I Got A Lyft Here

So by now you’ve most likely heard of Lyft. Well this weekend I decided to take my first test of it. A couple things to address first off, I do not typically use cabs to get around. I much rather would drive most of the time. Therefore before I requested my first Lyft there was a bit of fear there. I also cannot compare the prices to cabs here in Columbus as I’ve never taken one. That said I was pleasantly surprised with the Lyft experience.

I signed up for Lyft when I got a link from one of the drivers I know. With said link I received 50 free Lyfts of $25 within the first 15 days. This meant I had to give it a shot! So Saturday night I decided I was going to make the most of my evening.

Here are is where I hit my one and only snag. I opened up the app to request my Lyft out and it said that all drivers were busy. I let the app sit open and watched and waited for someone to become available. It was 8 minutes from the point I began waiting before the first driver became free. Now, since I was at home at this point it was not a big deal in the slightest. However if I had been outside it would have been an annoyance. That said, I was testing this on a busy Saturday night and it was right at prime heading out time.

Suddenly the words changed. Nearest driver 11 minutes away. Hallelujah! Only 11 minutes away? That was a shock considering I live in Gahanna. Even as I write this now the closest driver to me is 23 minutes away. I hit the Request Lyft button and it tells me that Cassie is on her way and shows me right where she is now. I can see her car on the map and am glad to see she’s at Easton.

My phone begins to ring and it’s Cassie. She’s calling to verify my address. She had a previous pickup who had moved the map around not noticing it changed the pickup location when you did that. While I was guilty of moving the map around I had noticed this happening and corrected the location before I requested my Lyft. Either way I was appreciative of the call. I watched on my phone as Cassie’s car moved down Morse Road towards my complex. It gave me time to debate my outfit more. I had to layer as it got colder. I watched her car pull into my complex. She passed the road to turn down since it’s not marked well and I saw her slow down while she waited for her GPS to recalculate. As she approached my apartment I went outside and saw the car pictured coming down the road. Suddenly my phone lights up with a text, “Your Lyft driver, Cassie, is here! (She’s in the silver Honda Pilot.)”. Awesome! The text is a nice confirmation that this is your ride, even if the pink mustache on the car totally gives it away.

I hope around to the passenger side door and hop in. Suddenly I wonder, is this ok? I mean, this isn’t a cab, right? My fears are quickly alleviated when Cassie offers me a fist bump upon getting in. I laugh. Pink mustaches, fist bumps, this is gonna be fun. Cassie asks where I’m going and I hesitate. I don’t know anything about this woman. She could be super religious and homophobic for all I know. So I keep it safe and just tell her Short North. We take off and have a friendly chat. She missed the first week launch of Lyft because she was on vacation. She lives in Westerville and had just come on shift when I got her. It worked out well because she was actually heading to the downtown area anyway. Apparently most of the drivers go down that way and wait for their next request. Campus, Short North, and German Village are hot spots for them and it’s advantageous to be close as Lyft gets you the closest driver available. She is a mentor for the Lyft program meaning she helps train new drivers. She tells me that Columbus is adding new drivers all the time.

I get to know her as we drive to the Short North. She turns out to be a very impressive woman. She has 7 kids. Three are her own and the other four are siblings that she adopted to keep them from being separated. We get down to the Short North and I have her drop me at Union. She pulls right in the alley and she explains to me that I just need to open the app and I can raise the price for a tip and leave her a rating. She fist bumps me goodbye and says hope to see you again. I walk into the bar (which on another issue is ridiculously over crowded) and see that it says I owe $26. I raise it to tip her and leave her a 5 star rating. At first I’m concerned by the price, what happened to my free $25? Would this have normally been $51? My fears are quickly alleviated though because I get a receipt in my e-mail. The price still included my $25 which was not charged to me. I only ended up paying the dollar plus tip. Well worthy of the trip.

After getting frustrated with the twinks and queens of Union and Level I call for another Lyft. Inside Level I am getting bad signal and the app can’t locate me. So I step out. It’s right around midnight so it’s busy again but this time I barely have to wait and there’s a car three minutes away. I request my Lyft and it tells Advush is on his way. I watch his car come down high street. Suddenly I get my message that he’s here but I see no pink mustache on any of the cars pulling up. However I do see a car that looks like his and he turns the lights on inside. There’s my Lyft. I hop in and he greets me. He apologizes that he didn’t have the pink mustache but this is just his third day driving so they haven’t sent him that yet. Unfortunately that also means he hasn’t received his phone chargers yet either which is bad news for my dying phone. I ask him if he knows where AWOL is but he does not. So I just tell him Broad and Parsons and we’re off. Advush also lives in Westerville and works in architecture full time. He really seems to be enjoying this so far. The ride from Level to AWOL was only $8 and is covered by my free rides. With the free rides, Lyft lets you tip them 25% that they pay.

