Archive | 2012

Tent Camper? Then You Need to Try Island Camping

I remember it as if it were yesterday. But it was actually 1985 when we decided to take the kids island camping. What is island camping? Let me explain.

We have always been tent campers. And the Wisconsin Northwoods was our favorite camping area.

Have you ever felt the “call of the wild”? And I’m not referring to the 1903 novel by Jack London. I DID read that book as a child and enjoyed every page. A book about a wolf in the Yukon, as I recall.

I’m talking about the yearning one often feels to get out of the city, away from civilization, take a trip, get out into nature, go to Europe, join the Peace Corps. Those types of yearnings. An experience that will get your blood and adrenaline moving again; especially your adrenaline. I’ve always felt that call but my career kept where I was. However, we could always escape to the Wisconsin Northwoods for a long weekend in order to be where we wanted to spend the majority of our time. That’s what drove us to tent camp about every other weekend.  On some occasions, when we returned home from a camping trip, we would not bother to unpack the truck because we suspected that we would be heading back to the Northwoods on the following weekend. It got ridiculous.

We had camped in many campgrounds in Wisconsin with our three young children. But we wanted to try something more daring and more remote. We were camping at a campground on the Chippewa Flowage near Hayward, Wisconsin. Wisconsin rednecks call it the “Big Chip”. It’s a huge 15,000 acre impoundment of water formed by the damming of the Chippewa River in 1924. It’s dotted with hundreds of islands. We noticed, while fishing with the kids, that there were campsites on some of those islands. That’s what gave us the idea for our next camping adventure.

(Author’s NOTE: there is a photo gallery for this post —->HERE<—-

What is really nice about camping on islands on Wisconsin’s big flowages is that it’s free, no reservations required, it’s first-come-first- served, and the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources maintains the island campsites. That means they keep them clean and groomed, they maintain the pit toilets, and they frequently re-stock each campsite with firewood.

Island campsites have a log picnic table, a fire ring, and a pit toilet. That’s it. Nothing else. You have to bring anything else that you want with you including fresh water to drink, extra fire wood, and something to cook on. You also need to leave nothing on the island when you leave, except what was there when you arrived. We made a list of what we would need, acquired some things at the local sporting goods store, and then headed out on the four hour-drive to Hayward from Waupaca, where we lived.

It was quite a haul. We had to transport a seventeen foot canoe upside down on top of our fishing boat, on a trailer, which we towed with our truck. The truck had a fiberglass cap on the carpeted truck bed, so we crammed all our gear and the kids in there – three kids with the youngest age five and the oldest age 10.

Our gear included all the firewood that we would need for three nights and four days, a cooler of food and beverages (ice would be bought in transit and every morning after that), five sleeping bags, five air mattresses, a 12-volt pump to pump up the mattresses using the boat battery, fishing gear, towels, clothes, folding chairs, a camping utensil set for preparing meals and eating, a two-room tent, a screen house, clothes line, an inflatable shower surround (sun shower), a tarp to put under the tent, and other necessary items. Packing for an island camping trip is a challenge. You always forget something, even when working from a list. Forgotten items had to be purchased in transit. Once on the water, we had to live without the item as there was no return to civilization for four days.

Let me interrupt my story for a second while I interject a funny camping episode. On another camping trip, we discovered after two hours of driving to our camping destination, that one of our four cats had crawled into the boat and was hiding under the boat cover. We had pulled into a gas station and heard meowing. We located our cat but did not want to drive two hours back home to put her back in the house. So we took her with us. We released her on the island where we set up camp. We figured, where is she going to go when we are surrounded by water on all sides? We renamed that island to Gray’s Island, after our cat. Since we now live on the flowage where we were camping many years ago, we pass that island frequently. Gray has passed on.

Back to the story. Once we arrived at the boat landing on the Big Chip, someone had to take the fishing boat out on the 15,000 acres of water and find a vacant campsite, while the rest of the family stayed behind with the rest of the gear. I usually took one of the kids and the tent, which would be used to “stake our claim” on an island. Finding a good campsite on an island could be a real challenge on a weekend, requiring boating several miles or more to find a site. But we learned that arriving early at the flowage on Thursdays instead of Fridays makes the task much easier.

On that first attempt at island camping, it took me about an hour to find a camp site. I quickly dropped one of my sons off with the tent and hurried back to the boat landing to pick up the rest of the family and gear. The gear took up most of the space in our eighteen foot fishing boat. Additionally, we pulled a seventeen foot canoe behind the boat and it was also loaded down with camping gear. The remaining two kids and my wife sat on top of the gear in the boat.

Getting back to the island was slow going. Rough water and wind would make this task even harder. The canoe, which was hitched to the boat on a sturdy rope, swayed one direction and then the other. So I had to drive slow enough to make allowance for the swaying, or the canoe would capsize.

The first day of island camping was spent setting up camp. Once that task was complete, there was time for a meal and a little fishing before dark. When it gets dark in the middle of a 15,000 acre body of water in the middle of nowhere, it gets pitch black. That’s when we realized how alone we really were. The campfire kept the site lit. But there was nothing but blackness and quiet beyond the fire. We were used to others being in a campground with us. But there was no one this time; just us. And whatever else might be living on or roaming our island.

That thought was always at the back of our minds. It was common for bear, deer, wolves, coyotes, and other wildlife to swim between the islands when in search of food and a place to bed down. We carried no weapons, but relied only on our ability to scare off unwanted guests.

Raccoon’s would often visit our campsite in the night and rummage through our cooking utensils in search of food. The racket usually woke everyone up from a sound sleep. But we considered raccoon’s more of a pest than a threat. There really is no way to keep them out of your camp site. So you just have to put up with them.

Another reoccurring thought was, what if we needed to return to civilization for something urgent during the night? That wasn’t possible. Civilization was about five miles east across the water and blackness.

But it was an exciting experience. Remembering that first trip still sends chills up my spine. As we bedded down in our sleeping bags in the tent, the loons started their mournful cries from somewhere across the lake; eerie but beautiful. I was so intrigued by the whole experience, I could hardly sleep.

You need to island camp at least once in your life. Find an island, pitch a tent and stay there for three or four days. You’ll never look at your life the same way after that trip. It’s hard to explain how a trip like that can change you. But it does. My theory is that your normal level of stress reaches a new low, and you see the world and your environment in a whole new, fresh perspective.

My wife was always up first in the morning. She’s the fire builder. I was up and out of the tent next; just in time for campfire coffee, which is the best coffee. Eggs and bacon were prepared in a huge frying pan over the campfire and served on little tin camping plates. We used Mountain Dew for orange juice since we couldn’t fit jugs of O.J. in the cooler. The kids were fed and then it was time to get cleaned up. Hmmm. Someone forgot to put the five-gallon sun shower bag out to capture the warmth of the sun. No hot water. Oh well, a dip in the lake with a bar of soap was the next best alternative, and that worked just fine. Water from the lake heated over the campfire was always used to wash dishes. Fresh water was scarce and had to be conserved.

Ice for the cooler, which held our perishable food, was also scarce. Each morning always required a run by boat across the flowage in order to acquire ice and five more gallons of fresh water from wherever we could find it. The nearest boat landing was always a good place to start looking for ice and fresh water.

Once the water and ice were handled, it was time to think about fishing. We found a floating bog that sat over deep water, and that is where we decided to fish. So we maneuvered  the boat against the bog, tied it off, and dropped our minnow-tipped fishing lines straight down in the water below the bog and boat. It wasn’t long before we were catching crappie one right after the other. That floating bog would be our favorite fishing spot on the Big Chip for the next several years.

Back at our island, the day’s catch were cleaned on the camp’s picnic table and washed in the lake. The fish fillets went from the lake to the frying pan and that served as our shore lunch. You can’t beat crappie and a few walleye for shore lunch. On a really successful fishing day, there were enough fish fillets for both lunch AND dinner. That was a treat.

Afternoons were usually too hot for fishing. So we swam near our little island and took trips in the canoe to explore the surrounding area. Once in awhile another boat would pass by our island and we would wave. Those were our only encounters with other people for four days, other than our morning trips for water and ice.

Dinner preparation began about four in the afternoon. The kids usually fished off the island while my wife and I prepared fish, bratwurst, or steak over the campfire for dinner. Everyone who wanted one got a beer. Our kids were much too young for beer. But beer with bratwurst and sauerkraut was just one of those special treats that went hand-in-hand with camping.

