If Thine Eye Offends Thee.............  

Posted by Alex Pendragon

I am going on my second full day without sleep. I thought I would be all macho, pop a couple of valerian root capsules and tough it out last night with my eye. Yea, right. If I got ANY sleep at all I don't remember it. So this morning I called for an appointment. The voodoo shaman who cut my eye was not available, but one of the other docs was, and was able to see me forthwith. Forthwith being right before lunch, so he had an incentive to see me somewhere in the vicinity of my appointment time, eleven ten, so that the office could get out to lunch.

He peeled back the eyelid and decided that the wound WAS healing as it should, but was doing it slightly unevenly, so that the normally super-slick inner surface of my eyelid was not so super-slick, at least for now. So he offered me some super-lube gel to put in the eye before bedtime, and if that doesn't do the trick, will put in a "bandage" contact lens to shield my eye from the healing surgical site till it heals completely. So, tonight, I lube my eye, pop an Ambien, and hope that drugs and sheer exhaustion overcome the stick-in-the-eye sensation and I can get some much needed shut-eye (pun very much intended).

I am not alone in my misery. The wife's new symptoms weigh heavily upon her as she awaits HER appointment with the brain shaman. This woman has had her share of pain throughout the years, and it makes me feel so helpless to not be able to simply take it away. Yet, she always tells me that "If it wasn't for ME........"

I managed to grab a couple of six foot boards to slice up and lay for the lower ramp, but I need about three more to get enough boards to finish off the ramp. Tomorrow I will get them, chop them up, and screw them down to the frame. Yea, it sure took me long enough to finish, didn't it?

The nights are beginning to cool down now, and soon we will be able to enjoy our tradition of sitting outside by the fire, enjoying the ambience of the sacred space, a tad bit closer to nature. I have always been fascinated by the plasma one can immerse themselves in by staring into the coals of a hard-burnt fire and experiencing the primordial state of pure energy that lives there. Nothing can give or take away life so completely as fire can. The sun giveth us, and a forest fire can taketh it all away. LIfe. What a concept!

Another Day in Paradise........  

Posted by Alex Pendragon

Determined to one way or another make up for my lost sleep yesterday, I took an Ambien on top of being tired enough to join the dead, and passed out easily. Today was the first day of a week off I took simply because I wanted to. All I did was tie out the goats (one MUST tie out the goats when one is home not working, no ifs-ands-or-butts), and did one load of dishes, but other than that, didn't do much of anything accept chat with Paul and listen to NPR. I was SUPPOSED to have made an appointment with the eye doctor but I am giving the eye one more chance to not bother me enough to get to sleep tonight without drugs or an entire fifth of rum. If my trust is violated, then tomorrow I make the appointment.

However, I DO have to work on the front porch, which has served us very well for almost 8 years now. It seems the bottom of the ramp I built for wheelchair access to the Hold was never fully completed, and a piece of plywood which had been used in lieu of proper planks has rotted and now I MUST install those planks. That I will gladly do since I have run totally out of projects and am happy to have something to distract me. I might also get around to starting the task of replacing my perimeter fence, which was strung with cheaper welded wire which is now falling apart under the assault of goats and nasty neighbors. This time I shall use more four-by posts set closer together and WOVEN wire, which is more expensive but much more sturdy. Not that we suddenly have money, but I should be able to at least put in about a quarter or a third of the overall length of the fence for "phase one". Unless, of course, the mess on Wall street trickles down to us and our finances are affected.

The girls went out "looking" yesterday and landed themselves some really cute, and cheap, costumes along the medieval vein, at K-mart, of all places. I wanted to show you, but I can't talk them into putting them back on till Halloween.....sigh....you'll just have to use your imagination. I WILL provide pictures when Samhain rolls around.

Well, I gotta finish this post off. I'm cooking dinner for the girls who both worked, and since I didn't, I'm IT. The cook, that is. Picture me in my "heroic" pose. Got it? Good......now stop laughing.

That's the news from Pendragon Hold. May your assets not have vanished, may your jobs be intact, and may your lives amount to much more than the well-being of all those financial wizards who can't seem to find their own asses in the dark.

Blessed be!

A Day at the Snail Races  

Posted by Alex Pendragon

I'm watching World News Tonight with Charlie Gibson as they describe the continuing drama on Capital Hill between Democrats, Republicans, and that dude who's been living in the White House.......

I'm watching Americans actually getting bent out of shape, upset enough to actually picket in the streets, concerning the idea that Wall Street, or more narrowly the fat-cat CEO's and good-old-boys, will be getting a bail-out that your average joe blow has never gotten. This isn't exactly what the government (the Democrats, at least) is trying to do, but that's what your average react- viscerally- and- ask- questions -later- American dumb-ass citizen believes is going on.

The Dems really are trying to instill requirements that CEO's do NOT get their golden parachutes for fucking it all up, and that Americans holding designed-to-fail mortgages can get some sort of renegotiation into mortgages that make sense. Yes, many of these people overloaded their asses with ARM's they should have known were going to come back and bite them, but you and I both know that most of these people are unsophisticated, hard working, down-on-their-luck people who just wanted to own their own homes and were talked into mortgages that were designed to do one thing and one thing only...make money for greedy bankers.

Our mortgage you could describe as sub-prime. Thanks to our income and credit rating, we "earned" a thirty year fixed mortgage at 11%, which is almost twice what the best rates would provide. Yet, we pay it, because that was what we could get, and we were rapidly headed towards paying that monthly amount for the privilege of living in apartments, which we were getting real tired of, moving each year to stay ahead of hefty rent increases. I could easily have fallen victim to one of these scams which would have cost us our home, but I stayed out of it, never seeing an offer that didn't seem too good to be true.

We still have our home and we intend to keep it, save loss of our jobs or some other disaster, which thanks to this Wall Street debacle could very well be right around the corner.

How did America get in this pickle? How do you think? They say hindsight is twenty-twenty, but I say that thieves know they are stealing when they are stealing it. Republicans call this "free market", and I call it Predatory lending practices. Even in this day and age, people trust, or blind themselves to hard truths, and thus you have what we now have. Those in power saw ALL of this happening AS it was happening and did nothing to control it. So, remember, you deserve the government you elect. I suggest you all wake up and pay attention to that fact for once when you go to the polls in November.

Maybe four years from now, when I am sufficiently old and addled, I will run for president, providing you with the most honest campaign you have ever witnessed,which will, of course, result in my getting nowhere. Yep, I'll tell it like it is, and offer common sense approaches to governance, which will only earn me enemies amongst special interests and special attention by the National Enquirer if I happen to get lucky and score a 13% share, but hey, when you get to be my age, what have you got to lose? All the dirt on me will come out, and liberals and conservatives alike will attack me for being a "Godless" pagan who will sacrifice babies in the Oval Office, but not one of the candidates running against me will stand on an issue. I'll chew them up and spit them out in that regard. But, it won't matter, because we have proven that Americans thrive on flash, and can't abide substance, because substance means less opulence, and Americans hate to be told they can't have more than they deserve. Nope, sadly, I could never be president because I would DARE slap an American's hand and say NO!

So, instead, I will live out my meager and unnoticed life here at the Hold, this mythical wonderland where there be dragons, fairies, and the occasional fire-beetle on a balmy late summer night. My destiny is not to be the next Napoleon, the short man who dares to stand tall. I am not connected, I am not the member of the church in favor, and I do not belong to the redneck, born again clique which now holds power and will kill us all if we do not put them down for good. Nope, I will remain, as always, that voice in the wilderness, or what's left of it.

Which isn't such a bad fate, all told. I'm married to a Witch. What more could a small, rational, spiritually challenged yet hopelessly romantic man ask for?


