Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Coffee Isn't Helping

One Ring once told me of a classmate of hers at Furman University who had the habit of walking around campus saying, "Oh, wretched day!" while drinking whiskey out of a McDonald's Ice Tea cup. Yes, someone out there really says, "Oh, wretched day!"

For some reason, that story has stuck with me, and there have been mornings where I've walked into the kitchen for breakfast and repeated that line, often receiving a chuckle from One Ring in response. Usually - 90% of the time, I'd guess - it's been a joke, a way of melodramatically expressing my irritation at an upcoming event. But sometimes I feel as if that silly statement is oh, so true, and so accurate.

Yesterday was one of those days. Today isn't looking so hot, either. Two cups of coffee and I'm still not up and running ...

I'm not saying that there were plenty of times when I was doing cartwheels because of my work. The job has its rewarding moments, to be certain, but let's face it - it's called work for a reason. Work is work. It's not play; it's not fun and games. No matter how much I wish otherwise, it will never be one of those jobs that the rare person has; the one they enjoy so much that they exclaim, "I can't believe I'm getting paid for this!" I've dreamed of getting a job like that, as has every other human being, but so far, no joy.

So, what’s going on? My favorite holiday is 11 days away, so I should be as excited as a child on Christmas morning. And yet, I told One Ring last night – as we went to the craft store to purchase yet another batch of clay for my craft class and saw the picked over shelves of Halloween decorations and craft projects - that I felt like I had already missed it. For some reason, the build up and anticipation of all kinds of scary movie watching, pumpkin carving, and house decorating has turned into an emotional “Meh. Whatever.”

Not good.

Usually when I have a client who is suffering from dystthymea – which is nothing but a fancy schmancy word for chronic mild depression – I ask what’s changed in their lives. Usually a core issue can be detected after a short time digging around the conscious or sub-conscious. At least with my patient body, that seems to be the case. So I’ve been turning my eye inward in an attempt to see what is going on. And aside from some recent setbacks in my guitar lessons, some mild frustrations at work and in my clay class (I’ve only been able to teach twice since I started due to lack of interested parties.), the only major event in my life is the pending birth of my son. Which I guess is reason enough to be freaking out and riding an emotional roller coaster, but during those moments where I’m mourning the loss of independence and spontaneity, I feel as if I shouldn’t be having those feelings. And, as we all know, feelings suppressed become feelings expressed in other ways – usually emotional outbursts, resentments, or a depressive withdrawal from participation and interaction with others.

In other words, we have a winner. Despite looking forward to Simon’s birth (My selection of “H.R. Puffinstuff” for his name was soundly rejected.), I’m also resenting the changes and chaos he’s bringing in his wake. And it is this, of course, which makes me feel lousy. I imagine lots of fathers feel this way, and that it is this which leads to absenteeism on the daddy-side. I’m not going to do that (Death, first!), having experienced that first hand twice – first with actual absenteeism and abuse, the second time with emotional absenteeism. But still, the mixed emotions are there.

So there you go. That’s why I haven’t been posting. That’s why I’m having sleep issues. That’s why my productivity at work is at an all time low, and that’s why I’ve occasionally joked with One Ring that I’m going to nickname Simon “Buzz-Kill.” She laughed, so I guess I’ll live until she gets tired of that joke!
Okay, time to go back and pretend to work.

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Wednesday, October 6, 2010

I Need Time with My Creative Outlets

Please note that the following has absolutely nothing to do with pirates, except perhaps on a (very) peripheral level. Nope, once again I am talking about my need for creative expression, the occasional change, and something really awesome that I experienced this past weekend in Lousiville, KY. Yes, that's right. I said Kentucky.

I will always be the first one to admit that I look down upon land locked states. I think having the good fortune - though I didn't realize it at the time - to grow up on the coast of Virginia, mere minutes from both the Chesapeake Bay and the Atlantic Ocean, has seriously jaded my view that life is possible anywhere else. It is, of course, but why would anyone want to do it? As One Ring and I unpacked in the B&B we had booked for the weekend, I noticed instructions hanging on the wall. Instructions, I might add, for what to do in case the tornado alarm sounded. My comment to One Ring, if I recall correctly, was something to the effect of, "Why would anyone live in a place where tornados can pop up without warning?"

By the way, going to Louisville was her idea. Not that I complained. I was happy to get away, and, as it turned out, the city redeemed itself in my eyes with a show of cultural and artistic expression that is seriously lacking in many places I've called home (I'm talking to you Chelyabinsk!). I just found this website about that Russian city, and now I have even more reason to worry!

So, here's what I'm talking about in terms of needing some more time being creative:

Lately, my clay work and guitar playing has been limited. Some of this has been caused by other commitments, a bit by wanting to spend more time with One Ring (I used to practice when her brother came over), and mostly by my being exhausted when I get home from work and getting hooked on City of Heroes. So, even though I'm happy with my first attempt at a clay pumpkin (see previous post), I haven't been able to make any more. Bead making is not happening, and two of my clay classes were cancelled due to lack of interest. So there you go. There's also a minor issue with my dog going crazy when light hits my tools and reflects onto the ceilings and walls, but I won't go into that.

What made this trip to Louisville so awesome was that I was able to fulfill a lifelong dream. When I was a child, my family went to Jamestown, VA to see the first permanent colonial settlement. There we were able to watch craftspeople blow glass and create wine glasses, decanters, plats, cups, and so on. I actually took One Ring there while we were dating (or soon after we were married - sorry, dear, I can't remember!) and bought a couple of wine glasses. By then I was hooked. I wanted to try my hand at blowing glass.

One Ring knew of my dream, although I don't think I mentioned it for years. She set up a glass blowing class for me at Glassworks, in Louisville's museum district. To say I enjoyed my brief time there would be an absolute understatement. Although I didn't do too much of the blowing process (a modest couple of puffs down a long pole was pretty much the extent of my labor) due to the liability of having noobs stumbling around a 2200 degree furnace, I was still thrilled at being able to participate in the process. As the website shows, my project was creating a pumpkin. I wanted to do one with purple specs on an orange background. For reasons unknown to me, it turned out exactly opposite. But I love the finished project anyway!

I can easily see how people can become addicted to this. The woman who took my money (twice - I bought a t-shirt the next day when we returned to get the pumpkin) said that they get return customers all the time.

This experience brought to mind just how much I enjoy the creative process, evein if I'm only watching works of art coming into existence. It also made me aware of how lax I have become in working on my own projects. Essentially, I've allowed myself to become a lump, surfing the web during boring moments at work (like now), and doing next to nothing when I return home. But with my favorite time of the year now in place, and all sorts of ideas roaring about between my ears, the main message is that I need to shift into overdrive and get some stuff done! So, clay tonight while One Ring is at a meeting. Then guitar practice, since I'm having a guitar built by my instructor. It would be seriously lame if I pour all kinds of money into the guitar, only to find that I can't play well because I haven't done anything with the one I already own!

So the motivation is in place. Now I just need to translate it into action!

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Monday, September 20, 2010

First Halloween Sculpture of the Season

But definitely not the last. I hope to have a few of these guys done before the big day rolls around!

Polymer clay around an alluminum foil core. The design was inspired by the people at Killer Pumpkins. Mind you, this is only a rough beginning. Hopefully they'll get better with practice!

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Thursday, September 16, 2010

New Links

Continuing my link-luv for the Halloween season, here's the latest batch of websites that have sparked my fancy. I'll get organized in the columns on the right side of the screen at some point, but for now, the horror/Halloween stuff is going to remain mixed in with everything else.

Oh, one more thing: Three days until "Talk Like a Pirate Day!"

And now for the links:



The Raven's Barrow

Hauntcast - Radio for Haunters and Halloween Fanatics


Haunted Cauldron

The Dead End

There! That should keep you busy for a while!

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Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Why Didn't I Think of This?

Awesomeness. Pure awesomeness. And no, I'm not even sure that's a word!

We pause in our preparations for Talk Like a Pirate Day (Sept. 19th!) to look at what I SHOULD have put together back when One Ring and I were married in 1999. Oh, well. If we ever do a vow renewal, this is definitely on the list for BEST DECOR EVAH!

