Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Tornados Back Home

Please, if you would, hold the people of Suffolk, Virginia in your thoughts and prayers this morning. Yesterday a series of tornados hit the area, injuring over 200 people. At frist reports were saying that at least one person died, but that thankfully proved to be wrong. Still, though, the amount of damage is almost unimaginable, and many people are only now coming to the realization that everything they own and the places they worked are simply no more. Governor Tim Kaine has declared a state of emergency in the affected areas. I talked to Tigger yesterday and Pooh this morning, and they and baby Boo are safe (as an aside, Pooh told me that Boo loves to dance to the soundtrack of The Nightmare Before Christmas and Disney's Not So Scary Halloween Party! Her Godfather is so proud!) and their home was spared damage. Others, though, were not so lucky. Here's an article from the local paper. May the Divine be with them.

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Monday, April 28, 2008

Back at the Desk, Admiring My New Statue

Bought a new piece of (relatively) cheap statuary to keep on my desk at work Saturday. I haven't moved the rest of my multi-cultural religious stuff - that's a technical term - aside from these two smurfs (and yes, K.K., these are the only two Smurfs I own now!):

Still, I figured I needed something more.

So I went on a sort of "Wild Buddha Hunt." Do you know how hard it is to find decent statues of the Buddha? Not those fat smiley dudes that you see in every Chinese take-out place, but the seated, meditative, peaceful looking types. For some reason, I have had the worst time locating a decent one. So on Saturday, when One Ring said that we needed to go out and run some errands, I quickly added "Buddha statue" to the list.

We finally ended up at a weird, granola and incense type of place at the local mall. Again, all I saw were the fat, smiling Buddhas. But after asking about the seated ones, the clerk directed me to the back of the store, where, located next to statues of Ganesha and elephants made out of soapstone, I found what I had been looking for:

I particularly like the way the coloring of the stone moves from a deep reddish-brown to a light greenish-tan towards the shoulders and head. And speaking of heads, having this on my desk should spin the heads of people who come to my office for counseling and advice! There is a method to my madness, though. In this day and age of intolerance and religious violence - verbal and physical - I am trying to get the message across that there is more than one way to find peace and the holy in life. Yes, generally speaking we all choose a path, and hopefully do our best to walk that path. But where we go wrong is when we make the assumptive leap that our way is not only the correct way, but the ONLY way. The next logical step from that stance is that everyone else is wrong, and is therefore despised by our understanding of the Divine. Unfortunately, our history is filled with examples of this sort of intolerance.

So now I have a Buddha on my desk, reminding me that there are other ways to approach human suffering than the progressive Christian way in which I was raised. I find that it's always good to have options.

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Catching My Breath

I just finished my lunch break, and I have to be back upstairs for a care team meeting at 1, so this will have to be fast. I managed to run out to the post office and mail out my application for ecclesiastical endorsement to the denomination big wigs. Mind you, they already have every bit of material that I just mailed, in one form or another, but they want it again, so now they have it. Or they will in two days. Whatever.

Now I just have to wait until I get a letter from them, and then I can go dance with the soul grinding monstrosity that is the VA Human Resource division. Yeah, I'm feeling very sardonic today!

On Friday I managed to get to the upper level (as in "everyone above me") kung fu class. Which in itself was a miracle, considering that I was very depressed following a tragic accident involving a bird and my car door. I won't go into graphic details, save that it was fatal for the bird and very disturbing for me. Still, I managed to suck it up and go watch the upper level students go through the motions of whatever they were working on. I managed to memorize a couple of their forms just by studying them, so hopefully that will grease the wheels when it comes time for me to do those exercises. Assuming I don't forget them over time.

One Ring and I were supposed to go see Ben Stein's movie Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed this weekend. We thought it was a movie about the intelligent design and creationist movement, but then One Ring's brother told us that was not the case and that the movie is essentially propaganda. He was right. We didn't see it, but Scientific American's review of it is nothing short of scathing.

So we didn't. Instead we stayed at home and watched Surf's Up while One Ring graded papers, and later I watched a samurai flick called Goyokin while she continued to grade papers. Both were fabulous movies, for completely different reasons (surfing penguins are very unlike samurais!). Sunday was devoted mostly to church stuff, much to the frustration of the both of us, since people seem to continually fail to see the difference between fellowship and committee meetings. They won't let me hold the gavel, out of fear that I may smack someone on the head. Sad, isn't it?

Okay, my meeting starts in ten. I'll probably be back in an hour or so, and this afternoon looks like a really slow day. We'll see, though.

Peace out.

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Rev. Jeremiah Wright on Bill Moyers

I'm all kinds of busy this morning (more with personal stuff that I'll get to later than with actual work!), so I can't post too much. At any rate, I wanted to post a link to the transcripts of Bill Moyers' interview with the Rev. Jeremiah Wright. I missed the show itself, but found that the transcripts are very enlightening. You can get to them here.

More later, I promise!

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Friday, April 25, 2008

Peace and Quiet

For the next 30 minutes or so. After that all hell's about to break loose.

Due to the office move fiasco, I am now sharing space with my boss. Normally that's a good thing, but on day's like today, when I have four hours worth of appointments back to back to back, it gets a little weird. So he's moved to another office (he's a good boss), and I'm in here waiting for the next bit of craziness to enter my life.

At least I was able to get some work done on my applications. I should have everything I need to send off the packet to the denomination. Once that gets processed and I get a letter from them endorsing me for the VA position, then I can send the VA its packet. Then I can forget about all of this until the jobs are posted. Which should be some time next month. Hopefully.

In the meantime, I'm trying to fill out a couple of forms for my kung fu class. It's tonight from 7:30 until 9:30. Hopefully everyone shows up on time. Last week I was the only one there for 15 minutes after the start time, which was weird. This will be my first time at the non-beginner's class, and I want to see how it runs before I sign on for the long haul. Oh, who am I kidding. I'm going to join if for the only reason that it's free and it's all I can afford right now. Besides, it can't be any worse than any other style I've studied (and I've studied some losers, let me tell you!). Of course, I'm knocking on wood as I say that!

Okay, the clock says 15 minutes until my next victim appointment. Time to go.

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Tonight on PBS

Bill Moyers is interviewing the Rev. Jeremiah Wright. Hopefully this will put to rest (though I seriously doubt it) all of the controversy, insanity, and charges of "un-Americanism" that keeps on coming up during this Presidential campaign. Here's the Bill Moyers page, if you'd like to learn more.

