Simply Satisfying, a list-

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This past Friday my wife and I joined her parents down in Kingsville for the graduation ceremony of the youngest Elder daughter. (Elder being their family name and not indicative of some sort of confusion on my part about her age) With whoops and cheers and happy hearts we all watched as she was granted the satisfying payoff of long years toiling away in Academia.

…and I was suddenly struck by my own inadequacy.

Somewhere between the graduating Seniors marching out and the speeches by the Dean I began to suspect I was soon to feel some variety of depression. During the speeches, when those fancy dressed Professors and Doctors were being made mention of, including longs lists of accomplishments both academic and professional, I started to feel somewhat less than happy. Hearing of the years of hard work and sacrifice of those few students granted special merit I really started to feel low…like I hadn’t done a half of what these kids had done and wouldn’t ever be able to catch up.

Unfortunately this colored the rest of my day and for that I have to apologize to my In-Laws. I felt nothing but pride and admiration for my sister-in-law, but I couldn’t separate that from the malaise I was feeling regarding my own lack of higher education and accomplishments. To put it another way I was feeling very unsatisfied with myself…

Then, in classic me fashion, I began to remember all the fun and interesting things I’ve done in my life. Nothing that I can frame and show off of course, and not many that have any marketability or potential for fame or fortune but things I’m proud of regardless.

So, to combine a short list of things that bring me no small amount of satisfaction in my life and an imitation of the “Rules of Life” type posts that I read from The Bloggess and Filing Jointly, I give you my list:

Cook daily. Don’t worry about if it is restaurant worthy or not, just enjoy the process of choosing ingredients and putting them together in interesting and tasty ways.

Don’t be afraid to walk all the way across town for no better reason than you haven’t. Unless of course you live in a really big city, then maybe scale down a touch. Regardless of the distance, you get to see some really cool things if you just go for a walk once in a while.

Vacations to other countries make you a better person. It’s hard to hate when you’ve met “those people” and realize they are, in fact, just like you but with a different accent and perhaps a better tan.

Raising children is the hardest thing a person can do, but can also be the most rewarding. This is cliché but true and worth remembering.

When you hear a song you like, sing and dance to it no matter where you are. One, it helps to free you from being embarrassed about things which is kind of like spring cleaning for your soul. Two, there might just be someone standing near you who wishes they could dance to it but don’t want to feel odd and on the spot.

Paint on your walls. You pay the rent or mortgage right? Then they are your walls and you should cover them in trees and flowers and animals and space ships and all that stuff!

Stop reading this post right now and go do something that might be slightly dangerous or ridiculous. I’ll wait and it’ll be worth it.

Enjoy your hobbies; they are what make you more than a worker bee. For example, I like to foam swordfight with my friends. I don’t do it often anymore, but I still enjoy it…and my coworkers don’t really understand it which gives me no end of amusement.

Read books and try to write one. These two things will open your mind to several dozen worlds of inspiration and creativity.

Find a job and do the job. Those hours you spend at work complaining about being at work are what pay for all the fun shit you get to do the rest of the time.

Kiss your family every day you can. One day you won’t be able to and that will not be a fun day.

Travel. This world is pretty fucking big, see some of it before you go.

Facebook is not the same as the World. The points and opinions expressed therein do not reflect the actual reality of anyone’s personality.

Musicals are the best thing to ever hit the silver screen after Science Fiction. Watch them and sing along, I promise you won’t be singing alone for very long.

And this is just a small sample of the things that I like to do that make me satisfied with my life. I don’t have a diploma on my wall or a fancy set of letters after my name, but I do just fine I think. How about you?

I Don’t Know…

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I Don’t Know What Want to Think Anymore-

I see things, and it makes me very confused. Are we purposefully trying to dumb down our society? Is this a secret government program not unlike the Newspeak of Orwell’s 1984? Are we creating a new language that will allow us to communicate with our computers and each other in new and wondrous ways?

