Sunday, May 30, 2004

A Frog In My Office

Today was a day spent with nature in mind.

My birthday is tomorrow (well, today as I look at the clock), and my wife has given me a gift certificate at a local pet store so that I can finally get our fish tank set up after our move.

It may not sound like a big deal to some but I enjoy animals, and fish are one of those nice things to have in the home. They are quiet, calming to watch, and fun to experience with the whole family.

We had traveled to several pet stores, looking at all manner of critter from dogs and kittens to hamsters and ferrets. It turned into a fun outing with the kids, and they all got to admire many different creatures while Dad researched salt water verses freshwater fish.

It’s not important to the story, but we eventually decided on a freshwater tank once again. Just in case you were wondering about this burning question.

A freshwater tank could be set up quickly, and the kids seemed to like the variety of our local freshwater selection over the saltwater. Although I had worked in a pet shop for four years while in high school, I never ventured into the saltwater fish hobby.

Fish have always been fun to me, and I have wanted an outdoor pond as well. In fact, my wife bought me one while we lived in Alaska! I had a small wine-barrel type pond and a few Koi. Now I have my sight set on a great location in the backyard for a pond that will be a step up from the wine-barrel. Perhaps I will take some pictures to share with you all on the building progress.

Another project for this weekend is to grow these creatures from the dinosaur age called, “Triops”. They are some crablike things that are supposed to live for 70 to 90 days. We fill the little plastic tank up with distilled watter, drop the conditioner in, and the Triop eggs and we watch nature grow, live and die within a short time span. Should be a hoot.

Do you believe in coincidence? While at the pet shops we also checked out turtles, chameleons, snakes, toads and frogs. The frogs really attracted the girls attention, so we lingered there for a while looking at various little frogs and this really huge African toad. He looked like a fresh cow-patty with eyes.

Tonight, as I was laying there in bed trying to go to sleep, I had a sudden urge to get a drink of water.

Quietly I crept out of the room so as not to wake my wife since she has to get up at 3:00am and go to work. Glass of water in hand, thirst quenched, I wandered down to my office in the basement to check mail and pass some time while I rehydrated myself.

As I turned on the light and looked toward my office I saw this little green thing sitting right in the middle of the office doorway. I looked and said, “Are you a real little frog?” My initial thought was that maybe the girls had a toy out or something.

No seriously. They have these little sticky frogs, and you throw them hard against the wall and they stick. For some reason that now seems a little disturbing to me.

Of course the frog just sat there and didn’t say a word. He was trying to look very inconspicuous since he was just caught cruising through our basement in the middle of the night.

I determined he was a real tree frog, but how he got down in our finished basement, and in my office, I haven’t a clue.

For a tree frog he looked fairly healthy and large (as far as tree frogs go), so I scooped him up and carried him over to place in the Triops tank that was not yet filled with water and the intended occupants.

My fear was leaving him down there in the basement he would surely get squished by the kids running around playing, or in the disaster area that is my office any manner of catastrophe could befall him. So now he sits in his new temporary home, with a lid of water on the top shelf of my office bookcase.

In the morning I will enjoy showing him off to the kids, and watch as their little eyes light up with the discovery their Dad made on his midnight water run.

We will then most certainly turn to the Internet and do some research on tree frogs to determine just what type of frog he is, and how to care for him. In the end, he will probably be set free in the backyard were he can take his chances in the thriving eco system of the Henderson grounds.

Perhaps he will remain to watch the pond being built, and he will enjoy the moisture of the waterfall area, bringing his children there and telling them of his adventure in the basement of our home. How he was set free here in the backyard by a kind family, and was able to share this moment with them overlooking a beautiful waterfall near their new home.

Friday, May 28, 2004

Let God Sort Them Out

Fanaticism is a disease. It’s an obsessive behavior that needs to be recognized and dealt with more if this world is going to progress.

According to the definition from Dictionary.com, a fanatic is, “A person marked or motivated by an extreme, unreasoning enthusiasm, as for a cause.”

Notice the words here. Extreme, unreasoning enthusiasm. These folks can be considered to be over the top.

Now many people obsess over various things, and some of us are even fanatics when it comes to benign hobbies or other interests. When does being a fanatic become a problem for humanity as a whole?

When your fanatical position drives you to force others to your belief, then I feel you have passed through the threshold of healthy fanaticism and moved right into crazy land.

It’s downright funny to see every company that can remotely take advantage of the latest craze in no carbs jumping onto the bandwagon. “Arby’s” is becoming “Carby’s”, and anyone and everyone is trying to real in all of you diet chasing fanatics. When I saw a commercial for a carb version of a multivitamin I just laughed.

Then there is the anti Bush/Administration fanatics. You’ve seen the type. They are on the radio, television and in the news spouting all manner of silliness that makes no sense to anybody who has actually been following the reality of world news and events.

They scream stupidity at the camera as if yelling slogans will make their fantasy become reality. You would think they would be embarrassed for revealing their ignorance to the world. Of course, their ignorance is pretty much what has placed them in the spotlight to begin with.

This reminds me of a quote I have heard.

"Better to keep your mouth closed and be thought a fool than to open it and remove all doubt.”
-Anon

Finally we come to religious fanatics of all faiths. I’m not talking about people who believe in their religion, I am talking about people who believe in their religion so much that they are willing to do anything to force others into their belief system.

