North flew East, East turned West; South became irrelevant….


Normally, my travelogues feature more artwork, in the sense that I generally post pictures that I’ve taken myself, of the places and people I’ve seen in my ramblings for the day. Since it will be eight or so hours until I actually embark on the ship, which then sets sail at about 4 PM, I am as yet without my camera, which is packed away for the ordeal of getting through the security checkpoint….

I suppose I could have taken a few pix of me and my lady, or my son, who will be driving us today in his limo, but, none of us particularly care for fame, or photos of ourselves, (in my case, there is the danger to the camera itself; my visage has been known to freeze digital cameras instantly….), and who wants to see pix of a street corner, with no people in it?…. So, y’all will have to wait until tomorrow, when I’ll have some shots from the first night on board….

In past travelogues, I concentrated a lot on pictures of where I was visiting, and neglected to show off the ships I’ve been on, which are part of the attraction for me in traveling. It makes perfect sense to my hedonistic side to travel in luxury if possible; I’ve traveled the cheap way, staying in hostels or cheap motels, eating out of the markets and fast food joints, and taking trains and buses to where I wished to go. Often, before I was married, I’d even resort to hitchhiking for my travel mode…. cheap, and you meet some great ffolkes, but it can be a bit inconsistent if traffic is slow, and can take a LONG time to get anywhere…

That sort of travel is great fun, but requires a lot of energy and physical stamina that I no longer possess, so, having a place to take a nap when I get tired, in a five star hotel, with three gourmet meals a day (or more….), along with staff eager to provide service, is a better choice for someone of my age and condition…. Plus, on those voyages on which my luck holds, the casino can help reduce the overall cost of the trip….. I came out about $500 ahead of the game on my Alaska cruise, with my winnings exceeding my bar bills by about that much…. Of course, I went a bit crazy on souvenirs for everyone, but, hey, I tried….

This trip, I’ll try to remember to take more shots on board, to let y’all see what it’s like to cruise with a crazy old long-haired, long-winded blogger…. or, at least to give you a better idea of what it looks like on board…. Plus, it keeps me from having to think too hard about what to include in the Pearls, which will give me more time to just screw around and do nothing…. which is, after all, the whole point of cruising, to have all the time one wishes to just do nothing….

Doing nothing, in our culture, tends to be looked down upon severely, especially by those who suffer from Christian guilt, and the whole concept of “the near-occasion of sin”, wherein the church assumes that everyone WILL give in to temptation, and everyone WILL act on their worst impulses to (GASP!….) sit around and do nothing, thus becoming undisciplined, immoral, and worst-case for the dogmatists, reduce their guilt, making them less amenable, and more resistive, to behavioral control…. They HATE that!….

So, I encourage hedonism at every turn, as should every other person of a like mind; it’s the best method I’ve found for providing almost immediate relief from the constipated, bloated feeling of constriction that goes along with allowing the dogmatists to draw the patterns of your life. A good, meal, with just a little too much wine and conviviality, is the perfect antidote to the most stringent attitudes…. Why, a prime rib, and a bottle of good Cabernet, has been known to destroy six years of Catholic denial in one sitting, given the proper company, and perhaps some after dinner brandy…. And, even if it doesn’t completely eradicate ALL one’s prior conditioning, the process of removing it, meal by wonderful meal, is one that appeals to even the most hardened ascetic…

Hmm…. I seem to have strayed a bit afield from the concept of an intro…. not unusual, I suppose, and possibly much better than the typical rant I’ve been saddling y’all with of late. I can see that, no matter what I’ve been babbling about, it’s certainly long enough to meet the legal standards for which we shoot, so, I’m opting to go with my usual technique, to just go with it, without worrying at all about what the hell it means, or what it may or may not do in terms of stimulation of cogitation…. That, of course, is, ultimately, the personal responsibility of each gentle reader, at least for the cogitation part…. I’ll try to supply the stimulation, but, no promises, eh?…..

Shall we Pearl?…..

“If any man asks for greatness, let him forget greatness and ask for truth, and he will find both.” — Horace Mann

“Anger is a tool, not a master. Anger is meant to be tapped into and drawn upon. Used properly, anger is useful. Sloth, apathy, and despair are the enemy. Anger is not. Anger is our friend. Not a nice friend, not a gentle friend, but a very loyal friend.  It will always tell us when we have been betrayed. It will always tell us when we have betrayed ourselves. It will always tell us that it is time to act in our own best interests. Anger is not the action itself. It is action’s invitation.” — Julia Cameron  “The Artist’s Way”

“He who conquers himself is the mightiest warrior.” — Confucius

Lao Tzu sez    I had originally intended to write a piece to accompany these three statements, the latter of which are from two of the most revered philosophers in history…. but, there really isn’t any need to expand on this idea…. It’s pretty perfect, as wisdom goes, so, I’m going to do the unusual, for me, and leave it alone, to allow you the space to consider the concept in your own way, and in your own time….