I’m not betting on that last one.

I see it on Twitter, I see it in texts, I see it on memes and I’ve even seen it in books. I’m talking about text lingo of course. It’s like the whole world is getting lazy. It’s like we’ve forgotten the simple pleasure of conveying complex and fully rendered thoughts in a manner that not only truly describes what we are thinking to our audience, but also makes us look like we aren’t just banging on the keyboard with a big stick. I imagine in thirty years things like commas, periods, and spelling will be a thing of the past, not only in the digital world but also, alas, within our schools. The last vestige of complex writing will be found only in the antiquated and free books available on your Kindle or lost and locked deep within the strange vaults once known as libraries. Poetry and music will be 140 character blurbs with no style, movies will more resemble the trailers of today than anything else and wanting the freedom to own an actual book will require a ruling by the Supreme Court.

Unfortunately, when those of us who do appreciate the way the written word can be used properly say something about it we are often times shot down, told to relax or even insulted. I realize peer pressure is a powerful thing, but the ease with which this form of ridiculous writing has been taken up by the world is frightening to me. Call me a snob if you wish, but I don’t think defending this trend is anything other than one more sign of the all-encompassing sense of entitlement our younger generations have. It’s as if there is no subject that these kids can’t turn into a poorly worded diatribe on fairness and equality, even when it’s not unfair or prejudiced or even unreasonable to expect it of them.

You don’t get a free pass for being lazy, you don’t get extra credit for following the herd off the cliff and you don’t get my respect for defending that which shouldn’t be defended…though that might be a rant for a different day.

This marks the end of this rant, all spelling and punctuation mistakes are my own but at least I fucking tried.

——–
Wren: Occasionally, I will go back through Milo’s posts and correct some of his spelling. Aside from two autocorrect errors, I’ve left this post as is.

Ill

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Being sick sucks, but of course that isn’t news to anyone. It’s not like there’s a bunch of folks sitting around enjoying the feeling of sinus pressure and harsh, sand blast like coughing. I only hope the massive amount of germicidal medicines I’ve been taking somehow counts as Heroic Action in the Face of the Enemy.

I expect a fucking medal!

The Iron Lung-Part 2

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Iron Lung-Part 2

Walking the swaying decks of the Wharf, Milo and Julius make their way past merchants and mercenaries, both selling what they have on offer while pirate captains and knights a questing share bar tables with orc chieftains and gnome tinkerers.

Julius rambles on as they walk, “…and this here’s the elf quarter. They’s good folk. A might fey and strange fer my own taste, but good folk on the water.” Crossing over swaying rope bridges and jumping the small gaps between decks they move from the graceful, sweeping lines of elf ships to other, more common human vessels. “…and this be where a fellow like yerself could find him and his some vittles and powder, food fer yer crew and yer ship, ya ken?”

As they enter a general store made in the smokestacks of a Gnomish ship, an almighty and terror filled ruckus fills the air. Shouts of “TO ARMS” and the screams of the dying mingle with the cannon shot sound of splintering wood.

“ACKK the bitch beast is back again!” wails Julius, “she’s got our scent and means to finish us this time I reckon!”

“Wait, what? What’s happening? Julius…JULIUS, WHAT’S GOING ON!” Milo shouts to get his attention.

“Death Under the Waves! An ancient monster from the dawn a time! DEATH! Run to your ship m’friend, escape with your crew if you can but HURRY!” shouts Julius in a state of hysterics.

Taking one last look at the aged pirate and sensing true despair in his tone and stance, Milo begins to run towards his ship. As he leaps from deck to deck and charges through the crowd he pulls from his belt a small, snub nosed pistol and fires a flare to signal his crew. Man the guns it says in a red burst, prepare for battle it screams as it falls.

“GENERAL!” yells Yuri as Milo reaches the docks, “YOUR ORDERS?!”

“ARM THE GUNS AND RELEASE THE BAGS! GET US AIRBORNE, NOW!!” he yells as he clambers up the side of The Spectacle.