Finally I came to the part of the night that scared me most in the beginning. What if I get stranded downtown? I pull up the app as I’m ready to leave. All drivers busy. Fuck. Thankfully I met a nice guy and so I offer to walk him home until a Lyft becomes available. We step outside a and walk barely half a block when it suddenly says there’s a driver 4 minutes away. The picture that pops up is honestly a little creepy for this guy, they clearly need to reshoot it. When the car pulls up with the pink mustache this time I’m a little hesitant but upon meeting Craig my fears are relieved. Craig once again proves to be a great guy. He lives in Dublin and has been driving for a couple of weeks for Lyft. He has some Disney music playing in the car that of course leads to the Disney World conversation. Craig drops me off at home for $27.

Overall I had a really positive experience using Lyft. The drivers were all very friendly and the convenience of paying through the app is great. The fact that you can track your driver as they come for you is outstanding. The question is whether I see myself using it all the time. I would say if I lived somewhere closer to downtown I would probably use it a lot. However a round trip for Gahanna would cost in the upwards of $50. That said, if I ever have a night where I just want to let loose you can bet that Lyft is how I’m gonna get there from here on out. Go ahead and try it out for yourself, you’ll at least meet some nice people.

Sign up at http://www.lyft.com/invited/ryan7862

It’s Not, But It Can Be

In the summer of 2012 I was exposed to a new show on HBo called The Newsroom.  It opened with a familiar scene, a liberal news anchor and a conservative news anchor arguing back and forth with each other.  Two extremes arguing, not finding common ground.  Meanwhile in the middle sat someone remaining silent, listening to it all.  When he was addressed he made jokes.  He didn’t want to make a stand.

Then a girl comes to the microphone and asks, “can you say why America is the greatest country in the world?”  The left answers, “diversity and opportunity.”  Familiar.  We’ve heard this before.  Nothing new.  The right answers, “freedom and freedom so let’s keep it that way.”  Once again, familiar.  The right says this a lot.  Our middle man says “the New York Jets.”  The audience laughs and the viewer thinks we are moving on, but the moderator changes this.  No middle man, you no longer get to be apathetic, it’s time to take a stand.  In the audience he sees a familiar face holding a sign.  “It’s not,” it says, “but it can be.”  The middleman hesitates.  He can’t say that.  It’s left versus right.  There’s no room for any other argument.

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“Well our constitution is a masterpiece,” he says.  “James Madison was a genius.  The Declaration of Independence for me is the greatest piece of American writing.”  He’s done.  He looks to the moderator.  “You don’t look satisfied.”  The moderator wants more.  “It’s not, but it can be,” he thinks.

“It’s not the greatest country in the world Professor, that’s my answer.”  He turns to the left.  “Sharon, the NEA is a loser.  Yeah, it accounts for a penny out of our paycheck but he gets to hit you with it any time he wants.  It doesn’t cost money, it costs votes, it costs airtime, column inches.  You know why people don’t like liberals?  Because they lose.  If liberals are so fucking smart how come they lose so gooddamn always?”

Then he turns to the right, “and with a straight face you’re gonna tell students that America’s so star-spangled awesome, that we’re the only ones in the world that have freedom?  Canada has freedom, Japan has freedom, the UK, France, Italy, Germany, Spain, Australia, Belgium has freedom.  So 207 sovereign states in the world, like a hundred and eight of them have freedom.”

He turns to the girl who asked the question now, “and yeah, you, sorority girl.  Just in case you accidentally wander into a voting booth one day, there’s some things you should know, and one of them is, there’s absolutely no evidence to support the statement that we’re the greatest country in the world.  We’re 7th in literacy, 27th in math, 22nd in science, 49th in life expectancy, 178th in infant mortality, 3rd in median household income, number 4 in labor force, and number 4 in exports.  We lead the world in only 3 categories: number of incarcerated citizens per capita, number of adults who believe angels are real, and defense spending, where we spend more than the next 26 countries combined.  25 of whom are allies.  Now, none of this is the fault of a 20 year old college student.  But you, nonetheless, are without a doubt a member of the worst period generation period ever period.  So when you ask, ‘what makes us the greatest country in the world?’ I don’t know what the fuck you’re talking about.  Yosemite?”

“We sure used to be.  We stood up for what was right.  We fought for moral reasons.  We passed laws, struck down laws for moral reasons.  We waged war on poverty, not poor people.  We sacrificed, we cared about our neighbors.  We put our money where our mouths were.  And we never beat out chest.  We built great big things, made ungodly technological advances, explored the universe, cured diseases, and we cultivated the world’s greatest artists and the world’s greatest economy.  We reached for the stars, we acted like men.  We aspired to intelligence, we didn’t belittle it, it didn’t make us feel inferior.  We didn’t identify ourselves by who we voted for in our last election.  And we didn’t… we didn’t scare so easy.  We were able to be all these things, and to do all these things, because we were informed.   By great men, men who were revered.  First step in solving any problem is recognizing there is one.  America is not the greatest country in the world anymore. Enough?”

“First step in solving any problem is recognizing there is one.  America is not the greatest country in the world anymore.”

