Archive for May, 2009

31
May
09

Weekend Update

Novel Ideas

Wow…it’s really been two weeks since I last wrote a new installment to my novel? My apologies to the small number of readers who are fans of it. I’ll get up off my butt and write something in the next couple days. I have been doing a lot of writing lately (fiction) but not the novel. I’ve been trying to spread my wings a bit and get some variety. Won’t be sharing that other fiction here, though, for a variety of reasons.

In any case, have to get rocking on my novel. I doubt I’ll be able to finish it before summer as I had hoped, but I think I can complete it before the end of summer at least.

At the Pulpit

Went to church today, and was disappointed in the sermon and the pastor. Well, temporary pastor, anyway. Our normal guy is on a sabbatical for a while and the associate pastor has been waylaid with breast cancer treatments, so we have the former pastor of the place filling in. Truth be told, if he had been pastor when we checked out this church some months back, I doubt we would have felt moved to join.

It reminds me that while a church is more than a pastor, the person at the top of the administrative and spiritual heap really does have a strong effect on how much one wants to be in a given church. Which is a shame, really. Church is partly about hearing the Word of God, but frankly, it’s rare that I feel truly edified these days. Instead, it’s more about being in a communityof worship and interacting after sermons with people of like faith. Guess I need to go back to visiting Charles Stanley’s Web site for the edification part of things.

30
May
09

Standing Out by Miz Pink

pink-tie-black-suitSometimes being different is not such a comfy thing ya know?

I’m a liberal. Very liberal. I’m a Christian. As in, I really believe Jesus is the true way to God.

This poses problems.

Nah…not with my personal faith or the way I conduct life but with the people around me.

When liberal friends (most of them pretty much not churchgoing types) find out I’m a Christian and a bible reader they kind of go all googly eyed and such and don’t know what to make of me anymore. I suddenly become the village idiot who used to be cool but now isn’t because she believes in the flying spaghetti monster in the sky.

When Christian friends find out my political leanings it’s like I’m suddenly branded a heretic who doesn’t REALLY believe in the bible I guess. No matter how much I point out how much things shifted from the old to the new testament and how even religion is an evolving entity as people and societies changes…I get looked at like a traitor who doesn’t deserve the Lord’s Supper anymore.

So what’s the answer? Do I have to hide my faith from my liberal friends? That’s not cool because Jesus wants us to be open about our faith. Do I nod when my Christian friends go off on a Obama-as-antichrist rant and act like it doesn’t faze me? That’s dishonest and I should call them on self righteous bull dookie.

I don’t have any answer to the quandry. I guess I’m just glad that Sir Pink is liberal enough that we agree on most politics and religious enough that he’ll tolerate going to church on the regular.

28
May
09

Out of Synch

bible-readingCertainly, I’ve never been as avid as Mrs. Blue in terms of morning and evening prayer on a regular basis nor reading my Bible everyday.

Ironic, since I’m the deacon in the family. Not that I currently have any formal posting in which to do any deacon-ing.

But  a lot of my troubles right now in terms of dealing with things in life (interactions with my daughter, dealing with stress, making decisions) I think are tied into the fact that I haven’t even done my modest level of semi-regular time with God.

Sure, I think about Him and I write here on matters spiritual, but I’ve been praying less, reading the Word less, even posting less often on religious and spiritual matters.

In other words, my head is spending too much time here on Earth and not enough in the world of the spiritual.

And I think that is at the root of a lot of my problems, because when I do spend more time on my spiritual exercises, I am healthier for it. Just like when I do physical exercise…which I also need way more of.

So, time to hit the books. More specifically, the Good Book.

26
May
09

Married Life

Gotten off the blogging track again. *Sigh* Difficult space right now. Too many things to do, trying to keep my thoughts and emotions reined in…not enough time.

Many, perhaps most, of you know the drill.

Anyway, just a quick thought today. Maybe I can at least manage quickies for the rest of this week, and maybe sneak in another installment of the novel before the weekend.

Today, marriage in on my mind, if for no other reason that my own is going through some changes right now.

No, not getting divorced, unless Mrs. Blue is planning something behind my back. Unlikely, since if she wanted out, she’d just tell me straight out. 😉 No, not separating. No, not fighting. No, not sleeping in separate beds.

