Friday Thoughts: What to Believe?

Christian? Atheist? Buddhist? Cat-lover? Llama hater?

What do you believe?

The world is beautiful? The end is coming? Elvis is still alive?

This question has been asked over the ages for different reasons and different intents. What god do you serve? What religion do you follow? Which king do you support? Who do you fight for, the peasants or the nobles?

But in more recent times the questions have been more “Do you believe there is police brutality?” or “Do you think the flag represents oppression?”

What if you don’t know what to believe?

If you don’t there is a wide range of “experts” on the web that will tell you the truth. And if you disagree then you become a bigot, moron, or “you’re what’s wrong with the world”. And in some cases, you can be called all three at once.

So.

What do you believe?

What do you believe?

There is a lot going on that I don’t fully grasp or have time to devote to the research it would require in order to find the answer. Because at this point, there is too many opinions and graphs being promoted that conflict with one another. All of which serves to stir up emotions without offering a solution. For me, thinking emotionally is fine and all but I often find myself easily manipulated when I think emotionally.

Because it sounds good.

Because it feels right.

Because that’s what everyone believes and if I don’t then I am a bigot or racist or blinde or an idiot or whatever the catchphrase is this week.

But that is the problem. It is based on feelings. Emotions that can change by the hour or even by the minute. Getting lead by the heart and the heart alone can get you into serious trouble. That is how people fall for the wrong person or stay in dangerous relationships. Because they are only listening to their emotions.

Logic, as hard and cold as it can be, serve as a balance to the knee-jerk as heartstrings are pulled by the news and opinions.

Of course, going completely ice-cold logic is an easy way to become ruthless and harmful to your fellow member of mankind. That is how you get people who worry only about the bottom dollar or the final product.

A prime example when logic and emotions are out of synch is the Japanese Internment of World War II.

Innocent men, women, and children were collected and shuttled off to the middle of no-where after Imperial Japan launched a surprise attack on the United States, causing our entry into World War II.

Why? Because the government feared a fifth column rising. For those who do not know, fifth columns refers to local population rising up and aiding a foreign power. A real possibility since Germany almost successfully raised a fifth column of their own. Was the jailing of citizens right? No. Was it a logical response to a real possibility? Yes. How was it able to pass? People were afraid and angry.

Revolutionists are also great examples of getting people to think emotionally. By getting the masses to react out of anger or fear you can get the Bolsheviks into power and establish the Soviet Union. Or the French Revolution where the streets ran with blood and heads. Why? Because of a few anger people were able to tell the population what to be anger and hurt about. To get them to stop thinking.

On the other hand, emotions can be great motivators. Hundreds of citizens got into their private boats and sailed to the French coast to pick up the surviving soldiers at Dunkirk. No one asked them. They weren’t equipped. They just went because it was the right thing to do. the English air power did what they could to protect them and they focused on getting troops out.

Much more recently, the Cajun Navy and regular Texans headed south to where Harvey had laid waste. No one said “I order you to do this” or demanded people hand over their time and resources. Nope, they just loaded their boats with supplies, plotted a course, and went. They did not show up as an extra pair of hands. They came prepared. Emotion rose up at the plight of the victims. Logic guided preparation and execution.

At the end, you have to rely on what you have seen and test what you are told. Check the sources, do a little research, and force that individual to prove to you that they are telling the truth.

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Gray World

low clouds, fog hiding tops of skyscrapers

The wind howls down empty avenues
And rattles against empty windows
No sun to see
No blue sky to hold
Just the empty streets
Beneath the gray sky
The creak of metal
Of long abandoned cars
And the whistle of wind
Through broken glass

A light flickers on
A woman laughs while her dog barks
Children hurry to buses
And adults chug their coffee
Little by little, cars roar to life
And bikes click down the street
Voices fill the street
And people hurry to and fro

The heat of the cars and people
Burn back the heavy clouds
Drowning out the mournful wind
With laughter and talk
The gray clouds linger
But no longer the focus
As the people talk to one another
Sharing hopes, dreams, and life together

Fall

The smell of burn barrels in the morning air
The gentle breeze caressing skin
The crunch of leaves beneath your feet
The fresh smell that hangs in the air
The morning chill that thrills you
These are the things that I enjoy

The smell of pine or birch
Curled up with a book in hand
Watching the flocks of birds fly overhead
Enjoying a late night campfire
Hearing the nightly creatures
Or watching the stars wheel about
That is what I remember most

This is the season I most enjoy
Strolling in light clothes
Enjoying the day at hand
Without fear of heat or bug
Nor trudging through rain or snow
This is what I remember most
This is what I miss most

Friday Thoughts: Time

In recent weeks I have been running into the problem that I just don’t have time.

