Month: April 2006

Kill a Beaver — Save Oil

Want to strike a blow against high gas prices while making 40 bucks at the same time?

You can always bag a beaver. In Minnesota, the Board of Water and Soil Resources (BWSR) is offering to match the bounty paid to trappers by local government entities, such as county and local watershed districts.

In Kittson County, for example, the county will give you $20 for a beaver tail, and another $20 is yours from BWSR. If you turn around and sell the pelt, you could get another 50 bucks, or more.

And consider this: The Minnesota DNR says wearing a coat or hat made from beaver means you'll be wearing a "renewable resource." Most synthetic fur coats and other fibers are made from petroluem-based products.

Note: I am an animal lover. I don't abide trapping because I think it's cruel. I suppose I can live with shooting beaver in the head for a quick death, however, and then making good use of the animal's by-products. I realize, also, that a farmer can't let his land flood because of beaver dams.

One final thought: I understand Lewis and Clark loved eating beaver tail. It's rich in fat and fries up nice and succulent, something like bacon. Yummmmm …..

Lunch With the Congressman

Last week I had a chance to have lunch with Congressman Collin Peterson, a Democrat who serves Minnesota's 7th District.

Peterson is a so-called "Blue Dog Democrat" — meaning he's a conservative Democrat. Some think Peterson is almost more Republican than Democrat.

Anyway, over hot beef sandwiches at the Scandia Diner in downtown Karlstad, Minnesota, population 800, I had a chance to drill Peterson with a number of questions about current events.

I should say, for the sake of disclosure, that I have voted for Peterson every time he has run and won his seat since the late 1980s. Still, I found a lot of his views disturbing, especially those pertaining to the war in Iraq.

Peterson seems to favor a "stay the course" strategy — saying in effect that now that we are in Iraq, we have to stay there. He acknowledged that we are building permanent military bases there — and a gigantic $700 million embassy — meaning we are in Iraq "forever."

I think he is wrong. I agree with others, such as Congressman John Murtha, that we should pull out our forces now, that we cannot "win" in Iraq, and the longer we stay there, the worse things are going to get. I hope Congressman Peterson will think more deeply about this horrible mistake the U.S. has made in Iraq, and vote to bring our troops home ASAP.

As a self-described fiscal conservative, I think Peterson should explain how we can continue to fund the war — $1 to $2 billion every week — while our national debt is soring toward the $9 trillion mark. Blood and money — Iraq is a black hole we need to back away from.

Congressman Peterson: Pulling out of Iraq now will not make America weaker, it will make America stronger. Help get us out now!

The Silent Date: Go Deeper Faster

By Ken Korczak

You’ve heard that song, “Silent Night, Holy Night.” Well, there is something sacred about silence. Enlightenment comes to Zen monks in silent meditation. With this in mind, here is an extremely bold idea for a date. It's highly unusual, to be sure, and not many will try it.

Ask someone out on a date, but make this rule: Neither you nor your date will speak a single word for the duration of the date. That’s right! You both will take an oath of total silence.
You will also keep all other forms of communications to a bare minimum. That means no writing notes, few or no hand signals, or any other form of symbolic communication.

What you actually do on your silent date is not as important as the fact that you are dating in silence.

For example, if you go out to dinner, you would not be able to speak to the waiter when ordering food. Although you might handle this by simply pointing to the menu items, the idea is to shape the date around the fact that you won’t be saying anything. Choose an activity carefully.  If you go to a movie, you won't be able to discuss it.

Why this idea? Why a silent date? What good could possibly come from it?

Well, to be silent is tremendously difficult for all of us who live in the modern world. We live in the Age of Information. Everywhere is the constant clamor of communication. Radios play, TVs blare, people everywhere babble into cell phones, even when they have nothing to say. But if a person could just stop for a time to just listen and observe, tremendous new insights can be discovered about what it means to be alive today.