Just changing.

Part of it comes from our youngest child, who in now almost four years has turned our life upside down (and that’s not always a bad thing) in ways Son of Blue never did. In fact, at 17 years old, Son of Blue never turned our marriage inside our or upside down at all. Little Girl Blue, whole different story.

Part of it financial woes and stresses related to them.

Part of it is just getting older.

Part of it is changes in each of us, the wife and I, where we haven’t necessarily drifted apart but where we don’t synch in all the ways that we used to.

It’s hard, because on top of all my other life stresses, I don’t want to deal with big changes in my marriage. After 12 years of doing this, I don’t want to try to discover new ways to connect and to re-evalaute the ways we relate to each other.

And that’s understandable. It’s also selfish.

Things do change. That’s a fact of life. And marriages are among them. People change and marriages consist of two people.

Not all the changes are bad, but there are one or two things that have gotten lost recently that I would like back. Fact is, they might never come back into the equation. Or they might with some work. But I have to be prepared that their loss may be a permanent thing, and I may need to find other things to replace them, or simply adjust to the changes and focus more on what’s still there.

The Bible tells us that a man and woman should cleave together and become one. I agree with that. But marriage is always a work in progress. Hell, when I was single, I had to deal with changes within myself, and they weren’t always pleasant. I didn’t get rid of myself, and I’m not getting rid of my wife, either.

In the end though, the question I have to ask is, what’s most important? Love. And the question is, do I love my wife and do I look forward to making this marriage work better, even when things change in big ways?

And to that, I can only say what I said some 12 years ago.

I do.

23
May
09

Sticking Your Neck Out by Miz Pink

Pink_Lips_darkpinkSo maybe the title and topic of today’s post has more to do with having gotten sucked into playing Vampire Wars on Facebook (and starting to play Bloodlines and Vampires on it too) than anything else but it does seem a timely topic. (I’ve balancing a sleeping baby on my lap as I type this Deke so I hope you’re happy you slavedriver)

I see Deke is throwing out his work/schooling concerns and fears and tentative plans for all to see and I know it’s stressing him out. So he’s trying to put his neck out on the line but its been a long time coming and I know he feels like he didn’t stick his neck out soon enough so now he feels like it’s on the chopping block instead.

For my part Sir Pink has a job where he sees some things going on that aren’t quite right but if he says something he might be collecting unemployment. It’s nothing that violates any laws he’s aware of but its something that some people should be called on and it bothers him that he doesn’t feel like he can risk doing that.

For my part I’ve cut back on my work to be home with Mini Pink Model 3 pretty much full time for the first year of her life if possible and that means less money in the family pocketbook and I think it’s the right call but still it’s scary and making things rough.

We’re in a time and place with a lot of uncertainty in the world in terms of financial survival, environmental balance, peace vs. war and so much else. Often the people who look like they’re sticking their necks out actaully have huge safety cushions and safety nets backing them up and aren’t really risking much. A lot of common Joes who look like they aren’t doing anything are making quiet choices like dropping health insuracne to pay the mortgage or rent and keep food on the table, and that’s a huge risk but no one see that and no one would probably care if they did.

Bible tells us to have faith but as Deke pointed out in the comments of his latest thread, we have to do some heavy lifting ourselves and sometimes make some tough choices.

Sticking our necks out isn’t easy but it’s sometimes necessary. We need to pray and have faith as we do so…and we need to think things through…but sometimes we also just have to pull down the collar and stretch our heads out and hope that it will end up with a medal around our necks and not axes coming down on them.

22
May
09

Career Notes

My brain is fried today, like a box of Popeye’s chicken but not nearly as tasty. Lots of stuff on my mind and wading through some life challenges.

So, why the heck not just toss out one those challenges and use y’all as a sounding board?

My career is in shambles. I am a journalist (editor and writer, with some layout/design skills as well) with nearly two decades of experience. I am currently stuck in a place that is not a major media market and not a hotbed of other opportunities either that might fit with me (like corporate communications and such). I’ve been making a decent living for some years as a freelancer, with clients who employ me from other states to do work on their magazines, newsletters, etc. on a regular basis.

Problem is that because of cost-cutting, I’ve lost several clients over the past few years (several of them non-profit organizations, but one of them a fairly major management magazine, too). I have never been able to rebuild, and it’s killing me.

