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Tuesday, April 24, 2012

The Foreword from Ragnarok, the final book in my Reluctant Hero Trilogy, by my editor, Karen M. P. Carlson





                                                                 Foreword

It has been my pleasure once again to get a sneak preview of a Reluctant Hero novel.  This third book in the trilogy brings together characters and themes from the earlier books for an exciting and satisfying conclusion. 
            The story is based around the idea of Ragnarok – the final destiny of the gods – from Norse mythology.  As in the previous novels in the series, the Norse/Germanic gods play a central role, interacting with and supporting the action on the human plane.  Among the human characters there are heroes and villains.  The heroes, especially, are far from simplistic cardboard cutouts; some of the most endearing are also fatally flawed.  And the gods themselves are mortal – limited in their knowledge and power; they are subject to their fates as are men. 
            While the story is based around tales and values from Germanic heathenry, its themes are relevant to other world-views as well.  If you are familiar with the concept of karma, for example, you will see it played out in this story.  Ideas and ideals that are common to many cultures – such as justice and loyalty – are portrayed.  The chilling potential consequences of ignoring those ideals are also portrayed, sometimes graphically. 
            As with the previous books in the trilogy, this is a novel, a work of fiction.  It is not a retelling of the Norse myth, and deviates from the pre-Christian lore at times.  But the basic framework from the lore is there, fleshed out with the sort of how-it-might-happen detail that brings it to life.  What would happen if there was an extended winter?  How would men react? 
            There are subtle warnings about what could happen if the earth’s balance is lost, and there are observations on the dangers of complacency in happy, well adjusted societies, as well as about the consequences of overweening pride and greed. 
            Like the first and second novels in the trilogy, while Ragnarok has a moral point, explores philosophical themes, and brings in some interesting bits of real history, it is above all a lively and entertaining read. 

Karen M. P. Carlson  

Monday, April 23, 2012

Real Men Don't Need Instructions

Originally, this essay was penned in jest, to make a point; it did.  Those points are still valid today.


                                               Real Men Don’t Need Instructions

I have a favorite tee-shirt.  On the front are the printed words, “Real Men Don’t Need Instructions.”  I wear this shirt for my daily workouts at the local gym.  Recently, when in route to the gym and while wearing the shirt, a late thirties-something, politically correct female read the inscription and curtly told me, “All men need instructions.”  When I countered with a, “Excuse me?” the statement was repeated with the implied voice inflection that I interpreted as this:  Men can’t do anything right without somebody or something (a woman) pulling them along by the nose.  Unfortunately, for some men, that is correct but, I love a challenge.
            In this wacky, politically correct world that we live in men are not permitted to be men. Within the last fifty years real men are looked upon as archaic and outdated; not needed or wanted in this “modern era.”  Traditional manly virtues are considered obtuse and therefore not required.  Overall, many men have left various social and political pressures emasculate them, and that has created a nation of eunuchs.  But thank the gods, not all hope is lost.  Men have begun to reclaim their masculinity, and what it means to be a man.  Below I’ve listed a few examples to identify “real men,” and this list can be used by those males who wish to become one.