The Guild trained crew leaps into action, releasing two giant bags  that float up from the sides of the ship, slowly raising it above the water and the Wharf. Two great propellers slowly crank out of their housings and begin to rotate and shift, guiding the vessel towards the action.

“Helmsman, mark our course and make our height 100 meters. GUNNERS, discretionary fire if you please, collateral damage is not an option at this time.” Yuri calls from Milo’s side.

As The Spectacle clears the mast and rigging of the ships between it and the commotion a sickeningly monstrous site greats the crew. A beast up from the deepest sea and out of our darkest nightmares looms out of the water, tentacles waving and smashing. Stinking with foul ooze and the stench of a thousand half-digested meals it grabs those brave enough to stand against its furry and crushes them to jelly before dropping them into its ancient and terrible maw. Soldiers from a thousand realms stand side by side, all thoughts of payment and tensions forgotten in the face of mutual destruction. Rearing up out of the water and sinking ships with its great bulk, the beast threatens to sink the entire Wharf if it’s not stopped.

“AIM FOR IT”S HEAD, SUCH AS IT IS! POUND THAT BEAST BACK INTO THE DEPTHS!” yells Milo to his crew.

With a shuddering series of booms The Spectacle fires its first volley causing the warriors on the decks of the Wharf look up in astonishment. If the sight of a flying ship is surprising,  the higher pitched whistle and rapidness of its guns is even more shocking. Keeping up a rate of fire that would put a ship of the line to shame, the Spectacle begins to slam and smash the ancient sea god back under the waves. Grasping at the opportunity offered by the Guildsmen, the warriors on the Wharf grab pole arm and axe and begin to hack at the tentacles clinging tenaciously to the ruined vessels. Several dozen men and women are spilled into the water by the frantic activity on deck and the thrashing of the beast.

“MEN OVERBOARD, MEN OVERBOARD!!” cry several voices, unable to come to the aid of those in the water.

“HELMSMAN, BRING US DOWN TO DROP HEIGHT! PROMETHEANS, ROPE UP!!” orders Milo as he runs to attach himself to one of the boon arms stationed in the fore of the deck. Once the rest of the Prometheans are ready, Milo gives the order…rescue and recovery… “Let our guns deal with the beast, those folks need aid.” he orders and then jumps and is quickly followed by his men. Pulleys and gears engage slowing their descent to a breathtaking but manageable speed until, with suddenness not easily trained for, SPLASH! into the water…

The Iron Lung-Part 1

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The Iron Lung pt 1

 

Two weeks from port and headed for home, a small craft flying Guild colors takes an easy course over the moon lit water. The Officer of the Watch and a lookout in the crow’s nest the only apparent concessions to security. Zoom in to the Captain’s Cabin and see a man hard at study, focusing his not inconsiderable intelligence on his journals and maps. Small clockwork “men” roam his cabin, straightening and cleaning, mending and polishing, keeping their master in a state of repair fitting his station, something he would neglect to do himself.

“If it needs polish, it better be brass and steel and throw fireballs 200 yards!!” he has been heard say.

Pan out of the cabin and widen over the ship, notice the lack of cables and rigging normally associated with a sailing vessel. The sails themselves seem stiffer than normal, held tighter than other sails on other ships. Pan further out and count the guns, 5 to a broadside situated on the main deck, an insane configuration for a hundred man vessel. Swing around and look from the front and notice the two pontoons affixed to the sides of the ship well out of the water, the streamlined shape and excessively pointed bow and flared sides…this is a ship designed for a specific purpose by craftsmen unknown to the majority of the world, this is the Guild Alchemica’s Research Warship The Spectacle, more than capable of taking on a Ship of the Line in open waters, fast, maneuverable and loaded with secrets…

“CAP’N!”comes a cry from the Officer of the Watch, “YOU’RE NEEDED ON DECK!”

