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Inspirational Reads

Happy Memorial Day!

May 31, 2010

Good-Bye, Gary

May 28, 2010

Gary Coleman died today after suffering a brain hemorrhage. I remember watching Diff'rent Strokes all the time when I was a kid, even all those "extra special" episodes where you were supposed to learn something.

Of course, the highlight of his career was when he appeared as a security guard on the Simpsons.

So, good-bye, Gary Coleman. You will be missed.

Friday Morning Latin Lesson, Vol. LXXI

Happy Memorial Day Weekend, mei amici![1] This is the unofficial start to summer, and I can believe it. It is hot as bawls here in North By God Carolina. It's so hot that my damned clothes melted off, so I'm left sitting around in puris naturalibus[2] In case you don't know what that means, you can probably see the word "natural" in there--you know, on second thought, I don't need anybody throwing up, so we'll just leave it at that.

Anyway, Memorial Day is here as well as summer! I've mentioned in the past how much the Romans loved them some holidays, and I've told you about how they were superstitious about ghosts of old family members and gods and shit haunting them, and we all know about the famous Roman legions marching across most of Europe, conquering and plundering as they went. So, Memorial Day would be a holiday that the Romans would fully embrace--almost as much as we do now.

You know what else the Romans loved? Summer vacations. Since the city would get hot and smelly (what with all the horse shit littering the streets and vats of piss sitting around to brighten your smile and toga), well-to-do Roman families would retreat to the countryside where they would live in the villas and enjoy the cool, pastoral relaxation away from the bustle of the city. They called it feriae aestivae[3], and it typically lasted from late June until the beginning of August.

My family--who was decidedly not wealthy nor Roman--would do something similar. Every weekend, and especially on the long holiday weekends, we would retreat to the pastoral coolness of The Lake, which wasn't exactly cool and we did not exactly own a great tract of land, and the cottages were slammed so close together that you could hear people next door passing gas or taking a piss, so forget pastoral. In fact, we had a small cottage well removed from the water with no air conditioning and well water that smelled like fish and tasted like rust. Vivimus somnium.[4]

Despite how unpleasant I make it out to be (and believe me, I wish I was exaggerating), some of the happiest memories of my childhood took place at The Lake. Where else could cousin Napoleon almost get crushed by half a maple tree and live to tell about it, or how could I not look back on that time I stepped in dogshit walking to the swimming hole--in my bare feet--and laugh gleefully at the memories.

So, substituting for my memories of sitting in the back of a crowded station wagon with the Beach Boys blaring in my ears as I drifted off to sleep while we criss-crossed the nation, going from one roadside attraction to another, I have memories of The Lake. And, well, I probably wouldn't have it any other way.

I just wish I had had a chance to fuck one of the Dietz girls...

So, if you find yourself stuck in traffic, or on a crowded beach, or your kids are driving you fucking batshit crazy! or you have some family or guests who are beginning to, you know, smell like fish--if you catch my drift--you can always turn to a loved one and utter this little gem:

Haec olim meminisse iuvabit

Pronounced: "Hike oh-leem may-mee-nee-say eeyou-wah-beet!"

Memorable translation in the hovertext

You could also use that phrase in case you suffer from premature ejaculation or erectile dysfunction, so it doesn't have to just be an awkward holiday-related scenario that causes you to rely on your old buddy Latin for a release.

And, in case you were wondering, I'm not planning much this weekend. A little yard work, maybe a couple of small projects around the house, and lots of laying around watching my big-ass tv and grilling. Seared meat is what summer is all about! Valete![5]

[1] "my friends"
[2] "completely naked"
[3] "Summer vacation"
[4] "Living the dream!"
[5] "later, bitches!"

My Dream

May 27, 2010

I've been trying to get on Jeopardy for a while now. I probably should have tried harder to do the college championship back when I was in college, but at that point you had to drive to certain locations and try out. Now, you can access online tests to try and qualify for the show as well as try out with the Clue Crew tour bus. Of course then I might just stand there dumbly staring at Kelly or Sarah and miss my opportunity.

And since I have this fanciful fantasy about being on the show, I often dream of a chance to have a Final Jeopardy category pop up with something like "The Periodic Table" or "Notre Dame Football" or something like that. While I haven't successfully made it onto the show (yet), I do play the online game every week--I'm only 30,000 points away from getting a "free" PS3!!! Woot! While this isn't wholly satisfying, I did manage to get "Chemistry" the other day as a Final Jeopardy question. I only read five words before I started looking for the answer. I'm just that awesome.

Anyway, the other day I was watching Jeopardy and, perhaps, the greatest category to fulfill my sick and twisted Jeopardy fantasies (at least the ones where Kelly and Sarah keep their clothes on) popped up: "Elemental Latin". Or it was something akin to that; I was too busy sprouting wood and dealing with diverted bloodflow to pay that much attention.

Essentially, elemental Latin was a category in which they gave you the Latin name for an element, and you had to give the English name. I would have uttered a high-pitched squeal of delight had I been on the show and that particular category popped up.

And then, to top it off, one of the Daily Doubles was in that category. Holy shit! I would have been like "I'm betting it all, Alex, and I'm betting her money, too!" while pointing at the vapid chick standing next to me. The answer was "Natrium", which is not really the Latin name for was sort of back-translated. Natrium was the Romans' name (via Egypt) for sodium carbonate. Regardless, the dude who had the Daily Double all to himself botched the question.

Anyway, it got me to thinking what the ultimate Jeopardy board would look like for me:

  • Obscure Shit About the Periodic Table
  • Characters from Bleach
  • Tad Williams Books
  • Places I'd Like to Put My Mouth on Scarlett Johansson's Body
  • REM Songs
  • Latin Profanity

I figure, with those, I should be able to expertly coast through, unless I was competing against my clone or, worse, my doppelganger.

And then I thought of what the worst board for me would look like:

  • Reasons to Give a Shit about Lost
  • Funny Jay Leno Jokes
  • We Love Purdue
  • Russian Ballerinas
  • Vegetables
  • Operas that Aren't Madame Butterfly

I'm pretty sure that, if I had to suffer through those categories, I'd just stand there, staring straight ahead, clicker hanging limply and uselessly in my hand.

But I'd be thinking about places I'd like to put my mouth on Scarlett Johansson's body...

A New Chapter Begins...

May 26, 2010

It's only fitting that I should write this the weekend after Shrek 4 opened, as this feels a bit like a film franchise desperately clinging to its characters and well-worn storylines (and welcome) by spawning what seems to be an endless stream of sequels, prequels, and in-between stories.

A couple of weeks ago I detailed our failed attempt at pet-ownership. When the last of the dirt was placed on the kittens grave, I thought that this tragic tale had finished. Being a frustrated, would-be author who doesn't believe in happily-ever-after endings, I should have known that the conclusion wasn't really the conclusion. Nothing concludes; there is just a permanent sustained condition of being.

Monday night, I was outside doing one of those fatherly, manly things I enjoy so much: grilling. Sure, I was grilling hot dogs, but I was grilling Angus hot dogs. Not only does Angus beef make for a better hamburger, the floor sweepings and meat-leavings that go into a hot dog casing make for a damned delicious frankfurter.

Whilst outside, I sheltered under the roof of the porch attached to my building, where I kept dry from the occasional rain shower that passed through. It was getting on toward dusk, and it was time for the birds to sit in their trees and declare their territory and, as such, the end of the day. One of those fuckers that kept sounding off was my dear friend, the red-shouldered hawk.

Kew, kew, kew, kew... it endlessly wailed from one edge of the property. As I stood there listening, I heard another one calling from the other side of the property. Except this was higher pitched, and it was only a single call.

Dutifully, I rotated the hot dogs on the grill, when I heard the hawk call again. Kew, kew, kew... it wailed. And then, from my building, higher-pitched, an echoing kew, kew, kew. Except, it was from inside the building, and it wasn't kew, kew, kew. It was mew, mew, mew.

"Oh fuck," I muttered, "the rest of the kittens..."

Because I'm like a cat with a death wish, curiosity got the better of me. I went into the building, and I heard two, isolated, plaintive cries of mew! I poked around a little bit, and found inside the large, well-built workbench, huddled inside a blue bucket, one single gray kitten.

