You know technology is a lot like a river flowing by. You can reach down and grab it. For that instance you understand a piece of the master puzzle. Then you look up and see the rest of the water has passed you by and the little bit of water you cling to is dated and slipping away. Today’s technology is moving so fast that it takes all of one’s energy just to stand on the shore and watch it turn into tomorrow’s new creations. Let me illustrate. There was a time back in the late 1980s and early 1990s where I worked at length on Apple Macintosh computers. The interface was so much simpler than using BASIC computer language to write the most rudimentary programs as I had been taught in school. The Apple was sleek and easy to use. It was surely the future. I worked extensively on the system and had all my information saved in its format. Then IBM computers started appearing with this “Windows” thing on them. It was not compatible with my Apple data so I paid it no attention. It would seem that I was one of the few who ignored Mr. Gates’ new software platform. Pretty soon I was discovering everyone had an “IBM Compatible” computer and the only people left using Apples were architects and other designers. It is safe to say I do not fall into that category. Now I had a problem. I was standing next to the river of technology just letting go of the water I had scooped up. Unfortunately, the advent of the dominant Windows platform was now far downstream. The only thing to do was wade into this river and try to pick up on the new method from those who had already been baptized in the new religion. It was like learning the alphabet backward at first but with the help of some friends and coworkers I converted to Windows. I had to be careful, though. I was standing in the middle of the technology river with new products all around moving passed, becoming outdated (The Walkman), replaced by (The Discman) and improved upon (The MP3) all while I was consumed with the computer issue. There was Windows 3.1. Before I had that down Windows 95 came along and it was as if the atom had been split again. I doubled my efforts there and learned it before Windows 98 was born. Then I took the plunge and dropped a wad of cash on a computer which was out of date before the ink was dry on the receipt. There’s the rub. You invest so much in a computer that you aren’t ready to toss it aside whenever a new version comes along and so once again technology passes downstream. I saw Windows 2000 and Millennium go by. Then my computer died as it turns out they like to do. They seem to have the life span of a Kim Kardashian marriage. I bought an XP. Then I had to change how I did some things before it broke and I had to buy the dreaded Windows Vista. That system changed all the rules. It took years to learn and master. I watched Windows 7 pass by like that beautiful young girl you knew in school but were never brave enough to ask out. Instead I waited until the evil Vista turned on me and I had no choice but to get out and save what little data I could. I found myself washed up on the shore staring at the monster that was Windows 8.1 and had no choice but to submit. Now I am trying to catch up once again as I am sure technology is floating some other beast my way. It’s tempting to hold on to a hand full of the technology river. But when it leaks away and you go back for more, the science has changed and it is hard to get your hands around, much less you mind.
There is a movement in this country to not discriminate against people because of their weight or size. As a person who is not small I applaud this movement. For too long there has been support and even laws to protect other minorities while “Fat” people are not only open to daily ridicule but blatant discrimination. Nowhere is this more evident than in the healthcare industry. It has reached the point where insurance companies only want to insure you against being sick if they think you won’t GET sick. That’s messed up. The whole reason for having insurance companies in the first place is to absorb the cost when you ARE sick. If you are overweight they figure you are more likely to need medical care. Knowing the medical industry and their love of studies I do not debate the validity of this. So what do they do to the people who need their services most? They discriminate against them and charge them more even if the obesity is not something they have control over. People can be alcoholics or drug users and they are said to have a “Sickness.” Fair enough. Overweight people are simply treated as lazy. That is unfair. Not everyone who has a weight problem has control over it. There are dozens of mitigating circumstances but they are cast aside by our judgmental society and insurance industry. Where’s the sympathy and understanding for them? When I was growing up there was an emphasis on being thin. In our culture thin people are viewed as more attractive than heavy ones. That’s nothing new. The level of scrutiny now, however, is higher than I can ever remember. My father had a crush on Marilyn Monroe and from what I gather he was not alone. She was a size 8. Today she would be considered a blimp in our ultra-thin society. She was an absolutely beautiful woman. I can’t picture people calling her fat. Something changed over the years. It is said to have come from the runways of fashion where models that look like heroin addicts have become the norm. Watch “The Devil Wears Prada” sometime and you’ll see what I mean. Somewhere along the way though, people started to make ultrathin into ultrachic. It was after my generation. The model I think best exemplifies the X generation is Cindy Crawford. She still looks amazing. She was never a toothpick, though. She was a normal, healthy woman. Today they would say she was too big. I listen to young adults talking and the topic that always comes up is, “What gym do you belong to?” It’s like everyone is in a gym these days. Society dictates it. With all due respect to people who suffer with alcoholism, young people treat alcoholics with more respect than obese people. Why is one considered a sickness while the other is just a weakness? That is just wrong. Both people need help. Then there are the mixed messages all around. People talk about all the sex in advertising and television and then preach abstinence to their children. In the same way we have doctors and “Wellness Professionals” telling us to stay away from carbs, fat and meat while commercials and restaurants throw bacon wrapped Angus sirloin burgers in a peppercorn ranch sauce with curly fries in front of us. (Actually that sounds pretty tasty) One good thing I’ll say about being fat as opposed to other illnesses. I can gorge myself on pizza and still drive home safely afterward. Take that Doc!
