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You Know History? (part VI)

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Seaside, OR

Current Day

I decided not to go back too far this time, though a part of me was insisting that it wouldn’t work again, that I was pushing my luck, and that karma was going to mess me up royally if I was wrong about this. Did I listen? Nope, not one bit.

The water was kind of chill when I went back in the next time, but thankfully I’d wised up and decided to wear a wetsuit. It wouldn’t protect me from much of anything but the cold, but I figured it would be better than just showing up in a pair of swim trunks. My mind was flying so high on the possibilities of this working that I didn’t even think about the fact that I might have slipped and sucked in too much ocean water at some point. After all, time travel is supposed to be impossible, right? And the ripple effect it causes is supposed to be something that is bound to mess up everything once you change anything according to movies and research.

Right?

But I was still bound and determined to do this, even if I looked like an absolute fool for trying. So I waded out into the water, not stopping until I was in the midst of the cresting waves that continued onward towards the shore. It took a while but I finally found one that was curling just right, and as I made for it I swear I saw that same emerald flash from within. My heart skipped a beat thinking that I might have missed out, but as I found my way into the tube I saw it come again, and I didn’t hesitate. It was too good to be true, my madness was vindicated. And I was on my way back to another point in time that no one else in the world knew about.

I almost forgot to speak the words I’d been keeping in memory since looking up the next date I wanted to try, but I barked them out just in time as the flash filled my sight and took the world away yet again.

Want to hazard a guess?

Romania, Vlad the Impaler. You can guess where things went from here.

(to be continued)

What is Control?

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So what is control? To many people control is the act of being in charge, of being the top dog, the head honcho, the person that makes the rules. But what is it really? In truth, control is a societal construct just like so many other things we create, a method of draping what is deemed the truth over the eyes of those that are willing to be blinded in order to grant permission to those doing the blinding. It is the act of those that seek to inform and influence others that are seen as those that will agree with the one or the few upon how things must be and how the system that has been instilled must be kept working in order to serve them all. Unfortunately, control is usually held by only a few hands at a time, and is anything but infallible.

Control is the illusion that we accept.

Many of us believe we are free-thinking individuals and it is true in some regard that we are. But many of us would still ascribe wholeheartedly to the system into which we were born and will likely belong until our final day on this earth. There are too many illusions that have been woven together to create what we perceive as a concrete and resolute truth that is used to control our every waking moment within the system. We are given the illusion of freedom, but in all honesty are kept in line by various control methods that are enforced whenever we step out of line.

Anarchy is what some scream when these controls are actively worked against, while others might scream terrorism as it is the trendy thing to use as an accusation. But quite honestly control is the measure that keeps us under wraps and free to think what we want, while bucking that control makes us the enemy, or at the very least a malcontent that is to be carefully monitored. Remember the saying that freedom isn’t free? The control that government has over every last one of us is a prime example of this. We are free to say and, to some extents, do what we want in this country, but the price we pay is to live under the control that the USA imparts upon every last one of its people. Except the controllers.

To live a life that means something there’s one immutable truth you need to realize.

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The reality of life is that on a very fundamental level there is no such thing as control. Even as we progress from simple animals to the more complex and sometimes more frustrating organisms we are today we tend to forget this. The need for everything to make sense and be neatly tucked away until we need them is an incessant one that allows us to forget that when it comes to control, some people are simply better at weaving illusions than others.

Some of the best are called politicians.

Counting on Change

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Change is hard, change is invasive, and change is sometimes considered to be impossible. But there are also times when change is seen as horrifying, abrupt, and extremely unwanted. A lot of people can’t handle change as it seems to destroy everything they believe in and everything they’ve worked for, while others embrace it with a glad heart since change is a part of this world that continually happens. But as I already said, change can be hard, and it can be horrifying.

