The Last Lecture.

If you haven’t seen it yet, please, watch this Last Lecture. It is simply amazing.

Cormac

Friday Night.

Now that it is Friday and I’m looking back at it, I can honestly say this has been a busy week. What I find interesting is that as busy as it was, I don’t remember much of what happened on any particular day.

I am looking forward to next week. To be specific, I’m looking forward to being on vacation Monday – Thursday. That’s right, I only have one working day next week, and that is a Friday. Not the best plannning, I admit that, but I shall enjoy the break. I shall spend the time house sitting for some friends of mine that are going to Colorado for the week. Well, house and dog sitting, that is. From Sunday through Thursday I’ll be taking care of Maggie, an English Bulldog, and Cammie, a Border Collie/Black Lab mix. They are friendly dogs, though Maggie isn’t all that bright.

I’ve got four books to read during my time with the canines. The last  of the Dresden Books, A Glen Cook Fantasy novel, the first of the Black Company series that  a friend recommended. A couple of histories I’ve been looking forward to reading for a while. I’m sure the time will pass all to soon.

I just finished reading Stephen King’s book On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft. I have been a fan of King’s work since the first time I read Salem’s Lot when I was in the seventh grade. I can still remember being scared stupid by that book. In the years since I’ve read just about everything the man has published. Some were great; The Stand, It, Christine. Some were aweful; The Tommy Knockers, The Dark Half, Gerald’s Game. For a while it seemed that the man could publish his grocery list and make the best seller lists, and during that period some of the books he released read like he was just phoning the stories in.

I’ve always found the forwards and afterwwords of his books to be the most entertaning. Those sections are written in such a way that it almost feels like you are sitting in a room with him and having a slightly creepy conversations. Danse Macbre, his book about the horror genre in print, radio, film and television from 1950  1990 carried that feeling through an entire book, and On Writing is very much the same.

The book is divided into three sections: CV, The Tool Box, and On Writing. The first, CV, is a collection memory snippets that lead him to become the man and the writer he is. They provide a very short, and very selective autobiography.

In the Toolbox section he discusses the importance of vocabulary, grammar, style, and research. The most memorable part of the Toolbox section is the way he makes perfectly clear that, “the adverb is not your friend”. Well, I thought it was the most entertaining part.

The final section is by far the longest. mostly talks about his theories about the nature of the story. The story, in his mind, always comes first, and everything else needs so support the story. He is not a real fan of extensive plotting. Let the story come, put it on the page. Use research to support the story, but don’t overwhelm it.

I could write more, and probably should, but it’s late, and I’ve got a copy of BoonDock Saints to watch. More later.

Cormac

Vexa minus,
Labora Plurius.

And Baldy Asks For Help

Good gods (all of them), I hate Mondays. I really, truly do. I have hated Mondays for years and today did nothing to change that feeling. Don’t worry though, I’m not going to list all of the reasons today sucked, mainly because I don’t want to think about them again now that the day is for the most part over.

That means I do have to think about something to write about this evening. I could describe the weekend. I could roar and rant about something (I’m pretty good about at roaring and ranting), but instead I think I’ll ask for help.

At Samhain, our SCA event at the end of October, I am taking over the job as Arts & Sciences Officer for the Barony of Grey Niche. There are basically three parts to the job: making sure that the quarterly reports are sent to the Kingdom A&S Officer, Organizing A&S Competitions at local events, and organizing monthly A&S Classes for the Barony.

I’m not real worried about the paperwork aspect; one report every three months is not going to be difficult at all. Nor am I really concerned by the thought of organizing activities at an event. I like organizing activities at events. No, the only concern I have deals with organizing teachers for the  monthly A&S Meetings.

Oh, I have no doubt I can find teachers, people are always willing to teach. I have some ideas about the types of classes I want to offer. I would like to offer more “hands on” type classes, classes that put some, for lack of a better word, “fun” back into the A&S scene. Something more than just showing up and listening to a teacher talk for an hour, and then leaving.

I am also planning on some classes that focus on the “science” of running SCA groups and events. I guess they would best be labeled as training classes. How to to be a successful listmistress? What exactly are the job duties of of a local Herald? How does a feastcrat actually organize and prepare a feast?

On the return leg of our road trip yesterday (we had gone to Tupelo to check out a potential new site) Linnet had an absolutely brilliant idea for a class, an SCA Fashion Show. The basic concept is to ask people that wear particularly good garb that represents different cultures or time periods within the SCA period and ask them to wear garb to a A&S meeting, and talk about their garb. We’ll get someone to act as the MC and introduce the people taking part, someone that could really ham it up. I think it could be a lot of fun, and could provide a lot of information to people that are looking to make changes in, or develop, their personnas.

So, that’s what I need help with. I need some ideas for some more classes and activities that would be be fun and educational. Classes that are not only focussed on doccumentation and preparing items for doccumentation. So, if you have any ideas, please, please, let me know. You can either email them to me, leave a comment here, or if you have yahoo messenger you can contact me there too.