Haunted Mansion Wedding

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Tuesday, September 14, 2010

New Halloween Link

Okay, so work took longer today than I thought it would (and with my hours being extended to 9 Monday through Thursday, that means there was A LOT of work). Anyway, i'm going to point you towards a website that I just discovered today. Killer Pumpkins is the work of John Pellico and is positively chock full of awesomeness. I'm thinking of designing (if I ever get a free moment between now and Halloween) a polymer clay pumpkin sculpture based on one of his paintings. Anyway, look and enjoy.

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One Ring brought to my attention the fact that I have not put finger to keyboard for this blog in quite some time. Even after I had a good run of putting up at 6 or so posts per month (waaaaay down from years past), it seems I have run into the writer's equivalent of the Sargasso Sea, and am up to my gunports in seaweed!

So, here's what's going on:

1) One Ring and I (and her parents) put together the nursery for Simon. He's due on December 16, and preparations for his arrival are well in hand.

2) Clay classes at the craft store are in full swing. I'm not too crazy about the projects that the store selected for this month, but it's a way of crafting while getting paid for it. And that, maties, is not a bad thing at all!

3) Important days to remember: Talk Like a Pirate Day is this Sunday, September 19th! In other important news, Halloween is approximately 47 days away! Now if someone can point me in the direction of a good ghostly pirate story that I haven't seen / read yet, I would be grateful!

4) Work is ... work. Enough said there. I'm thankful beyond measure to have a job, but when One Ring, her parents, and I went to the treasure coast of Florida for a (all too) brief vacation, the idea of not returning entered my mind many a time!

Okay. More will be posted shortly, as links and Halloween issues abound!

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Friday, August 20, 2010

Being Hot is Okay ...

... but there are limits. Our A/C went out earlier this week, and when the temp INSIDE our home reached 93 degrees, One Ring decided that it was time to head to a hotel. The dogs went into a kennel, various repair people were called in, and here we are, in a holding pattern, adrift with no wind in the sails, waiting for something to positive to happen. And I'm at work, waiting to go home at 11:30.

Update: One Ring just called. Looks like it may take up to a week to get the new A/C - heat pump system installed. Good news is that they're installing a window unit to keep us sane until then. We're keeping the dogs in the kennel until we can figure out how that works out.

Pirate update: With all this heat, both here and on the Treasure Coast of Florida, my thoughts have turned every now and then towards colder climates and seasons. Today, while looking at the Talk Like a Pirate Day website, I came across a link for ... wait for it ... Russian Pirates!

Some of you may know that yours truly has a fairly worthless bachelor degree in Russian Linguistics, and spent a cold Siberian winter there. Needless to say, this left a bad taste in my mouth (Think REALLY bad rum!), and sent me straight for warmer waters. But now that I've found this site - though I find I'm having trouble reading it! (It's in Russian. I suggest using Babelfish to read it.) - I may have to rethink my opinion of things Pycckii (that's as close as an English keyboard and this blog thingy can get to Cyrillic!).

Off to sweat in the heat.

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Monday, August 16, 2010

More Oceanic Crafts

We're back from Vero Beach, and there are lots of pictures and memories to talk about, not the least of which was getting to see what passed for romance back in 1715(and yes, it is related to the destruction of the Spanish treasure fleet that year!)!

But before I post more about that (I need to get the pictures off the camera, organize them, etc.), tonight was craft night again in our house, as we attempt to recover from the whirlwind trip to the treasure coast of Florida. I packed a shark tooth necklace that I had picked up in my home port a few years back. CHeap thing, except for the tooth, everything there was a sloppy third rate job. I noticed that the cord was starting to go, again, and this time super glue wasn't going to save the day. Plus One Ring panics everytime I pick the stuff up (long story). So the only thing to do was to tear it apart, replace the cheap parts, keep the spacers, and make my own beads. Oh, and restring everything on a choker that I learned how to knot thanks to this website. Awesome folks there, and easy to follow instructions. I really like the finished project, too. I was going for turquoise, but I don't think I got all that close. Oh, well. One Ring still thinks they look funky. In a good way, I believe. She seemed happy with them. So without further ado, here's the latest pirate chaplain wear for 2010:

More later, during a dull moment at work.

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Thursday, August 12, 2010

The Next Adventure

One Ring and I are just a few hours away from jetting off for Florida! Not Disney World this time, but something with a real pirate connection. Vero Beach (and the surrounding area) is not only a tourist spot, but the site of the famous 1715 wreck of the Spanish Treasure Fleet. Coins and relics of all kinds have been recovered from those waters, and while I don't expect to find anything during walks on the beach, we will probably be visiting a museum or two dedicated to the wrecks and recoveries. In case you didn't know, this was the same disaster that caused Sam Bellamy to give up working his low paying career as a sailor and take up piracy.

I'll post more on this later, but for now it's time to start my vacation!

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Monday, August 9, 2010

The Kraken's Grip Tightens ...

Work on the Kraken desk set continued this weekend, with a brief pause taken so I could make a pair of earrings for One Ring (she needed something to match a new maternity dress). Once that was done, the beastie emerged, threatening to drag my incorrectly printed business cards down to the locker. It turns out, though, that Krakens are easily tamed, and capable of doing all sorts of office work!

I still need to complete the pen holder, and perhaps make some modifications on a stapler, but that's going to have to wait. There's plenty of craftin' to be done before class time arrives.

Here's some pictures of the business card holder.

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Friday, August 6, 2010

Better pictures of the Kraken Pens

I made the second pen last night, attempting to blend where the tentacles come out of the darkest depths and crawl towards the surface. I glazed it tonight and took some better pictures, standing both pens up against the Lovecraft stories that inspired them (along with the second and third Pirates of the Caribbean movies, of course). I've drawn out plans for a business card and pen holders, and hope to work on them this weekend, if all goes well. I fully expect my coworkers to think that I'm one wave short of a shipwreck!


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Thursday, August 5, 2010

Krakens on the Brain

After posting pictures and receiving comments about the Kraken pen on a couple of other websites, I've found myself doodling during the more boring moments at work. Much to my surprise and horror, I discovered that I've drawn the designs for an ENTIRE KRAKEN OFFICE SET!

Sounds like something from The Call of Cthulhu! Guess the "Deep Ones" are rising ...

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If You Can't Find the Kraken ... Make One!

So I've been sailing on this polymer clay sculpting kick for a few months now, to the point where I've sunk not a few dubloons into supplies and even signed up to teach a few classes starting this month. But now my love for the sea, pirates, and sea monsters has collided with my new hobby.

The odd convergence began when I was looking at designs for me boy's room. Lots of aquatic themed flotsam and jetsam, of course. Then I came across this line of decor from Disney, home of what is probably the most famous (currently, anyway) fictional pirate of all time. All at once it hit me. The Kraken ... in clay. Not the who beastie, mind you. Unlike the third rate Kraken that was shown in that cursed remake of Clash of the Titans, Disney had the right idea in keeping the baddest cephalopod ever mostly hidden underwater. In fact, you don't even see what it looks like until the third film, when it's dead, and even then it's hard to tell if it's a really big Giant Squid, monster Octopus or something else entirely.

So, thought I. I need to show tentacles and tentacles only. Add a sense of the monster coming up from the depths, ready to strike an unsuspecting ship. And, since I was working on pens anyway, Make it useful.

Maties, I give you ... The Kraken Pen!

I do, of course, have some ideas for improving the design, in particular the way the tentacles blend with the pen near the tip. I also saw how someone made a business card holder with polymer clay, and this has already got me thinking that the Kraken will have its tentacles poking around my office very soon!

I seem to have Squid and octopus on the brain. I wonder if it be terminal? : )

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Monday, August 2, 2010

Worth Repeating

Found this on the Gods Playing Poker website. Normally I don't repost their comics, but this one struck a chord with me. One of the first messages I came across that attracted me to Buddhism was a quote attributed to Siddharta himself. I liked it so much that I printed it out and framed it in my church office, where it caused quite a few double takes. It reads:

Do not believe in anything simply because you have heard it. Do not believe in anything simply because it is spoken and rumored by many. Do not believe in anything simply because it is found written in your religious books. Do not believe in anything merely on the authority of your teachers and elders. Do not believe in traditions because they have been handed down for many generations. But after observation and analysis, when you find that anything agrees with reason and is conducive to the good and benefit of one and all, then accept it and live up to it.