These are the folks who plot and scheme to take over our school boards so that they can control the information being taught. These are the folks that scheme and plot to take over government offices so that they can control laws and bend them to their personal belief. And these are the same people who are starting war throughout the world.

If we look back through the history of the world, we see that most wars are started because of religious differences. Almost all fighting currently going on today is based on some religious issue.

Here comes the medicine. If your religion preaches death to anyone who does not believe how you do, don’t you think it’s time to find something else to follow? Why continue to condone violence in the name of your belief. What are the non-believers doing that is so wrong and hurting your right to live?

Killing in the name of religious beliefs has never been acceptable to me. Fighting for social rights and freedoms is something that I can get behind.

Are social rights and freedoms a type of belief? Possibly, but if you take rights and freedom to the core then everyone has the right to believe in whatever manner they choose. It also removes the right from you to attempt to force your belief on someone else.

You read that correctly, you do not have the right to force your belief on someone else! You may have some powerful words in the religious book of your choice regarding people who do not believe as you do, but you do not have the right to act on those words in a free society.

Christians. Have you read Deuteronomy Chapter 13 lately? It pretty much tells you to kill anyone who does not believe in God. This includes friends and family.

What about Samuel Chapter 15, where God has commanded that the entire city of Amalek be “utterly destroyed…both Man and Woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass.” How is this any different then any of the other wacky religious books that spout the same directives.

Let’s all kill anyone who does not believe as we do! How can anyone rally around that mantra? How can anyone believe it is righteous to kill anyone who is different then themselves?

We can spout all of the warm and fuzzy comments we want, but until people start realizing that the problems of this world are from the fanatics living within our own society, we will never know peace.

Take a long look at your own belief system. Become the champion for the freedom for everyone, and do not further the ignorance that permeates this planet with hatred and intolerance.

This brings to light an interesting question. How do we prevent people who kill based on their religious beliefs? Do we kill them based on our belief of freedom?

Things that make you go, hmmm...

Wednesday, May 26, 2004

Al Gore Unhinged

Did you hear Al Gore and his ranting about how everyone in the administration needs to resign or be fired?

It’s not that I don’t expect this sort of stupidity coming from some of the current crop of limelight democrats, but I can’t imagine where we would be if Al was elected president. His emotional rhetoric does nothing to strengthen the democratic position for the presidential position. In fact, I see it as a very immature act of a desperate political party.

Like so many organizations in this country, poor judgment is expected. Many organizations thrive on it!

I’m not really worried about near-sighted, propaganda-spouting, fame-seeking, ideologists without a clue in their pea brain about what they are talking.

What I am worried about is the large groups that are actually cheering when people like this stand up and berate our president and current administration.

True, we do live in a free country, but there is a right way and a wrong way to get your point across.

By the way, just what the heck was his point? To stand up in front of a crowd and call people names and attempt to insight some sort of riot?

What really pisses me off about these clowns are that they are not offering different political opinions or ideas with which we can look at, analyze, and choose from in November. All it has turned out to be is something reminiscent of playground bullies trying to do something like, “Oh yea, and so’s your mother!”

I have heard claims that the war on terror is bad for this country, but what would they have us do? How would they have responded to the tragedy that was 9-1-1? All I have heard from the democratic side of things is they would talk to the U.N. some more.

Time for a reality check! I have news for you democrats, if you really believe that then you are even dumber then I thought, and that is one huge reason you will never be voted into office. If you don’t believe the current policy will work then come up with a better one for us to consider.

So far, I have not seen a better idea from your side of the fence.

Here’s a novel approach for not only democrats, but for the news media as well. Let’s get behind this country, and support this effort. Quit showing all of the negatives about what is going on and show some of the truly great, and historical events that are taking place.

We have liberated 25 million people! We have given hope to them and their children that they will not have to be raped, and murdered at the whim of a ruthless dictator. For the first time in their generation they do not have to live in fear. And when we are finished with our mission over there, they will have a government run by the people of Iraq, not by the person with the biggest weapons and the most brutality.

Our soldiers are truly doing a fantastic job, and dying for the effort. Let’s start acting like we’re proud of them instead of politicizing this war on terror and degrading it into some petty arguments that are unfounded, untrue, and frankly downright treasonous!

Shame on everyone who glorifies the small problems, and sweeps under the carpet the monumental achievements of our men and women that are in harms way so that we all have the freedom to speak our minds!

We should be pounding our chests and yelling, “Hell yes we’re America, and we’re here to make sure you all stop killing each other you ignorant, uncivilized idiots!”

What we should not be doing is apologizing for kicking the crap out of a nasty terrorist harboring country that made the mistake of messing with the United States for the last time.

Don’t even give me any of your garbage about no link to 9-1-1 and Iraq, or weapons of mass destruction. I don’t really care! Iraq has been a cesspool of terror for their region and this country, heck for the world, for a long time.

I’m proud to be an American, and I’m proud to have President George Bush as our leader! He has undergone more in his term as president then any president should have to deal with. He has faced everything that has been thrown at him with dignity, honor, commitment, determination and true leadership.

What he has not done is stand before groups of people screaming treasonous whiny-butt statements, and floundering all over the place trying to come up with something to say.

