Take A Look At Your Home

Tri-CAP’s energy advisor program seeks to improve your homes heating and electrical burden. With a little information, you can look for some of the same signs that an energy advisor looks for. In only about five minutes, you can make many valuable observations.

First, be advised that the two biggest enemies of your home are water leakage and air leakage. I am going to list some very obvious signs of these problems. Picture your home like a winter jacket. Does it keep the water/snow out? Does it keep the cold air out? Does it keep the warm air inside? If you are cold or wet, your jacket, or your home, is not efficient and improvements can be made.

Go outside and stand in your front yard. Does the yard slope away from the structure? If not, water can pool next to your home and end up in the walls or basement. Does the home have gutters and downspouts? Same problem if missing. What condition are the roofing; siding; windows and doors? If any are in poor condition, water and air leakage will follow. Is there frost on the bottom of the windows? If yes, you have too much relative humidity in the living space (above 40%) which will cause extreme air quality issues and even mold in your home. Is there an uneven snow-melt pattern on your roof, or icicles at the eaves? Then you have hot air leaking from your living space into your attic. Can you see the stud framing lines or nail head pattern through your siding (shows up as frost lines or frost spots)? Then you have a bad or absent vapor barrier in your outside walls. The moisture is transferring through your walls, and can cause a multitude of problems (including health issues and high energy bills). What is the tree cover like around the home? Ideally pine trees should be planted to the North and West, and big leaf trees to the South and to the East. This shelters the home from winter winds and the hot summer sun. It also give you free solar heating in the winter. Are there heavy bushes next to the house? This traps water and makes for structural problems. Does the home have window shades or blinds? Using the blinds correctly traps the heat and keeps out the cold. Look at the chimney or vent pipes on the roof. Does the smoke or exhaust gas fall downhill from the chimney, or rise up into the sky? If it drops and rolls down the roof, the furnace, water heater or wood stove may be back-drafting. This may introduce harmful gasses into your living space, as well as costing you more money for heating. If you see problem signs in any of these examples, find out the reason why. Your family will be healthier and you won’t be wasting your hard earned income.

Next month we’ll give you some very simple tips to help you check out the conditions inside your home.

January energy tips: If you noticed some problems with your home, by doing the five-minute check-up listed above, call Tri-CAP. If you are income eligible, ask for an energy advisor home visit. There may be a number of programs that will help you achieve maximum efficiency for your heating and electrical burden.

Tri-CAP Blog January 2019

By: Stephen Bjorklund

Wistful Time

Have you ever witnessed an older person sitting in a chair and staring out a window? Sometimes they remain there, unmoving, seemingly for hours. Whatever could be happening?

When I was ten, we lived by a small lake surrounded by wooded hills and about a dozen homes. The pond was Indianhead Lake and the area was dubbed Indian Hills. There were probably fifteen kids within a year of the same age, and we could always put together an impromptu baseball or football game. Football could be rugged – two of the boys that lived beyond Overholt’s Hill were the Wright brothers, Jeff and Paul. Years later, they both went on to become professional football players, and when they tackled us normal, mortal kids, we would frequently see stars. But that was just a side-show to the premiere game afoot . . . hockey and ice skating.

The Dad’s around the lake took turns shoveling off a hockey rink. It was the big draw for the local kids. Eventually, the Dad’s built a warming house, like a super-sized fish house. It had benches on either side where we could sit and strap on our skates. There was a table at one end and usually once a weekend, all winter long, the Mom’s would bring out a mid-day meal of sloppy joes or chili and crackers, along with hot apple cider. I remember that we would skate and play hockey until our ankles turned to mush, to the point where we could barely walk. But even this was not the real game afoot.

There was a certain girl, name of Claudia, who lived on the high hill on the South Slope of Indianhead. How to describe her? Every one of the neighborhood boys had their gaze fixed upon Claudia. When she arrived to skate, the hockey puck would slide unattended all the way across the rink. The goalie would abandon his post. She never played hockey with us rough-neck boys – she would just figure skate, sliding and pirouetting like a swan on glass. She had curly blond hair, blue eyes and moved like a dream. She had a white fur hat, a white wool jacket fringed with fur at the collar and sleeves.