Furthermore, when you share your silence with a dating partner, you are creating a huge opportunity to learn extremely subtle clues about who this person really is, and what he or she is all about. Just as a blind person must enhance his or her other senses to compensate for the lack of sight, two silent people must double or triple their other senses for reading what the other person is like “beneath the skin.”

The silent date can produce truly amazing insights about other people. Interacting and observing with another person in silence is a powerful experience!

Also, if you cannot be comfortable with another person in silence, it’s a good sign you can’t be comfortable with that person in any way. That’s because we all use mindless chatter to cover up for how we really feel. We all know how people blurt out anything, just to fill those uncomfortable silent moments. When you date under an oath of silence, you are forced to accept your date on a more subtle level. You see deeper into their personality and psyche. In fact, it may take several silent dates to get the full effect of this.

And consider this: After your silent date is over, you will have an iron-clad reason for a second date — you need to get together again to share your experience, and talk about what you observed and felt!

This can be tremendously fun! For example, let’s say your silent date involves a walk in a park. Perhaps you both stopped to observe some wildflowers, or paused to gaze upon a water pond. After your silent date, you can ask your date: “You know, I really wanted to know what you were thinking when you were looking at those colorful wildflowers?” The answer can be surprising!

You see, an important aspect of the silent date is that both people are forced to project their own theory about what the other person is thinking during specific events and activities. What you thought your date was contemplating, and what he or she was really contemplating, can be dead on, or totally off base.

The silent date requires that each person pay extremely close attention to the other as you both strive to determine meanings. This can only be a good thing. Too often, what a person actually says does not always reflect what he or she really means. Spoken communications are often misinterpreted. But a silent date gives the daters deeper, more subtle insights into each other. Ironically, silent dates actually enhance communication in the long run. It does that by forcing the daters to confront the process of communication from a new and more profound level.

I could go on and on about the magical wonders of the silent date, but the real benefits can only be achieved by trying it. Yes, it takes a lot of courage to suggest a silent date, especially in a first-time dating situation. A lot of people will think you’re kooky. But the more profound, open-minded and less shallow people will at least be willing to give this bold idea a try.

People who agree to a silent date are guaranteed to be interesting people — and better yet, you may just have the most interesting and memorable dating experience of your life.  You may even fall in love.

Please take a moment to visit Ken's Web Site:

Restaurant On the Edge of Time

By Ken Korczak

Author’s Note:

Many of us have a favorite restaurant where we love the food, the atmosphere, and the special feeling it gives us.

Today I bring you a story of one of my favorite restaurants — but I can only get to it through the process of lucid dreaming.  A lucid dream is a dream in which you know you are dreaming.  For several years, I experimented with advanced lucid dream inducement techniques, including using the NovaDreamer developed by The Lucidity Institute at Stanford University.

The NovaDreamer is a kind of “dream mask” which you wear over your eyes at as you asleep at night. It uses motion detectors to discern when you have entered the REM state — Rapid Eye Movement — which is an indication that you are dreaming.

Once REM is detected, the NovaDreamer signals you to “come awake” within your dream.  The following story tells of a fantastic restaurant I disocovered in the “dream world.”  I call it: The Restaurant on the Edge of Time."

One night as I was going to sleep I was very hungry, but I was too tired to get up for a snack.

After a few minutes — and after using my favorite lucid dream inducement technique –  I found myself in an exhilarating dream in which I was flying through a high, craggy mountain pass. I instantly realized I was dreaming, and tried not to get too excited. I didn't want to collapse the dream and wake up.

After a time of thrilling soaring through the mountains, there was a sudden “whump”!  I found myself looking down at a bright red carpet. Lifting my head, I found that I was in a bright room. I recognized it as some kind of large restaurant, furnished with heavy tables and chairs fashioned from oak, blackened with age. One entire side of the place, an entire wall, was a gigantic window — it was about 25 feet high. The room was like a big solarium.