Just know this…. if there is a single key to being happy in life, this is it…. This is the key to ALL wisdom, ffolkes, so just let it become part of your inner self, and you’ll find your life has fallen into a pattern of serenity, and an inner peace that you have never known….. Oh, didn’t I say what that key is? Hmm, imagine that…. I guess I forgot…. Well, it’s probably best if you articulate it yourself; it seems to work better that way…. Okay, if you insist, one last hint….

“A person never so beautifully shows his own strength, as when he respects another’s weakness.” — Smart Bee

If that doesn’t do it, well, then, we’ll just have to try again another time, won’t we?….   😆

“I have thought many times since that if poets when they get discouraged would blow their brains out, they could write very much better when they got well.” — Mark Twain

Hmm…. I’m not sure, but, perhaps Mark was feeling a bit curmudgeonly toward poets that day…. If not, well, we all know his fondness for sardonicism, don’t we?…. Here’s one I think you’ll enjoy, from a poet I’ve only recently begun to explore….


A rowan like a lipsticked girl.
Between the by-road and the main road
Alder trees at a wet and dripping distance
Stand off among the rushes.

There are the mud-flowers of dialect
And the immortelles of perfect pitch
And that moment when the bird sings very close
To the music of what happens

~~ Seamus Heaney ~~


As might be guessed from what has gone before, I’m a bit anxious to be on the road… It will take all of my patience and fortitude to wait until 1 PM, when we leave for the embarkation pier in SF….. especially as leaving dead bodies behind me could conceivably cause problems upon my return…. SIGH…. People get SO upset when I do that!….

Any who, I’ll try to not kill anyone today, so I can have a worry free cruise…. In hopes of getting to that point sometime in the near future, I’m going for an old-school, random, harlequin pearl, to finish off this very skimpy Pearl….. Don’t worry, I’ll make up for it with art work tomorrow…. the camera’s all charged up and ready to shoot…. Until then, here are some thoughts from SB to help y’all get through the day…. or not….

ICONOCLAST, n.  A breaker of idols, the worshipers whereof are imperfectly gratified by the performance, and most strenuously protest that he unbuildeth but doth not reedify, that he pulleth down but pileth not up.  For the poor things would have other idols in place of those he thwacketh upon the mazzard and dispelleth.  But the iconoclast saith:  “Ye shall have none at all, for ye need them not; and if the rebuilder fooleth round hereabout, behold I will depress the head of him and sit thereon till he squawk it.” — Ambrose Bierce, “The Devil’s Dictionary”

(Oh! Oh! So, THAT’S what I’ve been doing all this time!! I love it, and now feel very justified in my work here…. I am just loving the idea of putting the OCI after my name, to signify my identity of a member of the Order of Curmudgeonly Iconoclasts…. My sig. line is starting to look impressive, with all my initials after it…. as in, gigoid, MCA, BS,  OCI…. [which, BTW, is the correct way to write ‘gigoid’, with no capitals…. it’s a user-name, and caps aren’t required, nor, in this case, desired….].  If I’m not careful, all these titles will start to go to my head, or something equally inane… Okay, I’m done fooling around now…. We’ll get on with the rest of this pearl….sorry, got distracted…)

“Make your enemies by choice, not by accident. The same applies to friends.” — Xavier R. Quinton

“When the way comes to an end, then change – having changed, you pass through.” — I Ching

“In every country and every age, the priest has been hostile to Liberty.” — Thomas Jefferson

:interesting: adj.  In hacker parlance, this word has strong connotations of `annoying’, or `difficult’, or both.  Hackers relish a challenge, and enjoy wringing all the irony possible out of the ancient Chinese curse “May you live in interesting times”.  Oppose {trivial}, {uninteresting}. — from The on-line Hacker Jargon File V423

(Note: This definition of the word “interesting” is the most frequently applied here at ECR, in terms of meaning and connotation, used almost exclusively; just so’s you know….)

“It seems, in fact, as though the second half of a man’s life is made up of nothing but the habits he has accumulated during the first half.” — Feodor Dostoyevski, “The Possessed”

“The zoo is not an exhibition
I view with much enjoyment,
when I notice beasts in a position
To learn the weaknesses of men.”

— John Brunner

I’ve done it again, I suppose, and I’ll just have to deal with it…. I’ll be back shortly, I hope….

As I suspected, that took a while, but, it’s done now, and I can get on with my day…. which, as might be imagined, promises to be one of greater than usual import, and all around fun… or, as has been intimated, more interesting…. hopefully without the negative connotation that generally applies…. See y’all tomorrow, even if there are technical issues… I’ll figure out a workaround of some kind….