The presidents speech a few nights ago was direct and to the point. We went in to clean up Iraq, and to liberate a country that was a horror and nightmare for humanity. Now that we have done this, we are helping Iraq to govern itself, and doing everything in our power to see that it works before we leave them.

The United States of America is a country with great power. And, do you see this coming? With great power comes great responsibility. We cannot look the other way from terrorists any longer. For our children’s sake this threat must be dealt with while the opportunity is at hand.

Will terrorists attack us again in our country? You can bet on it. They’re goal in life is to kill every one of us. Can they achieve their goal? No, and it’s just downright insane to even try.

Most criminals always have impossible or irrational goals. Make no mistake; these are criminals that need to be controlled. Killers will kill and terrorists will kill. When they perform they’re crime, they will be caught and punished just like any criminal. The only difference is now, thanks to our president, these criminals no longer have as many safe places to scurry off to, nor as much money to fund their nefarious ways.

If you’re proud to be an American, how can you vote any other way then for our president in the upcoming election?

Tuesday, May 25, 2004

In Your Dreams

This is a new topic I’m calling, “In Theory”.

What you will read in this topic will more then likely be things that are wholly unfounded, but hopefully they will make you take a step back and think for a few minutes.

Are these theories real, or am I just pulling your leg? You shouldn’t ask yourself if this is fake, but perhaps ask yourself what if it’s true?

My first venture into this topic revolves around your dreams. This is no ordinary dream analysis though. A journey into your dreams may just mean you have literally entered the twilight zone.

Ever since I was young I had this theory about dreams. There have been many books on the subject, so I’m not even certain if my thought coincides with any other researcher. To call myself a dream researcher would be inaccurate. The only dreams I have studied have been my own, and these have not been scientifically analyzed.

Consider this. When you lay down at night, and drift off to sleep, what is actually happening to you? Most of you are thinking that you merely rest for your eight hours and then wake up again ready to start the new day. I say you are wrong.

Have you ever woke up tired already? Have you woke up sweating, yet the house was cool? Sometimes you may even wake up in the middle of what you consider to be an erotic encounter. If these things have happened to you let me explain what I believe is going on.

Many scientists have toyed with the idea of alternate universes. The theory goes that there are alternate versions of us living out their lives in a different universe or dimension then our own. I know this all sounds a bit wacky, until you hear my take on what is actually happening to us.

When we go to sleep in this universe, we are waking up in an alternate reality. Not just a reality of our subconscious, but a no-kidding alternate universe. Is my name Rick in this alternate universe? So far there is insufficient data to determine if we retain our identities while we slip into this parallel existence. What we do know, however, is that we do go somewhere, and seem to be active in another life.

There is a school of thought that says if you die in your dreams then you can die in this reality. Think about this as it fits into my theory.

It just makes sense that if we are living some symbiotic life with another version of ourselves in an alternate reality, if our alternate persona gets killed, there is no way to transfer the essence that makes up the second life back so you can wake up. Without the Yin, there is no Yang.

A biological safety valve within our brains protects us from confusing our second lives with our lives we live with here and now. When we start to remember things from the alternate realm our brains suppress that recollection and all we end up with is fragments, what we call dreams.

Now since the alternate universe is just as real as the one we call real, it can affect us physically. If you are in a stressful situation in your alternate existence, and then you wake up quickly on this side of the curtain, you may still be sweating and have a rapid heartbeat. Maybe you were knocked unconscious on the other side just as you were waking up here. We still don’t know the ramifications of the close link to this alternate reality.

We make jokes about falling asleep during an intimate encounter. I submit that of this happens in our twin, we wake up feeling the twinges of an erotic moment. Have you ever noticed these always leave you worked up, but never fulfilled?

Finally, this explains why people believe in reincarnation. Some folks swear that reincarnation is real because they can remember things from their past lives. Is it any further of a stretch to accept that these are not past lives, but actual current lives in an alternate, yet parallel dimension?

So there you have it, my first theory in this topic area. Can this possibly be true? Have you just went along with everyone else in your false assumption that dreams are the left over random firing of your brain as it deals with a state of rest?

Now you have something new to think about as you drift off to sleep. See if you can catch a glimpse of the alternate location as you doze off to sleep, or awake suddenly from your next slumber.

Monday, May 24, 2004

Future Gazing

Sitting in a hotel room in Las Vegas I was watching as the new monorail was meandering along its track. It was like I had stepped into a science fiction movie watching as the trains went through stations, and then took off toward the strip on their journey into our future.

Due to the high gas prices, President Bush has announced that the time has come to make the push into hydrogen based automobiles. Now I’m not going to argue the points on whether or not this can become a reality, but Kennedy wanted the U.S.A. to land on the moon, and by gummy we did it!

So what is our future going to be like? Let me take you through it from my perspective on what is coming up for all of us.

First of all, seeing the monorail in Las Vegas, and now I see there will be one traveling the length of Seattle, this could mark a whole new direction in public transportation.

How many times have we watched a futuristic movie and saw monorail type trains running throughout a city? The time has come my friend, just head to Las Vegas and check it out for yourself. If you think this is just a fluke, you might want to head over to the Monorail Societies website and read up on just how cool monorails really are.