Outside the window was a vast, snow-covered vista. Huge black-gray mountains with jagged toothy peaks loomed nearby. In front of the mountains was  a frozen glacial landscape, broken only here and there by a few gray rocky outcroppings. The sky was vibrant blue and full of sun.

It was a breath-taking sight. I stood where I had landed, gaping out the big window.

Suddenly, I felt somebody touch my elbow. Startled, I whirled and saw a petite woman, about five feet tall, and of astounding beauty. She had luxurious chocolate-brown hair tumbling to her shoulders. Her skin was pale ivory, and she had stunning green eyes. Her lips were like red pillow cushions. She was the most profoundly lovely woman I had ever seen! Her radiant smile was competition for the bright sunshine streaming through the giant window. She was achingly lovely!

I quickly learned this stunning person was a waitress. She said to me: “Do you want a table?” I stammered and said: “I guess so, but where am I?”

As I asked this question,  the place began to shift and waver. I  was starting to wake up — something I did not want to do yet! I wanted to experience this world!

But the woman helped me. She said: “Look down at the carpet and focus all your attention on it until things solidify for you.”

I obeyed, and looked down at the carpet. As I did so, I began to regain control of the dream. The carpet became solid; I could soon see every fiber in it. (I later  learned this was the purpose of the carpet — it’s  a special color designed to help people stay solid in the dream state)!

Anyway, once I was back in control, the beautiful waitress asked me how I got here.  I said: “I think I’m dreaming, but I’m not sure. My physical body is on Earth, in a place called Minnesota.  Do you know where that is?”

She laughed and said: “Yes, you are still on Earth, but you are probably in a different time period, and there is no Minnesota now.” And then she added: “But congratulations on making it here!

Then she led me to a table and asked me if I wanted something to eat. I said yes, but that I didn’t have any money. She burst out laughing. “You don’t need any money here!  Feeding you will be an honor — you’ve earned it!”

I said, “Why?”

She said: “Because you’re here!”

I said: “Thank you. But I’m not sure if I can eat, or what I want.”

She winked at me, and said: “Don’t worry, I’ll bring you something you’re going to love.”

As she turned to go back toward the kitchen, I looked at her more.  She was wearing a prim, earthy green knee-length frock. Her legs were  smooth and muscular. On her feet were soft black ankle boots. She also evinced sweet scent, very subtle, like melted white sugar, or perhaps mild vanilla. Whew! She was so attractive is made me dizzy!

But I forced my mind off Eros. I looked around the restaurant a bit more.  About six to eight other diners were present, speaking in low voices, minding their own business.  Were they dreaming, too? They sipped drinks from crystal goblets, and ate from dark wooden bowls and wooden plates.

I was seated at a large oak table right next to the big windows. I looked out into the landscape and was  surprised to see a human figure walking out  on the glacial ice-pack. It was coming toward the restaurant, and as it got closer, I was absolutely flabbergasted by what I saw!

I realized that I was looking at not a human, but a proto-human!  This "person" was some kind of Cromagnon man, or something.  It stood tall and erect, but had a heavy, ape-like brow and face. It had thick, tangled black hair and beard. It was wearing animal furs, and high animal-fur boots or leggings. Strangely, it must have been 6’-8” or 6’-10” tall.

The proto-man was skinny, but tough-looking and sinewy with muscle. He was also carrying a variety of animal skin pouches. I had the impression that he might have been some kind of shaman on vision quest. In the dream state, thoughts like that just come to you; it’s kind of like ESP.

As the proto-man man came closer, I realized he could not see me through the window, or even see the restaurant. He stood there for a while, just kind of smelling the air.  He seemed to sense that this was a magical place.

It began to dawn to me that this restaurant was probably designed to be a kind of viewing area, set up in the distant past, where "mind traveling" beings from the future could come to witness the ancient landscape while relaxing over a fine meal. What a concept for a restaurant!