I heard no other cries.

Like a fool, I went inside and told my wife to come with me. Out we walked into the yard and I showed the fuzzy little kitten. She immediately wanted to snatch it up, but I talked her out of it. It's probably only about two and a half weeks old, and it needs to make it to the four week mark before we can separate it from its mother.

Smartly, we did not mention it to the kids. Instead, the next day, after I put them on the bus, I brought a small dish of milk out to the building and left it. The kitten, however, was not in the bucket. That same morning, I saw the same cat that I had scared off my back porch, so I knew it must be the same mother that had left Peachigo and Motley in my kids' toy bin.

Last night, in an effort to keep the cats around, I put out a fresh dish of milk and a paper plate with a scoop of chicken salad on it. I even picked out the nuts because I'm not sure how felines feel about pecans. This morning, both chicken salad and milk were gone, so I left more. I still cannot find the kitten, and my wife is getting upset. She wants the fuzzy little fucker RIGHT THE FUCK NOW!!! I can only try to bribe the cats into sponging off us some more with delicious sandwich fillers and milk.

But, this whole thing makes me feel like a total fucking chode. I'm sure that, had we not snatched the kittens from the box, the mother would have been back for them and they might still be alive today. Sure, that's a big maybe, but it's still in the realm of possibility, and it makes me feel like an asshole.

So, the saga of the kittehs continues on, and it looks like we will, in fact, be getting a cat in the very near future. In the meantime, wish me luck that I can manage to not need to bury this one a week after discovery.

Totally Blowing Stuff Up Tuesdays: Back With a Bang!

May 25, 2010

*takes a deep breath*

Ah, it's good to be back!

So, to answer your questions about yesterday: things went well. I wasn't able to do my presentation because of a software incompatibility issue; I had a more up-to-date copy of MS PowerPoint than the school's computer could handle. So, instead, I spoke extemporaneously to the kids about what it is I do in the field of neglected diseases, and then I talked to them about chemistry. After that, we looked at the periodic tables, and then I did my experimental examples. Glowing water? A total fucking hit. Freezing cold ice packs? Knocked their socks off! Baking soda and vinegar volcano? Probably wouldn't have wowed them as much if I wasn't such a showman.

Take that red, seizure-inducing strobe light guy!!!

Most importantly? My daughter wasn't embarrassed to have me be seen in public. She even wanted me to stay and eat lunch with her.

I'll take that father of the year award now, thankyouverymuch.

As I mentioned yesterday, I decided against bringing a canister of highly flammable solvent and matches to an elementary school. Oh, sure, they have fire extinguishers and insurance and such, but I didn't want to be THAT guy. You know, the guy who burned down the school? The hero to countless elementary school delinquents for my legendary case of accidental arson? Yeah, him.

However, a couple of kids did ask me about explosions.

"Do you know anything about explosions?" they asked.

Fuck and to the yeah, little ones. Gather 'round whilst I tell you all about the best ways to blow some shit up!

Okay, so I didn't precisely tell them how to blow some shit up, just that yeah, you can make some explosions. Especially if you crank the lid on the bottle real tight before running away and pretending like you weren't in the area at all that day. *insert angelic halo here*

Mostly, they wanted to know about dry ice and dynamite/TNT. I reminded them that TNT was discovered by Alfred Nobel, and that the world was so thankful for his gift of high-grade explosives that they named an element after him: Nobelium, number 102.

Instead of talking about explosions and dynamite and dry ice and shit, let's just get to the video. And what a video it is. May I present to you, Fire in the Fireworks Factory!

Around the 1:22 mark, did anyone else think that billowing smoke cloud looked a little like Godzilla?

This whole thing was magnificent...unless you're that poor sonuvabitch holding the camera there at the end. It makes me wonder: If you piss yourself does that slow the flames down and give you just that much longer to writhe in agony and terror during your final moments...

Anyway. I like how things started out slowly--a pop here, a bang there--then, when things got out of hand, they really got out of hand. And it was all building toward that final blast. Personally, I really enjoy the slow motion, where you can see the shockwave traveling through the air and the surrounding buildings as it races toward the camera. That, my friends, is an explosion.

So, what have we learned today? Aside from explosions are awesome if you're not standing near them? The lesson here is that fires in fireworks factories are a lot more aesthetically pleasing than fires in other buildings. Plus, an enormous vat of barium chloride makes lovely green fireballs in the sky when it explodes.

Paging Doctor Science

May 24, 2010

Oh, what a lovely morning! Am I right or am I right?

It's lovely because I'm not really here. Instead, I'm at my kids' school, talking with my daughter's class about what sort of shit I do on a daily basis. Instead of telling the truth, I put together a brief presentation on chemistry and then made a gentle segue into the discovery and development of medicines to treat neglected diseases.

See, my problem is, other parents have already been there, talking about what they do. Their jobs have to be infinitely more exciting than "I dump shit into a flask and watch it stir". And those other parents have handed out all sorts of sweet schwag, which I can't exactly hand out. What am I going to give? Here kids, free magnesium sulfate powder for everyone! Dry your organic solutions with it! Here's some officially-licensed filter paper to pour it through! Awesome!

So, I'm already starting out at a disadvantage. Normally, in order to level the playing field in something like this, I'd just do the talk without pants. However, the judge was pretty specific about my public speaking attire and third graders. Check that. Very specific.

And because this is me we're talking about, I didn't really start planning any of this shit until Friday afternoon, when I dug through the first aid kits that they were planning on throwing out at work and said, "Hey, expired cold packs! These will be awesome!" Only thing was, I couldn't find 24 of them, so I had to make due with what I had. Instead of sending them home with everyone, I'll just illustrate endothermicity with them.

Here, touch this. Warm, huh? Now--SMACK!--hold it. Pretty fucking cold, right? Right? What do you mean your flesh is turning black?

So, I sat down at my computer yesterday and spent the morning making kickass periodic tables. On one side, there's a very lovely periodic table, with the usual spread, and all the elements and what they can be used for. On the back side, I made a list of all the elements, their symbols, their atomic numbers, and their atomic weights. I even worked in Roentgenium, which is element 111 and the most recent addition to the table.

Suck that, parent who brought the red, seizure-inducing strobe light! And a pencil.

Anyone can bring a pencil. But can anyone bring glowing water[1]? Yeah, I thought not! That's the other part of my talk. I'll tell them about chemistry, how fucking awesome it is--Chemistry! Fuck yeah! And then I'll throw up some devil horns--and I'll tell them a little about my job and how I'm saving the world.

And then? We bust into some demonstrations.

Chemistry! Fuck yeah!

Fortunately, I'm not slated to talk on a Tuesday, because then I'd feel compelled to blow some shit up. Instead, I'm doing the glowing water, the cold packs, a little something called "hot ice" to illustrate exothermicity and reactions, and then, the piece de resistance of the entire show, a baking soda fountain.

I was going to show them how to light a dollar bill but keep it from burning...but then I realized that teachers and administrators and such probably frown on bringing a canister of flammable materials and a book of matches to an elementary school these days. Plus, the flames weren't really bright enough to be seen, so I scrapped the idea.

Plus, I can burn through dollar bills on amateur night at Club Gold a lot faster...if you know what I mean.

Hey, pretty lady, that's not a test tube in my pocket. I am, in fact, happy to see you.

Chemistry! Fuck yeah!

Who knows how to ensure that there will be 24 children signing up for business classes when they get to college? Right here, baby.

So, if there's some story on the news tonight about how some jackass suffocated a classroom full of 8- and 9-year olds with a baking soda and vinegar experiment gone horribly awry, you'll know who to blame. I'm personally just hoping that I don't get escorted from the premises after swearing violently when my "hot ice" experiment goes woefully wrong.

Chemistry! Fuck Yeah!

[1] Actually, anyone can bring in glowing water. They sell it in grocery stores. I bought mine for 59 cents.

Friday Morning Latin Lesson, Vol. LXX

May 21, 2010

...And a happy Saint Constantine the Great Day to you, too.