Cormac

Vexa minus
Labora Plurius

The Medieval Times, They Are A Changin

It’s 10:45Pm Friday night, and I’ve been home from work about an hour. I’ve changed clothes, had something to eat, reviewed the days email, and checked all the blogs that I read on a daily basis. There is really good music playing (Well I think Black Sabbath is good music anyway), and there is absolutely nothing that I have to do tomorrow. In other words, I’m feeling good, and when I’m feeling good, my thoughts usually turn to the SCA.

Specifically, tonight I’m wondering how rising gas prices and the general worstening ecomonic conditions will affect the SCA, and how to deal with the challenges those conditions represent.

On the drive home tonight, I made sure to pay attention to the gas prices displayed at all the convienence stores and gas stations I passed. It is by no means a scientific analysis of local gas prices, but in general it seemed that in Memphis gas was selling at anywhere from 3.54 to 3.69 a gallon. The fact that the price of gas is going to affect how frequently people are going to be willing to travel to SCA events hosted by other groups is fairly obvious. I know I personally have not traveled as much this spring and summer as I did last year.  So, if less people are willing to, or able to travel, it follows that the total attendance at each groups local events will go down.
What might not be so obvious, is that if the trend continues for any length of time, then  costs of the local events will have to rise. Even if the cost of site rental stays the same ( like that will really happen), if there are fewer people attending, then it will be necessary to charge those attendees higher prices in order to pay for the site. And let’s not forget that farmers are paying higher fuel prices too, as are the various companies (truck lines, railroads, and ship owners) that transport food as well, so it is inevitable that food prices will rise. That of course will drive up the cost of preparing feasts at events.

I think this will effect local events the most. Kingdom level events will, probably, not be as greatly affected. The business of the kingdom has to go on, and many people will want to continue to go to those events.

I do not want to come across all gloom and doom, but I think it is important that we all think about these issues, and start now to figure out ways to deal with them. We need to figure out solutions before the problem becomes overwhelming.

The Gleann Abhann Carpool yahoo group is a good start. Not only can people that ride to events together share the cost, but the drives to and from events are a great way to get to know people, to socialize, and to plot and plan. Particuarly if you travel with those that you don’t normally travel with.  Some of the best converations I’ve had with SCA folk didn’t actually occur at events, or even at meetings, but on the long, long trip to the Concrete Yurt site somewhere in the middle of nowhere LA.

I’m not sure what we can do to combat the rising costs of preparing feast. I’m not, and never will be, a feastcrat, but I have no doubt it is possible. As for the rising cost of event sites, we are just going to have to be willing to accept sites with fewer ammenities, or, in the case of my own local group, going to have to accept that the sites we have used for years are no longer acceptable. On Sunday Linnet and are going to look at a possible new site in north Mississippi.We, all of us, have to be willing to use new sites.

I guess my main feeling about all of the issues that are facing the SCA due to changing economic conditions is that the changes are going to happen. I also feel that these changes can be dealt with without damaging the SCA, but we have to realize they are coming, and begin preparing for them. We have to accept that things will change and be prepared to deal with them.

Random Thoughts On a Wednesday Evening.

So, got the urge to write a post tonight, but have absolutely no idea what to write about, this is a problem. I get the feeling this is going to be random, not cohesive and generally fairly boring. You have been warned.

Random thought 1: I really don’t like payday. You see payday is also bill paying day. I miss the joys of being younger and actually having the majority (sometimes a slim majority, to be sure) of my check left over after paying bills. I am lucky enough that I am able to keep my bills paid on time with my income, but still, I wish I had some more to save after doing so.  I should be thankful that I’m able to save any money at all; I know that. However, my particular industry (bill collecting), gives me plenty of lessons every day in just how important it is to not just thoughtlessly blow money. I’d hate to have my own company calling me trying to collect on something I owe.

Random thought 2: As I watched Dog Soldiers earlier today I was reminded of how much I enjoy British movies. Not only is that particular movie one of the better werewolf movies I’ve ever seen, but it also has some of the best dialogue of any horror movie ever made. I’ve watched a lot of british movies over the years: The Full Monty, Lock Stock and 2 Smoking Barrels, 28 Days Later, Hot Fuzz, ….the lists goes on. They have all been entertaining.

Random thought 3: I am so sick of the news about the presidential election. I majored in political science when I was in college and fully intened so spend my life working in governement in some way once I got out of college. Now, as we all know my life didn’t exactly work out that way, and there are a great number of things I wish I had done differently, but the fact that I didn’t end up working in government may be one of the few things good  things I can say about the way my life has turned out.
I was a true believer. I wanted to work as a professional campaign consultant. God!, I was so idealistic that it hurts to think about it now. I know the whole process is important, and I know that just having the right to vote is one of the greatest rights, and responsibilities, that citizens of this country have, but  I’ve grown so cynical about the whole process. I don’t believe any politician, no matter what party. They make all kinds of grandiose but non specific promises during the campaign, and when they get elected they seem to forget all them. ….
Bah, I could go on, and on, and on, ranting about politics, but  I just don’t want to think about it tonight.

