Tag Archives: differences

A Sign of the Times?

As those of you who follow my blog regularly know, it has been bloody hot where I am. So much so that I have pretty much stayed inside my apartment within touching distance of the air conditioner. Well on Sunday that trend broke. So, I decided to do one of my favourite pastimes and go down to the lake to watch the birds.

There has been some recent flooding so my favourite spot was out of bounds. No worries. I chose another and sat back to watch. I saw ducks playing in the water and I saw a big beautiful swan preening within close proximity to those ducks. Everyone seemed to be getting along.

And then . . . an ear shattering sound erupted from several feet behind me. It was a woman who had perhaps never seen a Swan before. The air around me shattered as she burst forth to the edge of the water with camera tightly gripped in her hand or perhaps it was a phone. Evidently the Swan was not facing in the appropriate direction so she proceeded to stage direct this beautiful wild creature. ‘SWAN! HEY SWAN! LOOK THIS WAY!”

Now a few minutes prior to this incident it was quiet. I could hear people in boats a few hundred meters away quietly speaking to one another. I could hear the water lapping on the shore as paddle boats went by. The gentle swish of the canoes as they made their way to open water. It was an idyllic setting. And then she exploded on to the scene.

The Swan looked. As did the ducks, the people across the bay, the paddle boaters and I’m pretty sure most of my small town were jolted out of their reverie and looked. She screamed “I GOT IT!” Whirled around and left. That’s it. She didn’t see the beauty; she saw an acquisition. She had her picture and I doubt she noticed anything else that was going on around her.

A few minutes later a duck with nine or 10 ducklings in tow came to within a few feet of me. These ducklings were so young they didn’t have their flight wings yet. Adorable little bundles of down. There were some sandbags placed to, I guess, stop the flooding and they hopped up on to them and nestle down for a nap. It was an incredible sight!

Every now and then one would stretch its little wings or raise its bum and deftly poop to a distance. Mom kept an eye on me but I didn’t move. I didn’t want to disturb them. After about 15 or 20 minutes, mom and most of the ducklings moved on. Three them sat and watched me for another five minutes. Then one of them raised his little head and the three of them hopped into the water to follow after mom and the rest. I felt blessed to have been a witness.

I feel sorry for that woman. Those ducks would never have approached amid her loud observations of her surroundings. And I’ll bet she wouldn’t see anything anyway. She was too concerned, too focused, on one trophy. She’s going to miss the world. She will have proof of being here but no memory of the experience. Perhaps that is a sign of the times. Life will become a digitized trophy in a .com file somewhere.

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!

 

 

 

 

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 . . .

 

Recipe for life

 

A dash of humour

Is a spice I adore

Curiosity of course

Of that I want more.

 

Compassion and tolerance

Are vital I trust

To properly season

This stew we discussed.

 

You’re not done yet

There is still more to learn

Keep stirring I pray

And don’t let it burn!

 

Next add a pinch

No more and no less

Confidence is needed

To this I confess.

 

Kindness goes in

And generosity too

We always need manners

And not just a few!

 

Honour and honesty

Are herbs for this pot

Perhaps some wisdom

I’m not asking a lot.

 

Next sprinkle the top

With a generous amount

A smile is important

On that you can count.

 

Now let it simmer

And cook all the way

The ingredients must meld

For many a day.

 

Too many cooks

Can spoil a good broth

So just let it bubble

Away from the cloth.

 

The day will come soon

When the recipe is done

And serving the stew

Is when life has begun.