Thinking About Making a Change

Day four of my five day Dog and House Sitting vacation finds me doing rather well. The girls, Maggie and Cammie, and I have come to an understanding: They understand that they are great, yet spoiled dogs, and I have come to the understanding that they think my purpose in life is to cater to their every whim.

I’ve enjoyed being here, but I am ready to go home. Back to my space, my stuff.

In other news…..

I’m seriously considering ditching my desktop computer system and going to a lap top for all of my computing needs. For my stay here at Casa Su Loud-breathing Bulldog, I brought my current laptop to use instead of trying to use either of  Bob or Cathy’s home systems. Bob is a programmer for Fed Ex, and Cathy is a self employed web developer/designer. They have very nice, very expensive systems, and I didn’t want to risk damaging their systems in any way. This is a real fear for me, I can (and in the past, have) screwed up a number of  computers. Everything from frying power supplies, melting video cards, a hard drive that I think died from shock after hearing me sing along with some of the songs I have in ITunes. The list of my bad luck with computers is long. Very long. I won’t even  begin to tell you how many periferals I have destroyed.

So, I brought my laptop with me this week. This is a used Dell Latitude  I got back in November when I was still playing Eve Online. My original plan was to use my desktop system to game with, and use this one for things I couldn’t do while gaming: check email, surf the web, chat with friends so they wouldn’t realize how much of an addict I had become to the stupid game. To be fair, it wasn’t just Eve, I can all to easily become addicted to any online game,  but that is a story for another post.

That was my plan: Unfortunately, the plan didn’t quite work out that way. Before very long I actually had two Eve accounts, and I was playing on both systems at the same time.  So, when I quit gaming several months ago, I packed the laptop up and pretty much quit using it until this week.

After having used it, a lot, this week, I’ve started to realize that it can do everything my desktop system can do. Once I got used to this microscopic keyboard and hooked up a wireless mouse so I don’t have to use the frigging touch pad (the inventor of that device/cursor input system should have a special room in Hell), I find I can type on it it just as fast as I can on my main system.

So, why am I thinking of getting rid of the desktop system? Excellent question, let me try and answer it.

First, and possibly most important, getting rid of the desktop system would free up a lot of deskspace. Space is very limited in the house I live in, and my computer desk is also where I work on the jewelry I make. As I have aquired more tools, supplies, and reference books I’m running out of usable work space. So, getting rid of the computer tower, and monitor, keyboard, etc. would give me a lot more room on the desk.

In addition, we’ve already got a wireless network in the house (my roommate set one up for his laptop a couple of months ago), so if I went to a laptop with wireless capability I could use it in any room in the house. Not to mention using it in all those stores, and coffee houses that are now offering free wifi connections.

Plus, there is the simple portability issue. I like the idea of being able to take my system with me anywhere. Of always having the information stored on it available. To be honest though, the access to information is not that big of a deal. Over the last few months I have also become intrigued by several online applications. I don’t use Gmail, but I finding myself using Google Calendar as my primary organizing tool, and have become a regular user of Google Doccuments. I also have, within the last month or so, become a real fan of Evernote as an online data storage tool. The beauty of all these applications is that they can be accessed from anywhere, from any ‘net connected computer.

Now, all of these are valid reasons for wanting to ditch my desktop and just use a laptop, but I can’t even think about this without admiting the other reason: I just want a new computer. My desktop system is about four years old. The lap top I’m using now is between two to three years old (I bought it used, so I don’t really know how old it it). True, both systems still work, but they are old. They do not have all the bells and wistles.  They can’t do all the neat stuff that newer systems can. Not the smartest of reasons for buying a new computer, but I can’t deny that it is one of the things that has been nagging me. I had been planning on replacing my desktop system, however, after this week I’m thinking much more seriously about getting a new lap top and just getting rid of the other one.

Cormac

Vexa minus
Labora plurius

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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.

Just say “No to Warcraft”

I need help. I really do.