Seems to me that many of the problems we are having today, in religion, politics and cultural clashes, are due to the fact that we take others' words as absolute truth. We accept them without thinking. If someone on FOX or MSNBC or CNN says it, it must be true and I need to act accordingly. Check your brain at the door and fall in lockstep with your fellow sheep.

Doing that is easy enough, but it allows everyone else in the world to take advantage of you - heart, mind, and soul. And in taking advantage of you, they put you and your loved ones in harm's way. Even if their motives are pure, blind faith, as the Boss said in his remake of the great song War, "will only get you killed." So in that spirit, here's today's post from God's Playing Poker:

So get out there and start thinking!

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Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Time Wasters

I just found this online while looking for ideas for polymer clay sculpting. Oh, yeah, forgot to mention that. In addition to the BIG news, I'm teaching a clay sculpting class at a local craft store. Aye, I got bored one day and decided, "Why not?" It won't bring in much in the way of coinage, but it'll keep me out of One Ring's hair during the latter stages of her pregnancy. She's appreciative of that small favor. Anyway, the following meme was posted on Ametista's blog.

If I were a month, I'd be late October.
If I were a day, I’d be Saturday.
If I were a time of day, I'd be just after midnight.
If I were a font, I'd be visitation.
If I were a sea animal, I'd be a Giant Squid.
If I were a direction, I’d be North.
If I were a piece of furniture, I'd be a an armoire.
If I were a liquid, I’d be coffee.
If I were a gemstone, I'd be a blue topaz.
If I were a tree, I'd be an maple.
If I were a tool, I’d be a Swiss Army Knife.
If I were a flower, I'd be a snapdragon.
If I were an element of weather, I'd be a nor'easter.
If I were a musical instrument, I'd be my guitar.
If I were a color, I’d be grey.
if i were an emotion, I’d be serenity.
If I were a fruit, I'd be a McIntosh apple.
If I were a sound, I’d be the waves on the ocean.
If I were an element, I’d be water.
If I were a car, I'd transform into a schooner. It's my list, ya lubber!
If I were a food, I'd be sushi.
If I were a place, I’d be the Caribbean.
If I were material, I'd be cotton!
If i were a taste, I’d be sweet with a slightly bitter aftertaste.
If I were a scent, I’d be an ocean breeze.
If I were a body part, I’d be the brain.
If I were a song, I'd be "This is Halloween" by Danny Elfman.
If I were a bird, I'd be a Raven.
If I were a gift, I’d be the one that changes your life.
If I were a city, I'd be London, England.
If I were a door, I’d have squeaky hinges.
If I were a pair of shoes, I'd be a well worn pair of pirate boots.
If I were a poem, I'd be "The Raven" by Edgar Allen Poe

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We're Having a Boy!!!

One Ring and I went to the doctor yesterday for the third ultrasound. It's official - the little swab is a boy! This kinda caught us off guard; people have been saying for weeks, if not months, that we were having a girl, based on everything from "psychic intuition" to old wives tales / techniques to a Chinese birth calendar! But the pictures clearly show boy parts, which goes to show you how reliable all those other divination ways are! Yep, a future pirate captain is on deck and ready to take command!

We're elated of course, and are now racing around shopping to prepare a cabin worthy of a son of the Pirate Chaplain. I even bought his first onesie today:

We're aiming at striking fear at the day care, savvy?

Now, if you'll excuse me, I'll be at the f0c'sle ... hyperventilating!

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Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Looking Good, Big Guy!

In distinctly un-piratey news (unless someone steals the movie, that is), Legendary Studios released some information yesterday about the new Godzilla movie. It's due out in 2012, and while that's still a long way off, it looks like everything is heading in the right direction. Maybe now all the G-fans of the world can forget about that 1998 Matthew Broderick train wreck! By the way, if you ever want to see Toho's "revenge" for that mess, check out Godzilla: Final Wars. The "real" G puts it down in about 10 seconds of film time! The American G ends up somewhere in this exposion:

With that little bit of business out of the way, we can all safely look forward to 2012 ... unless the Mayans (or rather the nutjobs who did a really lousy job of interpreting the Mayan calendar!) are right!

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Monday, July 26, 2010

12 Days Later ...

... after my last promise to blog more, here I am. Not a good track record, not by a shot with a long 9. But, never let it be said that a pirate is on time with anything! I sail with the tide, but that's about the only thing I manage to do by the clock. Feel free to add some more nautical themed statements excusing tardiness if you like, because I need to move on and get to:


Which, of course, I have modified where appropriate to fit the inside of my own warped psyche.

1: In Ten Words or Less, Describe Your Blog:

Whatever the heck I want to talk about today.

2: During What Cinematic Era Where you Born?
A: The Classic Horror Era (late 30's to 40's)
B: The Atomic Monster/Nuclear Angst Era (the late 40's through 50's)
C: The Psycho Era ( Early 60's)
D: The Rosemary's Baby Era (Mid to Late 60's)
E: The Exorcism Era (Early to mid 70's)
F: The Halloween Era (Late 70's to Early 80's)
G: The Slasher Era (Mid to late 80's)
H: The Self Referential/Post Modern Era (1990 to 1999)

I was born during the exorcism era, which had more of an impact on my parents than on me, in that it inspired all that "Satan is after our children!" fear of the 80s. I credit this for convincing my mother to repeatedly attack and destroy my Dungeons and Dragons books, my heavy metal cassette tapes, and comic books. Thanks Exorcism era!

3: The Carrie Compatibility Question:
(gay men and straight women - make your choice from section A)
A: Billy Nolan or Tommy Ross, who would you take to the prom?
(straight guys and lesbians - make your choice from section B)
B: Sue Snell or Chris Hargensen, who would you take to the prom?

Probably Sue Snell, although I had a really rough time in high school with dates. As a result, I probably wouldn't go to the prom at all, let alone with Sue! On the positive side, I'd end up living through the evening! Of course, being that she ends up somewhat crazy, I probably would have ended up dating her after prom. Yeah, I had that kind of track record.

4: You have been given an ungodly amount of money, and total control of a major motion picture studio - what would your dream movie project be?

I would make a Cthulhu movie that was actually good, and I would do it by actually sticking to the story, instead of tossing a few of Lovecraft's ideas into a blender and naming the film after a story that has nothing to do with the subject matter - I'm talking to you, Cthulhu! And you, Dagon! (Both of which had more "Shadow of Innsmouth" than Call of Cthulhu and Dagon, respectively).

5: What film "franchise" that others have embraced, left you cold?

The Alien / Predator franchises. The first Predator movie was good, the second was even better (Gary Busey getting cut in two earned bonus points). Alien was good, Aliens was excellent. But Alien 3, Alien: Resurrection, AVP and AVP: Requiem were all lousy. I haven't even seen Predators. I think the whole series jumped the shark a long time ago.

6: Is Michael Bay the Antichrist?

Absolutely. He should be stuck on an island with Uwe Boll.

7: Dracula, The Wolf Man, The Frankenstein Monster - which one of these classic villains scares you, and why?

Dracula. He's the only intelligent one of the bunch. Which means that dude can come after you in ways you can't imagine. None of that sparkly teen angst crap with this guy! He wants your blood and he's going to work every angle to get it!

8: Tell me about a scene from a NON HORROR Film that scares the crap out of you:

There's a part in Enemy of the State where you realize just how little privacy you have and how much of your life the government can destroy if they wanted to. Even though there's a "happy" ending to the film, there's still this feeling of dread. The fact that it was pre - Patriot Act makes it even more terrifying.

9: Baby Jane Hudson invites you over to her house for lunch. What do you bring?

Uhm, my own lunch? The woman serves a dead parakeet to her sister, for crying out loud!

10: So, between you and me, do you have any ulterior motives for blogging? Come, on you can tell me, it will be our little secret, I won't tell a soul.

