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And THAT Is What Scares Me

What scares you? What scares me?

I guess first we have to decide what it means to be scared. You know when you are watching that scary movie and then just at that crucial moment the monster pops out? That’s called a jump scare. It gives a crazy rush of adrenaline. I don’t like to be startled but I kind of like the jump scares.

The movie “A Quiet Place” was really well done. It managed to scare us without a lot of blood and gore. I thought it was great. I don’t like it when PEOPLE jump scare me. I once punched a really good friend because he jumped out and scared me after I’d asked him very nicely NOT to jump out and scare me anymore. (He didn’t do it again after I hit him.)

But, that’s not really the kind of scare I’m talking about. What frightens you? What are the things late at night that you dread?

For me, it’s lack of security. The inability to take care of my lovely wife and children. I used to be afraid of losing my job because my job represented security. But, after losing some jobs I realized that “job security” is an illusion. Jobs don’t provide security. And what is a secure job today could turn insecure tomorrow even if you did everything “right.” Losing my job doesn’t scare me anymore.

It wasn’t just the realization that there’s no such thing as a secure job. It was also some changes we made in our lives. We paid off our credit card debt. We paid off our student loans. We paid off our cars and other consumer debt. We owe on our house, but given the crazy housing market, the house is worth three times what we paid for it and four times what we still owe on it. The house is a great big piggy bank just waiting for us to cash it in if needed.

My lovely wife has had health scares off and on throughout our 35 year marriage. At times I was afraid she might not recover. And I realized there was nothing I could do about it. Her fate was really in the hands of God and the doctors. I was helpless. It was the ultimate feeling of lack of security. She’s doing very well. She recovered completely.

I’ve been diagnosed as having avoidant personality style. It was a revelation to me. I’d never heard of it. (Although it does show up once in The Expendables. One of the mercenaries has avoidant personality style. The joke is that the mercenaries don’t form emotional attachments. It’s a defense mechanism.

Yep. That’s avoidant personality style. At least it’s my style of it. I don’t easily form emotional attachments. I’m devoted to my lovely wife. And my children and grandchildren are precious to me. But, deep down in a place I don’t look at very often, I have this feeling that if I needed to, I could break that emotional bond.

You know those scenes in the movies where the hero needs to kill someone he loves, but he just can’t bring himself to do it? I’m not that guy. I’d do a quick risk/reward analysis and then I’d end up pulling the trigger. I also believe that if I needed to, to defend my family, I could also pull the trigger on someone else, someone hurting my family. And I wouldn’t even feel bad about it.

There’s a Cherokee legend about a grandfather who told his grandson that there were two wolves fighting inside him, one evil, one good.

Which one will win?

The one you feed.

I believe it. And I feed the good wolf. But, I absolutely know the other wolf is there, lying in wait, not malnourished despite the fact I don’t feed him. No, he’s there waiting to be woken.

What does this have to do with fear? With being scared? With fearing a lack of security. I harbor the belief in the evil wolf as the ultimate security. The idea that ultimately I have the ability to meet any challenge. To ruthlessly destroy anyone necessary to protect my family.

Would I? Would I be able to unleash that wolf and do whatever was necessary, even hurting or killing others? None of us know how we would react. I’ve never been combat. I’ve never faced someone who wanted to kill me. Honestly I don’t know what I would do, despite my beliefs.

My fear is not that I would awaken the evil wolf. My real fear is that I wouldn’t.

Stay safe

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren. Order Miscellany II, an anthology including his latest short story, “The Mercy System” here

Follow him on
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(c) 2022 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved

I’m Not Modest. I’m Just Not That Interesting

I have a new book coming out.

Okay, it’s mine and nine other writers. It’s an anthology. And it’s about Christmas. And my story is science fiction.

The editor is great. His name is James Elliott and he runs a small publishing house called Anderson Publishing. James does a lot of work on each book. I respect him a lot.

But, James wants to interview me. And the subject he wants to talk about is my blog. He thinks it’s noteworthy and newsworthy. I’m trying to believe him.

Don’t get me wrong. I appreciate all y’all who read my scribblings here. Whether your a regular subscriber who gets it sent to you every day, or if you check in every now and then, I appreciate each and every one of you. And I work very hard to provide interesting and sometimes useful content.

I guess I’m just not sure how useful it is to talk about talk about blogging. It’s like talking about writing. It’s not a particularly interesting subject to me. I enjoy it. I love writing. I like just about every aspect of the writing process, world building, character development, plotting. Even editing. And, like most writers, I love to read.

