I've been waiting for the other shoe to drop for the past 3 months. And today it finally did.

Back in June I developed a double-vision inducing migraine. R took me to the emergency room and to various doctor's appointments during the rest of the month. After a few weeks, the headache and the double-vision subsided. And after a metric butt-load of tests, no one was able to give me a definitive answer as to what had cause the migraine in the first place. The neurologist said that he didn't know what had caused it and now it was gone. I gave him my official Capt. Obvious cape.

Now, months after all the tests, I've been starting to receive the bills. They amounted to just under two grand which I'll be able to pay off over time. But the big mother, the grand kahuna of bills was still being processed by Provena.

The told me initially that the cost of the ER visit and the various tests amounted to almost ten grand. I applied for financial aid by submitting my tax report from last year and telling them that I was unemployed at the moment because of the migraine. They said they'd have to meet and decide if I qualified for financial aide. Meanwhile, I kept receiving bills from Provena for the total amount on threatening looking stationery. {It seemed to emit an image of large men in black suits that would come and shake the money out of me, if I didn't pay the full amount on their deadline.} I called the billing office several times (once after each bill) and was assured that the billing officials (or the repo men on my health) had not met yet and decided my fate.

Last week they finally came together and figured out you can't get blood from a hickama. I receive a form letter that said the following:

Thank you for completing and returning your financial statement. Based upon the information you provided, the Financial Assistance Committee has approved your application.

Your current balance is $0.

That's one millstone off my back.

My Past Hate and Current Love of the SCA

Long ago when I lived in Memphis I had my first encounter the SCA. Just about every weekend a group of them would gather at a local park I liked to frequent. They were dressed in period costumes (obviously handmade from the looks of many of them). And what they would do EVERY weekend was participate in, or stand on the sidelines and watch 'battle practice'. To someone not familiar with this aspect of the SCA it looked silly and sounded sillier. The combatants would gather in a large circle, suit up (in American football equipment covered with duct tape and chain mail), arm up (with swords made of rattan or bamboo wrapped in duct tape), square off (by two with a referee judging the match), and then start walloping the crap out of each other.

But they did it in a rather civilized manner. They'd thwap each other for two or three seconds, the referee would check them, and then they thwap each other again. I was able to glean enough from watching to guess that the goal was to get in as many head and body shots as possible before the referee declared a winner. It sounded, for all the world, like Daffy Duck (as Robin Hood) pre-battling himself against Porky Pig.

Referee: "Ok, go!"
Referee: "Stop! Are you hurt?" *checks to see if either is injured*
Fighters: (in unison) "No."
Referee: "Ok, go!"

And so a match would go on until someone WAS hurt or a match was declared won by the referee. This would continue on for hours with various combatants throughout the afternoon. It looked very much like a medieval version of "Fight Club". Afterwards people would proudly show me their bruises and cuts they'd received from previous battle practice.

I had read the the Society for a Creative Anachronism was a club of people trying to relive the world prior to 1600 and trying to bring out the best of the arts, costuming, food, music, games, etc. And things were to be conducted in a courtly manner. (How duct tape fit into the paradigm, I'm still unsure about.)

I was asked to participate in the bouts that they would have weekly and flatly refused them saying: "I'm allergic to pain." Later, I inquired "Aren't there other things you do besides hit each other with sticks?" "Yes," they assured me, "when we go to events like Pennsic!" Pennsic, I later found out, was the BIG event that happened in Pennsylvania.

So, to recap, all I'd gotten to see of the SCA was people trying to hurt themselves. But, I was told that there were many people that did other things besides bop the bejebus out of each other. But, I'd have to travel over 700 miles away to see it.

That ended my relationship with the SCA.

Flash forward 23 years.

I've been living in central Illinois for about 5 years and a friend was going to be singing at the feast for the first annual Joseph of Arimathea event held in downtown Urbana. I offered another friend who was to be "herald" at the event a lift there.

I arrived at my friends home in the late morning and he helped me dress for the event as I had little way in "garb" or proper clothing for the SCA. Once judged to be suitably dressed I helped him pile the bags of things he was bringing to the event. (I was later to learn that he'd brought all the dishes, cups, and flatwear that we'd be dining on at the feast at the end of the day.)