For the last couple of days I’ve been thinking about re-opening my World Of Warcraft account. I think I could control the addictive urge this time.

Of course, that’s what I think now. However, I know myself to well, and I know, KNOW, that if I were to re-0pen that account that I’d end up spending way, way to much time playing that stupid game.

So, I need you that read this drivel. I need you to help me stay strong and not reload that game. Help me to (to paraphrase Nancy) “Just say no to Warcraft”.

Cormac

I really don’t want that cheeseburger….

It’s late Wednesday night. It has been a rough week for a couple of different reasons, and a particularly ….not rough day, but an odd day. Odd and expensive. Time to seek the comfort of music……

“And some days I pray for Silence,
And some days I pray for Soul,
Some days I just pray to the God
Of Sex and Drums and Rock ‘N’ Roll.”

Last weekend was mixed weekend. Saturday I had to work in the morning but I spent the afternoon and most of the evening at the home of a my friends in Millington. It was a nice, relaxing day. We watched a couple of movies (and please let me take this opportunity to beg anyone that reads this to NOT rent, buy, or view “A Bridge To Terabithia”, that movie is not what you think it’s going to be), and grilled some steaks. Mostly we just hung out together and talked.
Sunday I slept late, which is my favorite way to spend Sunday morning. I met a couple of friends for lunch, and that’s where I got stupid. I had been in weird mood for several days, and during that lunch I managed to get into a fairly serious argument with one of my friends. One of my best friends. What made the whole incident even worse was that I knew I was in the wrong. It was almost like I had been looking for a fight, and when I couldn’t find one I caused one. Of course I felt like an unmitigated ass as soon as I left the restaurant. It was not a good end to the weekend.
Fortunately my friends are better people than I am, and when I called Gresch the next day to apologize and beg forgiveness he was gracious and forgiving. We talked for a good long time, and the call went better than I had any right to hope it would.
The rest of Monday was fairly uneventful. The time at work passed quickly. At home I didn’t do much but work on a chain and talk with a friend in Little Rock. Oh!, I did get the signed contract from the conference center for this weekend’s fundraising party: The Swamp Combat Seminar and Grilling Symposium. I also got asked to participate in a project that I hope could be very good for Grey Niche but I fear will be somewhat frustrating. I know that sounds cryptic, and for that I apologize, but I just don’t feel like typing out the whole story at this time. Trust me, you will hear more about it later, no matter how it turns out.
Today work again passed quickly and then the day got expensive. I love the fact that I’m in a place where I can pay my bills, but DAMN I hate doing so. Eh, such is life. In addition to paying bills I rather desperately needed to buy some new work clothes, so I spent an hour or so with catalogue and then another 45 minutes or so on the phone with a person that I think actually had a negative IQ trying to place my order.
Shortly after ending that call I was on the phone again. My sister had called, and we had a pleasant conversation. She had basically called to brag about spending the weekend in Gulf Shores, and to make plans for a family vacation in Gulf Shores sometime next spring. It was a good conversation, but during the conversation she mentioned how odd it was to be in Gulf Shores without our Dad. Gulf Shores was his favorite place in the world (as it is mine, hers, and Mom’s). That morphed into a conversation about some of the things that happened during the time of Dad’s illness and the period for about six months or so afterwards. This August will be 14 years since that time, and tonight was the first time she and I had really talked about some of those subjects. Again, it was a good conversation, no drama or anything, but it was also a vaguely uncomfortable conversation. I can’t really explain it better than that. We both admitted some things to each other we never had before. I’m glad we did, but …it was uncomfortable.
I spent the next several hours doing nothing much. I watched some television, and worked on yet another chain. What I’ve been doing mostly is fighting down the urge to go get something to eat. I’m not hungry, I just want to eat. I have an addictive personality, and since I quit drinking all those years ago I’ve used food as my drug…my comfort, my crutch. I eat when I’m feeling bad, or when I’ve got something on my mind, or when I’m bored. Tonight is probably a mix of the last two: I don’t feel bad, but there are several things on my mind, and I’m half bored. So, for the last four or five hours I’ve been resisting the urge to get into my truck and go get something to eat. Specifically I’ve been resisting the urge to go get a Wendy’s Triple Cheeseburger combo. I can lose myself in whatever I’m working on or reading, for a time, and then I’ll think about it again. So far I’ve managed to avoid it. I think I’ll be able to avoid it for the rest of the night, but by gods it’s annoying to be thinking about it so much.