This is particularly important to One Ring and myself, since we're both UCC clergy. The UCC is an incredibly diverse Christian denomination, and actually welcomes (wonder of wonders!) differing opinions. The trouble is, the rest of the world doesn't seem to understand that, and thinks that if one pastor says something, the rest of the denomination - let alone the members of that pastor's church - all agree without thinking. Believe me, as someone who has been on both sides of the pulpit, nothing - and I mean nothing! - could be further from the truth.

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Real Piracy

I make light quite a bit of the world of pirates, admiring them for their refusal to conform, laughing at the rules, and being the first true democracy in the New World. Well, the pirates of today who roam the world's oceans are a totally different breed, one with whom I would never wish to be associated.

In hot spots around the world - Somalia, Indonesia, and the South China Sea, just to name a few - shipping is being attacked at a horrific rate, and the crimes being committed are atrocious in nature. This morning, on NPR's Morning Edition, there was a very interesting story about the continuing attacks, and an upcoming UN resolution to use joint military task forces to patrol the waters. You can find the story here.

The story does mention that most of the pirates started out as fishermen who were forced out of their own waters by international corporate fishing operations. Some of the pirates claim that they resorted to their actions as a way of driving off the foreign fishing fleets. Of course, others are simply criminals and terrorists. But still, it makes you wonder, at what point is piracy a legitimate option to defend ones livelihood?

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Thursday, April 24, 2008

As If People in Africa Didn't Have Enough to Worry About!

It turns out that male genitalia is being threatened by black magic! Yep, it's true, and here's the article to prove it, straight from Reuters. Hmmm, I wonder if they call it the "Lorena Bobbit spell?" Or if there's a talisman made from viagra that they're using to keep the bad mojo away. At any rate, it's a pretty serious situation, because ten years ago in Ghana, 12 people were beaten to death by angry, albeit castrated, men. Arrests have been made to keep the situation under control.

Now if I can only get that song "Detachable Penis" out of my head!

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Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Yet Another Reason to Skip the Beijing Olympics

In your spare time, you won't be able to watch any horror movies. Not in China, anyway. The powers that be over there - The Department of Ruining Anything That Could Remotely be Considered Fun - has decided that horror movies rot the minds of the public masses and should be banned in preparation for the Olympic Games.

Apparently, one of - if not the - largest sources of bootlegged movies, CDs, clothing, toys (complete with lead paint!), and everything else not nailed down has decided that their public image will be repaired overnight if they stopped for a few weeks. Especially if those horrible ghost stories are taken away!

Forget Tibet. Forget the pirates on every streetcorner. Just come and believe that we are a wonderful world power. Oh, and we have nukes, too!

Here's the full article.

I hope I see a new government in China by the end of my lifetime. I really do. It's a shame that one of the oldest civilizations is controlled by such a flawed system. And considering the state of this country, under this administration, that's saying a lot!

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Dr. Phil is Bad, Mm-kay?

Two of this afternoon's appointments have skipped (for unknown reasons, though I'm asking that they be flogged until they actually do decide to meet with me), so I've been surfing the net looking for odd bits and pieces to paste up here. So far, here's the only thing to catch my eye.

Several of my friends who are involved in various forms of counseling - pastoral counselors, ministers, chaplains, psychologists, and therapists - have complained about how Dr. Phil is dumbing down the practice. By offering off the cuff advice that often ends up being rather trite, and making it seem that all problems can be solved in one session (when really years are required for most major issues such as abuse, PTSD, personality disorders, and so forth), he's created this image that those of us who take our counseling work seriously are in it for the money and prestige. Really, he seems to suggest, all that's needed is some good old fashioned advice - the kind you'd get from mom or grandpa while sitting on the back steps of some midwestern farmhouse.

The reality, of therapy and of Dr. Phil, is far more serious.

Let's see. He's been stripped of his license to practice psychology, been investigated again and again, refused to do the work necessary to get back into a legitimate practice, and has interfered in the recovery efforts of celebs in order to get his name in the paper. And now, he's tried to interfere in that case of the teenage girls who beat the tar out of another girl who trash talked online.

Here's the article that appeared on MSN. Maybe sooner or later people will wise up and learn that not everyone who sounds good really is good.

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Oh, and One More Thing . . .

I've passed the 4,000 hit mark! Thanks everyone, for reading these occasionally mindless rantings. Here's to the next 4,000 hits of piratical mayhem! : )

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New Additions to the Blog List

If you take a gander over on the right, you'll see that I've added a few new blogs to my list. One is serious, the other two are dedicated to odd fun.

A Kindled Word is Whirling Dervish's blog dedicated to his work as a chaplain and spiritual director. I helped him set it up, and we'll be adding more bells and whistles as coffee breaks and general rebellion in the workplace allow. WD is interested in spirituality of all traditions, but is himself centered in the Sufi and Christian traditions.

Undead Backbrain is a blog that I just found this morning (like I said earlier, it's been a dull day!). It's writer Robert Hood's homage to giant monsters, ghosts, zombies, and other weird stuff. I'm keeping myself occupied today going through his past posts.

And finally, Final Girl (named for the last female survivor in any cliche slasher flick) is a blog written out of love for the horror genre. Her review of movies are funny, sarcastic, and wonderfully (and sometimes brutally) honest. It's worth reading even if you're not into slasher films (which I'm not, but I love horror movies).

Okay, that's all for now. I need to go and appear like I'm working. Why? I have no idea. My boss and a whole bunch of other people have bailed. Why can't I????

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I spent last night being beat up by my dog who, like human teenagers, seems to think that the daytime is for sleeping and the nighttime is for running around and partying. We fought with him until 11:30 or so before he finally got the idea (fortunately, One Ring is just as stubborn - if not more so - than Barney the Dog of Destruction!). However, Barney woke up several times - the last being 4:30, where he thought it would be a great idea to go run around and play. Then there was that one point in the night when I woke up to find a paw on my face and one of his claws in my nostril! Needless to say, I'm now exhausted and dying for a nap.

But no, I'm not. Lunch is in 15 or so, and I have some paperwork to accomplish. Four appointments to keep this afternoon from 2-4, so hopefully I can get some energy back by staying busy. Because once I get home, I need to mow the yard and One Ring wants to go out to dinner to celebrate the completion of the last paper of the semester. Don't get me wrong; I want to go also. I just need a bit more energy to get it accomplished!