Hearing the call, Milo Baines, Captain of The Spectacle and General of the Legio Prometheans, hurries out of his cabin, pulling on his vest and buckling on his sword belt as he goes. As unlikely as an attack is out this far from anyone, Milo has been to far too much in his short life to trust to favorable circumstances.

“What it is?” he asks the Watch. “An island sir, two points to the north and a league away. Not on any charts I ever saw” replies the sailor.

“Indeed. Wake the day crew and change course, we’ll have to investigate this little mystery while we can.” replies Milo with a grin.

As the “island” draws closer, the men stationed on deck begin to notice the sights and sounds of a city. Lights and campfires, the voices of a dozen races and a thousand accents carried over the waves. Several smaller ships circle the island, keeping watch. One such ship approaches The Spectacle…

“HAIL!” comes a shout, “WHAT BUSINESS DO YE HAVE AT THE WHARF?!”

“We come for trade.” Milo replies somewhat hesitantly.

“AYE! THAT BE A FAIR PROPOSAL…PERMISSION TO COME A’BOARD?” returns the voice.

“Permission granted, with thanks sir.” Milo responds.

A rope ladder is dropped over the side and a gangly old pirate clambers up with the grace of a dying monkey. “Whooo…’s not tas easy as it once were, climbin’ those ladders and such. I’m Julius and ye be?” the old sailor asks.

“Milo Baines, Captain of this vessel and her crew. What is this place?” responds Milo.

“…wait…ye never heard of The Wharf…a fine sailin’ vessel like this and her cap’ns never heard of The Wharf…hehe.” chuckles Julius. “Ye be a seein’ the greatest free city in the world m’boy. A traders haven, a mercs home away from home. The Floating Isle, The Living Shipwreck. A hundred hulks of failed pirates lashed together and left to wander. No one knows for sure where it came from or why, but it’s the best place to be…if you got gold or the means to earn it!”

“Interesting…well, we could certainly use some supplies and I’m sure our gold spends just as well as anyone’s. Lead the way Julius.” says Milo with a grin.

Under Julius’s keen eye, The Spectacle moves into one of the many ports scattered about the rim of The Wharf, pulling up next to Orcish raiders and Viking longboats and many other craft both exotic and plain. As the crew ties up, Milo prepares to explore the city on the water.

“Yuri, you have command of the ship. Prep the bags and set the gun crews to stations. If there are surprises to be had here, I want them to come from us.” says Milo as he clambers down the side and sets off with Julius at his side…

Milo’s Bane-Part 3

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Milo’s Bane-Part 3

“You are full of secrets young man, full and full…you’ll make a fine keeper one day…but now, now you must cleanse this place…cleanse this isle of those who would use it to access the greater machine…GO!” exhorts the Keeper, the ancient man who Milo first met years ago.

“I thought I’d find you here old man…” grins Milo.

“Yes yes, you did find…not only me but your place…a safe place…this island is separate from the Great Machine, from the World…from here you can be safe, you can strike at those who would harm the Machine…harm the World…here you will have a fortress…a fortress and an army an army of your making…save the World Milo…” and with that the Keeper slips back into darkness, walking lost pathways through the World Machine. Pathways only he knows of leading back to the long dark of his labor. Holstering his hand cannon, Milo turns to the clanks that saved him, the leader standing just a ways in front of the rest, and says “You guys want to help…there’s folks out there need killing and my people need saving. Please, help me…”

 

Without a word being said amongst them, the clanks begin to march towards the exit, a sense of war-making in their steps. Milo follows, knowing that he’ll have just one chance to save his people and clear the island of the Consortiums forces.

