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Mar. 17th, 2013


Dragon dance!

Squirrel and I spent Saturday afternoon and evening in Milton Keynes which, despite being only 40 miles from London, is much more reminiscent of a Midwestern American or Scandinavian city. We could have been in Tulsa or Trondheim. It was deliberately built this way by town planners in 1966, with modern office block buildings, wide streets, a huge shopping mall and lots of restaurants.

We spent the night at the Holiday Inn Express in the MK suburb of Eastlake. While chilling out to tunes on our iPods, we made the dragon babies Tiny and Bridgey dance to German party bunny Schnuffel.


Dec. 5th, 2012


Time to say good-bye to my fuzzy friend

My mom and dad are arriving later this morning. They will be spending five days with us. My mother was here just last year (in November), but my father has not been here since 2004. It'll be interesting for him to see how things have changed a bit around here since then.

Including my face.

I will probably stop at the barber shop up the hill later today. It's time for me to part ways with my beard. I promised Squirrel that I would have it only until my parents came. Then I would get it shaved off.

I think this is the longest I've ever gone with my beard. Squirrel says mine is almost as thick and dark as her own father's was. I started growing it in early September. Three months later, it's pretty lush.  Ever since our trip to Tunisia in early October, she has been calling me "Grizzly Adams".

I did grow a bit of a beard during my late 20s, and I've grown various forms of sideburns and moustaches over the years. Previous to now, the only time I had a full beard nearly as thick as this was perhaps five years ago. We were due to go to Paris in a couple of months and I told Squirrel I would shave the first morning there. So I went for a run around Montematre — then spent nearly half the morning in the hotel room bathroom shaving off my facial forest.

I'm going to miss it. It's kept my face warm during this cold snap. (Funny how we have no summers but the Arctic chill never fails to make very frequent appearances in the winter, but that's Britain for you.)  Sometimes, when combined with my overcoat and woolly hat, I've looked quite dashing with it. I'm so used to it that sometimes I don't feel it. Other times though, there's no mistaking its presence. Sometimes I think I have a hair in my mouth and I discover that it's my moustache.

But it's time to keep my promise to Squirrel. And my folks will no doubt be happy. They're likely to say, "And just why did you want that?  Are you some kind of hippy?"

I did only just turn 43, so I owe it to myself to see how young I'm still capable of looking and being clean-shaven will go a long way toward that end. The sides of my beard have quite a bit of grey in them! Why look older before my time?

I've gotta admit though, I do love the feeling of masculinity that comes with a beard. I will miss it. It'll probably be another whole year before I will grow another one, if I do.

But it was a fun experiment.  The beard has served me well and now must be consigned to the annals of personal history.

Nov. 7th, 2012


Difficult to know which depresses me more

Bad election results.  The worst, in fact, that I could imagine.  What a nightmare. Four more years of pushing that national debt higher and higher and higher, every day. Another 1,460 days of preparing the huge bill to saddle future generations with.  But never mind, it's all hope and change, is it not?

I also had a little something yesterday. It's called a "birthday". Clearly something to be ignored by most people I know on-line. Cheers.

Oct. 16th, 2012


Tunisia debacle / Losing Feather

If there's anything I'll remember probably the most vividly from Squirrel's and my recent trip to the North African city of Tunis, it would be hanging around at Gate 57 at Tunis-Carthage Airport for far longer than I would have bargained. The plane was late getting in, and the person responsible for docking the plane with the passenger ramp was an incompetent who damaged the plane door.

Tunis-Carthage Airport does not have an on-site technician, so we had to wait for him to arrive. He forgot his toolbox and so had to retrieve it. The door could be fixed, but we had to wait while the Byzantine-like paperwork was filled out. Our flight was supposed to be at 8:50 p.m. Saturday. We did not take off until 1:00 a.m. Sunday morning. Despite being too tall for the space I'd carved out for myself on the hard, cold metal seats I curled up on to doze, I succeeded in snoozing, but poor Squirrel couldn't. She was awake, and fuming, the whole time. I don't blame her.

Tunis was nice though. We made friends with most of the cats prowling around the hotel in the suburb of Gammarth and we soaked up the sun on Friday. The day before, on Thursday, we explored the capital city of Tunis. A ramshackle, chaotic city, but not without its charms. Riding the Tunis "Metro" was fun. We accidentally boarded the first class section of the train from Marine to La Marsa, but the inspector let us stay despite our second class tickets!

On Thursday night, a little storm rolled through. It turned out to be nothing, but I filmed a bit of it. You can watch that here:

Unfortunately, while we were away, our doe Feather passed away. She had been dealing with a large tumor under her arm for months and eventually it sapped too much energy from her. The pet sitter said it looked as if she'd died in her sleep. That's some comfort. Now we've got Cocoa and Midnight left.

A few days before our trip, Squirrel filmed this video of Feather grooming and drinking Pepsi Max. You can watch that here:

Feather was the sweetest. We will miss her, but at least we had two years with her.

Oct. 3rd, 2012


Meds and beards

Been a while since I updated ... yes.  Not a lot has gone on around here.  I did discover, however, that I needed to go back on the antidepressant I'd previously been taking.  After a year-and-a-half of being off the medication, I fell into a depression that I recognized instantly as a chemical imbalance.  So, back on the meds.  I've been on them again since late August and they're working.

I decided to grow my beard out. It's a full one.  I'm not much for goatees or chin-straps or soul patches. If I'm going to let my facial hair grow, I want the whole lot.  I'll probably have it until December, then I'll shave before Christmas.  I'm in the mood for a beard.

Besides, I'm not cross-dressing anymore.  It's been nearly two years since the last time I did.  So why not have a beard? 

