Friday, December 19, 2008


Bev came home...then I got sick.'s always something. Now I'm playing catch-up with Christmas right around the corner. Whee!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Bev Report 14: home at last

This is pretty belated, sorry, but Bev came home last Friday (two days ago). It was a bit abrupt, and we went into high gear when she told us she'd be checking out in a few hours. We had to put a bed together for her and do a couple of other things to get her house ready. Luckily, her husband really came through and did some major cleaning: yay!

Then we hosted a Civil War Cavalry Training thing Saturday and today, so we were a bit preoccupied. Anyway, she's home and doing much better. Pulse is down, anxiety is gone, edema is pretty much gone, and she's sleeping through the night. Oral meds are keeping up with the pain, too. Now she can really start healing.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Bev Report 13: detox

Well, the surgeon decided to switch Bev from IV drip pain meds to oral this morning. Just like that. No transition. Can you say "catastrophic detox"? She was a total wreck inside of four hours. When I got there the hospital psych was there and they were giving her something for anxiety, amongst other things. The pain Doc showed up a few minutes later and had a fit...then put her back on the machine. Tomorrow they'll continue weaning her from IV to oral meds. Gradually.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Bev Report 12: last week in hospital?

Stronger every day! Had some bad bouts of nausea, but that really seems to be the last hurdle. As soon as she can tolerate all meds orally she's out the door!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Bev Report 11: almost tubeless

As of tomorrow, Bev will have but one tube: her IV pickline for the antibiotics and pain medication "button". She did five laps around the unit today, and was wiped out. They've stopped the "ATP" (liquid nutrition drip), so she's going to have to get all nutrition orally from now on. Kind of scary, but I think she can do it. Had some nausea yesterday and last night, and that doesn't help, but a lot of it is probably from her guts trying to fire up again. Edema is waaaay down. Pain was up today (mostly from tube removal). All in all, things are looking very hopeful. At this point I wouldn't be surprised to see her out in less than a week from now. Considering she's been there since October 7, I'd say it was about time.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Bev Report 10: no more drains!

Yep, the drains came out day before yesterday, so that agony is behind us. Still a bit sore where they were, but nothing like still having them in. The only Borgness left is basically a small bundle of IV tubes. Once those are gone, she'll be able to get around much more easily. Sleeping a bit better, but still fighting edema. Very tender all over. Still having some trouble with nausea. Very impatient to get better and get home, understandably.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Bev Report 9: moving ahead

Still trying to get nausea under control, but yesterday they tried a new med that actually worked. Drain(s) may come out tomorrow. Plied her with Indian food yesterday and she ate more than I've seen her do in a month. They told her she could go outside today: bonus! Back is really sore, but mine would be, too, after a month in bed. We'll be heading to the hospital in a few hours. I'm going to bake pumpkin pies first, since she can eat now...

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Bev Report 8: more progress

Hope everybody had a ballistic Guy Fawkes day last night! What? You don't celebrate the 5th of November? I know it's a British thing, but I totally support the sentiment that oppressive governments should be resisted.

Anyway... Gordo visited this morning and reports more improvement. There was an incident with a really rude, insensitive nurse last night, but other than that things are better.

A-M is planning on visiting Saturday in the first half of the day. I'll carpool in with her, and we'll take a stick blender and whiz up some Indian food for her. I'm going to make raita, because I think mine is better than the watery stuff we get at the restaurant.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Bev Report 7: forward again

One drain removed tonight! Another probably in the morning, and that last awful horrible one on Friday. YAY! White count coming down. Able to eat more. Very tired and may need some more blood, but that's no big deal.

Bev Report 6: the saga continues

Have just been too tired and frazzled to post info. Sorry. Another drain put in night before last, this one "more painful than all the others put together." Yes, the gradual conversion to full Borg status is happening again. No cranial implants, yet. I finally sat in on a dressing change for the abdominal wound, and it was a real Cronenberg (not my favorite film director) moment. They've left the incision wide open in case they have to go back in. They just change the gauze "caulking" every day. Let's just say that I can report with accuracy that our favorite jouster has no belly fat, and very lean muscles.

Lots of pain yesterday. When I got there a bit after three she was dark around the eyes. She has no memory of returning from the procedure the night before and the consequent dressing change. I'm glad, because she was in screaming pain for a lot of it (she has a healthy grip, if nothing else!). Late in the afternoon they finally gave her an anti-inflammatory. Took a while to kick in but it really helped. They boosted the dosage on the "pain button"...but now it's so high that she gets nauseous if she uses it too often. Need to find a middle ground.