Posted by Alex Pendragon

It is with heavy heart I report on the passing of Chester M. (Whitey) Mack, Captain, USN (Ret.). Knowing in advance the end was so near makes this announcement no less sad for me. No other person in my life impressed on me the worth of trust and the advantages gained by surrounding oneself with superior talents. In my mind I can think of no greater position of responsibility than that of ship captain. It is not that Whitey may have been the greatest captain of all time, or even of his time. But, Whitey took us into harms way and brought us back home. That was his task and he did it well.
Whitey passed at 1819 EDT, Sept. 25, at a hospice near Englewood, Florida.
Say a prayer tonight for the soul of Whitey Mack and for God's blessing on Joan and their children. "Oh hear us when we call to thee, for those in peril on the sea"
Rest your oars Whitey Mack.
Chuck Petterson

I recieved this e-mail from a former shipmate who served on board USS LAPON (SSN-661), a nuclear fast attack submarine made legendary in the "silent service", thanks to this man, Captain Whitey Mack, who commanded this fine boat a few years before I had the honor to serve aboard her. I never had the privelege to meet Capt. Mack, and I would not venture to suggest that the Captains I served under were made of the same steel as this man. Regardless, I feel the same loss as every crewmember of this submarine does, and I want to thank Capt. Mack for his service to our country. I can only hope that generations of warriors and politicians that follow do not shame this man's memory, as they threaten to do now.

"They go down to the sea in ships...."

Rest your oars, Captain, My Captain........

THE Nerve!  

Posted by Alex Pendragon

THE Wife went in for her nerve-conduction test today, and BINGO, the fancy-smancy high tech electronic thingy says that no, her symptoms are not all in her head. It seems that, according to the test, something actually IS impinging upon a nerve somewhere in her neck/shoulder/pencil-neck chakra, which hopefully her neurologist will be able to pinpoint with the MRI he sent her earlier this week to have. You know what an MRI is, doncha? It's a Money Removal Instrument..........

At any rate, it seems that this latest bout of bad body language probably has nothing to do with her Botox injections wearing off or anything; just more shit falling apart as her beautiful body ages. With any luck, it will be something somebody somewhere can do something about. We have the most advanced, sophisticated health care system in the world, so I am confident that they will ultimately charge us a whole lot of money to tell us they can't do anything about it. I love modern medicine!

Then again, I could be wrong. Goddess, make me eat my words...PLEASE!

Damn, I came perilously close to ranting there......gotta watch myself........

The weather here at Pendragon Hold was.....how can I say this in such a way as to impart the full impact of the experience........hmmmm......OK, here goes nothing.....


Low 80's, low humidity, no rain, no wind.......just flat out NICE! I could get USED to this!

As for me, I just put iTunes on "party shuffle" and puttered around the house, doing whatever HAD to be done, while Mavis Staples, Bob Marley, Metallica, The Beatles, U2, John Mayer, Elton John, Barenaked Ladies, Fritz Jung, and a whole host of other artists kept me entertained. The goats got tied out, the laundry got done, dinner is ready to pop into the microwave, and the dishes are washed. And lest you think NOTHING of any consequence happened here at the Hold, I did chat with my good friend Paul who slaves away over at some college in Arizona. Anybody else who cares to chat with little old me are more than welcome to log onto Yahoo and yell at me whenever you get so utterly bored that even THAT would be preferable to what you'd be faced with otherwise. Just ask me for the address and I'll hook you up.

Thus ends another post about another boring day here at Pendragon Hold, where gargoyles run amok, goats eat out often, and dark clothes are never washed in hot water. Yes, we men are capable of doing laundry right, we just would rather not do it at all...........

Sensory Overload and other Outrageous Lies........  

Posted by Alex Pendragon

The two-shift stretch for this week is done and my three day MY time is here. Didn't have to baby- sit insane people this time, just what I normally do, which is baby- sit SANE people......hehe.

A cool front passed through the area and dropped the mercury around ten degrees, a welcome preview of the upcoming fall which may or may not take forever to get here. It's getting hard to predict WHAT Mother Nature has up her sleeve these days, but I'll be happy as long as it doesn't involve forest fires, mudslides, hurricanes, tornadoes, flooding, or earthquake. The earthquake is not something I lose sleep worrying about.

We FINALLY found the gargoyles we were looking for amongst the tons of Halloween paraphernalia at the local target. They now sit perched on our arbor guarding the entrance to our shade garden/Sacred Circle. My next project is to put up guard rails to keep THE Wife/High Priestess of Pendragon Hold from tripping over things during our not-so-well-lit ceremonies. Thank the Gods we don't use ceremonial scissors..........

I have been getting much better sleep lately as my eyelid heals and the irritation that used to keep me awake has all but disappeared. Having gotten into the habit of taking Ambien just to get to sleep, I was having difficulty getting to sleep without taking it, but someone recommended Valerian root, a sort of herbal muscle relaxer, and it seems to work pretty good, once you get past the smell, which resembles something akin to dirty socks. Last night, sheer exhaustion sufficed to send me on my way to La-La land.

However, the irritation seems to be creeping back under my eyelid, and I can only hope it is simply part of the healing process and not my gland already plugging up on me again. OK, fine, then if I have to, I will sacrifice the 13 virgin hedgehogs painted Kelly green to Mergatroyd, the God of Irritations, on the 13th of every month for 13 months. Anybody HAVE any virgin hedgehogs I can "borrow"?

Just kidding.....

Now that I have given up my epic rants, you know, those pontifications designed to illuminate the general public as to what ails us and how to cure said ailment, my postings have become thin shadows of their former selves, and for that I apologize. I would very much like to be able to regale you with tales of my civil rights march on Washington, my solo accent of Mt Bugolulu, my Carnival cruise to seven ports around the Caribbean, or how I took down a terrorist suspect singlehandedly, but nothing like that happens around here, thus I must deny you the illusion that it does. Yes, folks, our life is BORING!


It's real. I report at least 90% of it, with no fillers or artificial ingredients. And, sometimes, I even risk the ire of those I love by bravely reporting the facts, the whole facts, and nothing BUT the facts. Unless, of course, they are facts that simply have no place in the public domain. THOSE you would have to come here personally to dig up, and believe me, it ain't worth it.

So, blame it all on television. Yep, television has brainwashed us all into thinking that our lives are neat little thirty-minute episodes in which all kinds of strange, funny, and/or interesting things happen and problems are resolved almost instantly. Only we all know that's simply not the case. Life, in REAL life, is long stretches of relative boredom punctuated by mere moments of utter terror. Or sometimes it's a string of minor pleasures interrupted by hiccups of aggravation. That is how WE, the real people live, which makes for blogs which can be lean on drama yet rich on REAL.

This is real. Handle it with care.

Mabon and Lunacy  

Posted by Alex Pendragon

This is actually tomorrow, as it's 12:10 as I start this post. You must be thinking that this night HAD to be pretty interesting for me to stay up this late posting to a blog. Your thoughts are not leading you astray.

First off, I want to thank everybody for your positive response to the new header. I rather enjoyed making it.

Yesterday was interesting to say the least. Actually, you could say the last two days, (not counting this one, which is already over and a new one begun) were something to write home about. Thursday, the census is low in the CCU, and it being MY turn to be sacrificed to the Gods of Floating, get to go babysit 6 (count them; SIX) Baker-Acted (a legal term for crazy people or suicide attempters ending up in our care) patients in various stages of not quite being all there. You do NOT want to spend 12 straight hours sitting on your butt hoping you won't have to tackle some nutcase attempting to exit the premises to prevent them from exiting the premises because the law says they are not allowed to exit this particular premise until a shrink says otherwise one way or another. Yes, there are much bigger and more muscular security type people SOMEWHERE around these premises who will eventually respond to your cries of "I NEED HELP HERE!", but till then all sorts of mayhem might erupt that could involve your getting hurt because some of these crazy people are BIG crazy people.

