Since high school I’ve had a bad habit of starting a journal, making maybe four entries, and then forgetting about it for a year or two.
Ten years later and I’m still doing this on the interweb. I guess I don’t view a lot of the minutia of my life as noteworthy. Of course few personal blogs are noteworthy, but I find myself checking the blogs of the people I know daily. Perhaps it is a need for connection of some sort.
You know those great conversations that you have every year or so that go on for hours and you’re so into the conversation(whose topics range from life, the universe, and everything up to minor food and movie preferences) that you don’t want it to end. Blogs to me are kind of like tapping into that metaconversation.
Anyway, it’s past my bedtime and I’m rambling. Guten nicht!
On occasion when I think about a friend I haven’t seen in years I will search Google to see if I can find out what they’re up to.
Tonight I found a blog of one of my closest friends from high school up until we fell out of contact three or four years ago. I want to email him, but I’m not sure if I should. He has had a lot of bad life experiences down here and moved away after college for a fresh start. I think if I went out of my way to reestablish contact it might bring up some stuff he’s worked past.
It sounds like he’s lonely and confused where he is. I’m pretty confused myself, and though I have lots of friends around I still fall into depressive moods of loneliness that are hard to shake off. But I’ve now had a couple of decades to get through depressive funks and generally only have a day or two a month where I go into self-isolation. I hope he’ll get through the long tunnel he seems to be stuck in and find some comfort. It can’t rain forever.
I’ve been in my new apartment for two weeks or so now, and it’s starting to feel like home. I moved all the big stuff that wouldn’t fit in my car over the first weekend, and have been slowly transitioning my books, kitchen stuff, and other crap that I haven’t organized since who knows when.
Technically, I’m still renting the old place until June, when the lease is up. A little over a month ago I was going crazy with the need for personal space. I’ve shared a 1000sq ft 2bd/2ba townhome with Jacob for nearly three years now, and at first it was great since we had different schedules and hardly saw each other. Over a couple of years those little roommate quirks that grow into full-fledged annoyances started to bloom like weeds in a flower patch. It also didn’t help that Elias was over from Thursday afternoon to Sunday evening just about every week. The place was full of smoke from the two of them, and I needed my own sanctuary.
The last week of January, I was jonesing to move out and occupying myself with browsing apartment listings on Craigslist, when I found a place that sounded perfect for me. 1bd/1ba apartment built into the lower floor of a log cabin 20 min outside of Greenville. It’s only 650sq ft, but the layout makes it seem huge for just me, and the fittings and fixtures are much better than anywhere I’ve rented before. I even have a garden bed to try and grow a few herbs and veggies. The best part; it’s only $450 a month, utilities included.
I couldn’t pass up this opportunity, so, long story short, I took it and made a deal with Jacob where I would pay $200 (half of our current rent is $272.50 per month) for the four months left on the lease and move out now. Spending an extra $800 sucks, but I made the right decision for me.
I’ll post a few photos once I get things a bit more setup (with actual books on my bookshelves and rooms without boxes everywhere).
After asking advice on a Home Theater setup on this forum, a guy in the know recommended KEF 1005 5.1 Surround speakers which retail for $300 or so. He also mentioned that Circuit City just put the next step up in that line on clearance for the same price.
That speaker set is the KEF KHT2005, and you can read all about it in this Cnet review. These speakers came out three years ago for $1500, and the electronics industry being what it is they were replaced by virtually the same set with a new badge(KHT3005) 1.5 years later and went down to $1000. If you read the reviews and the specs the speakers are virtually identical except the newer model has a rounded subwoofer.
Anyway, I went to the first of two Circuit City’s(or is it Cities?) in Greenville on my lunch hour today, and they sold out of that set two weeks ago. I then drove to the other CC and luckily enough they had a demo set still available. I listened to them for a few minutes(kickass sound, btw) and asked the sales guy how much for the floor model. Long story short I walked out with $1500 speakers for $199.95 plus $29.95 for a 10 year service/replacement plan. Normally that plan would be $150-200 but it is keyed the price of the speakers. If something blows and they can’t fix it they have to give me a model of equivalent specs, not equivalent price.
So, now I have a set of bad mamma jamma speakers and need an equally 733+ receiver and projector. Stay tuned for that.
In my youth I was fascinated by a lot of the religions that are now filed together under the banner ‘neopagan’, but my experience was limited to books and a few conversations. I had never taken part in any rituals.