The head of surgery is reviewing her case/chart in order to offer a second opinion on the progress. He's a good guy. Right now it looks like they won't be putting her completely back together for about a year, so there will be no jousting for her until 2010. As soon as she can move around and eat real food she can go home. I don't see it happening this week.

She's been in the hospital for exactly one month as of Friday. Keep praying for healing of all infection and more importantly for her spiritual condition.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Bev Report: 5

I was too tired to post when I got back from the hospital last night. If I had made an entry, it would have been "orange alert", because she had another semi-emergency procedure to remove "hot" material from her abdomen. This time they just stuck in a needle and drew out some stuff, then put in a couple of drains: one in her abdomen, another in her diaphragm. Yes, we're turning into a Borg again.

The good news is that today she's doing better. More alert, more mobile, and fever coming down. The pain is being managed, and they're allowing soft foods. She tires easily, but it's good that she's to the point where she can tire herself, frankly. If we can go two or three days without another crisis, then I think we're on our way.

Keep praying. We're on a cusp, here.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Bev Report 5: significant improvement

Out of ICU at last! Hopefully not to see it again. Down to just a couple of tubes. Swelling way down, heart rate stabilizing. Voice coming back. Much more alert. White count was up this morning, but that's because she has a "touch of pneumonia". Never thought I'd be relieved to hear somebody had pneumonia, but it beats another abscess or other nasty internal infection. The critical care doc from the ICU paid a visit while we were there tonight, and he's personally overseeing her until she's out of danger. I think he's tired of seeing her in the ICU, too, and is going to be riding herd on the staff to make sure she gets the best care.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Bev Report 4: progress

Ventilator came out today...finally. Color is good. Some edema, but not too bad. Her kidneys are doing a good job processing fluids so the water weight should go down pretty quickly over the next couple of days. Hopefully this last infection is beaten for good. Still in ICU, but doing all right.

Friday, October 24, 2008

New Bird on the block

Hattie (my black & white mostly outdoor cat) was stalking a new bird today. I thought it was a woodpecker, but I'd never seen anything like it before. I looked it up on the Birdweb and discovered it to be a Northern Flicker. Nifty! The cat didn't have a chance. These are very alert birds, probably because they're ground feeders.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Bev Report 3: one step back

Got a call at 0200 last night: infection definite, they needed to go back in. They found some hot stuff, but thankfully no more holes. She's closed up, but back in ICU on a respirator. If she could be moved right now, I'd be campaigning to move her to a facility in Seattle. Harrison is not impressing me with their competence, here. Keep praying.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Bev Report 2

She's out of ICU. Still carrying a lot of extra fluids, so they're working on draining that from her system. More lucid, but still in a lot of pain. She's allowed to eat now, which is good because I took her some chocolate today. She was going to try some soup later. White cell count was up today, which isn't good, but her temperature is down. No matter what, she's probably looking at another week or two in the hospital.

Friday, October 17, 2008

The Bev Report

For people who may be wondering about the constant Twitter and Facebook status reports over the last week, "Bev" is a close friend of ours (and Gordon's jousting partner) who underwent an abdominal surgery a week ago Tuesday. A few days later she went septic, and when they went back in to see why they discovered a pinhole in her upper intestine, plus a twist in same. Ugh. She's been in intensive care ever since, and for awhile was critical and on a respirator.

We put out an APB for prayer.

She's doing better. Slowly. Still need that prayer, for body and soul.

As of this moment she's off the respirator and has fewer tubes, but she's still "out of it" and struggling.

Thanks to everybody who has put her on your "list". Don't stop.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

School of the Renaissance Soldier: North Country Muster

Finally put the canvas away today. It's been hanging in the garage, drying since we returned last weekend. Yep: the first rainy weekend of the Fall is the weekend we decide to do a 16th century campout. Got some more footage. Now I have no excuse but to put a video together...