Have you ever witnessed an older gentleman staring out a window? Maybe he is sitting in a warming house, lacing up his skates, waiting for a certain someone.

December energy tips: First of all, happy holidays and happy memories to one and all. If you are a renter, here’s some money saving tips – use CFL or LED light bulbs, they cost a little more up front, but will last much longer and save you big bucks in the end; close your drapes and blinds at night, open them on sunny days; clean dirty light bulbs – they work better; take shorter showers; run your dishwasher when full; have your landlord lower the temp on your water heater to 120 degrees; clean your dryer lint filter regularly, a dirty filter reduces energy efficiency; set your fridge temperature at 36 degrees and your freezer at 6 degrees; when cooking, use the right sized pan and put a lid on it; set your thermostat at 68 degrees and wear a sweater; put your computer and other attendant equipment on a power strip and turn it off when not using the electronics.

Tri-CAP Blog December 2018

By: Stephen Bjorklund

Moving Day

Once again I move. Things will look different, be different. The landscape and the people will change. Life will change. I will miss the old and hope the new is a great adventure. One thing for sure, with rare exception, all of us will re-locate in our lifetime.

I have moved eleven times, four with my parents and seven with my wife, and as time progressed, with wife and children. We have lived in the Twin Cities area, including St. Louis Park, Edina, Medina, South Minneapolis, Maple Plain and Minnetonka Beach. We lived in rural Easton (Southern Minnesota); rural Ashby (Western Minnesota); and rural Foreston (North Central Minnesota). We have also assisted our four children with moves to college and then to their first, second or third home. In the process we accumulated every piece of moving equipment known to man including trailers and a flat-bed truck. All of the equipment has received a brisk work-out.

So why would anyone in their right mind move so much? In my case, I come from a lumber and construction family. We move for two reasons – to follow the work opportunities and to capitalize on the sale of the home we have built or extensively remodeled. The strategy is that after four or five moves, your home and property will be paid for – no more mortgage! But with building recessions and economic downturns, we were obliged to add two moves to achieve that goal.

Our last change took us from Ashby in Western Minnesota to Foreston in Central Minnesota. It was my wife’s turn to pick the location (my last turn took us to the fabulous waterfowl hunting of Ottertail County), and she chose to be closer to family. We took out a map and stuck a pin in the center, transecting three out of four of our children’s home locations. The pin fell upon rural Foreston, so here we are. I must admit that I miss the duck-hunting but revel in the proximity to our seven grandkids. Oddly, my wife doesn’t at all miss the duck hunting.

So what have I learned from all of this trans-migration? The people in Minnesota are great – no matter where you go. There really is a “Minnesota Nice”. If you think the winters are bad in northern or western Minnesota, you have never experienced the flat plains of Southern Minnesota. It snows so much and blows so hard that most of the eagles are bald. The fishing and hunting in western Minnesota is beyond belief. An interesting thing happens, though. When you are so close to all of that natural abundance, you grow to take it for granted. When I was young, we used to drive four hours one way to duck hunt by Fergus Falls. But when we lived next to Ashby’s famous waterfowl mecca, Lake Christina, we would find ourselves inside by the fireplace playing checkers. I used to think that the wildest drivers lived in New Orleans or Los Angeles, but now my pick would be St. Cloud (I live in Foreston and commute 30 miles every day to St. Cloud). They have raised driving to an exhilarating contact sport – akin to bumper cars! I am never disappointed with the adrenalin rush of my commute. It probably keeps me heart healthy – kind of like working out in the gym. So far, I have been able to keep at least one inch away from my fellow commuters. You have to stay alert, though – kind of like a fighter pilot.

Well, the movers are here so I have to end this. Today’s move is a rather small one, we are moving our offices from one place to another in the same building. Piece of cake. But it’s still another move.


