Provo poet lives to make people laugh

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For more than 20 years, reporters around the world have been receiving poems from a Provo man who reads their work and has something to say.

“It’s an obsession for me,” Tim Torkildson said. “Whenever I read something interesting I just have to respond to it in verse.”

Sometimes sent electronically, other times in the mail, poems range in length but are always witty and always rhyme.

He subscribes to at least seven papers — ranging from The New York Times to his hometown paper the Minneapolis Star Tribune — and responds to anything that “tickles” or “outrages” him.

The first poem he remembers sending was back in 1993, a serious poem about the Waco, Texas siege.

Since then the 61-year-old has written thousands.

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During an average week, he’ll write and send five poems to various reporters and news outlets. About 90 percent of the time he doesn’t hear back, but the few times he does is what keeps him going.

In January, Rachel Abrams from The New York Times wrote about the curiosity and persistence that eventually led her to interview Torkildson and publish three poems he sent her.

More recently, Torkildson said he received feedback from a reporter in Europe who called him a “genius” and told him she would “treasure” what he had done with her stories.

To hear feedback like that from a professional writer is gratifying, Torkildson said, especially as a college dropout. He likes the friendships it forms, and hopes someday his hobby could lead to a full-time poetry-writing career.

“I miss doing something that makes people happy,” he said.

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For a good chunk of his life, Torkildson worked as a clown for the Ringling Brothers. His poetry writing started years ago when he was a young father traveling with the circus. Since his kids were home in Provo, he’d write them poems as a way to stay in touch and let them know he was thinking of them.

After arthritis forced him to leave circus life, Torkildson spent 15 years teaching English in Thailand before finding his way back to Utah Valley.

In July 2014, Torkildson received some press from multiple national news outlets after being let go from his part-time job in Provo for supposedly promoting a “gay agenda” through teaching about homophones.

In between jobs, he’s searching for something that makes him and others happy.

“I’m not made to cause people unhappiness,” he said. “If I’m not entertaining people I’m not happy.”

(From an article by Keri Lunt Stevens in the Provo Daily Herald, Wednesday, March 4. 2015)

How to Care for Your Knife.

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In times of emergency it is a good thing to have a good knife with you. Hikingware.com offers a full line of knives for any emergency, both indoor and outdoor. But what good is the most expensive knife going to be if you neglect it and allow it to get rusty?  Here are some suggestions to keep your knife ready for action at a moment’s notice:

  1. Do not store knives in their sheaths. The leather collects moisture and creates pits on the blade.
  2. Check the locking notch of lockbacks regularly to ensure that it will work properly. Keep all sand and grit out of the knife. Keep the mechanisms clean. Remember to never rely on a folding knife to be permanently locked in position.
  3. Do not use the cutting blade as a can opener, chisel, pry bar, screwdriver or for any heavy work for which your knife was not designed. Also, don’t use the back of your knife as a hammer. It may break the springs, handles or pin.
  4. Handles made of wood can be occasionally rubbed with furniture polish or oil. Brass can be polished with household brass polish.
  5. Modern knife steel is very high quality material, but all metal will corrode through time. Occasionally oil the joints and springs of a pocket knife with a drop or two of oil. This will assure easier opening and closing and will prevent rust and lessen wear. Wipe the blades now and then with an oil-moistened cloth to prevent rust- especially if you live in a damp climate or close to the ocean. If your blade should get wet, dry it thoroughly. If your knife comes into contact with salt water or any substance you are not certain about, you should rinse it immediately with tap water, dry it and apply a light coat of oil.
  6. Do not attempt self-repair. This may void the warranty and can create an unsafe operating conditions.
  7. Discoloration of metal: Discolored metal has a blue/grey/black color, is a sign of oxidation, and precedes rust. Don’t let it happen to your knife; have a can of 3-in-1 Oil handy at all times.
  8. Rust has a reddish-brown color. Rust will eat pits into your blade and contaminate what you cut. Light rust can be cleaned with oil. Heavier rust needs to be cleaned with more abrasive action, such as cleaner, polish, or plastic cleaning pad.
  9. As an alternative, chemical solvents such as Acetone, nail polish remover, MEK, alcohol or paint thinner may be used to clean your blade. Use care with these solvents, as some, such as acetone, nail polish remover, white gas, or brake fluid may damage some knife handles. Avoid harsh detergents that contain Chlorine (mostly powders, including some for washing dishes and clothes), which can accelerate corrosion of the blade steel.