I wanted a space to process my own theological ideas and talk about pirates. There was probably a desire to be noticed and get positive attention for my ideas as well.

11: What would you have brought to Rosemary Woodhouse's baby shower?

What do you get the son of Satan who has everything? : )

12: Godzilla vs The Cloverfield Monster, who wins?

Godzilla, hands down. Or paws down. Or whatever. We're talking atmoic breath verses the giant monster version of head lice!

13: If you found out that Rob Zombie was reading your blog, what would you post in hopes that he read it?

STOP DOING REMAKES! There's too many of them as it is.

14: What is your favorite HORROR FILM, and why?

Trick R Treat. I watched it again with friends last night, and loved every minute of it.

15: If blogging technology did not exist, what would you be doing?

Actually doing work, more than likely!

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Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Darn You, Ennui!

I'm at work. I'm bored. The doctor is out of town for two weeks, and today is one of those days that we normally reserve for her appointments and not for group therapy. No doctor = no appointments. So, I have roughly 7 1/2 hours to hang out, make a few mandatory phone calls, and twiddle my thumbs.

There are far worse things in life, I know. But if it's one thing that really manages to drive me around the bend, it's boredom. So now I need to find away to stay under the radar of my other boss and simultaneously maintain my sanity. Yes, I can hear you say, "Well, you've already lost that second battle!" Still, I have to at least go through the motions and ACT like I'm trying to maintain my sanity!

So here's the mid-month blog-a-rama update ...

Even though summer's in full swing, and this pirate's thoughts should be bending towards the Caribbean waters and rum drinks, my brain is actually skipping ahead to Halloween. No idea why, except it possibly could because it is so blasted hot that I feel like I'm about to spontaneously combust whenever I go outside. Humidity has been out of control ever since the floods hit Nashville at the beginning of May, too. And if there's one thing I can't deal with (besides boredom), it's humidity that's thick enough to walk upon. So I've been spending a lot of time indoors. I guess keeping out of the sunlight and in cool, dark rooms must be bringing out my inner goth!

So, pirates (temporarily) out. Wonderfully creepy stuff in. And there you go.

I've recently picked up a gig as a clay sculpting teacher at a local craft store. Polymer clay I mean, not the hard core, slam and turn on a wheel, Demi Moore in Ghost sort of thing. I figure that since the store rotates their stock based on the upcoming seasons and holidays, the next big change will be from summer to Halloween. So I've been looking on the interwebs for ideas to teach. Sadly, though, most of the stuff I'm seeing is all that cutesy stuff - ghosts and witches with big goofy grins, jack o'lanterns that couldn't scare away a spirit (that's what they were originally meant to do) on their best day, and vampires that look like they just stepped off of a Saturday morning cartoon. Sigh. I know that's what I'm going to have to teach, but isn't there something I out there that's sufficiently serious and spooky for my tastes? I did throw together a version of the bride character from the Haunted Mansion at Disney World. I even used glow in the dark clay. Sadly, though, when I baked it, colors in the clay ran in the thinner pieces (the veil, mostly). But it the dark, it looks pretty cool.

See? Isn't she scary?

Purists will note that I used a previous bride as the model. Eventually I'll sculpt one of Constance - the "black widow bride" - but I've always been partial to Emily. She's the bride that was supposedly the victim of a broken heart, although technically she was never a bride at all. She was betrothed to a wealthy newcomer who turned out to be a pirate (see, there's a connection after all!). He bailed on her, or was killed at sea, and she locked herself in the attic after donning her wedding dress. Her ghost haunts the attic, keeping an eternal vigil for the return of her beloved.

Yep, I'm a sucker for tragedy!

I've also come across a sculpture someone did of a raven and am planning on doing one of my own based on this work. I figure that it will either connect to the raven in the Haunted Mansion - the "Ghost Host" - or Edgar Allen Poe. Either is fine with me.

Okay, time to fake working some more. I've also been commissioned to fold 50 origami cranes, and have my guitar lesson today right after work. So I figure I can find enough to keep me occupied today.

More later.

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Thursday, July 1, 2010

Not So Great A Pirate's Life for Some ...

Looks like some lame excuses for pirates ticked off the Feds again. As you may have figured out, based on how the Internet works, several websites started posting video files of new movie and DVD releases. Several websites were closed down, bank assets seized, and companies that advertise on those websites were also hit hard. Here's the story:

Feds crack down on Internet movie pirates, score bust

Of course, the websites and companies involved were all on U.S. soil. It's a lot harder to hit pirate websites that are overseas, or in nations that have less strict laws regarding copyright and intellectual property infringement. The Pirate Bay is still fighting litigation in Sweden, and would have been shut down a couple of years ago, were it not for the Pirate Party (Piratpartiet), a newly formed political party that won 7.13% of the vote in Sweden's parliamentary elections. Apparently, this has gummed up the works for Sweden's attempt to go after The Pirate Bay. Who would have guessed that pirates would go political.

Well, that's the latest from the world of piracy. Not as glamorous as stories of Blackbeard, "Calico" Jack Rackham, and "Black" Sam Bellamy, but I guess that's what we get for being born 300 years to late (to misquote Jimmy Buffet's "A Pirate Looks at 40").

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Monday, June 28, 2010

Game On!

After several years of rumor and speculation, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, has begun filming in Hawaii. Orlando Bloom and Kiera Knightly are long gone and, to be honest, I won't be missing them at all. Will Turner is now Captain of the Flying Dutchman, and Elizabeth Swann is raising his daughter (see the post credit clip from POTC: At World's End), so I don't see how those characters can return - and since the actors who portray them don't want to come back, they aren't. But Johnny Depp is back, as are several familiar faces from the crew. Rob Marshall is directing, and Jerry Bruckheimer is producing. There's no way of knowing how this is going to turn out, though. In my humble opinion, the first POTC is still the best, and the sequels just got sillier and sillier as time went on. I love a good swordfight as much as the next fencer, but on a water wheel (POTC: Dead Man's Chest)? Really?

I read the book upon which this installment is based, and while it wasn't a awe-inspiring, life changing read, it was enjoyable. It also unexpectedly brought historical pirates such as Blackbeard into the setting, which was a nice twist that other pirate fiction (to my knowledge) had not. So I am looking forward to seeing what POTC does with Tim Power's novel.

Yo, ho! Yo, ho! It's still a pirate's life for me, it seems! : )

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Crazy Comments

I've had to disable my comments section of this blog, unfortunately. It seems that almost all of the comments that are left here are by Asian posters. Not that's a bad thing, of course, but these comments are not really comments at all, just random sayings (I used Babelfish to translate some) that are nonsensical. Tracking back to the posters' blogs revealed blogs that are devoid of posts, links, etc. In other words, they're probably spammers.

So the comments section is on lock down. I'd apologize for it, but since no one was posting comments that make sense anyway, it's no big deal to me. : )

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Monday, June 14, 2010

There and Back Again: The Monthly Recap

I think it's foolish for me to keep making excuses for not posting for a couple of reasons. One is that my work load has tripled over the last few weeks, and given that the only time I post is at work (I need to change that, but so far I haven't), the posting ain't gettin' done. The other reason is that I haven't had much to say. Yes, I have a child on the way (insert dramatic music here), and have made a list of all pirate inspired baby wear that I can find. Yes, I still read and collect pirate inspired stuff, and yes, I still keep up with the so-called pirate situation in Somalia (freebooters! They are freebooters! Just sayin'.). It seems when something blog-able comes up on my radar, by the time I have a moment to write about it, the issue is no longer as relavant or interesting. So I don't.

And my blog has become a place for simply keeping some of my favorite websites bookmarked in one place. And that's just sad.

So, in order to keep things rolling here and not have this blog go the way of so many other blogs that haven't had a post since 2007, Here is a review of what's been going on in the life of a land-locked pirate:

One Ring and I went to Disney World at the end of May for our babymoon (yes, there is such a thing, and I highly recommend it). We stayed in a nautical themed resort on property - the Beach Club Resort, which even has a shipwreck in a pool complex which is complete with a lazy river. Given the heat, One Ring's inability to ride many of the rides in the parks, and our mutual desire to avoid crowds, we spent many an afternoon drifting in the currents.

