Friday, April 07, 2006

I am a complete idiot.

Last night I made a decision to sell all my armor and put the money from that into the new bird store my wife and I are starting as start up cash. In so doing this, I am going from “not going to SCA events any more” to “I’m no longer a SCAdian. Period.”

This made me quite melancholy for I have been in the SCA my entire adult life. I look at my armor, which means a lot to me, and the thought of selling it hits me in the heart. My beautiful helm is the first thing I will miss the most. I almost want to keep it as a piece of art to hang on my mantle. My Stainless coif, took me hours to make. Last, my Bedford basket hilt, I’m prideful of just having one.The other side of that is that I kinda looked at my SCA experience over the past 16 years, and I tried to balance the good and the bad from it.

What did I gain?

How did it hurt me?

What good did I do?

I will admit I had lots of fun, especially in the early days, but there is a lot of pressure in the SCA to “achieve”, depending on what groups you associate with. The desire to be a peer (especially a knight), and the pressure to be a better person as is defined by the society (which is really odd… Chivalry in the SCA is mostly like chivalry in the Middle Ages – lots of ideas to strive for, but those ideals do not reflect the underlying realities of how most people are). The pressure to help out above and beyond, and to be a competent leader or organizer.

Not all of this was bad. But there is a lot that wasn’t very good either.

Fighting was great… I loved it… but it was tainted by the whole “you got to put aside everything and achieve knighthood.” At some point it was drilled in my head I had to beat everyone I fight to get ahead. It was not till about the last few months I was in, under the tutelage of Martin that I realized that was all crap. I didn’t have to beat everyone I fought. I just had to fight well, and beat myself. The person I was fighting and how good they were really didn’t matter.

Singing was great. Again it was tainted by that pressure to achieve. You got to be a Laurel, and to do that, you have to be better then everyone else at what you are doing, and conform to our standards. You know what? I’m a folk singer. That is that. My path was blazoned by my father, and it is who I am. I am not a medieval music scholar. I sing my songs to make people feel, and well, sometimes, I’m damn good at that. I was steered (mostly willingly) down the laurel path, and now I am one. Now it seems very hollow.

Some of the camaraderie and partying was very good.

The SCA taught me that I should be a lion, and now I think being humble and anonymous is much better.

The SCA taught me that I should give my all for the society and my kingdom, now I think that there are greater goals to serve in real life (wildlife conservation and bird rescue in my case)The SCA had me travel up and down the east coast, but I never really got to see it. (Byram and I tried to change that once, and failed after a few good tries).

The SCA taught me great organizational skills in certain situations. Boy do I know how to go camping in style!

There is a lot I look back at with some pride, and some regret.

One of the biggest regrets is about not leaving sooner. I look at what I am doing now, and wish I could have started it much earlier.

The greatest recognition scroll I have ever gotten was from the Cheetah Conservation Fund, for helping rescue those cubs in Ethiopia, thanking me for my (very small) efforts.

My greatest feeling of accomplishment is not from any achievement in the SCA, but from taking a poor miserable animal, almost at death’s door, and helping to bring it back to a joyful life.

My greatest job was not running an SCA event, but counting tortoise burrows, so that they can get more protection from the government.

Am I happier now then I was then? In some ways, I am not. In many ways I am. What I can tell you is that I have more inner peace on most levels. I have the time to enjoy nature and see manatees and dolphins in the wild on my Kayak. And this is so freaking narcissistic it’s ridiculous. But at least it’s a record.

Monday, April 03, 2006

An nescis, quantilla sapientia mundus regatur?

And yet here we are…

Last few weeks have burned by very quickly. Weekend before last we counted more Tortoise Burrows and this weekend was shopping, errands and well, more shopping and errands. Something was wrong with my ankle, so I felt tromping around in the bush looking for holes in the ground would be likely hazardous. Especially for my tendency of finding them that includes falling into them (not really… just found one that way and ended up eating sand for it.) The hurting feet inspired me to get some new shoes and inserts, which feel very nice.

So much to do! This month includes going to Denver for Phoenix’s brothers wedding (which Phoenix suddenly came up with the money for), going to Perdido to see the Larcey side of life, and sell all these baby birds we have.

Watched several movies on DVD this weekend, The Parrots of Telegraph hill, which made Phoenix and I cry, then The Corpse bride, which was very sweet if not a little strange, and watched at the end of it all, Grey’s Anatomy, which I like very much (but not as much as House, but more then Bones).

This weekend? Plan to Kayak out by Blue Springs or Callilista Creek. Wanna fish, but got to get a license to do it from the Kayak. Then out to count more turtles.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Of Water, Birds, Burrows and V.

Well, what happened this last week?
The great drama this week was that we ordered a Golden Pheasant from a farmer up in Tennessee... Kinda leery at the whole mail order bird thing, but I did it anyway, as I thought it would bring Phoenix some joy.
That was the good part...… it all went down hill after that. It seems that the post office thought "Express" service was "Priority" service, and the bird that was supposed to come Tuesday, or at latest Wed., came Friday. After Wed, I (and Phoenix too) thought were indirectly responsible for killing a bird. It made us quite depressed (and put Phoenix in tears).

