Thursday, December 30, 2010

I find myself in an exceptionally odd mood this evening. I got some news today that should have me in a great mood, but for some reason I’m not feeling it. I can’t find enjoyment in any of my regular activities. I logged into my game for the first time in three days and couldn’t maintain an interest for more than 15 minutes. I tried working on the various jewelry projects I have going, and again, I just couldn’t maintain an interest for more than 15 minutes or so. Finally, I tried my old standby, reading, and after another fifteen minutes or so my mind was veering off in several different directions. Even reading on my Kindle (quite possibly the greatest Christmas gift I have ever received) I couldn’t concentrate.

I want to spend. I want to engage in retail therapy. I want to buy that personal wifi hot-spot gadget I’ve been looking at for several months. I want to buy a high quality pocket knife. While I’m at it I want to buy a new computer, ten new pairs of socks, two pairs of sweat pants and two sweatshirts.

Yeah, I want to spend, but right now I don’t feel that I can. Not yet, anyway. You see, all the things I said I want to spend on are things I *want*, but there are some things I need.

For instance I need to reserve the room for next weekend. I also need to buy some new tires for Bertha. In fact I need to make sure that Bertha is not going to go titties up on me again. Gods, I hate temptations.

Perhaps most importantly I need to avoid spending in order to build my sense of fiscal self confidence. I need to build my feelings of responsibility.

Sometimes I truly wish that the things I need to do were the things I want to do.

Hibernation is over

….first, a musical interlude from my youth…..
“Look around
They’re moving in
Hold your ground
When they begin

We can do it
We can do it and if they wanna they can try
But they’ll never get near
Then they can get out of here

Gonna keep on driving
Never stop

United, united, united we stand
United we never shall fall
United, united, united we stand
United we stand one and all”

/interlude over

According to the history of posts on this blog, my last post was October 23,2008. Long time.
I’d really like to claim I’ve not been posting because I’ve been incredibly busy for the last thee and half months, but the fact is, I’ve not really been busy at all. I’ve been hibernating.

I guess that requires some explanation. For myself, if not for anyone else.

By late last fall I’d reached the point that I was not really enjoying much of anything. Don’t get me wrong, I was not depressed, or suicidal, or anything like that. I was just….tired, and not enjoying much of anything any more.

I wasn’t enjoying working on any of the various projects and goals I had set for myself. I wasn’t enjoying the challenges and opportunities of my various SCA offices. I wasn’t enjoying working on the various jewelry and knotwork projects I’d been playing with. I really was not enjoying my mundane job (when you are a bill collector, and the ecnonomy begins to tank, the job does not get easier, believe me on this).

Of course, the knowledge that the “holiday season” was fast approaching didn’t help either. I do, truly love the actual holidays; I love spending time with my family and friends at Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years, but I intensely dislike all the associated nonsense of the holiday season. I like the days and don’t like the season. Does that make sense to anyone but me? I hope so.

I think the final reason for my hibernation is just that I don’t do winter. Despite the fact I was born in, and lived the first sixteen years of my life in the Great Plains (not, I hasten to point out, the midwest, the Great Plains), I don’t like winter. I despise being cold. I hate the fact that it is dark by 5:30 PM. During the winter, all I want to do is sleep. Sleep until the spring comes, or I start to feel better. Feel human. Feel excited about things again.

So, the first week or so of November, I sort of went into hibernation. I didn’t do it deliberately. I didn’t know I was going to do it, I just sort of ….. let it happen. I would go to work, and I’d come home and get lost in a computer game, and then I’d go to bed. Once a week  I would go to our local SCA meeting. I kept doing my various mundane and SCA jobs, but just the bare basics. I didn’t work on any real projects to improve, or change anything. I just kind of existed. Existed, but not really lived.

There were a few bright spots. Thanksgiving with the 3 Dragons at Gresch and Chierie’s house was fun, as it always is.  The two days I spent with my family the weekend after Christmas (I couldn’t spend the actual two days of Christmas with my family because they all live some distance away, and my Corporate Overlords required that I work til 7:00 PM Christmas Eve, and be back at work at 7:00 AM the day after Christmas) were wonderful. I didn’t do much but watch television on New Years Eve, or New Years day, but I did thoroughly enjoy the 3 Dragons New Years party the weekend of January 7. And, of course, I can’t begin to describe how much I enjoyed watching Marine 2 fly the Shrub (I won’t speak his true name) and family away from the Whitehouse on January 20th. Hell, I requested January 20 as  my last vacation day on January 20, 2008, just so I could stay home and see that bit of history as it happened. DIdn’t want to watch tape of it hours later. I wanted to watch him leave, and I did. I cheered.