Energy tip of the month: It’s a matter of degrees. Every time you turn on a switch, plug something in, turn up the thermostat, or use the water it is costing you money. The trick is to be conscious of the resources that you are using. When not in use, turn things off or unplug them. (Even when turned off, many appliances are drawing a “phantom load”, using electricity in the stand-by mode). Use a strip plug for your office equipment, and turn off the strip plug when not using the computer, printer, fax machine, etc. If you are not going to be home, turn down your thermostat in the winter. When you are home, wear a sweater or use a blanket, and turn down the thermostat to 65 degrees. Use ceiling fans to move the heat down to where the people are (hot air pools at the ceiling). Take shorter showers; wash your dishes in the dishwasher and in cold water. Washing by hand wastes lots of hot water, energy, and your money. Get your home weatherized. Get a clean & tune of your furnace, and change the furnace filter every month. It’s a matter of degrees, so make good choices and keep your money in your wallet!

Tri-CAP Blog for November 2018

By Stephen Bjorklund

The Flow

Have you ever experienced the sensation of being in the flow of things, in tune with life, in perfect harmony with the state of affairs? For many who revere the fall season, it may be possible to attain such a blissful state.
Check out the essential components . . . it is the heart of the harvest season, all of man’s planning; hard work and stewardship are coming to fruition. One memorable summer season gives way for the imminent bounty of fall. The birds, animals and trees are more animated – they too have a heightened sense of urgency for the harvest. Everything intensifies – the colors, the multitudinous gathering of the migrating birds. The approaching winter season plays out in the narrative of all that lives – it’s the mating season for many, including whitetail deer. It’s time to stockpile without delay for a variety of animals from beavers to field mice, and yes, for men. And inside the spirit of man, whether you be a nature lover or outdoorsman and hunter . . . fall quickens.
Let’s go and see. There is nothing like floating in a small boat and watching the gathering of countless migrating ducks. You see the flock of bluebills dropping out of the Northern sky, wings cupped, heading for your decoys. Your hunting dog sees them too and his gaze becomes fixed on the approaching birds. He does a side-glance at you to make certain you see them as well. You nod to your dog and he once again locks onto the ducks. The bluebills make a precautionary fly-by, ripping the air as their wings slice into your consciousness . . . a forty mile per hour blur just inches above your decoys. Your dog is shaking. You whisper one word, “Steady”. After three more passes, the leader of the flock decides it is safe. They commit and come in. Three quick shots and your dog goes to work. He flies (did you know dogs could fly?) out of the duck-boat, landing ten feet away in a spray of icy water. He spots the downed bluebills and swims without delay. He picks up the first, then the second and returns to the side of the boat. He delivers them to your hand, then immediately goes for the third duck, which is swimming away from the decoys. He catches up to the bluebill but it dives underwater, out of reach. This is repeated with a marathon chase three times. Finally, the dog closes in and when the duck dives under, he does to, disappearing for nearly a minute. The water explodes as the duck and the dog rocket out of the frigid water . . . duck firmly lodged in your retriever’s mouth. He makes his way back to your boat, making you proud. You pull him aboard as he bountifully shares the 40 degree water. “Good boy.”
Shooting ducks is bittersweet. You study them, in the bottom of your boat, and you consider that they are perfect in form and color. When they arrived this day they became an aerial display more like a song than a flight. They rose and fell in concert, holding their relative position as a member of their flock. You could feel their movement, just as the roll of the waves underfoot and the tapping of the reeds on your shoulder. I wonder if all this is recorded in the book of life . . . only the Creator knows. The spent shotgun shells bob in the waves, rising and falling, tapping out a cadence on the wooden hull of your boat. The entire experience becomes riveting. The concentration exhibited by your dog as the bluebills approached was perfect. No creature on earth, man or beast, could best the intensity of your dog. October, you, your retriever and the hunt move into the perfect flow.
Fall energy tips: Turn down your thermostat to 68 degrees during the day or when you are home, and at night or when you are away, turn it down to 65 degrees or less. Change the furnace filter at least once per month, and if you have not had your furnace cleaned and tuned for two years, do so. These simple measures can save you up to twenty-five percent on your yearly heating bill. Also, use ceiling fans to blow the heat down from the ceiling (heat rises) and you will mix the hot air better, requiring less heat to stay comfortable. Check out all of the energy saving programs and initiatives at Tri-CAP. If you are income eligible, there may be good news for you. Check us out and get in tune and in the flow of the season.