Fast forward a decade or so and now I’m invited to a Sumble, which is a ritual followed by Norse inspired neopaganism. I have no interest in pursuing this line of belief, but from my former studies and my curiosity to experience everything I accepted an offer from a new friend to take part in the ritual.
I arrived at the friend’s house a couple of hours early and played Rock Band for a few songs on drums or vocals. We then had a wonderful meal with a roast turkey with the usual turkey accoutrement. Afterward I had a piece of apple pie with vanilla ice cream and a bit of a homemade berry cordial for dessert. It struck me a bit ironic that that we were having a traditional American holiday meal yet were about to engage in a practice that most Americans would not identify with. But as we are a melting pot of traditions, it also made sense in a wacky wonderful kind of way.
Anyway, at this point the dishes were cleared away, and the host made sure that each participant had a votive candle and a glass with whatever the person wanted to toast with. Most people started with beer or mead and a few who had to drive home later switched to iced tea or Pepsi after a few circles. I went with a large bottle of Victory Golden Monkey Tripel Ale and a bottle of polish mead called Kasztelanski. The host had these really cool glasses that looked like viking drinking horns.
A Sumble basically is several rounds of toasting where the host begins by filling a large drinking horn with mead(homemade is preferable to store-bought) making the first toast, and the toaster drinks from the horn while everyone else drinks from the glass in front of them. Then the horn is passed clockwise to the next person, and the process continues until the horn reaches the host. We only had six people at the Sumble, so the rounds were fairly swift.
The first round is traditionally for the gods. The host bid his gods to come and witness our toasting and boasting and give their approval, we all toasted, he lit the candle in front of him, and passed the horn. A few of the participants invoked “the powers that be” and one young guy invoked “The Good Lord.” When my turn came up, I was kind of unsure what to do as I did not want to offend my host or make a statement contrary to my beliefs. I think I said something along the lines of “I invite all of the forgotten ones once venerated but now left by the wayside.” It sounded quasi-mystical in a H.P. Lovecraft kind of way and I was a bit put on the spot as the second person in line, but I think it was okay. I took a swig of the homemade mead from the drinking horn. The mead was excellent; spicy and sweet, but not too sweet. I then lit my candle and passed the horn.
The next round was for the fallen or the heroes where we toasted. Again I was kind of put on the spot and as I did not have any close relatives or friends die recently I quickly tried to think of a hero to toast. I had read a magazine article earlier in the week talking about all of the good things that John Chapman did during his life. John Chapman is more commonly known as “Johnny Appleseed” and a wikipedia search will reveal the millions of dollars of real estate and material goods he gave away while sleeping outdoors in rags. I thought that is pretty damned heroic, so I toasted to Johnny Appleseed and everyone seemed to find it fitting after I explained why I had chosen him. Most of the others had close friends and family that they lost which made for a solemn round.
Next was a round of boasts. Each person was to boast of something they have done in the last year that they considered a “mighty deed”. I boasted of my NaNoWriMo win.
The rest of the rounds were more open where you could toast whatever you wanted. Some of the toasts I recall include to women, men, alcohol, ingenuity, compassion, kilts, gaming, computers, and the transistor. What can I say, we were all geeks.
All in all, it was definitely a positive experience. From my research, the main purpose of the Sumble was to build community and be a bonding ritual, and it certainly works very well for that. In fact, if you change the first round to the gods to instead toast the virtues you hold dear you would probably find very few people out there who would find it objectionable. Of course, my Astaru(Norse neopagan) friends would probably retort that doing that would “take the piss out of the whole thing” and water it down into yet another tepid team-bonding attempt that can be found in pathetic office environments. Try it if you get a chance and it doesn’t conflict too strongly with your beliefs.
The only other ritual I’m currently looking to do is to participate in a sweat lodge. If anyone knows if one happening within an hour or so of Greenville, let me know.
The Bearded Cap by Vik Prjónsdóttir. This is even more cool than the Jayne hat, and I did not think such a thing was possible. At $125, I think I’d rather try getting one of my crafty friends to knit a reasonable facsimile.
Preamble: I don’t count people, beliefs, etc., as things and as such will only be mentioning actual physical possessions.