But, talking about writing is about as interesting as talking about reading. Or talking about watching a movie.

So, while I appreciate my editor (he’s a really good editor,) I have to question his choice on content this time.

Stay safe

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren. Order Miscellany II, an anthology including his latest short story, “The Mercy System” here

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(c) 2022 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved

Do I Really Not Care? Or Only Want To Not Care?

 “It’s amazing what you can accomplish when you do not care who gets the credit”
– Harry Truman

I don’t need to be right. I really don’t. At least I don’t think so. I hope not.

Some people care. And they care a lot.

I’ve worked in IT for a REALLY long time. I’ve got computers older than some of my coworkers. I don’t like to code. But, I know a little. In fact, after 35 years in the IT world, you end up knowing a little about everything including how to design code.

We needed to exclude a particular item type. I explained to my team how to do it. Basically scan the input and if that particular item type is detected, flag it and exclude it.

A senior Program Manager didn’t agree.

We shouldn’t hard code it. We should simply define it in our data library and then we can exclude it.

He was VERY insistent. And he was also wrong. I knew he was wrong. But, he really wanted to be right. And he was my supervisor. What would you do?

Okay. Let’s talk to Terrell and let him design it.

Terrell was our Senior Developer. You know what Terrell said?

We have to hard code it. We add items to the data library on an ad hoc basis. We can’t know when we might receive that data type.

Terrell didn’t know that I’d suggested something very similar. My supervisor didn’t mention it again and neither did I.

Earlier I had explained to Terrell how we had agreed to design a feature. Terrell didn’t remember the conversation. And so, in his mind, the conversation didn’t happen.

No, Rodney, I pay particular attention on calls and I would have remembered that!

You know what I said?

Okay.

Later I talked to my supervisor about it.

You know, Rodney, I think you’re right. I remember us talking about that. I think Terrell is wrong.

Did he mention it to Terrell? Of course not. And neither did I. It didn’t matter who got the credit. At least it didn’t to me. It certainly did to him.

I take a lot of calls with Terrell. I was training our client on a part of product. They asked a question that I was 90% certain on the answer. I sent a facebook PM to Terrell.

They can do that process multiple times, right?

I’m honestly dumbfounded that you don’t know even these simple features of our product. That’s unbelievable.

You might read this and think, “Geez, Rodney’s kind of a wimp.” I don’t see it that way. I don’t need credit. I don’t care if I get it or not. I wish Terrell didn’t think I was an idiot, but there is nothing to be gained by arguing with him about it. And if you ever find yourself considering the phrase, “I’m not as stupid as you think I am,” it’s probably best to keep that unspoken.

The point is to get the job done.

But, here’s the real cost. I’ll continue my job, because despite my supervisor and Terrell’s opinions, I’m good at it. The client certainly thinks so. But, will I feel a sense of loyalty? Will I feel a sense of pride and belonging?

Nope. I’m not that much of an idiot.

Stay safe

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren. Order Miscellany II, an anthology including his latest short story, “The Mercy System” here

Follow him on
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or email him at rbliss at msn dot com

(c) 2022 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved

Thank The Geeks For This One

Yesterday was September 19. It was a Monday. But, that’s not why it was special. It was my daughter’s anniversary. But, that’s also not why it’s special. (Well, special to my daughter and son-in-law. . ) It was also the birthday of Mark Summers’ ex-wife. And THAT is why it’s special.

On June 6, 1995 Summers was playing racquetball with his friend John Baur. And then one of them took a nasty spill and yelled “Aaarrr!” Of course, everyone knows that is how pirates talk. (Okay, they don’t REALLY talk like that, but people like to imitate pirates by talking like that.) Anyway, the two friends decided the entire world should set aside one day to talk like a pirate.

But, June 6 is already an important date in history. It was the day in 1944 when the Allies invaded France. It’s recognized as D-Day.

So, the friends needed another day for their holiday. They chose September 19. Out of respect for Summer’s exwife’s birthday.

I enjoy Talk Like a Pirate Day. However, it’s officially International Talk Like A Pirate Day. So, I’ve always thought a rather than say “Aaarr,” a better statement would be:

Yes, of course this is a valid windows license. No way would I be cheating you.

Stay safe

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren. Order Miscellany II, an anthology including his latest short story, “The Mercy System” here

Follow him on
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(c) 2022 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved

A Most Strange Gathering

Have you ever met someone and felt like you would be friends forever?