Update: Gordo's report

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Cognitive Surplus in the 21st Century

Don't be boggled by the polysyllabic title, I haven't suddenly raised my IQ. It's just a very interesting little speech transcript about changing uses of our intellectual and creative free time. The shift from TV to internet is particularly telling, I think. This link was given me today in Second Life by Kamillah Hauptman, while we listened to a presentation by some Nokia representatives. Nokia is definitely trying to ride the "latest technology" wave, and showing a great deal of intelligence.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Saying Goodbye to Taxi

Gordon's old warhorse, Taxi, left us for that battlefield in the sky last weekend. After fighting with Blogger for a few days, I finally managed to get his eulogy posted. I found some pictures on my computer, but I'm sure I have more somewhere.

Saturday, September 13, 2008


...or not. Weebles don't fall down, but my little Rhode Island Red hen Sophie does. Maybe she has an "inner ear" problem, because at least once a day (on average) she falls or is knocked over (by another chicken), rolls onto her back, and can't get up. The inability to get up from the toes-up thing is apparently a chicken thing. Like a turtle, once they're on their backs, they can't easily right themselves. This is handy to know if you ever need to immobilize a bunch of chickens for a few minutes. Of course, you have to catch them first.

Anyway, poor Sophie has had this problem for months. The other birds pick on her when she's down, so she hides from them. A lot. Which means it's sometimes hard to find her to check up on her. It also means that she's easy pickins' for a predator if she capsizes out in the pasture or the neighbor's yard, where they sometimes wander. I don't have their run completed, so they just free-range around the property.

I have to be away from home today, and didn't want to worry about her all day long, so I took a wire dog crate, took the tray/bottom out of it, and put it in the grass for an instant "chicken tractor" for her. Food, water, a stick jammed through for a perch, and some plywood over the perch for shade if she wants it. Perfect. She's in there eating her grain and scratching in the grass. Now I won't worry all day.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Picking on Palin

Is it just me, or is there an inordinate amount of out-of-proportion hyperbole being directed at Sarah Palin? Keee-ryminey! The people who support her wax rhapsodic, and the people against her seem to have degenerated into sandbox tactics. Are folks here in the USA just bored and looking for something to get all het up about? Call me bland, but I find especially the irrational ire a tad embarrassing.

Mind you, my observations are purely from watching my Twitter feed, Facebook feeds, and various other internet sources like blogs. I don't watch TV or read the newspaper, and I listen to a radio station that eschews what passes for "news" in this country for actual informative and educational content, so I'm constantly out of the popular infotainment loop.

For example, there's an application on Facebook called "Pieces of Flair", which is basically a virtual bulletin board where you can pin little virtual buttons (like the ones pictured above). It's very easy to make your own custom buttons, and entering "Sarah Palin" in the search window reaped a boat load of options. Anyway, the majority of them seem to be anti-Palin, and 99% of those are mind-numbingly irate, spouting pithy slogans such as "Sarah Palin is vile!", "Palin hates women!", and the always erudite "I hate Sarah Palin!". On the pro-Sarah side of things, there's not much good to be found, either. Mostly just cut 'n pasted official campaign artwork, along with some gushy enthusiasm. Some of the buttons are suspicious. Is something saying "Vote for McCain...because Sarah Palin is HOT!" supposed to be enthusiastic or ironic? If I were Palin, I'd have to quote one of my favorite lines in one of my favorite movies, The Abyss: "Stay off my side, ok?" My personal favorite is one depicting Palin as "Rosie the Riveter", from the famous WW2 poster. It shows determination of the common person, and I think we need more of that in government. Whether or not Sarah truly embodies this sentiment is not something I can answer. We'll see how things pan out.

Update: I was just fooling around on the TizMe site making a little avatar of myself. The options, as per usual on these things, really don't offer me many choices that have anything to do with how I dress my hair or the kinds of clothes I wear, so I really have to fudge a lot. This time the end result was cute...but I think I just turned myself into Sarah Palin. With a cat.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Let's Pants!

What can I add to this? Except to say that it kind of sums up my experiences teaching English in Japan many years ago. Yes, it can be that surreal. Japan as a whole can be that surreal.

For instance, this photo (also from the same guy's blog) illustrates one of my fonder memories of life in Japan: the Japanese 7-Eleven convenience stores. If you look carefully, you can see the glass humbow steamer sitting on the counter by the cash register. Anytime I wanted a steamed bun, I could dart into a 7-Eleven and grab one for a few yen! This shot is really evocative for me: the tile-esque pavement of the sidewalk, the diamond-deck ramp over the rain gutter, the skinny girls in short skirts. At least they're not little boys in tiny shorts! This was probably shot late at night, not too long ago, and I can just feel the humidity and smell the sewage. Yes, you catch whiffs of sewage even in downtown Tokyo. Lots of different smells, but that one was always a reminder that Japan is basically the world's most overpopulated "village" in the world.

