The Hunt

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The soft, blue sky and sounds of chipping birds didn’t soften the concerned look on the man’s face as he peered out the window.

“They’re out there, son.”  He warned.  “They came during the night.  Pods hidden amongst the landscape.  They’re  hidden, but I know they’re  there.  I can smell them.”

His words were confirmed with tightening eyelids and a terse nod.

“It’s not like last time.”  He continued.  “Last time easy to spot.  They were bigger and ugly.  Everyone knew they were dangerous.  This time, though; this time they were smart.  The pods are small, so they’re easy to hide.  They’re brightly colored, too.  It makes them easier to find, but also lulls its victims into a sense of false security.  There’s got to be hundreds of them out there.”

The soldier steps back and racks his rifle.  “Clack-clack!”

“Don’t worry, Dad.  I got this” He says with confidence.

A brightly colored basket is lowered in between them.

“Why don’t you collect them instead of shooting them.”  The mother says to her son.”

“Aw, Mom!”  The boy protests as she disarms the young soldier.

“No, no.  She’s right!”  The father chimes.  “Gunfire will alert them to your presence.  You need to stalk them, special ops style, and bring them back to the home base for study and interrogation.  They’ll crack under the pressure!”

Mom rolls her eyes as the child bolts out the door.

Never Discarded

An elderly hand glides gently over the jagged landscape and her eyes scan the items laid across the tables.  Books, candles, tools, jewelry, toys and trinkets each either neatly arranged in separate rows or huddled together in boxes.  Gift from birthdays or treasures bought on vacation, these items once desired now up for sale.

The grey haired woman finds her way over to the kid section.  A small pile of stuffed animals and rubber cars talks of a toddler who has grown into a kid.  Her hand reaches for a lonesome penguin.  Simple and unassuming, it is clean and looks as if it spent its time being watched and not held.

“How much?”  She asks.

“A quarter.” Is answered.

Handing over the silvery coin, she leaves.

A short drive later, she arrives at a familiar house.  The yard is fenced and decorated with softly colored ornaments.  A cheerful slogan hangs over the front door.  The sound of the bell is greeted by a friendly face.  She enters the house and turns down the hall.

In the room at the end a woman stares quietly at the lady.  Wispy grey hair frames an expression of fear.

Holding up the penguin the lady smiles at her sister.  “For you.”

Her sister takes the toy and smiles happily like a child.

Power to the people and the responsibility that goes with it.

It’s been a hell of a week for me and my head is crammed with so many thoughts that they’re jumbling up in a giant, twisted spaghetti knot that I need to untangle and separate.

Like all roads to hell, this one started with good intentions.  As a car guy, I am a member of a few automobile based forums.  Well one of these forums has been around for a long time, but has been declining for over a year now.  All the “old-timers” noticed it and had complained to the management for the past year.  Nothing ever happened.

The moderators, all two of them for a site that has over 1050 pages of listed members, are frustrated as well.  They don’t have the manpower or the abilities to really make a difference.

Sunday was the last straw.  This site posted a big pat on the back to itself for “doing so well” without addressing any of the problems brought to them or addressing the members who asked to have these issues fixed.

Wanting to help, I told the guys that if they wanted, I could set up a new forum site for them.  It would be their site and they would run it.  There also would be many moderators and administrators so that there would always be someone there to keep things running smooth.

They did so I did.

It took me a few hours Tuesday to set up the majority of it, and a couple hours yesterday and today to get some bugs out.  (I also had a good amount of help today from one of the fellow administrators.)

Members from the other site were already jumping over to the new one.  Before I knew it, all the “elders” had moved over; including one of the moderators.

I’m not bothered by the move, but I am bothered by the circumstance.  That old site was once a good site.  It was the administrator over there that let it slide.  People had complained for a year about problems and nothing happened.  It took a post on the guy’s facebook page to even get a response about the frustration of the members and his solution was to have a chat with the moderators.

That chat probably won’t happen and it should’ve been with the members. We might have learned what his point of view was coming into this and what limits were placed on him by his bosses.

We’ll never know that now.

So I’m upset about this missed opportunity.

