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Darkness to Light to Darkness to Light....

Journeys in the sacred and the profane, stopping at all points in between

9/20/08 04:50 pm - September a month of WTF?!?

It's been one of those months so far, my lady sailgersor is in the hospital for since Thursday, bunches of tests being run, she came down with some virus last weekend at a barbecue party for the Brotherhood (local motorcycle club), but had recovered from that only to be hospitalized for the chemical imbalances it left her with (a lot to do with the tumor still on her Parathyroid gland). A lot of tests haven't heard any results yet they said they may let her go today but that's up in the air.
The financial community has gone insane, fortunately my firm is still kicking about but is circling some other firms like a shark for merger (buy out) possibilities, at least that's what the rumor mill says (One firm to rule them all. One firm to find them. One firm to bring them all and in the darkness buy them). So my job is still safe, whew, wouldn't know where I'd come up with $80 grand to pay off daughter's college dept and my credit cards, if the job vanished. On the subject of job I've been working long hours with precious little time for me, my DVR is going to explode if I don't watch some of the programs I have on it, I did steal a few minutes here and there to watch, True Blood on HBO, my box will be getting a lot of exercise this season. My video games are being sadly neglected, with "Metal Gear Solid 4" beckoning me back to my PS3 and "Infinite Undiscovery" on my 360 remaining largely just that, and my poor Wii turning gray from dust.
The political climate is also in full meltdown with the bizzarro world clone of McCain flip flopping (I used to like this guy back when he ran against Bush), and his running mate proving her VP worth, you know buy refusing to cooperate with an investigation into her claiming that it's run by Obama's folks even though it started before anyone had an inkling that she would be the republican VP choice, that and private email accounts being used to discuss government business (that's illegal you know). Funny thing about this whole campaign I wasn't a big Obama supporter until McCain took the low road and lost his mind, you know calling Obama an elitist while McCain was sporting $150 shoes and $1000 dollar suits and needs a staff to keep track of how many houses he owns, completely lying about Obama's record even on issues where they both voted the same way, yup the straight talk express derailed and the John McCain from those earlier elections was replaced by a pod person. Politics suck, I'm still voting just hope the next guy can at least get us somewhat away from the precipice of doom.

9/9/08 09:00 pm - Belated recreation of Dragon*Con adventures post part 2 at the convention

On Thursday while giving Jen the tour I did catch a bit of the drum circle, but had already missed the other concerts, it was fun seeing the various folks already out and about in costume, I was partially costumed that day with the loaner vest provided by marpai and my red polyester shirt (I had 5 shirts for con where, the red and black shiny polyester frilly shirts, red and black linen versions of the same shirts, which while comfortable and breathable I didn't wear, just not as impressive as the others, and my pride and joy black silk frilly pirate shirt) along with my boots, gloves, and chains. It wasn't until Friday morning when I got to complete my costume with a doublet that I was drooling over since last year, almost missed getting it had to will the gent before me into putting it down and move on to another one for fitting (that is not the doublet you are looking for *slowly waves hand in front of customer* move along), my wallet screamed but my lady said I looked great in it last year, and this year they had gold fabric in this one (favorite color alert), well after that purchase my tours of the exhibit hall and dealer rooms were just that, tours. I picked up my lanyard and pirate skull from pyanfar got to see another Marriott room (well if I am going to get one in the Marriott next year I'm gonna shoot for a suite), still small. Now the costume is complete, looked great with both the Black shirts and the red one. Of course wearing the whole thing in Atlanta during the heat is another story, but I did, just kept ignoring those worrying signs of overheating and learned to love air conditioning.

S
o now it's on to my first planned panel and...ooh free t-shirts and all they want is my blood, and I have an hour to kill, OK I'm sold. Signed up for the blood drive and waited my turn, answered all the fun questions, and they took a pint from me, my good deed for the con and I got my free T (yeah I'm easy). After the blood drain I quickly recovered (OK I ignored my wooziness) and shuffled off to Torchwood Cardiff to see stars from my current favorite show Torchwood. The panel was in the Grand ballroom I was running a bit late (darn blood suckers) I didn't miss much, and was on hand for the gifting of the hat to Gareth David-Lloyd and his classic line about his sitting issue, where he said "I don't want to see 'Barrowman's Bitch has a sore ass' posted all over the internet" (Oops, sorry Gareth I couldn't resist it's such a great line). Sadly Friday night's late night activities had me miss Saturday morning's next gathering with James Marsters and I had to keep telling myself not to spend the $150 for the intimate (OK 60 people) dinner with both of them.

