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Monday, April 28, 2014

A Man Called Egil



There are many people you will meet in your lifetime that you will like; they may be nothing more than acquaintances that can hold up their end of a good conversation.  Then there are others that, to use and old phrase, creep you out.  Egil Skallagrimsson,  of the long ago Viking Age, was a man that people either liked or just plain did not.  In any case, friend or not, a person did not want to get on Egil's bad side.  Egil could go from a state of hateful battle rage to composing some of the world's most beautiful poetry in a matter of seconds.  

Egil was not born a handsome child; some believe that his fiery temper developed while he was still in his mother's womb, taking away any chance of generous features.  That temper often ruled over reason and Egil killed his first time at a very young age.  After reporting to his parents about the first life he had taken, Egil's mother predicted that one day he would be a great Viking leader.  It seems that mothers know everything; she was right.  

Remarkably, Egil often composed his skaldic verse, loaded with kennings, after he defeated and dispatched an opponent.  This begs the question:  how thin and/or perforated is the line between berserker rage and poetic genius?  Maybe sometimes that's why the term divine madness is used when going from rage to creativity.  But what do I know.  The only things I kill are words and the occasional mosquito.     

                                                   Copyright @2014 Terry Unger

Friday, April 18, 2014

Balder Died




There is much wisdom to be gained from The Prose Edda, The Poetic Edda, and the sagas of Northern Europe.  These stories and prose are rich in meaning and so often this meaning runs deeper then just the words on the pages.  Balder's story is one of these.  

Balder is the son the High One, Odin, and his wife, the Goddess Frigga.  Often, Balder is referred to as "beautiful, the shining one."  Balder is a good God.  But, Balder had a bad dream, a nightmare; he will die.  He tells mother Frigga and as all good mothers would do, she does everything in her power to prevent her beautiful son's death.  Frigga exacts a promise from all creation that it/they will not harm her son.  Well, almost all creation.  She passed over the lowly mistletoe, thinking that it was too puny and insignificant to harm her big strong Balder.  That was a mistake.  

Negative, chaotic forces, embodied in the character known as Loki, discover the error.  In grand devious fashion, Loki makes a dart from a mistletoe sprig and cons the blind God Hodr to throw the dart at Balder.  Loki goes as far as guiding Hodr's hand.  The dart strikes Balder, and he falls dead. Now, Balder journeys to the underworld, ruled over by one of Loki's bastard kids, Hel.  Throughout the rest of the Multiverse, hysteria reigns.  

Finally, the Gods see clearly enough through their collective grief and come up with a plan to bring Balder back to life.  Hermondr, another son of Odin and Frigga, takes Odin's eight legged horse Sleipnir, and rides to Hel's domain to try and work out a deal with Hel.  If all of creation would weep for Balder, Hel said, she would release him.  Hermondr returns and the plan is put into motion.  All of creation wept, except for one being, Loki in the guise of a giantess.  Since the deal could not be completed, Balder must remain, dead.  

Death never is a pleasant topic; no one wants to die.  But, this story illustrates some important points.  

There is nothing that you can do to escape death and there is nothing that can be done to bring you back to life.  We and all that grows, dies.  Before you hit the delete button, read on.  There is a positive side to all of this.  

Life is a gift.  It is meant to be lived well and celebrated daily.  Also, life is good and honest prosperity is good.  Living an honorable life and being successful and generous is a hallmark of a good life.  Consider this:  if a person could accurately predict other people's date of death, this guy would make a fortune - all of us would want to know.  Out of this, two kinds of people would emerge.  One kind would run out and live the rest of his life to the fullest, not wanting to die with a list of "woulda shoulda's" in his pocket.  The other kind would do nothing but crawl into a corner and wait; he would stop living.  Living in fear of death is sad.  

So is accepting that life is nothing but trial and tribulation, with the expectation of reward for suffering in some kind of after-life.  What a waste of a life.  Life is meant to be enjoyed, suffering is not forever. Life gives us the opportunities for prosperity and love.  A good, noble life in the present, one filled with love, happiness, success, and generosity lays the planks on which the next one is built.  Sitting in a corner, scared of your own shadow and doing nothing, does not.  

                                               Copyright @2014/2017 Terry Unger   




   

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

On Certain Addictions, Family, Dick Tracy, and Captain Kirk


In the past, I have written about our modern technology in a manner that some folks believed I was trying to rain down hell-fire upon it.  That belief is incorrect.  I have droned on and will continue to drone on about our addiction to these hi-tech toys.  It is the addiction, not the toys that I see as a problem.  Well, what would Dick Tracy and Captain Kirk do?  

