10 Things You Didn't Know About Freemasonry

10 Things You Didn't Know About Freemasonry

From a Masonically-affiliated teen
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Freemasons. That's a name or title we hear quite a bit. Are they Illuminati? A cult? A secret society? As someone who has worked closely with the Freemasons — a member of the Order of the Eastern Star and the International Order of the Rainbow for Girls — and has seen some things that many people haven't, I can tell you a little bit more about them.

1. Freemasons love charity work.
What? How could it be? How could a society of men behind closed doors love to do charity? These men are involved in so many things without getting recognition for them. The Shriner's Hospitals are run by Freemasons. Freemasons spend time and effort working for different charities as well as fundraising for them. On top of that, many masonic lodges sponsor local troops of boy scouts as well as host masonic youth organizations in their buildings. A big charity that many lodges work with is actually the American Red Cross!

2. Freemasons are goofballs.
Honestly! Masons may take things more seriously when it comes to running their businesses, but at their public events, they are fun people to be around. As a matter of fact, at nearly every Masonic "installation" I've been to, the outgoing Master, or leader, of the lodge gets "reintroduced" to his wife because he has been so busy taking care of lodge matters. I once received a bobble head of Benjamin Franklin from a lodge for helping them paint poles.

3. There are so many branches of Freemasonry.
As previously mentioned, Freemasons run the Shriner's Hospitals. That's because, in order to be a Shriner, you must first be a Master Mason. One of my close friends is a member of so many masonic organizations that I lose track of them all. He may be at anywhere from seven to 13 different organizations. One of them being (and I really kid you not) The Grand and Glorious Order of the Hillbillies. Really.

4. Freemasonry is not a rare, exclusive organization.
Any man over the age of 18 can become a Master Mason. However, the Freemasons are a respectable organization, so they will run background checks to make sure that a man trying to join isn't a criminal, and they'll call you for an interview to make sure you'd be a good fit in that lodge. It's a lot like getting a job, and some will say that with the work you put into Freemasonry, it IS a job. At least my Freemason friends love it.

5. The Freemasons are family friendly!
The lodge that I meet in for my organizations hosts a family potluck dinner once a month in order to get to know all the groups, and the people involved, as well as their families. Not only is it a ton of fun, it's also a great way to raise a little bit of money for the expenses for the lodge. Our building gets used a LOT. Anywhere from 2 different masonic youth groups, OES, Masonry, Clockmakers, and even a Dungeons and Dragons group meet in our lodge. Never on the same day, of course.

6. Freemasons take pride in their work.
I can't stress enough how incredible it is to see work performed by the Freemasons. Attending their public events, such as Installations of Officers, gives a glimpse of the oldest and largest fraternity in the world. Their traditions are well loved, and it shows in their floor work (the way they walk) and the way they recite their "ritual", which is a speaking part, like a script in a play.

7. The Freemasons are a band of brothers.
And they do actually call each other brothers. In OES, we call the ladies "Sister" and the men "Brother". That is no different in Freemasonry, but because Freemasons are all men, they are all "brother". They can not stress enough the importance of brotherhood in masonry, and it is that brotherhood that keeps them as close-knit and successful as they have been. They are a fraternity, remember.

8. Each Freemason is entitled to his own opinion.
From what I've seen, all masons have the right to think and believe however they choose. Masonry is not about brainwashing you to believe in one specific God. Masonry is also not its own religion, though they ask each member to be religious in their own way. Masonry does not discriminate against religion, political ideas, race, sexuality, or anything like that.

9. Masonry is not a cult.
At least, in the typical idea of a cult. Technically, according to Merriam Webster, a cult is a system of religious beliefs and ritual. If you would consider the joining of all religious faiths under one ritual (again, similar to the script of a play) in order to celebrate brotherhood, then yes, Freemasonry is a cult. Unfortunately, many see it as a dangerous thing. Many see it as a group of people who are potentially sacrificing animals or people to the devil in order to gain power, or something. Though I myself don't know what goes on in their regular meetings, I have a fairly good idea that it isn't that.

10. Even though a woman can't be a Mason, they are important.
I have seen many things saying that behind every good Mason is a strong woman. To the Shriner's, the ladies are hugely important because it's their support that allows the Shriner's to do so much. That's why there are so many Masonic organizations for women. Though now not every Mason is a straight man, who may have a boyfriend or husband backing him through his travels, women are a hugely important part of Freemasonry. Women help prepare refreshments for the men, help plan events, and even "donate" her husband or significant other to the lodge, as he serves a year as the Master of the lodge. Masonry is a family affair, and so the women of the family are included in that.