2. Swiss Army Knife(SAK). The knife was the first and arguably most useful tool man ever devised. Add in screwdrivers, scissors, bottle openers, etc., and you’ll have the tools to MacGuyver your way out of many problems thrown in your path. I prefer the Victorinox Compact model as it doesn’t weight down my pocket and has the essentials for me(knife, scissors, bottle/can opener, screwdriver, corkscrew). In the past, I’ve had a lot of “everything but the kitchen sink SAK’s(including one with a torch lighter), but now I prefer smaller and more mobile. The Compact is great quality and only US$20 or so.
3. Bandanna. Endless uses for this little square of fabric, but I mostly use mine as a napkin, tablecloth when eating something messy like a piece of fruit at my desk, wrap my ipod in it to protect from scratches, and as a potholder. If I’m outside and it’s hot I’ll pour water on it and tie it around my neck for evaporative cooling. I usually try to find a tissue or paper towel to blow my nose, but if not available, I can use the bandanna. Of course, I don’t do any of the other uses with it until after it’s laundered in that case. Since I have 5-7 of them, I get into a daily rotation. Also, it was a lifesaver in one instance of a roadstop bathroom not having any TP. I’m glad that one was a 99 cent walmart cheapo, ’cause there was no way I was keeping it afterward.
4. Wok. I love my grandmother’s cast iron skillet, but a wok is the most useful piece of cookware ever. In addition to stir fry, I’ve made eggs, soups, curry, fried chicken, and just about any type of cooked food can be made in a wok. I have a carbon steel wok(got it at a thrift store for US$6!), but one day I’d like to get a cast iron wok and lid with no wood parts so I can use it as bakeware. Also, if you get into the wok, make sure you get the necessary accountrements: lid, spatula(s), steamer basket, etc. http://www.thewokshop.com/ is a great resource.
Since Lisa and I had so much going on at Christmastime, and I was just starting a new job(read: no paycheck yet) we decided to postpone our own Christmas celebration until later in January. On January 20th, she dropped by my office, we exchanged gifts, and then went out to eat. We set a gift budget of $100, and sent each other wish lists, so we’d actually get something we want.
The gift I want to talk about is my green Lamy AL Star Fountain Pen.
I’ve had a few fountain pens over the years, but they’ve mostly been a novelty for me. But hearing the guys at edcforums.com gush over the Lamy Safari in thread after thread made me want to have one of my own to try out. My pen is the same as the Safari, but it has an anodized aluminum exterior instead of plastic and is a little more expensive($32 instead of $23 from pendemonium.com).
Those same guys also gush about a brand of ink called Noodler’s. Apparantly, it’s designed to be archival quality and be impossible to remove once it has dried on the paper surface. Plus, the graphics on the bottle are fun, the inks come in a lot of interesting colors, and aren’t very expensive($12-13 for a 3oz bottle). So I also put on my wish list a bottle of Hunter Green(sadly out of stock) and Legal Lapis(I don’t really like blue ink myself, but it is preferred for legal forms, and is the only color of ink we use at the tax office).
If anyone wants to get into fountain pens ever, I highly recommend this combo. You can get a Lamy Safari pen($23), Ink converter($5), and ink of choice($12-13) for under fifty bucks from Pendemonium.com.
My other gifts included a replacement keyboard for my laptop, The Dunwich Horror expansion to the Arkham Horror boardgame(see previous entry), a couple of tshirts, and a christmas ornament. My gifts for Lisa included an iPod Shuffle and a sewing machine box(something she actually really needed). Overall this was a great system, and I’m very happy with the way things turned out.
Well, three months with no new entries and now I’m back.
I’m now managing a tax office location for a local income tax prep company. I’ve worked for the company both full time and part time for five years now, so it was an easy transition. My office is in a good neighborhood, a busy commercial district, and only a mile or so from my FLGS.
I have four employees working for me, all women. I get along with all of them fairly well, and all of them are intelligent enough and friendly enough that things should go very well this tax season.
This year there is a one-time credit to repay tax overpayment on phone bills for the last three years. Phone companies charged a Federal Excise tax on all phone bills long after the government stopped requiring the tax. It would go back more than three years, but the statute of limitations only goes back that far. The credit ranges from $30-60 depending on filing status and dependants. You can read more about it here.
My car’s electrical system is having problems again. I couldn’t get the engine to turn over at a restaurant parking lot. Had to leave it for two days and then my dad met me at the car, and we put in a new battery. With the new battery, it would run, but it still has an electrical problem, so we quickly drove it to the mechanic before the faulty electrical system kills this battery also.
Times like this make me wish I lived in a city with better public transportation. Oh well…