Y’all take care out there,
and May the Metaphorse be with you;
Blessed Be, dearest  Carole, Mark, and Theresa…
and everyone else, too…

When I works, I works hard.
When I sits, I sits loose.
When I thinks, I falls asleep.

Which is Why….

Sometimes I sits and thinks,
and sometimes
I just sits.



Flats of unwarranted pebbles slid home….

I’m sorry…were the voices in my head bothering you? They bother me sometimes, but I’ve learned to ignore them, mostly, and I tend to forget that others might not like it either. Since I killed my doctor and stopped taking the medications, I’ve felt MUCH better! If they get to be too much, just let me know, and I’ll blow a few of them away; it quiets the rest of them down for a while….

Soon, I’m sure, the pressure on my head will abate…. when change is ubiquitous, one need merely to wait for all things to pass with patience, and all we desire will come to us. And if not, well, we can always run amok. Oh wait, that one is on hold…. that’s right, I signed an agreement not to kill anyone else this month; my lawyer is still recovering from my last outburst. It took all he had to get the insanity plea accepted, and having to do this on a regular basis seems to be affecting his sanity a bit; as an ex-psychiatric technician, I can testify that, despite all medical opinions to the contrary, mental illness is contagious….

“There’s nothing on my mind that couldn’t be expressed by a long insane outburst of hysterical rage.” — Ashleigh Brilliant

But, don’t worry, it can’t be passed through the computer screen, so y’all are perfectly safe. Of course, safe is a relative term, especially when dealing with what I generally write about. I’ve purposely been peppering my work with buzz words for the NSA to find, words like terrorism, or war, or government flunkies, stuff like that. I’m sure that I’ve been on their radar now for a while; it’s kind of fun, trying to see just how much I can get away with saying before they come to have a word with me about it…. It must be the shit-disturber in me….

Ah well, I suppose we should get on with the business of the day…. shall we Pearl?…. Let’s do….

But words are things, and a small drop of ink,
Falling like dew upon a thought, produces
That which makes thousands, perhaps millions, think.
— Lord Byron (1788-1824) — Don Juan, Canto iii, Stanza 88

If I could use words like this, then what I produce could conceivably influence millions of folks, for certain. But we all need to know, and observe, our limitations as an artist. Even though a big part of creating something worthwhile consists of going beyond those limits, it is still good to know when to stop, too. I can write a decent haiku, but a poem such as above seems to be beyond my capability. I’ve tried, goodness knows….

I have notebooks full of passionate, complex, really bad poetry that I created when I was young. Free verse, classical format, rhyming couplets, iambic pentameter, I tried all of it at one time or another. I let it sit for years before going back to read it over, and am forced to admit that not only was it not very good, I couldn’t think of any way to improve it. Ah me, I guess I can’t do everything, much as I like to think so…. SIGH…. You’ll just have to settle for Pearls of Virtual Wisdom….   🙂

“If a sufficient number of people who wanted to stop war really did gather together, they would first of all begin by making war upon those who disagreed with them.  And it is still more certain that they would make war on people who also want to stop wars but in another way.” — Gurdjieff (1873-1949)

Actually, this is not so much of a predictive statement as an observational one. It certainly matches what I know of much of history, and how little the actual reasons for fighting wars are understood by either those who fight in them, or those who cause them to be fought. Neither of those two groups are mutually inclusive, as well, so the reasons that one group may have, or believe they have, for fighting may be (and probably are…) much different from the other groups reasons, stated or actual.

Now, if I can be any less clear in my meaning, please let me know, because I think that paragraph is pretty obscure….

What I’m trying to say is, the folks who get talked into fighting wars don’t fight for the same reasons as the folks who asked, or told, them to fight. That is because the folks who end up fighting are the honorable, dedicated men (and women) who believe that they are protecting the people they love.

The folks who send them to fight are not as honorable, and their reasons for initiating the conflicts are seldom related to people, but rather to money or power, which is what they love. It is a perverted love, yes, but it is nonetheless the primary motivating factor for those who would have power over others, for money equals power in the reality they inhabit.

Gurdijeff’s statement is, I find, too limited in its scope; it doesn’t account for all the different reasons that people are motivated to fight wars. It is a fair and accurate assessment of what is a likely progression of events if men of little purpose beyond their own prejudices are united in cause, because, hey, humans here, not rational creatures by any means, especially in groups….. But humanity is comprised of more than just these folks, and ALL of the different kinds of people in our species have historically resorted to violent means to settle large disputes. It’s a human thing…. not pretty, but there it is, just like a wart that won’t go away…..