We arrived, were checked in and given programs and told where the events were to be held. Everything was going on inside, for which I was very grateful. It had been facemeltingly humid for the past months and I really did not want to have to participate while turning into a pile of sweat. The events took place at the student union for the U of I. And the feast was at the local UU church in their large gathering room.

I went to two classes that took up most of the day. The first was an introduction to the musical instruments played during the middle ages. The Lady Heregyth Keltisdottir taught the class with 6 recorders, a viol, a tambourine, and a functional lute. I was especially impressed with the lute as it had no metal parts on it (event the frets were made of gut tied around the neck!) After the class, we were invited to pluck, bow, blow, or bang of some of the instruments the teacher had brought.

Someone had also brought an oud to the class (which I later found out they were to be playing at the feast!) and she let us pluck on it. An oud is apparently plucked with a plectrum that looks like a plastic letter opener. An oud has no frets which allows the musician to play some of the micro-tonal notes of Arabian music. It sounded amazing and was a hand constructed instrument as well.

I took a break for a light lunch and went downstairs to the cafeteria. There I met and had a wonderful conversation with the Baroness Alzbeta Michalik. We talked about mead, the SCA, and she showed me her crown. It was outfitted with a circular cushion lining the inside. "When I first got it." she told me, "I took the padding out. And then I got a dent on my head! So, I put it back."

After we came back from lunch the baroness allowed herself to be weighed on the Monty-Pythonesque "Duck Scale" they had, and was found to be a witch. Oh, the trials of royalty! :)

The next class that I took finished off the afternoon for me. It was presented by Mistress Alphia, a gorgeous women in a belly-dancing costume. We danced (or they danced and I tried not to step on too many feet) for 3 hours. Some dances I'd heard of before because I'd played them on guitar. (Almans and Pavans) And some were traditional dances that went with specific songs: "Black Nag" and "Female Sailor" to name a few.

I was one of the very few men at the class and I stayed the entire time. Wow! I was surrounded and got to dance with a huge group of lovely women dressed in costume and some even knew the dances and were leading me around the room. One would think after three hours of dancing, I'd be tired. But I was just getting started! Give a few months and I think I'll be able to do all the dances they taught without stepping on anyone.

After class, I accompanied the teacher and two other ladies to a local bar and a had a beer or two. I found out that the woman that owned the lute was looking to sell it. I thought about playing the lute and then reconsidered. (I didn't spend 1/2 of the rest of my life trying to keep it in tune!) But the conversation was lively and I even met a fellow who's going to chef school this fall.

The feast was a grand affair with the tables on the edges of the central area which was reserved for the dancing and other entertainment. My friend who was singing, the Lady Brigit, was with a group of musicians. There was a cellist, oudist, violist, guitarist, and other folks that played and sung. They did a piece that's a favorite of mine "Gaudete" which is an song performed acapella and I first heard as a song recorded by Steeleye Span.

The feast took a long time because everything was being cooked on site and also because many of the performers were also the cooks. The last dish was served at quarter to eight. And then there was dancing!

And we danced and danced and danced until they kicked us out around quarter to ten. I was amazed, delighted, enchanted, overwhelmed, and will be coming back. I'm seriously considering applying to the music guild.

Maybe the could use a guitar player? :)

So far.

So, the CNA classes are all full at Parkland. That means I need to wait for the next time to apply for the free training from Urbana Adult Education in October.

I went to the staffing agency and found that they're hiring for factory work at minimum wage at 8 to 12 hours shifts and you have to take a drug test. I was still there as the lady behind the counter was quizzing us on various info that you need to know at a factory. "What is "lock-out tag-out"?" said asked. So I told her and she threw me a piece of candy. I felt like a seal at the zoo.

Then she asked "What time do we open?" And I answered that. No candy for that one but another applicant behind me bellowed "He been here before, he knows it already." I turned 1/2 way behind me and replied: "No, it's written on the door!"

Also went to a grocery store and tried to apply but they were out of applications. That'll be my first stop tomorrow.

The new N-word

Has anyone else noticed that "Muslim" has become the new N-word?

Seriously, when I was growing up. The N-word was the worst thing you could call someone (other than a fag). But I constantly heard comments from racist people that the N-word were going to take over our government, they were going to infiltrate our schools, they were going to try and live near us and work with us and marry our women.

