Tag Archives: challenges

Ah, Hell!

This past week, in my neck of the woods, has been hot. Hot! Hot! Hot! Now I am sure there’re other parts of the world where this is simply another day. But not here. Canada is known for its cold not its hot! There are a great many people here that love this weather:  hot, hazy, humid. I’m not one of them. Last night at about 6 o’clock the temperature felt like 41°C that’s 105.8F.  That’s hot!

I made an off-the-cuff comment to a friend of mine that I didn’t like the heat and I had better behave because I wouldn’t do well in Hell.  We laughed and I said I simply wouldn’t go. And then I started to think . . .

Hell is a concept that was used to frighten children into behaving and to coerce adults into being better versions of themselves. But that concept came from religion. If there is a God there must be a Devil.  If you believe it one, you must believe in the other. Ying and Yang, light and dark, the world in balance. It also dawned on me that Hell as a concept would have different meanings to different people. An entomologist would be fascinated to be surrounded by bugs. Someone with a phobia would not. One Heaven, one Hell? Some people bask in the heat, some people wither and die.

My idea of torture is being locked in a room somewhere without something to read. It has happened and I swear I went a little mad. Which could go a long way to explaining some things. I’m just saying. But let’s be serious, the idea of Hell crosses all religious borders. It isn’t always a place of torture sometimes it’s just a place to store the dead. Somewhere else. The underworld. But it seems that no matter what you believe in, there seems to be a correlation between Heaven and Hell. So does that mean we’re more alike than different?

There is also an argument to be made that we make our own Heaven and Hell right here. That doesn’t detract from the concept of an afterlife but it simply entices us to take control of our lives and make it better or in some cases continue wallowing in misery. That is one hell of a power!

 

 

 

 

I Can See

 

I have not seen the face of God

He does not speak to me.

But I look upon the wonders

Everywhere I see.

 

A single rose does blossom,

And a sprig of grass does sprout ,

Are these the wonders of my Lord?

I think there is no doubt.

 

I stood in awe and watched

As an infant drew a breath.

I held the hand of a woman

As she journeyed into death.

 

Sunrises and sunsets

Paint a beautiful sight.

These are things that I can see,

The miracles of light.

 

A simple breath is drawn

With words that we can share.

Because we really do believe

These wonders are not rare.

 

Every second matters

You and I do too.

Love should be a part

Of everything we do.

 

And now I understand

What it means to be.

I have seen the face of God

He always speaks to me.

A Re-visit:   WiFi is Free!

 

I recently had a conversation with myself about the technology that permeates everything we do. I had mentioned one of my stories to a friend and it started me thinking, again. How safe are we, really? The idea of privacy no longer really exists when others have the ability to listen in on our conversations, wherever we may be. We have cars that can be hacked. That’s a good thing if you’re law-enforcement and chasing a bad guy but what about someone who wants to do you harm who has that skill set? And what about the people like me who really don’t understand any of it?  Are we vulnerable?  Well yes. We all are. The world is changing and there are those out there better equipped to deal with it then I am. That’s okay. As long as I can function in my little corner of the world, I will be happy for the next 20 years. At that point I am expecting my next locale to be somewhat less hackable!

 

So, I hope you enjoy this little offering. And I hope it makes you think…

 

 

WiFi is Free!

 

Ben was paralyzed.  He couldn’t move, couldn’t react.  He watched in horror as his friend of 30 years was patted down, handcuffed and walked out of the bar in the company of four very official looking men.  Four, there were five!

 

“You can say nothing about what you think you just heard.”

 

The warning was issued by a quiet, almost friendly voice. But as Ben raised his head to look at the speaker, a chill ran down his back. The man almost seemed to smile.  He reached out his hand and picked up the thumb drive that Stan had dropped on the table.  Snap, it was gone.

 

And with a slight tilt of his head, so was the fifth man. Ben inhaled deeply.  He felt as if he had been holding his breath for far too long.  He started to hear the regular sounds of the bar seeping back into his awareness. It felt as if time was reasserting itself and Ben was out of sorts. It had happened, here, with a room full of witness who had seen nothing.  They didn’t understand. He had to tell them.  But what Stan had said . . . Could it be true?

 

Ben reached for his laptop.  A good reporter never went anywhere without it. As he opened the screen and prepared to log on, Ben wondered . . . what if . . . He put his laptop away and reached for a pen and a pad of paper.  Old school it is.

 

The day had stared routinely. Check correspondence, do a little cleaning, a little writing and then down to the pub for lunch. Saturday was Ben’s day to unwind, read the paper, watch a little sport on the big screen. Everyone knew it.  So he was surprised when Stan burst into his reverie.