There are other monorail projects in the planning stages as well. There is talk of a Maglev monorail from Las Vegas to Anaheim, CA and another MaLev project to go around Southern, CA.

So we have monorail public transports and soon hydrogen fuel cell based cars. What’s next?

Have you seen the car commercial where the car actually recognizes you as the owner and unlocks for you and starts without a key? Imagine this technology also implanted in your home as well. No when you drive home your house will “see” your car coming and raise the garage door for you. Then, as you get out it will sense it is truly you getting out of your car and unlock the house door, turn on the lights (if needed), perhaps turn on your music selection and raise the temperature to the comfort level you enjoy.

This same technology will be used when accessing your computer. As you sit down in front of your computer, the computer boots up and logs you in to your account without you ever having to touch the keyboard. You can see that we will become much more interactive with our surroundings then ever before.

Let’s look at movies at home. We are getting real close to streaming movies through the Internet, and in fact I see a company doing close to this now by streaming movies to a box connected to your entertainment center. So far you are limited to the number of movies you can choose from, but soon I’ll bet whatever movie you want will be able to be ordered instantly without having to worry about a return late fee.

Let’s not stop with movies. How about being able to watch your favorite television show anytime you want? If staying up late on Sunday nights to catch Alias is tough for you, just watch it on Monday afternoon instead. With the latest in digital video recorders you can practically do this already. The only hurdle is that currently you have to choose what you want to record an when. Soon this won’t be an issue either. Just turn on the T.V. and order last nights Alias and there it is!

Computer programs will begin heading in this direction as well. No longer will you need to spend $650 for Microsoft’s latest must have program. If you want to write something in Microsoft Word, just turn on your computer (which they will all have high-speed connections) and open up MS Word. You will immediately be working in Word without having to actually have Word on your computer. Most programs will be offered as web-based applications. You may have to pay a few cents each time you login, but it beats the heck out of $650 when you only write letters to Mom.

Speaking of Mom, are you ready to make a phone call and see who you’re talking to? This is on the fast track to reality as well. There are already several kinds of these devices in the market; we’re just waiting for a standard to take hold. Does anyone recall the scene in “Demolition Man” where Sylvester Stallone answers the phone in the future, and it’s a naked girl on the other end. It was a wrong number, but this gives you a taste for things you will have to be aware of in the future.

While we’re discussing phones, let’s cover the phones we have all learned to hate, the cell phone. It wasn’t too long ago we were using bag phones and carrying around ones that were like a small brick. Now we’re flipping open communicators like Captain Kirk and doing things with them that the Federation would have drooled over in Kirk’s day. Or was Captain Kirk just in an alternate universe that technologically advanced slower then we are? Perhaps that’s a topic for another article.

Many people have ditched their home phones completely and now only have one phone, their cell. Makes sense, and all of these bills need to be compensated for somehow. The unfortunate side effect of cool gadgets is not only do they all cost a lot, but each one wants you to pay a monthly fee. At least they’re getting them all integrated better so you can surf the web, check your e-mail, take pictures, talk on the phone, and oh yes, tell time all on the same device. I’m guessing that soon these devices will move to the watch or perhaps a wearable device similar to the Star Trek comm badges.

Home automation is making strides into our lives as well. We now have timers on everything, and clocks and watches that set themselves. I know that one day you will plug an appliance into your home for power, and in to the network as well. Everything in your home will be net-ready. This will give us things like refrigerators and pantries you can query from work to check what you need from the store. Your phone will page you if a door or window at your house has been opened. The walls of your home will be able to change color at your whim, or even display entire scenes if you so choose.

Games are sneaking into your lives with many people not even aware of what they are capable of. There is a whole movement in online gaming to real worlds that never go dark. They are literally alternate realities where characters are born, live and die all in an alternate world that at times seem just as real as our own. Oh sure, these games are still just games, but I predict that in the near future many people will become so entranced with these alternate realities that some will never want to leave their alter ego’s.

You think that games are not your cup of tea, but all of this virtual reality (VR) technology will spill over into everything. Universities will use VR to train students cheaper and in more realistic environments. Something like surgery comes to mind. Or hey, it might allow a surgeon to operate on a patient in a hospital equipped with a virtual operating table on the other side of the world!

Okay, enough crystal ball gazing for tonight. What do you think? Am I close, or do you see even further into your crystal ball then I do in mine? Granted my predictions are all just stretching current technology to the inevitable conclusions. It’s always fun to take a guess at where we’re heading with technology. Can’t wait to be a part of it!

I think it was Dr. Nicholas Negroponte, Founder & Director of the MIT Media Lab, who wrote this poem.

"In the past, shoes could stink.
In the present, shoes can blink.
In the future, shoes will think."

Thursday, May 20, 2004

So Little Time

This is my second attempt at poetry. Am I entering into the mushy realm? Possibly.

I don’t really call myself a poet, but on occasion I get the urge to at least attempt to write something profound.

So here it is, submitted for all to comment on.

Be gentle…


So Little Time

Time is ever flowing
We won't be here again
A moment passed may be our last
You can't predict the end

How will we spend our lives?
With whom and for how long?
We work and play throughout each day
Yet sing the same old song

You may ask is this all?
Can this be what's in store?
For human beings on the Earth
Just this and nothing more?