Mandrean drops a bomb at the end of this one.
“If everything goes exactly as you say we will still have a problem you have not considered. The northern border of Romadon is separated by a mountain range with only three passes. For protection Romadon’s King built fortresses in the passes to keep the goblins in check. If your assault succeeds, those forts would likely be reduced in strength or abandoned completely. We know the Cangons are up to something. If they were to take advantage of the situation and invade from the north, would your army fight their own brothers?”
Mandrean’s face turned pale. Then he said in a modest tone, “They have sworn allegiance to me and will serve me until death.” Again Gramlick laughed. “I once told a girl I loved her. It didn’t mean I was married to her. “What I am trying to say,” Gramlick concluded. “Is that even if things go exactly the way you desire, you will likely find yourself trapped between two armies in command of one about to mutiny.” Mandrean stomped back to his throne and drank from his goblet. “Why must you crush my dreams of conquest?” he asked of his former teacher. “I am looking out for your best interest,” Gramlick offered. “I have planned and won many battles for you. This is not one you were meant to win.” “So you want me to just give up on defeating Romadon?” Mandrean snapped. “Why must you defeat them at all?” Gramlick said as he limped toward the throne. “They are a powerful nation and would make a great ally. They have never made an aggressive move toward us. I am also told you are holding Princess Mirianna captive. Take her as your bride and unite the two houses. We would have markets for our goods and a valuable friend in the west.” “What is it about today that makes everyone want me to take a bride?” Mandrean asked rhetorically. “I am told she is a beauty beyond compare,” Gramlick prodded. “Well she won’t be for long,” Mandrean grinned. “I do not want an ally, a trading partner or a wife. I want Romadon, defeated, subjugated and crushed. As for their Princess, I have turned her over to our head jailor for interrogation. She will give up all her secrets. Then her body will be dismembered and returned to her father. Perhaps we can force him to attack us for a change.”
Gramlick shook his head and looked at the floor in disappointment. “My Lord, even after all these years your strongest trait is your tenacity. In this instance it will be your undoing.” Mandrean thought for a moment and smiled widely. “I do not think so, Old Friend. We will attack in a fortnight. We will win.” Gramlick stared at his master with contempt and placed his hand on his hip. “Just how do you figure that?” Mandrean sat up with fine posture and said, “Because I will lead the armies.” Gramlick nodded in acknowledgement though not in agreement. “So you believe your presence there will alter the outcome?” Mandrean’s smile continued to grow. “In a way.” Then he addressed the entire court. “Perhaps you have all heard of the Red Sapphire?”
Here’s your Saturday excerpt.
Linvin’s head popped up and stared at his uncle. “Then what is this all about?” Anvar returned to his rocking and puffing. After a few moments he formulated his words and spoke, “Your mother was absolutely set against your leaving. What you have been experiencing tonight is the life your mother has envisioned for you since you were born.” “And my father’s plan?” “I can only hope his plan died with him. It was reckless and dangerous. With any luck at all, it would never bear fruit.” “Just tell me, Anvar, what was his plan?” “It is not for me to say,” Anvar answered. “It was not my plan.” “So what am I supposed to do?” Linvin demanded. Anvar looked up at the sky. Only a few clouds obscured the view. At that moment, one of the clouds had hidden the reflection of the moon. “Look at the sky Linvin. Tell me, is the moon out tonight?” Linvin leaned back and took in the sky. “Yes,” he answered simply. “How do you know?” asked Anvar. “I do not see the moon anywhere.” “It is right there,” pointed Linvin. “There are just some clouds blocking it from view.” “But you are sure it is there?” asked Anvar. “Prove it to me. How can you prove that the moon is there?”
“Well,” Linvin said as he rubbed his chin, “We can just wait here until it comes out from behind that cloud. Then you will see it.” “So even though the answer may be there all along, I will not be able to see it until the time is right?” Anvar asked. “Well, of course,” Linvin stated. “Unless you believe it is there all the time, then your only choice is to wait for it to reveal itself.” “So you are telling me that I must just believe the moon is there until it appears and proves it? You seem quite confident in the outcome. How do you know that the moon will appear again?” “I do not know,” said Linvin. “I guess it just always comes out sooner or later.” Anvar smiled and remarked, “And so will the answer to your question, my boy. The answer is out there. What you must do, is wait for it to present itself; just like your moon. Until then, you must believe the answer will appear.” Linvin looked at the sky and rocked his chair. “And what do I do until I get my answer?” “I would suggest giving your mother’s ideas a chance. No one said you have to get married right away. Get involved with the business. It needs you right now. I see a lot of your father in you and I think you will take to it quite well. Try things your mother’s way and get to know the woman who will always love you more than any other. Otherwise, the day will come when you will wish you had known her better. Besides, there is more to do around here than wait for the moon to poke through some clouds.”