The shipwreck is actually a large waterslide that starts halway up the main mast, continues down the fallen mast, and ends up in one of the pools that connects to the lazy river.

And here is the lazy river.

Obviously we had a lot of fun. We were able to ride the Haunted Mansion and Pirates of the Caribbean together (no problems for pregnant women on those rides, thankfully!), so I did get my pirate fix. And I did come very, very close to having a picture taken with Capt. Jack Sparrow. I got up to the line, only to be told that he was taking a break and would be back at 3 that afternoon. Sadly, it was our last day, and we were not able to make it back for the pic. Maybe next time. We were able to get a picture with "Pirate Goofy," and I'll try to remember to post that picture later.

Star Wars Weekend was also going on at Disney World while we were there. Let me tell you, I felt a whole lot less geeky about my obsession when I stood next to a bunch of fans who were foaming at the mouth to get a picture with Anakin Skywalker! And it wasn't even Hayden Christiensen, just some guy who looked like him! The same was true for Mace Window, though that was no surprise; I can't see Samuel Jackson hanging out in the Florida sun all day for fan photos.

Guitar lessons continue to go well. I'm having my guitar instructor build my next guitar, but won't be able to start that project until the fall. The plan is that I'll buy a kit (I'm going with the "RG" model, which is based on the Ibanez line of the same name.) from BYOGuitar.com, then send it over to him for the build, staining (I'm having it done in onyx, to give it a dark, menacing look, in constrast to the warm brown of my Laguna LE300.), and set up. We may have to replace the supplied pickups if they don't sound good, but I've found a brand that has gotten great reviews at a very inexpensive price. I should be able to keep that cost, if necessary, under $100. All told, the entire project should run about $400, which is less than most guitars and far, far less than custom builds.

I'm adding at least one or two more links to the side bar. One is Twisted Kaiju Theater, which is a 10 year running webcomic run by a guy with way too many Godzilla action figures and a quirky sense of humor. Some of it is NSFW, but it has been a great way to improve my mood during my lunch breaks. And since I grew up on Godzilla movies, this site is particularly enjoyable!

The next one is the H.P. Lovecraft Historical Society, which has made a full length, professional quality, silent film version of The Call of Cthulhu. They're currently working on The Whisperer in Darkness, which should be released soon. It's also the place where I received my honorary doctorate from Arkham University (it's in theoretical realities, in case you're wondering)!

And finally, I'm adding Day of the Woman, a horror blog by (gasp!) a woman about women in horror. Great reviews, commentary, and news about the genre.

Okay, I'm tired of typing. Now it's back to trying to avoid work until my next patient / victim arrives at 1:00.

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Monday, May 17, 2010

A Misnomer of Sorts

As you may or may not know (and may or may not care), I play City of Heroes on a regular basis. It's a great stress reliever, I've found, although occasionally One Ring will shout out, "I'm losing you to the game!" But I enjoy it, as it takes me back to my comic book addiction days. Yep, I admit it, I'm in recovery from comic book geekdom!

So the other day, I'm at my computer, logged in, and flying my newest character around one of the city maps. For some reason, I get up to level 20 or so, then get incredibly bored with the character, delete it, and start all over with another design. One of these days I'll keep one and get it to level 50, but until then, it'll be delete and redo. Anyway, I'm flying over this body of water when my targeting thingy locks in on a monster called "The Kraken." Naturally, I dive bomb in to take a look, expecting to see something along the lines of this:

Instead, I see this sorry excuse for the most feared creature of the deep:

Needless to say, I was not impressed. I don't know the rationale behind calling something that clearly is not a Kraken, the Kraken, but they did it. And what could have been a really awesome fight turned south when the creature vomited on me. Yes, the City of Heroes monster threw up on me. Epic fail, if you ask me!

In other news ...

Vacation starts on Friday! Actually, we leave on Saturday, but the wonderful feeling of freedom will begin at 4 PM CST on Friday. It's the official babymoon, though Tigger, Pooh, and Boo will be there as well. I'm still trying to get my head around the myriad ways that my life will forever change. Seems that whenever I think of having a child, my eyes cross, my head explodes, and the only thought I can muster is, "I'm going to be a what?" But I hear that's natural ... I just can't believe that I have to grow up! An adult? I've spent the last 40 years or so avoiding that at just about all costs! Now I have to man up and get ready to welcome a baby into this often messed up world. Seemed a whole hell of a lot easier when I would sit back and say, "That's so not the way I would handle this situation if I was that kid's dad!" Now I get to be the other guy.

Don't get me wrong. I'm all in with what's coming. It just scares the hell out of me, and the desire to hide under the blankets, read comic books and pretend I'm 12 again is really, really strong some times! Even worse than the fear, though, is my ego getting pissed that life is no longer "all about me." Even though it never was. The idea that I can't be selfish and spend my disposable income on my kind of stuff really sticks me in a way that has caused my cravings to almost run out of control.

I mentioned that on the day of the Nashville flood, One Ring and I went to Guitar Center to pick up a new amp. Well, since then I've been investigating having my guitar instructor build me a new axe by modifying a kit from BYOGuitar. The plan was to order the kit for approximately $200 (I want the RG one), and then have him build it, stain id see-through black (I'm going for the evil / goth look) and do whatever upgrades are deemed necessary. I joked with a friend that I was trying to buy as much stuff on my "want list" as possible, since once the baby is born, I'll never be able to buy anything ever again!

Yeah, immature of me. And seriously NOT on the spiritual path I desire to walk. Sigh.

Looks like no matter how far I come, there's always so much further to go.

I'll write more on this topic later today. Right now the doctor is having a patient for lunch (he was not following directions, and in this clinic you MUST follow directions!), and I need to make sure nothing goes sideways.

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Friday, May 14, 2010

It's Friday, Beee-yotches!

It's been a hellish week, and this is pretty much how I'm looking at ending it. Have a great weekend, everyone!

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Monday, May 10, 2010

Big Time Drama Days

Well, there's a few things you have to know about the last week to ten days here. The first is that Nashville was struck by a 500-year flood that ground the city and surrounding counties to a stand still. The main highway close to where One Ring and I live looked like this:

Needless to say, things have been a tad chaotic ... not to mention frightening.

So during the great flood of 2010, as it is now known, One Ring, her brother, and I had to try and get down to Mobile, AL for her Grandmother's funeral. We originally were supposed to leave on Saturday, but that was the day all hell broke loose. We finally caught a break in the weather Sunday before dawn, and were able to get on the road. Of course, luck would not hold for us, for right before we made the trip, Kona - our Corgi / Beagle mix - took ill, and we couldn't figure out what was wrong with her. A trip to the ER Vet and then to our Vet a couple days later finally provided an answer to the mystery. She had swallowed a chunk of rubber from one of her toys and had her small intestine completely obstructed. Needless to say, we were worried, especially when the vet called and said he was rushing her into surgery. Kona needed to have part of her colon resectioned, and then had to spend the weekend back at the Vet hospital. We finally got her home yesterday, where she'll spend the next week or so wearing the "cone of shame" (go see "Up" if you don't get the reference).

We told her that she passed our Dachshund Peanut as "The Most Expensive Free Dog" we've ever owned. She didn't seem amused.

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Monday, April 26, 2010

Sometimes You Sail Close to the Edge O' The Map

... and sometimes you bloody well go right off! So much has happened over the last couple of weeks that I don't even know where to begin. Work load has tripled, and my nemesis, who was supposed to be helping take the load off, was transferred by management to another - solo - project, so he wouldn't cause more damage in the department. I guess I wasn't the only one he was driving crazy! Add to that extracurricular activities (guitar lessons and thet like), a sick dog, and plans to go to Disney World in May, and you have one stressed pirate!

But there is one additional bit of news that is occupying 99.9% of my attention these days ...

There's a pirate-in-training on the way!

We found out about a week and a half ago that One Ring is pregnant, and after a trip to the doctor's last Thursday for ultrasounds and other tests, the due date was figured out. The li'l swab is due on December 16!