Tell the ones you love
Each day you get the chance
That they are all apart of you
And cause your heart to dance

You can't look at the last page
In the book about your life
It's here and now you have to live
Through all the joy or strife

So here's to you, the human race
Enjoy life, don’t keep score
Cast off the hatred and the pace
Because it is this, and nothing more.

Wednesday, May 19, 2004

Because I Said So

“Do you like my hat? No I do not like your hat. Goodbye. Goodbye.”

Dr. Seuss had a way with words didn’t he?

I have always operated under the philosophy that you should not ask the question if you don’t like the answer you may receive.

There have been many situations in my working career where I have worked with many “yes man” type of people. They go out of their way not to rock the boat or make the boss upset. Whatever they think the boss wants to hear, or whatever will make them look good, they say.

On the other hand, I am notorious for being honest. Is that such a bad thing?

As an example I submit the following story from my Air Force career.

While stationed at Eielson AFB Alaska, we were about to start an exercise (which is basically simulated combat conditions).

Part of how we practice is by packing up and moving our operations from our cozy buildings to temporary facilities, just as if we were moving to any place in the world we might have to deploy. This gives us a good idea what we need to bring with us. Not planning well for an exercise can be embarrassing; not planning well for real combat can be deadly.

During a past exercise we ran into a problem that we did not have enough bomb lift trucks (little specialized forklifts that are used for loading munitions on the aircraft) deployed to the exercise area.

In a real deployment these trucks would have been with us, but during the “pretend” exercise we forgot to move some into the “play area” so we got caught short handed.

While planning for this particular exercise coming up the temperature was going to be about 40 degrees below zero. If you have ever lived in extreme cold temperatures you quickly learn that vehicles left outside at those temperatures tend to not start.

We, the people running the weapons shop, decided to deploy the bomb lift trucks in the same facility where the people who actually maintained them would be located. The facility was heated, and the maintainers of the equipment would be right there if we had any trouble with the equipment. Makes perfect sense doesn’t it?

Along comes some idiot and tells the commander that because of the problem of availability we had last time, they want the bomb lift trucks in some hangars on the other side of the area.

In theory this might be a good idea, but in reality, we knew those hangars were not heated, and that the bomb lift trucks would indeed be closer to us, but they would never start.

It was not a question of they might not start; they would NEVER start! We would then be forced to tow them back to the other facility where the maintainers were to warm the lift trucks up so they would start.

As the weapons expeditor I was eventually clued in to this master plan.

My first reaction was telling my boss that this was a terrible idea (based on the previously mentioned problem). His answer was basically that it didn’t matter because this is what the commander wanted. I asked if someone explained to the commander why this was bad? The same response came from him. The commander wants it this way.

Now when we’re in combat up to our eyeballs, and trying to “turn” aircraft rapidly we need all of our equipment actually running. So I went on up the chain of command asking the same question. Has anyone explained to the commander that this was a bad idea? Same response, it was what the commander wanted.

“Never give up, never surrender”, so says Tim Allen in the movie “Galaxy Quest”. I went to the commander’s office. His secretary told me he was out on the flight line somewhere with his entourage. So out to the ramp I went searching hangars until I found him and his little roving band of “yes men”.

He took one look at me and said, “Rick, I know what you’re going to say. I want those bomb lift trucks in that hangar”.

I said, “Sir, can I explain one thing to you?” I then proceeded to explain to him the trouble we would be facing, and laid out the initial plan to have the lift trucks in the heated hangar with the maintainers.

The commander thought about this for a moment and said, “Why didn’t someone explain all of this to me before?”

I said, “Good question sir!”

Needless-to-say, the exercise was a success. If I had played the “yes man” game with everyone else we would have had a bad situation on our hands that week. Not only would the weapons shop look bad because we could not perform as we should, but the commander would look bad because we messed things up.

I think it’s sad to see people so scared to do their jobs that they just agree with everything their boss says.

In the Air Force I felt it was my duty to explain anything I felt would jeopardize our mission, whatever the mission at that time was. In the civilian workplace, I have the same goal. If we are facing a problem, I bring it to someone’s attention. If they say something like, “We know, but we’re doing it like this anyway”, then so be it.

Remember, there are rules of etiquette in your workplace, and a chain of command you need to follow. You don’t have to be a jerk, or obnoxious, but whatever you do don’t just rollover and say “yes” if there is a concern, especially if it involves safety or security. Step up and act like you want to succeed at what you do.

After another circumstance with a different commander, (which I’m not at liberty to share with you all), I was in a meeting with the commander and a room full of other “yes men”.

The commander asked if something was a good idea, and from previous discussions I knew just about every person in that room thought the idea was idiotic, but they all just sat there. I was just in the meeting filling in for my boss, so I was kind of out of my league. My hand went up, the commander called on me, and I explained to him what everyone else was thinking.

I knew this was a pet project of the commander’s, and was not sure how the response was going to go over. After he thought about it for a moment he smiled and said, “That’s what I like about you Henderson! You’re not afraid to speak out to anyone!”

Let me end this by stating that I have also said some pretty stupid things and have been embarrassed on more then one occasion.

Speaking out on something will place you in the spotlight, but hiding in the shadow of others all the time, like a plant, can stunt your growth.

Monday, May 17, 2004

How Green Is Your Pasture?

I’m not certain where I’m going with this article, but I’ll try to keep from wandering around too much.