1)      Real men know how to fish, hunt, and plant.  These activities give men the knowledge of where food comes from, thereby creating within them a deep respect for Nature; the deeper the respect for Nature the greater the ability for the man to understand himself.
2)      Real men know how to read and write, especially the Classics.
3)      Real men can add, subtract, multiply, and divide without the use of a handheld calculator. They understand what all these electronic marvels (i.e., the computer) really are; tools to be used to accomplish an end, not something that enslaves and dumbs down real knowledge.  Real men are not afraid to use their brains.
4)      Real men know the true meaning of courage.
5)      Real men know how to drive a nail, use a hand saw, and what end of a screwdriver is the “business end.”  Real men are not afraid to get their hands dirty.  Do not expect to find a real man getting a manicure. 
6)      Real men write poetry, even though it may sound silly to others.
7)      Real men know how to share “tears, beers, and fears” with friend(s).
8)      Real men know the difference between guilt, grief, and remorse and act accordingly.
9)      Real men respect and honor women.  They know a woman’s strength and do not fear it.  Real men welcome it. 
10)  Real men honor their oaths and commitments to the best of their ability.
11)  Real men engage in honest labor to earn their “daily bread.”
12)  Real men do not intentionally take advantage of others.
13)  Real men are comfortable “in their own skin” and have a healthy, positive opinion of themselves.
14)  Real men constantly seek knowledge, experience, and wisdom.  For them, that is a never ending journey.  Real men want to improve their lives and the lives of others.
15)  Real men find more beauty in a single sunrise and sunset then a dozen “sissified, politically correct male drones” will find in the Louvre.  Nature is a real queen. 
16)  Real men take care of themselves.  They understand the body-mind-spirit connection. Real men care for their body; it is the vehicle for experience.  They know the importance of diet, exercise, sleep, and moderating vices.  Real men are not drunks or gluttons. 
17)  Real men are knowledgeable of the world they live in and can hold an intelligent conversation on a variety of topics.
18)  Real men take responsibility for their words and deeds.  They understand that their actions can make or break them and act accordingly.  Be it for good or ill, real men embrace their fate as theirs and do not seek pity for something that they did that turned foul; they do not look for absolution outside of themselves.
19)  Real men are NOT Lemmings.  They are not moved by the latest fad or trend. Real men think for themselves.
20)  Real men know how to dress for any occasion. They do not wear their pants, belted, half-way down their ass exposing underwear that impedes forward movement.  Real men know how to properly wear a cap or hat.  Real men do not dress themselves like little boys.
21)  Real men can cook, clean, and thread a needle.
22)  Real men are comfortable celebrating their heritage.
23)  Real men are not afraid to speak out and stand up for a cause that they believe is just, even when the status quo tells them to sit down and shut up.
24)  Real men accept their life but are never satisfied, constantly seeking ways to improve it.
25)  Real men know the importance of some form of Divinity in their lives and find an expression that best suits them.
26)  Real men know that love evolves; it changes daily, like everything else in this world. Real men know that if all you have is “red hot monkey sex” going into a marriage, it will not last.   
27)  Real men do not boast or bluster of things that they cannot deliver; they carry within them a certain level of humility.
28)  Real men are generous to family and friends; they despise misers and thieves.
29)  Real men find truth, beauty, and life in simple things; things that do not have a price tag.
30)  Real men know the importance of family, kin, and ancestors, and revel in them.
31)  Real men finish what they start.

The above is a brief “Real Man I.D.” list. With some imagination you can add to it. So why is it that “Real Men Don’t Need Instructions?”   The answer should be glaringly apparent.  Real men know how, one way or another, to get the job done.  We just do it.  What are you waiting for?  And yes, this post will probably offend some of those politically correct eunuchs.  Too bad for them.    



                                                Copyright@2009 Terry Unger

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

And.....You Want Change???

There are five published books out there that are offered for sale in various venues with my name on them.  Blogging has become an obsession.  Many topics are tossed around in my Reluctant Hero Trilogy and in my blog posts and, from time to time, a solution or two is offered.  By no means do I lay personal claim to genius but I am in no way a blithering idiot.  Recently, I published a blog post titled, Living In Walmart.  In that post I recalled how in the past, beer and soda bottles were recycled.  Then I mentioned that the beer and soda manufacturers should return to that method of bottling/packaging instead of continuing to use plastic throw-a-ways.  I sadly lamented that that would not happen because of the negative effects to the manufacturers' bottom line (plastic is cheap).  But that does not mean it cannot be done in the future.  And the future was an evident point made in Living In Walmart.  So, why am I bitching?  I got a telephone call.