A well-kept knife will last a lifetime, and beyond. Aside from its intrinsic value as a survival tool, a good knife can be a family heirloom, passed down from one generation to the next. Many men cherish a knife they have gotten from their father, who in turn got it from his father. Take care of your knife, and it will take care of you!

Paean to Jordana Green.

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(I was on the Jordana Green Show Monday evening; we hit it off like a couple of old pals.  She will be reading my topical poetry on her show from time to time, so naturally I had to compose a little something in her honor.  NOT brown-nosing, you understand — just a little gewgaw to show my appreciation . . . )

There’s Minnesota nice, and then there’s Minnesota NICE;

Jordana Green’s the second – she’s a gem, to be precise!

She read my verses on the air – and bade me do the same.

Is it any wonder she’s achieved such rampant fame?

 

Of course this is sheer flattery, as fulsome as can be;

But poets have been doing it all down through history.

You catch more flies with honey than with sour tropes indeed.

And blathering on ‘CCO is all the fame I need! 

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Hike for Pleasure; Hike for Health!

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Hiking outdoors has plenty of perks: great vistas, clean air, and the sights and hands-on feel of nature.  Unless it is bitterly cold or dangerously hot outside, there is almost nothing that can beat a good hike, whether you are just going around the park a few times or going up into the mountains for the weekend.

Hikingware.com encourages everyone to get out and hike for their physical and their mental wellbeing.  Even if you’re not used to hiking very much, with the right equipment and clothing it can become an invigorating experience for every member of the family.

WebMD  confirms that the following are physical benefits of even a moderate hike:

  • Lower your risk of heart problems.
  • Improve your blood pressure and blood sugar levels.
  • Boost bone density, since rambling is a weight-bearing exercise
  • Build strength in your glutes, quadriceps, hamstrings, and the muscles in your hips and lower legs
  • Strengthen your core
  • Improve balance
  • Help control your poundage.
  • Boost your mood. “Research shows that hiking has a positive impact on combating the marks of tension and stress,” says Gregory A. Miller, PhD, president of the American Hiking Society. “Being in nature is ingrained in our DNA, and we sometimes forget that.”
  • If you really want your hike to produce the maximum amount of physical health benefits, you should consider the following:
  • Start slow. A short, local hike is best for beginners. Gradually work up to trails with hills or uneven terrain.
  • Use poles. Digging into the ground and propelling yourself forward pushes your upper body muscles to work harder and gives you a better cardio workout.

 

  • Head Uphill. Even a small hill intensifies your heart rate and burns extra calories. Miller says a 5% to 10% incline equals a 30% to 40% increase in calorie burn.
  • Bump it up. Uneven terrain can work muscles while improving balance and stability.
  • Pack in on. Stock your day pack with extra weight. (Water’s a good option.) According to Miller, a 10- to 15-pound day pack will boost your calorie burn by 10% to 15% while strengthening your lower back muscles.
  • Get into a groove. On the days you can’t make it to the trails, power-walk on a hilly terrain while carrying various degrees of weight in a backpack — it will keep your hiking skills and fitness level on track.

Of course you want to hike safely and securely, so please follow these common sense precautions when out on a trek:

Bring a buddy. It’s best not to hike alone at first, especially on unfamiliar or remote trails. A partner or group can help you navigate and assist if you get hurt. As your skill level improves, you’ll feel more comfortable going solo.

Know before you go. Familiarize yourself with the trail map. Check the weather, and dress and pack accordingly. If storms are a possibility, rethink your plan. Follow marked paths and trails.

Heed all trail signs.  You may be hiking in areas that are prone to rock slides or where wild animals have the right of way.  Pay attention to any sign in yellow that is posted on the trail.  There are often signs to indicate upcoming scenic views or emergency shelter as well.

And please remember to dispose of all trash in an appropriate manner!

C.J.: If Tim Torkildson’s poetry is good enough for the New York Times …

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(Editor’s note:  This article first appeared in the Minneapolis Star Tribune.)

Poet and retired clown Tim Torkildson has gotten revenge on me via the NY Times.

“You came down to Nicollet Mall when I was working there as a clown and you did a video of me, about five or six years ago,” Torkildson refreshed my memory Tuesday. “After that I decided, ‘I’ll just send her everything I do.’ I did flood you with poetry and most of it was bad, so I don’t blame you for e-mailing me back, saying, Please stop.”

