle Pat” so that all his spam emails would be directed there. I usually looked at all of them. Pat sent lots of spam, but he usually sent some good stuff. It was better than getting catalogs in the mail. You know, when you don’t have any other mail you get the catalogs. His emails were spam, but they were spam with thought put in, kind of like Grandpa’s spam and eggs for breakfast.

I only remember about three emails that were regular emails. One was about the family reunion. Two were about his surgery. They were brief. He was anxious about needing/having the surgery, but guardedly optimistic. We all do that. We have a great sense of our own mortality, but cannot accept a reality in which we no longer exist in this physical world. We can think about death, but not about us not being here anymore.

I’m going to put this on my blog for everyone to see, but I’m also going to send it in an email to my family. Send it out again as spam to people you know, just for Pat.

Miss you Uncle Pat,


Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Strange, But True

In the area of truth being stranger than fiction, a couple of stories always come to my mind:

As a district supervisor for a chain of clothing stores, my father travelled out of town all my life. Such a schedule requires the traveler to eat at many restaurants. On one such occasion, my father had just paid for his meal, a hamburger, fries and soft drink, and was seating himself in a booth. To his surprise, seated in an adjacent booth, was Colonel Sanders, of Kentucky Fried Chicken fame, dressed in his traditional attire. Colonel Sanders noticed my father's surprise, turned to him and remarked, “Well, we can't eat chicken all the time, can we."

Not long before my grandmother passed away, the greeting card industry entered a new era of technology where computer chips and a small battery were added to cards enabling the cards to play a variety of Christmas carols when opened. My wife and I bought several cards to send to a few relatives. One of these cards was sent to my grandmother.

In her mid-seventies, she had seen many marvelous improvements and technological advances over the years. In her town, for example, you didn't need to write a full mailing address or box number for her to get your letter. Her name, the name of the small town in which she lived and the zip code were sufficient. The post office only had about 200 boxes total, and some of those were not in use. Somehow, somewhere the card we sent my grandmother was bent slightly. The computer chip inside began to quietly play its repertoire of about eight songs.

The postmaster's wife, who doubled as attendant at their grocery store-gas station-post office, upon hearing the music, sent her husband outside to check the restrooms to see if perhaps someone was there with a radio. Dutifully, the postmaster checked both restrooms then all around the building without locating the source of the music. As the two of them listened more carefully, they could tell that the music was coming from the mail room

"It must be one of these packages." one of them remarked.

They must have been quite a site as they carefully listened to each the large packages, then continued with the letters and cards until they located a cheery little envelope performing its own recital. They decided that it would be best to make a special delivery of the mail and promptly took it to my grandmother.
"Special delivery for you, Velma." they said as my grandmother opened the door.

They explained what happened and waited as she opened the card. By carefully straightening the bent card the two of them were able to repair the card's on/off switch and make it function properly again. Anxious to share this marvel with someone else, my grandmother called one of my aunt's

"Reva," she began, "Would you like to hear my Christmas card from Twist and Helen?"

My aunt said she would and listened for her to begin reading the card over the phone. Instead she heard the miniature recital which had been performed already for my grandmother, a postmaster, his wife and unknown countless postal and airlines workers

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Another Man's Treasure

I love to go to garage sales. The allure is a cross between snooping in strangers houses, finding out what they consider surplus, un-needed items and rummaging around in those items to find the bargain I didn't know I was looking to find. We started our day today arranging the surplus wares of our abode to attract the gaze of shoppers we hoped to entice to our garage by stategically placing signs on cardboard boxes at each end or our street. Now, lest you think that insufficient advertising, it helped a bit that the entire block around the corner was having a block garage sale.

The first order of business, after getting set up, was to get my wife to watch our sale, whilst I perused the merchandise begging my attention a mere half a block around the corner. I walked about a half a mile down one side of the street and back again and spent a grand total of 75 cents on a roll of speaker wire. My treasure found a year ago was a rain chime box. Turn it upside down, the right side up and bb's drop on the chimes for up to 30 minutes

The bargain hunters from around the block did manage to find their way to our humble driveway, but possibly with purses much lighter than they started, because they didn't leave an abundance of currency in my coffers. We brought in a grand total of about $95, which needed to be split four ways, my take amounting to approximately $35 for 7 hours of selling. As I make that much in a couple of hours at my day job, I think I'll stick to it.