I somehow survived that and came home and did not axe murder the family. Then I went back the next day,

And it was a pretty normal, run of the mill day, too, only there were barely enough patients to justify my presence towards the end of the shift and thus the charge nurse was JUST about to let me go home early and.....sigh.....back to the ER to watch ANOTHER patient of the NOWHEREFUCKINGNEARSANE persuasion. I sat there with him in that small room trying to appear disinterested in his rambling lunatic manifesto while being actually VERY interested in screaming for help if this person leapt off his stretcher and attacked me. However, another aid came to relieve me after about an hour and I left in one piece, and again, did not go home to axe murder the family.

The above being said I want to assure everybody that there really IS a measure of empathy involved here. One cannot spend any amount of time in the company of irrationality and not imagine the horror of their own minds bugging out on them. There is rarely any element of choice in these circumstances, and as unpleasant as these people can be, it is not done for your or anyone else's entertainment. Sometimes bad choices are made when it comes to taking or not taking medications, but life is what it is, and there but for the grace of the Gods, go any one of us. What I would dearly love to see is the community take responsibility in the aftermath of the government closing down dysfunctional mental institutions and not replacing them with any alternative, instead being content to let them wonder the streets until they dare bother us by getting in our way. Sooner or later almost all of us will experience this tragedy in our own families and it best we be proactive about providing mental health care rather than this piss-poor system of reactive incarceration. I'm going to shut up now in case this begins to resemble a rant........

So, the weekend began with preparations for our Mabon celebration, which the wife claimed would be attended by no less than seven friends and coworkers. Wow, almost an instant coven! But of course, all but two of them "couldn't" attend, so we soldiered on with five total. One girl brought her husband, which had me thinking for ONCE I'd get some masculine reinforcement, usually being the token male around here, but nooooooo, he had only given her a ride and had to get back home to babysit.

Now, one of the hallmarks of life here at Pendragon Hold is the comedy factor, provided so ably by my loving partner and High Priestess, THE Wife. She is at all times surrounded by what I charitably refer to as the "Electromagnetic Klutz Field", and in the company of our guests, this field was running at full strength, as our intrepid Priestess led off the ceremony by unceremoniously plowing right into a potted plant, almost tripping over that and falling flat on her face, because, she claims later, she couldn't see where she was going with the hood of her new cape down over her face! I turn to our guests and assure them that this is normal and to please not panic..............

Once everybody has picked themselves off the ground laughing, we get on with the ceremony, and the rest of the night proceeds without major incident, and Mother Gaia was kind enough to keep the rainstorms at bay for the rest of that night, although the leaden skies kept Momma Moon out of sight.

After the ceremony, as the girls retired indoors and I was grabbing the last of the stuff that had to be retrieved from the circle for the night, a flying squirrel decided to glide into the brightly lit circle and land on one of the trees next to me. Either that, or in the spirit of communication between this world and the next, Rocky, the late mate of Natasha, came to visit. Within a few seconds the apparition had shimmied up the tree and out of sight.

One of our guests had partaken of the wine to slight excess and needed to be driven home by the other, and I think that both of them will report back to the missing crowd that nobody died or was injured in the performance of this circle. That is, unless the demons who possessed them act up and scare everybody....hehe.....just kidding.......

It is now Sunday morning and all is quiet here at Pendragon Hold. While the Christians dress to impress and attend their bastions of family values, we will relax and enjoy our godless heathen atmosphere, one of love and sharing and appreciation for all we have been blessed with. Then, it's back to work.

Till next time, this has been another episode of the Chronicles of Pendragon Hold, and we are hoping you and yours can laugh despite the darkness we all face thanks to greed and "conservative" stewardship of our financial markets. Blessed be!


Posted by Alex Pendragon

Nothing happened today. Utterly NOTHING. The universe was stopped dead in it's tracks, waiting with bated breath to see what might happen worth writing about. When nothing worth writing about happened, the universe said "fuck it" and continued on it's merry way. I hate it when it does that.........

How's THAT for a chronicle, hey?

Attack of The Killer Butterflies  

Posted by Alex Pendragon

Hello and welcome to the Chronicles of Pendragon Hold, that place in the Florida Sun that somehow manages to dodge killer hurricanes without moving even so much as an inch! Now that I said that, the biggest storm ever conceived by man has just been kicked off by some butterfly in Africa.........sigh.......

Now wait a second! It just occurred to me......if hurricanes are born of the flutter of a mere BUTTERFLY in Africa, then why not do what we are SO DAMN GOOD at doing, and wipe out all the butterflies, and butterfly-like insects in that continent? I mean, c'mon people, these little bastards are OBVIOUSLY a national security threat, which justifies us using our military to dust that entire region with powerful insecticides and thus putting an end to that threat altogether!

Thank the Gods those geniuses in Washington never actually read what I write.....

THE Wife's shoulder pain has returned to her in a bad way, although she seems to think that it might not actually be originating in the same nerve plexus that she's been getting botox injections in to try and control her misery. But then again, her last treatment might HAVE already worn off which means she might could be already building up a resistance to the toxin. If any of you readers out there happen to be pagan and practice magic, I would sure appreciate any work you can do to help her. She seems to think that the old axiom "physician, heal thyself" doesn't apply to witches, and I'm not up to snuff in the confidence OR faith department to trust my own untested abilities in that area.

I finally, FINALLY received the flea treatment drugs I ordered more than a week ago for phase TWO of our battle against the fleas. I noticed on the package the words AUSTRALIA, which go a long way explaining why it took so long to get. I don't remember the website mentioning where this business was located. Well, NOW, I have treated the inside cat and have just dusted all the throw rugs and other carpet like items with a flea-killing carpet freshener. Maybe we will finally get ahead of these little bastards and save Shiloh more itchy misery.

Last night, I think I finally slept WELL for once, waking sometime around 7 AM vs the 4 AM in the morning that has been my horrible reality of late. I am trying to cut back on the rum, only having one or two no later than dinner time, and I will try to cut out the half an Ambein during my days off when I can actually afford to possibly lose some sleep for not having taken the damn pill. Wish me luck, or at the very least, visit me in the loony bin if my efforts don't work.

Well, other than that, nothing much is happening today. The car is still running, although I still have that check-engine light mystery I have to solve. I'll get the code read again tomorrow when I take THE Wife to lunch at Panara's, which is our biweekly tradition. We like to split their TWO-FER special, her getting the salad, me half a sandwich or a bowl of soup. It's a Great deal and Panara is sooooo GOOD!

The Night Report, with Alex Pendragon  

Posted by Alex Pendragon

We're getting on towards night here at Pendragon Hold. We prepare to watch a movie as there is nothing of value to us on the boob tube. The new season is not fully upon us yet, thus we enjoy our freedom from slavery to new episodes of fiction, which is often more entertaining than fact. At least it's no where near as depressing.

The new downstream oxygen sensor was installed, the computer reset, and during the drive to retrieve the wife, the light came back on, but the engine continued to run smoothly, all the way home. I suspect when I get around to interrogating the computer once again, it will accuse yet one more component of having failed in it's duty, but for now the engine runs well regardless, and I can only pray to the Gods of Internal Combustion that it continues to do so.

The Resident Twin has garnered an eager market for her wood-burned boxes, commanding much more in compensation for her efforts than I would have thought possible. I think the emotion, the wonder that permeates her work comes through loud and clear, thus demanding a desire for her work that is making me jealous that my Green Man box might take forever to get created, as it is a gift to me and not a bought item. I sometimes entertain the idea that this girl, this woman, actually, could actually find herself in the enviable position of being able to support herself with the labors of love that are also a talent in demand by those appreciative of this special sort of art.