Monday Afternoon

and now for the obligatory musical poetry fragment…….
“”Through eighty six years
of perpetual motion,”
if he likes you, he’ll smile and he’ll say,
“Jimmy, some of it’s magic,
and some of it’s tragic,
but I had a good life all the way”

So, it is 5:32 PM on Monday, May 29, 2007. I’ve been home for just over an hour, and I feel fine. I truly hope those of you that read this had as good a Memorial Day weekend as I did.
My weekend started, as they usually do at the end of the working day Friday. My shift ended at 2:00 PM. By 2:30 I was home and had started the first of three loads of laundry. I got sat down at my computer and started to read and respond to various emails. That didn’t take very long, so I next occupied my time by closing my World of Warcraft account. That’s right, I closed my account to that addictive time waster of a game. That’s one of the changes I was referring to in my last post. I’ll get a little more into that a bit later.
Since I now had several hours to spend I decided to spend some time working on a new bracelet pattern I was attempting to learn. I got two pieces finished after about three hours. It was the first time I had spent any time making jewelry in several months, and I had forgotten how much fun I had working on that kind of project. I wasn’t particularly happy with the pieces I finished, but I was pleased with what I had learned while working on them, and I was very pleased with having actually produced something instead of spending those hours in a computer game. It was a good feeling.
I also spent a some time opening an account at Photobucket.com and uploading some pictures from the first Gleann Abhann Coronation luncheon.

I had to work Saturday morning for four hours Saturday morning, and was planning on leaving town right after work, so I got packed before going to bed and actually went to bed fairly early. The four hours at work passed very quickly Saturday morning. They were not, I should point out, productive. Trying to get anyone on the phone on the Saturday morning of a holiday weekend is just a waste of time. You would think my management would know that, but apparently they do not. Still, it was only four hours, and we were on the road for Birmingham by 1:00 PM. It was time to go see the blood family.

I had a great weekend with my Mom, Sister, and my brother in law. I’d not been able to see them since Christmas, and it was exceedingly pleasant to get to spend some niced, relaxed, no drama time with them. Saturday night we had dinner at Kris and Steve’s house. Kris had cooked way to much food for the number of people that were there, but that was ok. In addition to Mom and myself, the guest list included Cay and Thelma (Steve’s parent’s), Steven (Steve’s son), and another couple who’s names I cannot remember at this time, and Gerald. The food was great, the company was better, but the best part was watching Ash (Steve’s cat) scare the snot out of Razzy (Kristi’s peekineese). I’ve never liked that spoiled dog very much, and watching Ash (who is a huge tomcat) let Razzy know who is boss in the house was a lot of fun.
Sunday we went on a picnic at Oak Mountain State Park in Birmingham. What a beautiful park. The weather was great, the food was good, and once again the company made for a wonderful afternoon. We got back to Mom’s place about 4:00 PM and Steve and I spent some time cutting down a couple of tree’s in Mom’s backyard that had gotten too large. Two guys with a chainsaw = fun and games. Fortunately no one got hurt, and no fencing got damaged. The rest of the evening was spent in conversation and planning for the rest of the year.
This morning we had breakfast with Mom and Kris at IHOP before loading up for the return to Memphis. If I may offer a piece of advice; the Stuffed French Toast at IHOP sounds a lot better than it tastes. Much Better.