Chances are you weren’t.

How about an entire group of people that you felt that connection with?

On Saturday I went to a reunion at a nearby park in Pleasant Grove. It wasn’t a high school or college reunion. It wasn’t a military reunion. It was a neighborhood reunion.

But, that’s not the strange part.

We left this neighborhood nearly 30 years ago.

But, that’s not the strange part.

This neighborhood isn’t in Pleasant Grove. It’s not even in Utah. It’s two states and 1000 miles away in Maple Valley, Washington.

Yeah, that’s the strange part.

There were over 50 people at our Pleasant Grove neighborhood park. Some drove 1000 miles from Washington to attend. Some, like us, lived less than 2 miles away.

Thirty years ago we lived in Maple Valley a suburb outside of Seattle. We lived there for nearly nearly 10 years. We built a house there. We raised our children for many years. We completed our first two adoptions there. And then life changed. I left my job at Microsoft and moved back to Utah. And we lost touch with the people from that neighborhood.

Enter Facebook. We reconnected with a few people. And they connected with a few people and before you knew it, lots of the people from “the old neighborhood” were back in touch with each other. . .kind of.

And by some strange coincidence, a lot of us had moved to Utah. And not just Utah, Pleasant Grove, Utah. We now live closer to some of those neighbors than we did back when we were in Washington. And while there were plenty of people I didn’t recognize, several of them stepped right out of my memories and we picked up right where we left off.

We are all much older and the kids we helped each other raise now have kids of their own. But, whatever magic that neighborhood held, it’s transcended time and space.

Yup. These are my tribe.

May you find a tribe that will maintain your membership over decades and hundreds of miles.

Stay safe

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren. Order Miscellany II, an anthology including his latest short story, “The Mercy System” here

Follow him on
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Facebook (www.facebook.com/rbliss)
LinkedIn (www.LinkedIn.com/in/rbliss)
or email him at rbliss at msn dot com

(c) 2022 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved

We Can Do Or We Can Teach

Those who can – do. Those who can’t – teach.
(Spoken by someone who obviously could neither do nor teach.)

Did you ever see the movie “Deep Impact”? It was a 1998 movie about a bunch of astronauts trying to blow up a comet. You are probably thinking of “Armageddon.” Armageddon starred Bruce Willis and Ben Affleck. Deep Impact starred Robert Duvall. Anyway, at one point in the movie Robert Duvall and team figured out a strategy to blow up the comet. He is talking to the base in Houston. The guy at base wants him to explain the plan. Robert Duvall says,

Look, we can do or we can teach. We can’t do both.

Of course, they solve the problem. They blow up the comet. But, they all die. (Sorry, spoiler alert.) Anyway, the point is that sometimes getting an update on a problem actually prevents the problem from getting fixed.

Several years ago I was working for a large telecommunication company. One morning as I was headed to work, the lights in our building went out. I got a notification that the lights were out, but not much else. The team was working on the problem. The client called me.

Rodney, I heard the lights went out in your building?

Yeah, I’m on my way in right now.

Well, what the was the issue?

I’m not sure yet. I’ll know more when I get there.

Are the turnstiles working?

I don’t know.

Well, can’t you find out?

Look! I’m driving. I could pull off the freeway and call. I’d probably have to pull one of the electricians out of a wiring closet where he is right now trying to fix the problem. Or, if you will wait 15 minutes, I’ll be at the building and can see for myself. What would you like me to do?

The client backed off and realized that the electricians could either do or they could teach, but they couldn’t do both.

The other day I came into work and there were two critical issues from the overnight team that our lead developer was working on. I used the Slack program to ask him for an update.

What’s the status on bug #15465?

I’m working on that right now.

What about the refresh issue with #16213?

I’m also working on that one right now.

Then I’ll shut up and stop distracting you.

You’re fine.

I wanted to know how the process was going. But any time Tom spent talking to me would be time he would NOT be working on our critical issues. He could do or he could teach. But, he couldn’t do both.

I’ve always found that the best teachers are those who are really good at doing.

Stay safe

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren. Order Miscellany II, an anthology including his latest short story, “The Mercy System” here

Follow him on
Twitter (@rodneymbliss)
Facebook (www.facebook.com/rbliss)
LinkedIn (www.LinkedIn.com/in/rbliss)
or email him at rbliss at msn dot com

(c) 2022 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved

My Daughter And Two Real Studs

My daughter wanted me to rotate her tires. I’m impressed that she sees that as useful. I know I don’t rotate my own tires as often as I should. Rotating your tires helps you preserve the life of your tires. It also helps with handling. Ideally all four tires wear more evenly.