In other news, I'll be happy when today is over. I'm so tired of hearing about Obama and Clinton sniping at each other, and I don't even live in Pennsylvania! I can't imagine what life is like out there. I guess you'd have to turn off the television and radio and keep them off for six weeks just to maintain your sanity. Thank God Tennessee isn't a swing state!

Okay, I'm collapsing. Time for lunch and caffeine. Peace out.

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Monday, April 21, 2008

Spending a Morning Avoiding Work

At least, that's what I've been trying to do. I have paperwork left over from last week - chart notes and the like - but I'm on a particularly anti-bureaucracy bent today, and am simply not in the mood to play around with that. Also, we're coming up on the lunch hour, so I can honestly put it off for another little bit. Or the rest of the day. Whatever.

So here's what happened this weekend:

One Ring has been slaving away at her last paper for the semester, and I've been doing my best to lay low (or is it "lie low"? Never could get that figured out). On Saturday I went to see The Forbidden Kingdom with Jet Li and Jackie Chan. Lots of fun. Some of the stuff in it was pretty cliche (such as the bullied white kid who learns kung fu and then whoop up on his tormentors), but the fight choreography and dialogue more than made up for that. The movie is (very loosely) based on Journey to the West, an old Chinese tale about The Monkey King. It would take way too much time to explain here, so better to simply go see the film. Or not, if you're not into kung fu flicks.

Sunday we skipped church, dubbing it as "Secular Humanist Sunday." Upon One Ring's suggestion, we walked two miles at the local state park (before breakfast!), then went out to eat before finishing up some errands. Then it was back to the house and One Ring's paper.

Sunday evening I went to my first class at the kung fu school. As I later told One Ring, it was completely unlike any martial arts class I have ever taken - which is either really, really good or really, really bad! I just can't tell which yet. We didn't warm up, drill punches and kicks, and the attitude seemed really laid back. Our chief exercise last night was tossing around a wooden Jian (tai chi sword) so that it remained upright (point to the sky) and not spinning around. It's a lot harder than it sounds. Anyway, after standing in a circle and throwing the sword (I got conked on the head once), the instructor then showed what we were doing with a very brief practical application, of sorts. Again, I'm not sure how practical it was as the demonstration was very brief and we didn't practice it.

I did enjoy myself, which is something, I guess. And I figure that it's too early to tell whether or not this is a good school. So I'm going back for the Friday class and then the Sunday class, and make my decision after that. I have to say, though, that it's free, it's close by (25 minutes or so), and it's better than sitting on my butt playing video games or watching television. So I may stick with it just based on those criteria!

Okay. Lunch time. More later.

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Thursday, April 17, 2008

I Love Origami, But . . .

This may be going a tad too far. Paper presidential candidates?

Now don't get me wrong. I have a origami dragon sitting on my desk right now. I've been folding since I was 15 or so, and have thought I had seen everything. Guess I was wrong.

Sort of gives the term "paper tiger" a new meaning! Of course, the big question is, if you fold them all, does that mean you have a "puppet government?" : )

I'll stop now, as I can hear the groaning all the way out here!

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Kung Fu Update

I forgot to mention in my last post that I'm meeting tonight with the instructor and a student of one of the Kung Fu schools I emailed a short while back. The odd thing isn't that the meeting won't be until 8:00 tonight. It's that we're meeting at TGI Friday's! I'm not lying.

This, of course, brings all kinds of odd thoughts to my already off centered mind. Such as "Hmmm, the waiter is not wearing enough flair. Watch me use my five finger death punch on him!" Bonus points for those who know in which movie "flair" figured prominently.

I admit that I'm a bit excited to start studying kung fu again. Though I'm quick to also admit that I'm being very cautious about getting my hopes up. Several times I've visited schools with the hope of learning their system, only to find that what I thought was an authentic system actually isn't. To some, that isn't that big a deal. To me, it is. While I loved the Shaolin five animal style I studied while in Suffolk, Virginia, my joy was deeply diminished when my instructor started calling himself "Master" and his teacher "Grand Master" of their style. The other students and I also discovered that many of our forms were lifted completely from other styles and schools - and even a videotape or two. I soon had to reconcile myself to the fact that the style I was learning was not a product of ancient Chinese kung fu wisdom, but a chaotic mish mash. That was the second time that happened to me. The first time, you might recall from a previous post was when a "Shaolin Kempo" school I attended (and no, there's no such thing. Shaolin is monestary that's credited -perhaps inaccurately - with starting kung fu, Kempo is something else entirely)started saying that they were now part of the until now ultra secret "Kirin (Mythological Chinese Unicorn) Kung Fu Style." I hate falling for the same trick twice!

There's another fib that instructors sometimes tell - in addition to the "our style's the best (or the oldest, or the most "authentic")" cliche that has been tossed about since martial arts were invented. Here I'm talking about the expression of paranoia. Say there's a horrible event in the community - an assault, a murder, or a domestic dispute that makes the news. Sometimes what happens is that as the community is shocked, the local martial arts schools fall over themselves to offer free lessons (temporarily, of course!) to concerned citizens. Everyone needs to learn basic self defense, and we're just the school to teach you! Then once you get there, the instructors take every opportunity to tell you that you have no idea how dangerous the world is out there. Why, there may be 15 sociopaths waiting for you in the parking lot of this very strip mall! Never mind what's waiting for you all along the way home. Why, it's a wonder you're still alive! You better get involved with our program, because that's the only way you and your kids are going to keep breathing here!

So I'm hoping not to hear either one of those lines tonight. Hopefully, somewhere between the appetizer and dessert (depending on whether or not I eat before the meeting), I'll have a good time, get my questions answered - like why a Chinese Kung Fu system teaches Japanese weapons (a small point, perhaps, but to me it's a potential red flag), and find a place where I can work out, learn something, and lose about 20 pounds of unnecessary flab that seems to have taken up residence around my midsection. I'm too young for a receeding hairline and beer belly!

More later.

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Weather Issues

The weather is absolutely wonderful today. Low 70's, hardly a cloud in the sky, perfect spring weather. The problem? I'm not out in it.

Nope, instead I am in my old office, breathing the odd chemicals that are wafting down from the renovation crew upstairs and the chain-smoking union reps downstairs. The A/C is working, so that's good. Last week my chair melted, and my desk looked like it came out of Dali's The Persistance of Memory! Still, I'm in my post-lunch mode. In other words, I want a nap!

Had trouble sleeping last night. Couldn't even fall asleep until after 1, and then woke up repeatedly at 3 and 4. And, of course, the alarm starts going off at 5:45. Blech. I'm working on keeping my caffeine intake to a minimum, though, because I really would like to get my body clock back on track and get a good night's sleep tonight.