Moving isn’t an option, and I cannot make work appear, so I find myself looking now at graduate programs (which would mean a second master’s degree for me).

Thought about dental school, since there’s a paucity of dentists nationwide and in my area in particular, but I can’t make it through organic chemistry, inorganic chemistry or calculus.

Thought about counseling programs, but they all require substantial work under another person with certification for a year or two or three before I could hang out my own shingle.

Currently looking at graduate IT programs, since I write about information technology fairly often. That seems my best bet right now.

But, for those of you who follow me regularly, any ideas, or input on my current one? I’d love to hear from you, if only to talk about this with someone other than my wife for once.

😉

20
May
09

Random Thoughts

the-thinkerFirst, if anyone sees Miz Pink, tell her to put down that new baby and get back here to do some posting. I don’t care how sweet her breath is or how nice it feels to cuddle her. Slap on a sling and get to typing, woman. (Deac gets ready to dodge incoming virtual projectiles.)

Second, after promisinng to try to get back to daily posting, I’ve already missed a day this week. No time for massive posts, so a couple random thoughts.

Change Happens

I see two powerful and equally untenable schools of thought in my travels through the blogosphere and personal interactions. There are those who advocate that all religious insitutions and traditions should be brought crashing down and either tossed aside entirely or rebuilt into something entirely new and all-embracing.

I also see those who argue that tradition is not just habit but evidence of such fundamental truth that it must not be touched. That the institutions and traditions we have had through the centuries must remain as they are, because their endurance is proof that they are right.

Both camps are dead wrong. Change must always occur, but that doesn’t mean we destroy all cherished traditions or decree that if God remains invisible to our eyes, He is either nonexistent or dead. Likewise, the fact that we hold to traditions doesn’t make them right. For a long time, slavery was quite the tradition, wasn’t it? Or conquering other lands for personal gain. We tend to frown on such things now, and rightly so. The fact is that many traditions do come from habit, and also from enduring misinterpretations of the Word of God. Let’s not forget that even the apostles had some disagreements on points of doctrine back in the earliest days of the church. That has never changed, and remains the best proof that we must always be open to change, though we must also remain guided by the Holy Spirit as much as possible in such things.

No, no….YOU sing!

This thought comes courtesy of Mrs. Blue:

If you have enough people with voice talent to have a choir in your church, they should do the singing. Oh sure, I don’t mind us in the congregation doing our share too. Community and fellowship do suggest that we should sing a couple hymns together and all that.

But I am tired of going to churches where we are expected to stand and sing WITH the choir most of the service. If they have talent, we’re doing nothing but ruining their good work. Trust me. Deacon Blue’s voice is awful in song, and mine isn’t all that great either unless I’m in the shower.

Bad enough to go to a church where there is no choir and we are FORCED to rely on the whole out of tune congregation for uplifting music. But if you have a choir, let them lift up our spirits for most of the songs. Everyone will be happier…well most of them anyway. TRUST ME!

Fellowship Via the Stomach

Consider this a shared thought of me and Mrs. Blue:

More churches should have a little coffee and snack fellowship time right after services. Really, it’s a nice way to get people to stick around and connect over more than hymnals, collection plates, and sermons. Church is about edification about the Word and bringing our spirits closer to God as a group, but it’s also about people with a common connection getting together. Let’s not get so caught up in the spirit that we forget entirely about fostering community.

18
May
09

Waggling Our Tongues…

Well, I’m not feeling very inspired today, and I don’t know how many of you check out the “Recent Comments” menu in my sidebar, but since a visitor decided to comment on one of my older posts, let me point you toward that thread, with her comment and mine of course being at the very end of things. And, I’ll have a couple quick things to say below after you’re done.

The Tongue Is a Consuming Fire

I’ve mostly said what I wanted to in my comment to christina. But, I can add a couple things.

First, I’m not going to ever hesitate to criticize a fellow Christian, or a branch of Christianity, if I feel the need. The Word of Faith movement, in particular, troubles me with it’s credo that faith will bring prosperity meme. Because the flip side of that is that if you suffer or lack, you have failed God in some way. That God is making you poor or you are keeping yourself poor because you just don’t pray hard enough. That’s such a dangerous attitude, and an arrogant one…and so out of line with the Word of God that I think it borders on heresy.