Long before television, the Dick Tracy comic strip was syndicated and appeared in the majority of American newspapers.  Tracy had a special communication device; his wristwatch was a telephone. At the time, no one ever dreamed that a phone like Tracy's would or ever could be a reality.  Now there is a company that sells them.  Today, Tracy being Tracy would tell you to care for the device, but when the day's work was completed, he also would tell you to take the device off of your wrist, just like you take off your shoes, and relax with your family; chill out, kick back, grab a beer and listen to the stories that your family has to tell you.  

During the late 1960's, the Enterprise was going everywhere, and Kirk usually led the ground team.  At one point he'd flip open his "communicator" and say something like, "Beam us up Scotty.  There's nobody here except Spock's family."  At that time, a telephone like that in real time was unthinkable. Now, we have all kinds of them.  But at the end of the day, Kirk, like Tracy, would tell you to put down the damned phone and relax with your friends.  These are fictional characters, but speak to a higher truth.  

The family is the basic brick with which society is built; families make up clans, and clans become tribes.  Tribes make up a society.  However, it seems that our modern society has become a bit uneasy; it's getting worse.  These times put strenuous demands on all people and the addiction to smart phones and being "on-line and connected" makes the situation more tenuous.  The family is the hardest hit.  

Family meal time used to be a daily, almost sacred event.  Not anymore.  Other than an occasional grunt, parents and their kids do not talk at meal time; they are mesmerized with their on-line activity. It's amazing that food makes it into the mouth; only the Gods know if they chew.  But it's worse than that.  People have become disconnected with real life.  

This disconnected state has cut a wide swath across all age groups.  It has damaged the family and the individual's sense of self-worth.  It has hypnotized folks into believing that the cyber world is just as real and valid as the physical world.  The thing is, people have lost sense of their culture, something that can act like a compass on high seas.  Probably, this lost sense of culture may be a major contributor to folks feeling disconnected and why they rush into cyber-space to fill the need for "friends."  

People go on-line and openly talk about their real time problems.  And cyber friends have replaced real family and real friends.  Advice is freely given and taken by people who in all probability, will never physically meet.  What kids should talk openly about with their parents or older siblings they freely discuss with complete strangers.  Well, can you blame them?  Parents and siblings too are on-line. We need to make some adjustments, take some corrective steps, individually and collectively.  

The first step - we need to recognize what all of this fabulous technology really is:  tools, wonderful and awesome tools.  But, so are bench grinders, milling machines, hammers, manure spreaders, and Zamboni's.  When the job is finished, we put these machines away, until we need them again.  We sure as hell do not clean them up, plug them in and then put them on a night-stand.  

The second step - people must force themselves to make family first.  Put down the phone and talk to your kids.  Who do you want talking to your kids about sex?  An on-line stranger or you?  Who do you want to tell your spouse how awesome he or she is?  Someone on-line or you?  Put down the phone and talk.  Many times the idea about a family night, usually during the week, has been bandied about.  That's not enough.  Add to that one week night a full weekend day.  Unplug the phones, turn off the computer, get back to being a family.  

The third step - On a regular basis, get outside of your house and commune with Nature.  Plant a tree, hug a tree, or sit beneath one and meditate.  Plant a vegetable and flower garden; get your hands in the dirt.  Go fishing, hunting, or both.  Believe me, if you would go fishing or hunting with some of the folks I know and bring along your smart phone, you would be lucky to go home with it in one piece.  Visit national parks, state parks, and wildlife preserves.  The point is to turn off the electronics, put them away and get outdoors.  

The fourth step - Do you get bored?  Let the smart phone and computer alone.  Grab a book, a physical book and read.  Treat your brain to a ride on the wild side.  It will love you for it.  

The fifth step - Discover your culture; find out where you came from.  Dig to find your roots; revel in them.    

When people are addicted, they will do anything for a "fix."  But the addiction to being on-line and "connected" can be just plain silly.  Is it really necessary to know that a cyber friend's dog had puppies?  Unless you are in the market for a "man's best friend" getting all gushy about pictures of puppies hundreds of miles away is, ah, well, different.  It begs the question, were you that enthusiastic when your kids were born?  How serious can it be when your cyber BFF "unfriended" you because you did not "like" something he posted to his wall?  If that happened, not only is the guy a jerk but never was a real friend.  In the real world, do you have a friend who would do that to you?  Really?  Over your not liking a picture?  Do you want your boss texting you on a Sunday morning wanting to know where the files for his XYZ client can be found?  As far as your boss goes, unless he is paying you more money than God, he and those files can wait until Monday morning.  Frankly, this falls just a tad short of bullying.  Besides, even though you cannot see it, the shit sends texts to half the office asking the same question.  And then we have our extremely personal moments.  Why would you want to be on-line and connected, ..... in there?  What? You gonna snap some "selfies?"  Finally, we have the idiot who talks, texts, and drives, all at the same time.  When he puts his car up a poll he is still clueless.  It's time to put down the electronics and reconnect with family, friends, nature, and culture.    