And, OF COURSE, I’m going to help her if she is being conscientious about routine maintenance. I have two floor jacks and a half dozen jack stands. The thing about rotating tires is it’s much easier if you can get all four wheels off the ground at the same time.

And if you happen to have a pneumatic impact wrench, which I do, it’s really fast.

  1. Jack up car and put on jackstands
  2. Remove all the lug nuts (using the impact wrench)
  3. Move tires to new location
  4. Mount the tires and put the lug nuts back on (using a torque wrench NOT an impact wrench
  5. Put the car back on the ground

With my daughter helping I figured it would take about 15 minutes.

Nope.

First problem was that one of the lug nuts was stuck. Now, it takes a lot to get stuck to the point that an impact wrench has an issue. The wrench has three speeds. (No, they aren’t low, medium and high. They are three dots. A small dot. A medium sized dot. And a big dot.) I didn’t want her spinning the lugs too hard so I had it on the medium setting. But, one lug wouldn’t come off. The impact wrench just complained.

Okay. We moved up to the BIG DOT size.

Just keep it on there it will come off eventually.

She has a Nissan Ultima. It’s not like we are taking lugs off a semi. Sure enough eventually the lug nut started to move. And under great protest it came off. And showed that we had essentially sheered off the last 1/2 inch of threads on the lug. I’m gonna have to deal with that.

An important piece of information. She recently had new tires put on her car. . .at a dealership.

Okay, great. We move the tires around and figure we’ll put three back on and then fix the fourth one. And that’s when I realized what the problem was. She has nice chrome wheels. The lug nuts are short lug nuts. And it is difficult to get them into the holes in her wheels so they can be started on the lugs. Now I understood why the lug nut was stripped and forced. The tire shop had trouble getting it back on and at one point simply used the impact wrench to “force” it the rest of the way on. I hate to think what would have happened if she had a flat tire. There is no way my daughter was going to get that lug nut off using a tire iron.

How to get them back on? Even my daughter’s fingers weren’t small enough to fit them on. Finally, I put a piece of tape in my socket and then pressed the lug nut into the tape. That worked, but it was still a challenge. We torqued the lug nuts to 100 ft/lbs.

But, now we had the problem wheel. First step in replacing the lugs is to remove the rotor. That’s a big dinner plate sized piece of steel that your brakes grab. I pounded away for about 15 minutes before I finally loosened it enough to come off.

Auto repairs are a combination of brute force and a delicate touch. Getting the lug nuts on required a delicate touch. Getting old lugs out of a hub requires brute force. Once the rotor is off you just smack the offending lug with a big hammer and it shoots out the back.

In addition to the stripped one (thank you unnamed tire store!) there was a another lug that needed to be replace. I pounded them out and then we took a trip to the auto parts store and bought two new lugs and two new lug nuts. Back home you feed the new lug into the back of the hub and then put a lug nut on and turn it up to BIG DOT and literally “pull” the new lug into the hub.

My 15 minute tire rotation job took a trip to the parts store and about two hours. But, her tires are now rotated and if she gets a flat she’ll be able to change the tire.

I offered her the two old lugs.

You should keep these.

Okay. But, why?

Well, if anyone gives you grief about your dating you can say your Dad introduced you to two real studs.

Stay safe

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren. Order Miscellany II, an anthology including his latest short story, “The Mercy System” here

Follow him on
Twitter (@rodneymbliss)
Facebook (www.facebook.com/rbliss)
LinkedIn (www.LinkedIn.com/in/rbliss)
or email him at rbliss at msn dot com

(c) 2022 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved

Dirty Water

Have you ever seen dirty ice? I got some ice from our counter top ice maker. But, after I filled it with water before I took a drink I noticed that the melted ice made the water dirty. Like REALLY dirty. That was odd. I dumped it out and got some more ice just to double check.

Yup, after adding water as it started to melt, it turned the water dirty too. That was really weird. The ice didn’t LOOK dirty. And the water reservoir seemed clear. I dumped it into the sink just to be sure. As I started to get more water to refill the reservoir, I realized my mistake. It wasn’t the ice that was dirty. It was the water. The water coming out of my tap was the color of REALLY weak coffee.