Doggonit, I didn't even get rid of very much junk, I mean surplus domestic products. Best part of all is that my wife wants to do this all again in 4 weeks, leaving our display counters intact in the garage once again showing that Americans will store $100 worth of stuff in their garage and leave $30,000 worth of automobiles unprotected out in the weather.
I can't wait to hit the sales again next weekend.

Monday, October 19, 2009

We'd Rather Be Right Than Popular

Albus Dumbledore said in one of the Harry Potter books that people are generally more willing to forgive others for being wrong than right and yet for some ethereal reason we do everything in our power to be the one who is right.  We argue with our spouse, siblings, teachers and the occasional police officer that we are not wrong in our decisions, actions and opinions.  Consequences either don't matter or don't come to mind as we verbally battle to justify ourselves.  With that in mind, I wrote a poem that hopefully reflects a variety of viewpoints and the silliness of all.

To Be Right
               By Twist
Why do you argue when you know I'm right?
Don’t you know of my great insight?
Through many days I’ve toiled in strife
and gained much wisdom from daily life.
It’s not important what you do
because I’ve lived much longer than you.

You should listen to my counsel and not contest,
You can learn from me, my opinion’s best.
I’m not encumbered with all your fears,
My youthful strength will last for years.
I know you’re wrong and I am right,
You will be blessed by my young sight.

My womanly instincts give me great perception
To ensure in all that I have no deception.
Mother Nature and God are on my side,
I solve any problem in a single stride.
My feminine nature achieves great height.
You’ll always know that I am right.

As a man I’ve endeavored with all my might
to gain my knowledge and all my sight.
Nature has endowed me with strength and power,
To guide me in each troublesome hour.
It does not matter if you’re right all along
It matters most that I’m not wrong.

We sit each at last, alone in the dark,
Not even a dog is present to bark.
We’ve driven away every incorrect soul
With their lack of vision to see the whole.
Though no one's around to share our insight,
We have great pride in knowing we were right.

Twist Huntington

Thursday, October 15, 2009

The Changing Face of the Hunter

For the record, my retirement in March 2009 was never meant to be permanent. I intended to take a sabbatical from work. Alright, I wanted a good long vacation. There were, however, many things on my To Do List. It doesn’t really matter that most of those items are still on my list to be done, I have accomplished a great deal. For one thing, I’m nearly through seasons 1 through 7 of Stargate SG-1 on I’d love to write a testimonial for them. Oh, wait. I guess I just did.

Actually, I planned my summer for several events. I wanted to be one of the male support leaders for the church’s young women’s camp. I planned on doing the same for Boy Scout summer camp, but my Eagle Scout son decided he would rather not sleep in a hot dusty, camp with a host of dusty, smelly guys. With no job, it was a simple matter to plan a trip over the river and through the woods to visit my parents, siblings and cousins at the ever famous family reunion. I went fishing, kayaking and made a second trip to visit my parents.

As far as summers go, I had a pretty decent one. Just as bills in the mail follow Christmas, so did reality come after the summer vacations. Bills still have to be paid and groceries need to be bought. With no excuses and plenty of reasons, I started my job search again. It would help if I knew what I wanted to be when I grow up, but there are an abundance of postings for employment even though it is true that it appears that a majority of the jobs require special degrees or certifications.

Some of the opportunities for someone seeking employment are job fairs. The term fair seems an appropriate term as employers set up booths hawking their wares which, in this case, are jobs of every type imaginable. Step right up. Throw your resume’ at a targeted job and see if it sticks. For your consolation prize you can walk away with a variety of trinkets including pens, candy, calendars etc.

As I peer into the sea of faces and posters, the background turns to a haze and the multitude of voices mingle in such a way as to appear to be nothing more than ocean waves or seagulls. For me the task of picking a business is quite easy. I walk past the companies that don’t appeal. In fact, the entire experience lasts only about fifteen minutes. Usually I am only looking for certain companies and it’s easy to dismiss the rest as so much clutter.

I attended my latest job fair yesterday, but saw something I don’t remember as numerous as the previous experience. There were many gray haired individuals scattered throughout the flocks of those seeking gainful employment. While conversing with others I found that some, like me, have either retired from a career or are contemplating doing so. Others have been the results of downsizing. Still more are discouraged entrepreneurs whose businesses have failed in a less than stellar economy.