An acquaintance of mine left me know that I should keep my opinions to myself.  He said that all I did was complain and offered no real solutions.  I asked the man what suggestions he had to give me, other than keeping my opinions to myself; I was all ears.  My question was answered with silence, punctuated by a hard swallow or two (thought the guy was gonna choke).  I turned the conversation to my advantage.  When I asked how he could criticize my work without a ready answer (solution), in effect just shooting off his mouth, he hung up (reversal of fortune is tough for some people!).  In no way was this taken as a personal loss, far from it.  It's OK to be critical, but keep your belligerence in your back pocket; you may choke on it.

Change is hard, inevitable, and at times rough but it can be worked through.  That bottle business that I wrote about in Living In Walmart took decades for it to reach the proportions that it is today.  The future demands long term planning/thinking and not thinking/planning on the cheap.  Sacrifice can be painful and expensive, depending on how you measure life.  Answers will not be found at the bottom of those throw-a-way bottles; they ain't no Cracker Jack Box.  Find them in your head and act.  Saying that it cannot be done  is the first and final step to failure.

                                                    Copyright@ 2012 Terry Unger

Monday, April 16, 2012

Living In Walmart

We have everything.  Any doubts about that, go to your local Walmart.  Anything and everything can be found within Walmart's many isles.  If they do not have it, go to the next one down the street.  But, that does not mean that the shopper will find the best price.  The consummate shopper can find some of those same items at better prices in their local supermarket.  There are other things, that are not for sale, at Walmart.

If you enjoy "people watching," visit your local Walmart.  On any given day at any Walmart, life is a circus; this Big Top offers many shows.  But the people featured in those "shows" (like the poorly dressed belly flappers in need of a bath) are unwitting examples of our society.  And do not forget that the wealthy and the unwashed are Walmart shoppers; the Mercedes and the Beamers park alongside the old pickup trucks.

The Walmart experience is a mirror image of our society.  We Expect low prices and at the same time, great value for our dollar.  We get neither.  Today, people want the best in life while applying little or no effort to get it.  In the end, quality always trumps cheap; quality endures the test of time while the cheap quickly decays.

In our current times people look for the quick fix and are not concerned about the long term, the future.  If we can "buy" the present, why worry about the future; this is wrong.  Tossing the future for immediate gratification not just blunts but condemns future growth - in anything.  Buying on the cheap is not just a "Walmart thing," but exists in general within our society.

It is the throw-away, disposable life.  We trash away plastic water, beer, and soft drink bottles and cans (thirty-five years ago if you would have told me that today we would be buying water in a plastic bottle I would have laughed in your face....water? you've got to be kidding!).  And plastic bags are still the norm and not the exception.  OK, so what about recycling?  Many years ago, we HAD a great recycling system.  Sadly for many, it is a distant memory and a fact completely foreign to maybe two generations.

If you wanted a beer, you bought it by the case and paid a deposit on the bottles.  The same was true for soft drink bottles.  When you bought another case, you returned the empties.  The empties went back to the brewery/soft drink plant and were cleaned, sanitized, and relabeled.  The damaged bottles were sent out and ground down to make new bottles.  That was recycling at its' best.  And, if you did not have an empty case to swap out, you paid the deposit on the new one.  Those metal cans that contained fruits and veggies found their way into the scrap metal heap and were used again.  When you left the supermarket, you toted home your groceries in paper bags.  Almost all folks used those bags for their household garbage (bio-degradable food scraps) and neatly wrapped the paper bags with contents in newspaper for pickup and disposal.  Please note that all of the above was a matter-of-fact way of life that happened long before the word recycle(d) was coined.  For myself and others, we urge the soft-drink and beer manufacturers to return to that old system.  Unfortunately, unless they are forced, they will not.  Plastics are cheaper and do not take away from their bottom line.  Yes, some states do require a deposit on some glass and plastic bottles.  Does that make a difference?  It appears that it does not.  Those bottles just are added to the litter debris.