But I’m angry too.  I’m angry at the fact that this administrator is an experienced editor who ran a magazine for many years and yet did not realize the importance of his membership!  Web hosts, bloggers, writers, anyone who is in the information/entertainment field knows how important your core members are!  You don’t ignore or dismiss them!  He has far too much experience to make such a bone-headed mistake.

Hell, I run a tiny blog and I whole heartily appreciate everyone that takes the time to read my post, reply to it, or check out my Facebook page.  It means a hell of a lot to me.

How can you be so stupid as to forget the people who make the place what it is?

But then I looked at the list of new members at the new site and got sad and angry at the same time.

All those collective years of experience.  All the knowledge.  All the passion, commitment, and heart these people have was lost from that old site.  These people could’ve done so much to make that old site a better place.  They considered it their home for so many years.  They were part of the community but felt left out on the front porch of an empty house.

They could’ve done so much if only they were given the chance.

What a waste for the old place.

I’m glad I helped build them a new one.

Daydreams of: Baggage

Tom walked down the hallway.  With him came everything he owned.  Just three bags and a child seat completed were the sum of his early life’s possessions.  His apartment with all the furniture.  His trophies of wild and various conquests.  His treasured sports car.  Everything he had collected along the way had been cast aside.  A new path lay before him fraught with new challenges.  Tom realized that he’d have to unburden himself if he was going to succeed and he swore he would succeed.

Sliding glass doors parted to reveal a woman and young girl standing in wait.

“You made it!”  The woman called in joy as she rushed to hug Tom.

“Sue!” He replied as he half-dropped the baggage. “I said I would.”

The little girl stood hesitantly a few feet away.

“Rachel.”  Her mother called.  “It’s ok.  You know Tom.  He’s going to be part of the family.”

Rachel made a little stutter-step before walking up to the couple.

“Are you really gonna stay?”  The little girl asked with caution.

Tom knelt down to look her in the eyes.  “I’m going to do my best to try.”

Rachel pouted.  “Others have tried too, but ran away.”

“Yes they have.”  Tom answered.  “But I sold everything I have just to be with you and your mom. I bet the other guys didn’t do that.”

“No they didn’t.”  Rachel agreed.  “Did you really sell everything?”

Tom smiled and patted his luggage.  “Everything but what’s in these bags.”

“Wow.”   The little girl gasped.

“Doesn’t that earn him a chance, Rachel?”  Her mother asked.

Rachel thought for a moment.  “I guess.”  She said.

“Good.”  Sue replied as she took Rachel’s hand.  “Let’s go home.”

Brought to you for the Trifecta Challenge.

Thoughts of: Optimism and the American Festival

I went to another festival over the weekend.  This time it was a Greek one.  Unlike the Highlands games and Celtic Festival held in Sarasota, the Greek Festival was held by a local church.  The size and scope of it was smaller but this one was catered more towards families with little children and fellow clergymen.

The carnival rides and bounce houses were set up for immediate viewing of the kids as you walked to the entrance.  This helped build up excitement for the little ones.  Once you got in though, you were guided into the newly built main hall where various vendors showed off their creations catching the eyes of the wives while the children tugged haredly at their father’s arms, begging to get to the rides.  The wise wives would take the initiative and suggest that the Father go on with the children, lest they break something.  They would find them later on.

All the father’s wanted to do was exit door right and get to the various food vendors where delectable meals of Saganaki and cold beer was to be had.  The father was usually the last to get his way.

What interested me was not the various games, rides, vendors, or food; but the general popularity of the festival itself.  Look around you.  I bet that somewhere, sometime over the weekend there is a festival going on that is in driving distance to you. It may be held indoors because of the weather, but it’s still going on.  There is a resilience to the festival.  The size and activity amount may change according to the local economy, but not matter how bad it gets, there’s always  one going on.  And why not?  People always want to have happiness in their lives.  The festival can be an inexpensive way of doing that.

Festivals even show up in our displays of culture.  In such dark movies like “The Postman” or television series such as “Jericho” there’s a scene where people go to a festival and celebrate life.

That’s what we do.  That’s what we’ve always done.  We celebrate life, family, friendship, community, and are optimistic of the future.  Sure things have been bad for a while.  Yes there’s always uncertainty during an election year.  But these events are not permanent and we do not let them control our entire lives.  The festival is a symbol of that optimism.  So what if the rides are bad and the calories high.  Life is meant to be enjoyed.  The festival gives us another excuse to enjoy it.