I only received two responses to my fall from grace so far; my escape into the madness of emotion that a stupid movie launched me into, but both were actually supportive, as well as positive. It remains to be seen if the remainder of my small readership survived my outburst, but I cannot worry of it, for as I have stated for the record, I cannot stand and act as though I can tolerate the state of this nation as it now stands, for the oath I took did not save my country from it's enemies, and in it's failure, in MY failure, truth trumps pablum, and it is what it is. I rest uneasy within the borders of this place, helpless to do anything but survive in it's clutches, as though I was Cherokee or first generation Japanese during THE great conflict, but if anybody asks, I will gladly share stories of when hope was not a laughable condition, but an admirable one, and we all marched arm in arm to tell the truth to power. We don't do that kinda thing anymore..........

The Morning Report, with Alex Pendragon  

Posted by Alex Pendragon

Yesterday was pre-empted by a major, knee-jerk, reactive rant, and I apologize, but to make it up to you, I hereby provide my steadfastly loyal and remaining readership with the latest, up-to-date news from around the Hold. Enjoy!

That miraculous repair I performed on the Focus? Well, it seems that the fix was not totally in. On her way home from work day before yesterday, THE Wife experienced a hiccup, after which the car ran less than smoothly, sort of surging while at idle. Not quite the stumbling, gonna blow a gasket kind of hesitation that we had previously been experiencing, mind you, but not normal, and the check engine light came back on to herald that "Houston, we STILL have a problem"!

So, Yesterday I took her to work in the morning so that I could take the car to the parts place again and get the new problem code read. Only nothing happened. Car ran smoothly all the way home. Hmmmmmmm So, it seems the problem might be heat related, since it is cooler in the morning. I talked with a friend on the net who suggested that I could clear the old code out of the computer by resetting it, which required that I disconnect the electrical system from the battery, then reconnect, which would "reboot" the computer. Okaaaaaaaaa............

That cleared the check engine light and that afternoon I returned to retrieve the wife. She wanted to stop by a store, so it lengthened our return trip, which, sure enough, heated up the system enough to set off the check engine light again and the surging at idle returned. OK, then, fine, I would try again tomorrow.......

Today is tomorrow, I took the wife to work, I go see the Eye Doc who tells me that all kinds of evil yucky stuff had oozed out of my eyelid when he lanced it in the operating room, and that it should take another week yet for the incision to totally heal up. He gave me some steroid eye drops to help with the minor irritation I still feel.

THEN, I take my baby straight to the parts store, and get the kind black lady to come out and read the brain again. Same code; almost. This time it SEEMS to indicate that A: the DOWNSTREAM sensor now needs to be replaced, or B: the catalytic convertor is shot and it's going to run me more than $300 for the part, not counting labor, which of course I will be supplying myself (it's not rocket science, it's advanced high tech automotive engineering.....piece of cake!)

So, the car is cooling down, so that I can drive her up on my ramps and crawl under there to search out this second sensor. You see, the stupid (and I do mean STUPID for the way it just forgot all about showing where and how the second sensor was located) manual showed exactly where the upstream sensor is, but then completely skipped the second. So, before actually buying the part, I decided it best I eyeball where the sensor is and determine if I can get at it to replace it. The alternative is, you guessed it, garage mechanic and big bags of money, which I don't have. Wish me luck.

I now return you to your life so you can await with breathless anticipation how all this turns out on the nightly report with Alex Pendragon (AKA THE Michael).


Posted by Alex Pendragon

If you know me, you know I'm a cynic, I question everything, and I always see the glass as half empty, never half full. I know, it's tiring, I need to lighten up, smile more often, chill out. There is good in the world, if I would only shut up long enough to at least try and find it. That's how I am sure everybody sees me and there's not much evidence to the contrary. Matter of fact, I got so constantly worked up about everything that I actually DID get tired of it, and decided to say the hell with it and never complain about any of this shit again; to just chill out and worry about MY part of the spectrum and maybe I would become a much happier human being. I know I would sure as hell make many of my readers happier; reading ME can really ruin a person's day when I'm going at another rant.

Well, guess what.....keep reading and you get to enjoy one more, and might I suggest, really "out-there" rant of epic proportions. Only this is a highly concentrated "rant of epic proportions" which will not last very long......it's not at all long winded and will be over very quickly.

I had this movie, Michael Moore's "Sicko", laying around the house for a couple of weeks now, not getting around to watching it (I rented it from Netflix) because I knew the other two occupants of this household are not big fans of political documentaries, so I was holding out for a nice, "got-nothing-better-to-do" day when I'd be alone, to watch it before putting it back in the mailbox and returning it.

Now, I am not one who falls victim easily to simplistic journalism, knowing there is always more to the story than some of these more "liberal" hollywood types include in their works. I know when something is probably happening only because of the propaganda value it can impart, not because of genuine emotion or intent. I know when people are being used. So let me state upfront that I know damn well that this movie includes all those elements, whether or not Michael Moore would want to admit it or not. That being said........

Halfway through this movie I broke down and started crying. If you are thinking what you might be thinking, than fuck you. This movie tells the truth. It tells a HORRIBLE truth about who we are as a nation and a people. Forget everything I ever said about my pride in being a citizen of this country. FUCK THIS COUNTRY! There, I just exercised my freedom of speech to the maximum extent I can think of. If you don't like it, fine, it is your freedom to do so, and hopefully, like myself and many others, you earned that right by serving this country in some capacity. Not necessarily in the military, but in many ways. Like the people in this movie.

I am sorry if any of my readers are offended by this post. If you consider yourselves Americans, and what that really means, then before you suggest to me that I have done something wrong, I want you to FIRST watch this movie, from front to back, and really THINK about what it says about many of us and the government we have chosen to "protect" us. If you choose to remain convinced that I am some sort of picko-commie-liberal-traitor, then fine, you can keep on thinking that, and may whatever deity you think is going to look after you keeps doing it when you lose YOUR health care, IF you have any. I know for a fact, especially working in the field, that I am one or two hospital visits away from homelessness, even WITH insurance. If you think you are special, then keep thinking that; I cannot nor do I want to waste any more of MY time robbing you of our disillusion.

OK, then, fine, I lied; this rant lasted longer than I intended, and is probably nastier than any I ever wrote before. It IS, I promise, my last one. If and when you return you will be hearing about my petty little triumphs and tragedies, but I truly have no more desire to waste my time pointing out problems with "the greatest country in the world". And no, at least until I can afford to, I will NOT be "leaving it because I don't love it". I was born here. I didn't "choose" to hate my country the way my country seems to hate it's citizens...........

End of rant. Goodnight.


Posted by Alex Pendragon

OK, I survived my two twelves, and today was my first day of recovery, when I take a breath and make my record. It's 5:30 in the evening, I'm putting together this post and listening to the latest release by Dar Williams. To most, I imagine Dar Williams is pretty much unknown. To those who are fortunate to have discovered her, she makes life nicer just listening to her.

I seem to be coming off this stick-in-the-eye/struggle to sleep period much less easier than I would have hoped. Although I have very little irritation left beneath the affected eyelid, I still seem to have difficulty getting to sleep, even when I am exhausted, which I can only attribute to having relied upon Ambien to get what little sleep I have had these past weeks. I try to tough it out and fall asleep on my own, thinking that simply being so sleepy I am the walking dead should suffice to knock me out. Doesn't happen. I ended up getting up last night almost at 2 AM and taking a pill, cursing myself for having surrendered. Tonight, I will take a half pill, taking the advice I got from someone I trust that maybe it is best I wean myself from the sleep aids rather than trying to go cold-turkey. Crap, and to think I remember quitting cigarettes (with the help of Chantrix) as not half as hard as getting a decent night's sleep....sheesh!