From this point on The Newsroom went on to tell the story about how this middle man changed the face of news.  He wasn’t going to act like Fox News or MSNBC.  He held everyone accountable to their words, even his own party.  He wasn’t about creating fights between the sides, he was about keeping people accountable.

But I’m not writing about The Newsroom today.  I’m really writing about the world we live in.

This morning, American woke up to a government that was shut down.  The Senate (our liberal news anchor) and the House (our conservative news anchor) argued past the deadline.  The American people sat there and watched them argue.  We are the middle man.  We let our country get to this point.  Unfortunately our moderator (the media) has never kept us to the questions the world (the girl) is throwing at us.  If anything, the media has kept us joking.  Instead of saying, hey, this is what we want, this is the agreement you should come to, we’ve been pointing fingers.  The Republicans are blaming the Democrats for not compromising on Obamacare.  The Democrats are blaming the Republicans for trying to bargain with the Affordable Care Act to begin with.  We the people are following party lines and doing the same.  The media is encouraging it.

I’m stepping up today.  It’s time to stop playing the party game.  Our founding fathers feared that the country would come to what it is now.  Here is what John Adams said about it.

There is nothing which I dread so much as a division of the republic into two great parties, each arranged under its leader, and concerting measures in opposition to each other. This, in my humble apprehension, is to be dreaded as the greatest political evil under our Constitution.

This is exactly where we are today.  The question is, how do we change it.  The two parties have waged war on our hearts and minds.  They have divided our country into opposing forces.  Nothing proved this more than when I logged onto Facebook this morning watching my friends fight each other, blaming the other side for today’s problems.  They have successfully divided and conquered our country.  The politicians in Washington have forgotten that they work for us.  Instead they try and control us.  They are not trying to represent us any longer.  They are representing their own interests.  It’s time to take them down.

I believe there are a few steps needed in order to take back our country.

Problem One:  The Media

Fox News presents itself as fair and balanced.  To an extent this is true.  Despite what you may have heard they do a great job at making sure there are opposing voices heard on their station.  They make sure that there are equal number of liberal and conservatives going on the air.  However, that said, they do not hold their anchors or guests accountable to the facts.  There was a video that recently went around where Megyn Kelly held her guests accountable to keeping the story straight and it went viral.  It is sad that it is that rare that a news anchor keeps their guests truthful that when one does it spreads like wildfire.  MSNBC is no better.  Remember when Chris Matthews freaked out about the debate that Obama lost?  How is your freak-out helping America make an informed decision?

When writing a research paper in high school we had to site all out sources.  It was something we were taught to keep our integrity.  If this is something we are all taught in high school then why does the news not do this?  The reason they don’t.  Ratings.  The arguments sell.  So we have to come up with a better plan.  What if for every lie that the news let out on the air they were forced to pay a fine?  What if the fine was greater than the money they made off advertisements for that segment?  Would it not create a more truthful news account?

Second, we need to stop wasting time on things like celebrity gossip and murder trials.  Guess what, in the end, they’re not important.  It doesn’t matter.  Who cares what Miley Cyrus did?  If you want that you can look it up on the internet.  The Newsroom presented three rules which I think should be applied to the real news.

1. Is this information we need in the voting booth?

2. Is this the best possible form of the argument?

3. Is the story in historical context?

4. Are there really two sides to every story?

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If these were applied to our actual newscasts then we could actually start working to making this country a better place.  People could actually be informed.  Think about that!  If people were actually aware of what was going on would we be so apathetic?

The question is how do we change this.  The media runs on ratings.  The snuff that isn’t necessary builds ratings.  The fighting builds ratings.  Following these rules will not build ratings, just integrity.  Something has to be done to make the media stop worrying about ratings.

Problem Two: Lobbyists

Lobbyists.  We all know there is a problem with this with our congressional leaders.  We need to come up with a solution for it.  Congressmen or their relatives/businesses/friends should not be legally able to benefit from lobbyists.  It’s wrong and takes the power out of the American people’s hands.

Problem Three: Our Elections

What?!?!?  But Ryan, we have the envy of all countries with our elections.  So they say.  But let’s think about this.

When you go to vote in November you are presented with two people to chose between.  A Republican and a Democrat.  There may even be a couple other choices that have been thrown in there that you are likely to have never heard about.  But when you go in that booth you know that you really only have two choices.  Any other vote would be a throw away vote.  So you vote for the party you align with most.  It’s multiple choice and in your mind you choose the lesser of two evils.

Is that a free election?  Are there really only two people qualified for any given position and want it?  Do they have to belong to a party to be a valid choice?

Think back to when you were in school.  Some teachers would give you multiple choice tests and other would do essay tests.  Can you remember any of those answers?  My bet is that you are more likely to remember the information that was presented through and essay test rather than a multiple choice test.  My bet is that you also had to study more for that essay test in order to do better.

So why are our elections multiple choice tests?