O
ther highlights of Friday were the Abney Park concert followed by the Voltaire concert, Abney Park's music convinced me to pick up all their CDs and Voltaire was great too even without his band. Tried to visit open filking afterward but they were deserted, true it was 3AM but I heard that there was sparse attendance through out even for the one I caught the next night. It has a lot to do with the last minute preparations/director appointments and some hurt feelings that has been discussed elsewhere.

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aturday's highlights consisted of the parade which I watched and got some shots and video of (don't think that I would have made the march in myu hot costume, but bless the brave souls that did), the Great Luke Ski's performance on the concourse the Firefly panel with Nathan Fillon, Gina Torres, Alan Tudyk, and Morena Baccarin and finally a panel on Gay Themes in the Whoniverse. I was spared the multi hour Firefly line by escourting my lady sailgersor on the disability line (sometimes being chair bound does have advantages, back a couple of years ago it got me when I was laid up to the head of Neil Gaiman's signature line at a Balticon). Not so lucky for the panel since Gay Themes in the Whoniverse seemed to overflow the room. I did get to see and hear some great insights though about progressive sexuality as brought in by Russell T Davis and company. We also did the Firefly Shindig for awhile as well before transitioning to the filk room. At the close of the night I got to participate in the open filking after much prodding since there weren't too many filkers (most were up at Luke Ski's concert)in the room and we were being occasionally invaded by drunken party folks, some of which while being new and drunk actually contributed before stumbling off into the dark night. By my participation I mean not just sitting around and listening as I often (*cough* always *cough*) do, I actually pulled up part of a song I was working on from memory (or lack there of) probably better than what I had written down and of course I didn't record it, at the prodding of the filk tracks second in command with many assurances that my voice wouldn't make the folks in the room permanently deaf, or bleed from their ears, and that I could carry a tune. Filk was still in the Inman room, daycare was fortunately not, and due to the pain it went through this year, was woefully under attended unlike years past, well there's always next year.

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n Sunday my lack of sync with real time cost me getting into the Neil Gaiman panel same room as the previous nights overflowing panel on the Whoverse in the Brit Track so I lined up in the killer line for "Wibbly Wobbly, Timey Whimey: Doctor Who New Series" panel which mercifully was moved to a ballroom when they figured it out that way more folks were coming to Brit track panels (well at least Dr. Who, Torchwood theamed ones) then the room could hold. Hit the Pirate party late Sunday amazed that I was still able to stand since the demon line had caught me earlier that day when I went to get books signed for my daughter by Tamora Pierce, I figured how popular could she be, after all it's not like it was Harry Potter or anything. Three hours on that line proved me to be naive, my daughter now owes me big time, I'll fully enforce the guilt tax when the time is right (Bwahahahah).

I
had quite a few surprises of folks actually recognizing me this year I forgone the face painting that I normally get from marrus (I did however buy one of her great prints), which was always top notch and amazing, just delicate, even though I managed to surprise her by keeping it alive for a day or 2 with touch ups, and tried some variations from elizebethjoy and her work at Crimson Art Henna for durability, tried her glue and sparkles method first and had her copy a dragon on my face that my daughter drew for me, worked out well survived most of my poking, and didn't leave a cool imprint on my white hotel pillows, but the next morning I still manage to mangle it. So realizing that I had the late shift for the next couple of weeks which means working from home I went with Henna and a flame design on my face and that's what stayed with me even after the main henna came off the stain continued to impress, even the stewardesses on my flight home. Great work, now if only I can get both durability and color, no folks my job precludes a permanent tattoo, besides henna and face painting totally relaxes me, as both marrus and elizebethjoy can attest it trances me out totally, ah well who knows what the future holds.

M
onday turned out to be more of a check out places in Atlanta that I've never been thanks to a friend I met at Frolicon, Miss Hawkins, she showed us little 5 corners, with the cool shops and eateries. Her generosity even got us to the airport on Tuesday for our return flight. No major hassles on the way back but still couldn't avail myself of Airtran's check in machines so I still had to approach the desk.

Still the convention was huge (even more so than previous years) and I missed making connections with online buddies and others who I met at smaller cons like ydnic, and y2kdragon, Terri and others my apologies go out to, hopefully we'll be able to pull stuff together in the future. I'll have to get a bit better with the whole "planning" thing. My friend Jen's cell had died during the con but she gave me her post mortum, final verdict from her first time was: she's putting away money for next year and coming in on Wednesday, so we've hooked another one.