We’ve all heard the proverb, “The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence.” It’s a proverb highlighting discontent, envy and jealousy in a metaphor.

How many times have you looked on that other side and wondered if the green grass over there was truly greener, or just appeared to be?

Look at the divorce statistics in this country. If that’s not a huge example of this proverb I don’t know what is! How many of you have jumped that fence, only to discover that the lure was just an illusion?

It’s an interesting bit of trivia to note that a scientific article was written proving that yes, the grass does “appear” to be greener on the other side of the fence. This observation though stems from the distance you are from the other patch of grass. To the human eye, grass at a distance appears greener then the same grass when viewed locally.

Common sense, mixed with this proverb, would have you now assume that the grass is never as green on the other side of the fence. Unfortunately we can’t jump to this conclusion either. Sometimes the grass is truly greener!

The real crux of this dilemma is that you never know if the grass is greener until you jump the fence and go see for yourself.

Therein sits the problem. Once you have jumped the fence, many times that fence is on a downhill slope and you cannot jump back over the fence. All too often people discover that not only is the grass not greener, but it is even less enjoyable then the little patch they had just abandoned.

Choice is a difficult thing. The various paths we take throughout our lives can have profound affects on us forever. If we leave our little patch of green, because we are enticed over the fence, will we be disappointed or will the new pasture be almost heaven?

Taking a new job, for example, because the money is triple your current salary, may look like a huge patch of juicy sweet grass. When you jump the fence, you may discover that the grass is greener, but that a month after you have found heaven, the grass develops an insect infestation and the patch is destroyed before your vary eyes.

Obviously the above example is another pro for staying where you are. Let’s turn it around just for fun.

In this next example, you are offered the new job with the triple salary, and you decide that if you take it, the job may not be as green as it looks. You choose to stay where you are secure, on you own little patch of green. A month later, you are let go because they decided to outsource your position. You look at the other side of the fence and see that they no longer need you.

How do you make the decision to jump that fence? Unfortunately there is no magical answer to that. My only advice is to take into consideration everything you can. How will your decision affect your current situation? How will it affect those around you? If the grass turns out to be merely an optical illusion, what will the damage be?

About the only true advice I can offer, is don’t be too eager to jump that fence. Unless you’re in a terrible situation where you are now grazing and you don’t have much to lose.

You have also heard the term “sitting on the fence”. This means that you are undecided and could go either direction. I feel it is much better to maybe climb the fence if you’d like, and view the other side from a better perspective, but just don’t take the plunge until you are certain it’s what you want to do.

I realize this article is somewhat vague, and probably makes little sense because it really has no driving point. There have been many decisions made in my life and I tend to move from pasture to pasture with a purpose. For me, the other side of the fence is in my mind. It is the goals I have set for myself, and I can see those greener pastures before I get there.

My current job as a computer networking person is no accident. Many folks see a greener pasture working in the computer networking field and just leap over the fence only to discover that there are many fences between the pasture they were eyeing, and their previous patch of green.

Over 20 years ago I was reading computer magazines by the dozen, learning to write computer programs and started taking college classes in computer subjects. I told everyone that when I retired from the Air Force I was going to work on computer systems. In the Air Force, my job was aircraft weapons systems.

When my squadron needed a computer person I volunteered and was lucky enough to be on the ground floor of building and designing their computer network. That was four years of working a lot of overtime. (No more pay. In the military we all got paid the same regardless of how many hours we work. Think about that the next time you watch our soldiers defending us for over a year in a desert armpit of a country.)

There were many fences built in my way, but I was determined to go around them and ignore any negative comments that were tossed my direction.

When I finally retired from the Air Force, my wife told me she wanted to live in Spokane Washington. When I contacted a headhunter in Spokane they laughed and said they could not even get local people work in the computer field.

I tried for several months to get work pretty much nation-wide at times, and was having no luck. Finally, a job opened in Spokane that had all the exact requirements I was knowledgeable about. The rest, as they say, is history. Was it luck or determination? I will never know the answer to that one.

So what’s the moral of this story? I suppose it’s that you should not jump over the fence hoping to instantly get into a greener pasture. You need to envision what that pasture is going to look like, then go get yourself some fertilizer, some tools, roll up your sleeves, and get to work making your pasture as green as it can be.

Hopefully others will be looking over your fence and admiring how green your pasture is compared to theirs.

Saturday, May 15, 2004

Wild Blue Yonder

I just returned from a trip to Las Vegas for a computer networking convention called, "InterOp".

It all began with a 3:00pm flight from Spokane to Salt Lake City. The flight was scheduled to take one and a half hours.

As we approached Salt Lake City, the Captain came on the intercom to let us know that it would be a bumpy ride. The winds were gusting over 50 mph.

The look on our flight attendants face told the real story. Bumpy hell, we were in for a wild ride!

The decent began with a few jostles, but nothing too bad. When we dropped a bit lower, things started to get a bit more exciting.

We came in from the West and heading East across the Great Salt Lake. The wind began hammering us sideways from the South.

Now I have logged a large number of flights in my day, but have never experienced the force with which we were being smacked around.

After three or four attempts at landing, the pilot finally gave up in the interest of safety, and we diverted to Twin Falls, ID. It seems we were running too low on fuel to keep trying.