“Hunt the soldiers that came here before us, drive them to the beach…kill who you can but don’t sacrifice yourselves” he tells the tiny war machines, “my ship waits in the harbor with weapons on board that can handle a small army. We’ll take care of this the Guild way, overwhelming technological superiority and a healthy dose of kick ‘em in the teeth!” Grinning to himself, Milo sets off on his own after giving a message to be delivered to his second in command. “WAIT!” yells the Keeper, jumping out of the brush once Milo is alone, “you’ll need these.” He hands Milo a sword and shield, obviously of ‘Lantean manufacture…the gold and silver details still shining after who knows how many centuries…the sword, named Dues Automata feels as though it was made for his hand…the shield a stunning example of the work of the ‘Lanteans, capable of stopping directed energy blasts from the most powerful of mages.

 

Armed and prepared as best he can be, Milo heads for the cliff top sanctuary of the Consortium. Stopping just outside of bow range and staying hidden in the brush, Milo surveys the approach. A winding path without cover, visible by all lookouts and undoubtedly guarded by the dread Assassin soldiers is his only way in. Deciding that stealth is not an option he opts for loud and bold. Stepping from the brush, holding his sword and shield in plain sight he begins to climb the path. Feeling bow strings relax and eyes shift, he knows he’s made the only choice available to him…to walk into a lion’s den with bloody hands would be easier, and perhaps safer. Once at the top Milo is surprised to find only three men in suits, standing, waiting…

“Who are you and what do you want with me,” Milo asks.

“We are like you in so many ways young man” says one… “We share your birthright in a way” continues the next… “We want what you want, the knowledge held here…the knowledge of the World Machine” finishes the third. As the men in suits speak the sounds of dying soldiers and the boom of cannon fire can be hear from the beach.

“Whatever you want will have to wait, your men are dying and this island is now mine…” says Milo.

“HA!” laughs one, “We don’t care about a few hundred men in comparison to this place” adds the second… “TAKE HIM!” shouts the third and with that the fight is on.

 

Milo, trained by the best of the Guild and armed with ancient tech is only just able to hold his own against these seemingly frail old men. Like fighting ghosts he slashes and parries, taking small wounds meant to slow him down. Watching the dirt at his feet he begins to see a pattern, three creatures working in unison…a difficult thing to beat, unless you cause them to beat themselves. Taking a daring risk he lunges for the closest drawing an attack from another. Just before the blow can land Milo shifts his weight and rolls, ducking under the sword arm of one and hearing the satisfying crunch of sword blade in flesh. Wounding each other doesn’t seem to slow them down much though…when Milo catches a glimpse of brass and steel under the flesh of the wounded man.

“WHAT THE ‘ELL ARE YOU?!”

They speak in unison, an eerie reverberation of one another “We are the lost children of ‘Lantis…we are the ones they built to help serve YOUR kind and we were forgotten and ABONDONED by our makers…now we seek access to the halls of our fathers, the Great Machine is ours by right and WE WILL HAVE IT!” With that they lunge, all sense of strategy lost in heat and rage. Milo swings and stabs, blocking blows that would crack stone on the ancient shield he now carries. As he fights he feels…something…building. A fire in his heart and sword arm, a glow around his blade.

Seeing his blood manifest the constructs scream in anguish and double their efforts. With a strength and speed of a godling, Milo sees the battle as a series of still pictures, able to react to the attacks of his foes with ease, block and severing arms and heads from split torsos until, as quickly as the feeling came it fades leaving Milo spent and weary amidst a heap of broken parts and whirling gears. The heads the last thing to die, screaming in machine code a curse and plague on Milo and his people. To serve the Machine, forgotten and alone, until no longer need…his Bane.

 

Several days later, after the last of the Consortium forces were mopped up, Milo begins the laborious task of hiding this island from the Guild and rebuilding the fortress leading to the Entrance. In his efforts he will come across a library left by the ‘Lanteans, detailing not only the hidden history of the world, but also the nature of the Great Machine and the importance of the island…the world will tremble when the truth is known…

Sketch-A Day in the Life

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A Day in the Life

Just a little something I drew for the Wife. Don’t really know why I didn’t give the couple in the center any arms, but what can you do…:)

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