Oh my. Can this be? Is it really? A venerated saint day AND a Latin lesson wrapped all into one? You bet your sweet bippies it is. Unless your bippies aren't so sweet, in which case, take them off the table.

Anyway, you might remember Constantine as being that chain-smoking cynic who could see angels and demons and dedicated his life to sending demons and half-demons back to Hell in order to atone for a botched suicide attempt earlier in his youth. Wait, no. That was a shitty movie titled Constantine starring Keanu Reeves and Shia LaBeouf. What? Those two in a movie together? How could it have possibly been shitty, right?

No, the Constantine of whom we speak (and celebrate) today was the Roman Emperor who served as Emperor (in various forms) from 306 AD until his death in 337. He was, mostly, a pretty good Emperor for the Romans, helping to reunite a nation that had begun to come apart under the tetrarchy. He is probably best known for being the man who "brought" Christianity to the empire, or at least tolerated its open practice by the citizenry.

Constantine himself most likely didn't convert until he was on his deathbed--he certainly didn't convert fully to Christianity until after he was 42--but he had been tolerant of Christians his whole life, mostly because his mother, Helena (who also is celebrated today, especially in the Eastern Orthodox churches), was Christian. The big event that tied Constantine to Christianity occurred at the Battle of Milvian Bridge, fought in 312 against his rival Maxentius. As Constantine was leading his army toward the fight, he looked up at the sun--most likely to judge the time--and saw a cross of light in the clouds. He wasn't sure exactly what it meant, but later that night he had a dream in which the man himself, Jesus H. Christ, showed up and explained the vision to him. Constantine, upon waking, ordered that his men paint the sign of the chi rho on their shields (it's that funny p superimposed on an x symbol), as the chi and rho were the first two letters of Christ's name, rendered in the Greek alphabet.

Remember, in the same way that we use Latin nowadays to sound more profound, the Romans used Greek. That's why Caesar's final words (reportedly) were in Greek (and not the Shakespearean version).

Anyway, the shields got painted, and Constantine went on to defeat Maxentius (with a little help from the Tiber river, in which Maxy drowned), putting him on the road not only to the Emperorship of the Empire, but also to the conversion to Christianity.

From this turn of events, we get one of the most familiar symbols of Christianity, one of the more readily-used Christian acronyms (IHS), and one of the most familiar phrases from Roman history:

In hoc signo vinces

Pronounced: "In hoke seeg-noh ween-case"

Translation in the hovertext.

In case you missed it, there is a cross in an inspirational location in that picture...

The acronym IHS is used often as a Christian symbol, usually tied with the cross in some manner. As I learned it growing up in the protestant church, it stood for "In His Service", because, you know, the only people who speak Latin are devil worshippers--I wish I was making this up. The acronym's true origin comes from the first three words of Constantine's motto, "In Hoc Signo" (in this sign, by this symbol). IHSV was also worked into several heraldic symbols, in order to call upon the same power from on high that helped Constantine achieve victory and reunite the empire.

Constantine later went on to do two more big things for which he should also be remembered. In 312, Constantine, along with Licinius (who, at the time, ruled the eastern half of the Empire) issued the Edict of Milan, which officially made the Empire neutral in regards to all religions. It didn't make Christianity the state religion, but neither did it allow for the persecutions seen under that rapscallion, Diocletian. Okay, "rapscallion" is probably not the right word; utter and complete douchebag might work, though he was probably a bit more like a colostomy bag that had been left on a little too long, if you know what I'm saying.

The other thing that Constantine did was found the city of Constantinople...right on top of the Greek city Byzantium. Seeing that it essentially sat astride the eastern and western halves of the empire as well as providing ready access to the Danube and the Euphrates cores of the Empire, as well as shipping lanes to Africa and the western Mediterranean, it was a perfect city to build an empire around...except the empire was already built. It also was an especially poignant influence for a certain They Might be Giants song.

Of course, Constantinople no longer exists, at least by that name. So, if you have a date this weekend, remember that she'll be waiting in Istanbul, not Constantinople.

Happy Saint Dunstan Day!!!

May 19, 2010

Today, we celebrate England's second most favored saint, Dunstan. As a fetus, he was bound to do great deeds, as his mother was standing in Mass one day when all of the candles blew out at once. As soon as the candles were blown out, Dunstan's mother's candle miraculously relit, and everyone in the church lit their candles from her holy flame. She knew then that the child she carried within her womb was destined for great things.

Born in the Kingdom of Wessex (it means "Western Saxons"), Dunstan began his holy career early on. With the blessing of his father, Heorstan, he took minor orders and began helping out around the church of St. Mary's, where he was devoted to learning and piety. He eventually garnered the attention of his uncle, Athelm, who happened to be the Archbishop of Canterbury. From there, he became an adviser to King Athelstan.

Just to warn you...get ready to read a lot of names that look really fucking similar.

While serving at the English court, good ole King Athelstan took a shine to Dunstan, which meant that everyone else at the court hated him. They hatched a conspiracy to disgrace him, accusing Dunstan of witchcraft and wizardry. Athelstan cared little for these accusations and ordered Dunstan from his sight, and you would think that would have been enough to sate the jealous courtiers, but it wasn't. Upon leaving the palace, his enemies fell upon Dunstan, kicking the shit out of him, and then to add insult to injury, dumped his battered body in a cesspool.

Finding himself, literally, up shit creek without a paddle, Dunstan pulled himself from the cesspool and staggered to a friend's house which happened to be close by. The friend, overjoyed at having Dunstan, covered in shit and reeking of feces, took him in and nursed him back to health--and then burned the house down because he could never get the stench of festering shit out of his couch.

Freshly healed, Dunstan headed over to his uncle's house, Aelfheah, the Bishop of Winchester. Uncle Aelfheah tried to talk Dunstan into becoming a priest, but Dunstan wasn't sure if he was ready to give up the possibility of being able to fuck someone...although the dip in the cesspool probably took care of that. He politely declined his uncle's offer and went to bed.

The next day, enormous, nasty tumors erupted all over his body. Dunstan, thinking that God was punishing him for turning away the priesthood, immediately swore to take up the cowl and celibacy. He recovered from the sickness quickly; the illness itself was most likely a result of being beaten until he was battered and bloody and then dumped into a pile of shit.

So, Dunstan became a priest. He devoted himself to further study and, of all things, metallurgy at Glastonbury. While working late one night, Satan himself came to call and tried to woo Dunstan over to the darkside. Having none of that, Dunstan grabbed a pair of tongs he used for blacksmithing and grabbed the Devil by the nose, instructing him to begone. Old Scratch finally relented and said he would, be he wanted Dunstan to shoe his horse for him before he left. Dunstan, that tricksy little Hobbit, shod Beelzebub instead. As The Lord of the Morning was howling in agony, Dunstan instructed him never to enter a place where a horseshoe was hanging over the door. Lucifer agreed, Dunstan removed the shoe, and Mephistopheles went on his decidedly unmerry way.

And that, my friends, was the birth of the legend of a lucky horseshoe.

Dunstan continued working at Glastonbury, and as he was related to most of the nobility of Wessex, he was a favored adviser for the Kings of England. In fact, he was so beloved of Lady Aethelflaed, the niece to our friend Athelstan, that when she died, she left him a considerable amount of money. Unfortunately, Heostan (Dunstan's pappy) died about the same time, and he left Dunstan a pile o' cash as well.

Dunstan used this money to help reestablish the monastic life across most of England, but the money and his ties with nobility made him a favorite of the King's Court again. And, again, the other courtiers became jealous. However, a near-miss hunting accident for a new king, King Edmund, inspired the young regent to treat Dunstan better, if only God would spare his life. God's mercy touched Edmund (or, more properly, his horse) and Edmund was spared. He immediately returned to the palace, where everyone thought he was going to give Dunstan the Thomas a Becket routine. Instead, he gathered up Dunstan and went to Glastonbury, where he prayed and promised to protect Dunstan from the evils of court.

This began a long, happy association between Dunstan and the Kings of England. He served as a court adviser and minister for years, until Edmund and, his successor Eadred, died. Then came to the throne a mischievous little brat named Eadwig, who ignored his nobles in order to fuck some pretty young thing named Aelfgifu. Pissed that Eadwig had ignored his nobles, Dunstan went and pulled him off Aelfgifu, called her a "strumpet", had Eadwig do the same, and then dragged him to the meeting of his nobles.