Once dinner was over, everything got left where it last set so we could get out on the lake for fishing again. Evening fishing was the best. We usually didn’t leave the floating bog until just before dark, requiring us to turn on the boat lights and use a spotlight to find our way back to our island campsite.

Once back at our island, the camping routine began all over again. Clean and wash fish fillets, eat them or put them in the cooler, sit around the campfire and roast hot dogs or marsh mellows, tell stories and giggle until we were all too tired to stay up any longer. Then head for our sleeping bags before our little island world turned pitch black once again.

That’s how our children were raised – in island campsites. If we were home, we were either thinking about camping or preparing to leave for another camping trip.

The kids are all adults now and have their own homes. My wife and I retired to a log cabin on a giant 14,000 acre flowage dotted with hundreds of islands that have campsites. It’s not the Big Chip, but another Wisconsin flowage called the Turtle-Flambeau Flowage. And when the kids come to visit, they still fish and island camp even though they all have a bedroom in the cabin on the banks of the flowage. That’s how they were raised. They prefer islands and a tent versus a cozy bedroom. So do I.

(Author’s NOTE: there is a photo gallery for this post —->HERE<—-



It’s Snowing….Time to Hit the Trails!

Many of my readers have read the post titled “The Top Ten Winter Things to do in Wisconsin’s Northwoods”, enjoyed it, and have asked for more detail on those subjects. That prompted me to write this post on snowmobiling.

There’s a  “Snowmobile Photo Gallery” that goes with this post. It will open in a new window so you can click back and forth between this post and the gallery.

Wisconsin “rednecks” call snowmobiling “sledding” and snowmobiles are called “sleds” for short. I will use that terminology. But please don’t confuse a sled with the things that children use to slide down hills of snow.

Initially, sledding is an expensive sport; but well worth the expense. It’s an exhilarating winter experience to be racing through the woods on the trails at 50 mph or across a frozen lake at close to 90 mph with snow flying everywhere. What better recreation in winter when in the Northwoods?

The expense:








One new 2-up 600cc trail-rated snowmobile $11,000 One gallon injector oil $50
Studs installed in snowmobile track $200 One tank (12 gal.) premium gas $40
Modular helmet $700 Snowmobile-mounted trail map bag $15
Balaclava $15 Heavy-duty mag flashlight $15-$25
Heated face shield for helmet attachment $85 Insulated boots $90-$150
Snowmobile jacket/coat $50-$160 Insulated socks $15-$25
Insulated snow bibs $50-$100 Insulated snowmobile gloves $25-$50









Extra clutch belt included with sled Extra spark plug set pre-gapped included with sled
Snowmobile tool kit included with sled Extra starting battery $90
Extra carbide set $60-$100 Extra quart of injector oil on-board the sled $10-$15
One gallon anti-freeze $15 Trail maps, one per county where you intend to sled Free – $1.00

** all pricing was obtained from Dennis Kirk – quality snowmobile gear, but expensive

Now you are ready to hit the trails. So let’s do that.

Put all the paraphernalia to keep you warm on, except the helmet. Mount the sled and bounce on it a few times to insure that the track is not frozen into the ice and snow. Sleds have a centrifugal clutch. So if you throttle it while your track is stuck in the ice, you’ll damage the clutch belt.

Engage the choke and turn the key to start the sled while holding the throttle all the way down. You were smart enough to order electric start on your sled in place of a rope pull-start. Right? Once the motor comes to life, goose it gently a few times until the engine runs smoothly. Turn the choke off. Do not throttle it too much or the clutch will engage and the sled will start moving.  Once the engine is running smoothly, put your helmet on, plug the heated face shield into the dashboard outlet and goose the throttle a couple of times until the sled starts moving. Then throttle according to how fast you want to go. Be careful. Sleds are designed for speed.

There are two types of snowmobiling fans. Those who love speed, and those who love cruising down trails in order to see country that they otherwise would never see. Snowmobile trails wind up, down, around, and through woods. They access places that you would never walk to. So enjoy the wildlife and scenery. You’ll cross frozen swamps, streams, and lakes. The trail will be well marked by the local snowmobile club. And at each intersection of two or more trails, you’ll find signs pointing you to different places and advising you how many miles you must travel to get there. You’ll also see caution signs for hazards on the trail.

What about those who love speed on sleds? It’s hard not to love speed. Snowmobiles are powerful machines capable of speeds in excess of 100 mph. But don’t test out your speed skills in the woods or you will wind up hitting a tree or flying off the trail. If you encounter “speeders” on the trail, it’s a good idea to get as far right as possible or even stop and pull over until they go by. You’ll know how fast on-comers are moving by the sound of their engines off in the distance. Snowmobile accidents can be very ugly. There are always a few deaths on the trail every year.

Snowmobile fans who love speed generally confine themselves to lakes, rail grades that have been converted into trails, and roads that support an adjacent snowmobile trail. These fans are not much interested in scenery. They want to get somewhere fast; like the next gas station, pub, or eatery.

Trails will likely be packed and groomed by the local snowmobile club so you can expect a smooth ride. You’ll cross highways when on the trails, so be careful. Also, be courteous to other snowmobilers. Snowmobilers are like a social network. They love to chat with other sledders on the trail. You’ll meet new people on the trail who are positive, up-beat, and having fun just like you are. If someone needs help getting out of deep snow or can’t get their sled started, stop and help them. You’ll have a friend for life.

A stranded snowmobiler’s life may be at risk. Trails traverse remote areas. Never venture into these areas alone. If your sled has issues, you will have to abandon it and walk out. If you are alone and no one else is on the trail, there will be no one to help you. Take a cell phone with you when you go sledding. But don’t expect the best reception.

Anyone who is stranded on the trail needs assistance. They are usually having trouble with their snowmobile. The only alternative is to abandon the sled and risk hypothermia if they have to walk out; unless someone stops and gives them a ride to safety on their sled.  So, always check to see if someone with a parked snowmobile needs help.

Snowmobilers have rules that they follow, just like those who drive automobiles. Stay to the right on the trail. Snowmobiles have headlights with brights, turn signals, brakes, a horn, and tail lights. Use them as if you were driving a car. Dim your lights for on-coming traffic. Signal if you are making a 90 degree turn. Let go of the throttle or use the brakes to slow the sled down. If you are having trouble, use the horn to let others know. Turning your headlights off and on is also a signal that you are in trouble.

When you meet oncoming snowmobile traffic on the trail, use hand signals for safety. A raised fist (zero) means there is not another snowmobile behind you. If you raise one finger, it means to the on-comer that there is one sled behind you and so on.

Your trail map is in an attached map bag in front of you on the seat with a clear plastic face. Keep track of where you are at. If it’s night, you have your mag light to read the map in the dark. It’s not a bad idea to keep a compass in your pocket to use in conjunction with the map.

Every county has a different trail map. So you will need to stop and change maps when you cross county lines. If you get lost, stop an oncoming snowmobiler and ask for directions. Everyone on the trails is always glad to help and have the chance to chat with a fellow snowmobiler.

In Wisconsin, drinking while snowmobiling has been an issue. Bar-hopping is a favorite pastime while sledding on weekends or nights. I do it. Fortunately, you will rarely encounter a warden on the trail. But they are there. You just have to be smart enough to know when you are drinking too much. Hitting a tree at high speed and injuring yourself, or worse, is not worth everything you have put into enjoying the sport.

So where is snowmobiling popular? Where can you go? In the Mid-west, the most popular areas are areas of the State north of Minocqua. This is the “snow belt” which has the heaviest snowfall due to the influence of Lake Superior and “lake effect” snow. Ironwood/Hurley, the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, Northern Michigan, and Northern Minnesota are all popular and have extensive trails. Trail maps can usually be acquired at any gas station or pub.

In the West, areas along the Rocky Mountains are good as well as states like Idaho and Montana. Use the weather service and on-line trail reports to find the best conditions and trails.

It’s time to address one myth about snowmobiles. Snowmobiles CANNOT go anywhere there is snow.  When I first started snowmobiling, I thought they could. So I was always anxious to venture off the trail. DON’T DO IT. If a sled gets buried in snow that is too deep, it will take several people and as much as a day to physically man-handle that sled back onto the trail. I’ve done it. But I won’t do it again. It’s a miserable job. Sweat invites hypothermia. And you’ll sweat plenty when trying to get a 1200 pound snowmobile back on the trail.

