I won a contest! Woop woop!

While picking through the writing Tag page on WordPress today, I received quite a surprise.  I clicked on a blog called Catch the Rush and was greeted by my name in bold font!  You can check it out here.  I can’t tell you how excited I am right now.  I submitted one of my older blog posts for the ‘Make Me Laugh Contest’, and it won.  I’m riding high today.  First I had some terrific Indian food and now I am a winner.  Luckily winning the contest doesn’t upset my stomach like the Indian food likely will.  Thanks Lynn Rush, for picking my story.


Today I learned that I am a Hobbit

I have always felt that there is something about me that is special, something sensational.  Today, I have found that something.  Allow me, if you will, to explain.

For years I have attributed my short stature and hairy extremities to genetics.  After all, both of my parents are of average height and my father can sprout a goatee at quite an alarming pace.  For those reasons, and a few more that I will not delve into, I have always considered ‘who I am’ to be a sort of hand-me-down from my folks; a gift of genes from two loving parents.  Boy was I wrong….

While cruising the internet today, I stumbled upon a truth that has shaken me to the core.  According to this website, I am Saradoc Brown, a working class Shire hobbit!

The site also provided some additional information:
“You share your Christian name “Saradoc”, with a Saradoc “Scattergold” Brandybuck: The father of Merry Brandybuck, Saradoc was Master of Buckland during the time of the War of the Ring. He is a first cousin to Frodo Baggins, and his wife Esmeralda Brandybuck (née Took) is the sister of Paladin Took, Thain of the Shire. His nickname, ‘Scattergold’, implies that he was very generous with his wealth.”

Wow!!!  I did some further research into my lurid past and also found out that I attended Bilbo Baggins’ birthday party in 1401; Hobbit time, of course.  For those of you who aren’t in the ‘know’, that is the party at which Bilbo up and disappeared, leaving his precious ring behind.  I’m sure that it was quite a shindig.

I also learned that Hobbits are Christians!  Thank God for that.  I can’t imagine trying to grasp the concepts of another religion…not at my age, anyway.

I had to take a moment to let all of this information wash over me.  For years, I believed that I was a normal person living a regular life.  Now, I find out that I am a Hobbit.  I can only assume that an evil enchantment of sorts was placed upon me by a bothersome wizard or something to that effect.  Otherwise, I cannot explain how I never knew the truth of my past.  Whatever the reason, I find myself at the proverbial fork in the road.  On one hand, I can forsake my known family and search for answers to the questions of my past, or I could just keep on truckin’.  Whichever path I choose, at least I know where I got these hairy feet.  Now if I could just find a magic ring, I would be in business.

Have you ever googled the word google???

Beware the Google monster!

Being a card-carrying, publicly professed Google addict; I use Google for almost everything.  To my wife’s growing dismay, the words “google me” fly from my mouth with little disregard of consequences, especially during Jeopardy.  I find myself arguing with that urbane Alex Trabek on a fairly regular basis.  Who does his fact checking anyway?  We always take his answers for gospel, but I’m getting off track here.

Lately, “google me” has become a personal mantra of sorts when I believe myself to be correct.  On the other side of the shiny penny, I even use this as my battle cry when sure that I’m full of malarkey.  Nothing says ‘he’s mighty certain of himself’ more than throwing down the Google gauntlet.  Alas, my wife, all-knowing and not-to-be-trifled-with, normally accepts the challenge….she googles me.  She calls to carpet any unusual claim that I make or any downright lie that I tell; whether it be for a laugh or simply to prove a point, she always calls me on it.  Sometimes, I am right.  Other times, I am completely wrong.

Today, I made a laughable claim to some co-workers (mind you this was in jest).  I proclaimed that if you googled the word Google, it would cause a catastrophic world-wide web disaster.  The internet would suck itself into a digital black hole.  It would be the equivalent of traveling backwards through time to your childhood and smothering yourself with a pillow as you slept (kind of a crude analogy, but you get where I’m goin’).  Of course, no one believed me.  Why would they?  I was simply making a joke.  But…my addition is strong and my willpower weak.  As soon as I clocked out, I ousted my laptop from its fancy Swiss army bag, called up my beloved google, and pressed the following keys: g..o..o..g..l..e.  I then pressed enter.