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What would happen if you went into a voting booth in the next election and there were no options for governor or senator?  Would you know whose name to write down?  You now have the option of writing anyone you could think of in that spot.  Would it make you feel more free to write anyone down?

Now let’s take it a step further.  What if there were no TV or radio ads for campaigns.  What if the only way you were able to get information about potential candidates was to look up the information?  And what if in the information that the candidates put out they aren’t allowed to mention their political affiliation, only their beliefs?  What if there were a website where anyone who was running for a political post could put all their beliefs up whether they had their party’s support or not?  Would this  not actually be a more free election?

If people had to do the research would we get unqualified people in Congress just because they had party support with an R or D next to their name?

Obviously I don’t have the answers.  I’m writing out of my heart because I’m frustrated.  I feel like Will McAvoy on The Newsroom.  America is not the greatest country in the world, but it can be.  We just have to get together and change it.  I watched Sleepy Hollow this morning and the episode was titled For The Triumph of Evil.  The title is a reference to a disputed Edmund Burke quote, “all that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men to do nothing.”  I will not be the good man doing nothing.  I am speaking out.  It’s time for change.  We know we want it.  Obama ran on change, yet we didn’t get it.  Now it’s up to the people to be the change we want to see in the world.

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Worlds Away

Thomas awoke with a start.  Was it all just a dream?  He sat up.  His head pounded, a clear indicator that no, it was not a dream.  He glance down to his side.  His arm was covered in blood.  The suit he wore was torn all over.  His hand was planted on the ground, but it wasn’t the ground he was used to.

Thomas tried to think back to the last time he had felt grass and dirt.  The sensation felt new to him but he was sure that somewhere he’d experienced it before.  it must have been before “he” arrived and begun the technological revolution.  Oh, how he wished those events had never transpired.

The daze in Thomas’s head was beginning to wear off and he was able to think more clearly.  His friends lay unconscious beside him.  He prayed they were still alive.  had their plan worked?  He looked around him.  The sun shone in a blue sky, plant life was all around between roads where cars still drove on wheels and by buildings made of brick and mortar not steel and glass.

It was a brave new world.  One vastly different from the one he remembered.  Thomas marveled at the beauty of what mankind, left to their own devices, was capable of.

“Robert, Lionel, Jonathan,” he called to his friends.  “Wake up.”

The men were still breathing but he was unable to bring them consciousness.

Thomas climbed up and walked into the building ahead of him.  He recognized the way the building was laid out as being a hotel.  He walked to the first desk he saw labeled concierge.

“Good day Davi,” he said reading the girl’s name tag.

“Good day sir!  How can I help you,” she asked in the most friendly greeting he’d had in quite some time.

“Me and my friends are lost and not sure where we are, can you please tell me?”

“Certainly sir.  You’re at Easton in Columbus, Ohio.”

Thomas was caught off guard by this news.  He never thought he’d be in Columbus again.  From his understanding most of the Midwest had been destroyed when the attacks first began.

“Can you help me get back to Gotham City?”

“Excuse me,” said the girl.  “You mean New York?”

“Yes,” he said.  Confused by the question.  “Gotham City, New York.”

The girl gave him a bewildered look.

“Give me a moment sir, let me find out.”

The girl stepped away from the desk and walked over to a boy working there as well.

“Is Gotham City a real place,” he heard her ask the boy.

“Some people call New York City that but otherwise no.”

“Well that gentleman is asking how to get there.”

The two of them walked over to Thomas.

“Sir,” asked the boy.  “Are you trying to get to New York City?”

“No,” Thomas reiterated feeling annoyed and slightly frightened.  “I need to get to Gotham.  Do you have any idea who I am?  Just get me to the nearest boom tube!”

“Ok,” said the boy.  “Relax, you’ve been reading too many comics and you look like you’ve been in a fight.  I think you may have hit your head too hard.  Let’s get you to a hospital.”

“I don’t need a hospital,” he shouted, anger filling him.  He pulled out his I.D. and flashed it at the boy.  “I’m Dr. Thomas Wayne.”

The boy glanced at the I.D.  His eyes widened in shock and recognition.  “But… But, you’re not real,” he stammered.

“What?”

“You’re a fictional character.  Father of Bruce Wayne aka Batman.”

The boy reached in his pocket and pulled out a phone.

“See,” he said.

Thomas grabbed the device and read about the fictional Thomas Wayne.  The boy starred at him as he clicked link after link reading about his dear Martha, his beloved Gotham, and his friends Lionel Luther, Jonathan Kent, and Robert Queen.  He dropped the device, having read enough, and ran outside.  The boy followed him.

“Lionel!  Lionel,” he screamed, shaking his friend awake.

“Oh my god,” said the boy seeing the other three bruised and bloodied men.

Lionel opened his eyes.  “I’m sorry,” he said.

“What happened,” asked Thomas.

“When we entered the time stream Braniac followed.  We stopped him but in the process he destabilized us.”

“What does that mean?”

“We were pulled from the time stream to a stable timeline.”

“Then we need to get back to ours,” said Thomas.