But anyway...


Thank you. Won't you?

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Insights from fiction

Just read this in "Homunculus", by James Blaylock:
"He despised the current fashion in gaudy furnishings. It was little wonder society was going to bits, surrounding itself as it did with fakery and ugliness. ...-empirical study would bear him out. Men were products of that with which they surrounded themselves. And men of substance could hardly spring from the cracker-box, factory-made trash they cluttered their homes and inns with." (p. 43, Babbage Press edition)
This was meant to illustrate the world-view of a character in 1880s London, at a time when "factory-made trash" was indeed beginning to clutter and devalue the material world of the average householder. Unfortunately, things haven't changed much since then, and the quote applies equally well to the current day and age. I struggle with this in my own home.

When we moved into this house three years ago it was a study in 1980's tacky "white box" architecture, with a few garishly inappropriate attempts at color and character. This little shoe box of a WW2 tract house had been clad in white vinyl siding (to come off soon, I hope), had its hardwood floor covered in maroon(!) wall-to-wall carpeting, had the bedrooms painted a bilious dark pink (walls and ceiling), and the front room a stultifying industrial mint green (walls and ceiling). The kitchen: carpeted in grey. Carpeted. Think about that for a minute. No, the previous owners didn't cook in there. They barbequed outside and ordered takeout. A lot. The carpet is going soon, too.

Anyway, the green and pink walls have been re-painted, and the other frights are on the list. It's hard to relax in a house that resembles a trailer. Putting up racks of Renaissance, 18th and 19th century weapons and armor has helped, as well as some good antique furniture and many book shelves. Gradually our little tools of everyday life (cream pitchers, butter dishes, plates, cups, tables, chairs, storage devices, etc.) are being changed from "factory-made trash" to handcrafted items or at least older things that give off an old-world or antique vibe. It just makes for a more comfortable home, in my opinion. I can not bear a "glass & chrome" aesthetic, or even a "Danish Modern" one. Cheap overstuffed sofas in synthetic pile give me the willies, and loud, practically flourescent 60s type color schemes make me cringe. Give me earth tones and clear, jewel-tone colors. Turkish carpets and walnut furniture and tiffany(type) lamps.

Of course, I'm typing this on a computer that has not been modded by the Datamancer, which makes me wistful...

Friday, July 18, 2008

Second Man on the Moon

The other day I went to the bank to cash a check, and one of the clerks had hand-lettered a little sign that asked, "Who was the second man to walk on the Moon?" This was taped to the front of the counter, so I assumed it was "today's trivia question" or something.

I knew it wasn't Neil "one small step" Armstrong, and I didn't think it was John Glen, so I asked my teller, "Um, is it Buzz Aldrin?" Her eyes big as saucers, she blurted out, "You'r the only person to get it so far today!!"

"What?! You're kidding...."

"No! Most people just come up and say 'ok, I give up. Who is it?'!"

I had to then tell her about my run-in with ignorance at another bank, this time back in Stockton, CA. The shiny golden dollar coins hadn't been out long, and I was trying to amass a stash for use as spending money at historical events. I asked the teller if I could trade her a $10 bill for ten Sacajeweyas, and she just returned a blank stare. So I said, "The gold dollar coins." She then said, "Who's Sacajeweya?" The thought bubble over my head was reading, "What rock have you been living under? Don't they teach US history in schools anymore?! Do you even know who Lewis & Clark were you ignorant little twit? Put down the remote and read a book!!!!"

Luckily I didn't say any of that. Still, I weep for this country.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

We still need your votes!

Go to the Klondike Bar video contest site and search for "dmcknew". Remember, every time you vote, you have a chance to win $25,000...and you increase our chance to win $100,000!

Soft Americans

The History Pundit speaks his piece on the un-manning of American males.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Tall Ships Festival - Tacoma

The boys (and girls dressed as boys) of our Military Guild (Goode's Company of Foote and the Renaissance Military Society) turned out to support the Nina replica at last weekend's Tacoma Tall Ships Festival. Apparently it went well, and the public was treated to the sight of actual Spanish Conquistadors of a sort.

Friday, July 04, 2008

Happy Independence Day!