Trail sleds come with a track that has one inch to one and a half inch paddles. Paddles this size will not get you through six inches of powdered snow. Trails are packed and groomed. Trail sleds belong on trails; not in deep powder.

Rocky Mountain sleds come with 2-3 inch paddles. These are the sleds that you see on TV as they break through deep powder on their way down a mountain side. They perform nicely in deep powder but poorly on a groomed trail. Many snowmobile manufacturers make an RMK (Rocky Mountain King) version of their sleds. If you intend to sled in the Rockies, get an RMK sled. You can always change the track to smaller paddles if you want to do some trail riding. I know rabid snowmobilers who keep both styles of tracks around. But tracks are expensive costing $400 plus. Changing a track is no small job. I advise letting the dealer do it.

The Northeast is another area that is impacted by “lake effect” snow from the Great Lakes. Conditions north are always good; like upper New York, New Hampshire, Vermont, Maine, or any area along the Appalachian Mountains. Again, trail conditions can always be checked on-line.

Be aware that a snowmobile MUST be registered and carry a sticker for any state in which it is used. Some states have day or week passes. Others require a full year’s registration, which normally cost $35 for the sticker. The penalties are severe. No sticker and you are off the trail for anywhere from a year to life, depending on the state’s laws.

Finally, if you would like to try snowmobiling, you can rent a sled for the day just about anywhere. It’s not cheap. It’s not the rental on the sled that is expensive. It’s the insurance. The outfit that rents the sled to you must insure you and the sled against liability. Plan on spending $500-$600 to rent a sled for a day. But I promise you that it will mean an adrenaline rush once you get on the trails and push on that throttle! It’s great! Try it.

For those who are serious about owning a snowmobile, I’ll publish a short post on how to maintain the sled once you acquire it. A machine that goes that fast through tough conditions needs some TLC. As I said before, the last thing you want to do is break down in some remote location on the trail. Maintenance is important.


Berkeley Researcher Discovers the Fountain of Youth

What would you do if you saw this headline in the newspaper or on the cover of a magazine?

You would probably do exactly what I did when I saw this on the cover of a Readers Digest magazine in 1998. I read the article. And then I went  to my local GNC store and bought the “fountain of youth”. I’ve been getting younger ever since.

What is the “fountain of youth”  that was revealed at length in the 1998 Readers Digest article?

It’s two powerful anti-oxidants that can be purchased and taken as a dietary supplement. At this point, you may say to yourself, big deal. You were expecting more. But before you discount this discovery, let me explain the ageing process to you and how you can arrest that process to slow it down or even reverse it.

Before I explain how our bodies age, let me do a bit of a disclaimer. I’m not a pill or supplement freak. I don’t have a shelf full of dietary supplements. But I have always been a fan of anti-oxidants. There are many. This article is about the two most powerful anti-oxidants that I know of. Once you understand what anti-oxidants do in your body, you’ll likely give some serious thought to whether you should also be adding them to your dietary plan. It’s not hard or expensive to do that.

What causes ageing in our bodies? It’s the “oxidation” process acting on the cells in our body. That’s hard to believe. The one substance that we require in order to stay alive is oxygen. And oxygen is the one substance in our body that causes us to age. The oxidation process at work in our blood stream releases “free radicals”. Free radicals are the critters that attack perfectly healthy cells in our blood stream and do whatever they can to destroy them.

Prior to 1998, and prior to reading the aforementioned article in Readers Digest, I attended a seminar on an unrelated subject in Salt Lake City. One of the scheduled speakers came on stage and began talking about oxidation and free radicals. He presented photos of dissected blood vessels from a person who included anti-oxidants in their diet, and the same from another person who  did not.

Photo of a bottle of alpha lipoic acid capsules.It was ugly. The inside of the vessels where the oxidation process had been slowed or nullified looked normal, healthy, and pink; like you would expect a blood vessel to look. But the blood vessels that had experienced heavy oxidation looked tan in color with brown spots. And the vessel tissue itself appeared to be thin and limp. I admit to being a bit startled by all of this. I should mention that the anti-oxidant supplements that this gentleman was promoting were vitamins C and E, beta carotene, and selenium. All of these are classified as anti-oxidants. And all of them can be found in foods that we eat; but not in sufficient quantity to be a huge benefit to our health. But none of them are as powerful as acetyl l-carnitine (ALCAR) and alpha lipoic acid (ALA).

Photo of a bottle of acetyl l-carnitine capsules.Both of these supplements come in a capsule and can be purchased at most dietary supplement websites or OTC at a pharmacy or GNC. The dosage is important but everyone (except the researchers that conducted the study at Berkeley) will tell you something different.  The dosage recommended by the Berkeley researchers is 500 mg. of ALCAR and 200 mg. of ALA; taken twice a day after a meal. The reason for taking these supplements after a meal is because the digestive process slows down their absorption. Otherwise, they would just shoot through your digestive tract without significant absorption.

Let’s get back to the Berkeley researchers. How and why did the announcement of their research wind up on the cover of Readers Digest? What was so special about their findings?

First of all, they were indeed searching for the “fountain of youth”. Bruce Ames, the lead biochemist, knew that oxidation was connected to the ageing process. He just needed to find out how and why it was connected. Their research was performed on laboratory rats of various ages, over time. Test specimens who were on a steady diet of ALCAR and ALA supplements showed unusually high energy levels and no free radical damage to their blood vessels. The control group, which were not given any dietary supplements, showed normal damage to their blood vessels from free radicals and many of the other expected signs of ageing. Those specimens were more sedentary, slower to learn new tasks, and required more rest. Additionally, they looked old. Their physical appearance had changed notably over time.

That’s great news! But there have been no completed studies on humans. The fact that a study on humans would have to be performed over a considerably long length of time may have something to do with that. Bruce Ames says that there is a human study in process. The FDA has approved aceytl l-carnitine and alpha lipoic acid as a dietary supplement. For that matter, L-carnitine and lipoic acid can be found  in some foods and occurs naturally in our bodies.

I searched the Web in order to find the specific Reader’s Digest article from the 1998 edition of the magazine. None could be found; not even in the archives. However, I did find another discussion of the same subject in the New Jersey Star-Ledger newspaper from 2002. That article can be found –>here<–.

Dr. Ames and a student researcher started a company in 1999 called Juvenon, which manufacturers both anti-oxidants in one capsule under patent. Dr. Ames has no financial interest in that company. Juvenon can be found at The Juvenon web site also has an extensive list of publications and articles about Dr. Ames research and the beginnings of the Juvenon company. I have placed a link to those references at the bottom of this post for your easy reference.

Please note that the Juvenon product comes in only one size capsule, and the ingredients are correct – 1,000 mg. of ALCAR and 400 mg. ALA. BUT, the label on the bottle says to take 4 capsules per day AND THAT IS GROSSLY INCORRECT. Supplement manufacturers use this trick to sell more product. At the current Juvenon strength, you only need one capsule per day in order to achieve the correct daily dosage.

As for me? I have been taking ALCAR and ALA since 1998 as a regular part of my dietary supplement regimen. That’s fourteen years. I can’t tell you what my dissected blood vessels look like for obvious reasons. Do I feel younger? Well, yeah. But then I’ve always felt 25 years old. So that doesn’t count. Do I look younger. Well, yeah. Folks that try and guess my age are about 10 years off on a regular basis. But that’s hardly scientific. Right?

This much we know for certain. Oxidation in the body encourages the release of free radicals which are harmful because they break down healthy tissue. Anti-oxidant substances, when taken as a dietary supplement,  counters this process. Specific anti-oxidants, such as acetyl l-carnitine and alpha lipoic acid are extremely powerful and more effective at countering free radicals, and in many cases, they can reverse free radical damage and restore healthy tissue.

So my un-scientific conclusion is that if powerful anti-oxidants do not harm you (the FDA and the AMA say they don’t, but check with your doctor) AND if taking anti-oxidants is not troublesome nor terribly expensive, then why would a person not want to take them and stop free radicals from destroying healthy tissue within their bodies?