“We can’t.  We’re stuck.  This timeline is stable.  No magic or science has the capability of bending it.”

Thomas collapsed to the ground.  He may have saved his world but to him it was lost.  Martha.  Bruce.  Gotham.  Braniac might as well have destroyed it all for all the good it did him.  Would Bruce become this Batman the boy mentioned?  His world was over.  He dreaded Jonathan and Robert waking up.  How would they handle the losses of Clark and Oliver.

Thomas looked at the boy.

“Tell me about my son and what would have been.”

Thomas would never see Bruce grow up.  He hoped that he would have a great life.  He prayed Alfred would take care of Martha and Bruce.

“Your son will be a hero,” said the boy.  “He’ll save the world.”

Thomas smiled.  Bruce Wayne, the hero, the Batman.

Russia and Equality – Lots of Thoughts

Each day I read more and more about the situation over in Russia for our LGBT brothers and sisters and their supporters.  Things are bad there and they show no sign of getting better.  This has resulted in outcries in the West as people are treated so poorly.  It has led to a campaign to get the IOC to change the Olympic games from Sochi, Russia to Vancouver, Canada.  President Obama has spoken out and said the best course of action is to show up in defiance of Russia’s laws instead and shows the example of Jesse Owens in the 1936 Olympics showing up in defiance of Adolph Hitler.

I disagree mister President.  In 1936 we showed up to the games and while we may have embarrassed Adolph Hitler in the eyes of the allies, it only spurred Hitler to further action!  We added to an increased German economy by showing up to those games which then turned their power on the rest of the world shortly thereafter.  If we don’t learn from history we are doomed to repeat it.  What we should have learned from those games is that the world should not have shown up to the Olympics in 1936.  We should have had games for the free world elsewhere and made Germany look weak instead of strong.  Jesse Owens may have embarrassed Hitler in our minds, but he did not in the eyes of the German people, in fact, it made them angrier!

When LGBT athletes win in Sochi next year it will not prove the Russians wrong.  It will make them furious.  The attacks that are becoming prevalent there in Russia will only increase!  These people don’t think LGBT people are inferior athletes, they think they are not worthy of living.  Your thought process is completely wrong.

Countries who support equality should not be showing up to the Olympics next year. It’s time to start our own games that can show we don’t need the IOC and their cowardly stance to give our athletes a great competition.  We should not be contributing to the economy of a people so filled with hatred but should instead be spending out money elsewhere.

Elsewhere in response to the Russian stance on LGBT rights is the call to dump Soli vodka.  Dan Savage has been leading the campaign against Russian Vodka.  I completely support dumping Russian products, like I said previously we should not be supporting the economy of a country filled with so much hatred.  However, that said, Stoli is NOT Russian.  Stoli actually comes from Latvia here in the USA.  Ten years ago, Putin tried to get Stoli to be produced by the Russian government.  He claimed the SPI group stole the rights from Russia and forced the group to flee the country.  Stoli is not a Russian company and is in fact not even sold in Russia as the government controls that brand in Russia.  Russia recently sued to have the rights to Stoli here in the USA but they lost the case and Stoli remains produced by SPI in Latvia for us.

However, there are other companies closer to home we should be looking at.  We need to start petitioning NBC to not show the 2014 Olympics on TV.  I realize that this is a big thing to ask from them.  The Olympics bring a great deal of money to them and they are a struggling network already.  I also realize that if the US does still participate in the games people will want to watch our players.  So I give this alternative as a compromise if the games need to be shown.  Send less crew to Russia than you would normally for the Olympics.  Make it as scarce a crew as possible as to not support the economy there.  Do not under any circumstances show the opening or closing ceremonies which serve as advertisements for the host country.  Do not show any pre-game preparations this year.  You should not be arriving in Russia till the start of the games and should be leaving immediately after.  Russia is not a place that those who support equality should be visiting.  Instead of airing the opening and closing ceremonies air pieces highlighting the injustice that is occurring in Russia.  Make sure to keep the injustice happening there a focal point of discussions about Russia.  Don’t talk about their amazing facilities or the money spent creating them as in past years.  It should be focused only on the games and the injustice.

Ask Coca Cola and McDonald’s to drop their sponsorship of the Olympics.  Both companies are standing by the IOC and the decision to keep the games in Sochi.  Both have been LGBT allies in the past but as with any company money is more important than Human Rights.  However, we need to show that we have money too.  If they decide to continue to support the Olympics we will not support them.  No more Jack and Coke people.  If we show them that their decision to stay with the Olympics will hurt them worse in the long run then we have a chance of changing things.

Ikea

I was bored tonight so did a bit of creative writing.  I was inspired by Jonathan Coulton’s song Ikea.  I hope you enjoy this quick little story.  By the way, I didn’t do research into the founding of Ikea until after I wrote the first portion.  So the use of the name Ingvar was completely coincidental and creepy when I looked it up.

 

THE BLACK SEA – 1042 A.D.