A was stunned and fascinated. I could not take my eyes off the proto-man. It was an eerie feeling to see a being that was perhaps only "somewhat" human." He had the unmistakable mannerisms of a human, yet he was alien somehow — truly another species. I felt I could sense the beginnings of higher intelligence in his face, a certain light in its eyes — as if he too was transcending to a higher level of understanding, just as those of us at the restaurant might be doing.

I made a mental connection.

Here I was at this restaurant, honing my own abilities to live and experience consciousness beyond my ordinary experience — striving to transcend my present level of existence — just as this proto-human was on a vision quest, striving to transcend his own level of development. He eventually began to walk on, and slowly disappeared into the distance.

Presently, the lovely waitress returned with my food. She set down a wooden bowl filled with what looked like a delicious beef stew. It had small whole onions and tubers in it, and some other vegetables. She also set down a bowl of leafy salad, looking like spinach leaves. Finally, she presented a large, crystal glass containing a green drink of some kind, with ice in it.

She said: “You’re gonna love this. What you might want to try is spearing a chunk of meat, wrap it in one of these valor leaves and pop the whole thing into your mouth.  The stew is quite spicy and the cool taste of the leaves balance the flavor.”

I said, “Okay,” and then, “I’ve never heard of ‘valor’ leaves.  What are they?”

She said, “Just a kind of delicious plant we grow here.”

She left , and I began to eat. I took her advice about wrapping a chunk of meat in the valor leaves. I popped a wrapped bit into my mouth — and the flavor exploded within! The meat had a pungent, hot & spicy flavor — it was 100 percent succulent! — and the minty flavor of the valor leaves balanced it perfectly. It tasted so good I almost went into a trance!

I dug into the rest of the bowl and began to eat like a starved animal. It was so delicious that I couldn’t shovel it all into my mouth fast enough!  The whole onions were cooked to a perfect degree — just slightly crispy and full of flavor.  The tubers were sweet and savory.

As I was eating, I hardly noticed that the waitress had brought me a large crust of freshly baked bread, golden brown and fluffy white on the inside. I grabbed the bread and used it to sop up the gravy.

After I finished the bowl of stew, I reached for the glass of green liquid and took a tentative sip. It was some kind of magnificent wine! It was like kiwi-fruit wine, except the sweetness was more perfect, the flavor more exotic. It gave my tongue just the right feeling.  After a couple of sips, I poured the entire contents down my throat.

When the waitress came back and asked me how I liked it, I made a fool of myself, babbling about how superb everything was.  I asked her what the stew was made of, and get ready for this — she said it was made from mammoth meat! I had just eaten mammoth stew, and it was the best meal of my life!

She asked me if I wanted some desert.  Of course, I said yes! A minute later she was back with what looked like a dry, crispy piece of toast, or some kind of large, squared cookie. It was waffle-yellow with bits of red in it. I took a bite — again my mouth erupted with delightful flavor! It had a sweet, banana-strawberry taste. Although it looked dry, it had the moist consistency of a strudel, or a fresh scone.

As I was eating this, I began to feel the solidity of the restaurant shimmer and waver. I tried looking at the red carpet again, but it wasn’t working. Darn! It was time to go, time to wake up.

As I faded, I saw the waitress-goddess smiling at me with a look of pure love — she seemed to be saying good-bye, and telling me to come again.  I suddenly felt awful I had no way to leave her a tip!

I awoke. I got up out of bed and started whooping and hollering! I could not believe the marvelous journey I had just been on! My mind was swirling for the rest of the night!

Since then, I have returned many times to the restaurant established somewhere on a distant shelf of time, but it would take an entire book to relate everything I have experienced there. Perhaps the best thing about it is that I can eat all I want, and not gain a speck of weight — there’s no calories in dream food!