 

“Ben, Thank God you’re here!  You have to help me!  People need to be warned!”  As he spoke, Stan threw himself into a chair across from Ben and dropped his head into his hands.  He looked as if he hadn’t slept in days.  He was obviously agitated and Ben got over being surprised enough to reach out to his friend.

 

“It’s okay, we’ll fix whatever is broken.  Just try to calm down and tell me what’s wrong.”

 

The man that raised his head looked haunted. He reached out his hand and dropped a thumb drive on the table.

 

“He figured it out.” He whispered, “Then he got proof.  He trusted me.”

 

Ben waited.  He knew his friend.  He knew he needed to tell his story in his time.  But Ben felt a gentle unquiet seep into his mind. This was not one of Stan’s pranks, he was scared, terrified.

 

Stan slowly looked around the room.  Only well-known regulars were in attendance.  He heaved a sigh.

 

“I don’t know how much time I have before they get here but you have to get the word out.  The WiFi is free.”

 

Ben chuckled, “Well, yeah!  That’s what we all wanted.  Free WiFi for everyone!”

 

Stan shook his head.  “Don’t you get it?  Don’t you understand?  They are listening!”

 

Ben lifted his glass of ale. “Okay, I’ll bite, who’s listening.”

 

“The computers.”

 

His glass stopped, mid-air.    “What computers?”

 

Stan sat back in his chair.

 

“Have you ever wondered how Police can get to a bank robbery so quickly when the silent alarm isn’t triggered?  Or how a traveller who jokes about a high-jacking can be so accurately pinpointed? How about those calls you get where no one speaks.  It’s the WiFi. It’s everywhere.  The computers are primed to react to certain word combination in certain areas.”

 

Ben heard the words but it was what was not spoken that had him concerned.  It wasn’t Big Brother watching it was Big Computer listening!

 

Stan seemed to deflate.  “I have a computer hacker friend who figured it out awhile back. He collected all his data, his proof.  He wanted to take it to a reporter and I suggested you. He gave me a copy.”

 

Both men looked at the thumb drive.  “Where’s your friend?” Asked Ben.

 

Stan never raised his head.  “Dead.” He whispered.

 

An oppressive silence seemed to hang in the air.  Patrons laughed and ate and drank.  The big screen droned on about sports and the world continued to rotate. But something intangible had just happened and it was sobering.

 

Ben opened his mouth to ask a question when five large, official looking men appeared beside their table.  Stan started to speak as he tried to stand up but a very forceful hand stopped him. Ben started to protest until a badge was place in front of his eyes.  He tried to lean back to read it but it was snapped shut.

 

Ben was paralyzed.  He couldn’t move, couldn’t react.  He watched in horror as his friend of 30 years was patted down, handcuffed and walked out of the bar in the company of very official looking men.

 

The message was clear:

 

The WiFi is listening . . .

 

What were they thinking?

 

Seriously. What do other people think? As most of you know I spent some time in my local hospital. As a result, I came into contact with a lot of different people, strangers to me. There were the doctors of course and the nurses, patients, cleaning staff, physiotherapists, occupational therapist, technicians, the list is endless.  All those people came together to make my stay, perhaps not enjoyable, but beneficial. And as I looked into their faces, I wondered… were they thinking?

I saw an elderly woman facing an uphill climb, literally. They were teaching her to do stairs again. I saw her face as she looked at the edifice in front of her. I tried to engage her but either she wasn’t in the right place emotionally or she didn’t speak the language. So, I smiled and nodded my head. She didn’t react. I wondered what was going through her mind. Was she sad, annoyed or maybe just indifferent?

I saw man who had lost both of his legs at different points. He didn’t hide his injury nor did he flaunt it. He faced his new reality and he didn’t flinch. He smiled and he joked with the staff. He smiled at me and gave me a thumbs up. It made me feel good. He was not a young man but he wasn’t done with life either.

We often judge other people based on what we see, not on what we know. That does us a disservice. People who look at us can’t know what we’re thinking, what we’re feeling. They only see what we choose for them to see. I think we do it for protection. But by shutting ourselves off, we miss so much.

As we journey through our day, we meet dozens perhaps hundreds of people, and sometimes only one or two. Each person that we interact with is a potential. Potential what you ask? Well, a potential friend, a potential business associate, a potential confidant. We can’t know who or what someone is until we have spent time with them. And perhaps the time we don’t spend with them is the missed opportunity.

I wonder about all the people I met. I know they affected me. I may not know exactly in what way but I believe I am a better person for having gone through the experience and for the people I met. These past weeks are not something I’m going to forget in a hurry and maybe that’s a good thing.

Thank you so much for all the best wishes I received. I may not have mentioned it at the time but it made a difference.