Ingvar the Far-Traveled clutched the scrolls in his hands as if they were the most important thing on Earth.  It was all he could do while the ship tossed and turned in the boiling, storm addled sea.  High above his head the gods battled with the ferocity of beasts paying little mind to the men below.  The Rus Vikings who traveled with him were not afraid of much, but tonight it was clear that there was a deep fear in them all.

Ingvar covered his head as splinters of wood embedded themselves in his body.  Mjolnir had broken right through the masthead of the ship causing it to explode all around him.  One of his men fell dead as a large fragment staked his heart.  Ingvar watched in horror as ship after ship was consumed by the fight.  Lightning was striking all over the sea.  Ingvar questioned whether Thor remembered that he and his men were below the fight.  He had to, he reasoned, before they had set sail the God of Thunder had appeared and handed him the scrolls he now clutched.  He had assumed that meant that their quest was ordained by Odin himself.

Ingvar’s skin burned as a beam of pure sunlight pierced through the storm clouds the Thunderer had brought and incinerated the ship next to them.  The boiling ocean caused by Baldr’s sun beams and tossed about by Thor’s storms were proving too much for Ingvar’s command.

The gods got nearer to the men.

“Why do you fight me brother,” asked Thor.

“I have been told of your plans,” said Baldr.  “You know I cannot let them suceed.”

The brothers continue to shout but Ingvar could no longer hear them above the roar of the sea and the sound of thunder.  He knew that whatever was in these scrolls caused the gods to fight though.  Ingvar had little idea what to do now but cower with his men and hope the gods’ fight did not take their lives.

“What do you fear Ingvar,” asked and unfamiliar voice.

Behind Ingvar stood a spectacle he never imagined he’d see.  Dressed in all his pageantry was Loki.

“By Odin,” exclaimed Ingvar.

“I’m afraid Odin has no time for you today.”  Loki snatched the scrolls from Ingvar’s hands. “So this is what Thor gave you.  I hope it is worth all this trouble.”

“You,” exclaimed Ingvar.  “You’re behind this!”

“Of course,” replied Loki.  “Thor was watching his precious Midgard so closely.  I had to distract him so I could get this.  It didn’t take much to manipulate Baldr into thinking these were the plans for Ragnarok.  Odin’s sons are so easily manipulated, if I let you live remind me to tell you my plans with mistletoe!  Now let me see.”

Ingvar watched in horror as Loki opened the scrolls he’d been entrusted with by Thor.

“What on Midgard,” exclaimed Loki.  “Thor has clearly gone mad!”

Ingvar glanced at the scrolls.  They made no sense to him.  Some sort of drawing.

“No matter.  I can still play Thor the fool.  Say farewell Ingvar.”

A jolt of pain unlike anything he’d previously experienced touched every fiber of his being.  Ingvar closed his eyes and faded into Oblivion.

Almhult, Sweden – 1942 A.D.

Ingvar awoke.  His head was pounding.  The boy got out of his bed and looked into the mirror.  Was that a dream?  It seemed so real to him.  He tried to make sense of everything swimming through his head.  He thought back to last week when he and his men had first met Thor. No wait, what?  No. Last week he had been in Stockholm buying matches.  His head was a mess.  The more he tried to think the more he found two sets of memories.  Those of Ingvar Kamprad and those of Ingvar the Far-Traveled.

One Year Later

A year later and Ingvar was much better at understanding the two sets of memories he now possessed.  Which set was the real Ingvar was a question that could not be decided though.  Whatever the trickster Loki had done to Ingvar the Far-Traveled now plagued Ingvar Kampred.

Ingvar looked over at his Uncle Ernst.  They were sitting at the kitchen table.

“Before I forget,” said his Uncle.  “I have something odd for you.  Let me go get them.”

Uncle Ernst walked down the hallway and the curiosity of young Ingvar was piqued.  Ingvar the Far-Traveled was more weary about something odd though.  His Uncle returned and Ingvar was suddenly filled with fear as the scrolls of Thor were placed on the table.

“These came in the mail for you today.  Quid odd.”

“Quite odd indeed,” came a new voice.  It was a familiar voice to Ingvar.  The man chugged his Uncle’s beer and slammed the glass on the table.  “Another,” he shouted.

“Uncle Ernst,” said Ingvar.  “Meet Thor the Thunderer.”

“When they called you Ingvar the Far-Traveled they weren’t joking,” exclaimed Thor.  “Nine-hundred years!  Another hundred and you’d be a gargoyle.”

“What,” asked Ingvar.

“Oh.  Give it another fifty years and you’ll understand the joke.”

Uncle Ernst stared at Ingvar and Thor as the two discussed their shared past and the future plans.  Ingvar may have not understood the scrolls nine hundred years earlier but today he did.

IKEA – Brooklyn, NY – 2002

Jonathan was on his way past the cafe when he heard a man with a booming voice shout, “Another!”

