Monday, June 27, 2011

Sea Worthy Weekend

My freedom from the job began this weekend with a wonderful "Date Night" with One Ring. We grabbed some dinner at a new (to us) Thai restaurant, then hustled over to see Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides. While it was not as good, in my opinion, as the first one, it was still better than the second and third installment. All of the press that I saw suggested that it was based on Tim Power's novel On Stranger Tides. However, the end credits stated that the movie was "suggested by" the book. Which meant that there was very little similarity to Power's work. Which is a shame, because - as I've posted before - I found the book enjoyable.

Afterwards, One Ring asked me, "So was the movie like the book?" I told her that it was really not like it much at all. When she asked what they had in common, I answered, "Blackbeard and the Fountain of Youth. Maybe zombies. I'm not sure about the mermaids." Vampire mermaids, I might add, who resembled Victoria Secret models trying to look like they stepped off the set of the Twilight movies. Sigh.

Still, it was a enjoyable film. Lots of action, several funny moments, and enough serious points to keep it from being an out and out comedy. Plus there was the added bonus of a Church of England priest being a central character. Finally, the combination of chaplains and pirates! Dude even picked up a sword! I came close to doing a happy dance at that point.

But that was not all that was sea worthy this weekend.

Sunday marked the return of my polymer clay classes. I had taken a six month hiatus due to the Dude arriving in the world, but now life's at the point where I could start teaching back up again. That's pretty awesome on a number of levels. I enjoy doing it, and it helps me to learn techniques. Like this past weekend, where I taught mokume gane - which is a done by layering thin sheets of different color clays, manipulating it by pressing objects down into the clay then back filling the holes they create, and then slicing thin layers off the top. I only had two students, but that worked out really well because I was able to give more attention and help them out.

Anyway, I have been trying to figure out how to create faux driftwood beads out of polymer clay. We don't get a lot of driftwood out my way (Tennessee, I'm sad to report!), and even if we did, I lack the equipment necessary to form them out of wood. Using the class as a jumping off point, I was able to create these beads, which I immediately put to use in one of my sea glass chokers. I'm actually wearing it at work now, which shows how pleased I am with the finished product. The beads aren't exact replicas of driftwood, but it's definitely the best result I've had thus far.

The beads.

And the sea glass choker where I put them to use.

I also created a sea glass necklace for my mother, with polymer clay beads made with the same technique, only different colors. A busy weekend, craft wise, but a very enjoyable one!

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Friday, June 24, 2011

Comments Section Back Up

A while back I mentioned that I had disabled comments on this here blog due to some strangeness coming from the Far East. When I would backtrack to see who these comment writers were (I don't speak Chinese), I found that it was one individual who had created at least twenty blogs - none of which had anything written on them!

Well, I'm hoping that this person has faded back into whatever fog bank he or she lives in (even gender was difficult to fathom!), and that if reasonably sane people wish to comment, they may. As I wrote on the signal page, though, "Keep it polite, keep it clean, and keep it in English, Matey!"

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One Ring and I are going to see Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides tonight. This will be our first "real" date (other than her parents watching our son so we can eat out or go to a coffee shop) since The Dude was born. I'm VERY much looking forward to this.

For someone who loves pirate lore, history, and inspired chaos, I have been remiss in getting out to see it. I've heard mixed reviews, from both pirates and lubbers, but the book upon which the movie is based was decent (I kept meaning to write a review, but never got around to it). At any rate, it should make for an enjoyable evening.

I've added some new links to the non-pirate list on the right. One's related to Lovecraft, one to the very well done Reasonable Doubts podcast, and one is Zen related. Take a look and enjoy. I also removed a few sites that I felt were underwhelming or redundant (Since I had both I can has cheeseburger and I has a hotdog, the cat lolz had to go). Hopefully they will not be missed.

Well, I have 15 minutes before I have to speak to a recovery group. Part of the job. Good news is that it's pretty much my last hurdle before the weekend.

Hopefully more will be written today after the group.

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Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Big Loss in the Zen Community

I just found out that Charlotte Joko Beck died on June 15 while in hospice care. Granted I never met her, never studied under her, and only read one of her books (Everyday Zen: Love and Work), but that one book is considered necessary reading for anyone interested in Zen Buddhism, particularly Zen from a Western perspective. Beck taught, among other things, that we should work with our emotions and not seek to avoid them or dismiss them as not being real and powerful. Oftentimes people look at Buddhism as a sort of "feel good / not affected by anything" kind of religion or philosophy, when nothing could be further from the truth.

I confess that I'm going to have to go back and read that book again, but that is certainly not a bad thing. Since I have yet to find a teacher here in Nashville - although I did have a nice experience at a Theravadan temple a couple of weeks ago (more on that later) - more self study and meditation is called for.

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Friday, June 17, 2011

The Much Delayed Update

Back when I restarted this blog, I made a promise to myself to update it regularly, regardless of whether or not I thought anyone bothered to read it. I had to shut down the comments section because of weird Chinese spam that kept showing up. At any rate, now I have no way of knowing if these words are being read by anyone. But that's okay, because I sometimes find that simply writing on topics of interest, be it pirates, religion, Lovecraft and other science fiction, or my day, helps me to clear my head and work things out. So this space has a therapeutic use. When I use it. When I don't write, this blog serves more as a jumping off point to web sites that interest me.

All of which is to say that I feel better when I write, so I'm going to keep writing, if for no greater reason than it makes me feel better when I do so.

So, without further ado, here's the long anticipated update on my life, starting with the Great Tatoo Saga!

You might recall that when Tigger and Pooh visited us, I was supposed to go with Pooh over to a tattoo place near us and get inked up. The original design was an enso. But whereas ensos normally are black - they're done with calligraphy ink and a horse hair brush - I had seen one that was done with blue watercolors. I wanted that. But the guy we talked to said he only did black ink. No colors. You can read the whole sordid tale here.

Anyway, Pooh and Tigger went home, and I was left to figure out whether or not it was going to happen. Sharkbait (my brother) wanted me to wait until we got to Virginia next month to get it. But One Ring, of all people (she thinks tattoos are definitely not a necessary thing!), remembered hearing good things about another Tattoo studio / art gallery closer in to Nashville. So after a phone call and a couple of emails. Off to Blackbird Tattoo I went. I'll spare the details, but they were really nice with this newbie, and I'm happy with the end product:

This is the original design, which I came up with after having several long talks with One Ring and Pooh. Tigger went nuts with some graphics program and put it together. He spent so much time on it that they almost missed their flight!

The shell represents my Christian past and upbringing. The Scallop shell is a symbol of the ritual of Baptism. Then blue enso on it represents, of course, my interest in Buddhism - particularly Zen Buddhism. Blue also combines with the shell to sybolize my love of the ocean and my longing to return to it. I wanted the enso to look like it is engraved onto the shell, rather than just overlapping it. The pics don't really do it justice, but I was surprised by how well it turned out.

So now it's there. And one more thing has been crossed off my bucket list. Sometimes I think of getting one on my right arm, to balance it out, but that's an adventure for another day.

To be continued ...

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Thursday, June 16, 2011

Just Saying, That's All

I'll post more later in the day (I hope!), but for the moment I have to celebarate. I was two - yes, two years old! - the last time this happened! 1970 and 1972 were awesome years for Boston Bruins fans, and now we can add 2011 to that!

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Wednesday, June 1, 2011

New Office Deterrent!

Now let's see if it works!

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