As you might suspect, this caused a bit of friction between Dunstan and Aelfgifu, who ended up marrying Eadwig. Dunstan fled to Flanders (in modern day Belgium) and hung out there until Eadwig was driven from the throne and his brother, Edgar, assumed the crown. Edgar immediately called for Dunstan to return, and once more appointed him with favored status. At this point, however, Dunstan was so wildly popular with the Wessex nobility and the Northumbrians, his safety was not a threat.

Two years later, however, Edgar died. He was succeeded by Edward II, known as "The Martyr", who was Edgar's eldest son. However, Edward II's step-mother wanted the fruit of her womb to sit upon the throne; Dunstan had been instrumental in securing Edgar's seat upon the throne of England, which made him unpopular in the other team's camp. This caused a lot of strife within the realm, and the threat of civil war hung over all of England.

Finally, Edward II was assassinated (thus the moniker "The Martyr") and his half-brother was seated upon the throne. His brother? Everyone's favorite medieval English King, Aethelred the Unready. Dunstan oversaw Aethelred's coronation and then quit the role of the king's advisor. It was his last public service. He retired to his abbey where he continued to preach and to work as a silver- and goldsmith.

On May 19th (see how that works out?), 988 AD, Dunstan died at the ripe old age of 79 (or so). While having a career batting average of .269 and 688 career RBI isn't enough to get you enshrined at Cooperstown, it's apparently enough to earn you a sainthood. Dunstan was officially canonized in 1029; the Shawon-o-Meter reportedly went off the chart.

Dunstan is symbolized by the tongs he used to grab the Devil by the nose, often with a dove hovering near him, or with an army of angels before him. He is the patron saint of blacksmiths, locksmiths, goldsmiths, silversmiths and shortstops.

The Bridge to...Somewhere

May 18, 2010

Last night, my daughter went through her "bridging" ceremony for girl scouts. I guess she graduated from a Brownie to a Junior. I don't remember such a thing for going from Cub Scouts to Webelos to Boy Scouts. Basically, I earned my bobcat, wolf and bear patches and moved on.

Anyway, the Bridging Ceremony, as it is called, is a highly symbolic and terrifically ceremonial rite that hearkens back to the very foundations of our civilizations. Like most secret, fraternal (or sororietal) organizations, to witness such a ceremony is to behold a very spectacle for the senses, and it shouldn't be shared with the outside world.

However, if they wanted to keep this quiet, they shouldn't have invited a mouthy blogger who likes to fill his slice o' the internet with stories of his life.

So...the Bridging Ceremony. It was fabulous, filled with deep meaning, and powerful. They called my daughter's name, she took two...maybe three...steps over a wooden bridge in the middle of the room...and became a Junior.

Um...what I meant was...uh...well, it's like...huh.

Remember in Finding Nemo when Nemo had to swim through...THE RING OF FIRE!!! in order to be accepted by the other fish in the tank at the dentist's office? And when he finally went through with the ceremony, it turned out that all he did was swim through the bubbles produced by the fake volcano? And in the end was like "That was it?"

Yeah. Like that. But with less bubbles.

So, anyway, Sharkbait, Hoo Ha Ha! my daughter is now a Junior. Also, she got several awards for all the work she did this year with the girl scout troop. She earned three badges, which is exactly three more than I ever earned in my entire scouting career (minus the four patches I earned to graduate from one level to another, and my Arrow of Light). But then again, I never truly made it to Tenderfoot before baseball and a serious fascination with titties ended my scouting career.

She also won an award for the second most cookie sales for her troop. Second! Impressive. She sold 248 boxes, which is two shy of 250 (I can do math, me), and was also two shy of first place. If only her grandparents or her uncle would have ponied up and shelled out the money for two boxes of cookies, she could have been top Instead, poor little Sharkbait, Hoo Ha Ha daughter mine will have to languish in second place. Forever.

I think I just decided not to send my mom her Mother's Day Card.

Ever again.

On Parenting...And Dead Cats

May 17, 2010

Now, I realize that mothers have a lot more they have to deal with, what with the pushing a baby out of their vagoo and having it latch onto a nipple for the next twelve months. The baby, not the vagoo. I hope. But there's some unpleasant shit that fathers have to do, too.

The care and handling of dead kittens is one of these things.

In a fine tradition going back to at least my dad, I had to take care of the dead kittens on Saturday. Unlike my father, however, who told me that he had buried my cat Katie--despite the fact that I watched him throw her carcass into the garbage can and mutter something about the unpleasantness of cats--I followed through and buried the kittens on Saturday morning.

Backstory time! You see, my first real cat was a gray kitten my mom grabbed at her hairdresser's place. Her hairdresser at the time lived on a farm and so she, naturally, had an army of cats plaguing the premises. My mom figured the hairdresser wouldn't miss one little kitten, so she brought her home for me. I had just read a story with a character named "Katie the Kat" (or some such nonsense) and so I named my new kitten (who, fortunately, was a girl) for Katie the Kat. I was all of about 7 at the time, maybe even younger.

Two weekends later, we went away for the weekend to go to The Lake, as we did almost every weekend. When we came home, we found Katie's lifeless body lying in the driveway where she had been mauled by the dog up the street. That's when I saw the unpleasant and unceremonious disposal of my cat's body, though I was told--on three separate occasions--that she was buried behind the garage, under the cherry tree and out by the hedge.

Incidentally, that same dog mauled my next cat, Fluffy, though she lived. I hated that fucking dog, but since my mom wouldn't let me have a BB gun, its reign of terror continued for many years. My hatred had waned just enough by the time I had a .22 that its life was spared. Besides, I lived inside the city limits and, if I've learned anything, it's that the local constabulary frowns of shooting rifles in the middle of the street. Fucking dog.

Anyway, Saturday morning should have been a lovely morning, with a cloudless sky, warm sunshine, and the twittering of birds going about their pleasant, avian lives. But, with a growing sense of dread, I knew that I had to take care of the dead kittens. Just so you know, I have a minor in biology, so I'm well familiar with the handling of dead animals. When Peachigo finally died Friday night around midnight, I carefully took her limp little body and laid it next to her sister. I then stood over the two and stared at them, trying to compose myself, before returning inside.

Apparently, something changed between midnight Friday night and 10:00 Saturday morning, and that change would be "rigor mortis". I guess I was fine with dealing with her dead body when it was limp, but when I went to put Peachigo into the shoebox I had picked out for her, I couldn't handle touching her stiff form. So, I took the towel in which they were both placed and I carefully put it into the shoebox coffin. I put the lid on the box and taped it shut, because, honestly, I didn't need any zombie kittehs coming after my brains--and catnip--and took the coffin out to the hole I had dug to serve as their final resting place.

Let me tell you something else: it's a lot easier to dig a grave than it is to fill one in. When you're digging the grave, your mind is set on the task, of slashing through the spiderweb of roots that are criss-crossing the soil in which you're digging, of picking around the rocks in the way, and on making sure that the hole is deep enough so that scavengers won't smell the dead kittens and dig them up, only to have their half-eaten remains be left in the middle of the backyard where the children and/or your wife may find them at a later date. Honestly, I was stressed enough over taking care of the funeral arrangements for the dead strays, I didn't need to deal with the psychic scarring that THAT particular scenario would leave.

But filling in the grave? It's easier physically, but mentally, it's a whole different ballgame. It was the final admission that they were dead, that they weren't going to spring up to life and mew "You've been punk'd, sucker!" The cats were dead, and this was good-bye. That's not an easy thing to get through, even if they weren't your cats initially and you only had them for four days. Sure, it provided closure, but that didn't make it easier.

So, the kittehs have been buried, as lovingly as possible, and their final resting spot marked with a stone, underneath one of our dogwood trees...which is probably sickly ironic, I know, but it's a very shady and quiet spot in the yard.

And so the book is closed on this blog's slow conversion into a Kitteh Blog. That is, until my wife goes to the pound and adopts a half dozen orphans...