He was in a rush to get home and measure his tiny apartment to see if he could get the collapsible furniture he wanted but the man made him stop.  He was always on the lookout for the strange and bizarre and this man stood out as such.  He sat at the table shooting orders as he ate his meatballs.  Sitting on the table was a giant hammer and the man looked like he hadn’t showered in a year.  Suddenly the man noticed Jonathan watching.

“Come friend, sit,” commanded the man.

Jonathan found himself compelled to obey.

“Greetings friend!  I am the mighty Thor!  And who may you be?”

Suddenly everything made sense.  This poor man was clearly homeless and crazy.  He was probably going to leave here with a box, call it Asgard, and live there.

“I’m Jonathan.  Here, let me buy those meatballs for you.”

“Nonsense,” said Thor.  “Meatballs are free for me and now for you!”  He raised his hammer and shouted, “free meatballs for Jonathan.”

He was amazed as a serving of meatballs were run right over to him.

“They really listen to you,” he said.

“Of course,” said Thor.  “My Norsemen love me.”

Jonathan lost track of time as he listened to the crazy mans stories.  The man told stories about his viking friends Billy, Ingo, and Karl who served under Ingvar the Far-Traveled who was really Ingvar Kamprad.  He explained that of course Thor was involved with furniture as it was a little known fact that he was also the God of Oak.

After Thor was finally done telling his stories and excused himself, Jonathan decided to take a walk around the building.  He watched as college kids and divorced men looked at furniture that could fit in an apartment maybe even smaller than his if such things existed.

Man, he though. I should write a song about this place.  I’m sorry I said Ikea sucks.

The Future

“What in the nine realms could be funny now,” asked Thor.

Ragnarok had befallen the nine realms.  It was the end of everything.

“It’s just,” said Loki.  “When I had Baldr fight you all those years ago over the Black Sea, I told him Ingvar had the plans for Ragnarok.  Ikea used all the trees on Midgard and it destroyed that realm leading to all of this.  Those really were the plans for Ragnarok.”

Midgard was done.  It was really all Thor’s fault.  He had caused Ragnarok.

 

I Am Iron Man

So I’m going to try and express my feelings on Iron Man 3 without spoiling anything.

Holy crap was that a great movie.  Probably the best of the trilogy (can you call it a trilogy when really all the Marvel movies build into this one?).  I’m going to try and express my feelings about the movie without spoiling anything.

A Post Avengers World
Tony Stark is a man who just recently traveled through a wormhole to the other side of the galaxy and delivered a nuclear bomb to destroy an alien invasion and he was aided by his friends the Norse god, the super solider from WW2, the giant monster, an archer, and a super spy.  He’s feeling, understandably, like a little fish in a big pond thought he doesn’t really express it that way.  He’s got a ton of anxiety though and it’s building up on him.  He hasn’t figured out how to handle this post Avengers world.  Clearly the villains have though.  Gone are the days where Iron Man is fighting people who have built upon his armor idea, that won’t handle it when big guys with hammers fall from the sky.  Ok, this may be a bit spoiler if you know NOTHING about the Marvel Universe, but Advanced Idea Mechanics has stepped up the game with the bad guys.  They proved a bigger threat that could stand up against the likes of Thor and Hulk but instead Iron Man has to take them down.  I thought it stood out as a great way for Iron Man to show that he is still worth something in this post Avengers world, with or without a suit.

The Mandarin
Ok.  So for me this felt a little hollow through most of the movie.  Whenever the Mandarin was on screen I just wasn’t connecting.  I was more interested in seeing what A.I.M. was up to than learning about the Mandarin.  Of course, with the reveal later in the movie it made sense to me.  I’m not sure if they were trying for us not to feel the tension with the Mandarin but it just felt faked to me.

The Comedy
Clearly Marvel has learned that these worlds need some comedy.  It really started with Thor but then the Avengers took it to a new level.  Yes, these big events are Earth shattering, but these are still humans (more or less) that are involved in these situation.  They make errors and they have sarcasm.  This should be funny.  Thor had a god thrown into a world he didn’t understand unwillingly and that led to some great comedy.  The Avengers got a ton of use from Hulk in the comedy department.  For this one it was all about Tony and the people that admired him as Iron Man.  The kid was hilarious.  I really wanted this kid to grow into something himself cause his chemistry with Stark was awesome.  Unfortunately the only Harley I know in the Marvel universe is a girl, they should have named him Greg Willis… That I would have been thrilled about.  Also, the guy that was the huge Iron Man fan with the van was hilarious too.  If ABC cancels Happy Endings I hope that he ends up on S.H.I.E.L.D. somehow!

Some Favorites
41+ Jarvis voices.  Nice.
Pepper’s “Hulk Smash” moment.
The post credit reveal of who Stark was talking to.
Happy’s “Super Friends” comment.
Avengers nightmares.

Overall
This movie holds up to the style and feel of the Marvel universe we’ve been building on.  Yes, this is a very different movie than anything that came before it.  That’s one of the beautiful things about these characters and Marvel’s approach.  They are using writers and directors who aren’t necessarily all about superheroes.  It’s all about finding the proper script that works.