Recently my wife and I enjoyed a day at the beach in Galveston, Texas; warm water and even warmer sun.  But, some of our fellow beach-goers were pigs.  Galveston has huge garbage disposal units that are placed almost equidistant from each other.  A few families were just too damned lazy to put their trash into them; they left it on the beach.  One family dug a hole and buried their trash.  It took more time and energy to dig that hole than it would have taken to walk the trash over to the garbage container.  And by the way, there is nothing like walking barefoot on the beach and stepping on a loose pop top ring from a beer or soda can.  Think about that the next time you visit your neighborhood Walmart.  

                                                  Copyright@2012 Terry Unger

           


Thursday, April 12, 2012

Ungerland

A stranger man asked us what our home was like.  We replied,

"You can see it when the first rays of the Sun reflect off an eagle's eye.

It is the laughter of a clean running stream.

It is the yawning of a mother grizzly at noon.

You can hear it and feel it when the wind rushes through a mountain fastness.

It is the smile on a child when knowing is new.

It is the sight of yours, making its own.

You can taste it when the first sweet snowflake of winter melts on your tongue.

It is the pebble in your shoe that forces you on.

It is the worm on your hook that says...... I'm ready.

And you can smell it when your hearts burns to return."

The stranger man asked, "Is this place heaven?"

"No," we relied.  "It's our Home."

The stranger man was puzzled and walked away.

We smiled and hand in hand, went Home.

One man's Home is a quandary for another.  


                               Copyright @2012 Terry and Sandra Unger







Monday, April 9, 2012

A Better Life

A better life - everybody wants one, unless you already have it.  People bitch and complain, listing all sorts of reasons why they cannot latch on to that better kind of living.  It appears that there may be one reason for this:  laziness, but not of the sort that just popped into your mind.  The word itself stirs up thoughts of non-physical, couch potato activity, even sloth.  But, a person's thoughts and beliefs also can be lazy and just hanging off the couch too.

When decisions have been made for people they tend to be content and are willing to live with those predetermined decisions.  For so many, challenging what has been considered acceptable and immutable for centuries is just something that they do not want to get involved with.  Hey, why rock the boat (within their own head) and have nightmares?  And, even when some folks admit to those immutable decision's illogical points, they will not move themselves away from them.  Here it comes.  This is what Christians do and it explains why so many of them are the way that they are - lost.

For millennia, the Judeo-Christian Tradition has made arbitrary decisions for its faithful.  Those decisions were made into doctrine, dogma, and creed; they cover all aspects of a person's life.  Do not be mistaken, it is all about controlling hearts and minds; it has nothing to do with "salvation."  Have you not wondered, why  the JCT is so interested in what goes on in your bedroom?  Don't you think it strange that a bunch of men want to dictate women's health issues, based on the JCT doctrine, dogma, and creed?  So tell us Pilgrim, do you really think that there are just ten commandments?  If you say yes, guess again.  There are over 600 more; read the book of Leviticus.  Fear and ignorance beats people into submission.

Many Christian folk love the bible verse, John 3:16, supposedly concerning their god's love for humanity; this god allowed his son to be killed so "believers" are no longer responsible for their behavior.  That's nice, but in my opinion, the verse always is taken out of context.  The reader/believer needs to start from John 3:14 through John 3:20.  Another fear factor shows its ugly head.  If you do not believe and accept this love sacrifice made for you, you are destined for hell.  The Christian all loving god behaves like a spoiled 9 year old child - again.  Read the Old Testament for this god's earlier exploits.  Here we have another example of, "Do what I tell you to do or you're dead."  That is typical of human behavior, not that of an all-loving god.  The JCT preaches that a person has free will.  However, if you want to be "saved," you must surrender your free will and submit to the will of their god; an immature, nine year old brat.  Where is the common sense in that?  There is none.    Many Christians recognize how illogical these two points are, but they are too lazy to push through and consider more.  The fantasy is preferred; less to think about because the decision has already been made for them.  It is not a secret that the JCT crippled human evolution and advancement within the arts and sciences; it is still referred to as the Dark Ages.