I don’t know. Doing ANYTHING considered to be healthy makes sense to me. That’s why I’m going to continue taking the most powerful anti-oxidants that I can find. Maritime pine bark is another powerful anti-oxidant that comes in a pill. But that’s another topic.

Let’s do a test. A photo of me taken last year by a professional studio appears all over this website. Guess how young I am. Don’t cheat by adding on a few years to your guess because you read this article. Pretend you didn’t read this post and give me your best guess. I’ll send a free bottle of acetyl l-carnitine and alpha lipoic acid to the first person who guesses correctly. (WordPress automatically date/time-stamps your comments. Don’t give me your mailing address. I’ll send you an e-mail and ask for it if you are the winner.)


AUTHORS NOTE – this note is on another topic which I’ll address in a future post, but the fear of aging is one of the six greatest fears that we all have, as identified in 1937 by the famous author, Napoleon Hill. I have evaluated my thinking and concluded that I do not fear growing old. That is not why I take anti-oxidants. I’m just addicted to good health; and you should be too.


AUTHORS NOTE – please consult the reference links that I have included in this post. This is a controversial subject. Statements that I have made should be verified by following the links associated with those statements. Check out the publications and information on for more information than I was able to include in this post.

AUTHORS DISCLAIMER – I have no financial interest in either Juvenon or Puritan’s Pride products. I buy my acetyl l-carnitine and alpha lipoic acid as separate supplements from



A number of articles have been published in periodicals and newspapers over the early 2,000’s that elaborate on the topic above and support it. Please refer to this documentation. It’s pretty interesting stuff. –>Click here<– to view the list of articles in a separate tab.




Does SEO Really Make Sense for a Blog?

You are going to have to bare with me on this post because I have more questions than answers. But those of you who blog may be able to help me with a frustration that has been nagging at me for some time.

I know SEO (search engine optimization) pretty good. And I do make an attempt to apply SEO principles to this website.  But, If you are a blogger and you know something about SEO, stop and think about this for a minute.

What is a Weblog (blog)? Let’s look at the Wikipedia definition of a Weblog:

“A blog is a discussion or informational site published on the WWW and consisting of posts typically displayed in reverse chronological order (the most recent post first). Until 2009 blogs were usually the work of a single individual, and often were themed on a single subject. Although not a requirement, most good quality blogs are interactive, allowing visitors to leave comments and even message each other via GUI widgets on the blogs, and it is this interactivity that distinguishes them from other static websites. In that sense, blogging can be seen as a form of social networking. Indeed, bloggers do not only produce content to post on their blogs, but also build social relations with their readers and other bloggers. Many blogs provide commentary on a particular subject; others function as more personal online diaries”.

So what do we have? This website is most definitely the work of a single individual.  However, you will not find “the focus on a single theme”.  I see that as a problem for the search engines. But I definitely do not find that as a problem for those who patronize this website. Do my readers want to read on the same theme or subject day after day after day? I don’t think so.

Do the search engines want a weblog to focus on a central theme. Yes, I believe they do. And there’s where the problem begins.  Search engines won’t attach any “rank” to weblogs that ares not focused on one theme and readers of weblogs are not interested in weblogs that are created around a central theme because reading the same or similar content over and over is boring.

So that kills the common theme idea on a blog site. Good blog sites will have multiple themes and subject matter in order to maintain the interest of their readers.  But those websites will perform poorly in search engine results.

“Good blogs are interactive and allow visitors to leave comments or even message other readers. In that sense, blogging can be thought of as a form of social networking”. Got that partially covered. But I’ll have to check into the “messaging” that Wikipedia mentions. If it can be done, I’ll do it. No problem. But let me say at this juncture that we need more social interaction on this website. I welcome your comments and you have been very good at providing those. I comb the site once a week looking for your questions and respond to those. Other than that, we have no interaction at all. Is this the way that you want it? I can create whatever you want.

My opinion is that I would prefer to know my audience better. How do we do that? I tell you what. We can try some things. Where else will you find a blog author and webmaster willing to take the time to interact with his audience? Messaging is rather impersonal. Here’s a couple of suggestions.

  1. I create a fan page for this website on Facebook and we can bounce ideas back and forth there with associated photos/video, status updates and whatever else. It’s still impersonal but not as impersonal as trying to interact on a blog site.
  2. I’ll give you my Skype name if you give me yours. Then if you have a question or want to talk about a subject in more depth, we can chatter on Skype.
  3. If you are also a blogger, and I know that many of you are, I can post your blog in my Blogroll if you do the same on your blog site. Note that Google doesn’t like this unless your blog is “relevant” to mine. But I blog on many subjects so that requirement shouldn’t be too hard. Then we can share posts by “pointing” to each other’s articles and get to know each other’s interests that way.

So let me know if any of these approaches appeal to you. I’ve been asked to provide direction on blogs belonging to visitors of this site. I’ve been asked to do “guest posts” on other blogs. And I’ve been asked to do video interviews by other bloggers. I’m pretty flexible and open to this stuff. Just ask.

Getting back to the subject – this article is supposed to be about how it is impossible for a blog to rank on the first page of search results because what search engines expect is not what those who enjoy reading weblogs want to read.

Google wants websites to focus on a limited group of keywords and keyword phrases and then use those keywords and phrases frequently on every page or post. That’s good SEO. But how do you do that on a blog? The content on a good blog cannot be based on limited subject matter where a small group of keywords and phrases can be used repeatedly. I already explained why you can’t do that above. It’s boring. And blogs are not supposed to be boring.

So that kills keywords.

When Google indexes your website, sites that are optimized for SEO contain inbound links from other websites that have similar or relevant content. That would have to be another blog website. Or at least a non-blog site whose content is relevant to at least a couple of posts on this site. Fat chance of that.

So that kills back-links.

The websites that get ranked the highest by the search engines are “authority” sites. That means within the area of that site’s expertise, an authority site has the best and most complete content. Blogs are not an authority on anything. Remember  what a blog is. It’s a weblog of what an individual feels is important to them and those who patronize their site. It’s supposed to be on one theme but I refuse to do that. I have a lot of areas of expertise. But I don’t pretend to be an authority on any one of them.

So that kills authority site.

Traffic – Websites that receive tons of traffic (visitors) are ranked higher by the search engines than sites that receive little traffic. I have about 1000 subscribers. That’s without my driving traffic to this site. I don’t post to any social network sites. And I know that I don’t rank well in the search engines.

I could do a better job of posting to social networks and doing “guests posts” in order to advertise this site better. But how does that help you? It doesn’t   I always thought that I needed a “release” or a place where I could say whatever I wanted to say and anyone who could relate would respond back and we would learn new things from each other. That’s why I started this site in the first place. Should I care about traffic? I’m more concerned with helping an individual down the bumpy path of life than I am with juggling mobs of people.

I guess I just can’t please the search engines. And I didn’t set out to please them.  So if you have some wisdom to share on this subject, please share it.

I noticed that my posts are considerably longer than the average post on other blogs. Maybe other bloggers don’t have a lot to say. I’m going to try and keep my posts a bit shorter. So I apologize for rambling on this subject. Sometimes a nip of Baileys late at night will do that to you. Until next time.


Recommended Reading

I just finished reading a good book that was lent to us, for no particular reason, by a friend of my wife. Perhaps you have seen it or already read it. It’s a New Your Times best-seller titled, “The Harbinger” by Jonathan Cahn.

Jonathan wrote this book in the third person as a story and a mystery. But the story and events of the book are real. I won’t tell you much about the content of the book and spoil your “read”. But I would like to say that it will be difficult for you or anyone else  to refute the events of the book since those events are also documented in the news and other irrefutable sources.

I should point out that if you are not one who believes in a Higher Authority, there would be no point to your reading this book. That is not to say that this book is a religious book. It isn’t. But it does tie several current events to prophecies in the scriptures. The story-line does a pretty good job of unraveling a mystery. So if you like mysteries, you’ll love this book. And that’s all I’m going to say on that matter.

It’s a “must read”. Seriously. You need to be exposed to this information.

About the author, Jonathan Kahn. Jonathan leads the “Hope of the World” ministries and is head of the Jerusalem Center for Beth Israel located in Wayne, New Jersey. Besides being a best-selling author, he teaches on television and radio throughout the U.S.. He is best known for conducting “deep research” into ancient writings of the Middle East. He is both a rabbi and a Messianic Jew.