A low hum began to emanate from my HP.  Shaken, I tried to exit my web browser.  It froze.  The familiar google webpage remained locked on my desktop, menacing in its omnipotence.   From the top of my display, I noticed a bright blue light.  My web-cam had sprung to life, seemingly by itself.  I tried to free myself from the relentless pull of the vast white background surrounding that familiar empty rectangle of power.  My eyes remained transfixed on the screen.  My grip tightened upon the sleek body of my laptop.  I watched, frozen, as the screen filled with dizzying blurs of codex, digital daggers ripping at the fabric of the internet.  Before my watery eyes, Google died a Cesarian death, impaled on the floor of the twenty first century Senate.  As I watched the glorious web fold into itself; I wondered what had I done.  Then, my webcam shot a laser beam into my left eye and I passed out.

Seriously, true story.

Google me.

Thousands of Japanese people couldn’t be wrong…or noisy???

The public transportation system in Tokyo, Japan is the largest rail system in the world!!!  Trust me, I checked Wikipedia.  It is also a place where noise, laughter, conversation, and sound wander off to die.  I am amazed that, while packed with thousands of citizens, the subway cars in Tokyo are as quiet as a graveyard.  If you are looking for an out of the way place to write a book, I’ve found it.  Trust me, no one will fool with you here.  As you squeeze into these tubular transports, elbow your way into a coveted seating position, or become relegated to stand; you will not hear a peep.  No one will ask you about the next stop or what you are reading or where you are going.  They will just be…quiet.  The silence that settles into the Tokyo subway car is deafening.  The marching rhythm of clackaty-clack-railroad-track is the only sounds that will fill your ears, provided you haven’t donned an i-pod or any other such musical doodad.  I find that it is a testament to the strong silent citizens of this wondrous land.  Their calm determination to occupy a small space and demand isolation, much like that of their tiny island homeland, is commendable.  All heads are bowed into books, eyes down, headphones on, ear buds inserted; everyone is in their own private coach car.  It is amazing.  The subway car churns up mile after mile in peaceful noiselessness, occasionally the silence is broken by a digital voice announcing the next stop.  Some of the braver citizens, liberal in their wayward glances, peer up from their books to watch the passengers escape the cars along with the processed air.  Swoosh…the doors shut, the air locks engage, and back to the silent grind of the subway.  Amazing!  You should visit.  Ride the subway, just don’t get chatty.

WoW Fans unite….check out this site

I was using stumble and fell upon one of the funniest posts that I have read in quite a while.  I wanted to share it you folks.  If you have friends that play D&D or WoW, this is great.  A lot of my buddies play WoW and I know that they catch and endless line of grief about it.  So, check it out here.  The site/blog is called The Sneeze.  Enjoy!

Yokosuka ramblings Traveling Japan

Boredom finally overtook me today and I decided to get up and go on an adventure.  Well, what I really mean is that I went for a walk about town.  I have had a lot of work to do lately and have found little time to depart the ship.  Today, I tossed caution to the wind, donned my backpack, my sunglasses, forgot my sunscreen (sorry Shelley…I know…I’m feeble minded), and got to walkin’.  First I stopped by the Starbucks on base and fueled my engines.  While there, my shirt did its best drying off trick as I read my book and drank my iced coffee, boy was it hot outside!  That was my first bit of caffeine in about two months, and to my surprise, I didn’t even get a nervous twitch.  I finished up my coffee and headed out the back gate.