The car is still running smoothly, reinforcing my belief that I really DID fix our conveyance. But in the meantime, my thinking it was awful hot and humid this month was REALLY validated by our electric bill. You don't want to know, believe me.......

The minor sabat of Mabon is approaching, otherwise known as the autumn equinox, that point in the season when daylight and dark are equal. From that day forward we will lose daylight to the dark and winter will advance upon us, although with global warming it remains to be seen if it can truly be considered a "winter". I do so miss those days, and the places I've lived, when the seasons were true and you could expect the thermometer to act a certain way depending on the time of the year. Now....sigh......I miss those days when seasons were seasons.

I also miss clear, dark nights when the stars leapt forth in all their celestrial glory, and the milky way painted itself from horizon to horizon. I miss when fireflies would flit thru the night, bringing the stars to earth in their twinkling lights. If it seems you no longer see many, if any fireflies where you live, it is not your senses fooling you; they are disappearing everywhere. One more canary in the coal mine........

Thank Pan, he of the cloven feet and mischievous character, our friend Billy has returned to his old, obnoxious self, getting over whatever ailment had laid him so low a few days ago. You never expect yourself to pine for bad behavior, but Billy is just being a goat, and I would truly miss having him drag me across the yard attempting to sample something he knows is forbidden, for only goats seem to know that THESE are the best things to eat in all creation!

My Embrace of HOPE  

Posted by Alex Pendragon

I know I told all of you that I gave up the rant; that complaining and pontificating upon the state of the world is not improving it to any real degree, so when the machine makes all that noise and accomplishes nothing, you turn off the power and put it out to pasture. What I am writing tonight is NOT a rant, it is simply a manifesto; a declaration of what I believe and why I believe it. So, enjoy, take it or leave it, for it is not intended to indoctrinate or illuminate or start a revolution in human sociology. It, as my friend Buffalo would say, is what it is.

When I was eighteen, full of coming of age and able to give vent to my own identity, I of course knew everything, was an expert in everything, and could not be persuaded otherwise that I was not the master of everything. I wish I was that young again, for I have lost most of that wisdom that comes only from never having experienced most of that which one is so expert in.

Now that I have witnessed wonders, and discovered that tomorrow I might very well learn something new, whether or not I choose to accept that new fact, I have also discovered a new kind of wisdom, one anchored in that wonderfully grey landscape that lies between utter conviction and fully recognized ignorance. Once, I thought of math, the more esoteric and advanced the better, as a pox on the common man, for only those full of themselves and seeking power over others could have come up with something so complicated and hard to grasp. What I now know is that yes, it remains complicated and hard to grasp, yet is the key to wondrous things, which alas, I will always be bereft of, due to MY inability to grasp it, rather than it's irrelevance.

I grew up with religion. I was indoctrinated in the most theatric and profound of religions, the Catholic Church. This was the first boys club that was established based on the teachings of Christ that gained a foothold in the pathos of the human condition, which is that man, no different than that other social pack animal, the wolf, then in time the dog, requires a place in the pecking order to function in, be it the rip-out-your-throat-if-you-cross-me Alpha Male, or the I-bow-down-before-you-please-be-kind-to-me bottom of the food chain. Using the power of GOD, the priesthood practiced that unique form of "algebra" that the common, or perhaps even mentally lazy, man cannot handle and thus depends on the priest to interpret for him. The Bible was even written and passed down in the scholarly language of Latin in order to keep it's secret and thus sacred knowledge close to the vest, insuring the power of the Bishops, and by proxy, Kings.

But, just like Martin Luther King (not Jr, but the original real deal) challenged the power structure to put up or shut up, I broke free of the dogma, and dared ask questions that never were answered to any logical satisfaction. This proved to be a genuinely brave endeavor, as I was informed in no uncertain terms that to question the wisdom of the Church in all matters related to the Divine was nothing more than the tool of the devil, and to allow such blasphemy to rule my live would damn my soul to eternal torment in a place made for me by my "loving" God. So of COURSE I had a rather schizophrenic weaning period from this terror, until much later in my life when I simply grew tired of being afraid and learned to laugh at the absurdity of it all.

I know an invisible goblin named Ralph. Ralph just happens to be somewhat almighty, in that he knows EVERYTHING and can turn a pumpkin into a battleship with the snap of a finger, but I can't get Ralph to demonstrate this really cool omnipotence because, simply, Ralph being all-powerful and everything, told me to tell you people all this and will punish you with bee-hive hairdos if you dare challenge me on this. Do you NOT believe what I have just told you? Why not? Many of you have believed many things equally as ludicrous concerning a dead dude named Jesus who died a horrible death in order to save us all from......well, it's complicated, but dogma is like that.......delightfully complicated, thus independent of independent and rational examination. The things I now believe results from that very independent thought which is so discouraged by ANY mainstream religion, and thus must mean that I have embraced the ultimate evil, which these priests and purveyors of truth have labeled as SATANIC. (You may all shudder for effect if you wish....)

Only I do not entertain evil thoughts, at least not as is defined in the dictionary, and I don't even believe a guy named SATAN ever existed, but is nothing but a scapegoat for a totally illogical belief system which cannot stand up to honest scrutiny. So, you ask, what new truth has so totally supplanted what I was taught that I dare risk the fires of eternal damnation?

Nothing, really. Yes, I honor and practice the teachings of Wicca, an Earth honoring nature religion, but I do not embrace these teachings in such a way as to abandon all my responsibilities as a rational, critically thinking human being. I have a brain and NO religion or dogma is going to rob me of the joy of having one. Yes, I honor and "converse" with such characters as Hecate, Diana, and the Green Man, but I do so simply as tools of metaphor that assist my frail human intelligence in attempting to connect with the universal mind of all that is and all that has been and can be. This can be everything I wish it to be or nothing that I could conceive of, but it is not my job to decide what is or what isn't beyond those concrete realities that I can sense with this biological vessel I now inhabit. I even entertain the possibility that all that I think I am will not survive beyond those chemical processes in this brain which allow me to think that perhaps I might have a soul. If I DO have a soul, well, how grand! If I do not, then all that was I shall cease, and there will be no arguments to the contrary afterwards, at least from that which WAS me.

Mine is the "religion" of HOPE. I HOPE that striving to be a good person that seeks to harm none will benefit not only those in my sphere of influence, but selfishly, myself, either here or some other plain of existence. I do not expend my energy in this effort to be "good" simply for the brownie points, but simply because it is the "right" thing to do. Why do I think it is the "right" thing to do? Easy! Because I know how I personally benefit from the kindnesses shown to ME, and I have witnessed the effect these kindnesses have on others. I also can contrast this against the effect that the alternative has on my world and that of others, and for me at least, the choice is clear..........I cannot embrace evil or harm to others, not even the harm that those "chosen by God" so easily inflict on those who challenge them or stand in the way of their path to "glory". Perhaps those of us who choose this path are misinformed or delusional, especially as your average atheist would decree, but I choose to leave that to whatever end we entertain, all of us. I would think my most glorious joy would derive itself from the utter disappointment of both Christians and atheists alike.

I cannot find solace or joy in the act of bowing down to some "supreme being" who has it all planned out from the get-go and takes great pleasure in my suffering for making the "wrong" choice. I was given the same sort of choices by bullies in my school years and I find no difference in the inherent evil demonstrated by both, although I actually suffered for one and have yet to suffer anything from the other. I cannot find honor in the detached limbs and limited lives of brave young men who had faith in a leader who so eagerly fed them to the beast we now know as fear, disguised as patriotism, and will cost us all dearly in the coming decades, as any Vietnam veteran can attest to. I cannot find solace in the fact that Iraqi deaths now "only" average in the hundreds per month rather than the thousands, surely demonstrating how effective our surge was in dampening down the terror all Iraqis' live with everyday. And I cannot find any happiness in knowing that fueling the avarice of the filthy rich the world over will kill us all AND the planet that nurtured us for all these thousands of years.