I am not shy about admitting my own failings, which are many and frequent. And I also won’t hesitate to point fingers when I see supposed Christian brethren leading people astray or doing harm to the psyches of those whom they case aside or essentially ridicule for not being good enough because they aren’t successful enough.

Anyone who acts like they have all the answers to all the questions is arrogant. And when they lift up worldly things as evidence of God’s favor…and have us chasing after such things instead of cleaving closer to God’s Word with actions and concerns outside of our wants and desires…that’s just wrong.

15
May
09

Mea Culpa

Sorry I’ve been away for so many days, and sorry for those who aren’t fans of my novel that today’s update is a new installment of that after well over a week since the last one with Maree doing her “born to be wild thing” on her new “motorcycle.” Between some busy things in life and the very active commentary with my last post, I let thing slide a bit. Sorry about that. Will try to be on a daily routine again here for a while if I can.

15
May
09

Cleansed by Fire, Part 53

For the previous installment of this story, click here

Or, visit the Cleansed By Fire portal page for comprehensive links to previous chapter installments and additional backstory and information about the novel.

Cleansed by Fire

Chapter 8, Framed in Pain (continued)

paulo1Before Maree had traveled 200 kilometers in her newly acquired duosphere, Paulo sup-Juris had been aware of her ownership of it—or, rather, Debrah-Ayn Baylor’s ownership. Lyseena and Ather and the rest of the templars on the case continued to track her in the Centralia Province of the UPA and now were seeking to head her off farther westward as well perhaps, thanks to a brief security pylon contact with her IDentipod in the state of Nordica, just outside the city of Anokha.

He supposed that if Maree hadn’t intercepted him right before the New Year and blackmailed him into facilitating her break with the templars, he might have been on board with the theory of her westward migration as well. She had attacked and killed a man in Illini, and she was seeking Stavin for some kind of revenge, and Stavin was known to have at least as many connections in Pacifica as he did in Nova York. And the working theory about her dead relatives in Astoria was that Maree had killed them for having seen something or for being co-conspirators in Secular Genesis; among Lyseena’s team, only Paulo knew that Stavin or someone else from the movement had executed those adults and children in Maree’s cottage. The truth hadn’t even come up as a tentative theory.

As far as everyone was concerned, Maree was doing a pretty good job of avoiding detection—but she was still just an educated thug to them. That had always been Lyseena’s view of her, really. Intelligent and resourceful, but basically brute force; never would slyness have entered anyone’s calculations with Maree. Then again, Lyseena still seemed to think that Kevan was a wise-cracking strategist instead of a closet sadist. And she didn’t seem to have any idea that Ather was in love with her, and probably she with him.

Just as she thinks that I am so bound by loyalty and my vows and fear of besmirching my father’s reputation that I will stick with the templars and not choose Grace over all of them. For her own sake, Lyseena should never have revealed her suspicions to me that she knew Grace was my daughter.

It amazed Paulo, who was raised among merchanters and had learned to read people’s basic personalities well, how blind Lyseena was to the true natures of the people closest to her. She had let her vows separate her completely from family and in Templar’s Tower she formed her own. She could so easily judge, influence and evade people above her and below her in the organization, but with her inner circle she assumed too many things that were not true. She saw things as she wished them to be with her admin officers and closest colleagues. He wondered at the ways in which she might yet misjudge the new admin officer Tana sup-Juris.

But Paulo knew things about Maree now that no one did. How she had known about Gina and Grace for so long and held that knowledge in reserve; how she had maneuvered Paulo to have her family members arrested to save as many of them from Secular Genesis as possible. He knew now the slyness and family devotion that she had hidden so well over the years, even from his sharp insights. And so he did what no one else had done: He looked for Maree where no one else had, under the assumption that she wasn’t simply masking her identity or jamming her IDentipod but using someone else’s identity. It was a bold move that only the stupidest or most brilliant people would try. And as far as the templars were concerned, Maree was neither.

He’d done a search for IDentipods that had been in Nova York recently, as well as Houston and South Chicago, though he’d had to be careful to make his inquiries part of another investigation into a smuggling ring that stretched across several provinces. He found a few leads, but had homed in quickly on Debrah-Ayn Baylor. The woman whom Maree was now. And he’d casually tracked her progress and purchases, the most recent one being the duosphere she had purchased for next to nothing.