Needless to say, we're both ecstatic and freaking out at the same time. This will likely be our only child (unless One Ring decides otherwise - she is the "One Ring to Rule Them All" after all!), so we want everything to go as smoothly as possible. Which essentially involves me panicking about every little thing and One Ring studying everything she can get her hands on.

So there you go. That's why we haven't had reports of the Somali pirates who were taken to Norfolk, VA (my old stomping grounds!) for trial, and other bits of interest. I hope to post more, but time will only tell. In the meantime, please send thoughts, prayers, and superstitious pirate rituals our way, as the world needs more swashbuckling babies! : )

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Tuesday, April 13, 2010

More Distractions

I'm still alive! For the three of you out there who follow this blog, you've obviously noticed that I have not published anything even remotely meaningful since the beginning of the month. And for that I say Mea Culpa. My work life has been turned upside down of late, and it looks like I'm going to be, and in some ways already am, doing the jobs of three people. This, naturally, has me going slightly mad. Thus the lack of posts. But that doesn't mean that life has paused.

The big news of the moment is that my nemesis will be slapped around by administration at some point today. He took last week off, which made my life infinitely more enjoyable, as he wasn't around to attempt to micromanage the work I do. And no, he's not my supervisor. I just spoke with my boss, and she said that while she hasn't called him on the carpet yet, I should plan on doing everything he was going to do in my department. Which piles more work on me, but also lowers my stress level. As is usual in life, it's a mixed bag.

All of this reminds me of an old Chinese story about a elderly man who owned a horse. One day the horse jumped the fence and ran off into the wilderness. All of his neighbors said, "Oh, that's terrible." to which he answered, "If you say so."

Then one day his horse returned with another horse that it had met on its journey to parts unknown. The neighbors said, "You're so lucky!" The man answered, "If you say so."

So the man's son tried to break in the new horse - which was a wild filly - and was thrown. The son broke his leg and became permanently crippled. The neighbors said, "What bad luck!" The man answered, "If you say so."

Then the Emperor's soldiers came through, conscripting all the able-bodied men to serve in an upcoming war. Being disabled from his accident, the son was left at home and did not have to risk his life in the conflict. The neighbor's said, "How fortunate you are!" To which the man said, as always, "If you say so."

I've heard this story told many times, the most recent in a Zen dharma talk that I downloaded to my MP3 player and listened to on the way to work the other day. The lesson was essentially about how we should strive to see things as they are, without being swayed by our emotions or personal attachment to the situation. No situation is all good or all bad. The situation just is. Similarly, people aren't all good or all evil. People just are. We can find the poositive in anything, just as we can find the negative in everything. If we look for either, depending on our emotional state or personal tendencies, we are bound to find it.

I am trying to put this to use today, as both my workload and stress levels have increased with the current conflict brewing at the other end of the hall. Yes, it's good that my nemesis is going to be kept out of my hair. But it's also bad that I am going to be doing his work and the doctor I work with is giving me additional duties that I do not have time to do (and, just to be clear, I have a patient coming in 10 minutes, so I don't have time to bury myself in data entry or other chart work.). A patient of mine with whom I've been working is crashing and burning in his issues and personal demons. He's being moved, by his own actions, to a place where I can no longer work with him. He's taken up a lot of man hours as I've been working both with him and his family. So times going to be freed up by this turn of events. That's good. The bad is that he's affliction is probably going to take him to an early grave. And that is horrific.

So as I meditate during my lunch break (if I get one), I'm going to try and focus on avoiding the tendency to label people and events. They just are. It's how I respond - which is different from reacting, but that's a subject for another time - that is the key.

And with that, it's back to the grind. Peace.

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Thursday, April 1, 2010

Somali Pirate Update

Coffee break is almost over, but I figured I'd send a quick news tidbit out into the ether. Looks like the Somali pirate brigade has taken another hit. Of course, this is a small victory on the part of the multi-national force, as the independent - or loosely organized - pirate forces continue to harrass, hijack, and hold ships for ransom. But I do hope that this action on the part of the US Navy is a sign of things to come.

U.S. Navy Captures 5 Pirates Near Seychelles

And, just in case you're interested, here's a picture of the victorious ship and some related information.

USS. Nicholas

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Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The Geek in Me Is Jumping for Joy!

Godzilla is coming back!!

While the word has always been that the 2004 Godzilla flick - Godzilla: Final Wars - would be the last for some time, the latest report is that Legendary Films will be behind the next one. And it will not, repeat, WILL NOT, be related in any way to the 1998 disaster that was the American version of Godzilla starring Matthew Broderick. Apparently Legendary is going back to basics and looking at the originial 1954 film - the one that had Raymond Burr in the American release. Right now they're saying that the yet to be named film will be released in 2012.

Please excuse me while I do the geek happy dance.

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Monday, March 29, 2010

Afternoon Laugh

... because I need it.

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Thursday, March 25, 2010

There Need to be Limitations ...

... on the word "pirate." Bilge Munkey posted a link to this event on his page:

Police Nab 2 So-Called 'Grease Pirates'

Grease pirates? Really? I mean come on. A couple of posts ago I was lamenting that there were only two types of pirates left in the world - Somalian thugs and Internet pirates who steal music and movies. But what I was suggesting was that we needed more nouns followed by the word 'pirate.' If I steal somebody's dog am I a "puppy pirate?" If I'm a car thief does that make me an "Auto Buccaneer?" Of course not. So let's get the word out that there are pirates and then there are thieves, plain and simple. Pirates are historical figures who are no more. All that exist today are thieves and terrorists. And that's all there is to it.

But while we're on the topic of wanna-be pirates:

Armed contractors shoot dead Somali pirate on UAE ship

Of course, this increases the stress level of governments who have naval forces in the area. They want to keep private forces from escalating violence and giving the Somalis reason to start killing their victims, rather than holding them for ransom. However, it's not surprising that shipping companies have resorted to this strategy. In a way, it is reminiscent of events that occurred toward the end of the Golden Age of Piracy (1650 - 1725). Angered by the escalation of piracy, the European navies began escorting merchant ships and actively hunting pirates through a variety of means. In addition, sailors who manned sailing ships were offered pardons and recruited into the very navies who were hunting them! With the possibility of forgiveness and diminishing returns from a life under the black flag, the era came to an end.

Perhaps this incident is the beginning of a repeat of these historical events.

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Tuesday, March 23, 2010

That Being Said ...

It does appear that the oceanic beasties are getting closer to me!

Two Sharks found in Tennessee River

Too bad they were found dead, which probably means that they were dumped there by morons who either can tell, or don't care about, the difference between salt water and fresh.

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Monday, March 22, 2010

I Was Hoping to Publish This Earlier

But, alas, work is work, and blogging is blogging, and the two just don't mix well these days. So here it is, one hour before quitting time, and I'm just now getting through with my paperwork and writing something. Of course now my brain is fried and all the clever things I had to say have died on the vine. Oh, well. At least I have the capability to blog while at work!

I was playing "A Pirate Looks at 40" the other night - and yes, I'm pretty much finished learning how to play it! Now if I could only learn how to sing and play at the same time! - and thinking about getting older and how I need to put more effort into figuring out the meaning of it all. I'm not talking about figuring out the meaning of life - I don't believe that there is just ONE meaning. I mean trying to figure out my place in this whole drama and how I can improve myself and the space around me.

Trouble is, the results of this thought exercise seems to totally depend on the status of my mood at the time I consider the issue. If I'm tired and depressed, my outlook is naturally bleak, and I follow the path that tells me that there is nothing I can do to improve anything. Sort of a almost nihilistic point of view. And, of course, if I'm in a good mood - low work stress, sunny day, etc. - then I feel more balanced and in touch with that which is greater than myself.

Okay, all of that was written yesterday (3/22/10 for those of you playing at home). Today is an entirely different kind of chaos. Three patients going through detox, two more getting called on the carpet for not following directions, then a good dozen coming in for med checks, groups, and other issues. Plus there seems to be a full moon in terms of the phone calls I'm getting. Very weird stuff. I am not superstitious in the least - as I've said before, I don't believe in anything that so much as hints at the supernatural - but some days the level of insanity around here makes me wonder. Sadly, my personal suggestion that we put a pharmaceutical cocktail consisting of anti-depressants, anti-psychotics, and anti-anxiety meds in the water here seems to have fallen on deaf ears. Oh, well.