Hope you're having an alien-free, indigestion-free, bug-free day! I myself am enjoying peace and quiet at the moment, bearing in mind that I may be tranquilizing a horse and/or calling 911 before the day is through. Anybody who might be thinking about driving down the main road near our property and hurling unnecessarily loud incendiaries out your window? Don't do it, k? last year two horses had to be put down* in this part of Washington State because of catastrophic injuries resulting from spooking over loud fireworks. My tolerance for loud noise after hours is zero already, do please don't make me call The Man. I've only had to do so twice so far this year. Do we really need artillery practice after 10:00 PM? No, we do not. Last year I'd already called five or six times by the 4th. I think the local fuzz have perhaps made it clear to the Tribe Next Door (literally) that annoying the curmudgeonly white settlers across the road is bad PR, so things have been a lot quieter this year.

I don't care what they do all day, as long as it's not ridiculously loud. On the 4th and New Years, I expect some hubub...just don't push it too far after midnight, please. The rest of June/July/December? Knock it off! Some of us moved to the country for actual peace and quiet.

* That's a euphemism for "killed humanely", in case you haven't run into the term before.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008


Right now I feel beleaguered. I feel like I'm in a prolonged underwater fight sequence: one of those scenes in a movie that goes on so long that you either grow impatient (if it's poorly done) or grow short of breath (if it's engaging). Meanwhile, the people on the surface, in the boat representing the rest of my life, are waiting for me to slay the monster or other erstwhile opponent and emerge victorious to help them with whatever travails they are facing.

At any rate, I'm tired, frustrated, panicky, angry, and unhappy with myself. I'm pretty sure one or more of those people in the boat is stepping on my air hose. It's not helping.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Friday, June 20, 2008

I'm in mapping hell

"I'm an actor, not a cartographer!"
Neb "Dr. McCoy" Frye

I'm trying to get a topographical map generated so my Civil Engineer dad can do the road grade plan for the new Renaissance Faire site in Belfair, WA. No, Mason County does not have any decent topos of the very rural area. The site was leased from Pope Resources, a logging company, and they certainly never needed detailed plans of the site.

The screenshot on the left is a lovely topo I've managed to generate using about 65 different types of software that I've downloaded in the last month. Unfortunately, it's intended for use in a mobile GPS unit, so I have a .mp (polish) or .img (Garmin) file. They look lovely, but are pretty useless for AutoCad. I need a .dxf file. If there's software out there that can convert the above file types to .dxf, I haven't been able to find them. I can finds scores of them that will take a CAD file and covert it the other way, which is somewhat less than helpful.

I've sent The Draftsman (my brother) a .dxf of these contours that I generated with DemTopo, but it won't have the road on it.

Why does any of this matter? It matters because this site needs to have the Road Grade plan submitted in the next couple of days or the County, who have been very passive/aggressive about this project, will revoke the permits for the project.

No pressure or anything.

Lure Rifftrax to Seattle!

Upcoming Events by Eventful

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Klondike update

This just in re. the Klondike Bar contest, from the director:

Hello everyone!

We need your vote every day to stay up on top! We need to move up on the TOP rated video list, so far we are on the second page!!

I hope you all have sent a message to your friends and family to vote by now!

Sunday June 15, is the cutoff date for this judging period, we have a good chance of being chosen June 23! I have only seen one video that comes close to ours in quality (the old truck which is leading us by the way) it really does not show the product very much and is too long for a commercial.

Anyway, we need to give it our best shot, have your friends and family put some comments under the video as well!

One more thing, I have just uploaded the video to another category “Did you see that” (thumbnail of John on the train) so if they approve it tomorrow (Friday) it should be on top for “most recent video” through the weekend!! Make sure you vote for BOTH videos when going on the site and please let your friends and family know to vote for both as well.

NOTE: The more important one at this point is the one under the “Laugh” category (with Melissa waving) because it has the most votes right now. When anyone types in “EXPRESS” in the search function both videos will show up.

Everyone really needs to get involved, lets win this thing!

Thank you for all your effort,


Monday, June 09, 2008

What would YOU do for a Klondike Bar?

How about voting on this little "commercial" that I worked on last week? Starring Gordon as "the miner"! All you have to do is sign up at the Klondike site, then vote for our "Klondike Express" entry in the contest.
I'm totally biased, but I think it's one of the best entries so far, so I have no qualms about begging for votes. I believe you can vote once a day, so help us pay down our mortgage win!