Good-Bye, Kittehs

May 14, 2010

That's really all that can be said. Motley, the gray kitteh on the left, died earlier on Friday morning. I don't know if Peachigo, the calico on the right, is still hanging on or not, but she's been completely silent, immobile and listless all evening.

Now I'm wondering if the mother didn't abandon them just because they were sick and she wanted them away from the rest of the litter. My kids--specifically my daughter--and my wife are taking this pretty hard, and seeing them so upset has made my little heart break.

So, we are once again kitteh-less around here. It's been very sad today.

[EDIT]: Peachigo is officially dead now, too. I'm going to go cry myself to sleep now. Er, I mean, be rock solid and manly and bury my emotions.

Friday Morning Latin Lesson, Vol. LXIX

Have you ever been to Nashville? I know a few of you have. I went a couple of years ago with my wife for a couple of days without the children. It was nice. Plus, I was able to check Tennessee off that list of "States I haven't yet had sex in."

Anyway, did you know that the Parthenon is in Nashville, TN? Well, it's a reconstruction of the original that sits atop the acropolis in Athens. Nashville built their Parthenon in 1897 as a part of their Centennial celebration. The building itself is a full-scale replica, as well as the statue of Athena that stands inside it. They also have some plaster reconstructions of the pieces of the pediment which are housed now in the British Museum in London.

For a couple of people who like ancient history just a little too much, the Parthenon was a must see on our trip. We both really liked it. In fact, the wallpaper on my wife's computer is a picture she took of Athena's shield; fortunately, it was just a reconstruction, so we didn't turn to stone.

Athena, of course, was a warrior goddess. While Ares was a god of war, he was more the embodiment of the rage, bloodlust and strife that comes in battle. Athena was more the tactician, which is why she liked Odysseus so much, because he was a thinking man focused on strategy. Because he was favored by Athena, this was one reason why Poseidon didn't much care for Odysseus and sent him traipsing all over the Mediterranean (there were a lot of reasons why Poseidon was pissed at Odysseus; this was just one of them).

Poseidon and Athena had a long-standing feud. As you may have guessed, the cult of Athena was centered in Athens, Greece. She and Poseidon vied for the city, each providing the Athenians with something with which they could survive. Poseidon struck the earth, and a spring flowed from it. Unfortunately, the spring was salt water and couldn't really be used. Athena gave them the olive tree, which provided olives for food, olive oil for burning and cooking, and wood for building and burning. From there, the Athenians named their city after her and erected a huge temple in her honor. If things had gone differently, maybe the capital of Greece would be Poseidos.

But why was it called "the Parthenon" if it was dedicated to Athena? Well, Athena was a virgin goddess, and thus carried the title Athena Parthenos, which means "Athena, ever-virgin".

And, she apparently wasn't ever-virgin because she was, y'know, ugly. While fitting her for some armor, Haphaestus, the blacksmith of the gods, got turned on and tried to "assert himself" on Athena. She ran, and since he was misshapen and couldn't keep up with her, he decided to take matters into his own hands. After rubbing one out, he ejaculated, which hit the ground and there was born the serpent Erichthonius. Athena took the snake and raised it, which is one of the reasons why serpents were a symbol of hers.

Speaking of ever-virgin...ever have one of those relationships where things just weren't moving into the sexual realm fast enough? Who hasn't, right? Sweet talking can only get you so far, so you might want to try sweet-talking and sounding profound all at the same time:

Non dolebit, voveo. Ero velox.

Pronounced "Noan doh-lay-beet, woh-way-oh. Air-roh way-loxe."

Translation in the hovertext.

So, knowing all that about Poseidon and Athena, it makes sense that Nashville got hit so hard last week with flooding, right? It was simply a continuation of a centuries-old fight. Athena's main temple is reconstructed in Nashville, and a couple hundred years later, Poseidon decides to be a dick and flood the joint.

If you're going to visit Nashville, the Parthenon serves as their main art gallery, too. I'd personally say that the $6 admission is well-worth the price. We were so impressed that we bought a framed picture of the Parthenon, which hangs in our living room. I also recommend the state capital building, which is on a hill in the middle of town and has a lot of cool stuff to see and do, too.

Oh, and I ate the banana, but I waited until later in the afternoon to do it.

TMI Thursday: Day Three

May 13, 2010

Day two and three of being surrogate mothers to a pair of orphaned kittehs has proven to be interesting, to say the least. Disgustingly interesting.

Apparently, newborn kittens lack the ability to shit on their own, and they require external stimulation in order to produce excreta of both the solid and liquid kind. Thankfully, I am a human, with thumbs, that can wield a wet wipe. Otherwise, if I was a cat, I'd have to do this...with my tongue.

My wife, who is regretting telling her friend that she could have one of the kittens, has been researching the care and uptake of orphaned kittehs. That's how she knew that the external stimulation must be done. She's a trooper and did it on the aforementioned Pichigo/Peachigo yesterday, and received tiny cat turds and too much cat pee as a reward.

Last night, it was my turn with the other kitty, Motley (though, you'd think, a calico would be better suited to the name of "Motley", but I digress). So, once Motley was fed and petted, I got the wet wipe out and started going over Motley as if the wet wipe was a mother cat's tongue. I washed his/her little face and then I worked my way down the tummy. After cleaning face and tummy, it was time for the stimulation of the genitalia and the asshole.

I, too, was rewarded with a torrent of tiny kitteh peepee. See, I tried to use "cute" terminology there to lure you into a false sense of security because what came next was horrific.

I then dabbed and his/her little anus, trying to coax out the poo. The previous day, they had fouled the basket in which they live with what I can only assume is kitty meconium, because it was black. So, we knew that their GI tracts were healthy, we just needed to make sure that they were learning how to use them.

So, a-wiping at the butt I went. I'm apparently an expert cat-shit-inducer, because I saw Motley's tiny little anus swell, and then out erupted what looked suspiciously like a grub. Because I'm a man, I screamed and dropped the cat, running from the room and curling into the fetal position beneath the dining room table, trying my best not to cry played like it was no big thing, caught the tiny, worm-like turd in the towel on which Motley was resting, and continued wiping.

I was rewarded with another white turd that didn't look exactly like a petrified meal worm had just crawled out of his/her asshole. And then came some kitteh diarrhea. Apparently, the worm-like shit was a plug holding back the semi-soft shit that was to follow.

You know, when I was a fresh-faced youth of 18, heading out into the world to make my mark and find my fortune...I was pretty certain I would never have to write the previous five paragraphs. Oh what a fickle mistress fate and reality are.

Fortunately, hell beast kitty turds flush just like their human counterparts. So, once finished excreting, I put little Motley back in the basket, carried the towel into the bathroom, shook out the turds and then vomited washed my hands so furiously and so thoroughly, I'd put an OCD patient to shame.

We've got a nice little system worked out, my wife and I. She's feeds them, and I rub their naughty bits in hopes of scoring all the free cat urine and feces that I want. I've since performed the stimulation a couple of times, netting fabulous results each and every time, and ensuring that my cats are healthy little freeloaders pets.

Strangely enough, this banana that I brought with my for lunch doesn't look nearly as enticing as it did this morning...

Come back tomorrow, where I promise I won't talk about kittehs--or their poops--and we'll discover the fate of this banana.

What Are You Watching???

May 12, 2010

When I was first married to my wife, I would come home from the lab, eat dinner, lay around the apartment for a little bit, and then end up going back into the lab for a couple of hours. Such was the life of a graduate student.

Sometimes, when I would get home at night, I would turn on the television and try to relax a little bit. The flickering light from the idiot box would help me to forget all the images of electrons realigning themselves to form new bonds, the course of reaction mechanisms, and the shape and distance from the nucleus of various electron orbitals. In short, it was a way to escape chemistry for a bit.

One of my favorite guilty pleasures was to watch anime, usually Inu-Yasha, because that was what was on Cartoon Network at about the same time that I came home from the lab the second time. Sometimes I would be particularly restless and I'd stay up until Cowboy Bepop came on.

"What are you watching?" my wife would ask from the bedroom, walking down the hall to the living room. "Anime," I'd respond, somewhat listlessly. My wife, since she was tired, would simply roll her eyes and ask "Why do you want to watch that. It's not even English, it's just dubbed."