So how does one stop war? Hmm… well, I can’t claim to have the answer to a question that several thousand years of human history has shown to be somewhat hard to solve with any lasting effect. I’ve managed to avoid taking part in the actions that our country has involved itself in in my lifetime, having seen none that I could honestly say was as important to fight as the government was trying to tell me it was. If I’m going to die, it will be for an honorable goal, not for someone’s profit margin….

War isn’t going to stop unless we change the whole structure of our culture, and remove the benefits of one person having power over another. It’s a very deep, subtle, and pretty well impossible change, its success resting as it does on changing human nature…. That hasn’t happened in all of history so far, and I don’t see it happening anytime soon… so we’d best stay alert to avoid the worst of the fallout from whatever happens….

If a lawyer and an IRS agent were both drowning, and you could only save one of them, would you go to lunch or read the paper?– Smart Bee (It’s a subtle connection, but it’s there, trust me….)

“Anger is a tool, not a master. Anger is meant to be tapped into and drawn upon. Used properly, anger is useful. Sloth, apathy, and despair are the enemy. Anger is not. Anger is our friend. Not a nice friend, not a gentle friend, but a very loyal friend. It will always tell us when we have been betrayed. It will always tell us when we have betrayed ourselves. It will always tell us that it is time to act in our own best interests. Anger is not the action itself. It is action’s invitation.” — Julia Cameron  “The Artist’s Way”

Interesting take, and the secret of the berserker….. who is, after all, a martial artist who has channeled his anger into following the path of the Way. I like this viewpoint in its proactive sense; it doesn’t allow anger to control, but instead assumes control of the anger. It is a tricky proposition, at best, but when learned, can be very, very effective as a tool in dealing with outbreaks of violence not of our choosing, which I would hope would be all of them…..  😉

During my years of studying martial arts, I was taught to practice this kind of control. In competition fighting, there are many tricks one can use to get the opponent to make a mistake; one of the most effective is to do something that angers the opponent. In most folks, anger causes the reasoning part of the mind to shut down; actions, or, more accurately, reactions, that occur in response to anger are impulsive, spur-of-the-moment decisions for the most part, and as such, do not always make the best choice of strategy or tactics. If one can maintain one’s own sense of equilibrium in the midst of a physical battle, it becomes a distinct advantage, as the calm person is more capable of processing new information and making more rapid adjustments to meet the needs of the moment.

But, even if one becomes infused with anger, it CAN be channeled constructively, and in truth, when acting under its influence, using proper regulation, it can increase speed, strength, and power by a large factor. If not used correctly, it still adds strength, but the strength is usually misdirected, thus reducing its effectiveness. But, when correctly channeled, one enters the “berserker” state, almost robotic in its precision, and becomes a most formidable weapon of destruction. It’s quite exhilarating, actually….

It has its dangers, as well…. allowing anger to flow completely is accompanied by a release of adrenaline into the blood stream. Adrenaline is a very powerful hormone, affecting every system in the body in some way, and prolonged use of it is deleterious in a number of ways…. In my own case, due to the work I did for many years, and the number of times I had to enter berserker mode, it produced Post Traumatic Stress Dysfunction, with all its attendant wonders…. such a joy…..

So, while this is a healthy attitude to take about one’s own anger, it is not a solution that is without risk. Anger is a volatile emotion, and like any explosive substance, it should be handled with care……

“If you don’t deal with anger, it will deal with you.” — Will Limon

“If I read a book (and) it makes my whole body so cold no fire can warm me, I know that is poetry.” — Emily Dickinson

Once again, my dive for pearls is coming up short for poetry…. I’ll have to cheat…. but will do so with an appropriate tip of the hat to current events…. at least, current to me….

Pain has an element of blank;
It cannot recollect
When it began, or if there were
A day when it was not.

It has no future but itself,
Its infinite realms contain
Its past, enlightened to perceive
New periods of pain.
— Emily Dickinson

This is one of my favorite poems from Ms. D. I first read it in high school, but even then it resonated with its insight. Now, of course, it’s as if she could see into my soul, and pluck out my pain to look at like a bug under a microscope…. She must have felt a fair amount of it herself, to achieve such a clear vision of its presence in the spirit of those who have it as constant companion…. No matter, I like it, so it stays….   🙂

I love this, and it is a perfect ending pearl…. as well, it is a trailer, as it were, for another Pearl, coming later….

I’m shooting for a bit of variety today, and actually will try to get some productive stuff done in the Big Blue Room. Well, as much as can be accomplished on a weekend anyway…. I also want to mention that I will be posting two Pearls today… The second will be posted after this one has been let fly, and is a departure into another area…. photo pearling…. I hope you enjoy it, as I hope you enjoy this one…. Y’all take care out there, and May the Metaphorse be with you…..

Sometimes I sits and thinks,
and sometimes
I just sits.