Upon exiting the gate, I hung a left and ambled down towards a local park that is nestled along the front of a small levee.  The sidewalk leading to the park made for a great trek.  For about 6 blocks, there lies an intricately designed “river” that flows down the sidewalk.  It comes up through fountains, around statues, collects in pools (where crows bathe…an interesting sight), and meanders all the way down to the park.  I passed small children waddling through the shallow “sidewalk river” as well as parents cooling off their aching feet in the flowing water.  How I wished that I could shed my shoes and jump into one of the larger “estuaries” that dotted the sidewalk leading to my destination.  Alas, I am not familiar with the local courtesies and I kind of stick out here, so I was afraid that I would be in for some sort of social faux pas.  I forewent my urge to wade through the man-made river and walked on.  I finally arrived at the park and was greeted by an ancient Japanese battle ship, the Mikasa, that was launched from Britain in 1900.  It had masts that were rigged for sail, so that marks it as kinda old.  It was pretty amazing.  The ship had huge dual batteries on the fo’c’sle and multiple batteries running along both the port and starboard sides of the hull.  I was duly impressed.  That ship comes from a day when Sailors were worth their salt and held a firm grasp on nautical traditions and know-how.  I snapped a couple of pictures of the mighty vessel with my sony mylo and shoved off to continue my exploration of Yokosuka.

I made my way back towards the Naval base and ended up on Blue Street.  It is aptly named for the bits of blue stones that dot the street, embedded in the asphalt.  I walked up past Blue St. to an area that seemed to be geared towards younger Sailors.  I don’t recall the name of the street, but it was lined wall to wall with bars and shops full of nautical baubles of all sorts.  I stopped into some of the shops and found some really exciting trinkets.  I phoned my wife, gave her my best sales pitch, and she declined.  Thank God for her, or I would be broke.  Either way, I did enjoy digging through the treasures that are fit for a fine Sailor, such as meself….arrrghhh.

The Dragon Bar mural

As the sun began to steal away every inkling of energy in my body, I made my way back towards Mikasa park.  I wanted to get one last look at the proud old battleship.  I passed a really cool mural on the wall of the Dragon Bar, took a picture, and continued on my bee line towards the old warship.  On the way, I called my wife again to chat and she warned me that I probably ought to get out of the sun for a bit and find some shade.  The lovely woman is forever looking out for me.  I am currently on some mighty strong meds that prohibit extended exposure to the ol’ sun, so inside I did go.  I ducked into a small cafe, named Pot Luck.

Once inside, I was greeted, in English, by a middle-aged Japanese man.  He seemed to be tending the restaurant and quickly ushered me to a booth that was nestled against a decorative bay window.  He plopped a menu in front of me and off he went.  I perused the menu for a few minutes and settled on a “Coke with Ice Cream.”  I called the waiter over and placed my order.  He ensured me that this was a very wise choice and off he went to concoct this delicious treat.  When he returned, he placed the Coke-float down on the table, and looked at me expectantly.  I nodded my thanks and looked back down at my drink.  He remained, fixed in front of my booth.  After an awkward moment of silence, I shot him an inquisitive glance.  He nodded and directed me to take a sip.  I did and it was exquisite.  The soft serve ice cream was mixed just right with the Coca Cola and ice cubes.  It tasted like my childhood.  To be on a continent well on the other side of the earth, far from the place that I grew up, I sure did feel at home.  I just wish that my beautiful wife and our kids could have been there to share the moment, and the Coke float.

After I had cooled down and finished my drink, I bid farewell to the gentleman that had served up my order and headed back out to the Mikasa.  I tell you, there is no place like Mikasa park for anyone interested in Naval history to visit.  The Mikasa is the last remaining pre-dreadnought battleship in the world.  It is surely a sight to see.  If you are interested, you can jump into a history lesson on the Mikasa here.

Well, I am going to relax for a little while, after this long day of explorin’.  Take it easy folks.

Give me a line and I’ll give you a story.

I ran into a writing contest today that got my creative feet a dancin’.  It is located here. Actually, it is not a contest at all, but a literary journal that is built upon stories that share a common first line.  I found it while surfing the wild worldly web and didn’t think much of it, until a story idea hit me.  I admit that the story that resulted from this first line is short; three hundred and fifty words kind of short, but it is good.  I would love to share the idea, but you will have to wait until I find out if my story was accepted or not.  Sorry.  Either way, I wanted to share the link with all of you folks out there that may appreciate the occasional “jump start” for your fiction.  Enjoy.  I know that I had a blast with this one….