I want to go outside and play! But no. I have someone coming to my office in 20 minutes for an appointment. After that, I have someone coming at 4. But then I'm free! Woohoo!

That much closer to the weekend. : )

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Tuesday, April 15, 2008

End of the Day Stuff

Well, thus far I have heard from two of the three kung fu schools that I emailed yesterday. One is housed at a YMCA about 20 minutes from my house, the other has its own building about 30 minutes away. The first seemed to state that it was a non-profit, asked only $45 a year to pay for the space it borrowed from the Y, and that I provide any equipment I needed for training. The second said in a one line email, "Please call xxx-xxxx so we can set up a time to meet and so you can take a free lesson." I've heard that line before. Unfortunately, I haven't heard from the Pa Kua instructor yet, and am beginning to have my doubts as to whether or not he is still teaching. Of course, if I were him, I would ask that the head office remove my number should I desire to stop teaching, but that's just me.

That was the highlight of my day.

The rest of the day was basicaly spent running to meetings and putting out various fires around the campus. Nothing major - we had a death in hospice and I responded to meet with the family, paperwork to catch up on, patients to meet and treatment team meetings to attend. Spent a little bit of time kvetching with Whirling Dervish about the state of the application process and the latest news from the head office regarding the positions being offered (don't ask). Basically I'm glad that it's almost 4 and I'm leaving in 15.

It's occurred to me that I haven't seen a kung fu flick in ages (and The Forbidden Kingdom opens this week!). I think part of the reason for that was the feeling that I would never again work on it and there were feelings of loss involved. Might have to take a gander at the DVD collection and see what I have. I also have a Horatio Hornblower DVD out from Netflix that I need to watch and send back. I honestly think I can rate that character has having the most unfortunate name in historical fiction, if not all of literature!

I'm presenting a case tomorrow on a patient who claims to have seen his dead sister come into his room and sit at the end of his bed. He referred to his experience as a "nightmare," but then said that it wasn't frightening - he meant that it just seemed so real. What was really interesting wasn't that the patient was okay with his sister's turning up in his hospital room - he's in the dying process in the hospice ward so there are any number of reasons for his seeing her, including that she really did show up! Rather, it was the staff of that floor who seemed the most disturbed by his story. I guess that just goes to show that if you hit someone with information that is completely outside their world view, all kinds of heck breaks loose.

Honestly, though, I was more than a little intrigued by this case, as well. Although - and I've said this time and time again - I don't believe in ghosts and spirits, I am interested in the meanings behind events such as these. Unfortunately, by the time I got to the patient, a doctor and psychologist had already decended upon him and he wasn't that eager to talk about it any more. He seemed pretty calm about the whole thing, which is probably just what he needs.

Okay, day is done, and so am I. More on developments as they become available.

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Monday, April 14, 2008

3:00 and My Appointments Have Skipped

Insert my usual complaints and death threats here. I'm too tired to write them. I just drank a cup of MARINE-made coffee, so you know I must be exhausted. Still, I'm trying to find things to occupy my time. I've visited all my patients, written up the day's reports, and found a new site for funny pictures! Ladies and gentlemen, I give you I has a hotdog!

One more hour, and I'm so out of here!

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Kung Fu Pirate Action Update

Why argue over which is better, Ninjas or Pirates (and yes, that is a debate raging in the internet!)? Now you can have both!

Not wanting to let One Ring's offer to support one of my weird interests, I decided to go kwoon (kung fu school - in Japanese, it's dojo) shopping. I fired off three or four emails, and have been trying to contact a pa kua (also spelled ba gua) instructor in northwest Nashville. No luck there. Of course, no one has responded yet (of all the nerve!). Most schools seem to only have evening hours, which is fine; I have a sneaking suspicion that instructors are late morning types!

While I was typing and calling, though, I tried to come up with a mental list of all the martial arts I've studied over the years, also thinking of my black belt curse (I've either moved or had the school close or had something else happen before I could make it that far). Here's what I've come up with so far:

Blue Belt in Tang Soo Do at the Chuck Norris Karate Studio (Yes, I'm ashamed to admit that one!)
Blue Belt in Shaolin Kempo (I left when they changed the program to "Ki-Lin Kung Fu" a system that no one has ever heard of, before or since. By the way, a Ki-Lin is a type of Chinese Unicorn. Go fig.)
6 months or so of Kendo (Japanese fencing. Lots of fun, but the school closed, sadly)
Less than one semester of Akido (knee problems sidelined me)
Brown Sash (okay, I was testing for the brown sash - but it was a done deal) in Shaolin kung fu at the Chuntien Academy in Suffolk, Virginia. (School closed)
6 months or so of Pa Kua in Virginia Beach (Dang church I was working at wouldn't change their meeting times to accomodate my class needs!)
Western Fencing at the Isle of Wight Fencing Club
Blue Belt in Tae Kwon Do (I became terminally bored when I had to relearn everything I already knew from my kung fu days - plus the forms were very short and equally boring).
More Western Fencing at the IWFC.

And still no black belt. Meanwhile a friend of mine in Virginia (Whom I really need to call), received his black belt in Tae Kwon Do and is working on another one in Hapkido. Neither style is my cup of tea, but I'm happy for him just the same. Still, getting to that level is one of my life goals, though a minor one.

Okay, back to pretending to work and getting some lunch. Peace out.

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Monday, Monday.

And it's COLD! We're only supposed to get up to 49 degrees today, with a low in the upper 30's tonight. Looks like spring and summer have come, gone, and we're now in fall. Weird weather.

This weekend was rather uneventful for us in casa de pirate. One Ring worked on her reading and papers, and I did some house chores. We did see a documentary called The King of Kong, which was all about the drive of two men to be the best at Donkey Kong (no, I'm not kidding!). One guy was a complete jerk, and the other guy was a rather pleasant dude with a wife, kids, job, and, apparently, OCD. His family said that was what made it possible for him to sit at a video game for hours on end perfecting his technique. I'd call it a cry for help, but who am I to judge? Guess everyone needs a hobby. Although I confess that I was caught up in memories of the "old school" games that I played in arcades, so much so that I went out and bought a copy of Neo Geo Colliseum 2. I thought it was the old arcade games made by Neo Geo, but actually it's a 2-D fighter with characters from those games. As such, it's more like the Street Fighter series than anything else. Still, I've been having fun at it, and at $15, it's been a nice diversion.