Even with a false identity, Maree was being careful, Paulo noted. Somehow, she had managed to encounter only two security pylons in Houston, where she killed the templar watch team, and only one pylon in South Chicago Metro, where she killed Stavin’s man.

That had made Paulo’s next task much easier, really, as he added one of the Houston pylons to a correction list, with a notation that for a two-hour period, they had actually been registering data from a pylon 250 kilometers away. The other Houston pylon he added to different duty list being carried out by one of his subordinates, noting that all recent data from it needed to be deep-locked for six weeks to protect a covert operative there.

Finally, for South Chicago, he made a note in third templar’s correction list that the pylon there had jumbled six IDentipod codes and provided the “correct” codes for all of them, in the process effectively changing Debrah-Ayn Baylor there into Crista Donnell of Atlantica Province.

All of which meant that Maree’s path should be erased, or at least well covered for a while, as long as she didn’t go killing any other templars or leaving more notes for terrorists. None of which Paulo expected her to do, since he suspected she only left the note in South Chicago Metro to lure Ather away from her. A supposition backed up solidly by her eastward migration now.

But Paulo planned to extract a price for his subterfuge on Maree’s behalf, because he suspected he was going to need someone very sly indeed to help him and Grace get free of the templars.

Which is what brought him to this small caff shop, where the owner knew Paulo’s family and let him access a terminal there with a Grid account that had nothing to do with Paulo. In the past, it had been his means to contact Gina surreptitiously. With her dead, it would serve a new purpose.

NEW MESSAGE :: Blessings, Debrah it’s Pal. I’ve missed seeing you since you left your job here and aren’t so easy to see anymore. Sorry to hear about your family getting burned in that bad business deal the other week. Wish I could have done more. I know my personal network wasn’t as good as it could have been in your outplacement efforts but I’ve pulled on a few collars and I think you may be pleased with the result. In return, I’d like to lean on your for a little help in some business I’m trying to conclude since the boss doesn’t like the time I’m spending with my family lately, and I may be out of work soon. Incidentally, heard you have a savory new ride, too. Would love to see it. Contact me as soon as you can.

Paulo ordered up a fresh caff and a few caramel-almond dunking wafers and sat down. Knowing what he did now about her, he doubted his true identity could be missed by Maree; he doubted even more that she would wait long to respond. She held knowledge of his illicit wife and child, which could ruin him. He held knowledge of who she now was. Back on equal ground, back to where a merchanter-born man could make deals instead of being used. He hoped Maree would respect that and not take offense.

Frankly, he rather suspected that she might sense the potential for an alliance, in addition to realizing that Paulo wasn’t trying to screw her over. If she was heading back East, with both Secular Genesis and the templars arrayed against her, she needed an ally.

I certainly know that I do.

He hadn’t even finished the first dunking wafer when he had a response.

RESPONSE TO PAL :: Yes, my new vehicle is very nice. And because of that, if you bring along any of your idiot friends, I won’t be happy. No doubt they’d put their hands all over it and scratch the finish. If you’ve done me a favor I like, I might be able to help you. Otherwise, you can flounder on your own in your employment troubles. I’m only doing this because your kid is cute. And I’m telling you, if you bring even one of those morons you call friends with you, I will hand you your ass. You tell me where and I will tell you when I can be there. || Debi

Paulo heaved a sigh of relief, and hoped he’d just created a way to get himself and Grace out of the Catholic Union, and not a path that led straight to a grave for him.

(To read the next installment of this story, click here.)




Deacon Blue is the blogging persona of editor and writer Jeffrey Bouley. The opinions of Jeff himself on this blog, and those expressed as Deacon Blue, in NO WAY should be construed as the opinions of anyone with whom he has worked, currently works, or will work with in the future. They are personal opinions and views, and are sometimes, frankly, expressed in more outrageous terms than I truly feel most days.

Jeff Bouley

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Jeff Bouley

To find out more about me professionally, click here. To find out more about me generally, click here.

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You can reach Deacon Blue/Jeff Bouley at deaconbluemail@gmail.com.

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