Well back to the surreal mundane world of work. My lady sailgersor has expressed keen interest in doing World-Con next year but all is not lost my daughter wants to test the Dragon*Con waters with a friend of hers so, it'll be my college graduation gift to her a drive down with Dad to Atlanta (and immediately set her loose since she wants to be incognito from parental unit). Started saving now as well for 2 killer trips next year. May have to skip my May conventions to do it.

Now is time to pour over the photos and see what can be saved from the vibrating camera of doom.

9/9/08 11:55 am - Belated recreation of Dragon*Con adventures post part 1

Here's a shot at condensing my Dragon*Con trip to Atlanta down (lost a long post that I had worked on earlier this week so now re-doing it, hopefully it'll be better or at least as good).

My initial adventures with the TSA can be found in my 2 earlier posts. After getting into Atlanta I had the pleasure of meeting with another couple of early birds over at the Red Roof Inn, who had a fan table for the Star Wars Combine game, marpai loaned me a leather vest to use while awaiting the dealers room to open to replace my ailing vest from previous years. They showed me the myriad of wonderful toys and costumes that they had, and shared their own TSA fun story, it appears that at least 3 folks associated with the TSA helped themselves to some of the T-shirts they brought along for promotional purposes. Kudos to Red Roof for letting me into my room at the way early before 10AM.
Shortly after that meeting I took the MARTA back to the airport to pick up my lady, sailgersor arriving on her flight from the wild lands of New Jersey. She too was subjected to extra screening, was it something in the TSA's water or do they percieve fans as threats? She handled that situation in her own unique manner. Second time around at airport I did spy a few other Dragon*Con attendees but was intercepted by a local looking for employment and was asked my opinion of his resume, obviously he had no idea that I can't write a resume to save my life, for some reason I attact folks like this, seeking my advise and or help in various situations (note to the powers that be I was promised a vacation). Fortunately that encounter got cut short by sailgersor 's arrival. I was able to asses the things forgotten list, you know the stuff you look right at while packing and totally forget to put it into the bag, the extra battery and charger for my camera were safely secured on my home living room shelf, as was my leather pouch (why did I take that out of the car?), I did manage to pick up another charger at Wolf's Camera shop in the food court, but I later discovered that my 3 year old Sony camera has started it's decline anyway (it vibrates more than my game controllers do at times and has gotten completely allergic to anything dimmer that direct sunlight), and shall soon need a replacement, it was evil throughout the convention, many unusable shots, only a few survived. After reconvening at the food court we plotted an activity to fill our mini fridges with food, an event that would require a jaunt to the local Publix market on Thursday as the excursion to the small convenience store below the food court proved to be inadequate.
After the supply jaunt on Thursday we picked up our badges, thank you disability services for sparing my lady from the long wait in line with your seekers, and leading us to the new location of the desk. The convention seemed to be picking up some more steam for a Thursday, a lot of arrivals for the day before the con and the reg line certainly proved that, even opened registration up earlier than expected.
Later that evening one of my friends, Jen, from my local comic shop, Stories, came down from Richmond with one the of owners, they drove down from Richmond in a rental that was hastily acquired after the owners car got flooded out on a new stretch of toll road up there with poor drainage, it was her first Dragon*Con so I gave her the 2 penny tour of the hotels, hamster tubes, and food court. She was staying at the Marriott with some of the bosses friends, saw the room and noticed that the rooms in the Marriott were quite small, smaller than the Red Roof Inns, quite a surprise. She was down to see the Brit Track stuff after I addicted her to Dr.Who and Torchwood episodes by lending her my collection (guess that makes me a pusher for Russel T. Davis and company), while the owner actually ended up with another group of her friends. Funny thing was the owner Sheryl almost didn't come this year, she had skipped last year and I had to convince her that her friend David Prowse missed her, so much so that he was questioning me last year in the walk of fame as to her where she was since it appeared that they would at least hang out and I guess he wanted a friendly face to pal around with. After the tour Jen headed back to her room and I headed in for the night, to prepare for the great adventure of the convention. To be continued...Part 2 at the con coming soon

8/27/08 10:44 am - A 3/4 empty 4.5 oz tube of toothpaste makes you a terrorist

Yup, I had a dreaded item over 3 ounces, it was a 4.5 Ounce tube of tooth past that was obviously 3/4 used. That engaged the extra screening activity for me at the airport. The world was in danger of having clean teeth, oh yes I had a tooth brush and tooth paste and I was going to commit acts of oral hygiene on the hapless passengers of the plane. The horror the horror. The worse part of additional screening has to be not being allowed to put your belt back on while they determine the threat level of a mostly used tube of tooth paste. The illusion of safety remains intact. After this I was going to swear off flying totally but getting on the plane went smoothly, they had XM radio for us to plug into, and I even got decent snacks, Pepridge Farm cookies! The views were great and I'll have to assault my blog with the cloud pictures soon and best of all it only took 1 hour (3 if you count the drive to the airport, the screening, the flight and the MARTA ride) and I'm not exhausted upon my arrival. I'll have to go on a mission to the local Best Buy for a battery charger for the camera.
I have reached Atlanta and I'm now in my hotel room at the Red-Roof INN. after a jaunty ride from the airport on MARTA, will be making a return trip there to pick up my roommate when she arrives.