As I said, I wasn’t depressed, at least not that I was aware of. I wasn’t mad, particularly. Well, not more than I normally am. I think I was just tired. I think I just needed a break for a while. A break from everything, and to a large extent from everyone. Other than the people I’d talk to at work, and at the SCA meetings I did go to, I pretty much quit talking to everyone. I stopped chatting with friends on line. I more or less stopped reading the various email lists I subscribe to. I haven’t read any books in months.

Then last week, things started to change. Last Sunday I actually  felt my urge to get my pliers out and make some jewelry. I twisted rings for a couple of hours, and it felt good. Hell, it felt great, and I while I was working on the piece I had in my hands, I started thinking about other pieces I wanted to make. That hadn’t happened in a long time.
After last Tuesday’s Baronial Business meeting,  I didn’t go out for dinner with my friends as I usually do, but I did come home and spent a couple of hours working on my plans for Samhain. That felt good. If I have a passion in the SCA, it is planning and running events, and I am going to have a LOT of fun with Samhain.

I had to work the second shift at work yesterday, so I didn’t get off work until 9:00 PM last night, and had to be back at work at 7:00 AM this morning, but instead of going straight to bed when I got home last night I actually got on the phone and reconnnected with a few people I hadn’t talked to in months.
I got home from work today at about 1:30, and instead of firing up the computer game I had been dulling mys senses with for the last several weeks I got out my jewelry stuff again and worked on that for a couple of hours. Then I spent a couple of hours reorganizing my desk, optimizing it to be able to work on projects again.
Then, since I seemed to be feeling truly productive for the first time in a very long time, I spent another hour or so working on some cleaning projects in the house. You would not believe, or perhaps you would, how many cleaning projects two bachelors can create in their home. I’ve got plenty of those to keep me going for a while.

So, at the end of all this productiveness today I decied to take a shower and clean up. I find it amazing how dirty you can get while cleaning, and it was right after the shower, that I knew it was time to stop thinking about making a blog post, and actually sit down and write one. After a long look in the mirror, I knew the hibernation period was over, and it was time to get busy living again.

If there is still anyone checking this blog after such a long period of no posts,  I imagine you asking, “how did you know?”

I knew the hibernation was over, when I looked in the mirror and realized, really realized that I hadn’t shaved my head in over two months. That just wouldn’t do any more. That had to change, right NOW.

So, my hibernation is over. I know I’ve got to recover some ground on some projects, and with some people. I’m looking forward to doing just that, and I’m looking forward to living again, instead of just existing. I’m looking forward to moving forward again, moving with direction, instead of just drifting.

In other words: I’m awake, I’m freshly bald again, and I’m looking forward.  Gotta love it.


So, I was sleeping with two gaseous females

I am on vacation this week; well, I’m on vacation today, tomorrow, Wednesday and Thursday. I do, in fact, have to go back to work on Friday, but I think I can deal with one day of work in a week’s time.

Now it just so happens that my vacation coincides with a trip two very good friends of mine were taking to Colorado. I owe Cathy and Bob far more than I’ll ever be able to repay, so when they asked me to house-sit for them and take care of their dogs while they were away, I couldn’t say no. Well, I could have, but that would have meant just staying at home and goofing off there, instead of staying at their home and goofing off for most of the week.

I like staying here. Cathy and Bob have a very  nice home on the edge of Memphis. I do mean on the edge of Memphis; it’s only about three hundred yards from the Mississippi border. I like their dogs.  Cammie is a two year old Border Collie/Black Lab mix, and Maggie is a seven year old  registered English Bulldog. I’ve taken care of Cammie and Maggie several times, and it is always a bit of an adventure.

Let’s talk about Cammie first. She is the smart one of the pair. It is a well known fact that Border Collies are smart dogs, and Cammie obviously got her brains from that side of her parentage. She also got her markings from the Border Collie side of the family. She got her size and body shape from the Black Lab side of the family. Thank all gods great and small she didn’t get her brains from the Lab side of the family. She is a sweet tempered, playful creature, and she loves me. Of course, she loves everybody, so that is no great mark of distinction for me. She is also the quiet one of the pair; but then, compared to Maggie, everyone is quiet.