The Harbinger is available on To learn more about the book or its author go to or

AUTHORS NOTE 11/6/2012 – Super-Storm Sandy is over and recorded in the annals of history. Have you read The Harbinger? Do you think it was just a coincidence that Sandy unleashed her fury on the city of New York and stretched all the way from the East coast to Indiana? Why New York? If you have read the book, then you already know that New York was the first capital of the USA. That’s where George Washington wrote and signed this country into existence. After the signing, George and the other signers walked a short distance to a little church to pray for the independent country they had just been created. That little church sits adjacent to where the World Trade Center used to be before it was destroyed on what we refer to as 9/11.

If you haven’t read the book, you have no clue what I am talking about. If you haven’t ordered the book, DO IT NOW. IT’S IMPORTANT.


Another “must read” is the book “Aftershock” by Robert Wiedemer. Robert is an author and economist. He is best known for accurately predicting the financial meltdown and stock crash of 2010.

The first edition of  Aftershock was published in 2009 and became a New Your Times best-seller. However, the publisher insisted on omitting a chapter of the first edition because the publisher felt that the chapter was too shocking for the public and believed it might create a panic. The chapter was left out, despite the author’s objections.

However, a second edition of the book Aftershock was released in 2011. The second edition includes updates to the first edition and the missing chapter that was omitted from the 2009 edition. I find it both ironic and disappointing that the public could have been forewarned of the 2010 economic meltdown. With this knowledge, the public could have prepared themselves appropriately, and especially financially.

The second edition of the book forecasts economic events for 2013 and beyond. And unlike the first edition, the book provides guidance to the public on how they can insulate themselves from further economic and financial crisis.

Both editions of Aftershock are available on Be sure to order the second edition only. The link to Amazon below will lead you to the second edition.

The fact that Robert Wiedemer and his team’s forecasts are credible, has already been demonstrated. But the only way we as readers can use this information to our advantage is to take action now to protect ourselves from potential financial loss due to economic calamity. It’s no secret that whoever is elected as our next President will have to deal with the mega-trillion dollar national debt and do it quickly. Find out what impact, if any, this issue will have on your life. ORDER THE BOOK! (Click on #2 in the Amazon widget below if you wish to examine the book.)


Phoenix or the Northwoods?

True story. This is both funny and sad. It should give you a glimpse into how the events of the last decade have really changed all of us; how we live, what we think, even our ideals and aspirations, and the actions that we take to achieve what we want.

I have a brother who is one year younger than me. He was raised in the Mid-west, just like me. But wound up working for a company in Illinois that transferred him to Phoenix. So he moved there. He married a gal he met in college from the Chicago area, had three children, and raised them in Phoenix where he lived for fifteen years. His first wife died and he got remarried, but that is irrelevant to this story.

He retired early because, like many of us, he hated his job. He managed a regional office for a Mid-west based insurance company. He never cared much for Phoenix so he knew that he would be moving somewhere else upon retirement. He and his wife visited us in the Northwoods prior to his retirement and decided Wisconsin was the place to move.

It was funny when they flew in for a short visit. In Phoenix, there is no water and very little that is green. They came to visit in the summer. My wife and I drove to Mosinee, Wisconsin to pick them up from the airport and then drove two hours back north to our house. They’re faces were glued to the car windows all the way north to our house. Everything was green or blue, and I mean everything; lakes and streams everywhere you looked. They thought they were on another planet.

Anyway, they made up their minds that Wisconsin was where they wanted to live upon retirement. So they flew home, sold the house, called Mayflower Movers and got out of Phoenix. But not before making one more trip to Wisconsin to find a house. They decided to build a house in Tomahawk, Wisconsin, which is about 90 minutes south of here. They built a “woodsy” looking house that they dearly loved and built it on a flowage just west of Tomahawk.

This all took place in early 2007. Life was good. The Tomahawk locals adopted them and they had more friends and recreation than they could handle. Having retired early, my brother thought he would find part-time work doing insurance consulting for a local law firm in order to earn passive income in retirement. His wife, who was much younger than he and still working, worked in customer service for a large medical insurance company. After the move to Wisconsin, she planned on doing the same thing here.

But the Great Recession had struck in the fourth quarter of 2007. The only work that my brother could find was working as a night clerk for Super 8 motels in Tomahawk. His wife commuted twenty miles from Tomahawk to Rhinelander to perform the same insurance customer service work that she had performed in Phoenix, but for half of what she was earning in Phoenix. Life was still good in beautiful Tomahawk Wisconsin. But the economy and their financial situation would get worse as the country sank deeper into recession.

They lived in their new home for about two years before both of them discovered that they were literally going broke. What to do? They decided the only thing to do was to go back to Phoenix where they could find work. Additionally, their three children and their children’s families all lived there and they were starting to miss them.

So they put their beloved Tomahawk Wisconsin house on the failing housing market, called Mayflower Movers again and went back to Phoenix to find work and an apartment. They could not get out of the Phoenix apartment and buy a new home in Phoenix until the Tomahawk home sold. Their Tomahawk house sat on the failing housing market for two stressful years before it finally sold.

The housing market in Phoenix was in complete failure. So it was easy to find a beautiful home at an affordable price. Within two weeks of selling the Tomahawk home they found a new home in Phoenix and bought it for next to nothing. It was big. So they meticulously outfitted it for entertaining family and friends. My brother stayed retired and his wife went right back to her former Phoenix employer, once again, making good money. Life was good again; but not for long.

They lived in their new Phoenix home for two very hot years. Summer temperatures easily hit 104 degrees daily. Their children and their families were very busy, as most families are when you have school-aged children. The children had precious little time to visit their parents. So my brother and his wife saw very little of their children and seldom entertained in their new home.

If you haven’t lived in Phoenix or do not know anyone who has, you wouldn’t know the following.  It’s virtually impossible to make friends in Phoenix. So even though my brother and his wife were active in their community, they had no friends. I’m serious; not a single friend. Weekends consisted of cleaning house and watching TV. In Phoenix, it’s too hot to go outside after 11:00 A.M.. So the populace, including my brother and his wife, are prisoners in their own home – as long as the AC is working flawlessly.

I didn’t believe him on the subject of friends. How could you live someplace for fifteen years and not have any friends? He told me that he did have one friend; his boss at work. They would golf together, take camping trips to Flagstaff, go fishing on a local reservoir, or just sit around and watch a good game on TV. They both loved sports. But then his boss and only friend died of cancer.

Feeling very much alone, he made attempts to make more friends. They joined a church and my brother became an usher. He shared this interesting conversation with me. James  is also an usher at the same church that my brother attended.


John:                     “ James, it sure is tough to make friends here in Phoenix.”

James:                  “I agree. We’ve had the exact same problem for years.”

John:                     “So why do you think that is?”

James:                  “I don’t know. We’ve put ourselves out there over and over again, but to no avail.”

John:                     “ Is that a fact?”

James:                  “ Yes, we joined this church just to meet some new people.”

John:                     “ Yes, we did too.”


The conversation ended right there and they parted. My brother thought to himself, ” I’ve known James for almost a year. Nice guy and he has a wife who is a jewel. Yet, even after my confession of having friendship issues, it never occurred to James that he has a friend standing right in front of him with the same issues. I didn’t sense that he would be open to going somewhere for lunch after church or doing much of anything else in the future. “

No friends. No family. And then one of his three children and her family moved to St. Louis.

The highlight of my brother’s day M-F was taking the dog for a walk each day. I think the Phoenix dust storms were “the straw that broke the camel’s back”. It was obvious by his e-mails and phone calls that my brother was getting depressed. He called for advice and I told him to get out of there. It would take a miracle but he had to get out of that hell-hole in the desert with no friends, nothing to do, family is too busy, and you can’t go outside without risk of a coronary because it never cools off in Phoenix.

Then our mother passed away leaving each of her children a sizable inheritance. This would be the “buffer” that my brother needed in order to complete “the miracle” and finally solve his problems.

It was 2010. The recession was deep now. Wall Street had crashed two years previous and the financial meltdown was in full swing. But they had to get out of there and fast. A Realtor friend said she thought she could get a pretty fair price for their home, which they had bought for peanuts when the Phoenix housing market crashed. It took two weeks and it was sold. The miracle had started. They had two weeks to find another place to live before they had to close on the house that they had just sold.