So, what DO I believe in? Nothing. I embrace the concept of HOPE, of yearning for something beyond the coldly rational and sterile facts that shape the universe as we actually KNOW it. I HOPE that fairy dance amongst us, just beyond our perception but having influence, however mischievous that might be, upon our own narrow dimension. It is HOPING that when we die, those ideas that our souls know as JOY can find flight, however briefly, until such time that we have to, perhaps of our own choosing or as dictated by laws we cannot now understand, we must return to this plain and learn more lessons on how to TRULY live, while living. I find HOPE that there is a karmic balance which makes justice possible and balances the books when horrible things happen by choice, which I equate with evil, and when wonderful things happen, which I think illuminates our universe. And I HOPE that I was given this ability to think, not to be squandered, but to be exercised to it's fullest so that one day, I might be CAPABLE of uniting with the cosmic ONE, knowing all things knowable, and rejoicing in the truths which agree with and are celebrated by science, and not beaten down by it.

Thus sayeth THE Michael, as is written by his own hand this night of Tuesday, September Ninth, in the year 2008, that many years since one man from his death forward was never allowed to rest in peace......

Back in Black  

Posted by Alex Pendragon

This morning I awoke to the sensation of having a small nail driven into my skull right above my right eye socket. It seems it was bored with the "exploding head" trick and wanted to try something different. So, I got up and attacked it with a couple of generic ibuprophen/decongestant tablets. That tamped it down some for the rest of the morning while I got under the hood of the Focus and finished changing out the spark plugs and installed the rest of the new wires. Once that was done, I rounded up all my tools, actually accounting for all of them, and started her up, my fingers crossed. WOW! She responded like an old man on viagra AND steroids! Smooth and powerful and not one hint of hesitation! Am I good or WHAT? I guess a new set of plugs WAS overdue after all.

Then I went out back to release the goats from goat prison, only to find that Billy wasn't all that interested in escaping. This is the goat that paces back and forth waiting for the gate to open, that drags me across the yard while I pretend I am actually steering him in the direction I want him to go. Poor Billy just wasn't feeling all that frisky. So I interrogated THE Wife, who had fed the goats yesterday while I was under the weather myself, and she mentioned that the neighbors HAD fed them some bread, something they like to do now and then. The twins didn't appear to be any worse the wear for it, but they DID seem to me to be awful inflated for it being the next day and plenty time to chew their cuds overnight. I can only hope that the poor guy is simply suffering some intestinal discomfort and will get over it soon. I really am in no mood to lose another animal, especially after that animal had been fed by strangers. One might start imagining all sorts of things.

Later, as noon approached, it was apparent that the sinus headache was going to give me a run for my money, so I said the hell with it and hit it with another Maxalt. That did the trick and my head finally cleared. The pain hasn't returned and I feel MUCH better. Damn good thing, too, cause I have to get back to work tomorrow. The eye is also healing nicely, with far less irritation that is usual. Guess I won't turn into a one-eyed Jack after all.....at least not yet!

After lunch, I HAD to take the two witches to the local pagan paraphernalia store, so they could stock up on more herbs and stones and other things Wiccans can't seem to function without. I decided to go ahead and get myself this pewter Green Man pendent I'd been lusting after for awhile. Some people collect porcelain elephants, or teacup poodles; I collect anything Green Man. Or dragons. One can never have to many dragons, especially in a HOLD.

So, after a few very trying days here at THE Hold, things appear to be getting back to......I dunno.....what's considered "normal", especially around HERE?

So blessed be you all, till we are all merry met again..........

The Next Day.......  

Posted by Alex Pendragon

There were consequences to yesterday. This morning about 4 AM, I awoke sweating, feeling very strange. Having no idea what was happening, all kinds of possibilities went dancing thru my head, none of them good ones. The feeling of weirdness and discomfort, a sort of pressure in my skull, increased to the point I had to get up, and it became apparent that being upright relieved the symptoms to some small degree, and I decided to go into the living room until this episode passed. It didn't pass.

All of the wee hours of the morning I sat upright on the couch, my head not hurting exactly, as in a migraine or bad headache, just this sense of my skull being pressurized. Any attempt to lay my head down increased my discomfort to the point of feeling nauseous, and visions of stroke or brain aneurysm began to dance in my head. As sleepy as I was, I could not go back to sleep. Never was one to be able to fall asleep upright like some people can.

Long after dawn and headed towards noon I was one unhappy puppy, wondering what was happening to me but not at all willing to head to the emergency room and the all-day ordeal that would invite. I chanced some ibuprofen, then some Toridal, then finally a maxalt, the final say in taking down a migraine. The maxalt finally did the trick, even though my head was only now beginning to hurt like a headache. I gradually began to feel human again, and none of the signs or symptoms of stroke ever became apparent, other than the positional head pressure and nausea. The strange sweating did not return.

Later in the day that had been almost entirely wasted, we settled on a reasonable explanation for my malady. The previous day, as I have reported, was a long and trying one, and when I am engaged in a day-long affair of possible grave consequence, I tend to neglect such basics as drinking enough fluids to remain hydrated, and as hot and humid as it was, it's no wonder I lost something like five pounds, probably all water. On top of that, I think perhaps I had one rum and coke to many that night celebrating my relief for having pulled the automotive rabbit out of the hat, which only added to my dehydration. Plus, I am not the youthful ironclad hell raiser I once was. Demon rum bit me in the ass, but good.

But you know, aside from this one medical nightmare, I can report some progress in another area.........my eye, the one that has cost me about a weeks worth of sleep? The irritation has decreased remarkably today, which is timely, as I really have to return to work Monday.

And that's how I survived one scary day here at Pendragon Hold. I don't think I'll need any sleeping pills tonight.

This Just In..........  

Posted by Alex Pendragon

In case an edit does not trigger your feeders, please go back to the last post.....there's an update. No, go, read it, I promise it won't hurt.........

The "Down Home" Report  

Posted by Alex Pendragon

It's been three days post-eyelid surgery and I have traded one irritant for another; the "rocks" that the doc cut out of the gland is now replaced by the healing process, which is equally as irritating to my eyeball if not more so. The strange effect on my symptoms is that now, keeping my eyelid shut during sleep seems to be the lessor of the two evils than the previous malady inflicted on me. Now, I blink all day, each blink a stab in the eyes, yet I can't stop blinking. It's a catch-22 of the worst kind.

There's a long train runnin' this hurricane season. Fay had her way, Gustav was WAY off, and Hanna's headed for........no, not Montana, but she's skirting right by us. Then there's Ike, and that one is promising to prove nasty for the folks of Miami, after which we are not sure who he will pester. If he does head our way after landfall, then it will be just like the storms of a couple of years ago that came on land like a lion, and arrived here like a lamb, worn down by geography. If I had my druthers, none of these storms would hurt people the way they do, but that's what happens when humanity crowds into paradise.

I love these simple little eureka moments I get now and then. One problem I've had with the twins (not the daughters) is that they have taken advantage of our worn out and bowed in wire fence to slip under and escape into my neighbor's yard. Then it occurred to me that I could let them run loose in the back forty and not have to worry about their jail-breaking habits simply by tying their lease to our yard wagon. Together they easily haul this thing around the yard as they browse, but that wagon is NOT following them under that fence. I know, because true to form they slipped beneath the wire, but only got as far as the cable tie, and I was able to "reel" them back to our side of the fence. Why did I not think of this before?

I STILL need to replace this fence, though.