For instance, living in a nation controlled by a man that gives into impulse a lot more than reason could be horrifying, particularly when those impulses seem designed to hurt a great number of the people he’s bound to serve. Some embrace this change as a means of taking their country back, which makes no sense considering it didn’t belong to anyone but the people in the first place. Change however is an odd thing as it can be discriminate or indiscriminate depending on the situation.

It only takes one person to create a ripple effect.

People are capable of change, but the moment they find themselves in agreement with another that they can believe in and follow their free will seems to fade away like a flame in a windstorm. Only when that storm finally affects them directly will they understand that the capacity to change is what keeps the storm at bay, and the ability to embrace the change is what will help them to weather it.

That one person can create such a widespread effect in the lives of so many is astounding, but even more so is the belief that others will take up the call and allow the ripple to continue forward. Change comes in many ways, but in some cases it comes in a very devastating manner.

Change has to come from both sides.

If one thing is to change then other things have to change as well. The chain reaction brought on by change needs to be understood and embraced by every person if real change is to occur, otherwise things will continually revert back to their default state, which at this point and time doesn’t seem to be working. People have to want to change, or nothing ever will. The idea of caring about change is one aspect that needs to occur, but actually going through with change is a line that many people describe in great detail, but never actually cross.

If you want change then you’ve got to be willing to embrace it, not just talk about it.

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The Decline of Costco’s Polish Dog

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Costco is getting rid of one of it’s best-selling items and people are not happy about it. Can anyone remember back to the days when there was no such thing as a food court inside a Costco? The old-fashioned hot dog cart was outside next to the building and usually had a line from the cart all the way to the parking lot as people have almost always been nuts for the famous Polish dog that cost $1.50 and came a can of soda. Now tell me, how many places can possibly compete with that? Sure it was just a big hot dog on a bun with a soda and your choice of fixin’s on a tray nearby, but it was the novelty of it.

Costco has been known for a long time as a place you could go and fill up on free samples inside the store, but the hot dogs were always one of the absolute best parts of the trip. Plus in all the time they’ve been selling the delicacies they haven’t raised the price, which is phenomenal really when you think about what the other stuff costs. But these days many people are more into healthier alternatives and doing away with what is considered a bad practice when it comes to eating. Instead of the Polish dog Costco will be serving healthy alternatives that many people feel is just a slap in the face after so many years of being able to ingest those yummy, warm treats.

Come on people, really?

The outrage over this is over the top and just sad.

I love a good Polish dog just as much as anyone. I used to polish off two of them loaded with ketchup, mustard, and enough onions to clear my sinuses out for the next two days. But it’s a hot dog folks, and it’s a product that’s sold in bulk INSIDE THE STORE. I get it, we all have great memories of the Polish dog and don’t want to see it go, but if you’re really that up in arms about it then do yourself a favor and find the nearest hot dog vendor and ask if they serve Polish dogs. If they do then stop whining, if not then buy a pack of dogs, a pack of buns, and make them at home and enjoy the memories.

Seriously, my biggest gripe with the place was when they built the food court and simply did away with the cart. It was a treat up until they made it into something big. Now it’s been a treat, but one that you have to eat while crammed into a bench with a bunch of other people around you or out in your car or wherever you might go. The tweets about this matter are just insane since many of them make it sound as though they would gladly boycott Costco over this matter.

Yeah, and that would last right up until they realize how much it really costs to stop buying in bulk. Seriously people, buy a pack of Polish dogs and take a pill.

Just Stop and Breathe

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This world is a hectic place sometimes, and it will push you along at a rapid pace if you let it. Nothing slows down for anyone unless they are willing to slow it down on their own and just…breathe. Your mind and your body are designed to take on a great deal of stress, but over prolonged periods of time this stress begins to build and can be harmful if not released in a manner that is conducive to your health as well as your well-being. As an individual that holds in a lot of pent-up emotions and frustrations I understand that it becomes absolutely necessary at times to stop, remove myself from the rapid pace of life, and simply breathe as I attempt to let go of all that which has caused me to tighten up over the course of a day, a week, or even a month.