We spent about an hour on the ground at Twin Falls, got some fuel, and about ten folks that were hurling in the back of the plane decided not to temp fate and got off the aircraft.

The pilot finally came on the air with good news. We were going to be taking off from Idaho earlier then planned, and the winds in Salt Lake were decreasing to around 20 mph.

So once again into the blue we leapt, a little more humble this time knowing that the spirits of the wind demonstrated that we were merely visitors in their realm, and not to get too complacent.

Since so many aircraft were diverted, or delayed from the earlier winds, we were placed in a holding pattern for about an hour.

Finally, with much relief, we made our way down to a smooth textbook landing. What a welcome change from the previous attempts.

Our flight attendant later admitted that it was the worst winds she had ever been in as well. She joked around with us that she could only hold her poker face for so long.

After deplaning those of us that braved the final Salt Lake landing were rewarded by discovering that we had missed the last flights to most of our connecting cities.

The customer service representative happily handed me a “distressed passenger” voucher. It seems they won’t pay for a hotel room if the delay was caused by the weather.

To quote Tim Allen in the movie “Space Quest”, “Never Give Up, Never Surrender!”

I made my way to the America West ticket counter and found they had a flight leaving for Las Vegas right at that moment. Luckily, they had some seats open and were kind enough to let me hitch a ride.

When I finally landed in Las Vegas it was late, and I was tired. I went to get my suitcase, only to discover that it was still in Utah since it would have had to come on Delta, and their planes were all done for the night.

So off I trudged to my hotel, no bags, and a bit weary from the long journey to sin city. Hotel beds are not known for their comfort, but by the time I plopped down on the hotel mattress, I was ready for sleep. After all, it was 3:00am.

The next day I went off to the first day of the conference, still wearing the same clothes I had on the day before during the white-knuckler landing attempts.

My tale of adventure ends with my bag showing up at the hotel around noon, so I was able to get it in the afternoon when I returned to my room. What a relief. For a while I thought I would be washing out my unmentionables in the sink and drying them out over a towel rack in the room.

Just another day in the handbasket.

Wednesday, May 05, 2004

Be Not Afraid...

I glanced through Bob Lonsberry’s article today and liked his theme, but have decided to expand on his thoughts.

His article was about Christians removing their children from public schools, and trying to hide from evil. Sheltering themselves to the point of becoming isolationists.

This has been a major contention of mine from a very early age, and when I saw Bob write about it I decided to take the baton from him and continue on with the very same line of thinking, but apply it to everyone and not just Christians.

It’s not just about Christians, although this certainly appeals to many Christian folks. What it is about is people trying so hard to shelter themselves and their children from everything, and everyone, that they end up on the paranoid end of the scale.

It’s almost unanimous among parents that children should not see bad things. We’re now talking about things such as bad television shows and movies. Being a parent myself, of three beautiful little girls, I too agree with this idea.

Where I tend to differ, are the extremes at which people try to shelter their children. I have heard people refuse to let their children watch movies like the “Harry Potter” ones because they promote witchcraft. The same folks will let their children watch “Sleeping Beauty” or “Peter Pan” because they are Disney movies.

Some folks will not let their children watch anything unless it’s “G” rated, and even then only after they have screened the show.

I tend to screen things too, but sometimes it’s on the fly while watching them with my kids. If a scene comes up that might be confusing to my daughters, I explain to them what is confusing, and how they should react to a situation.

Much to my family’s dismay at times, I’ll even stop a show (if it’s on DVD or recorded) and we’ll talk about something before the show goes any further.

While I was growing up I used to be more fascinated at how they made monster movies, then with the actual movie itself. If someone got an arm cut off, I was looking at how cheesy the effect was done, rather then saying, “Oh my, he just got his arm cut off!” It’s not real!

This isn’t to say I will be letting my daughters watch “Kill Bill” until their probably about 18, if ever, but I also tend to let them watch things that some folks would freak out over. I prefer for them to hear the bad language, and reinforce the point that they are not to say those words. Does it help? Probably not, but I try.

The point is, they are going to hear bad words (normally from friends at school), they are going to see bad things (at their friends house perhaps), and they are going to be placed in the situation of having to make a decision about sex, drugs and rock and roll sooner then you’re probably aware.

There’s a running joke about the Catholic schoolgirls who have been kept sheltered all of their life being the wildest girls in college. It’s not just an urban legend, I have met some pretty wild girls who were kept under a religious rock all of their life. And yes, they were ready to catch up on everything they have been prevented from doing.

It’s just plain stupid to pretend that your daughter will never get pregnant, because she goes to church with you and is locked in a closet when she comes home from school each day. I have news for you, if you keep your children ignorant of things, they will be the first ones to get into trouble.

Does this mean I think my kids will not get into trouble, and make dumb decisions? Absolutely not. Like any parent I hope they do make good choices when the time comes, but I’m not so full of myself to think that my kids are any more perfect then yours. I’d like to think so, but we must face reality, things beyond our parental control happen.

People should proudly display their faith, and not try to hide it when around others. Do not take this as they should try and shove their faith onto other people, or try to get their belief system in all the schools and government agencies. This means, wear a cross, read the Bible on your lunch hour, discuss your belief at a picnic, and be proud of who you are and what you believe in.