Time to run. Time to learn a new language. Time to sleep. Time to work. The list goes on and on and on. And that is just for personal time. Work time is even crazier because there is a lot of hurry up and wait. Then two hours to the end of the shift I am flooded by a half dozen designs that all need to be done by the end of the day. At the end of this week I realized I need to get a better grip on how I spend time. Step one: figure out what is eating up my time.

First big consumer is work. I work 8 hours a day, at least. Then of course sleep. After that, commute. My commute is about an hour and half one way. Each night, I get about two or three hours to get cleaned up, eat, and ready for the next day.

As I was sitting down and working on a plan that would allow me to get more work done, I realized that a big part of health is being able to recharge. Like going out for a weekend and visit friends. Or staying in and not interacting with anyone. Granted, I can be described as an introvert so my recharge time appears different.

In this fast pace digital world, time management is more important than ever.

I can lose two hours scrolling through Facebook or play games till midnight. Or I can spend the night designing artwork and videos for work. Both have their places but there goes my evening. In light of this, my solution to getting more time is becoming more discipline.

The Train

Beneath harsh light
Standing on formed stone
I wait
Hood pulled up
Bag held tight
The night grows long
And day is near
Yet the sky is gray
And the world is dark

Beneath flickering light
Standing on cracked stone
I wait
Busses creak to a stop
Others rumble off
Still I wait
By the rusty metal tracks
Alone
Without a friend or lover

Beneath white lights
Standing by worn stone
I wait
The rumble comes first
Shaking the ground
A shriek in the air
Heralds its coming
It rounds the corner
Screeching to a stop

Beneath soft lights
Sitting on hard seats
I wait
The city of my birth
Slowly fades away
Pulling my memories with
Like a bad dream
With one last whistle
I am finally free

Monday Stories: High School – Chapter 2

“Alright, kids.” The bus driver growls out, “Watch out for those zombies!”

The front of the bus erupts into groans. Amy looks out her window and she sees several teens walking into the brick building. The oddest thing was a teen standing off to the side with what appeared to be an extra from a zombie movie. Several more are seen moving around the campus in groups or alone. Several students are holding brightly colored weapons and are attacking the zombies. Some disappear in a cloud of dust.

The extra was of average height and had the dried out corpse look. It was also chewing the top of the student’s head. His friends snap photos with their phone as he makes different faces.

“Oh yeah, the new game came out. The one for the full immersion system.”

The students at the front of the bus work their way off the bus. Zoe and her circle of friends follow suit. They pass the group of teens with the zombie. One of the girls steps forward drawing out a yellow sword.

“Come on! If you don’t get out of the way, I won’t be able to get the points before school starts! And you know this becomes a null play zone.”

“Right.” The boy says as he steps away from the zombie. “But it does tickle.”

“Oh, that feeling.” A muscular teen answers, “Is the projection field interacting with your body. Especially your own body’s electrical field.”

“Really?”

“Do we really want to know?” The girl says as she steps towards the zombie as it staggers in place. It swings around and takes notice of the girl.

“Whatever.” The zombie lurches forward as the girl steps forward.

It growls and waves its arm weakly at the girl. As she approaches, the number three appears overhead. White lines form a box around the number.

With two quick strikes, the zombie falls apart. It turns to dust leaving behind a small white window. On it is a display for points and in-game currency. She taps the floating screen. It spins and disappears into a small device attached to her belt. A chime emits from her device.

“Happy now?”

“Yes.” She says with a smile, “I’ll get my next level soon.”

The teens make their way into the school. Here and there students walk past with screens floating above their watches or their eyes covered by semi-transparent visors.

They stop next to a row of blue lockers.

Each child taps their access number into their locker. It opens with a small chime. They pull out their school books while putting their belongings into the lockers. Scattered throughout the hallway are small, fantasy creatures and zombies meandering throughout the hallway.

Amy stops to watch a girl with bright red hair duck it out with a zombie marked with a ten floating above it. Three other zombies shuffle towards the girl. Each has a floating number that between ten and thirteen.

The kid grins as she clicks her watch. From the menu that appears, she selects two icons. Bronze-gold scythes appear on either side of her. Her smile broadens as she grabs the floating weapons. The teen moves quickly and takes out the first zombie with ease.

The bell begins to ring. All at once, the zombies scattered around the campus vanish. In their place is a small message box informing players that the area has become a null zone– an area where gameplay is not allowed.

The girl groans and stares at the ceiling.

“Come on!”

“Well.” O’Connelly says as she gives the redhead an odd look, “I’m off to chemistry.”

“And we’re off to history.” Zoe and Maria say.