Friday, Phoenix got a package, which miraculously contained not only a live bird, but a bird in good health! He now is a happy denizen of the aviary along with all the others. The problem we have now is that he is quite bigger then I imagined, and he can fly. When he does, every other bird in the aviary has a heart attack and flies about willy nilly. The bad part of this is that one of the Gouldians hurt herself when this happened and has an infection on her wing. We have her put in a cage and are giving her antibiotics so she can get better. The pheasant is very pretty.
More baby birds this week, Phoenix has pulled 3 more baby Parakeets and two more Lovebirds from the nests to hand feed, and she is a bit overwhelmed. That makes seven Lovebirds and six Parakeets, with more to come!

Saturday, Phoenix and I went out Kayaking, and went out to the Florida Coastal Waterway... Very windy, and we went upstream, but it was much fun. The hope is to get some fishing gear here soon...

Sunday, we went out to count more tortoise burrows, and our count is up to 40. The disappointing thing is that even though we retook some of the readings, some of them are still in the parking lot on google Earth. *sigh* just cant win.

Saw V is for Vendetta on Saturday night, and I loved it! For some reason I canĂ‚’t get my mind off of it. Not the movie persay, but Guy Fawkes, and Guy Fawkes day: Remember, Remember the 5th of November gunpowder, treason and plot. I see no reason, that gunpowder treason should ever be forgot!
Reading the history on it is fascinating on its complexity, the politics at the time, and all that it inspired afterwards. Amazing...
Well, that's about it really...… I hope all of you are doing well!

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Holes in the ground

Much has happened since last post...

First, Phoenix had an operation. And it sucked.

She was told not to eat 12 hours before the surgery, and when asked about crashing blood sugar (she's diabetic) she was told, don't eat even sugar pills.

This was obviously stupid, and we were told after (because she had to have a shot of glucose because she crashed at the hospital) that it would have been alright to eat upto about six hours before hand.

The surgery, which was supposed to be a 20 minute procedure with local anetheitcs, turned into a 12 hour ordeal with her being put under. The worst part, they didn't do it right. (they cauterized her uterus, but missed part, so although it will fix some issues, it may not fix all her problems.)

Did I mention that I think the whole surgery was barbaric in the first place?

Well anyway...

Last weekend was much fun. We went to "World of Orchids" which was a disappointment as most of the cool stuff was blown away by the hurricanes last year. However we did start the survey work on the Smyrna Dunes park and did 21 burrows... Used the GPS that we got for the work, but I think that I have to re-do some of the readings as on the map some of the burrows are in the parking lot of the park.

Daytona Bike week was last week, and made traffic hell... Lots of cool looking bikes on the road though...

This weekend, we go kayaking again... This time on the coast. Sunday, more tortoise hunting!

Monday, March 06, 2006

Sore muscles, and I mean Tortoises

Well, this weekend was busy busy busy!!!! Pheonix and I started out by kayaking the entire length of the eastern shore of Lake Monroe, and it was a very hard trip. The main problem was we were going against the 10 -15 mph wind, 2 -3 foot waves and upstream. The other problem was that it was 10 miles round trip. 5 hours later, we were pooped, cold, sore and a little cranky, but it was all good! Good exercise to say the least. The next day we went to Smyrna Dunes Park to talk with the park manager to start doing the surveying of the Gopher Tortoises. He showed us what had been done before, 25 some odd holes were documented, but had to be re-surveyed due to the fact the documentation was fairly poor. The thing that hit me is that this is a massive project. If the density is the same over most of the park compared to the small area we saw, we are talking about 300+ holes. Then there is the capure and tagging! Oy! Here are some pictures of the park Phoenix took from the observation tower…

Friday, March 03, 2006

Snakes, Horse Pills, Rock Pills, and SHOCKING surgery

Ahhhh… Friday at last.

Itinerary for this weekend, Kayaking on Sat.and Smyrna Dunes Park on Sunday…

Got to clean the Aviary fountain out, and get more filters. Got to build more nesting boxes.

My poor Phoenix is sick. She finally got to the doctor to get her new meds (good thing too). So now instead of being depressed or manic, she is vomiting and dizzy. *sigh*
I wish there was something more I could do to help her with these things. I had her call the doctor back, and did some research to see if any over the counter anti-nausea meds might help. The documentation for the meds (Geodin and Equetro) say this is common at first, but get better over time. Where the hell do they come up with these names? Geodin sounds like a rock formation (like say a geode), and Equetro sounds like something you need to ride horses. The good news is that I talked to my boss and he said that I could go to my wife’s surgery (they are putting an electrified net inside her uterus and cauterizing the entire inside… freeking barbaric… treating symptoms, not the cause as is usual with the medical community).

Smyrna Dunes Park has a serious problem at the moment. Volusia county has been taking sand from various sources to replenish the beach erosion caused by the 2004 hurricanes. One of these sources is a place called “Rattle Snake Island”. Well, it seems there has been a huge increase of rattlesnakes in the park. I worry about the endangered Beach Mouse and the Plover nests. Too many snakes tend to eat whatever is available. At least they won't eat the Gopher Tortoises…

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Ok.. .gonna start posting again! Really!

