Friday, November 23, 2012

That for which I am thankful

Well, yesterday I had the day off but I was too busy not having Thanksgiving to write a Thanksgiving post, so I shall do it a day late.

At various times during college I spent time with the homeless and noticed an often common thread which ran among them is that they did not have a social network, they did not have a safety net made up of friendly arms to fall into when they had fallen lowest. They did not have any lights left on for them or loving faces who would welcome them in, even if and when their own faces were filled with shame or their pockets were empty. I know I not only have family who would (and has) taken me in when I need a place to stay, but also that I have friends in many places who would (and have) take me in as well. I know I not only have people who would take me in, but also have so many people who love me enough that they would come looking for me, if I began to “fall through the cracks.” So to those who love me, family, camp friends, college friends, AmeriCorps friends, and random friends I have gained along the way, thank you for your love and I am thankful for you.

I am thankful for my parents. Who encourage me and pray for me. Who manage, somehow, to stay supportive of me and what I do, even though I have no idea what I'm doing and have a long way to go before I have it all figured out.

I am thankful I live with my brother and near my sister and brother-in-law. Also, that I have another sister, brother-in-law, and nieces who, I am sure, would like for me to live near them, as well.

I am thankful I have a brother, who, though he is younger than me, is willing to let me “mooch” off of him while I have been looking for a job. I am thankful that he is pretty easy to live with and that, from books and tv to hiking, we have common interests.

I am thankful for my job...even if it is just part-time and not really what I want to do.

I am thankful for hot water; for warming showers; good smelling soap; the ability to feel temperature and so many other things. I am happy I am able to smell Fall, baking banana bread, and Arnold Promise Witch Hazel (and other flowers, too). I am thankful I can see Autumn and its changing colors; hear the wind rustling the leaves outside my apartment and the music playing on the internet. I appreciate the leftovers I will be able to taste tomorrow and that I can sample things while I'm cooking.

I am thankful for books, libraries, the great outdoors, cozy blankets, entertaining movies, and photography.

I am thankful for the possibility to rekindle friendships and for the ability to make new ones. Along this vein, I am most thankful for our ability to make friendships, to form bonds, and to love.

I am thankful for my imagination, for intuition, for dreams, and hopes, and prayers. I am thankful for my potential and that God is not through with me yet. I am thankful for the Grand Love Story we are all caught up in and that the plot is so complex and simple that we have no idea why things happen the way they do. I am thankful I will one Day be able to read the Story in its entirety so I will understand.

Though I am sometimes tired, frustrated, and confused; I am thankful I am alive.

Friday, November 16, 2012

In the same vein as “Zombies Attack America” I bring you: Lights, Camera...Cue the Alien Invasion

I have decided Hollywood and the movie industry is actually a ploy developed by aliens or zombie-creating biological terrorists aimed at causing us to view any spectacular videos we watch with a “Man, those are some good special effects” mentality. Think about it, if you were a see a high quality video or even a few videos claiming to be authentic, which were about an alien invasion going on or a zombie apocalypse happening, wouldn't your first thought be, “What movie is this from?” or “Wow! Those special effects are amazing!” Even if the video was submitted by someone you knew or was on the News, wouldn't your first inclination be skepticism instead of belief?

In this day and age, when even most cell phones have good video quality, you would think some UFO videos and Bigfoot sightings would be clearer and of better video quality. I think why this isn't the case is because we find the grainy footage more intriguing and, perhaps, more believable. If it was an excellent video of either thing, we would think of Bigfoot, “That is a great costume” and of the UFO, “I wonder how much money and CGI it took to make it look that real.”

So when I post a video of the Alien Invasion or the Zombie Apocalypse you better believe it. I have a pretty crappy camera, so maybe you'll be more likely to believe.

On another note, while on the topic of aliens. Around Halloween the thought occurred to me that American Halloween (I'm unsure any other parts of the world dress up as much as we do) was initiated by aliens so one night a year they can add a few cheap additions to their anatomy (to make them not quite so awesome or believable) and have free reign to study us in close proximity in our natural habitats. Aliens, if you are reading this, do not judge us by that one night. When we humans don masked we feel freer to be idiots, jerks, and are more apt to break the law.

Propaganda: Rising to New Heights

Note: this post contains a slight in-direct spoiler having to do with the Hunger Games, for those of you who may care about such things.

I suppose the idea for this post occurred to me the first time while I was reading The Hunger Games over a year ago. You see, the government in the books made a mistake maintaining their tyranny. The time period when the books take place is supposed to be sometime in the future. If this is the case, then instead of showing the same footage year after year of District 13's state of decay after (nuclear?) weapons destroyed it, they should have used CGI and special effects to make “new footage” which showed its continued state of desolation.

Backing up some, if you haven't read The Hunger Games, in that world, there was an uprising of District 13 and the use of weapons left the landscape desolate and, as the government would have the other Districts believe, totally destroyed and without inhabitants. They maintained this lie by showing the same footage year after year taken of the area soon after the conflict took place, when it truly did look desolate.

If I remember correctly, the government in the movie V For Vendetta used false news coverage, painting the rest of the world as a place where there was constant famine, plagues, riots, and other horrors of the night. If the rest of the world is that chaotic and terrifying, maybe my government isn't that bad, they may be repressive and seemingly unjust, but they keep me safe.