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Tribute to Uncle Dennis

My uncle Dennis passed away a couple of days ago. He was my mom's little brother. He never married, but did a lot of traveling, genealogy work, and was a happy presence in our lives at holidays and other gatherings. He'd fought a fight with cancer a few years ago, and it was coming back to haunt him. He was doing all right, and then just dropped like a stone the other day. Kind of a shock.

My sister put this slideshow together in his honor, and I think she did a great job:

Monday, June 02, 2008

Friday, May 30, 2008


A bit over a month ago my white Cochin hen, Ophelia, went broody. At first I took the eggs away every day, then she just had a couple so I though, "Fine, let her sit." She and Lobelia (an auracana who lays green eggs) have been taking turns sitting on the clutch, which is interesting. My rooster is a white Leghorn, so I was fine with little white cross birds, but the Leghorn/Auracauna crosses may turn out odd. I was starting to think I wasn't going to get anything, because the incubation period is supposed to be 21 days, and we were a week over by my estimate. Of course, I'd taken away some of the first eggs right away, so that would throw the calculation off...but I digress.

I went out this afternoon to do some yard work, and heard a little bird in distress, "Cheep! Cheep! Cheep!" I assumed one of the cats had a swallow or robin, but they were all empty-"handed". I kept following the noise...and found a little yellow-white peep in the garden! Poor infant! Must have hatched this morning, because she was dry and mobile. Maybe Ophelia went out for some air and baby followed her...then stupid mom went in without baby. I scooped her up and put her in the cat carrier with her mommy, and she disappeared under the fluff.

There are five or six more eggs under her....gah. I'm sure some will be boys, so I'll have to get rid of them eventually, but I'll cross that bridge when I get to it. Actually, I'll probably put most of them up for "adoption" since I don't need a coop full of white and odd-colored birds. I'm happy with just one or two of each kind, thanks.

Anyway, it's very exciting. Yes, I'm a dilettante "farmer" and little things like this that are just business as usual for real farmers are very interesting to me!

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Sports: what's the big deal?

I'm not interested in watching adults play children's ball games. Fortunately, none of my friends are interested in that kind of thing, either. The sports we enjoy are those we actually participate in ourselves. If I did have a "sports" watching friend, I'm afraid I would be the hapless gentlemen in this edition of Wondermark:

The Rittmaster and I have a discussion from time to time that revolves around the average American's obsession with ball teams, and especially the way so many people seem to personalize their fascination with a group of grown men (usually) being paid zillions of dollars to throw a ball around. "We never should have traded so-and-so!", they say, or "We're at such-and-such place in the series!" Um, what's this "we"? They don't know you and you probably don't know any of them personally. You're a face in the stands or, even more remotely, in front of a TV. More importantly to them, you're just a means to a paycheck. Not only that, but gone are the days when a ball team was actually made up of local chaps actually representing their local population base. I suppose I could see getting all het up about a college team (even though I never made it to a game when I was in college...too busy with much more interesting pursuits like boats and books), or an actual home-town grassroots league thing...but pro "sports"? Not so much.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Got teenagers? Get Teen Away!

Brought to you by alert researchers over at Rifftrax! Finally, a way to repel pesky teenagers! It's a device that emits a hypersonic tone only (mostly) audible to the bobby socks and hair grease set...or the gut muffin and saggy pants set, depending on how up to date you are. The down side is that I, at age 44, can hear it, too. How annoying is that? Well, the cat sitting in my lap wasn't too thrilled either (sorry, Beany), so I guess I won't be picking up this little number any time soon.

Ironically, for me anyway, this recalls a memory of visiting a hardware store in Bremerton with my family back when I myself was a pesky teenager. Something in that store, perhaps a prototypical "Mosquito Noise Teen Repeller", emitted a very irritating high-pitched electronic whine that just set my teeth on edge and triggered a headache. My parents, being the stoic, staid, unflappable (transplanted) Midwesterners that they are, didn't buy it. I guess they thought I was just being a surly teen and crabby about being in a hardware store. Excuse me? I love hardware....not as much as books or office supplies, but I can waste a lot of time in a hardware store (even more now that I'm a home-owner). No, this was yet another case in a string of instances in my childhood where I, the resident alien life form, was experiencing something that the locals couldn't understand and weren't going to take my word for. It was just this one store, too. I never ran into that sound anywhere else.