Tri-CAP blog for October

By: Stephen Bjorklund


Lillian’s Song

It’s easy for me to write about fall. In “Moby Dick” Herman Melville wrote that all things in nature carry a greater meaning, the wind, waves, storms and creatures were merely a mask covering a deeper, epic meaning.   In his way of thinking, everything was a pawn in the greater conflict between the forces of good and evil.

That may be true, but I can find little that is sinister in the things of fall. My favorite life experiences live in my memories of autumn. Here’s one I’ll share with you. Lillian Osander was a farm lady who owned the land my Dad and his friends hunted on by North Turtle Lake in Ottertail County. I was in my teens when she was in her 80’s, and I thought of her as a second grandmother. She was kind-hearted to everyone – it was her way of life. Peder Osander, her husband, had been bed-ridden with a stroke and Lillian could never leave him for long. She used to love the outdoors, so I would stop and see her and Peder before I joined my Dad and his friends at our duck hunting cabin.

Sometimes I would ask Lillian if she wanted to go out with me and sit in a duck-boat on Redhead Bay. She always said yes. I would motor over and pick her up on shore behind her farm. We would drift in the tall “pencil grass” and watch the ducks come in and land on the bay. Sometimes, if we were fortunate, we would see the redwing blackbird migration. Hundreds of thousands of the raucous birds would appear in a great flock in the Northern sky of North Turtle Lake. Every bird in the flock was sounding. The flock was an undulating cylinder of souls, taking up to twenty minutes to cross over the lake and then over our heads. Their wings were a roar like water rushing over a falls. Their song was almost deafening. They would all land in the oak and maple trees between us and Lillian’s farm. Every branch, every twig was occupied by a singing redwing. It was a sight and sound like no other – but it was nothing compared to the joy on Lillian Osander’s countenance.

If fall is a mask, it is mine to remember.

September energy tip: Fill your heating fuel tank. Don’t wait for the propane or fuel oil to run out – it could damage your furnace. Also, if you run out, your heating fuel provider may charge you extra for an emergency fill trip.

Tri-CAP September 2018 Blog

By Stephen Bjorklunc

Nordic Saga

Each of us holds dear what is important, however, that thing of great value is not necessarily universal. Let me share a case in point. I visit diverse families in the course of doing my job as a home energy advisor – many are Scandinavian. Recently I met an 86 year old Norwegian who lived on his family’s “Century” farmstead, just outside of the small town of Holdingford. As I sat with my client at the kitchen table, something caught my eye outside of the bay window. There, on a raised mound surrounded by pansies and purple irises, sat a huge fossilized bone. It appeared to be a section of backbone, a vertebrae standing over two feet tall. I asked Lars, “What’s the story behind the fossil?”

His old blue eyes flashed and he responded, “How much time do you have – it’s a bit of a tale?”

“Enough,” said I.

“Before Grandpa Finn took a wife, he lived all alone in a one-room cabin – do you see it – over there next to the milking parlor? Over the years a red fox with a black face started to hang around the cows. He would dart in and lap up the spilled milk. Grandpa tolerated his antics, and as time passed, the fox lost his natural fear. Grandpa and the black fox became friends. If anyone else came to the farm, the fox would vanish like a spirit.

“One fall day Grandpa Finn took a hike down to the north 40 woods. He saw his black fox sitting next to a hole in the ground. He approached and the fox disappeared. After a closer look-see, Grandpa discovered that the fox had found the entrance to a here-to-fore undiscovered cave. Grandpa went back to the log cabin and retrieved a kerosene lantern, and returned.