"I like it," I would respond, returning my attention to people dicing one another with swords and grunting/roaring/growling. "It helps me unwind."

Fast forward a couple of years, and now we've moved to North By God Carolina. When I would come home from work (this time, around 5-ish), I would turn on Cartoon Network, and there would be Rurouni Kenshin, which was even more awesome, because I didn't have to wait up for it, but there was still plenty of sword fighting. They even had swords catching on fire thanks to all the human fat that was caught up in the tiny folds of the blade. Awesome.

Which reminds me...I never got to see how that series ended. I should check that out...

Anyway, I came home one day to find my wife watching...gasp!...Tenchi Universe, which is a show that I never got into, but I could see we were making some strides here. She would also watch this cartoon called Hamtaro with my daughter.

Things finally started changing when my wife was sick in the hospital with pneumonia the winter after the boy was born. She apparently woke up in the middle of the night, couldn't sleep, and flipped through the channels, settling on Cartoon Network which was showing a Hayao Miyazaki movie (I think it was Pom Poko). This was the point where she became more than just "interested" in Japanese animation, be it via a movie or a series.

And now?

Now, my wife is fucking obsessed. After her friend died last fall, she got hooked on watching this show called Bleach, because he had been such a fan. And when my wife gets hooked on something, she doesn't do it half-assed, let me assure you. She has watched the entire Bleach series. She waits up on Tuesday nights so that she can download and watch the newest Bleach releases subtitled in English. She reads the Bleach manga once it has been released and translated into English.

We're not so good at reading Japanese, but we can recognize some of the symbols for least up through 13. All thanks to Bleach.

But, it doesn't stop there.

She got the kids hooked on it, too. Which is odd, because bleach comes with a 14+ rating. They're not allowed to watch iCarly, but Bleach is fine. *holds hands up* She's set the rules, and I follow along. The kids have become completely obsessed, too, mostly because this is a little more grown up than, say, Spongebob or Handy Manny. I think that's why they like it.

We have CDs of Bleach music. And mp3 files of Bleach music. We have family Bleach night. We have plans for Bleach-themed Halloween costumes (I'm going to be Kisuke Urahara/Mr. Hat and Clogs).

Icing on the Bleach cake (which we've already had, by the way)? We have a kitteh with a Bleach-inspired name.

Since one of the kittens has half an orange face (she's a calico), my wife named her "Pichigo" (pronounced Peach-ee-go), because of the peach coloring, and in honor of the main character from Bleach, Ichigo Kurosaki. My daughter came home yesterday with a list of names she and her friends had brain-stormed for the kittens, including the name "Rukia", named for (arguably) the main female lead in the show, Rukia Kuchiki. She also came up with the name "Grape", which I'm still a little confused about. At least Rukia has a source.

And...I give pause because I refuse to turn this into a kitteh blog, but I wanted to update people who thought I would be drowning the kittens or grilling them for dinner or something. There were only two kittens in the box. We didn't see the mother any more, so we've taken them in and we're now...hand-feeding the kittens. They have a happy little home in a basket in our bedroom for now, and we're going to adopt Pichigo as our own. My wife's friend is pretty sure she'll take the other one, so the kittens have found good homes.

I just hope they like watching Bleach.

New Kits on the Block

May 11, 2010

This is going to require a couple of backstories before the full tale can be told.

On Saturday, I mowed two thirds of my lawn. I ran the mower until it sputtered and died, unable to pull any more fuel from the tank, largely because there was no more gas in the gas tank. I refilled the tank and started the mower, but a combination of me filling the tank too full and me running the tank too dry before filling the tank too full resulted in a mower that would start, but wouldn't keep running. I wheeled it down in front of my out building and let it sit, hoping some of the gasoline would evaporate out and that the vapor pressure would help fill the lines.

On Sunday, my kids were playing hide-and-seek. On the back porch, I have a big rubbermaid bin for the kids to put their outside toys in. We also had a pollen-encrusted blanket that we use for picnics in the backyard. While playing hide-and-seek, my daughter shoved the blanket into the bin so that she could lay down in it in order to hide. When they were done, they left the blanket in the bin.

Alright, now that the back stories are out of the way, I can get to the meat of the situation. This morning, I was watching the weather and saw that there was a slight chance of showers later in the afternoon. So, I got showered and dressed and went downstairs to put the lawnmower up onto the patio in front of my out building so that it would be sheltered from any rain. I walked out onto the back porch, had no problems or anything. I put the mower away, slapped my hands together in a brushing-them-off sort of manner, celebrating a job well-done, and I walked back up to the back porch.

Our back porch is really rather nice. It's a decent size, it's screened in, has a ceiling fan, the works. The only problem is the door was hung poorly, and so it's really difficult to get open and closed, so to accommodate the comings and goings of the children, we just leave the door open.

As I was walking back up onto the back porch, I heard something moving around. I looked over to where the ruckus was, and I saw a fuzzy, gray tail.

Oh damn, I thought, another squirrel has gotten in here. No bother. I'll just go in the house and it will run down the steps and be gone. Because squirrels and house wrens get on there all the time, I thought nothing more of it, and I went to go into the house.

That's when the furry little fucker charged me.

And that's when I learned that it wasn't a squirrel, but a cat. It was a shaggy, gray, somewhat mottled like a calico cat, but not quite a calico. It was some sort of gray-tabby-calico bastard mix.

The cat ran past me without incident and charged off into the woods.

Ha ha! Fucking cat, I thought, be gone, scruffy beast! The sad thing is, I really talk like that in my mind. With the cat off the porch, and me not wanting to encourage it to come back onto the porch, I went to shut the door.

I got the door about 90% of the way closed, when I heard, from behind me, the pitiful chorus of "Mew! Mewmew! Mew mew mew! Mewmew! Mew! Mewmew!"

"Oh fuck," I said aloud, "we have kittens."

Despite the fact that I don't necessarily want stray cats having kittens on my back porch, I opened the door back up so that the Mama cat could return to her brood--hopefully to move them. I went over and looked and, sure enough, in the bin with the blanket, there's some kittens. They're small, their eyes are still closed, but they're kittens.


Now, just the other day I was sitting around thinking about how much I missed my cats, since I've had three fabulous cats over the course of my life, and some rather dickish ones. In fact, the last cat that I had picked out my wife for me. I brought my then girlfriend over to my apartment and my cat, who normally saw visitors and said "Fuck you" before going to lay on my bed, came out and climbed up onto my girlfriend's lap. If the big tits and the red hair and excellent lip musculature from a lifetime in the marching band weren't enough to convince me that she was a keeper, the cat's approval sealed the deal.

Unfortunately, when we got married, we sent the cat to my mom and dad's house, where my dad got sick of her playing with milk rings in the middle of the night in the dining room, and threw her outside. The cat was never seen again.


However, my daughter is allergic to cats. Like, violently. So we've never really thought we could--or should--have cats.

Despite all this, apparently, over night, I became the proud owner of some kittens. Like a fucking idiot, I showed the kittens to my daughter because the bin is conveniently located under one of the windows of the living room. This meant that my kids were both manning the windows in hopes of seeing the mother cat come back to the kittens, which she didn't do in the fifteen minutes between the discovery of the kittens and time to go to the bus stop.

And, for a couple of moments, I thought Well, I could just take them down to the stream while the mother cat is away and take care of this problem. But then I couldn't, because I'd have dead kittens weighing on my soul, and, frankly, I've got enough stains on the immortal portion of my being, I don't need to be dragging around a bunch of dead kittens like Jacob Marley and his chains.

To that end...anyone want a free kitten? Or have a good recipe for General Tso's Chicken?

Lucid Dreaming in a Lucid Dream

May 10, 2010

I had a rough night last night. Well, to be more honest, I had a rough night early this morning.

Allow me to preface this all with a little backstory. Last week, I didn't get my monkey ass to bed until at least 1:00 every night. I was up either doing research for this book that I'm starting, or I was playing a game, or I was having the sex (it's what married people do, sometimes). And then I was up at 7:00 every morning. In college, this was fine. However, I graduated from college eleven years ago (to the day, in fact), ergo, this is not fine.