There is no weakness in stepping away from the hustle of life.

Some people might begin to hyperventilate if they are asked to take so much as a day off in order to gather their thoughts and compose themselves. Others would welcome the chance and be thankful to just have a day to sleep in, to have fun, and to cut loose. But no matter how one spends their free time it is important to take a moment at least to step back from all of it and just breathe, taking in the stress and then letting it out as you remind yourself, and your body, that there are moments when it’s not so important to be wound so tightly. Nobody can remain pent up for long periods of time without suffering some sort of breakdown, and it is necessary to simply stand back and breathe for a moment to gain even a few seconds of clarity.

That’s a part of how living is made tolerable.

Get away from the hustle now and again.

There’s more to this world than work and the constant drone of one’s everyday life. If you’re lucky and your job takes you to new and exotic places constantly then you’ve already found the source of happiness you were seeking. If you happen to know how to enjoy yourself during your day and can balance your emotional and mental well-being while maintaining your work performance then you’re ahead of the game. But it is always important to remember to breathe, to focus on nothing for a moment or two, and simply relax.

Life is important enough on its own, everything else will happen with or without you. Just enjoy the moments you can take, and live in them as long as you can.

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The Business that is Life

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Life is a constant race to see who can outdo one another, who can accumulate more than the next person, who can sign their life away to more things that they don’t need but use to impress others, and of course, who has the most at the end. It’s a business in many regards, a business that never closes, never gets outdated, and never goes away because there’s always more people being born every day. Those that are passing through this life now are those that have been inundated to the business without ever knowing about it until it’s too late to get out so easily. We live our days from one to the next becoming a part of a system that is so heavily integrated at this point that even believing we have a free thought becomes highly suspect since in order to have that free thought you have to be absolutely certain that it doesn’t somehow infringe upon or offend someone else’s over-sensitive values and/or feelings.

If that sounds cynical then you’re right, because it should.

If life is to be treated like a business then it is the most diverse and most competitive business around since it never ends and continually changes in relation to the many trends that come along, be they political, theological, or societal. The day we’re born we’re placed into the system that teaches us and rears us to believe in the system and how it works. We’re given everything that we need to feel comfortable in the system, to rely on it and to realize that we can’t just walk away. And somewhere along the line some of us might wake up and realize that the system in which life exists is an enterprise where everyone is looking to take something from the system that they believe is theirs, some vital component that speaks to them and seems to define their life.

We are part of a system we don’t fully understand, and in turn we barely understand each other. When broken down to the simplest terms and the most simplified elements we are nowhere near as complicated as we like to think. Every mental process, every bodily function, every last little thing about us becomes clear and concise, and in this realization we become free. The system is not evil, it is not good, but it is a business that we find it very difficult to break free of as it provides us with everything that is needed to thrive, and everything we come to desire as human beings.

Living is its own virtue.

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The moment you don’t want to get up to face life and see what it has to offer is the moment it’s become a job, a business, and nothing more than than an automatic response to something you HAVE to do every day. We all feel a bit humdrum now and again about our average day, but the trick is to remember that the business of life is an intrinsic challenge that has yet to be met. Strive to be better each day, do what you can to make your day a day worth living. Don’t worry about the system, it will take care of itself, the business will go on without one more worker bee in the unit for a short period. Challenge yourself to live within the system, not as just another cog.

Living is not accomplished by merely surviving.

You Know History? (part V)

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Seaside, OR

Current Day

I didn’t expect to wake up. Each and every sword that went into me, presumably to cover their tracks and make it look as though I’d been the one trying to kill the emperor, or something like that, had burned like a live brand until I’d finally lost consciousness. My last thought was literally the wonderment of what I’d done and how I had saved history. It was an egotistic thought, I get that now, but it was still a heady experience that I couldn’t just let go of. But I did have other things to think about once I came to, such as realizing that at some point I’d re-entered the water, though there was no body of water as deep as the one I found myself in at that moment.