NY Times business reporter Rachel Abrams handled Torkildson’s poetry in a different manner.

“I sent her several over the past couple of years. Finally she e-mailed me back: Why do you do this? What is your purpose? I e-mailed her, ‘This is what I do. This is who I am.’ We arranged a telephone conversation. I explained, I’m semiretired right now and love reading newspapers. I’m obsessed with poetry. I write a lot of it and it’s always based on a story from a newspaper or magazine. When something tickles my funny bone or outrages me I’ll write about it.”

In Monday’s NYT, Abrams wrote about Torkildson, in a little behind-the-scenes feature, citing this one:

I eat magnets all the time:

the reason ain’t redactive.

If I eat enough of ’em

I’m sure to be attractive.

(Abrams declined my attempts to fact-check but condescended to note, via e-mail: “Just so you’re aware, we don’t intend to write anything else about him.”)

Torkildson taunted me via e-mail Tuesday: “Now my poetic work is being recognized in the New York Times. My revenge is to share that article link with you today. (nyti.ms/1A8ewEQ)”

By phone I told Torkildson that he was not the first reader whose poetry I had discouraged but that I had always intended to get back to him, to follow up on an e-mail he sent about how my video landed him a job in Asia.

“I sent the link [of the video] to all my friends. One of them lived in Thailand and he was concerned that I was reduced to panhandling as a circus clown to get some money together. He talked to a friend of his who owned an English school. I spent the next four years teaching English in Thailand. It was a great part of my life.”

Osteoarthritis, which has the Roseville resident wintering in Utah, brought Torkildson’s clown days to an end. That just means more time for poetry, and, since Torkildson owes me, I gave him assignments for two upcoming interviews: with a clown and a poet.

(The original article can be seen here.)

Camping Jokes.

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Safe hiking and camping is a serious business.  And with the right equipment it can always be a fun and enjoyable experience – whether you’re out on a lone hike or going on a family camping trip.  Hikingware.com wants you to relish every outdoor experience you have, and if, for any reason, you can’t get to the great outdoors for a while, they’d like to offer you some outdoor humor to keep you in a good mood!

Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson went on a camping trip. After a good meal, they lay down for the night and went to sleep. Some hours later, Holmes awoke and nudged his faithful friend. Holmes said: “Watson, look up and tell me what you see”.

Watson said: “I see a fantastic panorama of countless stars”.

Holmes: “And what does that tell you?”

Watson pondered for a moment and then said: “Astronomically, it tells me that there are millions of galaxies and potentially billions of planets. Astrologically, I observe that Saturn is in Leo. Horologically, I deduce that the time is approximately a quarter past three. Theologically, I can see that God is all powerful and that we are small and insignificant. Meteorologically, I suspect that we will have a fine weather tomorrow.”

“Why? – What does it tell you, Holmes?”

Holmes was silent for a moment then spoke: “Someone has stolen our tent.”

 

A man and his son went camping in the woods.  As they sat around the fire the son said “Dad, where’s the bathroom?”

His dad said “Son, that’s the beauty of camping – you can do your business anywhere you want and nobody will complain!” 

The son was gone for ten minutes.  When he returned his dad asked him if he had found a good spot.

The son said “Yeah, I used the car!” 

 

A park ranger catches a man driving a pickup truck full of live raccoons.  He tells the man “You can’t drive around with a bunch of live raccoons in the back of your truck like that.  Take them all to the zoo immediately!”

The next day park ranger is astonished to see the same man driving the same truck with the same raccoons in the back of it – but this time they are all wearing sunglasses.  The ranger stops the truck again and shouts at the man “I thought I told you to take all those raccoons to the zoo?”

“I did” says the man.  “And today I’m taking them to the beach.”

 

Knock Knock.

Who’s there?

Colleen.

Colleen who?

Colleen up your campsite before you leave!

 

As a public service we’d like to remind our readers that when you are camping and hiking in areas where there are bears you should wear a small bell on your belt.  The ringing of the bell will alert most bears to your nearby presence, so you do not startle them.

If you are unsure if there are bears in your camping area just check the ground for bear scat.  You can distinguish bear scat from other kinds by examining it for pieces of fur, berries, and small bells . . .