We also had a running battle at home over whether or not a running TV set constituted a nuisance to somebody trying to sleep twenty feet away, even with the sound turned down. It was for ME, so naturally the TV stayed on no matter how early I had to get up the next day. I wondered if I was psychotic somehow, but now it seems that I just had typically hyper-sensitive teen ears.

This astounding new application of sound technology vindicates me! At least I think it does. Sort of. Not that it really matters.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

We'll miss you, Mr. Heston!

I was away at the Renaissance Soldier School all weekend, and so didn't know of Charlton Heston's passing until I read it over the shoulder of a person on the airplane. It wasn't shocking or anything; the man has led a rich and full life and was in failing health, but still a bit of a blow. For as long as I've been alive there's been a Charlton Heston. I remember watching "The Ten Commandments" at Christmastime, "Ben Hur" at Easter time, and "Planet of the Apes" one Summer with my dad, all on TV. One year the Seattle Film Society ran "Ben Hur" on the big screen at the 4th Ave. theater, a fabulous Chinese-theme theater in Seattle, and I drove through the snow (lots of parking downtown!) to see it. Wow.

He was not afraid to speak his mind even if it made him appear reactionary, ultra-conservative, or politically incorrect to the sheeple of the entertainment industry and others. Late in his career, a cameo or walk-on performance in a film lent it instant class and weight. One of my husband's all-time favorite films is "The Omega Man", which he saw at just the right age to idolize the tough, resourceful male characters in the story. My personal favorite, which is sadly not available on DVD from Hallmark for reasons I cannot remotely guess, is their version of "Treasure Island", with Christian Bale as Jim, and Heston as Long John Silver. If you haven't seen it you're missing a treat. Music by The Chieftans, boats I'd give my right leg for, and THE best Silver ever. Sorry, Robert Newton, you're a hoot and a classic, but Heston gives us a darker, richer character and far more believable.

My favorite Heston story comes from the making of Ben Hur. Legendary stunt man Yakima Canute was helping Heston with the chariot race scene. For the wide shots and dangerous stunts, Hur was played by a Stunt man. However, there were tighter shots needed, and Heston was going to have to drive a four-abreast team to a chariot with no brakes, careering around an arena with a bunch of other hot horse teams. Needless to say, he was a bit nervous and expressed his concerns to the Stunt Coordinator. According to Heston, Canute just said, "Don't worry, Chuck. You're going to win."

Friday, March 28, 2008

WA Renaissance Faire in the News!

Our first press of the year...and a good thing too, considering we'll be at a new site and needing new attendees to replace the ones who don't pay attention. This is a very nice, comprehensive look at the birth of an up and coming major attraction in the State of Washington, courtesy of the Kitsap Sun.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Starting up the horse season...

This last weekend was not exactly the first "training weekend", but it finally feels like Spring is coming so I'm calling it the opening of horse season. I'm sewing in earnest (clothes for humans and horses), Gordon and Bev are making/fixing/purchasing armor pieces, and I'll be starting work writing our shows for the Renaissance Faire in August. The horses are blowing out their Winter coats (read: shedding like snowstorms), and it's time to start getting them in condition (read: trail rides, jousting practice and cavalry drill).

The gorgeous photo of Woody and me (right) was shot by Randy Pollett, who came out to visit us instead of doing the typical model shoot he had planned for that day. The few images I've seen so far are fab, but this one gets the prize in my book. Really nice atmosphere. Thanks, Randy!

Here I am as the lone pikeman, facing down the cavalry coming at me with pistols, which I think is totally unfair.

I died, of course.

All of Guillaume's photos here...

International Assn. of Time Travelers: forum excerpts

What if there really existed a group of time travelers in the distant future? Wouldn't it make sense that they would be no different from ordinary, mortal tech geeks? This short piece made me laugh out loud, for several reasons. Very nicely done.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

So long, and thanks for everything, Arthur C. Clarke!

It is with fond nostalgia and a bit of sadness that I report, belatedly, the passing of one of the true great minds of our age, Sir Arthur C. Clarke. His hard science fiction novels were instrumental in shaping my childhood dreams and aspirations. Kevin Murphy's comments were the first to inform me of his passing today, closely by Hotspur's. Clarke's "3 Laws of Technology" should be a guiding light for scientists everywhere, and it's a shame that it's obviously not the case. There is no group more religious and calcified than a group of scientists or technologists. If you doubt this statement, crack any biography of Einstein, Newton, Galileo, or, for instance, anybody who proposed the theory of plate tectonics in the first half of the 20th century.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Horse Sense: can it be taught?