(time for another musical poetry fragment)
“Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes
(turn and face the strain)
Ch-ch-changes
Just gonna have to be a different man
Time may change me
But I can’t trace time ”

In my last post I said that there were going to be some fairly serious changes in my life over the next few months, and I promised I’d go into a bit more detail, so I guess it’s time to do that.

The first change is that I’m going to be spending a lot of time on getting my weight under control. I’ve been overweight my entire life. I was a big kid (I realize now, when I look at pictures of when I was a kid and teenager that I was never as big as I thought I was) and I have become a fat man. Not husky, not big boned, but fat. And I’m not going to be that man any more. There a literally hundreds of reasons why I should do this: health reasons, self esteem and self perception issues, etc, but the plain and simple fact is that I’m tired. I’m tired of being out of shape, I’m tired of hurting and not being able to move well after working at an event all day. I’m tired of the limitations of this body. I’m tired and I’m not going to put up with it any more.
I know that I’ll never be exactly small, but by gods I can get rid of this gut. And I’m going to. I’ve already been working on it for a couple of weeks. I’m not so much trying to lose a predetermined amount of weight; I’m not stating that my goal is 100 pounds or something. My goal is to get rid of my gut, to get into a habit of regular exercise, and to basically become as healthy as possible. It’s going to be more about changing habits, than losing weight.

Ok, that’s all for tonight. I’ll talk about some of the more minor changes in the next blog post.

C.

(opens ITunes….scans available legally obtained mp3 files….makes a selection. Gordon Lightfoot begins to play….)
“If you could read my mind, love
What a tale my thoughts could tell”

Don’t worry, this is not going to be a depressing post about a love affair gone wrong.  To write such a post I would have had to have had a recent love affair that went wrong, and well, that hasn’t happened in a while.

No, what I have in mind tonight is just some rambling about things I’ve been thinking about the last few days.  Unlike some of the blogs that I read, I don’t have a family to write about. I don’t have a job that I like writing about, etc. This blog is just about me, and what I’m thinking. For the last few days I’ve been thinking it’s time to make some changes. I’ts time. However before I talk about the changes I’m going to make, it’s necessary to talk a little bit about my history.

Actually, when I think over my past history, I realize it’s well past the time I normally make some fairly serious changes.  Since drinking my way out of college in early 1990 I have made fairly significant changes in my life about every three or four years. Changes in jobs, geographic locations, hobbies, you name it, about once every four years I made some kind of significant change. These changes were not part of any plan, you understand. No, mainly it was just going with the flow, taking the easy way out.

It’s been a long, convoluted road, but I’m finally at a place where I am no longer willing to take the easy way out. I’ve dealt with most of the problems I’d had in my past (alcohol abuse, financial stupidity and credit issues), etc. etc. For the first time in a very long time I am happy for the most part. However, there are some things in my life that I desperately want to change. As good as life is, I can’t escape a low grade feeling that something needs to change. I can’t escape a low grade feeling that as good as things are they can be much better. I can’t escape from the feeling that I’ve run away from some of these issues for far to long.

I had a bit of an epiphany yesterday: No one is going to make things better for me. If things are going to change, I have to be the one to change them. It will be a long process, but and I’ll need a lot of help, but I’m going to do this. Fact is, I have to. I’ve run away from these issues for far to long. The plain and simple fact is this; I’ve had enough, I’m not going to take this any more, and I am going to change.

I didn’t mean to start this, and then leave it with such a cryptic ending, but it’s late, and I’ve got to be at work early tomorrow. So, I’ll end at this point. Tomorrow afternoon I’ll go into the things I’m going to change, and why. I am not sure how all of this is going to go, but I am sure that I’ll probably need some help, some support. I will continue to post about day to day things, etc., but I warn those of you that read this blog that a lot of it is going to be dealing with the changes I’ll be making in my life.

That’s all folks,

C

Reflections on Five Years.