Speaking of hobbies, I'm feeling the sort of wanderlust that I feel when I'm not doing something healthy or creative. Though no fault of anything or anyone else, life's been feeling stagnant for me lately. So yesterday and today I've been working things over in my brain, trying to figure out how to do something new at minimal costs. One Ring was wonderful when I mentioned my thoughts to her, saying that she was willing to make sacrifices so that I could get back into the martial arts again or do something else.

So today I'm going to make a few phone calls and see what I can find in the areas. I've alerady searched the 'net. Unfortunately, outside of one karate school down the road, most everything is about a 30 miles or more away. Not too bad, but with traffic the way it is here, that might as well be on the other side of the moon. But we'll see.

More on this as it develops.

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Friday, April 11, 2008

The Doom Buggy That Wouldn't Die!

This morning One Ring drove me over to the transmission shop to pick up my car. $1600 later, I am now in possession of the Doom Buggy. It runs great! I can't believe that the gear shift could ever move so smoothly. In fact, I was so used to having to force the issue, especially when putting it in reverse, that I almost stalled the car when I drove out of the shop's parking lot!

It's a mess of a car, but it's good to have it back. I've always found myself becoming very depressed whenever my car has had to go in the shop and I've had to depend on others for rides. But the Doom Buggy is back, and I'm happy.

For those of you who weren't around during the "Pimp My Ride" posts over on Stabbing in the Dark, The Doom Buggy takes its name from the ride vehicles in the Haunted Mansion at the various Disney parks. Tigger and Pooh gave me the license plate that sits on the front bumper, and I had a decal custom made for the hood. The design is from the wallpaper in the hallway where guests board the doom buggies in the HM. It also matches the design that is on both the license plate and a shirt I own.

I'll post pics of the car, just in case you missed it. I've been promised that I should be able to get another 60,000 miles out of the car, assuming nothing else major goes wrong. The engine is fine and now the transmission is fine, and I'm leaving in about 45 minutes. And it's Friday. What's better than that????

(later, as promised - pics of the car)

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Something to Consider Next Time I Move

Back when I was writing over on Just a Stab in the Dark (my now deceased blog) I mentioned that although I don't believe in ghosts and haunted places, I'm a sucker for a good ghost story - and a big time fan of the Haunted Mansion in Walt Disney World. I even contemplated briefly giving up my current profession, moving to Orlando, and working as one of the cast members in that particular attraction. I decided not to, though, out of fear that I would get transferred over to the "It's a Small World" attraction!

But all dreams of working in a dark ride aside, here's the latest real estate tip to hit the internet (at least, it's new to me): buy a haunted house!

One would think, what with the gult of paranormal investigation shows such as Ghost Hunters and Paranormal State, that the demand for houses that were supposedly haunted would increase, at least among the subculture that was into such things. But according to The Street, such is not the case. They say that the history of a home, whether true or an urban legend, can drastically affect the price, resulting in some sweet bargains. Of course, the price would also depend on the location of the home, its size, and so forth. O.J. Simpson's home in Brentwood, CA went for the asking price of $4 million, due mostly to its location, while the Scott and Laci Peterson home has already been through a few owners and has had its price reduced (I was going to say "slashed," but that would be too tacky, even for me!).

You can find the article here. But just think of the possibilites: house hunting and ghost hunting - on the same trip!

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Thursday, April 10, 2008

The Great Connundrum - My Solution

By now, assuming you aren't just reading this on the way to a far more interesting post, you've seen that I've attempted to take commonly held beliefs regarding the eternal question of why bad things happen to good people and shown how they really don't provide good answers that hold up the common belief that God is all powerful, all knowing, and omnipresent. Some responses, such as "God is testing you now, and you must be strong and faithful," (also heard as, "Well, the good Lord won't give you more than you can handle!") I find to be patently offensive, for they make God out to be a sadist, who piles injury and torment upon creation just to see if we're "good enough" (whatever that means). I've known people who act like that, but I refuse to believe in a God who does.

There are other responses, variations of the ones I've presented in previous posts, or altogether different ones that I've failed to mention here. As always, I'd like to hear your opinion, as this is an issue that we all must face in our lives. But given the options that I've heard, the ones I've mentioned here, the issue seems to be the same: how can God be all powerful, all knowing, and ever present, and still be all good considering the world (and our lives) are in the shape they're in?

Rabbi Harold Kushner, in his book When Bad Things Happen to Good People, suggests that one of those three attributes has to go. Either God is not everywhere at the same time, and thus isn't around when horrible things happen; or God is not aware of what's going on, and thus bad things happen when God is not on top of things; or God is not all powerful. Kushner chooses the third, stating that God is still all good, but that God does not interfere with events in the world. Disease, accidents, war, famine and other natural disasters - God keeps a hands off policy, but provides strength to the faithful so that they may persevere through difficult times.

My thinking runs along similar lines, in that I believe that God provides the ability to persevere under very difficult circumstances. I disagree, however, with Kushner's idea of a powerless God. In my view, the problem is in how we view power. And in this, I side more with the Process Theology school of thought.

If we think of Power in terms of how God is portrayed in the Hebrew scriptures, destroying cities, drowning armies in the Red Sea, flooding the world, turning Lot's wife to salt, and so forth, then yes, God is powerless. God does not do that now, and I'm not so sure we would want God to. God does not behave, nor I believe has God ever behaved outside of the myths and legends of the cultures of the world, in that fashion. Even if one takes a literal view of the Bible, one must admit that God no longer does these things. That alone should suggest a certain degree of powerlessness. But only if we think of power in those terms.

But, if we view power as the ability to persuade events and people to move, rather than coerce them, perhaps we can get closer to a solution to theodicy. Process thought holds that God does not force the actions of anything in the universe. Rather, we are offered the opportunity to make choices and be creative with our lives. In fact, all of reality is offered that same opportunity, to be creative and exercise self-determination. God may want something to happen, say for people to love one another or for rivers not to over run their banks, but that doesn't mean that events will unfold that way. This is not because God is powerless to prevent these events, but that God has chosen the ultimate gift - freedom - for the universe and all that inhabits it. Even if events occur which are tragic, they are still born of a gift.

In my opinion, that's why things are happening the way they are, and why evil is running amok, and why the current administration is not being smited for mismanaging the war. And that's why you might have had a bad day last week - or today - for that matter. It's not God's fault, it's not necessarily your fault (though it might be), it's not even the fault of someone else (though it might be). It's just the way it is. Almost sounds like the First Noble Truth of Buddhism ("There is Suffering" although there are other translations of the word dukkha), doesn't it?

