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

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.

Cormac

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.

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 StraightDope.com or the ArmorArchive.org. 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?

Cormac

Vexa minus
Labora plurius

Answering Sarah’s questions.

So, a while back when the great “Interview” meme was circulating around some of the blogs that I read on a regular basis, I asked Sarah to send me some interview questions. Having seen the questions she sent, I kind of wish she’d never found where her email program had deposited my mail. But she did find the message, and she did send the questions…..so, here goes:

1) If you could think of one singular thing that would make the SCA game better in our Kingdom, what would that thing be?
2) If you could think of one singular thing that would make your life, on a strictly personal level, more satisfying, what would that thing be?
3) (I’m sure you saw this coming)- What do you plan on doing in efforts to make the answers to 1 and 2 coming to fruition?

She doesn’t ask easy questions, does she?

1) If you could think of one singular thing that would make the SCA game better in our Kingdom, what would that thing be?
This is a loaded, loaded question, and I’ve thought long about it. Before answering I need to explain a couple of things about my local group. I  also need to make very, very clear that as much as I bitch about things in the SCA, and talk about things I want to see changed, despite all of that, I do, truly love the SCA. I have received so much from my time involved with this organization that I cannot possibly list all the ways it has improved my life.
Now that I’ve made that clear, I will freely admit that there are a lot of things I’d like to see changed. Not so much in the kindom as a whole, I think for the newest kingdom in the Society, think Gleann Abhann is off to a great start, and will continue to develop in a very positive manner. No, most of the changes I’d like to see are centered around my local group.
The Barony of Grey Niche has some truly awesome people. Even the ones I don’t particularly like are better than most of the people I come into contact with regularly in the “modern” world. However, I would dearly love to change our groups twice monthly business meetings.
I don’t know how any other SCA Group runs, but I truly believe that when members of the Barony of Grey Niche walk through the doors into the room where we have our business meeting some kind of mystical transformation takes place that changes us, all of us, from SCA members into DHFA members. “What,” I can hear you ask, “is the DHFA?” That would be the Dead Horse Floggers Association.
This group of Type A Personalities can, and will, talk anything to death. Scratch that, they will talk a subject beyond death and into the afterlife. We cannot seem to make any decision, even on the most trivial matters, without discussing it in at least three, or preferably four business meetings. God forbid the subject being discussed involves spending any of the groups money, or doing anything even remotely different from the way things have been done in the past.
Grey Niche is, in my opinion, not a real unified group. There is what I can only describe as a generational break down. We have one generation of folks that have been playing for ten, twenty, and in some cases thirty years. We also have another generation, the one that I’m part of of, that have been playing for three to eight years, and yet another generation that has been playing for less than a year up to about three years. It is my opinion that a lot of the disagreements that cause the endless talk and discussion in our business meetings,  seem to break down along these generational lines.
So, I think finding a way to bridge that generation gap would make for a stronger, more unified Barony of Grey Niche. I think doing so would make the Barony more active at the kingdom level, and therefore would benefit the Kingdom. There has to be a way to do so. There has to be a way to unify the group, and make the meetings run faster, smoother, and focus more on “doing something” rather than “talking about doing something”. I know there has to be a way, and I’m dedicated to finding it, as are several others. There has to be a way to harness the knowledge and history of the long time players together with the energy and excitement of the people that have not been playing as long. There has to be a way to remain members of the SCA when at a business meeting, and not become members of the DHFA.
Having said that, I also need to admit that I’m beginning to see signs that things are improving. I also have to admit that I probably make more of an issue of this generation gap than others in the group do. I also must admit that I’m as guilty of this, probably more so, than any of the other members of the local group. That brings me to question number 2:

2) If you could think of one singular thing that would make your life, on a strictly personal level, more satisfying, what would that thing be?

Better control of my temper. I have to work hard on controlling my temper, otherwise I can lose it rather easily. Losing control of your temper is NEVER a good thing, and it can have serious, long term repercussions.
I’ve made a lot of progress in controlling my temper over the last few years. Well, I’ve made a lot of progress in not letting other people know when I’m losing my temper, but I’ve still got a long way to go.
What I really need to work on  improving is not really hiding the fact that I’m angry, etc., but on not being so quick to anger. Not being so quick to get upset. Being angry can inspire a person, but can also poison a person. If nothing else, anger wastes a great deal of energy that could best be used for other, more productive uses. Like finding a way to bridge the generation gap I was discussing above.

3. What do you plan on doing in efforts to make the answers to 1 and 2 coming to fruition?

This may be the toughest one of all, because I don’t really have a specific answer, other than to be aware of the issues. To be aware that we need to improve our business meetings, to bridge the generation gap in Grey Niche,  and to be looking, actively, for ways to do so. To be aware that I have anger issues and to actively look for ways to manage them, to get rid of them.
I guess that is the answer; I plan on being aware, and being active. To do, not  to “talk”. One of the local Laurels, Mistress Anna, has a personal motto that goes “Bitch less, teach more”. I’ve kind of stolen that and changed it to “Bitch less, do more”. I had Drix, the owner of Calontir Trim, tranlate it into Latin for me:
Vexa Minus,
Labora Plurius.

Cormac

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.