My lungs were on fire was the next thought I had after seeing the light just above me, prompting my quick and violent expulsion from the wave that had just crashed over me. Disorientation was to be expected as I came bursting out of the surf, the sun shining on me as I quickly gained my bearings and looked down upon my body. There was not a mark, not a drop of blood that had been spilled, I was in one piece and not dying. Even the pain was a distant, lingering memory, but in my mind I quickly told myself that this had not been a hallucination, everything I’d seen was real.

I had changed history. No, no I had corrected it. Caligula might never have perished at the hands of his famed assassins, meaning that he had perished at some other time. It was a moment in history that many didn’t know about, but it was still one that was significant enough. What might the world have been like if Caligula had lived? But then I had to think about it. The world I remember from before my trip had still believed the emperor had been assassinated, but I had seen something that painted a very different picture. Someone back in that long ago day had lied, had wanted people to believe that Caligula had been killed in that passage.

But why?

More importantly, how many other lies were there in history?

My mind was already starting to make a list, disregarding whether or not this was a one-time occurrence or not and formulating a plan on where to go, what time period to visit next, and quite possibly what moment to put right.

The first thing I had to do was get out of the water and dry off, and then I could start searching. You’ll never guess who I picked next.

(to be continued)

Honesty Bites (part V)

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Multnomah County Corrections

Beaverton, OR

September 25th, 2021

There had been no judge that could see him on Friday despite the fact that he’d been hauled in during midday, so that meant he wouldn’t get to see a judge until Monday when he would be arraigned and released. He knew the drill, they could hold him for a short while on a misdemeanor but given the current state of overcrowding in the jails in these parts it was necessary to weed out the truly bad eggs and keep them on lockdown while those that were brought in for minor offenses, such as his, weren’t really worth the taxpayers’ time or resources. It was nice though to have a place to rest his head for a couple of days that wasn’t bare stone or dirt.

Sitting up in his bunk he’d been reading one of the few paperbacks that he’d found lying on the single table bolted to the far wall. After asking his cellmate if they were his the other man had grunted a negative, meaning that he could go ahead and do what he wanted with them. Between a Tom Clancy novel, a Christian romance, and some weird fantasy novel about a woman dressed all in green and hovering in midair on the cover he’d opted for Clancy. Normally when he read he preferred horror or fiction thrillers, but Clancy wasn’t too bad to be honest. He was little heavy on pointing out just who did what and for how long and yada yada yada, but that was obviously his writing style.

So far he’d managed to make his way through about a third of the book since picking it up, as going out into the common area didn’t hold a lot of appeal for him. It had nothing to do with his former profession, he simply didn’t feel like going anywhere at this particular moment. Of course when the buzzer for mealtime sounded he put the book down, careful to mark his place, and was sliding off of his bunk as his cellmate was already through the door.

Breakfast that morning had consisted of puffed rice cereal, a cold hardboiled egg, a carton of milk and a small packet of sugar. He’d gladly given his cereal to someone else without thinking to ask for anything. This was what inmates did, they bartered with each other for just about anything they could while offering what they had decided they could live without. It was what was done on the inside as he’d seen it, and for the most part some of them just wanted a little extra here and there since their meals were fairly sparse and came three times a day and no more.

Lunch was a single hot dog in what looked like watered-down chili, a handful of corn chips in the upper right corner of the lunch tray, and a carton of milk. Oh and of course there were two slices of white bread to go with everything. Bread was a common staple in a lot of jails as he’d seen, though he couldn’t figure out why. Some jails went through enough bread to feed a third-world country, but at least the inmates ate everything that was on their plate. Some of them, as he’d seen, tried to use the extra bread to make their own version of alcohol, a concoction called Pruno. The smell of the stuff was awful, and he’d confiscated more than one cup of it in his time spent as a guard.

Inmates did just about anything to pass the time, as there wasn’t a lot else they could do.