You see, because of the way their heads are shaped, bulldogs often have problems breathing. Fact is, Maggie sounds like she’s snoring when she’s wide awake. This dog needs a CPAP machine at all times. And when she is asleep, she snores louder than I do. Trust me on this.

Like Cammie, Maggie is also a sweet tempered, loving, playful dog. She is not, however, very smart. She also is a well muscled, barrel shaped dog that probably weighs about 55 pounds. There’s not an ounce of fat on her, it’s all muscle. In many ways she is like a tank; she just goes through, or over anything that gets in her way. This morning I tripped over her as I was getting out of the shower because she had simply head-butted the closed bathroom door open while I was taking a shower. When I stepped out of the shower I DID NOT expect to her to be sitting right there waiting on me. It was a bit, just a bit, of a surprise.

I’ve been here since Saturday evening; and since both dogs normally sleep in the bed with Bob and Cathy, and they are not here, they both have  decided to sleep with me. Now, it’s been a long time since I’ve shared my bed with any pet, let alone two relatively large dogs, so there were a couple of issues the first night that took some getting used to. After only thirty or forty minutes Maggie had kicked and used her head to push me out of the way until she was comfortable. She pretty much took the center of the bed. Cammie chose a spot at the foot of the bed. They graciously allowed me a spot on the far edge of the bed. It took awhile, but I thought that since they were comfortable there would be no more problems during the evening. I was wrong. I was SO wrong.

What I didn’t know was that Cathy had recently changed brand of food the dogs get, and they were still in the process of getting adjusted to the new brand. Apparently, one of the side affects of changing a dogs food, at least in this case, is to make the dogs, somewhat gaseous. In other words, in this case, it made them fart with the force of a thunderstorm.

Have you ever been awoken from a deep sleep choking and gagging and surrounded by a stench that makes the  scent of sulfur, rotten eggs, and decaying meat seem like sweet perfume? Have you ever, in an attempt to get out from under the cloud of noxious gas hanging over your head, stubbed your big toe on furniture of an unfamiliar room? As the result of the pain inflicted on your toe, have you  ever fallen to your knees beside the unfamiliar bed and found yourself looking into the bloodshot eyes of a recently awakened  Bulldog? I can answer all of these questions with an affirmative, and therefore my greatest wish for all of you that read this blog is that you will never, ever, be able to do the same.


Don’t Dwell On It, whatever it is.

This day did not quite go as planned, and therefore this blog post will not be what I had planned to write about tonight.

I like chinese food. A lot. I eat at chinese restaurants at least once or (more usually) twice a week. I particularly like chinese buffets, and consider myself to be a bit of an authority on the best restaurants of that categoy in the city of Memphis. To be clear, I know next to nothing about “authentic” chinese cuisine, but I know a lot about the best place to get a good (meaning relatively cheap) meal at a Chinese Buffet in Memphis.

Now, as everybody knows, part of the ritual of eating at a chinese restaurant is reading the message in the fortune cookie that the the waitress or waiter delivers along with your bill at the end of the meal. Over the years I’ve read literally thousands of those little message. Most of them have been bland and boring. Some have been hillarious. Some of them have been profound and thought provoking.

Fourteen years ago, while I was living in Decatur Alabama, the fortune cookie message simply read, “All bad things are now behind you”. This was, of course, not true, but at the time I read it, that message of meant a lot to me. You seek the day I read it was just three days after the aniversary of my father’s death. That day was, in fact, the first aniversary of his funeral. Needless to say the previous year had NOT been an easy one. But that little slip of white paper with the small print literally made my day. Reading that made me feel good, really good, for the first time in several months. The feeling didn’t last long, but for the time it did last, it felt great. Of course something happened not long after that day that made me feel even better, but that story will be told on August 23.

The next bit of wisdom that I got from a fortune cookie that really grabbed my attention was delivered by a waitress at the New Hunan restaurant on Park Avenue. “Struggle as hard as you can for whatever you believe in”. That little gem has been taped to three successive computer monitors over the last six years.
I’ve been told that I have an argumentative personality, and my standard response to that is, “You think?” The fact is that I do like to engage in verbal combat. I’ll debate just about anything, just for the fun of it, for the joy of the skill. Normally I just debate for the fun of the debate. I’ve been known, when on a long road trip with another fan of verbal combat to spend hours debating one side of a topic on the first part of the trip, and hours debating the exact opposite side of the same topic on the return trip.
However, if the subject is something I truly care about, something I’m ….for lack of a better word, “passionate” about, something I truly believe it, …well that’s a cause  I’ll carry on in any way I can for a very, very long time. In that case the “struggle” is not just a debate, but it encompasses working in every way that I can to bring about the solution I want. I’ll support it in any way I can.