But that is a discussion for another day. If I post more, I promise it will be far less heady material!

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The Great Connundrum, 2 hours later.

It's occurred to me that there is no way that I can cover 2,000 years of thought regarding the problem of evil. So, in order to keep me sane (and you reading this post!), I've decided to break down responses to the problem in terms of statements I've heard - or have been told to me by other chaplains - during my ministerial career. Then I'll finish up with my own thoughts. Hopefully something in here will make sense!

We've already covered the idea that the experience of evil in the world is the result of one's own sinful actions. While that sometimes is true - if I commit a crime and am later arrested, odds are that I'm going to experience evil and unpleasant things inside a prison - in the case of other experiences, it is absolutely false.

When the Gulf Coast flooded following Katrina and Rita, I had patients and staff alike telling me that was the result of God's anger lashing out on such a sinful city. If that's the case, though, why was it that the 9th Ward - a residential area - flooded and Bourbon Street, known for its wild parties and Mardis Gras parades, did not? In fact, the areas most connected with sin around the world, as understood by evangelical Christians and Orthodox peoples of other faith traditions, are still standing while tornados, hurricanes, tsunamis and other natural disasters have leveled regular neighborhoods like the ones you and I live in. Why hasn't Las Vegas been taken out, if God is into smiting sinners that way? What about San Francisco's Haight - Ashbury district back in the 60's? Surely China would have been given a beating following Tienamen Square or what's going on in Tibet. And where's the punishment due those who are sinning in Iraq right now? Where's the divine wrath that should be smacking people around in the Middle East?

You get the idea. God just doesn't work that way, no matter what Pat Robertson, et al. said before they retracted their statements.

Another explanation is that there is a malevolent force (could it be . . . Satan?!?) at work in the world. This is very popular here in the Bible Belt, where I often here from Staff and patient alike, "The Devil is working me over today!" This places the blame for everything inconvenient, wrong, or evil squarely on the shoulders of a fallen angel who has nothing better to do than set individuals up and knock them down.

There's a couple of problems with this line of thinking, too. For starters, any belief in a force of this magnitude - just a little weaker than God - limits the power of God. If God is ALL-powerful, ALL-knowing, and OMNI-present, as most people believe, than it is a contradiction to say that there is something else out there that is so powerful that struggles with God over people's souls take place. All powerful means that God has control, and nothing can resist that force.

Also, if one looks at representations of Satan in the Jewish and Christian scriptures, one will find that it's not the same creature that we commonly think of when we imagine Satan or The Devil. For starters, the name Satan, comes from the Hebrew "Ha-Satan" which means, "The Accuser." It's not a name, it's the title of a position of a court official - the prosecuting attorney who tests people to determine guilt or innocence. In this view - and it's the one presented in the book of Job - the character of Satan is more an employee of God rather than being an "anti-God."

So where do all those ideas of Satan come from? Two places, actually: Milton's Paradise Lost and The Inferno section of Dante's Divine Comedy. That's right, most of our culture's popular beliefs come not from any religious text or theological work, but from works of pure fiction. It's the same as basing a Sunday sermon on The DaVinci Code - presenting it as if the events in the book really happened.

If you're still awake at this point, I'm ecstatic. Really! And I'd love to conclude this discussion with my own views, but my boss just walked in and is now at his desk. So I have to go out and pretend to work. : ) I'll post more later on this afternoon. Going to be a late evening here, and as I've been able to keep up with my paperwork today, I'll have time to finish this post.

Until then.

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The Great Connundrum

Of all the questions that I get asked that are relevant to my work as a chaplain, the most common is something along the lines of "Why is this happening to me?" Oh, there are variations of the question to be sure - most contain an expletive or three - but the issue is the same. "Why did (issue, problem or situation X) have to happen? Why me?"

In technical, theological gobbley-gook, the issue is called theodicy and is worded something like this: how can an all powerful, all knowing, all loving, and ever present God allow all these lousy things to happen? Yesterday, during the chaplains' case presentation / educational time, theodicy again raised its ugly head, just as it does every week in one fashion or another.

It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out two points of fact: One, that things are not right in the world. There are murders, natural disasters, genocides, totalitarian governments, and too much reality programming on television.

Two, most of the world worships a divine being who is, in one way or another, supposed to love and take care of us. For, according to the stories of the religions of the world, we are the children of this divine being in one sense or another.

The issue, therefore is reconciling those two points of fact. Bad stuff is happening, and good God cannot / does not / will not take care of it for us. And for the entire length and breadth of human history, we have been trying to come to a conclusion that satisfies that discrepancy. We have been trying to solve the great dilemma. The problem is, none of the answers are fully satisfactory, and most are downright insulting.

In the Judeo-Christian tradition, there are two main themes in the scriptures. The first is found in the books of Deuteronomy and Proverbs. This answer states that if you are truly good and obey all of God's laws and rules and such, then good things will happen to you. If you are evil and do not, then God's wrath will be upon you and all sorts of nastiness will come your way. In this lifetime, I might add. The scriptures are specific that any reward or punishment comes pre-death and whatever awaits us post-mortem.

This wisdom, which is often perverted into the prosperity gospel message that is so popular among televangelists, falls apart because we all know evil people who are doing quite well in life. We also know, or maybe are, good people who aren't doing so well. It only takes a moment of reading the newspaper and asking the question, "What did that person ever do to deserve that?" to see how this argument isn't worth much.

The second theme is found in the books of Job and Ecclesiastes. At the end of Job, when God shows up in the form of a whirlwind, Job asks God the big question, "Why did all this happen?" God essentially says, "Who are you to ask me anything? Where were you when I set up the universe to run the way it runs?" Not very satisfying, though God does set everything right - again, in this life, not the afterlife - by restoring everything that was taken away from Job. Though I must admit this is small comfort for all Job's children, servants, and livestock who were killed at the beginning of the book!

Ecclesiastes doesn't even attempt to answer the question, really. Rather, it just says, "Life often sucks. Deal." I'll be honest right here. I love Ecclesiastes for that directness. Often things don't go right. Life at times seems meaningless and full of suffering. No one knows why, except for God, and God's not talking. So our best bet is to learn how to cope as best we can.

So that's the scriptural take coming out of the Bible - in a very, very basic form, mind you. I have to run and teach my class now. I'll write more during my lunch break, hoping to cover some of the more modern ideas, post-modern ideas, and my own pirate chaplain thoughts.