They jumped on a flight to Wisconsin with hopes that they could somehow get their beloved Tomahawk house back. No go. So they found another home that they liked and bought it. Mayflower Movers got another call and all their worldly goods, the dog, two cars, my brother and his wife headed for Tomahawk Wisconsin once again. Life was looking better. They both agreed that that would definitely be the last time that they would live in a desert.

My wife and I couldn’t believe how quickly they got moved into their new Tomahawk home. They found a used boat, identical to the one they had before leaving Wisconsin. They bought two new kayaks, a new two-up ATV, and a trailer for the ATV or kayaks so they could haul them somewhere when necessary. A snowmobile and trailer were on the wish list.

My brother resumed his retired life with occasional interruptions to walk the dog. Actually, he became quite busy maintaining all the new “toys” and keeping them clean. His wife went back to her former Wisconsin job working for half of what she was earning at the same job in Phoenix. But life was really good. They had more “toys” than they knew what to do with. All their Tomahawk friends welcomed them back with open arms. They had to keep an appointment book to remember what they were supposed to be doing and with whom. Somehow, virtually every part of “the miracle” fell precisely into place. Life was really, really good.

All their worldly goods traveled the 1,000’s of miles between Phoenix and Tomahawk WI. four times. I lost count of how many times my brother and his wife flew between the two locations to make things happen. It probably would have been cheaper for them just to purchase a 25% ownership in Northwest Airlines.

But they are out of the desert and in Wisconsin where it is green with water at every turn of the highway. They’re happy. They have loads of friends, and little time for TV. Did they pay dearly for that luxury? You bet they did. Would any of this ridiculous story have transpired if it were not for the Great Recession? Probably not.  They would have stayed in Tomahawk, Wisconsin and found meaningful work the first time that they left Phoenix.

Remember when we were kids and life was always good? We didn’t have a care in the world. Each day just kept getting better and better. I could hardly wait to get out of bed during those years. And I have to admit that I’ve felt that way right up to the fourth quarter of 2007. I retired early in September 2007, not knowing what was on the economic and financial horizon. Nobody knew.

But this story isn’t about the Great Recession. None of us want to hear that story over and over again. This is a story about how one family triumphed despite the odds of those fateful times. Did they have to go the extra mile to overcome that which was pulling them down? Yes, many times. Did they have help?

Both my brother and I agree that this ridiculous story would not have a happy ending if it were not for my dear mother’s generosity when she set aside an inheritance for her children.  Thank you, Mom. We love and miss you.


You Can Make a Fortune Using What is Already in Your Head

There’s something I’ve been wanting to share with you. I just thought of it. Have you ever heard of Brendon Burchard or Expert’s Academy? I took Brendon’s course “Total Product Blueprint” about a year ago. In a nutshell, Brendon’s only

thumbnail photo of the author

Scott Reed, author

calling in life is to teach others how they can make a fortune just by sharing what is already in their minds. Do I need to repeat that? I’m serious. He’s serious. I took a ten week course on-line with Brendon for three hours every week for ten weeks. It didn’t even cost all that much. Today Brendon is the founder of International Experts Association. Who are the experts? Folks like you and me who took the time to share what they know and made a fortune. Brendon taught them how to do it.

Here’s his story. He was working for a big ad agency. But he took a vacation to South America, got into an auto accident, and nearly died. While he was floating somewhere between life and the after-life, three questions came to him. Did I live fully? Did I love completely? Did I matter?

That’s pretty heavy stuff. I guess we would all want to know that if we were in Brendon’s position. But even more important, that experience totally changed Brendon’s life. He felt an urgent need to communicate this experience to the world. He left the ad agency and ventured out on his own to spread his own message. And his message is this…………………….

Anyone, and I mean anyone, can help others over the bumps that always present themselves in our lives by taking the time to share what you already know. Additionally, folks will line up to pay you for this information. Why? Because they can shortcut their lives by not having to find or experience your information for themselves. Who do you know that is NOT looking for a shortcut through life? No one. We’re ALL looking for information and shortcuts.

As a matter of fact, you have a responsibility to help others by sharing this information. Brendon has broken the who, where, what, when, why and how, down into precise outlines and action items so that anyone can do this; and get paid thousands or even millions when this information is communicated via websites, ebooks, tapes, DVD’s, webinars, books, even public appearances. Brendon shows you in detail how to accomplish all of this. He made $4 million the first year he took his message to the world.

Oh, but he had a staff and a company. Nope. Brendon is a one-man team. Then he must have had the money for a professional camera and recording crew in order to make video and sound products. Nope. That first year he used a microphone that he bought at Radio Shack and one of those cheap flip video cameras. He would put it on a box if there was no one around to shoot video for him.

I need to pause here and say that the above is NOT why I am telling you all this. And I don’t make a penny by promoting Brendon. Brendon needs no promotion. He’s one of the most incredible teachers that I’ve met. If you want to check Brendon out, you can do that by going to BUT, the reason why I’m telling you this is because I know that most of you are entrepreneurs.

Creating your own monetized blog is a step in the right direction, but think about what Brendon is saying. Let me give you an example. Many of you have commented that you wish you could write like I do. I have no special training in writing. I went to schools similar to the ones that you went to. I have a couple of college degrees; but none in writing. Of course you can write like I do! Can you carry a conversation? Of course you can! I write like I talk. There. Now you have the secret sauce.  If you were in the room with me now, what is on the paper is exactly what you would hear coming out of my mouth.

But I’m wandering a bit. So let’s get back to the point. Just don’t tell me that this is another one of those things that you can’t do.

I’ll say it again in case I distracted you. What you already have in your mind is worth a fortune, IF you will take the time to communicate it to help others and you present that information in a format that will instruct others. That’s the point that I wanted to make. If this peeks your interest, go check out Brendon and he’ll show you how to use your current knowledge to make a bundle. There won’t be any need to find a product to sell or come up with crazy ideas on how to  find buyers on the Internet. I think Brendon is “right on”. I think we should all be following his lead. What could be easier?

Take a moment and listen to what Brendon has to say about this.

So let’s pester this matter a little further because right now, you probably have questions. And I don’t want to leave you with no conclusions.

How does one make a fortune sharing what is already inside their head? Let’s use me as an example.

  1. I have a lot of life experience and background. Do you?
  2. I’m a baby-boomer. I was in college during the 60’s. Now there’s a story.
  3. I worked 25 years for two Fortune 100 companies as a senior network security analyst for global networks.
  4. I never felt successful at anything. So I spent 4 years researching why.
  5. I retired at 57. Want to learn how to do that?
  6. I built a 4,000 sq. ft. log home and I own my own real estate development company because I like to build things.
  7. I’m an avid outdoors man ie. fishing, hiking, wilderness camping etc..
  8. I’ve had the same wife for 39 years and I have three wonderful children. Want to know how to stay married?

Now those are just some of the things that are inside my head. If I wanted to build a business on any one of those subjects in order to help my fellow man over life’s bumps and make his life that much easier, what subject would you choose?

I think I would go with the four years that I spent trying to fix me by researching and applying success principles to my life.

Have you made a list of what is inside your head? Does anything on that list look like it might have potential? Are you in a position to help someone by sharing that information? If you think so, you need to get in touch with Brendon and find out about his Experts Academy. If you think not, give it a little more time. It will come to you. Everyone has a book in their head. EVERYONE. Maybe a best seller.

So in conclusion, do I intend to follow Brendon’s lead and instruction? You bet I do. Then why aren’t I doing that now? I have a bad case of “detail-itis”. For me, it’s a huge, huge undertaking. I’m getting my deliverables done. I already have a hard drive full of modules that I’ve already written. And you should too.

One last time, your fortune is in your brain, right now. You just need to figure out what it is and get it out on paper. As Brendon says at the end of every video, “Live life to it’s fullest, Love openly and completely, and make a difference. Until next time.”


Website Guidelines

I love you folks. I really do. You give me good feedback and ideas on what I can do to improve this website. I rarely get a negative comment on my blogs and I thank you for that. This website would be of little use to anyone without you.

But I want to know your real name. So please don’t advertise your product in the space for your name. I want to continue to interact with you. I want to be able to send answers to your questions to you and address you by your real name in my messages.

And please don’t leave an invalid e-mail address. How can I answer your questions without receiving a bounce-back because you left an invalid e-mail address? Many of you have asked me to take a look at your website and give you some suggestions for improvement. I do that for free for subscribers to my website. Others are not so lucky.