So I'm taking a moment to finish this before throwing myself back into the fray. Fun fun fun.

Anyway, I think my point above is made. Depending on my mood, my life seems to either be chaos or grounded and interconnected (in a healthy way) with others. Others may disagree, but I've always felt that developing ones spirituality is simple when life is going well and all is calm. It's when moods are a swingin' and mayhem is a goin' on that grounding oneself takes a huge amount of inner strength and, dare I say, faith.

I started this blog when I felt upbeat. Silly, even. My interest in the Golden Age of Piracy had spread not only into books and museum exhibits, but into movies, and games (I miss you, Pirates CCG!). My experience as a fencer played well into it, as did my love of the sea and trips to the Caribbean. I have wooden ships and ships in bottles on my bookshelf here, and occasionally crank up a couple of CDs that I own of nautical tunes. Of course, living in Tennessee means that there are few people who can relate to this! : )

Now, three years (and then some) after moving to this area, I no longer fence - there's a distinct lack of buckled swashes here! - and the only piracy to be found is either online (which is distinctly different and world's apart from storming the decks of a merchant vessel, cutlass in hand!) or waving an AK-47 around like an idiot off the coast of Somalia. As the song says, "The cannons don't thunder, there's nothing to plunder. I'm an over 40 victim of fate, arriving too late."

A silly thing to feel, I know. But sometimes I wonder if my interest in the topic is silly as well. I'll have to ponder and wonder.

Well, I hear more patients gathering in the hall. Guess I have to open my door and tend to the hordes.

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Monday, March 15, 2010

Non-Piratical Days

For the last three weeks or so, I have struggled with two colds, a depression well out of proportion for all possible external causes (job stress, lack of sleep, etc.), and a preaching engagement at the church where One Ring and I attend. Also, work has - for reasons that remain unknown to me - allowed Facebook access from our PCs. That more than anything is probably the reason for my lack of posts. But the others are pretty good reasons, too!

So these last few days have been filled with damage control. But they have not been without some interesting events.

The oddest thing that's happened over the past week is that two friends have asked me for information and resources regarding religions. One asked for Christianity, and the other requested Buddhism. This happened almost simultaneously, so I would have nightly email and Facebook conversations regarding their spiritual journies and interests, sometimes switching from one to the other and back again in minutes. I hope that I helped them both, and it helped me to think about and appreciate the journey I've made. Even the rough parts, those times when I didn't know what I believed and was angry at every religious teacher and leader I ever met (okay, I'm still angry with a few, but that's beside the point!) I can see now that they were important, and have led me to the place I am today. Of course, that place is a strange one. As one of my former chaplain colleagues once said, "They don't even have a name for what you are!" And despite the multiple meanings that phrase could hold, she WAS referring to my beliefs and disbeliefs and not some other aspect of my personhood!

As I mentioned above, I also gave the sermon / conducted worship at my church. Despite my predictions of the end of all creation, Hell freezing over, and the Four Horsemen of the Apocolypse showing up (Parking spaces were reserved for them), nothing of the sort happened. In fact, it was moderately enjoyable. Do I wish to get back into that racket? Oh, hell no! I still question the usefulness of the church - much to One Ring's disagreement - and wonder if a new model of religious gathering is needed that is far more productive in creating positive change in the world. Then again, I'm a cynic, and tend to believe that the destruction of many systems and structures in society are imminent! Oh, well.

In other news, One Ring and I went to see Avatar and Alice in Wonderland recently. Really got into the first one, and thought the other was enjoyable but certainly not life changing in any way. Both have interesting ways of looking at our existance and our relationship with the world around us, which I may or may not get into later, mood and time permitting.

Okay, about 20 minutes left in the day, and I can feel my eyelids drooping. The doctor isn't working tomorrow (Huzzah!), so life should be easier around here. Here's to hoping that I can write something far more interesting!

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Saturday, February 27, 2010

Ex-girlfriend / Pirate Update

I was just notified via email that my ex and her mother (who are on a cruise ship travelling from South Africa to India) are making a wide curve around Somalia and its surrounding waters in order to avoid the freebooters and wanna-be pirates infesting the area. Despite my comments in my last post that I was "strangely conflicted about this," I have to say that I did not at any time want harm to fall to her or anyone else travelling in or around those waters. Like most people in the world, I hope that one day Somalia will be able to fashion a government (they haven't had one in about 10 years), and make their coastline safe for all.

So there. I hope that avoids any misinterpretations of my words from my previous posts.

I also hope that my ex will also be inspired by these words (and my wonderful personality and charm!) to bring me several bottles of South African wine and other goodies! : )

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Wednesday, February 24, 2010

My Latin is Lousy

Like most people I have heard the phrase, "Illegitimi non carborundum est." Usually the associated translation is, "Don't let the bastards grind you down!" At different points in my life, I've pasted that slogan on my desk, keyboard, inside of my eyelids (mentally, of course, I can't imagine how to do it physically!), and just about everywhere else I've thought it needed. Problem is, I was wrong. It's not even a Latin phrase!

Even though it's used all over the place, since WWII and in the Barry Goldwater campaign to the nickname of the Harvard University Marching Band, it's not correct in its meaning, translation, or anything else. It's a nonsensical phrase.

The actual Latin translation, that I've just found on Wikipedia, is Noli nothi permittere te terere.

Looking at that, though, I can see why people stuck with the fake Latin!

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Win. Not Epic, But Still a Win

Sharkbait had a contest on Facebook to see who could come up with the best name for five of his pictures. His company is Blue Seas Photography, in case your just joining in and missed previous references. Anyway, I won with the best name for the picture below. My entry, "Marooned," won. He's sending me a framed 8x10 print.

And just in case anyone out there is thinking that it's nepotism that enabled the win, the contest was judged by an independent critic! So there!

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Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Seen at Work

Part of my job involves running across the parking lot and delivering samples to the lab (don't ask - apparently it's what having a Master's degree gets you around here!). I see a lot of stickers, body kits, and other stupid stuff. Some I've posted before. Here are two more, one funny and another, well, more of a WTF???

First, the bad one:

I'm not sure what this guy's getting at, but I think we can all agree that it's a pretty odd thing to plaster on your window!

And here's the one I'm fond of:

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Monday, February 22, 2010

One Degree of Separation

An ex-girlfriend of mine is sailing from Cape Town, South Africa to India. Depending on the cruise ship's course, she may pass right by Somalia, home to the sad excuse for pirates ...

I confess I have mixed feelings about this. : )

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Friday, February 19, 2010

Not Much Time ...

... before I go, and not a lot worth talking about. Lots of work chaos, hanging out on Facebook - which is, for some reason, now accessible from work - and watching the Olympics have taken up a lot of time usually devoted to blogging. There's also my addiction to City of Heroes (which has a new upgrade coming out soon!), but the less said about that, the better!

But before I run out the door screaming, "You can take my sanity, but you cannot take MAH FREEDOM!" (don't forget to roll the r there, it sounds way more faux Scottish!) I want to point out a couple of changes to this here blog.

First off, "Lovecraft is Missing" is getting kicked off the link page. No posts in two months = no link love, so over the side it goes (no one walks the plank on real pirate ships; it's far easier to put a musket round in them and feed them to the sharks!).

The second change is that I'm linking to an awesome web comic (now available in print!) called Mystic Revolution. It's about an online fantasy role playing game that occurs the way - IMHO - one should be run. Of course, it's set in the near future where the game is total immersion, so the line between character and player is somewhat blurred, but there are more than enough events in there to keep the reader hooked. As an added bonus, the writer / illustrator, Jennifer Brazas, includes hastily drawn comics depicting her adventures at various comic conventions around the country. It's been a fun time occupier during my lunches at work. So here's the link, and it will be a proud addition to the list on the right.

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Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Cry, "Havoc!"