8/27/08 06:03 am - Dragon*Con or....BUSTED

Well my yearly sojourn has begun and this time I'm taking a plane from Richmond. Well I'm at my gate waiting for the 6:40AM flight from Richmond to Atlanta via air Tran and already things have started to go weird. My cameras' battery reminded me that I really didn't want to for get my spare battery and charger, which I reminded myself of numerous times this morning and they are safe and sound at home on the shelf in my living room that I saw them the innumerable times I passed them while packing. Ah well no worries I may pick up a new set in Atlanta or a new camera which I've been dying to anyway. But the real adventure comes with the fact that I got the special prize of being selected for ....additional screening. Oh what fun, rapture, the joy, of being pulled aside while having to hold my pants up while in my socks, so much fun. The questions oh the incredibly dumb questions, like where are you going (uhm you do know that's printed on my boarding pass that you have), what do I plan to do (hey I'm going to....oh yeah in airport don't insert the bad joke here). Well my plane is about to board so I'll just post this and head on in, more details later on the search, and what didn't make it on the airplane with me.

8/4/08 10:35 pm - Crash course in driving ...literally

My daughter came home for the week to take a "crash course" in driving so that she can take the test to acquire her license. She felt she needed some experience behind the wheel so I volunteered the Vue and told her referring to it as a ""crash course" was a bad idea. Too late she invoked it.



She did fine driving down the street, stopping at the corner, had some issue with a mid block stop light, and did fine on the highway, but inside the parking lot did her in. she had tried to make a lane change but the other vehicle was right in the blind spot and crunch. I take the wounded soul in for repairs tomorrow morning. No injuries for anyone involved and the people in the poor white Ford Taurus were very understanding and the most important driving lessons were imparted how to deal with an accident, the other parties, the insurance agency, and the police, valuable lessons all round. Fortunately I had just renewed the policy, I hate to see what it will be in January though.

7/7/08 05:26 pm - One of those months...

It's been one of those months, got the news that a performer I really liked wasn't showing to an even I was going to because he had an accident that needed an operation (filkertom )and it just went down hill from there. Actors and comedians whose work I loved died (Good journey George Carlin, Don S. Davis, and any others I've missed). Found out a good friend and former lover had cancer and a collapsed lung, and my current lover (sailgersor)suffered a heart attack while on a camping trip and almost died (oh yeah that put the kibosh on her upcoming operation for other medical conditions).

Whew, guess it was time for some good news, My daughter made the Dean's List at her university (Way to go my genetic spawn! Soon you'll rule the world Bwahahahah), another performer who I like is showing up to Dargon*Con (Hooray Voltaire!), filkertom is recovering, as is my lover sailgersor whom I got together with at Contata (which was still great even though Tom Smith was sorely missed). Home repairs and improvements are done (at least the ones I could afford at the moment), so the next great project is room rearrangement, Part one the home office is 90% done but the moving of the master bed room from upstairs to downstairs is still being worked on. All that and I won $30 in the lottery (hey it's better than nothing).

Here's hoping for things to continue getting better.

6/19/08 08:33 pm - Seminars, Shotguns, Street View and Home Improvements

Well my house is shaping up and I'm about to write the check to deplete the tax return and economic stimulus. A mixed bag of insurance covered repairs and some of the improvements I can afford for now, I still have a way to go. Now I'll have to scrape up before and after pics. The back yard still looms large and the shifting of my stuff from upstairs to down needs to be completed, but that's all cleaning and organizing stuff, I attacked the most egregiously needed repairs and upgrades so most of the necessary stuff and some of cosmetic stuff is done.

I notice that Google's street view team did some of my neighborhood, they seem to stop short at my neighbor's house which is cool. I would have loved to see my house though, but I guess it's a good thing since it would have been without the repairs (the pictures were taken when gas was still $2.57).