If there is ONE thing that scares the the lower-middle-class married couple who both work, it's the dreaded "check engine" light on their only car. We almost have this thing paid off, and now this damn light comes on. Soooooo, I stop off at one of our many auto-parts stores, having heard that they have one of those gizmos that read the dysfunction codes from your car's computor, and sure enough, the nice black lady behind the counter was more than happy, free of charge no less, to bring her little electronic box out to my car, plug it into the recepticle beneath my dash, and ask my cars computor what the fucking promblem is. It turns out that according to gizmo (ALL HAIL THE GIZMO! LONG LIVE THE GIZMO!) the engine is running lean, and the culprit in this "lean-ness" is none other than the oxygen sensor, which apparently is not sensing O2 the way in which it was meant to be sensed. So, being the minister of the holy gizmo and all, she pronounced that she could sell me the said oxygen sensor and even borrowed one of those "fix it your own damn self" books off the shelf and showed me where it was on my car and how easy it would be to replace it. She even "rented" me the special tool needed to remove and reinstall this wondrous device, promising to fully refund my money when I brought the tool back to the store, sorta like a lending library of automotive toolery. Now, contrast this with what would have happened had I brought this vehicle to the good folks at Ford, manufacturers and repairers of these fine automobiles...........I probably would have paid about $80 just for them to plug THEIR gizmo into the same recepticle and read the same code and charge me another $800 to replace the Oxygen sensor, all the sparkplugs, the computor, the catalytic convertor, AND the entire electrical system, and have me sitting in their waiting room all day just like we all do when we go to the doctor to check OUR oxygen sensors.

After I replace this doo-dad myself, I'll check the spark plugs just in case they appear to be fouled and need replacing as well. Now, I suspect this MAY have someting to do with the fact that all our gas stations are now blending in 10% ethenol into our gasoline. Chevy has been marketing their cars as adaptable to either straight gas or 85% ethenol, which makes me wonder if our ordinary engines get bent out of shape having to burn this new blend of gas and moonshine, making our "check engine" lights come on. I hope this is not a trend. I don't LIKE these kinda trends........

The Resident Twin has been very busy here during her off hours fulfilling commissions she has earned burning decorative wooden boxes. The girl has a real talent with this "art form" and her work is in demand. And, she was given a guitar as a birthday gift and is practicing, so that perhaps she can lend some actual home-brewed music to our circle celebrations. I still handle the percussion department, and have two half-way decent drums for that purpose.

I have already made one major assault on the flea problem that has been plaguing Shiloh and the rest of this household. I bought some K-9 Advantix, which worked well enough, but since Lola the cat and Cricket are also infested with these little demons, the relief was short-lived. Well, I ordered some frontline flea killer for the cats, and have also deployed some flea-killing powder for the rugs and other hiding places. This is WAR, baby! You going DOWN!

We had ALOT of deadwood courtesy of Fay to pick up around the property last week. Now, some homeowners would consider a gaggle of sticks and branches to be a mess to clean up, but we think of it as a resource given us by the Green man. Thanks to the cast-offs of our trees, we have plenty of dried out twigs and sticks to use for our ceremonial fires, which means we don't have to go spending money for fire-starter stuff at the store.

We have been looking forward to the stocking of Halloween paraphernalia at such places as Walmart and Target, as we are in great need of a pair of right-sized gargoyles to perch on the posts of our new garden arbor. You'd be AMAZED how hard it is to find just the right size gargoyle to suit one's needs. They have to be just the right size to perch on the top of a 4X4 post, and have the proper demeanor as well. Anne, if you know of any unemployed gargoyles in your neck of the woods, send them for an interview..........they might get lucky!

Speaking of Anne, she is now in the clutches of the American Health care system, in a CATHOLIC hospital, no less. Anybody familiar with Anne of "The Gods are Bored" fame knows she is a druid, and we all know what "Christ's own chosen people" think of Druids and pagans and other such damned peoples. Let's all send positive energy her way, because if you know Anne like I know Anne, then you know that if there WAS a God, he'd love her to death, cause this lady can even make the Gods laugh! At least she has the Fairy folk to guard her........

About this time you expect to hear some rant concerning the sorry state of the world and those folks most responsible for it. If you missed my last post, go back and read it. The world turns. I'm letting it.


Ok, so I go home, I spend something like 20 minutes removing this damned heat shield covering the oxygen sensor, remove the said sensor with a combination of sheer strength and a damn good lever made up of the "special tool", the socket wrench, and a large crescent wrench gripping the end of the socket wrench. I take out the sensor, then take out the replacement, and immediately it is quite apparent these two do NOT remotely look alike. Aside from the design of the business end, the wire harness plug is barely long enough to engage its female counterpart. Oh well, aftermarket parts sometimes take liberties, sometimes in the spirit of being an improvement, so I screw in the replacement, trusting in the Gods of Internal Combustion to protect me from my ignorance and the advice of others.

While I was at it, I decided to check a spark plug to see if perhaps they hadn't fared any better with age then the O2 sensor had, if indeed that was the root of my problem. Again, with amazing show of muscularity (or rather my lack OF it), I removed spark plug number one and examined it. Indeed, it looked rather "worn" and the gap seemed rather large than I remembered gaps usually being, but other than that, it seemed at least functional. So, until I could invest in a new set, I replaced the plug in its hole and connected the wire back onto the terminal.

Or at least I thought I had. More on that later.

So, everything back the way I remembered them to be, I started the car up. With great dismay it immediately became apparent that not only had I NOT solved he problem, I had made it WORSE! Now the engine ran rougher than ever! Sigh.......damn, my fears of this new sensor NOT being the proper part seemed more correct than not based on these new symptoms, so, I figured the best strategy for now was to put the old sensor back, hoping it was actually working fine to begin with, yet hoping it wouldn't help because then I'd have a truly undiagnosed problem on my hand. I did that, put everything away, and decided it best I head on out back to the parts store in hopes of getting them to refund my money for a part that HAD to be the wrong one or maybe even defective. Also, I would have to be picking up THE Wife from work within two hours anyway, so it was time to leave now to allow some time to get to the parts store and return the part.

On the way, the car was insisting that death was at its doorstep, smelling to high heaven of unburned fuel, running on the verge of NOT running, and all around acting very much like Billy when I was trying to lead him where I wanted him to go. Halfway to my destination the "check engine" light started flashing off and on frantically, as if to say "Warning, Warning, Danger, Will Robinson, DANGER!" I drove gingerly, managing the gas petal as to keep the RPM's just in the "Let's go forward, shall we?" range, anxious that at any moment the engine would explode and take me with it.........OK, just afraid that it would overheat and throw a piston or just die till it cooled down again. Allow me my histrionics, OK?

Now I was tying to decide whether to try and make it to the parts store or simply surrender to the Evil Empire and get to the Ford Care place I usually go to have my Fords admitted to automotive CCU. Knowing we would be out of a way to get around as well as emptying out our bank account for the privilege, and against all common sense, I soldiered on to the parts store, hoping against hope that I simply had gotten a bad sensor and that maybe the right one would bring goodness and light to my beleaguered world. Thanks to Persistence, the God of Hopeless Causes, I made it to the store and made my way in to commiserate with the Black Lady, my Lady of the Holy Code Reader.

We discussed the situation. I showed her 8 by 10 color glossy photos of the two sensors side by side to show the obvious disparities in design, hoping the weight of this evidence would silence any arguments that might arise concerning a refund, but we also perused the computer to see if there was a PROPER part that might be more suited to my engine. Indeed, there seemed to be another part (with a different part number but of the same species) that had a longer harness, at least as long as the one hanging off the original. With nothing left to lose, I paid the extra four dollars for the new sensor, but at the same time getting the Saint of Code Readers to come back out and read my malfunction again, perhaps revealing another numerical explanation for my sorrows. This time Deep Thought came back with the original code "engine running lean - bank one", plus a new one, "spark plug misfire detected on cylinder one"! Cue exasperated heavy breathing.........