I hope this helped a little to shed some light on this great fraternity. The Masons are incredible men, who work hard in their community to bring charity and brotherly love to the area. I have never met a Freemason who I was uncomfortable to be around, I have never gotten an "evil" vibe from them. Watching their work has been an incredible journey, and working with them has been even better.

Cover Image Credit: Rae Kaiser

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Your Wait time At Theme Parks Is Not Unfair, You're Just Impatient

Your perceived wait time is always going to be longer than your actual wait time if you can't take a minute to focus on something other than yourself.

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Toy Story Land at Disney's Hollywood Studios "unboxed" on June 30, 2018. My friend and I decided to brave the crowds on opening day. We got to the park around 7 AM only to find out that the park opened around 6 AM. Upon some more scrolling through multiple Disney Annual Passholder Facebook groups, we discovered that people were waiting outside the park as early as 1 AM.

We knew we'd be waiting in line for the bulk of the Toy Story Land unboxing day. There were four main lines in the new land: the line to enter the land; the line for Slinky Dog Dash, the new roller coaster; the line for Alien Spinning Saucers, the easier of the new rides in the land; Toy Story Mania, the (now old news) arcade-type ride; and the new quick-service restaurant, Woody's Lunchbox (complete with grilled cheese and "grown-up drinks").

Because we were so early, we did not have to wait in line to get into the land. We decided to ride Alien Spinning Saucers first. The posted wait time was 150 minutes, but my friend timed the line and we only waited for 50 minutes. Next, we tried to find the line for Slinky Dog Dash. After receiving conflicting answers, the runaround, and even an, "I don't know, good luck," from multiple Cast Members, we exited the land to find the beginning of the Slinky line. We were then told that there was only one line to enter the park that eventually broke off into the Slinky line. We were not about to wait to get back into the area we just left, so we got a Fastpass for Toy Story Mania that we didn't plan on using in order to be let into the land sooner. We still had to wait for our time, so we decided to get the exclusive Little Green Man alien popcorn bin—this took an entire hour. We then used our Fastpass to enter the land, found the Slinky line, and proceeded to wait for two and a half hours only for the ride to shut down due to rain. But we've come this far and rain was not about to stop us. We waited an hour, still in line and under a covered area, for the rain to stop. Then, we waited another hour and a half to get on the ride from there once it reopened (mainly because they prioritized people who missed their Fastpass time due to the rain). After that, we used the mobile order feature on the My Disney Experience app to skip part of the line at Woody's Lunchbox.

Did you know that there is actually a psychological science to waiting? In the hospitality industry, this science is the difference between "perceived wait" and "actual wait." A perceived wait is how long you feel like you are waiting, while the actual wait is, of course, the real and factual time you wait. There are eight things that affect the perceived wait time: unoccupied time feels longer than occupied time, pre-process waits feel longer than in-process waits, anxiety makes waits feel longer, uncertain waits are longer than certain waits, unexplained waits are longer than explained waits, unfair waits are longer than equitable waits, people will wait longer for more valuable service and solo waiting feels longer than group waiting.

Our perceived wait time for Alien Spinning Saucers was short because we expected it to be longer. Our wait for the popcorn seemed longer because it was unoccupied and unexplained. Our wait for the rain to stop so the ride could reopen seemed shorter because it was explained. Our wait between the ride reopening and getting on the coaster seemed longer because it felt unfair for Disney to let so many Fastpass holders through while more people waited through the rain. Our entire wait for Slinky Dog Dash seemed longer because we were not told the wait time in the beginning. Our wait for our food after placing a mobile order seemed shorter because it was an in-process wait. We also didn't mind wait long wait times for any of these experiences because they were new and we placed more value on them than other rides or restaurants at Disney. The people who arrived at 1 AM just added five hours to their perceived wait

Some non-theme park examples of this science of waiting in the hospitality industry would be waiting at a restaurant, movie theater, hotel, performance or even grocery store. When I went to see "Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom," the power went out in the theater right as we arrived. Not only did we have to wait for it to come back and for them to reset the projectors, I had to wait in a bit of anxiety because the power outage spooked me. It was only a 30-minute wait but felt so much longer. At the quick-service restaurant where I work, we track the time from when the guest places their order to the time they receive their food. Guests in the drive-thru will complain about 10 or more minute waits, when our screens tell us they have only been waiting four or five minutes. Their actual wait was the four or five minutes that we track because this is when they first request our service, but their perceived wait begins the moment they pull into the parking lot and join the line because this is when they begin interacting with our business. While in line, they are experiencing pre-process wait times; after placing the order, they experience in-process wait times.