This addiction to being connected and on-line at all costs, I believe, can be broken with the previous mentioned five steps.  We need to remember that these electronic devices are tools to be used to serve us.  They are not and should not be treated or thought of as additional human appendages. Unfortunately, this message will fall on not just blind eyes but also deaf ears.  That's too bad.  So, what would Tracy and Kirk do?  Tracy just might shoot you and then put you in jail.  Kirk would slap you silly and put you in rehab.  Both characters would sight neglect as their reason.    

                                           Copyright @2014 Terry Unger     

     

      








           

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

A Hole In Space



This hole that I am referring to in the title is not a black hole; it is the hole in cyberspace.  It is the assumption of many of us that if it is on the Internet, it must be true.  That assumption is reinforced by another:  everything and anything can be found on the Internet.  This is so not true.  

If a historical society or any other repository of historical data decides to not enter all, any, or none of its' data on the Internet, the cyber seeker misses out.  The decision to not enter data by these groups has many reasons, but the most common is that the information is so old that photos of any kind can damage the pages on which the information was written.  In other words, it's fragile.  So, the amateur seeker must turn off the computer, get out of the chair, and visit the home where the fragile data resides. However, many people will not do this.  Most certainly this is not any fault of the repository; personal experience has shown them to be quite accommodating.  The fault lies in the belief held by the seeker that the Internet is the Holy Grail of information and that any other sources are non-existent.  Anything and everything is on the Internet and if it's on the Internet it must be true.  This is pompous ignorance. There is one more thing.  Internet access is quick and easy.  But quick and easy does not necessary make it right; it makes us lazy.        

The seeker may find the basics of what he or she is looking for on the Internet but this should be considered nothing more than a skeleton outline.  It takes some dedication to cause that drags the seeker out of of his chair to do some field work.  This field work includes not just visiting these places.  It also includes, if possible, interviewing people, and then looking for detailed information in university libraries.  This is a tried and true method of basic research.  It's how it was done before the Internet.   

                                                   Copyright @2014 Terry Unger         

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Why We Fight

On this 4th of July......




Every age and every life has its share of strife.  But strife is just one thing that's often lowered to things like stress at work, traffic snarls, or being over weight.  The meaning of the word has been dumbed down by the politically correct police to lull us into a sense of "this is normal."  At one time, strife was akin to chaos.  

In days past, some of which include recent recorded history, men and women rose to the challenge and took a stand against strife.  Strife in its many facets is that which assaults all that is good and wholesome  in life.  This good and wholesome includes not just your way of life; it includes the very existence of life itself.  

When an individual person's body (disease) is faced with oppression from invading forces bent on chaos, there can be only two paths of action.  One path is submission.  Here, the individual relinquishes personal freedom and submits to whatever chaos has to offer.  The other choice is to fight.  

When a person chooses to fight, he or she has made a conscious decision to take a stand against the invading tyranny.  All methods are employed to not just defeat the invader, but to expel him.  This fight takes heart and a huge chunk of will (ask any cancer survivor); it cannot be a small effort.  

If a man's home is invaded, the above two choices also apply.  If you submit, you die.  If you fight, you have a chance to live.  If one's way of life is assaulted, submission gives way to the forced adoption of a foreign belief, while fighting against the invader can lead to his defeat.  It always comes down to these two actions; submit or fight.  

So why do we fight?  We fight to live.  We fight to preserve our way  of life.  We fight to live free from the oppression of disease and from foreign oppressors.  We fight to keep our freedom.  No kind of freedom can be had without a fight.  So, we fight the good fight.

Author's Note:  Since this was first published, quite a bit has happened in the world.  In particular, the Islamic State, a.k.a. ISIS.  They have beheaded people, burned various religious shrines, and have become quite adept at forced religious conversion (convert or die).  All of this seems so far away.  Do not be lulled into sense of false security; nobody thought that September 11 could happen - I will never forget where I was or what I was doing on that fateful day.  Can you?  The Islamic State has threatened the Western world.  They have threatened the USA.  They have threatened our way of life. And yet, we still have our own home grown knuckle-heads that think it's cool to burn our flag in the name of free speech.  It's time to grow up.  

                                                Copyright @2014, 2015 Terry Unger    



         

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