SPECIAL NOTE: I have returned to the Restaurant on the Edge of Time, which I call “The RET” for short, many times, and I document many of my journeys to this wonderful place extensively in my blog: The Strange Univserse of Dr. 58. You can find it here: THE STRANGE UNIVERSE OF DR. 58


Minnesota Wood Wizards

Editor's Note: The following story is true, as told to the author. The caller wished not to be identified by name, so fictional names are used.


By Ken Korczak
The rugged gravel road that winds like a serpent through the thick forests of Minnesota's Northwest Angle seems especially lonely when you travel it by night in a rattling old pick-up truck.

That’s what Duke Rialto was doing one humid summer night in August of 1991. He was headed for a cabin at the Northwest Angle Resort in Angle Inlet where was supposed to join his buddies whom had arrived ahead of him for a week of fishing.

It was after midnight and Duke was dead tired. He had started out early in the morning from Esther, Iowa, and had driven all day to reach the wilds of the northern peak of Minnesota — “The Angle.”

But now, after hundreds of miles, Duke’s ‘65 GM decided it had enough. A sudden loud clunking noise erupted  underneath, and the old pick-up lost momentum fast.

I don’t care who you are, it’s a scary feeling to have your truck go dead at night in the middle of the mysterious wilderness of The Northwest Angle. Duke had driven this road before, and had often seen large bears, moose and other variety of ferocious beast prowling the edge of the forest. Now he was faced with walking along this wild road in the inky blackness of night with God-only-knows-what manner of furry brute waiting in the dark to jump out at any warm meal walking by.

Duke pounded the steering wheel and cursed his old GM, but all the foul language in the world can’t fix a blown U-joint. He thought about waiting for someone else to come by, but anyone who has driven the Angle Road knows that the chances of another car coming by late at night is next to none.

Cursing his luck, Duke reached into his cubby for a flashlight and a .22 caliber pistol, which probably hadn’t been fired in five years. The thought of shooting at something in total darkness made him even more nervous.

Then suddenly, Duke’s luck seemed to change. As soon as he switched off his headlights, he noticed a faint yellow glow coming from deep in the woods on the east side of the road. “A cabin!” he thought.

He got out of his pick-up and walked toward the light. When he reached the edge of the forest, he could see that the light was a considerable way into the woods, but difficult to tell how far. It was also hard to tell what the light was. It might have been a cabin window, or maybe a campfire.

Reluctantly, Duke stepped into the woods keeping his eyes on the yellow glow. He told me:

“To be honest, I was so scared I was shaking…I mean, there I was out in the black woods with a dim flashlight in one hand and an old pistol in the other. I kept thinking I’d run into a bear. But the worst, I think, is what your own imagination projects out into the dark unknown.”

The woods were wet with dew. The pungent smell of rotting leaves and old wood hung in the air, as did patches of mist drifting up from the forest floor.

Branches tore at Duke’s clothing and slapped his face as he moved along. He stumbled often, and cursed every time.  All the while, he was filled with fearful uncertainty. He had no idea what the light was — his heart pounded and his mind raced with wild ideas — maybe it was a UFO! Maybe some murderous lunatic hiding out in a shack!

But as he got closer, Duke began to sense that what he was approaching was stranger than anything he imagined. About 20 yards away, Duke made out the shape of three men standing around some kind of large light. In Duke’s words:

“It definitely wasn’t a campfire,” Duke said. “I’m sure of that. It didn’t flicker like a campfire. It was a steady glow. It was like a large globe on the ground. And those men were just standing around it, stiff-like — they just didn’t seem right. You usually sit around a campfire, but these guys were stiff and just strange, somehow. Their body language was off kilter, not natural.”

Despite his fear, Duke called out to the men. Hearing the shout, the three shadowy figures jerked, turned and stood rigidly. Then, according to Duke, something bizarre happened:

“The light they were standing around transformed instantly  into a campfire … I mean, I didn’t see it directly, but one minute it was a steady, glowing light and the next it was a flickering, cracking, smoking campfire!”

Not sure what to think, and without options, Duke approached the men, squeezing his pistol hard in his sweaty palm, hiding it behind his back. When he got closer the weirdness got weirder.