    Five years ago this weekend (April 27, 2002) to be exact, my life changed in a rather amazing way. Yep, that was the weekend I attended my first SCA event in the Barony of Grey Niche. My first SCA event ever, in fact. There are very few times in my life that I can remember with such precision the day my life changed. Of those few instances I can’t think of any other ones that were such pleasant changes.
I remember that day perfectly. A warm spring day in Memphis. Sunny in the morning but by late afternoon it had become overcast, and it rained for a few minutes. I’ve since come to understand that it is fairly common to have rain at Grey Niche events. I attended the event with someone who is quite frankly not worth thinking about now, and we didn’t know anyone in the group. However, everyone we met was gracious and welcoming. We arrived on site around 10:00 AM and were trolled in by Caitriona, Turlaugh, and Lucca. I didn’t know their names at the time, and had absolutely no idea how important those three people would become to me in the next five years.
That morning she attended a class on coif making taught by Doc and Vicky, and while that was going on I watched some of the fighting. Later that afternoon I watched a very pretty lady fly a rather unique kite, and quite literally before I really knew how much time had passed it was time for court. To this day I can remember the looks of joy on the faces of various people as they received their awards. I still love court, I love seeing that joy. It was at court that we met the first two people who’s names I knew in the SCA, Lady Blue and Brendan (of course I still think of him as Neal cause that’s how he introduced himself first.) They sat in front of us in court and Blue heard me ask about one of the banners. She turned around and explained the heraldry. After court they invited us to join them at feast, and later took us to a party at the Shadow Legion camp.
As we drove away from the site that night, I knew deep in my soul that whatever happened between SWMNBN (She Who Must Not Be Named. Yeah, I know it’s juvenile, but believe me, it’s necessary), I was going to be part of this organization forever. Without really knowing it, or being able to put into words at the time, I had found a place, an organization, that felt like home. I had found something I truly wanted to be a part of. I’d not yet heard the phrase, but I had found the Dream. The following Tuesday we went to the first business meeting. Even that was not enough to shake my desire to be part of this group. Seven months later She was gone, and that was probably the second best thing that happened to me that year. She was gone, but I stayed with the Society.
So, what has changed in the last five years? Well, for one thing I’m not nearly as ignorant about the Society, or the way it works as I was then. I’ve learned a lot, and most of it has been a pleasant learning experience. I’ve also discovered that I have no great desire to engage in any time of combat other than verbal combat (and I’m always ready to do that, just for the fun and intellectual stimulation of a good debate). I’ve also discovered that I’ve no talent or drive to develop any talent in the A&S fields. I admire the work the artisans do, and I admire the skill and dedication of the fighters, I just have no desire to join in. I do, however, like to make it possible for the fighters or artisans to have events where they can participate in whatever activities they want to participate in.
I have discovered I’m a service junkie. I LIKE to go to events and work. Whether it’s one of my own groups events, or another group’s event. I like feeling that I’m part of something larger than myself. I particularly like working troll, for that job allows you to meet everyone. But my real joy, the thing I like more than anything else is to autocrat events. I love planning them; going from an idea to a plan, to the schedule, and finally to the weekend of the event and seeing it all come together. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again; there’s no feeling in the world that can match the feeling an autocrat gets when someone comes up to them as they are leaving site on Sunday and thanks them for a good time.
I’ve discovered that like any group , or organization, there are a fair number of people in the SCA that are gossip mongers, or drama seekers, or just plain non-pleasant folks in the SCA. However, if dealing with the unpleasant folks is the price I have to pay to spend time with the multitudes of really good SCA folk, then it is a price I’m more than willing to pay. I’ll pay it gladly.
What else has changed? Well, my social schedule is much more crowded now than it was five years ago. At the time most of my friends, all of my family, lived out of town. I chose many years ago to not make a habit of associating socially with people that I work with, so most of the time I’d only get to see my friends every few months when I’d take a road trip, or they would come into town. Now? Now I see good friends a minimum of three times a week. That may be the most important change.

Ok, it’s late, and I’m tired, so I’m going to end this here.

C

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