But there are no dogs of war. Not even a puppy of war. Just havoc. Lots of it. Work has been completely insane, and I'm wondering if the winter storms have driven people around the bend. It seems like no matter how long the day seems to be in terms of drudgery, I keep getting busier and busier. I have patients misbehaving (nothing new here, but the numbers seem to be rising), conflicts with my nemesis seem to be escalating again, and frustrations outside of work seem to be mounting. Nothing major there, but I've been trying to burn DVDs of July's trip to Disney World with my niece and nephew (friendly bit of advice: whatever you do, DO NOT buy a copy of 123 Copy DVD. Not only does it not work as advertised, I'll be a lubber's monkey* if I can find their return policy. And they claim 100% satisfaction or your money back!). It hasn't been going well. As of last night, I finished two of the three DVDs - yes, we took A LOT of footage! - but it's taken far longer than it should have.

And oh, yeah. I got into a fight with a church.

Yes, you heard me right. I got into a fight with a church. Again. You'd think I'd learn to stay away from places where conflict erupts, but no. And this time I didn't even go inside. In fact, I didn't even pull into their parking lot!

See, there's this independent Christian church that I pass every day on the way to work. It's nothing spectacular to look at, just a prefab metal building like the ones that you see advertised on TV. Well, around the time of the State of the Union Address, I drove past and noticed that the flag was flying at half mast ... and upside down.

Now, for those of you not familiar with flag etiquette, or figure that the Jolly Roger is the only flag worth flying, an inverted United States flag is a symbol for extreme distress involving massive loss of life or national crisis (think Hurricane Katrina survivors crying for help, or Blackbeard's blockade of Charleston, SC). There are no other reasons to fly it inverted, unless you are trying to exercise your right to free speach and cause vast amounts of confusion and alarm - potentially harmful alarm at that - at the same time.

So, I went to the website of aforementioned house of worship, and found that it has a particularly odd theology. I won't post the site here, but suffice to say that it wants people to know the potential wrath of God, while at the same time is a warm and friendly place "where everyone will feel welcomed." Hmmm. I figured that there was something amiss with the flag, so I fired off an email requesting (firmly, mind you, with gun ports open and cannons aimed, but still requesting) that they re-examine their flag policies. For good measure, despite my misgivings about rules and regulations, I included sections of the United States Flag Code. And yes, in our country, there is a code for absolutely everything.

This touched off several rounds of claims and counter-claims, broadsides and sniping. First there was silence on the part of the church, then a counter attack which wanted to know how I dared suggest that a Christian church would EVER do something like that. Even to suggest such a thing, would be at the least unpatriotic. Apparently they don't move in the same social circles as I do. They also blamed the incident on a broken clasp on the flagpole, which caused the flag to flop upside down. Why they let it flow like that for over a week is beyond me, but after my email, it came down.

A few days later, a church member called me (I forgot to leave my signature file off my email. Note to self: never let that happen again!) at work to explain again the situation. He also seemed unconvinced that I am still a member of the clergy - despite my misgivings about being included in that lot - and again wanted me to know that they were not, "that kind of church." He also wanted me to know that I was more than welcome to attend this Saturday's Men's Prayer Breakfast. I almost told him that I would sooner hang myself from the yardarm, but somehow bit my tongue (it still hurts!).

When I told One Ring about the conversation, she burst out laughing. I guess she imagined me entering their church and bursting into flames. It's been known to happen, from time to time.

Oh, well. Hopefully, I won't be hearing from them again. But that's how my week's gone.

*And yes, I do know that lubbers don't have monkeys. In fact, I'm not even sure what that phrase means!

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Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Somali Pirate News Update

... although I use the word "pirate" with great reluctance. As I and others who have a fondness for the Golden Age of Piracy (1690 - c.1730) have said again and again, the Somali oceanic hijackers and kidnappers have little or nothing in common with Calico Jack Rackman, Black Sam Bellamy, and Blackbeard. True, there were pirates - many of them, in fact - who exhibited cruelty towards their victims and sometimes their own as they raided the Caribbean and other waters. But there are enough differences to show beyond a shadow of a doubt that the Somali bunch are not pirates at all, but rather a whole new breed of terrorist.

Which brings us to today's update on what's been going on off the coast of Somalia, a nation that hasn't had a working government since the early 1990s and is pretty much an anarchic state ruled by a host of warlords. You may recall that the United States tried to establish order there before, but following the horrible "Black Hawk Down" incident, left Somalia to collapse on its own. And now we can see the result of that collapse.

The Daily Mail newspaper (in the UK) reported yesterday that Paul and Rachel Chandler are in horrible condition - Rachel especially - as they go into their fourth month of captivity. They are currently being held for ransom after they were seized from their yacht by the Somalis as they were attempting an around the world trip. You can find the article here.

The Somalis want something like 1.9 million pounds, and the British government says that they don't pay ransoms for anyone, anytime, anywhere. There is no word - at least anywhere I've seen - of a rescue mission, despite the pleas from the family and friends of the Chandlers and cries of outrage from others inside and outside the UK.

Meanwhile, a Greek ship and her crew were freed yesterday by a Somali gang after the shipping company paid an undisclosed sum. They, too, have been hostages since November. They are currently heading to Mombasa, in Kenya. Here's the article about that incident.

All in all, 47 ships were taken last year, and the gangs still have 200 crew members as hostages. Of course, these gangs are not a unified force, and have been known to fight between themselves over the ransom monies.

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For the Pirate in Your Life

Bilge Munkey found this sort of thing on Zazzle, and that got me brain working. What should someone get the pirate who's stolen her (or his) heart? First off, let's start with the card ...

Then you could add some candy ...

Of course, tattoos are very romantic for both land lubbers and sea rovers alike ...

And we can't be forgetten the sparklies!

That's all for now. If you should find any other booty worth listing (and keep yer mind out of th' bilge!), send a flag up, and I'll post it here.

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Wednesday, January 27, 2010

I Was Going to Post Today

... but I have just been informed that the inspectors have arrived on the hospital campus and are wandering about sowing chaos. Hopefully they will leave my office alone, but anything could happen. So until they leave ... pray for me!!!

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Friday, January 22, 2010

Searching for The Kraken

A while back I mentioned that there's this new brand of rum out called "The Kraken." Well, after reading BilgeMunkey's review (yes, he finally did get a delivery), I figured that this was well worth trying out for myself. And so began the quest to find the mighty Kraken.

First stop, since I was at work, was the website. After punching in my age, and assuring the beastie that I was (way beyond) 21, I looked for distributers and sales locations in TN (which is definitely not a hotbed of piracy and rum consumption, sadly!). I was frustrated to see that part of the website was down. That left only one option: to sail around until the Kraken was sighted.

One Ring accompanied me on the first stop, a recently remodeled liquor store about a mile from our house. She needed a bottle of wine for some friends, and while she was looking amongst the more socially respectable shelves, I went deep into the depths of the store to find the rum. Alas, my search came up empty. Queries to the owner resulted in a raised eyebrow and a quizzical look, but he did check the website and found that I was not completely mad. He said that he may see it soon, but unless the shipping reps mentioned it, he probably wouldn't end up stocking it.

Yesterday, after a long and frustrating day, I called One Ring and told her that I was making a second journey. She gave her blessing and wished me luck, only requesting that I be careful on the voyage home and not wreck upon the rocks - I believe she used the phrase, "Don't get yerself splatted!"

I hit the store with all the rage of a buccaneer in search of plunder (yes, it was that kind of day). Again, my search was in vain. No sign of the Kraken, and no reports of its whereabouts. So I settled on a nice bottle of Kilo Kai, a rum imported from Curacao. It's a fine dark spiced rum with hints of vanilla and caramel. Whereas many rum brands simply paste a picture of a pirate on the bottle and expect lubbers to flock to the liquor stores and bars to load up on it (I'm talking to you, Captain Morgan!), this rum actually has the flavor to match. The stylized skull and crossbones is a nice touch, though. I mixed it with a coke last night, and found that the combination was just this side of a nice island beach in the Caribbean. BilgeMunky's review was equally favorable towards this brand.

I'm still searching for the Kraken, but I think I've found a nice substitute until the beast is found. Wish me luck!

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