Thursday, January 31, 2008

The Wizard of Blogs - Part 1

Dorothy was a sweet and innocent farm girl from Kansas.
Dorothy was a happy person. She loved her home, her family, and her dog Toto, who were always there for her.
While growing up, Dorothy became aware that others were not so happy, and she always wished she could do something about it.
So when Dorothy got her first computer, she created a website, and called it "Over the Rainbow."

One of the first visitors to her blog was Scarecrow.
Scarecrow was a modest fellow who seemed to think that everyone else was smarter than he was. He never said much, until he met Dorothy on her blog page.

"I don't know very much," Scarecrow said, "so I always listen to what others have to say."
"That means you're smart." Dorothy told him.
"If you're smart enough to listen, you're smarter than most everyone else."
Scarecrow soon became a team mate in Dorothy's blog.

Another visitor who joined the team was Tinman. He too felt low in self-esteem until his first visit to "Over the Rainbow." Tinman's complaint was that he felt old and rusty. Everything that he wanted to say had already been said. He felt that he had learned all the important lessons in life, but all these lessons were already written in books he had read, and he really didn't have anything to add.

Dorothy convinced him he had plenty to add. She assured him that everyone in the world needed to be reminded of all the great teachings he had learned about. So he too, joined the team.

Finally, there was C-Lion. His name used to be Cowardly Lion, but later became Courageous Lion. He decided to shorten it to C-Lion. The name brought pleasant memories of the California coast, and he liked that.

C-Lion's problem was that he was shy. He never thought that anything he had to say was of any interest to anyone. Dorothy convinced him otherwise. After that he developed great confidence in himself, and also joined the team of happy bloggers.

Together they maintained a blog where people could visit whenever they needed a lifting of spirits. People who were bummed out and depressed could stop in "Over the Rainbow" and get rejuvenated. Dorothy and her friends felt they were providing a great service to humanity.

But there was an evil stalker of the Internet who didn't like what they were doing.
She was known as the Wicked Witch of the West, or more simply, "WWW." This name was a clever disguise for her, as it appeared on every website address.
She hated the influence that Dorothy and her friends had on people, of whom she was seeking to take advantage of their fear and ignorance. So she devised her evil plan to destroy them.

Witch lived in a dark and gloomy castle that was lit only by the eerie glow of an elaborate instrument panel and some screens. From this room she monitored Internet activity around the world, preying on the unsuspecting and the vulnerable.
One day she pressed the button that said, " Summon Flying Monkeys."
When they appeared she commanded them,
"Destroy Dorothy and all her friends! Destroy their work, and every positive influence they have made!"
The flying monkeys took off at her command, filling the sky with their dark wings, in search of the website called "Over the Rainbow."

They proceeded to hack their computers and infect them with viruses, causing all programs to crash. The impact was so great it not only blew up the computers, but blew up Dorothy's house as well. And by "blew up" I mean that the house literally blew way up into the sky, yet somehow remained intact.

When the house landed with a crash, and the shaken but curious occupants came outside, they quickly realized they were far from home. Nothing looked familiar. Dorothy noticed a pair of feet protruding out from under the house.
"Oh My!" she said.

Soon they were greeted by a good witch named Glinda, who was kind enough to explain to them what the hell was going on.
"Now what you see here," she says, "is an example of how bad karma always comes back to you." indicating the feet under the house.
"That's the sister of the Witch who attacked you. Her attack backfired, as what always happens to doers of evil deeds!"

Dorothy and her friends look at Glinda with expressions of bewilderment, telling her she needs to explain a lot more than that.
"Someone attacked us? Why?" asked Dorothy.
Glinda explains how evil always seeks to destroy good, assuring them that it was their good work that made them targets of such destruction.
"But fear not, for everything happens for a purpose, and your purpose now is to find the Wizard, who will repair the damage and restore things back into order."

"But where are we?" asked Dorothy and her friends all at the same time.
"You are in Munchie Land" says Glinda.

Scarecrow, Tinman, and C-Lion step cautiously as they examine their strange surroundings. Tinman looks curiously at the leaves on a bush. Plucking a leaf, he finds it is really a potato chip in his hand.
Scarecrow taps a round paving stone with his foot, than stoops down to pick it up. He finds it is a big chocolate chip cookie.
C-Lion checks out the flowers. The leaves are green spear shaped gum drops. The petals are sweet-tarts.
Dorothy notices the people, who are called Munchkins. They all appear to be fat and lazy. She thinks she knows why.

"Unfortunately," says Glinda, "the only food here is junk food, but it grows everywhere."
"Well, I don't think we should stay here very long." says Scarecrow.
"Me neither" says C-Lion.
"No matter," says Glinda, "for you must now prepare for a very long walk. You must go to Cyber City to see the great Wizard."
"Who is this 'Wizard' ?" asked Tinman.
"Well, besides being your only way back home," says Glinda, "he is the great Internet master who will tell you what you must do to undo the great damage that has been done. He is the Wonderful Wizard of Blogs!"

"So how do we get to Cyber City?" asks Dorothy.
"You must follow the Micro Chip Road."

The Munchkins, one by one, repeat the words.
"Follow the Micro Chip Road"
before breaking out into song.

to be continued...

Saturday, January 19, 2008

"Birthday" - Paul McCartney

Dr. King and Me

There were two people in my life that I shared a January birthday with, who have been a major influence in my growing up
The first one was my brother, Rick Widman, who's birthday is in the same week as mine. Rick's birthday on Jan 20, and mine on Jan 25.
The other one was Dr. Martin Luther King, who's birthday is really on Jan 15, though it's often observed around Jan 20.

Yours Truly was born January 25, 1955, in Washington, DC.
When Dr. King came to DC with his large following in 1963, I was 8 years old and, believe it or not, I remember it.
On live TV I watched, while safe at home, the man everyone was talking about giving his famous "I have a dream" speech from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. I knew where that place was. My little legs have climbed up those very steps holding my Daddy's hand.

I remember hearing this man referred to as "Martin Luther Coon" and about the day "the niggers marched on Washington." I heard a lot of things from grown-ups who thought I wasn't listening.

In 1968 I was 13 years old. It was in April of that year, shortly before Easter, when Dr. King was assassinated. There were riots in DC. I stayed home from school and watched soldiers patrolling the streets from our window.

That same year, just two months later, on June 5, 1968, Robert Kennedy was assassinated. It was at the Ambassador Hotel, a building in DC I was very familiar with. He died the following morning. It was noted the date of his death had three sixes in it, 6/6/68.
Somehow my young mind was able to grasp that the whole world as I knew it had experienced an impact that will never go away.

In 1969, at the age of 14, I had the honor of signing a petition that went around in my school to make the birthday of Martin Luther King a national holiday.

Eventually they did make it a holiday, but they don't call it MLK's Birthday anymore, but MLK Day. Rather than the birthday proper of Jan 15, it is dated each year to fall on a Monday, in order to give us a 3 day weekend, usually around the 20th.

In 1970, at the age of 15, I came to Chapel Hill, NC for my first time. I decided I wanted to live here. I felt a lot safer here. People in Chapel Hill did not get shot for talking about peace.

My brother Rick and I used to celebrate our birthdays together, as they were so close together. Now I get to celebrate it in the same week as Dr. King. I consider this a great honor.

So for me and Dr. King, through the courtesy of YouTube, I have asked Paul McCartney to play a birthday song for us. Now wasn't it nice of him to comply?

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Todd Matthews

I'd like to introduce my readers to Todd Matthews, who has recently become a hero to me. His work is very impressive. I am looking forward to working with this man in the near future. Watch and Learn! - BW -