Once the JCT had, in the guise of the Catholic Church, gained a firm foothold within a territory, they began to work on the control of hearts and minds.  There are many examples of early assaults on human minds, all done in the name of Jesus.  Probably the best known of these is the final burning of the Library of Alexandria.

Crazed, robed monks carried torches and ran through the streets screaming for all to hear that all they needed to know was Jesus, as they burned everything in sight.  Not only did those ignorant reprobates incinerate millennia spanning knowledge, they also murdered Hypathia, the caretaker of the Library and without a doubt one of the greatest Pagan minds south of the Alps.  All done in the name of their lord Jesus.  And it did not stop.  The Dark Ages overlapped the many years known as The Inquisition.

Anything and anyone not in sync with with JCT doctrine, dogma, and creed was eliminated; intelligent people were tortured, forced to "recant" and then burned alive.  If you helped in the delivery of a baby and knew something about medicinal herbs, your goose was cooked, literally.  Some of the more notable people, like Galileo, were put under house arrest, and forbidden to speak publicly to anyone, even after they had recanted.  Galileo's crime?  He championed heliocentrism - the earth and other planets revolve around the sun, not the other way around.  He failed to overcome the immutable word of the JCT god, written in stone within their scripture.  The biblical verse, 1 Chronicles 16:30, Psalm verses 93:1, 96:30, 104:5, and Ecclesiastes 1:5 all state that their god made earth the center of the universe and all else revolves around it.  Period. Immutable.  End of story.  It did not help Galileo's case that he managed to piss off the pope of his time; an Urban something (hey come on....there are a lot of them and a person can easily lose count).  Galileo was hauled in front of The Inquisition, tried and found guilty of heresy.  His predecessor, Copernicus did not fair well either.  Johannes Kepler wrote a book and his mother damned near died at the stake as a witch.  All of this and more because the JCT wanted to suppress scientific fact.

There are those out there that spout slogans and sing songs about the wonderful contributions the Church made to music and art.  Sure, as long as it was in sync with their doctrine, dogma, and creed.  DaVinci had his share of problems too.  As to the question of art, have you, Pilgrim, ever wondered why a short, dark-shinned middle eastern Jew was always and still is painted as a tall European white guy?   Just asking.  If you get the chance to meet Copernicus, Galileo, Kepler, or DaVinci, ask them.

The great, down-trodden unwashed masses were forbidden, yes forbidden to read their holy book, the bible.  That was something left for their semi-literate priests to do for them.  The irony about this point:  bibles existed only in churches and monasteries (later in history that changed with the Protestant Reformation and Gutenberg's printing press... but more more problems were created).  And, the illiteracy rate of the general populace was almost 100%.  So what....a guy gets caught with a book he can't read....off with his head!  Doink!!!

You make think that this blog post is just another rant by a crazy man.  Maybe it is just that.  Or, it's a plea for science and reason to finally trump the man-made "immutable" doctrine, dogma, and creed of the JCT.

If you can move your mind away from its' lazy submission, ask yourself where humanity would be today had it not had to suffer a thousand years of darkness and fear?  Would there have been a Black Plague?  Would we today, have a cure for cancer?  Would we have been to the moon and beyond long before 1969?  And know this Pilgrim:  our ancestors (yes, yours and mine) knew very well the sacredness and sanctity of the Earth and the inter-connectedness of all life.  All life, not just humans.  Big or small, all life was/is a part of the greater Multiverse.  All of that understanding was destroyed with a few verses (and time) from the JCT's book of Genesis.  If you have courage, read The Voluspa and The Havamal.  Ancient wisdom, not immutable doctrine, dogma, and creed.....from your ancestors.  It just may be your gateway to that better life.

                                                    Copyright@ Terry Unger 2012  

Our Visit to Sutton Hoo

When walking the grounds, you can feel the specialness of this place.  It is quiet, save the wind rustling through the trees.  The ages...