Retirement is just not what it used to be anymore. The government is currently suspending the cost of living increase for social security recipients. What used to be a reasonable retirement income no longer covers rising health costs, utility bills or increasing taxes. Greater numbers of seasoned citizens than ever are supplementing their income with credit cards and loans. Even the government has increased their debt many times over prior years.

I have been advising my children to get as good an education as possible. I have counseled them to find a job where they can work for at least thirty-five years. They need to avoid debt and create savings accounts and retirement accounts in addition to any retirement plan their employers may have. I encourage any who listen to be financially prudent in all that they do. This will hopefully help them avoid becoming the face of the modern job hunters who are graying around the temples with wrinkles around once smooth eyes. After all, if we do not plan to take care of our “golden years” who will.

"If you always do what you've always done, then you'll always get what you always got."

Monday, October 5, 2009

Many Voices

I have been bombarded by voices as of late. Yes, they are all real, not just in my head. These voices are not bad, either. I welcome all the dialogues I have received.

Twice a day, if I want, I can participate in a MARS, Military Affiliate Radio System, radio net. This is a practice/training net, or radio chat, to prepare for emergency communications in times of hurricanes, disasters or terrorism. There are usually about 30 participants in this net that come together from across the state. With our long range radios we can chat with others hundreds of miles away.

During this same net our local group also chats on different radios on a local frequency. This allows us to talk about the main topic for discussion with more latitude and candor.

Multiple opportunites also arise during the week to particpate in regular ham radio nets, usually all local radio operators, though, with the long range radios, I can join an endless list of nets around the country.

On Sunday nights, and throughout the week, I have the opportunity to chat online with my family. Technically, I guess these are not voices, but texts, but as I read each line of chat sent I hear in my head the voice of the person sending it. I picture them sitting at their computer smiling, typing and laughing. The worldwide web shrinks the thousands of miles around the globe that separate us, and yet cannot divide us because of the ease of contact. We laugh we discuss our parents, our families, our interests and our lives in general. You have to read fast to keep up with the up to 7 conversations that occur simultaneously at the speed of our local ISP connections.

I currently live in the same city as my children and grandchildren. We get together often and in volume. A friend of my oldest daughter came to visit one day. This friend is an only child. After a while she asked my daughter, "Is it always this noisy at your house?" I'm afraid so and happy to say it.

This weekend, I viewed the general conference of our Church. This world wide conference was broadcast over cable, tv, internet and radio. Millions of people around the world viewed the broadcast either live, on a delayed basis or on demand from the internet. They can purchase DVDs in about a month that will have the full spectrum of discourses to peruse at their leisure or read the printed word in about a month in a magazine.

All of these voices are welcome. They are informative, comforting, educational and interesting. As much as anything else, these are the voices of my life that give me perspectives on so many things. These voices mirror who I am. My lone voice in the sea of billions of other voices is still distinct, individual and personal. Though I am similar in nature to the masses, I am unique.

The voices are calling me now and I am happy,


"As cold waters to a thirsty soul, so is good news from a far country."
- Proverbs 25:25

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Subliminal Blog

I have been intrigued of late with an idea to write subliminal messages, that is to say, a message hidden amidst normal text which causes the reader to think or act in a way that has been engineered by the author.  I don't believe I've gotten the knack of it yet, but here my first attempt.


Some blogs promote products as a means to make sales, thus garnering income for the writer.

Every blog has the purpose of promoting the thoughts, feelings and ideas of the writer to gain a modicum of fame and fortune.

Never before in history has it been so easy to quickly publish ideas or promote a cause.

Donating money to your favorite cause has also become easier as most organizations now accept credit card or debit card transactions.

My siblings, spouse and offspring are ardent users of the electronic media in communicating our hopes, wants, desires and needs.

Everybody wants to make their own dreams come true and posting that to a media that has the potential to reach billions of people makes the realization of dreams seem more possible.

Making a living, meeting expenses, making sure that our future will be stable are common goals of modern men and women.

Our modern world is very different from that of our forefathers who could plant, raise, hunt or trade for most of their daily needs while we have been reduced to bartering currency for everything required for the sustenance of life and for those luxurious necessities.

Now is the time for us to change our way of thinking to implement budgets, savings plans and personal retirement programs.