In this day of technology and “movie magic,” as long as you can keep your populace isolated, give them no access to unauthorized and undoctored news sources, and regulate the technology which they have available (so they don't know about CGI and other special effects), you can paint the rest of the world whatever way you wish. You wouldn't even have to produce anything new, but rather could cut clips from any well-made movie you wanted. You could have the rest of the world be filled with aliens, zombies, riots, explosions, barren landscapes, crumbling and devoid of people.

You may be thinking, people wouldn't really believe that stuff, they would have to know it was fake. Well, here's something to keep in mind, in the 90's my family lived in a developing country and we would have movie nights with some of the university students. Sometimes we would have a fairly hard time convincing the students that the special effects weren't real, that those things didn't really happen. These were smart people, university students, but they had never been exposed to such things. When you've grown up believing what you see and have no reason not to, it can take some getting used to when this is no longer always true. These were people just watching movies, who were being told the things they saw were just for entertainment, and yet they still, at first, had a hard time believing that they were not real. Now imagine the same situation, except it is news sources only showing clips, and the government is confirming what was shown was true.

Also, even as skeptic Americans, we can't really poke fun at such a situation, as proved by the fact that after Animal Planet aired their program Mermaids: The Body Found, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration felt they needed to issue an official statement denying the existence of mermaids because so many mistakenly thought a video contained in the program was authentic.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

I Am Still or The Story of A Boulder

The world moves around me at a breakneck pace and they wonder why they so quickly pass away. I am still and I remain. Trees think they are still, they say “I am rooted to this spot. I am not moving, so I am still.” Trees are flighty things, here today and gone tomorrow. They are not still, but move with the slightest wind. Their roots crawl over the ground and burrow beneath. Trees try to move me, try to lift me with their roots or, with their last effort as they fall, try to push me aside. Even the little plants do their best, breaking pieces off of me, thinking to count that as movement, but once those pieces separate, they are no longer me, but pebbles, rocks, and earth. Trees and plants rot and fall away, but I am still and I remain.

The sun rises and, as the wind blows the branches of the trees, it filters down to warm me. It moves so fast, I wonder that it has been there so long and if one day it will not rise. Oh well, warm or cold, it matters not to me. Whether the sun rises or it does not, I am still and I remain.

I can feel the moon giving me a gentle tug as it passes over me, silly moon, you cannot move me. But as the rain falls, the raindrops whisper that the moon moves the ocean, something far larger than I. Then they tell me they were a part of the ocean and that it is made up of millions of them, rising and falling, rising and falling. I tell them the ocean is not larger than me, but it is made up of millions of them and that is why it allows the moon to move it. The raindrops only laugh at me and tell me that though they are small, they will move me. They move me ever so slightly and movement equals death, their washing the earth from beneath my feet makes me older, they make me smaller year by year. I move, but oh so slowly, so I remain.

Turtles come to seek my wisdom and learn how not to pass away. They try to look like me, but they must eat so they must move; they do but slowly, so time passes by them and forgets them for a while.

Man does not seek my wisdom, but runs through life and wishes everything to run with him. He adds acid to the rain making me smaller all the faster. Instead of going round us, if we are in his way, he does what the trees could not do and pushes us aside. He causes us to move and move, breaks us smaller so we are easier to move, and moves us from place to place. I am not still and so only dust remains.

Friday, November 9, 2012

The Future is Now! or Where's my hover car, jet pack, and standard issue laser gun?

I'm 28 years old and I can remember when I was little basically being promised by “them” (the media, popular science, etc.) that hovercrafts, jet packs, and laser guns would be a common thing in the year 2000 or soon after. The year 2000 (if you didn't think the world was going to end) was The Future, you know, like in the Jetsons; but I'm still wanting for my hover car and there's no robot to do my chores.

Yes, I don't have those things and the prototypes that do exist are not very functional, but here are some things we may have forgotten and taken for granted. Some of the first computers weighed around 30 tons (that's 60,000 pounds!) and Popular Mechanics made the prediction in 1949 that they may someday weigh only 1.5 tons. Even science fiction, the genre which imagined up the jet pack, laser gun, and even more wondrous things, dreamed rather small (or more accurately big) when it came to how small a computer would be in the future. Isaac Asimov wrote a story first printed in 1953, entitled, Nobody There But - which was about two men who built computers. They were making a revolutionary small “calculator” which was “about three feet high, six feet long, and two feet deep.” The smallest Asimov dared his characters to dream of someday making the calculator was one that an “automobile” could carry. I remember reading another story that, even though it was based in the future, they were still using microfilm because, I guess, the author thought that would be the medium which replaced paper books.

Just a few years ago CDs were a pretty big deal. We thought the fact that they could carry, what, like 20 songs was pretty awesome. Now we have devices which are around an inch and a half wide and under a half inch thick that can hold around 4000 songs. Also, thanks to e-book readers, you can now hold thousands of books in your hands at one time.

Kids, I know the things I mentioned above may not seem like a big deal to you, but just imagine, a few years ago if you wanted to take music with you on a trip you had to take a bunch of CDs and if you wanted to take a bunch of books, well, your only option was to take paper books (which, I can tell you from experience, is quite heavy) .

As much as I wanted a hover car, I think these capabilities are even cooler. 

Can you think of any other ways in which we have gone beyond what was predicted as the future? Share in the comments.