The "Fugly Horse of the Day" blog is always an entertaining, educational, and occasionally frustrating read. Today she poses the question: Is 'horse sense' a totally natural thing that's just instinctive, or can it be taught? The Natural Horsemanship people, like the infamous Pat Parelli, seem to think so. I think it's instinctive, but that the "animal reading" instincts can be further developed with proper training and learning from old hands. For instance, I'm pretty good with animals, but I have a huge amount to learn when it comes to reading and handling horses. What's saved my bacon so far is patience and freedom from the fear that I'll hurt their wittle feewings if I slap (flat of the hand), poke (finger, elbow), or growl at them for bad behaviour.

Easter hot on St. Paddy's coat tails...

What's with the holidays stacking up so close together this year? I'm a bigger fan of Passover these days, anyway. I think a celebration of the resurrection of Christ is much needed, but Easter started out as a co-opted pagan celebration, and then the Victorians cuted it up so terribly that it's all bunnies and chickies and eggs anymore. Feh. What happened to Jesus busting out of his tomb and knocking down over a hundred Roman soldiers?! The marshmallow peeps people seem to have forgotten that part.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

There's something equally likable and yet odd about this card. What has he been smoking and or drinking? He seems to be having a vision of Ireland personified...or is this tailcoated gentleman enamored with an inanimate object? We may never know, poor sot.

Bill Corbett has something to say about St. Patrick himself, and sets us all straight.

What I'm doing when I should be sewing...

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Want to be in a Jousting Show?

We're always looking for recruits!

The Pomposity of the Inflated

This was made by my friend Hotspur to illustrate an issue in the Second Life neo-Victorian community, but I think it applies to 1st life re-enactors and other groups as well. SCA, anybody?

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

The Joy of Ren Faire

I made this strip in honor of my friend Amy, who is the Performing Arts Director of the WA Renaissance Fantasy Faire. I could never do her job...

Academia Della Spada in the News!

Our friends at the Academia Della Spada are in the Features section of USA! The article is pretty decent, surprisingly, and the little video is quite nice. Wish I knew how to embed it here, oh well.

Be sure to scroll down to the comments section and be entertained by the usual crop of disparaging idiots who instantly associate this group with the SCA or some LARP group. Luckily, the erudite and constructive comments far outweigh the dweebs.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

WA holds own in Arnold Regional Semi-Final!

Go Washington! Our quarter has what it takes, least against states with what appear to be talking horses depicted on them. Illinois is going to be a tough one to beat, what with Honest Abe and all. For my taste, I still think that for pure design goodness, WA is the better layout. Just look at it: proportion, clarity, representation of the essence of the state. How can it not win?

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Happy Valentine's Day!

I picked up a fancy suit just for the my virtual life, anyway. Oh, and, yes, that's Gimli on my shoulder.

My Magazine covers...

This is such a time-waster....but kind of a hoot, too...!

I just love the text on the Vogue cover with Gordo's picture: "Dressing your Age" (Yeah! The golden age of Piracy!) "What Works for Work" (lots of weapons) "Red is the New Black" (No quarter!) "10 Perfect Coats" (Let's see: the surtout, the frock, the justacorps, the roundabout, the cassock...ack, that's only five....).

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Chicken Fashions

Fellow critter enthusiast friend of mine sent this link to a cool story about chicken rescues in the UK. Production egg "factories" are unhappy places, especially for the chooks. One of the side-effects of cramped and crowded conditions is that the birds often peck and pick at each other, resulting in some pretty naked critters. What to do with these girls who are past their prime and for some reason not destined for a can of soup? Rehoming and little knitwear until they grow their feathers back. Very cool.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008


This may not be front page news, but my chickens are going crazy laying eggs. For those not familiar with poultry, most hens scale back or stop laying altogether during the Winter, due to the shorter days. Some people force the issue by turning on lights in the henhouse. I do not. Chickens, like everybody else in the egg business, only have a finite amount in them, so why use them all up in a hurry?. Anyway, I have ten hens, and right now I'm getting 4-8 eggs a day! Family and friends are taking some, but I think I'm going to have to make another batch of pickled eggs and do some serious baking. Maybe I'll make cookie dough and freeze it! Hm, good idea...