(to be continued)

Where Does Morality End?

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Morality is defined as the extent to which an action is right or wrong. So in essence if you decide to harm someone intentionally then your moral code is thought to have shifted decidedly into the wrong, as harming others in any way for no good reason is not an acceptable behavior or action in a civilized society. But then what about all those that are harmed by means that are not as overt and obvious? What does it about the morality of those that do harm by proxy? How about those that cause harm by giving orders to others that go out and kill in the name of their country? Do they enjoy a moral high ground because they haven’t been on the ground performing the actions that they’ve convinced others needs to be undertaken?

Morality has been a virtue that has been over and underused throughout history.

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What’s unfortunate is that morality can be used as an opportunistic device that is utilized when it grants an advantage and cast aside when it doesn’t. This undermines the idea of morality, which is meant to be much more hard-nosed and uncompromising, no matter that it might force an individual to do or say things that others will not agree with. A good example is the very idea of teaching morality to one’s children. It’s not an easy job and comes with a lot of pitfalls, but at the same time it is important and not always a popular method that teaches them what to expect society and what society expects from them.

Morality is more than just words given over to an idea, it is a very strong sense of right and wrong that guides us and unites us, and in some cases divides us as we try to figure out where we sit on the scale of what’s right and wrong. The problem with this is that too many people believe themselves to be right without weighing the cost of their confidence in what they believe in.

To some, morality is the smokescreen that is used to justify their actions and words when it is most needed. For others, it is the unwavering code by which they live that will not bend or break no matter the demands of others. Right, wrong, or otherwise, one’s sense of morality is meant to stand firm against all opposition after being considered and weighed against their own beliefs. If one’s morality continually shifts to accommodate others then they have no code, and thereby no real sense of the word.

Morality ends when people refuse to see the line between right and wrong.

Real Role Models

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So what is a ‘real role model’? Is is someone that changes your life? Is it a person that comes along and helps you when you’re feeling down? Or is it just someone you happen to notice along the way through life and tend to be inspired by? To be honest it’s all of those things and a lot more depending on each individual. What inspires one person might not quite do it for the next, and what inspires each and every person tends to fall along their line of interest and will help determine how their life turns out. A role model might not be a person that you connect with or even get to meet in life, but through their actions and words you might find the inspiration you need to kick start the life that you’ve always wanted.

Role models are the people that lift you up.

Like I mentioned, they don’t need to be physically present to entice you to change your life or follow the path that you’ve always wanted. Positive role models are those that will inspire a person in many different ways and will exemplify the character traits that a person seeks to emulate in order to become the type of individual they want to be. It’s always encouraged to be your own person in life, but there are many ways that a role model can at least set an example for other people to follow, thereby giving them the means to follow a path in their own way and allowing them to become their own person.

Unfortunately there is such a thing as a bad role model.

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This is a very subjective thing to say but the truth of it is that those who view society as their own personal playground and seek to use and abuse those around them in an attempt to gain attention are bad role models. Those that don’t seem to care about the damage their actions and words will do to others are not the kind of folks that need to be emulated and tend to be those that do and say such things either for publicity, which means they are posers that don’t believe in what they say and do, or are just folks that have no moral filter when it comes to their fellow human being. Some might call them more truthful and raw than anyone else, but the honest truth is that they’re the most frightened of anyone within a given society.

Does that sound bold? I hope it does, because those that serve as some of the worst role models tend to have issues in their past that aren’t meant to be made fun of, but are instead used as excuses to act in a manner that is anything but positive. While some claim it’s just for entertainment purposes others make it into a lifestyle as it becomes a shield to guard away the hurt and fear that they hold inside.

A positive role model will accept the hard knocks and misfortunes that life has to give and will keep moving forward. They might break a time or two, but they’re not perfect. Role models are those that we look up to, that we wish to be like, and, if all goes well, inspire us to be better than we are sometimes.

Just make sure to pick the right one to follow, for you.