Daydreams of: The Treasure of the Giraffes

I enjoyed a slow, luxurious drink of cool lemonaide with my family when a tribe of royal giraffes strode majestically into our camp.

“Excuse us, my dear chap,”  Said the lead giraffes who was obviously the King of his tribe.  “But my family is quite parched from our sojourn.  Could we trouble you for some refreshment?”

“But of course.”  I replied, startled by this unexpected event.

I poured them each a tall glass of liquid nourishment which they took gently and drank by arching the long necks gracefully.

“Thank you, good sir.”  The King said to me as they returned their empty glasses.  “I would like to repay your kindness in kind.  If you and your family would follow me, I will show you our greatest treasure.”

Intrigued and excited, my family and I leapt into the Range Rover and followed our majestic guides.

Upon reaching our destination, the King Giraffe pointed his head skyward and proudly announced,  “Here is the greatest treasure in all of Africa!”

I looked around hopefully, but my view was hampered by the large branches and thick leaves of a tree that the giraffe stood under and next to.

“I say, kind sir,”  I replied with a little embarrassment.  “But I can’t see your treasure for this tree is blocking my view.”

“My good man,”  said the King in astonishment, “The tree is the treasure!  This tree can feed, heal and shelter us.  What were you expecting, Diamonds?”

“Something like that.”  I admitted.

The King shook his head.  “Only humans would choose a rock over food.”

Ramblings on: An orange tree

An orange tree grows in an empty lot.  It wasn’t always empty.  Not too long ago it was accompanied by a little house.  The house was new.  A model for a construction company to showcase its ability to put detail into affordable homes.  Detailed it was with floor molding and a dusting of gingerbread on the outside.  Its first owners were a couple that showed their love for the house by adding to it.  They attached to it a large lanai in the back and a shed for their equipment.  Heavy railroad ties were meticulously cut and stacked to make a raised bed for a row of roses.  Ground was dug for various small ponds and trees were planted for their beauty.

After a few years, they sold the house and moved away.  A new couple moved in.  Blessed with children this couple didn’t have the money to expand or redecorate the house.  Instead, they showed their love by maintaining it.  They mowed and vacuumed and dusted and polished every weekend.  And when they found a little extra money, they did something to put their mark on the little house.  They planted an orange tree.

The tree was small, but held promise.  The father of the family took care and showed his children the right way of planting the tree so that it would grow strong and live well.

Then one day, they lost the house.  Not to the market crashing or loss of a job.  No the economy was in a boom when it happened.  For some reason the chairman of the county commissioners got the idea that the whole neighborhood and those surrounding it would be an ideal place to turn into a metropolis.  Never mind that nobody was asking for one.  So with a great pitch of jobs, money, and better economy coming into the county; the board of commissioners agreed with his plan and voted to get the land by Eminent Domain.

There was nothing the family could do.  They took the money that was offered and moved away.  Soon after other’s came in to strip the house of what items could be salvaged and given to Goodwill.  The ponds, the shed, the light fixtures, even the proverbial kitchen sink were all stripped from the house until all that remained was a windowless shell of a house.  Then the bulldozers came.  It didn’t take them long to finish up what the strippers started.  By the time they were done, all that was left was the driveway.  A week later that was gone.  Nothing survived, but that little orange tree.  There had been no fruit on it at the time and it was so small that nobody could be bothered with it.  It stood there silently through all the commotion and was left in silence.

The deleopment never happend.  After hearing about the eminent domain of houses, the people turned on the commissioners.  The chairman quit and moved away.  Various companies came with plans but all quickly resinded them upon hearing the how the land was aquired and the disapproval that came with it.  Finally the husing market crashed and no words of builing or development have been uttered since.

It didn’t take long for nature to take back what was once hers.  Oblivious to it all, nature continued on her way.  First with the weeds and then the grass, and finally some shrubs.  Without  as  much as a peep, nature remade the land.  Through it all the little orange tree grew.  It grew strong, tall and full.  And now the tree planted with love provides the food and shelter to those creatures great and small that know where to look.