Please don’t use my website for the sole purpose of advertising yours. Or let me put it another way. Do you want to advertise on my website? No problem. We can do that. Want to exchange website links? Just ask. But if you know Google as well as I do, then you already know that Google only pays attention to “relevant” links and throws out the rest as trash. That means your theme and content must be similar to mine in some way. Otherwise, there’s no benefit. Or if your site or mine has an abundance of irrelevant inbound/outbound links, Google interprets that as “spammy” and throws them all out.

If you put a link in your comment, your comment will be appreciated, but deleted.  Or I may edit the comment and remove the link. If your comment is not “on subject”, it gets deleted. If you use your product as your name, those will be deleted unless I can figure out your first name and put that in the name field. You can include one website in the website field. If more than that, WordPress (Akismet) will automatically delete your comment without my having seen it.

I’m sorry that I sound like your father. But I can’t let my blog get “spammy’ or Google will throw both me and the blog out. I don’t even like Google, but that’s another matter.

I get more comments on the “Whole House Backup” and “Ten Things to Do in Wisconsin for Recreation” articles than I do for all other articles combined. Why is that? I wrote both of those articles about a year ago. They’re in the Archives. Many of you request that I write more recent articles. I’ve written many. Just click on “Blog” on the menu bar and you’ll find all of them.

Did you know that the picture boxes on the Home Page are links to even more blogs? Hover your cursor over the brown bar at the bottom of the photo to view the topic.

The majority of you have asked how I came up with the design for the website. Hover over the photo of the log cabin on the Home Page and you will find a link to the FAQ (frequently asked questions) page. The answer you are looking for is posted at the top of the page.  The link to the site template is there as well as a link to the site host.

When I try to answer your questions via e-mail and get a bounce-back, I put the answer on the FAQ page. If I were to answer your question in-line with the article that you read, you would have to figure out where you left the comment and then shop around for the article.

Keep your suggestions coming. I’m constantly tweaking the site to improve the content. I want to add breadcrumbs for easier navigation but the template keeps fighting with me. I need website policies in the footer in order to please Google, but the template is getting in my way again. I also want a photo gallery once I figure out how to add a gallery without slowing the website down to a crawl. Photos are tough on performance.

Finally, the link to Flickr on the sidebar will take you to three photo galleries on Flickr with no login required. I don’t think that anyone has used this link.

For those of you who have a new or upgraded house on your mind, you’ll find an abundance of information on the “Freebies/Deals” page including a 42-page manual/blog which I’ll send to you via e-mail upon request. This manual tells you how I built my current log home for a pittance.

So shop around a bit. There’s a lot more information on this website than you realize.

Thank you for listening and stay in touch!


A Boomer’s Predicament

I’m going to take a chance with this post and write something in a different style. You’ll have to let me know if you like it. “Boomer” and “Confidant” are real people and this short story really happened.

thumbnail photo of the author

Scott Reed, author

Boomer was born in 1950; thus the name. Boomer had two brothers, one sister and perfectly normal middle-class nuclear family. His parent’s direction defined his life. Get an education and a good job, work hard, get married, have children, buy a home and you will have a fine life indeed. He retired at the age of 57 because he hated his job with a Fortune 100 company. He moved to the Northwoods of Wisconsin to get away from the stress and turmoil of living in cities.

“So what’s wrong with that?”, asked Confidant.

Boomer replied, “My life was a bore. I lived inside the box that my parents had defined for me. I trusted their advice; education, a good job, work hard, family, and somehow everything would be great and rewarding.”

“And so it should be. You have a fine family, Boomer”, replied Confidant. “You made good money at your career. Your children are perfectly normal with no issues with drugs, alcohol, divorce, or the law. What could possibly be wrong with that?”

“That’s the problem.”, replied Boomer. “I don’t feel like I succeeded at anything. I never stepped outside the box that my parents had defined for me. I was all a routine. I set limits for myself and was always fearful of stepping outside of those limitations.”

“Everyone does that.”, replied Confidant. “What’s so unusual about that? Most of them don’t even know that they’re doing it.”

“Again, you restated the problem.”, replied Boomer. “If you want to do anything significant or rewarding with your life, you have to get outside the box that your parent’s teaching ingrained in you. You have to realize that you have complete control over only one thing – your mind. You have to recognize that there are no limits. You can do and be whatever you want. You should never set limits. But I did because I didn’t know any better. If you want to succeed at something you need to get outside your comfort zone, use the 99% of your mind that you use for nothing else, and replace simple imagination with creative imagination.”

“Who told you that?”, injected Confidant.

Boomer looked off into the distance and seemed to be in deep thought. “After retiring, I was so unhappy once I realized that I had succeeded at nothing, I spent the next four years researching why. I read every book I could find on success. I learned a lot and started applying the principles that I was learning. I fixed me first. I was a mess. Negative attitude most of the time. I repelled people with my negative attitude. Didn’t know I was doing it. Anyway, I fixed everything and changed me. But that was only half the job that needed to be done.”

“So you still felt that something was missing?”, replied Confidant. “Isn’t a bit late to look back on your life? You can’t change anything in the past.”

“No.”, replied Boomer. But every day can be a new beginning. I can start over. I can shed the limitations that I placed on myself, begin thinking creatively, follow my gut and instincts instead of my parent’s advice, do something different, and take risks. Do you understand what I am saying?”

“Kind of”, replied Confidant. “But I still don’t understand why this bugs you so much. Anyone would be happy with your life. So you’re bored. You are a little more demanding than most people. But now that you fixed certain aspects of your character and thinking, what is the other half that needs to be done that you referred to?”

“It bothers me that others are doing the same thing without knowing it.”, replied Boomer.

“Doing what?”, questioned Confidant.

“Setting limitations on themselves”, replied Boomer. “Living their lives inside a box. Doing exactly what their parents did and taught to them. Believing that is the way to a successful and rewarding life. I see it every day. Get up, go to work, put in their eight hours, go home, go to bed, and do it all over again. But if they would take control of the other 99% of their brains, put on their creative thinking hats, and get rid of the fear, doubt, and worry that holds them back while replacing it with faith in themselves. There is so much more in their environment that needs their attention. So many things, ideas, and concepts that they would find both interesting and rewarding on a grand scale.”

“But what if they don’t feel the same way about all this?”, argued Confidant.

“So be it.”, replied Boomer. “But they at least need to know what’s possible. Then they can decide.”

“Are you saying that you intend to let the whole world know that they need to throw off whatever limitations they have defined for themselves?”, inquired Confidant. “And that they should start or do whatever they want without fear or limits?”

“Yep.”, replied Boomer. “That’s exactly what I’m saying”.

“But how, exactly, do you intend to do that, Boomer?”, asked Confidant.

“Confidant, we have the Internet now.”, replied Boomer. “You can use the Internet to talk to anyone.”

“Another Weblog?”, asked Confidant.

“No.”, replied Boomer. “A training/teaching website. A monster of a site with daily interaction between instructor and student. Self-paced learning, audio tapes, video lessons, checklists, recognition for accomplishment, seminars. It’s not hard to teach someone success principles like desire, faith, perseverance, organized planning, use of master-mind groups, thinking creatively. But teaching these principles is not the challenge. You have to show students HOW to persevere, HOW to plan, HOW to think creatively. And then you stick with them until they have mastered the principle and made it part of lives. That’s the challenge.”

“Wow!”, exclaimed Confidant. “Are you serious?”

“I’m afraid so.”, replied Boomer. “I know. It’s scary. It’s a huge undertaking. And I don’t even know if this type of content will be accepted. But I have to let people know. I have to do something besides shove a book in their face. When I was still working, I tried that with my office staff and no one read the book.”

“That sounds like a gigantic undertaking, and risky.”, replied Confidant. “Are you really going to do this?”

“I’m not certain.”, replied Boomer. “I think that I have to in order to find if I can be successful at something. Or the whole thing might be a failure. But remember that there is much to be learned from failure too. Failing is just as instructive as succeeding, although most people don’t see it that way. The important part is that you don’t quit when you fail. When it’s time to attempt something like this, I’ll know. But I think it will get done some day, so stay tuned.”