This website was started by me because I don’t really care what others think. My beliefs have come about in a progression that I am proud to explain to anyone who will listen. In fact, I’m still trying to figure things out, and who knows where I’ll eventually land.

Did I start this website to convert you all to my way of thinking and to invite you all over for Kool-aide? Heck no, because I respect your right to follow your heart just as I am following mine. I’ll gladly discuss things we agree to disagree about in the forum area (hint, hint). Come in and let me know why you believe as you do. What makes your heart sing, and brings joy to your life?

Jesus walked among the masses all the time knowing that many did not believe as he did, yet he never stopped letting everyone know just how he felt, and what he believed. He knew the possible consequences of his actions, but he did not care what others thought of him for sharing his views. In those days, it was common to be killed for having a different religious viewpoint then the rulers of a city.

Christians are virtually mandated by God to not hide their faith, but to go out into the world and show others how great it is to have God in your corner. You should do this by your actions on a daily basis. You don’t have to recruit people, just lead by example. People will see your life and say, “Wow, I want to live my life like they live theirs.”

Some religions don’t have any sort of requirement to spread the word about their faith, yet I submit to you that these folks can have the same impact on those around them by how they live and act as well.

If you follow one of the Pagan religions for example, don’t get into a shouting match at some demonstration with other people. You need to show others that your Pagan religion is just as reverent as any other. All religious people should disassociate themselves with the zealots of their faith and be the first to condemn such actions.

My hope is that the people in this world will one day live together in peace. Yes. You heard me correctly. I want world peace. This can be achieved if religious leaders would preach tolerance instead of hatred.

No religion in the world is so righteous that they should preach the annihilation of all others. Yet even some Christian groups, by making an ass out of themselves while trying to subvert ever facet of our society, are no better then the zealots of other religions who kill outright.

There is no need for clandestine religious operations in this world. Believe however you wish, but stop trying to forcefully enlist others. Those of you who do these things must step back and ask yourselves why the need to drag others into your belief, regardless of the religion. Are you so afraid of your belief that you must always try to gather support?

Christian, Pagan, Buddhist, Islamic, or Native American. The religion type does not matter, what matters is that you maintain your belief with all your heart, but do so for your reasons, and let others come to you naturally. This isn’t a race to see who can have the most members or the biggest houses of worship.

Be proud of your faith, live your choice, and always respect the decision of others.

Sunday, May 02, 2004

Do You Believe In Magick?

Until recently I must say that I didn’t believe in magick. You are seeing the word spelled as I wish it to be. In the realm and study of magick, the “k” is added to make the distinction between the type of magic performed by a parlor magician, and the type of magick performed by someone who is studying the art of the craft.

Now don’t run away. I have heard that some of you even delete the announcement of new articles before even reading them. If this website offends you merely ask to be removed from the site, and I will be happy to remove your name from the membership.

If you’re still with me, and curious as to what the heck I’m talking about now, click on “Read more...” and we’ll begin.

Someone who knows I enjoy a good read about all things spiritual, mystical, and fascinating, recommended a book to me called, “Real Magic” by Isaac Bonewits.

Although I am only about half way through the book, the current revelation I have had was basically setup in the first few pages. Since those pages I have now studied things with a slightly different slant in my viewpoint.

Isaac Bonewits, after going through many reference works and various experts in the field of magick, comes to the following definition of magick.

“’Magic’ is an art and a science for dealing with particular types of knowledge, the manipulation of which will produce results that will astound and amaze the uninformed.”

In the next paragraph he rearranges the thought a bit and states that,

“The science and art of magic deals with a body of knowledge that, for one reason or another, has not yet been fully investigated or confirmed by the other arts and sciences.”

In his view, magick is merely the study of so far unexplained science. He also mentions that most of the science we have today got its start in magick. When you think about the Medicine Man, Shamen, and other healers throughout history, all of our modern medical miracles were first based in magick. The medicine we take in all the little pills, shots, and ointments would be considered magick in their natural form when used by Native Americans and other pre-modern societies.

Based on this current definition, you could say that I am leaning toward becoming a magician. I won’t be pulling rabbits out of my hat, or wowing an audience with card tricks, but I will be continuing to study things that are so far not in the mainstream of science.

Where will I go from here? As with most of you I’m never really sure where each path I head down will lead. For now I enjoy the study of the unknown, or the path less traveled. I love a good mystery and have never been a sheep that followed anything blindly. In fact, if I notice that I am starting to become part of a herd I tend to move in a different direction.

Peer pressure never really had much of an affect on me. It’s probably this reason I have never been into experimenting with drugs, drinking large quantities of alcohol, or smoking. I have always made up my own mind, and did the things that I felt was right and true.

Heck I have no clue what life is all about and probably never will. Nobody truly knows that the road they are on leads to the promise land, or that they have all of the answers to the meaning of life and why we are on this planet.

Oh sure, they can quote things from their belief system, but so can many other people from many different cultures and many different belief systems. It’s nice to think that you are one of the few who got it 100% correct.

Some of us lost souls are still trying to figure this whole mess out.

There are days I think it would be nice to just give in and dive into one organization. The thing that prevents me from doing this is the feeling of giving up. The feeling of settling for something I don’t truly believe in. So on I plod looking for answers and usually finding nothing but more questions.