Establishments in the hospitality industry do what they can to cut down on guests' wait times. For example, theme parks offer services like Disney's Fastpass or Universal's Express pass in order to cut down the time waiting in lines so guests have more time to buy food and merchandise. Stores like Target or Wal-Mart offer self-checkout to give guests that in-process wait time. Movie theaters allow you to check in and get tickets on a mobile app and some quick-service restaurants let you place mobile or online orders. So why do people still get so bent out of shape about being forced to wait?

On Toy Story Land unboxing day, I witnessed a woman make a small scene about being forced to wait to exit the new land. Cast Members were regulating the flow of traffic in and out of the land due to the large crowd and the line that was in place to enter the land. Those exiting the land needed to wait while those entering moved forward from the line. Looking from the outside of the situation as I was, this all makes sense. However, the woman I saw may have felt that her wait was unfair or unexplained. She switched between her hands on her hips and her arms crossed, communicated with her body language that she was not happy. Her face was in a nasty scowl at those entering the land and the Cast Members in the area. She kept shaking her head at those in her group and when allowed to proceed out of the land, I could tell she was making snide comments about the wait.

At work, we sometimes run a double drive-thru in which team members with iPads will take orders outside and a sequencer will direct cars so that they stay in the correct order moving toward the window. In my experience as the sequencer, I will inform the drivers which car to follow, they will acknowledge me and then still proceed to dart in front of other cars just so they make it to the window maybe a whole minute sooner. Not only is this rude, but it puts this car and the cars around them at risk of receiving the wrong food because they are now out of order. We catch these instances more often than not, but it still adds stress and makes the other guests upset. Perhaps these guests feel like their wait is also unfair or unexplained, but if they look at the situation from the outside or from the restaurant's perspective, they would understand why they need to follow the blue Toyota.

The truth of the matter is that your perceived wait time is always going to be longer than your actual wait time if you can't take a minute to focus on something other than yourself. We all want instant gratification, I get it. But in reality, we have to wait for some things. It takes time to prepare a meal. It takes time to experience a ride at a theme park that everyone else wants to go on. It takes time to ring up groceries. It takes patience to live in this world.

So next time you find yourself waiting, take a minute to remember the difference between perceived and actual wait times. Think about the eight aspects of waiting that affect your perceived wait. Do what you can to realize why you are waiting or keep yourself occupied in this wait. Don't be impatient. That's no way to live your life.

Cover Image Credit:

Aranxa Esteve

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Who Is Beto O'Rourke And Why You Should Care

As of right now, Beto is only five points behind Ted Cruz in the polls.

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Elections are coming up in November, and if you live in Texas, you know that Ted Cruz is up for re-election. Senators, once elected, have a 93% chance of re-election, but Beto O'Rourke, a Democrat, is giving Cruz a run for his money. So who exactly is Beto?

In the political world, he's a U.S. Representative for El Paso. He was elected in 2012 and has served in Congress on the House Committees for Armed Services and Veterans Affair. Some of his policies include quality healthcare and housing for all veterans, improving the immigration system, and investing in education. If you would like to research his policies yourself, you can find all the information here.

So now that you know a little bit about who he is... why should you care? For starters, he doesn't take a single cent from PACs (Political Action Committees), so you know he will vote the way he thinks is best for the people and NOT the way a big organization tells him to. AND he's outraised Ted Cruz (who does accept money from PACs) by over half. As of right now, Beto is only five points behind Ted Cruz in the polls and is likely to pull ahead.

I had the pleasure of listening to Beto O'Rourke speak last week at a town hall meeting, and he was an eloquent public speaker. He also took time to answer questions and to take pictures with every single person who wanted one (there were over 600 people in attendance). From what I've gathered, he truly cares about the people of Texas.

Remember his name, as he could possibly be the next U.S. Senator for Texas. His campaign is gaining traction and will only continue to do so.

Remember, before you vote it's very important to research ALL the candidates to see which one you agree with the most. Don't vote straight Democrat or Republican unless you agree the most with everyone you are voting for.

Cover Image Credit:

Ashley Brooke Boyd

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