“He squeezed through the narrow opening, slid down a smooth rock ledge and found himself standing in a cavern. It was bigger than his one room cabin. The black fox appeared by his side, peering up at Grandpa Finn. Then the fox walked to the far end of the chamber, to a smaller passageway. Grandpa Finn followed. The fox stopped and pawed at the cave floor, partially unearthing a white object. It appeared to be a large bone embedded in the limestone. Grandpa Finn’s curiosity was peaked. Over the next months, in all of his spare time, he worked at carefully extracting his find from the limestone. Finally one spring day he lifted the massive object from its limestone crypt. It was a sight to behold. He hefted it up – as heavy as a hundred weight milking can, and carried it to the center of the main cavern. He set it down on a wool blanket and walked around his prize with the kerosene lantern. His gaze fell upon a mystifying sight. In one of the clefts of the fossilized vertebrae lodged a perfectly formed stone spear point, half embedded into the bone. This unknown creature had been felled by an ancient hunter –by a man with a spear!”

“Have you ever had the fossil identified or dated?’ I blurted out.

“No.” said Lars. “Grandpa Finn was a private sort, and he didn’t want any of the neighbors to know about the cave or the fossil. His business was his business. His cave was his cave, and he especially didn’t want anyone poking around the farm or endangering his black fox.”

“Do you mind if we go out and get a closer look at the fossil?”

“Sure, why not. Let’s go and see.”

We walked around the great white mystery, stopping to examine the stone spear-point.

“Do you realize what this is?” I asked.

“Grandpa Finn had some ideas.”

“It is a segment of the back-bone of a dinosaur. It’s far too large to be from a wooly mammoth. That means that it may be many millions of years old. It could be priceless. And the fact that a man – an ancient hunter killed it may change history as we know it. Don’t you think that you should find a safer place to store it, at least until you have an expert identify it? This could be the greatest find in modern history.”

“Who wants an old bone in the parlor? And another thing, it’s part of Grandpa Finn’s life – that is all the history that matters to me.”

“But think of what the relic could be worth to your family.”

“Well, Grandpa Finn always had enough. The farm provided for all of his needs, and in time, our needs. All the extra money in the world, or notoriety, wouldn’t improve our life here on the farm. You see, what was important to Grandpa Finn was that thing that he treasured.”

And with that, I departed. I tried to imagine the mind of Grandpa Finn, and the worth of that black fox.

August energy tips: The monster in your basement – Radon gas. What is radon? It is an odorless, colorless gas that seeps up through the soil. It usually appears in your basement. Radon gas is formed from the natural decay of Uranium in the soil. In Minnesota, radon levels vary county by county.

How can radon hurt you? Long term exposure can damage the cells that line the lung and may even cause lung cancer. In Minnesota, 2 out of 5 homes have high radon levels. In our area, two out of four counties are subject to excessive radon. Stearns and Sherburne Counties are high; Morrison and Benton County not so bad.

How do you know if you have a problem? Test your house with an inexpensive test kit that you can place for three to seven days in the lowest living area. You can order the kit on-line at: mn.radon.com

If you send the test in, they will send you back the results. The magic number is 4. If higher than 4.0 (pCi/L), consider installing radon mitigation.

Radon mitigation: This usually entails installing a sump-type basket or collection pipe holes in the basement (to create collection pockets under the concrete slab).  A Radon gas exhaust pipe is installed (has to be vented out through the roof, fan assisted). Every gap and crack in the basement, including exhaust pipe surrounds, must be sealed. Cost: from $1200 to $1,700, depending on the building characteristics. Hire a state licensed radon mitigation contractor to get the job done right.

Tri-CAP August 2018 Blog

By: Stephen Bjorklund


The Long and Short of IT

How long do things live? Here’s the list.

  • Bristlecone pine tree – 5060 years.
  • Giant tortoise – 255 years.
  • Asian elephant – 86 years.
  • Blue Macaw – 119 years.
  • Horse – 62 years.
  • Dog – 29 years.
  • Cat – 38 years.
  • Black bear – 30 years.
  • Whitetail deer – 4.5 (wild); 25 years (captive).
  • Greenland shark – 512 years.
  • Bowhead whale – 200 years.
  • Lobsters – 140 years.
  • Pheasant – 27 years.
  • Grouse – 11 years.
  • Cottontail rabbit – 3 years.
  • Canada goose – 28 years.
  • Mallard duck – 27 years.
  • Bald eagle – 20 -38 years.
  • Robins – 13 years.
  • Humans – 79-100+

Let’s talk people. How do most of us end?