Random Thought 4: I love Youtube.com. As someone that is old enough to remember when MTV actually played music videos, I love being able to go to youtube and actually find old videos that I loved when I was in highschool. Particularly the one it wonders such as In a Big Country, by Big Country, Don’t Pay The Ferryman by Chris Deburg, See You in Hell By Grim Reaper, and many, many others. In some cases finding these old videos bring back fond memories of the song, the band, and of the time. In other cases, such as the case with the Grim Reaper video, I am forced to wonder if I was really that bloody clueless about what good music was.
Of course, youtube.com also makes me realize just how glad I am that video cameras were not as cheap and as easy to use as they are now when I was younger, dumber, and drunker. If they had been there would have been far to many videos of me acting like a drunken jackass. Nobody needs to see that. Trust me on this.

Cormac
Vexa minus
Labora plurius

What do you want to teach?

I took today and last Friday as vacation days. That is probably the best thing I’ve done for myself in a very, very long time. Quite frankly, with the atmosphere at work lately, I needed a break.
I’d like to tell you all that I spent these vacation days engaged in very various productive activities. Of course, that would be ….well, that would be lying. What I actually spent these days doing was staying at home, talking to friends, doing a lot of thinking, and making some jewelry components (I wound and cut a lot of wire rings. A LOT).

I have to go back to work tomorrow, and since I have a total of five more days I have to take as vacation before the end of the year, I think the first thing I will do at the office is turn in a vacation request slip for another two days in September, one in October and two in November. I’d take time in December but we recently got a memo from what is laughably called our Management Team, that so many people have already requested vacation time in December that no more requests would be approved.

In other news, it appears that I will be taking on a new baronial office at the end of October. Our current Arts & Sciences officer is stepping down at Samhain. She contacted me by yahoo instant messenger on Friday and asked me if I would be interested in taking the job. I was, to put it mildly, quite surprised by the offer.
The fact is I’ve not really spent a lot of time with the A&S side of the Society. I respect the artisans, and truly admire the projects they produce, but since I do not have any artistic abilities that I feel comfortable in displaying, I’ve never entered any A&S competitions. Nor do I plan to enter any. That area of the Society is simply not where my area of interest lies.

However, in talking with Lass, the current A&S officer, I realized that the duties of the actual job of the A&S officer do actually match my skill set and interests. The job itself, from what I understand, is mostly making sure that the reports get sent to the correct Kingdom Officer, organizing teachers for the A&S meetings, and encouraging A&S activities within the Barony. Now, I can do paperwork, and one of my strongest skills, not to mention interests, is in organizing people toward meeting a goal. That’s why I love autocratting events so much. Once I realized that, I knew that I could do the job without making to much of a muckup (a highly technical term that I just invented in order to avoid using a very similar word that starts with “F” but is otherwise spelled the same way).

So, I asked Lass for a day or so to think about it, and that’s just what I did. I talked to my Peer about it, and she thinks it would be a good opportunity for me. Today I spoke with our Seneschal and the Kingdom A&S officer, and niether of them didn’t seem to have any problems with me taking the job. Finally I checked with our Baroness, and she supported the idea, so I guess that makes it official. I’ll be taking over the office at Samhain.

So, what do you want to volunteer to teach at our A&S meeting in November?

Cormac

Vexa minus
Labora plurius

Things are looking up.

So, it is Saturday night, and I’m blogging. What a bloody exciting life I lead. Oh well, could be much worse.

For the last two days I’ve pretty much embraced my inner slug nature. I was off work on Friday, and I spent the day doing….nothing.
Well, not nothing. I watched three movies: Into the WIld, Vantage Point, and the original The WIcker Man (That is one seriously creepy movie, much better than the modern remake).

I also spent a lot of time throughout the day talking with various friends on line. Those friends helped me make a couple of rather surprising discoveries; helped me figure out some of the issues that may be contributing to the restlessness i’ve been feeling both in and out of the SCA.

I won’t bore you with the details of my self discoveries, but I will tell you that although the restlessness  remains, I feel better about it tonight than I did the last time I wrote about it. It’s not over yet, but the mood is passing. I go through these periods from time to time, and thanks to the the words of encouragement I got both via instant messengers of one type or another and via email, I know this time this funk will not last as long as it normally does.

I’m still searching for my Quest, but I know I’ll find it. I’ve got a couple of ideas for some truly long term projects I want to start working on. I was offered a really interesting job here in the Barony that would, I think, be all kinds of fun. I’ll write more about the projects and possible baronial job offer next week after I know more about it.

So, things are looking up, and I’m fairly sure my period of boredom and restlessness is coing to an end.