I am one of those people who calls things what they are. My case in point today is insurance. This is legalized racketeering. I feel like I am paying protection money to the mob only they find a way to make this legal. Then these companies have the unmitigated gall to go on the media and advertise for your business. I once had to get a bid for some insurance work (which they ended up not covering) and the contractor told me one of those simple but true sayings that stick with you. He said, “Insurance companies don’t make money by paying claims. They make money by collecting premiums.” Sounds like a dumb revelation, right? But look at all the commercials out there for insurance. They talk about how they’re there for you in a crisis and how quickly they pay your claim. Then they show some agent handing a blanket to a person who just had their home destroyed. Enjoy the blanket, Dude, because IF they pay your claim you’ll be at the Motel 6 for at least a month first. Not only do they want your money, but they want to pick and choose who they cover and how much to charge for their protection. If it’s health insurance they want you to take a physical. If you aren’t in perfect health it’s going to cost you. And if you need a procedure done, first you have to shell out your money as a “deductible” before they will kick in, even though you’re paying them to protect you. How about driving? Well, if you had a ticket or traded paint with another car 2 years ago you might as well be playing Grand Theft Auto in real life from their perspective. Oh, you have a straight A student dependent who just received their license? Yeah, that just doubled your rate. I had a flood in my basement where the sump pumps couldn’t keep up with the water pouring in and I was told it would only be covered if the water came in through a window or a pipe burst. So I would have been better off to open the windows and let the water in that way? What’s wrong with this picture? I have full coverage on my car and a stone cracked the windshield over about an 18 inch length. No problem. I have glass coverage, right? Well, it seems if the windshield needs to be replaced there is a $500 deductible that must be met first. It’s only $345 to have them replace it. I called a local place and they’ll do it on site for $225. Thank goodness I had the insurance for that one, not. So I called the insurance person and told them their insurance was worthless. They said chips would be covered free. Well the phone book has a dozen coupons for free or cheap chip repair. How is that worth what they are charging? But the worst part, the very worst part about insurance is that you have to have it. It’s the law and its common sense because God forbid something catastrophic does happen and you don’t have it. You could get sued or be paying till you’re past on. Man I hate insurance.
I was watching the show “Shark Tank” with my perspective daughter-in-law last night. (For those of you who don’t know “Shark Tank” is a show in which people with new businesses come before a group of billionaires and offer as little of their company as they can for investment capital.) The billionaires want to make as much money off these people as possible if it is a good idea. Therefore, if they see an opportunity they will offer harsh terms for their money knowing these people are only here because they could not find capitol elsewhere. If the concept doesn’t appeal to a Shark they opt out of the bidding. Time after time we watched people with good ideas fumble in front of these self-impressed fat cats because they could not pitch or sell their really good product well. One of the sharks said she could sell a nail polish product a person was making on QVC in no time. So the young lady who will one day marry my son turned and asked, “What’s QVC?” I thought for a moment and said, “The spawn of Satan!” You can turn on the television and not be able to find the remote. In the time it takes you find that remote the evil people on that station and its twin, HSN will have you convinced to buy something you not only don’t need but upon reflection don’t really want. They tell you how great a deal it is and that it can’t last long. There is a clock counting down in the corner of the screen. Then there is limited stock. Another counter is going through the roof. They get a buyer on the phone who is so happy and they just gush about the product. Then the salesmen (and women) keep pointing out features and benefits. This was what my thought process was about a laptop they were selling. If you could have read my mind this is what you would have heard. “Hm. A laptop. I don’t need one of those…Wow. That thing looks light. The guy is just casually holding it open with one hand…Look how thin it is and the screen is so thin and bright…Wow, is that “Finding Nemo” their showing? It looks awesome on that screen…No way. It has 1000 gigs of ram? That’s insane for a laptop…And it comes with a 10 year antivirus and lifetime warranty/service so when I don’t know what to do I can just call them? If I get a virus they’ll just fix it?...The battery goes for 8 hours…There are 4 colors to choose from; wait one just sold out. Drat! I liked that color. Well the black one’s still pretty cool looking but they’re almost out of that one too?...And it’s only $499.99 for the whole thing with free shipping and handling. I know I’ve seen more expensive ones than that in the store because I just bought a new desktop a few months back and they were way more expensive…Hang on. In 30 minutes the price goes up $100…This is too good a deal to pass up.” I explained every part to my young counterpart and realized she knew as much about computers as I do about rocket science. She asked if I was getting it. I paused and realized this was meant to be an example of how they sell on this station and here I was ready to open my wallet. After changing the channel I sat for a minute and realized what I had almost done. Man, these people are good at their job. Like I said, the Spawn of Satan! I gotta get my books on there.
Fantasy fiction is my passion. This series embodies my love for a good story and action. You will find it to be many things, but not boring! Read what you love and love what you read...