  1. Heart disease.
  2. Cancer.
  3. Stroke.
  4. Lung disease.
  5. Accidents.
  6. Diabetes.
  7. Flu & pneumonia.
  8. Alzheimer’s.

Where do people live the longest, and why? (90, 100, or more). SARDINIA, ITALY – They largely have a plant diet and typically walk five miles per day. OKINAWA, JAPAN – They have a strong social circle that lasts for a lifetime. NICOYA, COSTA RICA – People love the outdoors; eat a natural diet with no processed food, and they devise their own plan for life. LOMA LINDA, CALIFORNIA – This is a strong religious community with strict adherence to a day of rest on the Sabbath. IKARIA, GREECE – The people have a natural diet, socialize late into the evening, and take frequent naps during the day.

How does Minnesota fair? Men – 79 plus. Women – 81 plus.

Have you ever heard any of these from your parents: eat right, work hard, exercise, go to church, and take good care of your family? Looks like they were right again.

July energy tips: Close your window shades during the day and open them in the cool of the evening. Use a fan instead of your air-conditioner, or run the fan on your furnace. Install awnings over your big windows, especially to the South. Dry your clothes on an old-fashioned clothes line. Water your lawn early or late in the day, and let the lawn grow longer (takes less water). Freeze bags of water, place a frozen bag in a dish in front of a fan and point it at yourself. (The frugal man’s air conditioner). Call Tri-CAP if we can be of assistance through our many programs (for qualified families), and have a good, safe summer. More of Dad’s wisdom – a day of fishing adds two days to your life.

Tri-CAP July 2018 Blog

By: Stephen Bjorklund


The Time Travelers, Part #3 “Vectors and Resonance”


Within the month I received another summons to visit Jethro Olam. We wasted no time on formalities, and went directly to the latest news from his parents.

“Dearest Jethro, we arrived in Guatemala at the peak of the Mayan civilization’s cultural and scientific renaissance. By fortuitous circumstances, we were able to witness the construction of a new pyramid and temple structure, and in the process, we learned that time travel is an ancient science and a here-to-fore lost art. We spent nearly 50 of your years rediscovering these ancient truths. Now it is time to reveal what we have found.”


“The building blocks of theoretical time are spherical and circular in nature. Linear time, past, present, and future are really a function of spherical movements.   At any given time we are moving from three impetus, the earth spins daily; it orbits around the sun annually; and we are flying away like a falcon from the beginning of time – from the creation burst. To travel in time, we must establish our location and our desired destination point. By a series of computations, we can arrive at vectors, or coordinates, to reach the targeted date. The past is a point between where we are and the creation burst, it is an actual place that can be mathematically determined. Ditto for the future.

“It took many years to create a working model of the cosmos. Of course it is incomplete, but we had enough information for our purposes. All matter is flying away on a concentric, spherical shock wave from the beginning of time, from creation. We were able to locate our relative position in this construct and determine the speed at which we were moving. TIME IS A FUNCTION OF MOVEMENT AND LOCATION.


“Part of understanding the movement of time is very elemental. We are being pushed by a shock wave originating from creation. As with all waves, there is a component of harmonic motion. Without harmonic motion, the wave energy would dissipate and the wave would cease. Time would then come to rest like water on a glassy pond, or like the surface of the biblical crystal sea, and time would also cease to exist.

“Every point in time has a unique signature, a harmonic resonance that is just as telling as a finger-print. This is an energy pulse that behaves similarly to a sound wave. The secret of time travel is creating the correct “pitch” or “tone” of this identifying signature. Have you ever watched a freight train approaching? The pitch of the engine changes as the train gets ever closer, then changes again as it departs. The pitch of this sound is a calculation of the sound wave from the point of origin, as modified by the pitch of sound relative to your present location.  Likewise, this signature energy pulse carries a different pitch at every location on earth’s journey through time and space.


The device

“What would our story be without an actual time machine? Bear in mind that the device had to be small enough to fit into a back-pack. We could not depend on a ground crew from our original point of embarkation, as we could easily out-live all of our contemporaries. We had to be self-contained and self-reliant if we ever hoped to return.