This idea came to me because every now and again I keep hearing detractors of the current President calling him a "Muslim". As if Muslims were the most vile horrible evil hateful people in the world. It's not that they disagree with his policy as much as they don't believe he's a Christian or really the President, so he must be a "Muslim" who has snuck into the the Oval Office and plans to destroy OUR AMERICA.

And why do they call him this? Because they can't call him what they want to call him because that word is now anathema. If you say it on TV or the radio or online, (unless you a comedian) you're immediately labelled a racist.

Now, you may say "Well, yes but Muslims are a threat to our way of life. They're terrorists trying to kill all of us." Really? I remember when they were saying the same things about the African Americans. The sentiment was that they were all militant radicals ready to kill an American at the drop of a hat.

It was a lie then and it's a lie now. We've switched races to make the devil but the meaning and the intent is still the same. There's a new word (filling the void of left by the N-word) to foist upon anyone we want to characterize as evil without a doubt. A threat to everything sacred and important in our American way of life.

The next time you hear someone refer to the President (or anyone else) as a "Muslim", do a quick switch and imagine them saying the N-word instead. You'll see what I mean.

Interview tomorrow

Tomorrow I go in for the interview for the CNA training given by the Urbana Adult Education.
I'm scared spitless.
I'll be dressing up and I'm already shorn and looking good.
Wish me luck.

Grow NAILS! Grow NOW!

It's always this inbetween time that bugs me. I put on fake acrylic nails and when the real finger nails grew out the fake ones fell off. Much to my chagrin I was left with nails with crumbly crap all over them and the only way to get THAT off is with nail polish remover ie. acetone.

And as we all know acetone is not good for the nails. And for the last 3 months I've had my nails absolutely chewed up half-way up to the cuticle. This made my guitar playing sound like I was playing a really small harp with gloves on. Teeny tiny twinks where there should be full sound.

The nails have ALMOST grown back. They're long enough to catch the edge of the string and give a good *PLONG*, but not long enough to have consistent tone or color. Just another 1/8th of an inch and I'd be there with the fingers. The poor thumb has another month or so to grow out and then I'll have a real classical guitar players set of nails.

Years ago my first real teacher told me that she envied how thick and strong my nails were. Why oh why did I ever go to the manicurist and get the acrylic nails put one? Because they looked they would last a long time and required very little maintenance. But no, they proved to be little plastic liars and my fingers have paid the price.

My fingers yearn to play the piece I have with full rich LOUD tones but I'll just have to wait for the nails to fully grow out.


It ALWAYS come up this

You are The Lovers

Motive, power, and action, arising from Inspiration and Impulse.

The Lovers represents intuition and inspiration. Very often a choice needs to be made.

Originally, this card was called just LOVE. And that's actually more apt than "Lovers." Love follows in this sequence of growth and maturity. And, coming after the Emperor, who is about control, it is a radical change in perspective. LOVE is a force that makes you choose and decide for reasons you often can't understand; it makes you surrender control to a higher power. And that is what this card is all about. Finding something or someone who is so much a part of yourself, so perfectly attuned to you and you to them, that you cannot, dare not resist. This card indicates that the you have or will come across a person, career, challenge or thing that you will fall in love with. You will know instinctively that you must have this, even if it means diverging from your chosen path. No matter the difficulties, without it you will never be complete.

What Tarot Card are You?
Take the Test to Find Out.

Interesting quote from youtube blogger victimless criminal.


This is religion's trump card. It's the big one.

Religious clerics have hijacked a psychological phenomenon common to all normal humans in order to sustain the concept of an objective reality called sin.

Sin did not exist when religious pioneers invented it. It does not exist now. And it will never exist.

It is a human construct - a bastardisation by the inventors and beneficiaries of religions, people like Moses & Jesus, Muhammad, L Ron Hubbard, Joseph Smith and the rest of the wicked, cynical, divisive opportunists who cheapen the glory of human nature by their perversions of natural processes.

Totally fabricated for ulterior motives. The religious leaders and clerics define what is a sin, then they become the experts in policing it. They keep their jobs. But at a cost that is simply ferocious and abhorrent for millions of people who could manage perfectly well without it.
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