Iron Man 3 is possibly the best Iron Man so far.  The Marvel Universe is shaping up on screen and it’s exciting to see all the connections that will be built upon.  There wasn’t a lot of talk about the cosmic scale that we’re heading towards, after all we know this is leading to Thanos.  I think it did a proper job of setting up that this is a post Avengers world now though and that people are coming to grips with the superhero.  It means more powerful villains.

On a side note, it was quite sad to know that this is also a world where Agent Coulson is “dead.”  Yes, if you’ve been following the news on Marvel’s S.H.I.E.L.D. then you know that Coulson is coming back but will he appear in the movies?  I’m guessing that whether he died or not we’ll find out come the fall T.V. season, but for now, the Avengers have to believe he’s dead.  So we probably won’t be seeing him show up anytime soon back on the big screen.  Though the lack of S.H.I.E.L.D. in general during this movie was odd considering it has played such a vital role in the other Iron Man movies.

Anyway, I guess in the end I recommend checking it out.  Marvel knows how to build it’s universe.  Things will only get better and more complex from here.  Next up is Marvel’s S.H.I.E.L.D. assuming it gets picked up to series, but let’s be honest, why wouldn’t it be?  And then we’ll get Thor: The Dark World.

Freedom

Browsing through Facebook and you see a lot of people talk about their political beliefs.  No doubt I’ve expressed mine many times before via Facebook.  Everyone seems to latch on to their own particular belief and fight the causes that that entails.  It’s always about freedom and the rights that we as Americans deserve.  We all want life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.  Who gets to decide who gets those things though?

If I were to ask you, what party is about freedom, what would you say?

The truth is, whether you answered Republican or Democrat you’d be wrong.  Neither party is about freedom.  They are about power.  We live in a world where the politician is in it for their own stake and not for the betterment of mankind.

The Republicans have long been about suppressing people’s freedoms due to religion.  They have campaigned on the religious banner for so long that they’ve lost site of the freedom that they once clung to.  They say their actions are motivated by religious freedom, but it’s not that way at all.  If anything they are trying to control people’s religions and not let them express their own individuality.  The big issue obviously here is marriage.  They say that marriage is a religious institution and is only between a man and a woman.  They say that a man and a man or a woman and a woman can’t get married because it’s against God’s will.  I say, great, then make marriage a religious institution if that’s what you believe it is.  Marriage is not a religious institution.  The moment that you are married you get 1100 different rights given to you by the government.  The fact is that marriage is a governmental institution because the government gives rights based on it.  If it were a religious institution then the government should not be giving rights because of it.  So you can have it one way or the other, it either is a religious institution or it’s a governmental institution.

If you want marriage to be a religious institution that’s fine, I have no need to go to a church to get married.  When I find my man and we settle down I’ll be happy with that.  Let’s go pass a law right now that bans marriages from being recognized the government.  No longer will rights be given based on this religious institution.

So you’re not happy about that?  You say that takes away your freedoms?  Well if you want rights because you’re married then this becomes a government institution.  Now we’re where we started.  You are now trying to take the rights from those who don’t fall in line with your viewpoint.  You are suppressing the freedom of the minority by giving rights based on your religious viewpoint that not everyone can have.

The Democrats on the other hand say they’re all about freedom.  They’re the pro-choice, pro-marriage equality party.  Let me tell you a secret.  They don’t like freedom either.  See, someone who is completely free from control of the government can’t fit into their viewpoint either.  Let’s look at what’s going on in Ohio right now.  Legislation is being brought up for “Right to Work” laws.  These laws are fiercely opposed by the Democrats.  Unfortunately, unlike the religious backing of their viewpoints that the Republicans have, I don’t really understand the ferocity that Democrats have against these laws.

The problem with fighting these is that you’re fighting against the freedom that you say you’re about.  These laws give employees the freedom to choose whether they want to join a union and financially back it.  Without these laws a union can work out deals with a company that the company can force people to pay the union dues whether they want to join or not.

Just as with the gay marriage issue this is the majority forcing their views on the minority.  The freedom of the individual to choose is taken away in states like Ohio where these laws don’t exist.

Democrats are all about the personal freedom (unless you want to own a gun) but feel like they can tell you how you should spend your money.  Republicans are all about your monetary freedom but feel like they can tell you how to live your life (unless you want to own a gun).  In the end the parties have drawn these lines in the sand.  They know that they can make you passionate about one thing or another.  People have very strong viewpoints of both sides, especially on issues like abortion and gay marriage.  So the parties have taken their stands on these issues.  I doubt that many of the people in these parties really cling so strictly to these beliefs in their personal life, but it’s all about power for them.  They use the talking points to get us to vote one way or the other.  In the end it has worked, in 2004, Bush used gay marriage bills in Ohio and Florida to bring out the Republican base and secure him reelection. It’s time for change.  Real change and not the Obama bullshit change that was spouted out in 2008 which turned out to be more of the same political games anyway.

It’s time for the rise of the third party.