Today, at the excellent Panda Buffet restaurant in Bartlett, I got this fortune from the mysterious cookie, “Dwelling on the negative will only increase it’s power”. Damn, damn, and double damn.
You see, I had planned for this post to be all about the way the last week has truly sucked. I had planned to rant about the fact that last Friday three fecal units in human shape had tried to steal the air conditioner from the house I live in. I had, in fact, planned to spend  quite a long time describing the torments that I hoped would someday  happen to those three subhuman scum.
After I had exhausted that topic I was planning on ranting about the fact that I got a ticket on Tuesday for not wearing a seatbelt. Apparently the Bartlett police officers don’t have enough to do, so they are using their free time to pull over people that make the choice (admittedly a stupid choice, I know, but a choice) to not wear a seatbelt and writing them tickets. A ticket I’ll point out that will cost me 25.00.
I wasn’t exactly sure what I’d rant on after that, but it might have had something to do with gas prices, or the fact that Shrub  was still president, but I’m sure it would have been, long, eloquent, and in the end, it would not have done much good. In fact, such a long rant would have been damaging, for it would have made me think about all those things again. I would have gotten angry, again. My blood pressure would have gone up, again.
But then I read, “Dwelling on the negative will only increase it’s power”. Kind of took the wind out of my sails. Kind of made me look at things from another point of view.
See, the three scum didn’t succeed in getting the air conditioner. Oh, true, they did manage to cut the lines, etc. but they managed to forget the one aspect of theft that you should never forget; “make sure no one is home”. So, we were only without AC for one night, and we only had to pay to get the unit hooked up again. True, that was more money than we wanted to spend, but not nearly as much as what replacing the unit would have been.
And yeah, I did get a ticket, and yeah, that did piss me off to no end, but the fact is, I’ve been remarkably lucky over the last 25 years. In that time I’ve had three car accidents, but have never had any injuries. I’ve never worn a seatbelt either. SO, if my seatbelt luck had to run out, it’s much better that it run out and only cost me a 25.00 ticket instead of running out with an accident and possibly having serious injuries. I’ve been wearing the seat belt since getting pulled over the other day, and will continue to do so. I don’t like it, and never will, but it is, truly, better to be safe than sorry.
And yeah, Shrub is still the President. However, in only 173 days, he won’t be.

Feeling Restless.

Good god, the heat of Memphis in late July is truly oppressive. For the life of me I cannot figure out how people lived in this city prior to the invention of airconditioning.

I find myself in a very odd mood this evening. I’m feeling…… restless. Not physically restless, but emotionally restless. My thoughts are kind of all over the place. It’s hard to concentrate on anything. I have several projects I should be working on, but none of them can hold my attention for long.

I tried working on some jewelry for a while. I’m in the process of making some bracelets to give to the Baroness to use for largess. Normally when I get involved in working with the wire and the pliers I can almost get lost in the work. I focuss on the piece I’m working on and just tune out everything else. That isn’t happening tonight.

Then I tried reading for a while. For the last month I’ve been reading all the Dresden Files books by Jim Butcher, but I’d finished the last title of that series that I have, Proven Guilty, and have not yet bought the next one, White Knight. So, I picked up Odd Thomas, by Dean Koonts. Several people, people who’s opinions I respect, had recommended the book to me, but I just can’t get into it tonight. I read the first ten pages or so, but just coulnd’t focus. The problem is with me, it’s not with the book.

So, I read, again, the list of blogs I read daily. I visited  a few of my favorite forums. Couldn’t find anything there to hold my interest. Not even at or the Again, normally I can lose myself for long periods of time reading those boards, but not tonight.

I feel like I should be doing something, working on something, but for the life of me, I cannot figure out what I should be working on. I cannot figure out what I should be doing. This restless feeling will not go away. It’s irritating as hell.

I almost feel…..Scratch that, I DO feel that I need a quest, or truly BIG project to work on. Something difficult, but that will grab , and hold, my attention, my drive. I’m looking for it, but haven’t found it yet. I’ve been attracted to the idea of Quest for years. Fact is, there is a quest that I’ve been engaged in for the last three years, to ask every Pelican that I meet for a piece of advice to a protege. I’ve received a  lot of excellent advice because of that. Some of it truly thought provoking, some of it truly hilarious. I plan to continue that quest for a long time.