THEN it occurred to me.........you know, putting that spark plug wire back on didn't give me that satisfying CLICK one wold expect when putting one of these things back on; maybe THAT was the cause of this new roughness! So, after much more discussions and expert advice on how much more money I should be spending, I purchased the new sensor AND new spark plug wires AND new spark plugs AND.........no, that was it.........just felt like a whole new engine........

With Hurricane Hanna passing offshore and bringing the occasional rain squall, I ventured that I could get that specialized tool beneath that heat shield without having to remove it, and by GODS, I DID! In less than a fifth of the time it had taken me to remove that first sensor, and with a lot less effort, I replaced the old one with the second new one, then I took out the spark plug in cylinder one, replaced it with one of the new ones, replaced the old spark plug wire with the new, and made SURE that the boot was as far down on that puppy as it was going to go. THEN (all this is happening in the parking lot), I got in and turned the key..........

SMOOTH does not even begin to describe how much better the engine ran now. With my superior knowledge, skill, and calm demeanor under fire, I had single handedly taken on a four cylinder, single overhead cam, fuel injected engine with an ELECTRONIC ignition system and REPAIRED IT! Yes, folks, I, THE Michael, laughed in the face of transportive tragedy and PREVAILED!

Would you believe,with the help of one sweet lady, one knowledgeable parts man, and whichever entity is most responsible for incredibly good luck, I skirted disaster by the skin of my teeth? Yea, thought so...........

Then I drove smoothly to THE Wife's job site and picked her up. After she described her day, I describe MINE. For once, mine was a tad more interesting............

Dance Band on the Titanic  

Posted by Alex Pendragon

I give up. I surrender. The fire within my soul has died, for the decks of this Titanic are now tilting, and the band plays on. I will be joining the orchestra, taking my place next to the percussion section, enjoying those minutes afforded me by the fates which have allowed the human race to engineer it's own extinction. I cannot save the world, my strident voice will have no impact whatsoever on the events which will unfold and take us all beneath the metaphoric waves of this cold, unforgiving sea. I know this sounds defeatist, but allowing that, I also claim it reeks of reality, and the truth that occupies the depth of my soul is frightenly similar to that which must have haunted the Jews in the Polish ghetto as they awaited the trains that would haul them by the boxcar to their ends. What could THEY have done about it when the entire world was taking it's own sweet time even acknowledging that what was happening to the Jews could even happen in a modern, "civilized" world. Since that horror unfolded, repeated genocides have occurred, the bulk of mankind has been slow to respond, and, yes, the band plays on.

The consumer society, modern warfare, and climate change now have proven once and for all that science really can't plug all the holes in the dike. The dikes are failing, the flood waters are rising, and no one is even considering building an ark. Even the great myth of the murderous flood unleashed upon a sinful mankind by an even more sinful Supreme being had some sort of disaster planning at it's core. Where is our Noah now?

And I tire of it. I tire of shouting at a very, VERY small audience that happens by my blog and pretty much has already agreed with me concerning these things, but is equally impotent in the face of a humanity damned determined to prove superior to lemmings in the ability to commit suicide. I know you all care; I know you all, at least in your hearts, fear what looms ahead of us and probably have banged your own heads on unyielding walls of inaction. So, you understand why I have decided to no further weigh this chronicle down with further rantings about the state of the world, for even had this blog been chock full of solutions to our quandary, who would have read them, believed them, then deployed them, having come from one as common as I? I cannot make the difference that matters, thus I will no longer suffer the impotence I bring to this fight, and let mankind lay in the bed it insists on making.

So, when and if you choose to revisit this dimension in the cyber-universe, you will read of one square acre of untainted sand, called Pendragon Hold by it's residents, and will be kept abreast of the reality that occurs here, however mundane and unadventurous it will seem to be. You will know what happens to one man, two women, a dog, two cats, three goats, a flying squirrel, a leopard gecko, and a snake, but mostly you'll be kept informed about the three humans. You may also hear of those who come and go and are related in some form or fashion to us, but respecting their privacy, that information will be somewhat limited. You may catch an occasional snide remark from me concerning the state of the nation, but no longer will you find me repainting a portrait that all of you can see well enough without my own personal illumination.

I'm sorry; you'll just have to turn to Bill Moyer or Bill Maher for the truth from now on.........they do it much better than I do anyway. Like it matters.

Family Values (On Sale Now)  

Posted by Alex Pendragon

While the media keeps up it's hysterical drama concerning Gustav (c'mon, folks, this is your average, run-of-the-mill hurricane that just HAPPENS to be coming ashore near New Orleans, not another 'MONSTER/KILLER STORM PROMISING DEATH AND DESTRUCTION LIKE NEVER BEFORE SEEN!!!!"), news has quietly leaked out that governor what's-her-name has a seventeen year old daughter who is already knocked up. They assure us the lucky couple will be married. Now, folks, I don't know about you, but I am so relieved to see that the G.O.P. will be bringing us even more examples of "family values" to try and emulate. Let's hope that the young man who got him some from the wrong little girl takes the veiled threats seriously about his responsibilities and doesn't take off with hopes for asylum in Canada. That would be somewhat embarrassing, now wouldn't it?

Also, I think we all need to smile knowing that our future Commander-in-Chieftess knows her way around a firearm. It's important that a president and leader of the most powerful military on Earth (unless the Russians decide to throw caution to the wind and test that assumption) knows how to carry a football. Not THAT kind of football, silly; the briefcase she's gonna have to carry around with the big red button in it......you know, the one that for all practical purposes ends the world faster than it already will be. Why do I talk as though she's already President? How much longer do you think McCain is going to last, especially if a Democratic congress pisses him off and his blood pressure goes sky high?

Now, we could forgo ALL this speculation from the get-go by doing the sane thing to begin with and elect a sane person to office, and get to work repairing the damage done this nation during eight years of rape and pillage by the neocons. I say "could" because the American People have already proven just how illogical they can be when it comes to choosing leadership. The Russian people HAVE an excuse; their history is nothing but disfunction; they honestly don't know how else to act. We are better than that........or used to be.

Oh, and yes, allow me to admit up front that yes, what's-her-name has more "executive" experience than all three of the other candidates combined, that is, she was the head of a state militia (what we call the "national guard", most of which are to busy over in Iraq to guard us here back home) that, thankfully, can pretty much run itself, and that she hasn't been suspected of any corruption. Then again, George Bush was a governor too. That is so reassuring. isn't it?

Now Barack is faced with the same dilemma that most young people are faced with as they go into the labor market and try and get credit. They are told they can't get any because they don't already HAVE any. That's right folks, it makes as much sense now as it did when we were young and trying to make our way in the world......Barack can't be President because he hasn't already BEEN president! So, that leaves us with Jimmy Carter, the slightly smarter George Bush Sr, Bill Clinton, and DUBYA, except that he used up his two terms already. So, sorry John, but you have to step aside; you don't already HAVE presidential experience. Sorry, Barack, looks like Hillary gets back to the White House AFTER all! That is, if Bill can take down Jimmy.........

Aside from all these observations, I personally am losing much reason to care one way or another who wins what office, because no one has given me any reason lately to believe that mankind can clean up it's act before everything goes to hell in a hand basket, ecologically, politically, socially, etc. The planet is DYING, folks, or haven't you noticed? Have you seen any reports of any ecological disaster being REVERSED lately? The coastal dead zones are increasing, not decreasing. The arctic ice is melting faster than even the worst estimates approximated. Species extinction rates are up. Mankind is reproducing and destroying natural habitat at a record pace. Sorry, I like fluffy bunnies and hope and good news and feel-good stories and all that crap as much as the next person, but my foot is stuck in this railroad tie, a big bad-assed diesel train is bearing down on me, and the best anyone can tell me is that Jesus loves me. That makes me so fucking happy I could just puke.