This has all added up and now I'm pretty fricking exhausted.

Last night, I went to bed at midnight. And I was okay, mostly. I fell asleep and stayed asleep, which is something that doesn't happen to me much. It was a good, crisp night, good for snuggling up to the already warm form of my wife and sleeping the night away.

Unfortunately, I woke up around 5:00 this morning. My wife gets up at 4:20 and smokes a big bowl to get ready for the opening shift at work. For whatever reason, I woke up at 5:00, through no fault of hers (though the light on downstairs was a wee bit distracting), and I stayed awake. Worse, I began to have one of those senses of dread and doom that have been plaguing me lately, where my guts tie themselves up into knots and I feel like there is some darkness lurking over my shoulders, waiting to fall on me at any moment.

Finally, I was able to fall back asleep. And that's when the dreams began.

I was back home in my house in Indiana where I grew up. I was trying to get my brother and my sister ready for school, and I got in my car and drove out of the back of the yard and went down an alley that led to a side street. As I got toward the end of the alley, where I was expecting there to be a sharp left turn that takes me down toward the river, I found an elementary school on the right-hand side of the street and then a huge Catholic Church that was all lit up with sodium lamps, giving it that amber color. It was suddenly night.

My little town had neither a Catholic Church nor an elementary school. Nor did it suddenly become night in the middle of the morning. I knew something wasn't right.

I saw a sign for interstate 44. Somehow, I knew that I was in Oklahoma. I was driving around, and I was suddenly on some interstates, but I knew this wasn't right. I shouldn't have been able to go from Indiana to Oklahoma without...a few states popping up in between. So, I knew it must be a dream.

I even announced this aloud in my dream. Knowing that I needed to wake up, I started commanding the dream to do things for me. I tried to sprout wings from my shoulder blades like an angel, but to no avail. I always try various ways of flying in my lucid dreams--sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. Also, I try to command people to be naked in my dreams. This works a lot more often than the flying.

As I was driving along, a police officer began to chase me, but I eluded him somehow--maybe he was after someone else. I do remember making a few turns to try and elude him, and it was, perhaps, the slowest police chase in history. Finally, I pulled over and made myself wake up...

...and I was in my house this time, in North Carolina. But, I was still trying to get my brother and sister ready for school. And Carrie Fisher was there. A young Carrie Fisher, from the Blues Brothers/Princess Leia days.

Also, there were all these cars parked in my driveway and in my yard. I looked out and saw that a large group of people had gathered to dismantle my neighbors' houses. Two of them were being pulled apart, piece-by-piece. I was going to call my wife at work and ask her if she knew anything about it, but I knew that I had to get my brother and sister ready. So, I turned around to get in the shower and noticed that the dresser was gone in my bedroom. And the toilet was gone in my bathroom. The bathtub was full of stuff, and I was trying to clean it out. That's when Carrie Fisher showed up and I asked her for help getting my brother and sister dressed and to tell the people tearing down my neighbors' houses to get out of my house, there was nothing wrong with it.

That's when the sink and the vanity disappeared in my bathroom and there were people down in my kitchen taking out the dishwasher and all the pots and pans. I yelled for them to get out, and it suddenly occurred to me that I was dreaming once more. So, I tried to command my dream, and for a second, I had it. Once I had control of the dream, I began putting the missing things back where they belonged and got the tub cleaned out. Then, mercifully, I was able to wake up.

I laid there for a few moments, hoping that I was finally, really awake. I heard some banging around and, for a moment, was terrified that the dream about the people taking all my stuff had returned. Fortunately, I realized that it was just my daughter getting ready for school. The alarm went off and I rolled over to turn it off, then laid there in bed for a few moments trying to calm my mind and organize my thoughts for the day.

It was not easy. My mind is always a wreck when I go through a series of dreams like this because the vividness of the dream was enough to make it seem as though it was a true substitute for reality. Finally, I got up and started the day, managing to get my kids ready for school without driving to Oklahoma.

I don't know what it was that touched me off this morning. Maybe it was because I walked by the melatonin at Kroger and thought about picking up a bottle, just for shits and giggles, and this was my mind's way of warding me off from it. I don't know. I just know that I don't want to drive from Indiana to Oklahoma like that ever again.

Friday Morning Latin Lesson, Vol. LXVIII

May 7, 2010

Remember back in January when I had a progression of home appliances up and die? The final cog in that bastard machine of failure and depression was my television. As I mentioned in the above-referenced post, we were planning on getting a new television this year, but we were thinking more toward Christmas time.

Well, now it's go time.

This is why I'm taking Friday off this week, as well as yesterday. My wife and I are going to spend the day together and shop for a television. Fortunately, she works tonight, because I'm sure we'll hate each other by the time we're done shopping and spending the time with one another.

I can see all the married people in the crowd nodding.

I can't. I made that up. Fuck, if it's anything like the other recent Latin lessons have been trending, there isn't a one of you out there actually reading this, so it's not like I can actually see you.

I kid, I kid.

Anyway, hopefully, by the time you read this (if you read this at, say, four o'clock or later--because you've been working hard all day and not reading blogs, right?) I'll be firmly ensconced upon my couch, enjoying my new television.

My wife and I have finally decided to jump into the flat-panel television pool with both feet. We're going 42", which means I won't have to squint to see the screen from across the room (we have a long living room). Also, it will make Anime Fridays with the Family a lot more easy to enjoy, what with the big screen and not having to cram everyone into our bed and all.

Jesus, I cannot wait for football season...pfft! Anime Fridays? Bring on yet another year of mediocrity that is Notre Dame football, baby! I can't wait to be completely disappointed in 1080p!

Anyway, if you happen to be around my house this weekend, you'll probably hear me uttering something like this to the kids:

Tace! Tata televisiem spectat.

Pronounced: "Tah-kay! Tah-tah tay-lay-wee-see-aim spake-taht."

Predictable translation in the hovertext.

You might have noticed a bit of "New Latin" there in the translation. They didn't have televisions in Ancient Rome? Wow. Who knew?

Anyway, while I was coming up with this week's phrase for translation, it put me in mind of something funnier that I saw on the internet a couple of months back. So, here's a little bonus Latin to get you ready for the weekend:

Lupa, obsera os tuum cum Billy Mays dicit!

Pronounced: "Loo-pah, ohb-say-rah ohs too-oom coom Billy Mays dee-keet!"

Do I really need to translate?

Strangely enough, I couldn't find a Latin translation for "Billy" (probably because it's a German name...), so I just went with his un-Latinized name.

What, you're still here? Fine. Pull up a slice of couch, but don't talk unless there are commercials on.

Is Your Heart Fonder Yet?

May 6, 2010

I didn't post yesterday because I was up late Tuesday night doing this whole "research" thing for the story I'm working on. Plus, I was watching Master Shake microwave kittens. Wrong? Sure. Disgusting? Yeah. But the whole thing was disturbingly and irreverently funny.

I didn't get a chance to post over lunch because I was busy wrapping up stuff at work so that I can take the remainder of the week off. I'm taking the boy to a baseball game today--Durham is home to America's favorite minor league team, after all--and tomorrow I'm taking off because, honestly, who wants to come back from a day at the ballpark and work, especially on a Friday? Not me, that's for one.

So, I'm not really posting today because I was, again, doing research last night followed up by a little bit of *knowing laughter* with the wife. Apparently, blog posting comes somewhere behind Norse gods and wild monkey sex. I figure it's good for you guys to know where you fall.

I thought I'd show you this, though. When I joined the Facebook, I tried to resist the urge to play some of those stupid games, and then I got hooked on one or two of them. Again, I apologize if I let something slip from time to time and spam your pages. Honest. I'm sorry.

However, this happened to me the other day and I found it so amusing that I felt compelled to share it.

Nothing sates your megalomaniacal thirst for power like fighting the Son of God and winning! Awesome.

Now that I've appeased my inner Jacob, I thought I'd take this new-found power and tell you all to skip out on work and go take in a ballgame today, like me. It's Thirsty Thursday, after all, so you should celebrate it. Go on. You've worked hard. You deserve it. It's not like you sit around all day reading blogs or anything.