But what I’m thinking about tonight is some kind of Quest, with a capital Q. Perhaps what I’m looking for is a Vision Quest.  I just have to find it, just have to figure out what it is.  I wish the Divine Force of the universe would tap me on the shoulder and simply say, “go and do X, that is your quest”, but so far that hasn’t  happened.

So, any ideas?


Vexa minus
Labora plurius

Tuesday’s Gone.

There are several projects I should be working on tonight, but all I really want to do is finish reading Dead Beat.  I’m fairly sure that if I didn’t have to be at work at 7:00 AM tomorrow I could finish it before going to bed tonight. However, the people that I work for do expect me to be at work at that ungodly hour, so I will not get to finish the book this evening, and I will not have time to read tomorrow night, so that means I won’t get to finish it until Thursday. Oh well, gives me something to look forward to.

Some time ago I asked Sarah for some interview questions, and I got them in the mail today. I promise to post them and my answers by the end of the week, but to answer them properly is going to take some thought. The Lady With The Straw does NOT ask easy questions.

In other news, a review of my calend at work this afternoon caused me to realize that there are exactly nine more paychecks between now and Christmas. There are also at least five SCA events that I’m comitted to attending between now and the end of the year. Things are going to be a bit tight, to say the least.

There is some good news, however. As I drove to work this morning I heard the news that one of the most horrendous war criminals in recent history has been captured, and in even better news there are only 182 days left until the Shrub is out of the White house. Well, that makes me happy.

Ok, that’s it for tonight. I still have time to get at least one, or maybe four more chapters of Dead Beat read before I go to bed.


Blah, blah, blah

Just stopping by to report that I’ve not forgotten about this blog, just been having a really tough time getting motivated to actually post anything. Hopefully that will change soon.


Another post about books

This is going to be a very short post, and despite the subject line it is not really about books.

Sometime ago I read the excellent Firestar by Michael Flynn. It is a pretty good science fiction story with a detailed plot, well developed characters, and a good ….for lack of a better word, flow. I remember that much, but the most memorable part of the book from me is the scrap of a poem that one of the characters ( a poet, what a shock!) writes about half way through the story:
“Take me as you see me,
or don’t take me at all.
For I need you a damn site less,
Than I need to scrape and crawl”.

/snark mode: ON

I am almost 100% sure that the fact that I’ve just come from an SCA business meeting has absolutely nothing to do with me remembering that scrap of poetry tonight. Yep, almost positive.

/snark mode: Off

To those of you that read this that are SCA members, please know that my snark was most emphatically NOT aimed at you. It’s just been a rough couple of SCA meetings. I love this Society dearly, and at times, like after a business meeting, I truly wonder why.

A request

I am in the process of trying to change some things in my life. Trying to break some ingrained habits that have been part of my life for so long that I think sometimes it would be easier to break my bones than it would be to break these habits. It doesn’t really matter what the habits are, what matters is that I’m trying to change them, and I need some help.

Specifically, I need success stories. I need to hear how you, my friends, have successfully changed habits in your own lives. I’d love to hear your success stories, and what, if any lessons you learned in the process.


The Flame Thrower is lit.

Ok, so I am in a better mood, tonight. I know what was causing the foul mood the other night, and I know why I reacted the way I did. More importantly I know how I’m going to respond to the people and issues that had me ready to spit nails the other night. This is a good feeling.

Before I go on, I should just mention that I have two mottoes that I turn to for inspiration, or to help me deal with things when I’m angry. The first is, “Vexa minus, labora plurius ), which is Latin (Thank you Drix, for the translation) for “Bitch Less, Do More”. The second is  a quote from “Men At Arms” by Terry Pratchet and it is, “Sometimes it’s better to light a flamethrower than curse the darkness”.

I mention these mottoes because I had a bit of an epiphany Wednesday morning. I was still fuming about the things that had me so angry Tuesday night, and suddenly it dawned on me that I was bitching, but I wasn’t actually doing anything. I was acting just like the people  that had made me so angry.

Gods, that kind of self revelation, in a word, hurts. It’s a shock to one’s self esteem. Clearly, something had to change. So, time to get busy doing instead of bitching.

So, first I made a list of the projects I wanted to work on. Then I had to start figuring out how to get them accomplished. I guess you could say that’s the point I’m at now. I’ll spend the rest of this week plotting out a course of action for the other projects. Hopefully I can start actually working on them during the early part of next week.

There will be more later. The bitching is over, and the flamethrower is lit.