Amy waves at each of them slowly before turning towards her own class. Hundreds of students clog the hall as they make their way to classes. The crowd jostles Amy. Many don’t even notice she is there. A few minutes later, the teen enters a classroom.

At the front, a teacher smiles warmly at her. He finishes turning the computer on. The board mounted on the way comes to life. It flashes a logo for Imporium Technologies.

“Good morning class! Please take your tablets and pull up your Knox book. Turn to spot number 337. Today, we are discussing Full Immersion System and how it has changed the world as we know it.” He smiles as the screen displays a cylinder-shaped device with multiple rings mounted to it.

“This is an Immersion Generator. The largest one is five feet in height and two feet in diameter. The smallest is about half a foot high and a quarter in diameter. The smallest one can deploy a field of sixteen feet in diameter. The largest one produces a sphere measuring twenty miles. Within this field, the digital world is now part of the physical world. Most cities hold anywhere from ten to a hundred units. Providing full coverage. This allows us to interact directly with the internet. Much like the smartphone a century ago, this system revolutionized how we did business, socialize, and interact.”

“Uh, we know this already.”

“True but do you know some of the pitfalls?”

“Pitfalls?”

“Yes. Technology, inherently, is neutral. In most cases. There are always exceptions. But what you do with it is what makes it evil or not. Today, you will partner up with one other person and research technology that has been used for good and for evil.” The teacher looks around for a moment, “Actually, let’s do this. Groups of four. I want each of you to discuss the different aspects and impacts of the system.”

Amy sighs and looks around. The students scrape the floor with desks and chairs as they form groups. Every now and then, a student will glance her way but then inch away.

“Mind if I join you?”

Amy jumps at the sound of the voice.

An average teen smiles down at her. The first thing Amy notices is that he isn’t wearing anything flashy. Just a simple jeans and a simple shirt.

“Mind if I join you?”

She shrugs.

“Great.” He drops into a seat next to her. “What do you think?”

“I think you need to wait for the rest of us.” A black haired girl with pale skin. Next to her is a light brunette girl with skin that is fair with a touch of brown. “I’m Ravin. This is one is Robin.”

“Hi.” The boy answers, “I’m Charlie.”

“Amy.” She answers.

“Alright, class. What do you need now is four techs.”

As Robin, Raven, and Charlie begin arguing over which piece of tech is the best choice in the history books. All around her, the thirty other students argue back and forth.

“What do you think of the full immersion system?” Raven asks.

Charlie shrugs, “I wasn’t around before then so I couldn’t tell you.”

Raven rolls her eyes, “Bud. None of us were here before then. We’re all fifteen. Remember?”

“Um… Yeah.”

“Anyway!” She says with a wave of her hand, “the FIS, or FISH as it is often referred to, consists of four major components. The generator system is the main component. It allows the second element, pixels, to function. The small crystals are biodegradable and are able to reuse. The crystals can be grown like trees. The last components are simple computers. The last thing to make the system to work is the Interface. A simple rectangle block that allows individuals to interact with the system and to pull out the data.”

“Right, Miss Raven.” Their teacher interrupts, “Now. How can this be used in the wrong way?”

“Uh, it can’t be?” One of the other students opens his arms wide, “The system is infallible.”

The teacher laughs, “There is no system is infallible. Given enough time, it will be broken. Tell me how can it be broken?”

“Well… I guess it is the old way internet works. False information. Invasion of privacy.”

“Sells of illegal copies of stuff.”

“Fine.” Another teen says, “But why are we talking about this? Everyone knows this!”

“What about the reason behind the creation of the system?”

“What?”

“Why is the system in creation?”

“Uh duh. Better communication system. Everyone knows that.”

“Are you sure about that?”

A low wail fills the air. It reverberates. The windows shake and the ground and rattle the windows. The professor glances out of the window.

“Hmm. Must be the test of the emergency system.” He smiles, “Class. Please move to the designated safety zones.”

Amy stands up and follows the rest of the class. She pauses just at the door. The young teen notices their professor looking out of the window. He frowns in thought. The adult notices the kid is watching.

“Go ahead, Amy. I’m right behind you.”

To be continued…

The Worlds I Live In

Piled in corners
Stuffed in shelves
They lie still
Gathering dust
Falling into ruin
Sealed away in their covers
Are words written long ago
Hidden in their pages
Are worlds made long ago
Each one is different
Each one was once new
Each day I walk among them
Each day I pass through their pages
Leaving this world
Of pain and hurt
Of sorrow and regret
And escape to another world
Where inner demons can be fought
And purpose can be found
These are the worlds I live in
Not in the pages of sports or celebrities
But in the world of elves and swords
These are the worlds I choose to live in