Hmm... What has happened since last post...

The big changes for me really have been at work. My company just got an account with the Community Colleges of Southern Nevada. They flew me out there to do review of the WebCT they had there, and to make recommendations. Well, the first thing I told them was to keep their administrator for the moment. So what was the first thing they did? Gave me the job.

Did I mention I hate Vegas? I have been there as a tourist a while back, and it wasn't bad, but spending more time there, its a town built on losers. Literally. If there were more winners then losers, there wouldn't be a city there. Its a town that feeds on forlorn hope and greed. Not somewhere I would ever want to live.

Did I mention its also in the middle of the desert? Deserts are supposed to be Deserted .

Alright, enough griping.

The good things that are happening are at home. I got a dog. The Whippet I have been dreaming of for years. His name is "Kiddo" to reflect the fact nothing else seemed to fit, and it is what seemed natural to call him.

Kiddo was very scared leaving his litter mates, but now has gotten used to things. He is fairly well behaved, save the occasional lapse in judgment on his part. He is a gas machine with the potency of tear gas. But very lovable none the less.

On another note, he is royalty. It seems his grandfather is the most winningest show whippet in the country... He can also run like the wind.

On the bird front. We have a lot. We just acquired a mate for Boo, our eclectis. Her name is Scarlet, which is apt as she is red. Hopefully pictures of them (and babies) soon. The Gouldians are doing fine, and we have 13 babies coloring up, with two of them being rare mutations which we plan to keep. They are yellow backed gouldians, which fetch a bit more at market.

Otherwise, phoenix is breeding lovebirds and parakeets again, and we figured at this point we are going to keep breeding, and if we have spare, we will sell them at the bird show in June.

The other big thing Phoenix and I are up to (besides kayaking) is doing volunteer work at Smyrna Dunes Park. They need help desperately with wildlife conservation as well as a bunch of other things. We are going to start out doing a survey for Gopher tortoise, but somewhere out on the point is the ruins of a lighthouse that was destroyed by Indians... Get to use some of my archaeological mad skills and see if I can find it.
There is so much to do there it is daunting... Need to recruit more volunteers, need to raise money, need to petition the county for more resources, need to fill out grants, make a website, etc.

Hmm.. Other things going on... My brother Robin is still deployed in Ethiopia, but got a visit from his wife Danielle. I think he is having way too much fun for being deployed in the middle of nowhere...

So... What's coming up?

Next week Phoenix has an operation that I am very sorry I cannot attend, as I have to make a presentation to the upper executives of my company. But its a 20 minute procedure, and she will be fine. Just mad as hell at me...

Sometime soon I get to go to Petersburg VA. To take over a blackboard account up there. Be there for a week or so I think. In April I get to go to Massachusetts for a week with Becker.

On a more recreational note, I am hoping to meet with the Larcey side of the family in April at Perdido key for a long weekend. I can't wait!

Well enough for now... I want to make at least one or two posts a week from now on...

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Adventures at Blue Springs

Here is some of the Manatees and fish we saw at blue springs last weekend...

There were over 100 Manatees!

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Did some good in the world

Did some good in the world last week...

Robin and Danielle sent out the word that Robin had found some Cheetahs that needed rescue... I made some calls, and got the Cheetah Conservation Fund involved, and now its all over the news...

More Travels

Picture of a Hawk outside our house...
Went to Cape Canaveral Seashore this last weekend, and saw Dolphins!!!! WOOT!
Picture of one of our Parrot Finches...
A Tortise we saw at the seashore...

Thursday, November 17, 2005

A new post!

Imagine that! Neal is updating his blog!
I must apologize. There are times when I think blogging is extremely narcissistic, and I go through phases where I refuse to indulge... Well, hopefully I will get over it. Here are some pictures of our latest adventures...

We went to Wakieva Springs and a State Park (whose name escapes me) on the coast last weekend. The first picture is on the way out of the marina heading for the spring. Buzzards were kind of ominous, but it was all good. :)

I cannot tell you how idyllic nature is here. When you got out of the Florida of Disney, Harleys, and retired folks, you get to see why I love this state. (not as good as Hawaii, but hey) It is so beautiful it plucks your heart strings and makes you stare in wonder.

Flock of birds... I guess it was fortunate they flew off as we went under the tree... I get enough bird poop at home.

Turtles hanging out...

This was from the state park we did some mountain biking in (ya well, on mountain bikes anyway, no mountains in Florida) This is the "Fairchild Oak". The Plaque says its 2000 years old, but when it was donated to the state, the state amended this to only 400 years old. Still, it was amazing to see. You cannot at all get from the picture the majesty of this tree. Its limbs are as as big around as large trees elsewhere. Its branches dip underground and sprout out as new trees. You go up and touch it, and a shiver goes up your spine. All I could think of when I was under it was that I was looking at an Ent from Lord of the Rings.