May 4, 2010

Orme was a rich man. He held vast tracts of land on the Scandinavian peninsula which was filled with elm trees. As such, he could afford many wives. When a man has many wives, he has many children. As such, Orme proved to be a very virile man, fathering several strong, healthy sons.

As each one became a man, Orme divvied his lands so that each son would also have a large plot of land to do with as he saw fit. However, when the last son came of age, Orme did not have enough land to give to his son. This son, Orme the Lesser, was forced to seek his fortune elsewhere.

During the middle of the eighth century, as it was reckoned by the Christian calendar, Scandinavian raiders, known collectively as Vikings, were spreading across the northern seas. With the madness that was gripping the mainland of Europe in the wake of the fall of the Roman Empire and the power vacuum that it left, the Vikings found the northern territories ripe and easy for the plunder. Orme the Lesser enlisted with the Vikings.

Their raids took them to the Scottish coast, and the Scots were prepared for the Viking raiders. The Scots were fierce in their fighting, and held the Vikings at bay. The Viking chief rallied his soldiers, telling them that the first man to set foot on the land would be granted rulership of what they captured. So, the invaders fought with a renewed vigor. During the battle, Orme the Lesser lost part of his leg. He tied off the wound, but was rendered ineffective for the remainder of the battle.

The rallying cry of the Viking chief proved successful, and the Scot defenders were sent running from the battlefield. As the men were moving to take the shore, Orme the Lesser took his severed leg and threw it over the heads of the men on the shore, his foot hitting the Scottish soil first. Bound by his word, the Viking Chief granted the territory to Orme the Lesser.

Orme recovered from his battle wounds and began to cultivate a wealthy life for himself. He had many people in his employment, and they began taking on the name of Orme's lands, or Orme's by, "by" being a word that means "place". It is comparable to German cities whose names end in "burgh" or English towns with the suffix "bury".

As the kingdoms to the south began to be unified under one crown, Angleland, later to be known as England, the kings from the south began to extend their influence north. By this time, Orme the Lesser was just a folk hero, a founder of what would become a proud family--so proud, in fact, that they refused to bow before the southern kings and, instead, fought them until they could no longer withstand English rule.

Admiring their bravery, the English king offered a barony to the leader of Clan Ormesby in what is now Lincolnshire. The leader of House Ormesby agreed and moved the family to Lincolnshire. There, they ruled for some time in service to the English king, until William the Conqueror brought the Normans to the shores of Great Britain. As the battles raged back and forth, the Baron of Ormesby was able to capture the daughter of a Norman noble. Seeing the powerful bargaining chip they owned, the English were thrilled.

The Ormesby, however, was thinking between his thighs and soon fell for the Norman lass, helping her escape and taking her back to the Norman camp. Ormesby then defected, swearing his allegiance to the Norman invaders. Once England was subjugated by the invaders, William the Conquerer killed the leaders of House Ormesby of Lincolnshire and installed Richard the Defector as the Baron of Ormesby and thereby granted him a knighthood. To differentiate from the original Ormesby name, Richard dropped the "e" from the middle and the family name became Ormsby. Various other spellings still exist, including Ormesby, Ormsbee, and Ormesbee.

Eventually, descendants of Orme made their way to the new world. Ignoring the traitorous and deceptive blood coursing through their veins (or not), they began to help settle the new world, a large portion of them stopping and setting down roots in northeastern Indiana. For the most part, they were farmers and rapacious hunters.

One of them, by the name of Ivan, married a woman named Emma, who preferred to be called Lucille, and they had nine children. One of those, a daughter named Betty, married a man named Davis. They had three children, all daughters. The middle daughter married a man by the name Jenks.

And he sired me.

So, when I get caught up in a Viking frame of mind, like I'm in right now, I can't help myself. It's in the blood. It is required for me to pillage and plunder.

Someone pass me the mead. Let's drink one to Orme!

Too bad Wednesday was right. This stuff does taste like piss.


May 3, 2010

I am currently sitting at my desk, listening to a deer (or multiple deer, I'm unsure) yelling at one another. Did you know deer can yell? If you didn't, let me be the first to tell you, deer can yell. It's a sort of screechy, sneezy sound, but it's a yell nonetheless.

I learned this a couple of years ago when I was sitting in my backyard, reading a book quietly, when I heard something walking through the underbrush on the other side of the stream. It was a mother deer and her fawn. Neither of them noticed me until the wind changed direction. When I heard them, I looked up slowly, and saw them. Finally, they noticed me and the mother did her best to warn me off. However, since I wasn't a threat and it was my house, I stayed, observing how she would act. There was a lot of stamping of her front feet, as if to intimidate me. That didn't work. The sneezing scream did, though, mostly because it was so different and so odd and so otherworldly, but I remained. She would stamp and then make that sneeze sound, and I watched her for about fifteen minutes. The fawn remained frozen, watching me. Finally, I stood, and both she and the fawn bounded off into the woods. It was all very interesting, as I was in the middle of writing a book in which a couple of deer were the main characters.

Speaking of that book...

Did you see that? It was almost a segue!

So, I've been in kind of a dark place for a couple of weeks. Mirthless and somewhat listless, I've been going through the motions and, well, honestly--aside from a particularly enjoyable piece I wrote about swishing your mouth out with piss--I haven't really written much of anything that I would call "good".

Granted, most of the time "good" is debatable, but still, I think you understand what I'm saying.

I think--more or less--that I've snapped out of my funk. At least, I'm riding on a higher wave than I was before. Thanks to everyone who told me to "buck up, little soldier" and then offered me their backside for grabbing--er, I mean, hugging, yeah, hugging. *shifty-eyed*

Anyway, I'm sorry for being in a kind of emotional trough. I think a lot of shit hit me all at the same time, and it just kind of buried me. The book thing was just kind of the icing on the cake.

A lot of you, in the comments section of the caveat scriptor post, asked questions, and since I'm too fucking lazy temporally-economically-minded to go back and answer those questions, I thought I'd address them here. So, here goes.

I plan on keeping up the submission effort with the book. I kind of backed off when money got tight last year, but now that (for a while, at least) I'm in more steady financial waters, I'll be going back to submission. I'm going to back to trying to find an agent. I did get close, once, but then the guy who was interested in my work quit the fine art of literary agenting and hasn't resurfaced; believe me, I've stalked him relentlessly, all to no avail. I'm going to stick to agents because, frankly, I don't trust e-publishers now. And, the story is good, too good to leave moldering in the bins of my electronic data storage units (whatever the fuck they would be called). The other two stories are too good, too, to leave unpublished (I think I just managed to use every form of the word "to" that can be used in the English language...minus the Norse god Tyw--hey, look!), and so I will eventually get around to cleaning those up and sending them out once I'm a touch more established within the publishing world.

Perhaps I'm too arrogant, but I don't want to go the self-published route. I've read the pros and the cons of the self-publishing field, and though I don't think it's a scam (if you find the right company), I just don't think it's for me. That is all.

And, as for the question of do I worry that Strategic Book Publishing has a complete copy of my manuscript in their hands...yes, I'm worried, but at the same time, if they're too lazy to actually publish the books they've been PAID to publish, then I probably shouldn't worry that they'd go about swiping my story. Besides, according to a couple of legitimate publisher's websites that I've read, my work is copyrighted and protected from being stolen by a publisher who has received it. Perhaps naively, I'll trust that the law is on my side.

Also, my Greek going on vacation. I've actually stopped writing it. Instead, I've been doing a lot of study and research on other mythologies. Blame Neil Gaiman if you must, but I came up with a new, fabulous idea and I'm going to be working on that. Because she likes the idea I've cooked up almost more than I like it, my wife is kind of playing the role of editor/publisher and is going to be demanding a chapter from me a week. We'll see how this works out. This is either going to end with a fantastic manuscript by the end of the summer, or a lot of make-up sex. Either way, it's win-win for me.

Plus, it helps fill up Thursdays here on ye olde blogge.

So, anyway, that's the updates from me: yay, I'm not so dour; boo, I'm not writing the book I was halfway finished with; and I'm starting a new one that I hope to have done sometime over the summer *listless shrug*.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to get back to Cheers.