I went to a Microsoft seminar on High Performance Computing, in Reston, VA. We found it was not what we expected, somewhat cool in a nerdy way though but I had carpooled with co-workers and they really wanted to ditch early once I doomed it's usefulness to our group with questions about stuff we actually did. Since one of my co-workers had rented the car and wanted to escape I was trapped by the fact that he was my ride so I capitulated. The big excitement was before the seminar. When driving to get there we had taken a few wrong turns thanks to the co-workers GPS with maps he hadn't updated in a few years. When we got to MS Reston he overshot the entrance and decided it would be a good idea to turn around in the next parking lot. Well for perspective, picture this, numerous office complexes, some of them defense contractors some of them government agencies. He drove into a government controlled section with a guard shack and everything in our white rental Lincoln town car with temporary tags (it was a brand new car from the rental place). Well the shotguns came out (really impressive and cool looking ones too) while he attempted his K turn out of there. Fortunately they didn't follow us or shoot. The 3 of us were breathing heavy after that and I joked that they were safe they would have shot "the black guy" (me) and rescued them from the terrorist. I was both kicking myself and thankful for not having my camera with me, there were some real cool places in Reston, but I know I would have taken photos of the heavily armed guards which would have compounded our problems.

Well it's off to  Contata tomorrow. Yay!

5/27/08 09:00 pm - The Tuesday After Balticon

Tuesday night, recovering from the convention still. It was fun and I've gotten my pictures of my adventures loaded to my photobucket account. On Monday there was an Arthur C. Clarke memorial filk that I went too, just before the dead dog filking began and the eventual breakup and drifting away of the various convention folks. After the convention I visited a local park for awhile just to be around nature and to start out a bit later, just to test my theory that I'm less tired driving at night (and it worked too) I've got my photo's up on Photo Bucket here's a link to the slide show of all of them in no particular order. I've been meaning to upgrade the camera, even though it's a 7 Megapixel cam it just has issues with the actual pictures it takes, but that will be an adventure for another time, it still works, will probably be the last Sony Camera for me. Stringing together thought just isn't working well right now so enjoy the pictures and if I can think of anything earth shattering I'll post it.

Next convention: Contata

5/25/08 02:45 pm - Balticon fun with musical interludes

My friends arrived on Thursday as planned, and the one casualty of the journey was sodyera   's mandolin "Teresa" has another case of Balticon itis (last time it suffered a pressure accident) so we took a trip down Catonsville to Appalachian Bluegrass Shoppe to examine the viability of a repair. They estimated $60 (parts additional) and a 18 day wait. A little bit of a surprise happend for her and she adopted "Harry" the mandolin as a replacement. So we all were still gifted with her wonderful music and voice at Balticon and the upcoming Contata.
Registration went well and the opening ceremonies were fun (note looking for my USB cable to transfer pictures). I got a bit ambushed in a fun way, the "Everything You Wanted to Know About Filk" panel when I walked in late and realized they were asking about everyone's filk experience (I'm a listener haven't written or performed yet). I stuck around for the open filk, and the various eulogizes for the filkers who have recently past such as Lois Mangan and Robert Asprin, amongst the notables. They will be missed. The majority of the evening embraced the wide variety of great musically tradition of fandom and of course I found myself closing out my evenings of the convention at the open filk sings, lots of fun stuff and silly stuff too, best experienced rather than described.
Saturday was a return trip to Appalachian Bluegrass Shoppe for sailgersor   to pick out a guitar that she could call her own and a dealer's room draining of my funds round 2 (yeah hit it on Friday too), and of course spending went in earnest. Dinners on Thursday was at the excellent new Japanese restaurant in the village, and some food supplies for the hotel room from Wegman's supermarket, Friday was in the hotel, Saturday was more random stuff including a stop off in Mcdonalds (shoot me).
I had to fix a hotel snafu with the reservations, on Sunday morning and a dip in the pool as well as the hot tub, to relieve the stiffness and lack of sleep.
Sunday's con activities: I caught the "Singularity" event that Stranger Things was promoting. Pretty nice show and their surprise announcement was that the show was now picked up for syndication on various cable on-demand services also for free. They have some excellent stuff go fourth and download it's free and good.
I had my Tarot read later on during the day and of course plenty of talking with other fans and authors (warning shameless plugs to follow) such as Pamela K. Kinney who wrote Haunted Richmond that I knew and a few that recognized me from my Dragon Con journal postings. The Bad Ass Faeries II launch party was fun, I then went sampling some videos here and there as well as spinets of other panels and more, swag collecting from the dealers room. Once again I'm in the open filk currently, probably will see if I can catch some parties ( or filk to dawn) now will post again soon hopefully with a wrap up.
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