“We discovered that an unblemished crystal, about twelve inches in length, had the molecular characteristics necessary to act as a time machine medium.   Scholars of old may also have possessed knowledge of the unique properties of crystals, and mention is even made in the scriptures of the crystal sea flowing before the throne of the Creator. After decades of experimentation, we were able to catalog the pitches of different earth times, different ages. Next, we calibrated two tuning forks, one with the signature pitch of our present time; one with the pitch of the time we wished to travel to. When these two forks are activated at the same time and scanned over the crystal, a meta-physical transformation takes place. The molecular structure becomes an energy pulse which seeks out the desired target date. So with the crystal aimed precisely (utilizing a device akin to a sextant), everything within a three meter square area instantly transports through time and space to the destination. We do not yet know the range of this pulse, but we do know that it will reach thousands of years into the past. As for time travelers, the loss of any component of this device could result in becoming marooned forever.

“After our return last year from Guatemala, we discovered that we had not aged in your time. We have not yet determined why . . . this will be our next scope of inquiry. Hope you are well.”

Jethro and I sat without speaking for a time, processing the revelations from his parents. I finally said, “I wonder if they could travel in geological time, say, all the way back to the age of the dinosaurs?”

Jethro Olam did not respond. He was totally engrossed in thought. I excused myself, and returned to the rather lack-luster duties of our time.


June energy tips:

Fix leaky water faucets right away. Don’t let your money run down the drain. Install low-flow aerators on your faucets. Water your lawn early in the morning or late in the evening, and don’t mow your lawn more than necessary (short grass takes considerably more water). Wash only full loads of laundry (in cold water) and dry your clothes outdoors on the old fashioned clothes line. Use a bucket of water to wash your car, instead of a hose. Don’t have to pay for city water? Well water still costs you money for the pump, and wasting water effects all of us sooner or later. Some neighborhoods are running out of well water, make sure it’s not your neighborhood.


Tri-CAP June 2018 Blog

By: Stephen Bjorklund

The time travelers, Part 2 “A letter from Switzerland”

A few months after my mysterious visit with Jethro Olam, he asked if I would stop by. I assumed that he wanted to discuss the appliances that we had ordered for him, or some other question regarding the referrals made on his behalf, so I agreed to meet him on my way home from work.

“Come on in – there’s fresh coffee and glazed doughnuts in the kitchen.”

I sat once again across from Jethro.

“I suppose you’re wondering why I called you, it doesn’t have to do with the services from Community Action. I could just tell from our last meeting that you are interested in science, and intrigued with the goings-on with my parents.”

“Indeed. The prospect of time travel, for real, would be beyond words.”

“I have received another correspondence from my parents.”

I blurted out, “Did they send drawings or formulas?”

“Not in this correspondence. Instead, they set the stage, the foundation, the big picture. They said that time has many components – the physical, meta-physical, and spiritual. They said the physics of time and time travel, the nuts and bolts of the matter, can be explained logically, step by step. Once you hear it you may wonder why it took so long for mankind to come to grips with the mechanisms. The key is a blend of geography, mathematics, especially geometry; and physics – adding a dash of astral-physics. This letter was an introduction to coming revelations – it also contains a warning.”

“So where did your parents disappear to?”

“Let me read a portion of their letter, ‘Jethro, we chose our target destination into another time most deliberately. In the course of our research, we discovered that there are places on earth that are unique, when it comes to time . . . for a variety of reasons. Here are a few of them: the magnetic North pole; Death Valley; the caves of France; the jungles comprising the ancient Mayan Civilization in Guatemala; and a mysterious mountain top in southern Mexico. The metaphysics of time are refined and distilled into a powerful force in these special places. We chose to begin our journey into time on that mountain in Mexico. Here, we encountered millions of Monarch butterflies. They were gathered into great bunches in the trees, like fish-nets filled to the bursting. Never had we seen such a dazzling assemblage of the power of life and time. All these beauties came from untold distances, migrating at the same time to this same place. We too, were drawn.’”

“With that, their detailed description of place ended.”