Jul. 14th, 2012


Meeting Bill Oddie

Today, Squirrel and I participated in a PETA protest march against the use of real black bear fur for the tall caps the Royal Fusiliers wear. We started at Westminster Bridge and walked past the Houses of Parliament, went up Whitehall to Trafalgar Square, then on to Piccadilly Circus, through Mayfair and ended at Marble Arch: 3.1 miles (5K) in all.

British actors Peter Egan and Bill Oddie also joined the march. Bill Oddie is someone we both like. We have all the episodes of The Goodies, the '70s comedy troupe he was part of, on DVD. We also like his former work for the BBC seasonal programs "Springwatch" and "Autumnwatch". He has defended rats and grey squirrels. Oddie's wildlife work is so significant that he received an Order of the British Empire honor for it.

I had a photo taken with him before the march and Squirrel had one afterwards. He also signed his autograph for me and it wasn't a quick scribble either, but had a lot of gusto to it.

Bill Oddie and me (Peter Egan is in the background.)

Bill Oddie and Squirrel

Oddie hands me his autograph.

Apr. 11th, 2012


Drawing: Dragon and squirrel flight

Well, well, I'm sorry for all the time I've spent away from this here LJ. My bad.

I wanted to share a recent commission from the talented Hunter Bahamut:

That's Squirrel and I enjoying a trip. Probably to the café or the supermarket! Go here to see a larger version of it.

I've not been up to much lately. Just a lot of work, really, but doing alright. Our rat Cocoa just had her first birthday and Midnight will turn one in two weeks. Feather is also doing well at one-and-a-half. And Molly the rabbit will be turning nine this year. She's been with us since before I first joined LJ under a different name/persona many, many moons ago!

And my dragonness plushie Boston has been with me 11 years as of this past February. 

I'll make a point to post more content here. Hope you're all doing well.

Nov. 23rd, 2011


Can't say I'm at all surprised ...

Further proof—if any were honestly needed—that people really are as dumb as a motherf*cker.

I'm bemused that "dragon" made the top 10 in the SplashData survey of most stolen passwords. I can proudly report that I've never used it, despite my undying love of (and lust for) those noble creatures. Can there really be so many people out there who used "password," "12345," or "letmein" for their e-mail and other on-line accounts to crack the list of the twenty-five worst passwords? And in 2011?! Chrissakes, these poor excuses for passwords were ridiculous 15 years ago.

This almost makes park-crapping Occupiers look like bottomless reserves of high-quality intellect.

As for those airheads who used "iloveyou," they should not only be flogged for being stupid, but for being puke-inducingly mushy. People who used "rockyou" I'd be happy to flog for being so righteously dude-a-rific.

I'm looking forward to next year's list, I must say. I bet dollars to donuts that the example the article provides on how to write a password—nilmDOWN2s—will be the most stolen password of 2012.

Nov. 22nd, 2011


Must have been a slow news day?

Every now and then, I'll come across something in the system at work that puts a smirk on my face. This little classic, however, nearly made me fall out of my chair.

I regret not photocopying this two weeks ago when it appeared and taping it to the front door of The Times, which is on my work route, with "REALLY NOW?" written underneath. Next time, I'll be on the ball—which is more than could be said for The Times that particular weekend.

Nov. 10th, 2011


Here's to November

It's not just the fact that my birthday was this past Sunday evening, but November represents a period of relative rest for me.

It was a very active—way too active—month-and-a-half for me.  In September, the chores I had on my list seemed endless.  The housework was more demanding than normal as I prepared to fly to Boston, via Ireland, to attend my sister's wedding.  We all know how stressful the build-up to a wedding can be, especially if you're in the wedding party.  I did spend a week relaxing at her place, housesitting (and catsitting) for her while she was on her honeymoon, checked out the Stop & Shop supermarket across the street for goodies—Hormel vegetarian chili and Kraft mac-and-cheese, mmm!—and managed an interesting bike ride across a state line (Massachusetts to Rhode Island and back). Meanwhile, the weather was positively subtropical.  But the whole time I was actually thinking about flying back, about Squirrel who flew home to Britain before I did, and about going back to work.

On September 26, I flew back to the UK myself, via Ireland, and had just three days to unpack, wash some clothes and repack for a few days in Split, Croatia.  Six plane flights in the space of two weeks!  Last time I checked, I wasn't a rock star on tour ... I could quite happily go six years before boarding a plane again.  Split, and its weather, was lovely though.

We had my mom-in-law and sis-in-law with us for a few days after Croatia.  Then, shortly thereafter, in late October, my mother came over from Boston to spend time with us.  It was great to see her again so soon.  But I'm hoping November will be really, really, really quiet.  I mean, so quiet and uneventful and pressure-less that I actually find myself twidling my thumbs and staring at the wall from the lack of anything better to do. (Or anything to have to do!)  Honestly, that would be a dream come true at this stage.  I might actually be able to start taking naps again;  I've nearly forgotten what naps are.  (I refer, of course, to my off-weeks, the weeks that I don't work.  If you aren't aware, I work seven consecutive nights, then have seven nights off.)

I didn't have the chance to celebrate Hallowe'en this year the way I usually do, which was a major-league bummer.  But there's always next year when I'll still be young enough to stand without the aid of a walker.  At least Squirrel bought me a cool t-shirt that says "Trick or Treat!" on it, so I wore that into work on Hallowe'en night.

Usually, I don't like November because it represents the almost immediate onslaught of winter with temperatures that literally send a chill up my spine.  But the weather here has been unusually mild, almost warm.  November appears to be following in the footsteps of October, which this year was one of the warmest in British weather-recorded history.  Hell with "global warming," that's all fine with me!  After all, and as usual, we had no summer to speak of.

Well, I need to do the dishes and set about doing what I promised in this entry: RELAX.

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