Get yourself some coffee; some of this stuff may get pretty boring at times! But it's important. Otherwise I wouldn't write it! : )

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Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Almost Finished!

It's now about 6:30. One Ring is almost here. The big news is that I'm finished with the largest section of my application! 30 pages of mind-numbing drivel describing every task I did in each of my ten years and four locations of church and chaplaincy work. I was bored to tears by it, and I'm the one who lived it! I can only pray for the poor souls at the chaplain headquarters in Hampton, Virginia who have to read this stuff.

There's still more to do, but at least the largest chunk of it is finished.

Okay, brain is dead. I'm closing up shop and heading for home.

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Boss is Gone, Day is Done

And I'm getting ready to settle into a long writing session before One Ring comes and picks me up. But before I do that, I figured I'd have some fun and post a quiz I took at the H.P. Lovecraft Historical Society website.

Unfortunately, they didn't write it up in a way that it would post with nice graphics, but here it is regardless:

Your SaniTest(TM) Results

Your score is: 115
For easier understanding, the HPLHS SaniTest assessment algorithm converts your raw score to a scale of 1 to 10. This number is your INSANITY INDEX.

INSANITY INDEX 6.13 This score is solidly in the middle of the spectrum of madness, and it indicates that you are a classic lunatic. Lunatics are often highly functional, and even great achievers. But their personal lives are often left in ruins as they attempt to deal with their antic inner demons. Others who scored at this level include comedian/actor Robin Williams and French philosopher Voltaire.

Find out how sane you are by clicking here!

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Weirdness in the World of Religion

Well, my 1:00 appointment found an excuse not to show up. Since I moved offices to the opposite side of the campus (and am now rooming with my boss - sigh!), I've had difficulty having these guys show up. However, this has given me some free time to spend with other floors and patients, or to surf the web, which is nice.

Today I found some very interesting events going on in the world of religion, starting with the 400+ children and adults taken from the Fundamentalist LDS compound in West Texas.

In case you didn't catch this, the raid started when authorities received a call from a 16-year-old woman who claimed to be the wife of a 40-year-old man. She gave birth to his child when she was 15. As if that weren't bad enough, according to the article (use the link above to get to it), it looks like it will take years of intensive therapy for these young women to approach anything resembling normalcy in their lives. Think about it - these girls were basically kept in a controlled environment, unable to make decisions for themselves, and forced to accept whatever their leaders decided. Not only that, but they were also instructed to be afraid of the outside world and told that "non-believers" (everyone who is not a part of their very small cult) would be sure to do far worse to them than what they were experiencing inside to compound. I only can hope and pray that this is the end of that group, considering that their leader, Warren Jeffs, is incarcerated after being found guilty of being an accomplice to rape when he arranged the marriage of a 14-year-old girl to a 19-year-old man.

Maybe now that the compound has been raided and Jeffs is locked away, that will be the end of that. Not likely, though, since the hold that cult leaders have on their followers tends to be very strong indeed.

Moving along from the scary / serious to the scary / silly, Religion Clause reports that a copy of the Scientology "Bible" has been leaked to the internet. Yep, all 612 pages of The Technical Bulletins of Dianetics and Scientology can be yours without having to go through all the E-Meter readings and spending your children's college fund! Want to see what's got Tom Cruise, John Travolta, and the guy who did the voice of Chef on South Park (Isaac Hayes) all excited? Then run over to Wikileaks and check it out before the Scientology lawyers earn their pay. Oops, too late.

Well, I've seen the text, and although I only took a quick gander, I have to say that as far as esoteric texts go, it's not much. You can find better stuff here or here.

More later, as life gets interesting. For now, though, I need to get back to pretending to work.

Peace out.

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Everyone Needs a Hobby, I Guess

In the Japanese city of Iga, this past week was the International Ninja Festival. I found this article about it while reading the online newspapers this morning. People from all over dress as ninjas, search for hidden life sized ninja dummies, watch martial arts demonstrations, and go to the local ninja museum. Even the dogs get into it!

Hmm, this dog looks a bit like my Barney. I've noticed that Barney spends a lot of time around our shed in the backyard. I'll have to check and make sure he doesn't have a stash of weapons back there.

For the record, though, pirates are still way cooler than ninjas!

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Monday, April 7, 2008

Weekend in Review

Well, we survived. Friday One Ring and I trudged down to Huntsville, AL in order to attend a UCC meeting. The purpose of this meeting was to see about getting the denomination to endorse my application to be a full time "real" chaplain at the VA. Mostly it's a formality, and didn't involve a whole lot of stress, but I still wouldn't mind having the 6 hours it consumed back!

The bottom line is that they streamlined to process for me - now I just send one application to them instead of three copies all over the country. So that was unexpectedly good. The bad news is that I realized that the application demands an absurd level of work. Seriously - essay questions? photos? It's needless, in my mind. I'd much rather focus my efforts on getting the application for the VA done rather than having to work on this.

Got word on the car Friday afternoon. Apparently there's a cheap bolt that Hyundai used in the 2000 models to connect a linkage system from the outside of the transmission to the inside. This bolt apparently sheared off and went flying down the transmission, bouncing around and causing havoc. So we're going to be out around $1500 or more after all is said and done. Yesterday I phoned my family to tell them that we would not be coming out this summer as we had hoped. And my trip out in August for my 20th class reunion is equally in jeopardy. Hopefully, we will have recovered by October, when we are planning a trip to Disney World with Tigger, Pooh, and Boo (it's her first birthday, and Tigger and Pooh are insane enough to want to spend it at WDW. Works for me!). But only time will tell.

I also finally saw Sweeney Todd on DVD. Loved it, and will comment on the film in a later post. Right now I've got emails to send out as I beg and plead for I mean, calmly request letters of recommendation for my applications.

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Thursday, April 3, 2008

Well, At Least It's Quiet Here

Ten 'til five. Normally, I would have been gone 30 to 45 minutes ago. Sadly, though, One Ring won't be able to pick me up until 7ish. So I'm here at the hospital, trying to gather enough energy to work on my application for the next couple of hours.

I have to admit, this place gets creepy when there's no one around. Like most hospitals / schools / office buildings, the level of eerie-ness is in direct inverse proportion to the number of people roaming the hallways. So, now that it's after quitting time, and 99% of the day shift is gone, this complex has gone all quiet. Which would be nice, I suppose, had I not just been reading a bunch of online horror short stories and web blogs to pass the time!