Utah is in a drought. We’ve been praying for rain. Well, apparently God heard our prayers. He sent rain. He sent a LOT of rain into our mountains, specifically Battle Creek Canyon which feeds Pleasant Grove’s water supply. And all that rain seemed to overwhelm the one of the water supply systems.

Very soon we got a map and a message from the city telling us to not drink, cook or bathe in the water. 

We use a lot of water. Now what? It’s not even a boil order. You can’t boil out dirt.

The city is flushing the lines. In the mean time we need to use other water.

Do YOU have enough water to take care of your family for a day or two? We’ve been storing water in old two liter bottles. It’s part of our food storage. And now we have two liter bottles next to each sink.

The city hopes to have it cleared up by morning. But, if they don’t, we’ll keep using the bottles.

The real question is should we keep praying for rain?

I think so. We are still in a drought, of course.

Stay safe

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren. Order Miscellany II, an anthology including his latest short story, “The Mercy System” here

Follow him on
Twitter (@rodneymbliss)
Facebook (www.facebook.com/rbliss)
LinkedIn (www.LinkedIn.com/in/rbliss)
or email him at rbliss at msn dot com

(c) 2022 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved

You’re Reading The Bible Wrong. . .No YOU Are!

Don’t worry, whether you believe the Bible or not, there’s sure to be something in this post to offend you.

Ever argue religion with someone?

My brother and I grew up playing board games. We’d get a new game, he’d go read the rules and I’d play with the pieces. When he knew enough of the rules for us to start, he’d explain it to me and we’d begin playing. At some point he’d do something that he hadn’t explained. When I complained he’d say,

“Oh, yeah, I forgot to tell you. . “

and then he pull out the rulebook and show me the rule.

And that was the point. Well, two points, actually. First, brothers cannot be trusted. But, second and more important, when in doubt consult the rule book. That’s what it’s for.

So, back to the Bible. It’s the ultimate rulebook if you are a Christian. But, if you’ve ever tried to consult it, you know that it’s not that easy.

For example:

Are God and Jesus Christ the same person?

Seems simple enough. And if you look at The Gospel of John Chapter 1 verse 1 it’s pretty clear.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

“The Word is another name for Jesus Christ. So, clearly if Jesus was with God and WAS God, they are the same.

But, if we go to The Gospel of Luke Chapter 3 verse 22, we read,

And the Holy Ghost descended in a bodily shape like a dove upon him, and a voice came from heaven, which said, Thou are my beloved Son; in thee I am well pleased.

Clearly if God was in Heaven and Jesus was in the River Jordan and they were having a conversation, they can’t be the same person.

Which one is right?

In Ephesians Chapter 2 versus 8 and 9 it says,

For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God.

Not of works, lest any man should boast.

Clearly we are saved by grace and not by works.

And yet, in the Epistle of James Chapter 2 verse 17 says

Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead

Okay, so clearly we need works to be saved. Or do we?

The Church of England is also called the Anglican Church. It was started by Henry VIII (the guy with all the wives.) And it was started because he wanted to divorce his wife for committing the sin of failing to give him a son. But, Henry and Catherine were Catholics as most of Europe was. The king asked the Pope to grant him a divorce. Catherine was Henry’s sister-in-law. She married his brother who then died. There’s a verse in the Old Testament, Deuteronomy 25:5 that says,

If brethren dwell together, and one of them die, and have no child, the wife of the dead shall not marry without unto a stranger: her husband’s brother shall go in unto her, and take her to him to wife and perform the duty of an husband’s brother unto her.

So, the Pope had a pretty solid scriptural backing for denying the annulment. In fact, he’d issued a special decree to allow the marriage in the first place because despite the scripture in Deuteronomy it was considered weird to marry your sister-in-law. (As for the annulment, yes, Henry wanted an annulment even though they had a daughter with Catherine, but he was king and it’s best to not ask too many questions.)

Add in the fact that Catherine didn’t want a divorce (or an annulment) and the additional fact that her brother the King of France had military control over the Pope’s house at the vatican, and the Pope had OTHER reasons to not grant the divorce.

So, Henry decides the best way to get his divorce was to form his own Church with him at the head of it and then he could do what he liked. But, he also had scripture on his side. Leviticus Chapter 20 verse 21 says,

If a man takes his brother’s wife, it is impurity. He has uncovered his brother’s nakedness; they shall be childless.

Clearly, the Bible goes both ways on the question of marrying your sister-in-law along with a lot of other pretty fundamental questions.

What’s the point?