“What else did they say?”

“Have patience. Remember that my parents disappeared in 1967, and did not resurface until 2017. They appear to be preparing me, and perhaps the world, for a momentous revelation. They concluded this second letter from Switzerland with, ‘We must warn you that time travel comes at great risk and personal sacrifice.   Eventually, we came to realize that time can be “traded” but not replicated. The years that we lost with our family are gone forever. It cannot be re-lived. It was an exchange. Had we known this on the mountain top our journey would have come to an abrupt end. Instead, we pressed on to Guatemala.’”

“I have many questions. If they can’t replicate those years, why did they not age, that is, in our time?”

“Perhaps in future communications. Would you like for me to keep you informed of further developments?”

“I would be most grateful.”

And with that, our second meeting came to a close.


May energy tips:

Some important facts: A new energy star refrigerator could save you up to $100 per year for electricity, over using your old fridge. CFL light bulbs last 8 to 10 time longer than incandescent bulbs.   They cost more to purchase, but you come out way ahead in the end. Turn down your water heater to 120 degrees, and save up to $100 per year in electricity.


Tri-CAP May 2018 Blog

By: Stephen Bjorklund




The Time Travelers

I meet many fascinating people in the twilight of their lives, during the course of my work as an energy advisor for Community Action. I am often treated to some unforgettable stories and here’s one for the record book. I won’t attest to the veracity of this tale, but it sure is a mind-twister.

Jethro Olam, with snow white hair and beard, led me to the kitchen table and poured us both a cup of coffee. Next to the table was a built-in cabinet with many glass shelves. Displayed there-on was Jethro’s life . . . his wife, children, grandchildren and his parents, grandparents and great-grandparents. He began an astonishing account.

“My people originally were wheat farmers from the Ukraine. My parents were grade school classmates, and they excelled in their studies thereby catching the attention of the local government officials, who recommended both of them for scholarships. They were allowed to attend University at Russia’s expense. During the course of their studies, they fell in love and were married. They became physicists and spent their lives doing government research. Their field of study was unprecedented . . . theoretical time.”

I asked, “Did that have to do with the weapons program?”

“Only peripherally. Russia was experimenting with many non-traditional fields of study, such as extra sensory perception, drug induced hyper-awareness and the like. I’m afraid the government’s intentions were suspect. In those days, it seems, everything had a military application.”

“Did your parents speak of their research?”

“Only once. I was keenly interested in mathematics and physics, and I’m afraid that I badgered them without mercy. In the late 1960’s, my Mother reluctantly shared that they had discovered the key to understanding the fourth dimension – time.”

“So what’s the secret?”

“Shortly after we had this conversation, my parents disappeared without a trace. They never had the time to share the key of time.”

The old man slid his chair back from the kitchen table, and stood up. He walked to the bookcase and picked up a framed picture of his parents. They were a handsome couple in their mid-forties, and they were standing in a field of wheat. He turned the frame over and retrieved an envelope that had been taped to the back. “Would you like to see something amazing?”


“Here’s a letter that I received just before Hanukah last year. It’s from my parents. It says simply, ’we’re so sorry for the time we lost with you. We were in a different time and place – and that’s all that we can say. Hope you are taking good care of your life and our family – love, Mother and Father. PS. See you soon.’”

“The letter was post-marked in 2017, and contains a photo of my parents in Switzerland. Here it is.”

Jethro Olam handed me the photo. It was indeed his parents, and they looked identical to the photo in the bookcase.

I’ve run into a lot of great stories in my tenure as an energy advisor – but this one will be hard to top. I completed the remainder of my tasks for the home energy visit, but I must confess that my mind had drifted to another time and place.

April energy tips:

Do you know why your heating and electric bills are so high? The average three bedroom Minnesota home uses about 9500 KWh of electricity per year (about $1350). The average heating fuel bill for propane or natural gas is about $1350 per year, and for fuel oil, about $2000 per year. If your bills are higher than average, ask Tri-CAP for a home energy evaluation, through the home energy and resource advisor program (income guidelines apply).

Tri-CAP April 2018

By: Stephen Bjorklund