“They were ordinary looking men, I suppose, but the way they were dressed was very odd,” Duke said. “I mean, one of the guys was wearing a cape! How often do you see anyone in northern Minnesota wearing a cape out in the woods!”

The man with the cape also sported a thick purple shirt with no buttons, and matching purple pants. He was wearing tall leather boots. His face and hair seemed normal. His cape was clasped at the shoulder with a magnificent gold ornament which glinted in the firelight.

The second man was wearing pants that were “like knickers” Duke said, and were “bunched up like riding pants.” The man in the riding pants had a shiny bald head, and he wore a loose black sweater tucked into his knickers, which were tight around the waist. He was wearing what Duke called “thin street shoes.”

The third man wore a long gray cloak that covered most of his body, hut he could also see that he wore purple pants and high leather boots. He had long brown hair and a heavy mustache.

They had no vehicle that he could see, and no camping equipment, no tents, not even anything to make a fire with, like an axe — nothing.

At first, the three men stared at Duke as if he were some kind of circus freak, but then they seemed to quickly recover and tried to act normal.

“They TRIED to act normal.” Duke said, “But it didn’t take a rocket scientist to see that these guys weren’t from around here. Either that, or they were playing some kind of weird game … I just don’t know.”

Duke stepped up to the fire and said hello, and started to explain that his pick-up had broken down on the road.

The man with the bald head stepped up to him, smiled broadly and said in stiff English: “You have lathed your feet and joined us here to be happy! All three!”

“I just didn’t know what to think about what he said,” Duke said. “It was a weird statement. I thought maybe these guys were Russians, or some kind of foreigners or something that were trying to enter the United States illegally through Canada and the woods of The Angle, or something. I don’t know. It just didn’t make much sense.”

Then the guy with the cape moved forward and pushed the bald guy aside. He asked: “The Aeon? Is it of, Sir?”

Duke said: “I’m not sure what you mean. What do you mean by Aeon?” 

The three strangers all gave each other inside looks, as if they were all part of some kind of conspiracy. Then the caped man said: “You more to say. We hear more to say!”

At this point, Duke was more certain he was talking to some kind of foreign smugglers, although he could not fathom their accents. They didn’t sound Russian or like any other foreign accents he was familiar with. They sounded like people speaking a strange form of true English.

Duke said: “I talked to them some more, but it was extremely awkward. I mean, they were nice, and everything, but nothing they said made any sense. They were speaking English, but it was all mixed up, like they were putting together words from a dictionary without really knowing what each word meant in proper context.”
There was nothing to do but take his leave. Duke said good bye to the three strangers and the man in the cape said: “For positive yes!”

So Duke made his way back through the woods and found the road again. He spent the next two hours tramping along in the dark, walking he figures at least 10 or 12 miles, finally gaining Angle Inlet without getting eaten by a bear.

“After I showed up I told my buddies about the strange guys in the woods and the teased the hell out of me, saying I was drunk or high or loony or something. I eventually just stopped talking about it — I don’t like to even bring the subject up anymore because nobody really takes me seriously. But it’s one of those things you just don’t forget about. It’s like an experience that was on the edge of being paranormal, yet there could be a logical explanation for it.”

One last thing: After a week of fishing, Duke repaired his pick-up repaired and he returned to Esther, Iowa. One of the words the bald man had said was “Aeon,” and it kept running through his mind. He looked it up one day in the dictionary and discovered that aeon was another form of the word “eon,” which means: “an indefinitely long period of time; an age.”

Duke said: “Why would he be asking me what eon it was?  Were they time travelers? Lost time travelers? They were certainly dressed like nobody I had seen before. Sometimes I think they were from another time. Maybe they were wizards. But then I think: Nah, they must have been smugglers, maybe from some obscure place like Transylvania or something. I just don’t know, but I’ll always wonder about it.”