The point is that if you want to read the Bible, you should read the Bible. If you don’t want to, you should not. And if someone disagrees with your interpretation of the Bible (faith/works, Nature of God, nature of Sin) just say, “Of course, I’m reading it wrong. So are YOU!”

Stay safe

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren. Order Miscellany II, an anthology including his latest short story, “The Mercy System” here

Follow him on
Twitter (@rodneymbliss)
Facebook (www.facebook.com/rbliss)
LinkedIn (www.LinkedIn.com/in/rbliss)
or email him at rbliss at msn dot com

(c) 2022 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved

The Story Of The King’s Sons (A Parable)

There once lived a king and queen. While they were happy with each other, they were not able to have any children. They decided to adopt twin boys from a distant country. The boys mother was very poor and the boys, mere babies, had fallen ill. With no money for medicine or doctors, the loving birth mother made the painful decision to allow her sons to be adopted. She knew they would grow up with every opportunity as sons of the king.

Although they were twins, the boys, Alrich and Barden had very different dispositions. Both were natural athletes. As they grew, they competed in feats of strength and running races. Barden was fast, but Alrich was persistent. At the age of five they were running a mile. By the age of nine they were two of the fastest boys in the kingdom. As young men they would run all day.

In races, Barden came out ahead, but as they grew, Alrich developed incredible strength. He had his natural ability, but he also diligently devoted time to improving himself. He often invited Barden to join him as he exercised. But Barden was more interested in playing with his friends. And after all, was he not the fastest runner in the kingdom?

Barden’s cavalier attitude soon led to the feeling that whatever Barden wanted he should have. Despite being son of the king, Alrich worked hard to provide for himself. His strength was often sought after by farmers and builders. His disposition was always friendly, never familiar. But, when he committed to a task he devoted himself until it was complete. He gained a reputation for hard work, and above all honest work.

Barden laughed at Alrich’s example. He was sone of the king and yet he worked in the dirt with his hands. He spent hours under the hot sun and received commoners wages as a result. Barden had much bigger ambitions. He received an share of his father and mother’s wealth and immediately spent it on a horse. He didn’t buy a strong horse. He didn’t buy a young horse. He bought a pretty horse. And he took great pleasure in riding the horse hard around the countryside.

Alrich looked at Barden’s horse longingly, as he walked back and forth to the day’s job site.

Barden found that taking care of a horse was more work than he was willing to accept. He neglected the horse. He didn’t comb it down after a hard ride. He piled fresh hay on top of moldy hay. Eventually the horse died. Barden was very upset. “I must have a horse to ride!” He convinced a neighbor that the son of the king should ride and not walk. And promised the neighbor if he’d sell him a horse, Braden would pay him over time.

Braden took no better care of the second horse than he did of the first. Soon it too was very ill. The neighbor took the horse and nursed it back to health. “Where is my horse?” Braden asked him. “When you pay me the original cost of the horse, plus the cost of nursing him back to health, then you can have the horse again.” This seemed like a lot of work to Braden, so he found someone else to sell him a horse on credit.

Braden found that not having money made it difficult for him to support his lifestyle. So, he went to work. But, soon his old habits returned and he found that it was quicker to sell his employers items and keep the money for himself. He was soon caught and dismissed. But, he was the son of the king and quickly found another job. Where, sadly he repeated the actions from before.

Alrich watched his brother with growing frustration. He was the older brother, if only by half an hour. And yet, he could do nothing to steer his younger brother into more productive habits. He tried talking to his brother, but Braden simply laughed. After all, Alrich was slaving all day under the hot sun for a few pennies, while he, Braden could, in a single day, get a months worth of wages.

Eventually, despite being the king’s son, Braden was called to account for his actions. People all throughout the capital city came forward to describe how Braden had cheated, or lied, or stolen from them. After years of mild punishments, Braden was devastated that he was sentenced to prison. Too late, he begged to be given another chance. But, he had used up all his chanced in the days, months and years of his wayward living.

It was with sadness that Alrich saw his brother in jail. How many times had he attempted to save him? How often had he invited him to turn away from his misdeeds. Alrich, despite having done all he could, still felt a profound sadness as his brother was led away.

But, as heartbroken as Alrich was, there was another who was even more despondent. Another who had also worked very hard to help Braden make good and just choices.

The king had to sentence his own son. And it broke his heart.

Stay safe

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren. Order Miscellany II, an anthology including his latest short story, “The Mercy System” here

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