I have to admit, I have a love / hate relationship with horror. I love the genre, in that I like to feel creeped out by a really well done scene (such as the ball bouncing down the stairs towards George C. Scott in The Changeling or hearing Gary Oldman laughing at Keanu Reeves's suffering in Bram Stoker's Dracula - and who doesn't take pleasure at Keanu Reeves suffering?). There were several scenes in The Sixth Sense that floored me. I actually couldn't sleep for a week after that one, and found myself actually wanting to investigate haunted places! And I don't even believe in ghosts!

But, alas, the trouble with the horror genre is that for every great movie, there are hundreds - maybe thousands - of knock offs, stinkers, and cliches. Pablo Francisco has this great sketch that I'm going to find on Youtube and post here about it. He talks about how every slasher movie is pretty much the same. Guy walks up to a creepy house, just as news of an escaped psychopath hits the radio, and goes in.

"Hello? Anyone here?" (Ch, ch, ch, ch, ah, ah, ah, ah)

"Billy?" (Ch, ch, ch, ch, ah, ah ,ah, ah)

"I'm going to get naked and jump in the shower!"

And the killing begins.

But that's the problem. You can't feel scared when you can't relate to the characters. If cliche character #1 (say, the jock) gets mutilated, folded, spindled, stapled, or whatever, and all he's done for the last twenty minutes is be a jerk and say horrible lines, who cares? Unfortunately, too much attention is placed on the special effects, and not enough on the plot, acting, and direction. To be honest, I found the frozen in time, blood splattered students in the music video for Pearl Jam's Jeremy far more disturbing and eerie than most of the horror movies I've seen recently. Psycho is consistantly ranked as one of the scariest movies ever, and at no point is there any gore whatsoever. It's chocolate syrup going down a drain. That's it. Yet that one scene has kept people out of showers for over a generation!

But I digress. It's quiet here. It's creepy. And I work with psych patients. Yeah, it's going to be a long couple of hours until One Ring picks me up! : )

Okay, back to the application. Oh, I heard the other day that the odds are even longer than the massive climb I was already attempting. More people applying, and they're getting really nit-picky, it sounds. Sigh.

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Doom Buggy Update

Just got a call from the garage. The car's transmission is having some internal troubles, and so I'm having it shipped off to a transmission specialist closer to my house. So it's not looking good. At least tomorrow is payday, though considering that most of that check was spoken for in terms of other bills, this is the last thing we needed!

One Ring is going to pick me up at work today, but given her class schedule and traffic, she won't get here until 7. Which means that I'll be at work three hours longer than I planned when I left this morning. Sigh. Oh, well. At least this way I can work on my application nightmare while I'm alone here.

Speaking of alone in the office, I'm not. Did I mention that I'm now sharing an office with my boss? Yeah. Awkward as hell. Reminds me of my college dorm, as the office is just about the same size, the walls are covered with his stuff, and my desk is the furthest from the door. The only thing missing, I told him, are bunk beds. Of course, if I had a comfortable place to sleep, I'd never get any work done around here! This should be an interesting few months; they're telling me it will be at least June before I can get my old office back. Of course, we're talking contractors here, so I may never see my office again.

I'll post more later, when things are a tad more relaxed.

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Doom Buggy Down!

I'm sure by now you had a good chuckle over my car ending up in the ditch. I know I did, especially when it ran great after being dragged out by a tow truck operator who didn't want to get any closer to the VA than he had to for fear of being sued by the government for potential damage to property (I'm not lying!). All the damage, if any, was to the A-frame, and not to anything important, he swore. So what have we learned, class? Yep. Never listen to tow truck operators!

So this morning I was driving along to work, once again happy that my baby was not showing the slightest bit of trouble following her ditch diving. However, when I pulled up to a stoplight and went to shift into first gear, the gear shift went all over the place. No resistance, no sign that I was in anything but neutral. So I'm stuck, in rush hour morning commute traffic, with a car that doesn't want to go.

Two hours of comedy of errors craziness (cell phone dying, trying to get another tow truck - not with the same company, mind you - getting preached to by the tow truck operator, and wondering if I was ever going to make it to the garage alive) I finally made it to work. Now I am awaiting word from the mechanics on how much the repairs are going to cost. Meanwhile, One Ring and I are preparing for a trip down to a meeting with the denomination high mucky-mucks to get some paperwork settled so I can apply for the VA jobs.

So I send the following to the Divine Head Office: Attention, God. Hi. Remember me? Hope so. Anyway, I'm having a time of it between the job stress, job hunting stress, and denomination stress. Now the car that I desperately need is down for the count. Any chance I can get some help and avoid financial and emotional ruin? Thanks. I'll try to be a better pirate chaplain, too. As always, if there's anything you need me to do, let me know. We don't have many bushes that'll burn around here (flame retardant bushes are government regulation, you know), but I'm sure you can figure out a way to drop me a line.

Sincerely, humbly, grovellingly, I am. etc. etc.

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Tuesday, April 1, 2008

"I'm Going Slightly Mad . . ."

Which is a great song by Queen, by the way. Yeah, the day's gone off the rails. Started with my receiving a report of - and I was still in the parking lot when someone told me this - a male patient placing a *ahem* object used for sexual pleaure (usually by women) on his roommate's bed. Chaos ensued. I meet with that patient today at 4. I am filled with anticipation (insert sarcasm here).

But wait. There's more!

Once I got to my office, my phone rang. It was a minister with whom I need to meet to get my paperwork in order so I can apply for the VA jobs. Yesterday he offered me meetings in June (way too late to help me), then April (still too late, but doable). Today he offered 12 noon on Friday. In Huntsville, Alabama. So I'm taking Friday off so One Ring and I can drive down to Huntsville and attend a very exciting church meeting in order to get all our ducks in a row.

In other news, I'm moving my office to another building. My boss's building, to be precise. And into my boss's office, to be even more precise. As in, I have the desk right next to his! Yikes. No more afternoon naps or running off campus when no one is looking, I guess. Oh, well. It was fun while it lasted.

As an aside, the canteen on campus here is selling - I kid you not - fishtanks that hang on the wall. I'm getting sea monkeys, man! : ) In my boss's office, no less. Maybe. We'll see. Lord knows it was warm enough in there today to keep fish alive. My old office (where I'm typing this now) is hotter than the fourth circle of hell today, so I'm feeling very happy to get out. Never mind the smell of whatever chemicals they're using to clean and remodel the place. Majoy evil stench here.

Okay, I've got a ton of paperwork to do, and a case study to prepare. More later, perhaps.

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