Everyone in our current day needs to evaluate their circumstances to determine if they are truly exercising their best judgment in their own best interests.

Your contribution is greatly appreciated.


The significant problems we face cannot be solved by the same level of thinking that created them.
— Albert Einstein

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Job Stalking

I worked for the same organization for twenty-five years, acquiring an appropriate amount of experience, knowledge and skills as I performed a variety of assignments and duties. Some duties were basic, some very disconnected from the position for which I was hired, such as assuming secretarial duties as directed by the manager when the position was vacated. When there was no supervisor I had a semblance of supervision and trained many new employees. Continuing education at work built a considerable knowledgeable base to enhance performance at duties.

All of that aside, or perhaps all of that added to my resume’, after twenty-five years I decided to retire from my job, a decision I really have yet to regret, however, my timing could have been better. The economy tanked and the ranks of the unemployed did a good imitation of the great depression of the century past. I had never planned on remaining unemployed, simply free for a few months to volunteer at youth camps, visit family and catch a few fish, all goals which have been joyfully attained.

I have discovered a great many aids for the unemployed seeking a remedy for their situation: websites, classified ads, job fairs, pamphlets, state agencies and well meaning friends and family. Everyone, it seems, has the solution to your idleness and is quite willing to share their personal insights. Don’t misunderstand. The best method of procuring gainful employment has always been word of mouth. A guy who knows a guy can put you onto the lead you may be seeking. That is called networking and is the most effective means of ending the unemployed status.

What recent months have taught me is that this process is not called “job hunting” for nothing. One must return to his roots to truly understand. As we plan for dinner in this modern age, we begin with a trip to the grocery to stock our pantry with our preferred choice of edibles. Not terribly many years ago, though, our ancestors donned their hunting clothes, retrieved the appropriate firearm from its rack on the wall and trekked into the forests to find game that would be preserved by a variety of methods to sustain their families throughout the winter.

Every job opening posted these days receives an overwhelming response from the multitudes huddling together in the unemployment lines. Ok, actually they submit their resume’, their CV, their letters of recommendation and requests for employment online. This is, after all, the twenty-first century. With competition at its most frantic, the time has arrived for a change of tactics, a return to more traditional methods.

I have decided to don my leather jacket with the fringe down the sleeves, pants to match, and moccasins and pull the musket from the rack on the wall. Pardon the hunting analogy, but the shotgun approach no longer works. It is time to stalk the job, the boss and the company. This century’s job seeker needs to study they prey and learn as much as possible. It’s impossible to make an impression at an employment interview, assuming you ever get that far, without having a working knowledge of the nature of the company, its market, history and standing in the community.

Just as the mountain men read the animal tracks on the path and knew what animal made the tracks and how long ago it passed, the job stalker needs to understand his prey and become familiar even with the names of those who will interview him.

Understanding all that I have just written, the greatest trick to finding employment for me seems to be this: You really need to know what you want to be when you grow up. I have undergone a great deal of introspective contemplation. What do I really want to do with the rest of my life? The biggest roadblock I encounter is that I really like what I’m doing right now. It just doesn’t pay what I’m worth. Wow. That is what I’ve always said about my previous employers and now I’m doing it to myself.

I do like the boss, though.


"If you care, you will find a way.  If you don't care, you will find an excuse."

Monday, September 28, 2009

About the Trough

In the movie, "Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" there is an improbability drive which, when activated, will result in a very random and improbable location.  This is a blog, not a spaceship, and will not physically take you anywhere.  With that said, you never know what will be contained herein. 

My grandparents kept a 5 gallon bucket next to the stove.  As a child, I was disgusted and yet strangely intrigued by the contents of what I learned was called "the slop bucket."  All leftovers, except meat, were unceremoniously dumped into the slop bucket, whose aroma could easily overwhelm the most sumptuous of culinary concoctions.  This noxious swill was then lovingly poured into the pig trough where it was eaten with gusto and a great deal of slurping sounds.  Usually some grain was added to the slop for texture and provide some actual nourishment.

Without the noxious smells or added grain for texture, this blog is similar to the slop bucket and yet reminiscent of the improbability drive in that many random, hopefully entertaining, blogs will be posted here for reading enjoyment.

Come on back by often,

Twist Huntington

"Life isn't about surviving the storm, it's about learning to dance in the rain."