How Do You Stake Your Claim in the Northwoods? The First Baby Step

There’s just something different about a log cabin. I’ve always dreamed of living in one, and as of 1999, I have a log home that I and many others built. It was a dream of ours that we thought we would never realize. The story about how we got here is pretty interesting. Did we take the traditional route of ordering a turn-key log home package for 100′s of thousands of dollars? Not at all.

We built a 4,000 sq. ft. log home on a 1.5 acre lake lot on a $160,000 mortgage. I’m serious. How did I do that while both of us were working full-time 200 miles south of here? You can get that whole story in the Offers Vault. Because on that page is an offer that promises to send you the 42-page story/blog in an ebook for FREE if you simply request it. If you follow my advice on tips and pitfalls, you can have a log cabin on a scenic Northwoods lake for a pittance.

I’ve had so many people ask me the title question above. There’s  a lot to be taken into consideration. How do you find and evaluate a waterfront lot. What should we plan on spending on a lot? How do we know that the lot is buildable? How big should the lot be in order to maintain privacy? And more…

I was a real estate broker and managed a Coldwell Banker franchise in a previous life. So I feel that I can offer intelligent advice on this topic. Additionally, my experience with building in the Northwoods has taught me much.

People’s biggest concern when thinking about building in the Northwoods is that it cost a fortune. That’s simply not true. Especially now that the lengthy recession has brought Northwoods property levels to their lowest level in decades. This post is primarily focused on getting a lot. I have other tricks up my leave for building a house or cabin. But I’ll share those in future posts.

Do what I did. Approach the building process with baby steps. Find a lot you like, buy it, and then forget about it for five years or until you are ready for the next step. We bought our lot in the Northwoods in 1994 and didn’t build anything on it until 1999. This gave us plenty of time to plan and save.

It’s OK to move slowly with an important decision like this. Once you have purchased a lot, you have staked your claim in the Northwoods on your favorite lake and that’s all you need for now. If you change your mind later, sell it. But remember this, water frontage is a scarce resource. God isn’t making anymore. And that’s what makes it a valuable investment.

A couple of words on lots to help you find a good one – are they expensive? No, not now. The Great Recession took care of that problem. Thousands of Northwoods lot owners abandoned their plans and downsized their assets in order to prepare for the economic and financial turmoil. The market is glutted with lake lots. As a Realtor at the time, I couldn’t sell a lake lot to save my life. No one was building during the recession. Construction as we knew it didn’t exist anymore. Companies tanked. So no one wanted a lake lot. Prices plummeted as owners were desperate to unload unnecessary assets and consolidate their financial situation. This is the best opportunity in decades to acquire a lake lot at clearance prices.

Lot Criteria

But what to look for? Take a fall road trip through the Northwoods when it’s in breath-taking full color. Look at many lots and then look at some more. Here’s the criteria that I feel is important.

  •  You must like the lake where your prospective lot resides. I recommend you acquire a lot on a lake that is at least 300 acres in size. Why? Because you want to feel like you are living on a lake, not a pond. You want to have sufficient area to ski, tube, take pontoon trips, and fish.
  •  A flowage would be perfect (see my post on “What is a Flowage) but lots on flowages are difficult to find. This is because in the 1990’s, the State of Wisconsin purchased all the available land surrounding the big flowages in order to preserve them as wilderness areas. There is still private land on flowages, but not much. This decision included the Rainbow, Willow, Chippewa, Turtle Flambeau, and Gile Flowages.
  •  Look for high ground with a gradual slope to the lake. Too steep means you’ll need steps. Avoid that. Too flat means standing water when it rains avoid that. If there is any standing water on the lot, avoid it. It’s probably not buildable.
  • Lake content on the frontage. Avoid weed or muddy frontage at all cost. The lake content on your frontage should be sand, gravel, rubble, but not mud, clay, or silt. Sand grass is OK for weeds. A few reeds are OK. These weeds grow on sand. Avoid other weeds completely. Don’t let anyone tell you that you can manage the weeds and clear them. You can’t. That would require DNR permits and chemicals, as well as physical effort raking them out of the water for disposal.
  • Your lot should have a minimum of 200 feet of water frontage. Any less and you are sacrificing privacy and inviting your neighbors to build too close to you.
  • The site you choose for your future structure should be at least 75 feet from the high-water mark (law) and 30 feet from any of your property lines. How do you find the high-water mark? Note the frontage bank and material such as drift wood. The high-water mark will be obvious. If you have hesitation, contact the nearest WDNR station (Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources) and ask them to show you where you can build. They’ll help you for free. Your lot should be approximately 1.5 acres in size; 200 feet wide and 400+ feet deep.
  • Check to see who plows and maintains the access road to your lot. Your Realtor can get this information for you. You don’t want to plow and maintain it yourself. You can always find someone to plow your driveway. But a road is a different matter. I pay $150/season for someone to plow my driveway. Plowing the access road is a shared expense between twelve neighboring lot owners. That comes to about $50/season for my share.
  • Have your Realtor get a copy of the property taxes for you. The taxes will show an amount just for the lot. Also have your Realtor get statements for neighbors nearby. Tax statements are public records. You can check on anyone who pays property taxes in your area. This will give you an idea what your taxes will be once a house or cabin is built on your lot. Taxes can vary widely. Some townships are notorious for high taxes. Try to avoid these. You would like your taxes to be somewhere around the $3,000 mark or less once your structure in complete. It’s dependent on square footage. So if you want to build a 4,000 sq. ft. house, expect to pay much more. My house is 4,000 sq. ft. and I pay $7,000 annually.
  • You cannot build in the electrical power right of way, if there is one. If there are power lines running through your lot, you’ll usually see a cleared area under the lines like an alley through the brush and trees. Stay out of this alley with any structures, trees, or shrubs.
  • When planning the location of things on your lot, realize that a well needs to be on the lake side of the house and a septic system/drain field needs to be located somewhere between the house and the road. Septics are never placed on the lake side of a home for obvious reasons. To the side of the home is often acceptable. Your septic installer knows best.
  •  You want a nicely treed lot so take that that into consideration when you plan the footprint for your house or cabin. But try and remove as few trees as possible. They’re an asset to your property.
  • The Department of Natural Resources does not want to see your house or cabin from the lake. So if you plan on clear-cutting a “view” of the lake, don’t do it. The DNR permits a “viewing corridor” but check with them to see how wide it can be. I think it’s 30 feet. We didn’t cut anything between our house and the lake. You can’t see our house from the water and that’s the way we like it. We have a small natural opening that allows us to see the lake and that’s fine with us.  We have a nice natural path (made by wildlife traffic over decades) through the woods and down to our dock and beach. That works for us.
  •  Lastly, once you have decided where to put the cabin or house, now you need to know where to put the septic tank and drain field. Why? Because that area will need to be cleared and the soil there must percolate. If you are convinced that you have found the perfect lot, get a local plumber to come out and do a “perc  test” before you buy the lot. He will help you decide the best location for your drain field. And he will test the soil to insure that a conventional septic system is allowed. A perc test will run about $200-$500. He may say a mound system is necessary if the soil does not percolate well. That’s not a show-stopper but realize that a mound system cost about three times as much as a conventional septic system. However, it’s a one-time cost. Once installed, a mound system requires no more attention than a conventional septic. If your plumber suggests a holding tank, look for another lot.

Negotiating a Price

So now you have approved your lot and so has your plumber and the DNR. It has everything you expected. Nice trees, good sand frontage, no weeds on the shoreline, a nice level spot to put the house or cabin and an area for your septic and drain field. The property taxes look acceptable. It’s time to negotiate a price.

My lot is as I described it above. 1.5 acres, 200 feet of frontage, nicely treed, and conventional septic system. I paid $60,000 for it in 1994. You won’t find prices that low. You should shoot for no more than $1,000/foot of frontage on a quality lake of 300 acres or more. I’ve also seen some nice lake lots for $150,000 but these are rare and require a thorough search. If these prices sound high, consider this. My lot’s tax assessed value today is $204,000. I’ve more than tripled what I paid for it. And your lot will do the same the day after you build something on it.

Offer the seller 10% less than what you know the lot is worth. Negotiate from there. Once the deal is done, go home. Your investment is safe. You now have your foothold in the Northwoods and you don’t have to do anything more for the next 5-10 years except watch your investment increase in value. Remember, water frontage is a scarce resource and no more is being created. Good luck!