Archive for the 'Travel' Category


Crashing the Shortbus

Yup, killed to death.

Yup, killed to death.

I felt the tires slip upon the tarmac and wheel go wild in my hands. Sliding noisily, the shortbus missed its turn and elbowed around a tree, its driver flung like bloody meat through the windshield. There were no survivors.

What happened? Was it a banana peel? No, it was a royalties check. I won’t say how bad the royalties check was, but it was awful. It was bad enough that I would intentionally drive my bus into a tree to collect the insurance money––but there is a minor setback. Shortbus drivers are uninsured.

What will I do now that my shortbus is a mangled wreck? Walk away? Some friends suggest I self-publish my next book. Take control over pricing, and be able to offer my third and greatest book to readers for free. One of my author friends has done well with self-publishing—comparative to my awful royalties check.


Being a fan of Jesus, I’m going to tell a Shortbus style parable. Here you go…

One upon a time there was a telemetry technician who worked in a hospital. He knew how to interpret cardiac rhythms so as to help medical teams quickly respond to critically ill patients and save lives. He was very attentive, and fairly astute at determining dangerous heart changes from non-dangerous rhythms.

But one ICU manager didn’t like how this technician sat around watching computer screens all day. She didn’t think watching over sick, critically ill patients was enough work for the tech. So, she and her micro-managing charge nurse conspired against the tech who watched over the sick and the dying. Although it wasn’t his duty, they made him transfer doctors’ orders to nursing charts. A duty that averted the telemetry technician’s focus from dangerous and sometimes fatal heart rhythms to charting medicines he wasn’t educated in the use of, or proper dosing. The ICU manager said, “You’ll figure it out.”

One day, while the telemetry tech was trying to read a doctor’s shitty scribble, a patient went into a fatal cardiac rhythm—and died. The tech was blamed for not doing his job—and fired. The end.


Nice parable, aye? It might be true, or maybe not. Jesus was never clear, so why should I be?

The point is this, I am a writer. I am not a publisher. Some people might have two heads and with their two heads be good at wearing two hats, but I have no desire to slack my primary duty to make way for one I’m not educated to perform. It is hard enough writing a book. Then selling that book, and then marketing that book. I have no interest in being the publisher too.

The shortbus is crashed, but there are other facets of my writing to be found for free.

Here is my fantasy fiction hobby blog—

Here is my professional webpage—

Dead Cupid


Witch Burning in Kilkenny


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C-Jane is the ‘Go-To-Girl-for-Facts’ and I’ll happily link you to her blog here. I prefer to write about metaphysical experiences and pure speculation. The Wikipedia page on Kilkenny was soooo-boring, except for the weather, which made little sense to me because it was in metrics and Celsius. So, here we go, you’ve been fairly warned.

That picture above is of the Kilkenny Cathedral in the background. We tried to get there, but we were so tired. An uncountable number of hours earlier, we’d walked with our luggage to the train station one mile down the road from our home, we then rode said train to the airport, flew from Portland to Chicago where we waited six hours to get on another plane to Dublin, where we met our awesome travel group and Donny, the bus driver. We didn’t sleep at all. So when we got to Kilkenny, the first stop on our tour, we had very little energy.

Donny proved to be a wealth of information. On the road from Dublin to Kilkenny, Donny tried to teach us some of the ‘old language’ which the natives call ‘Irish.’ English is still the primary language due to the long occupation of the ‘English’ in Ireland. He taught us to say good morning, which was hopelessly lost on me. But he did mention that ‘Kil’ means ‘church,’ so Kilkenny and Kilarny are church towns. Catholicism is the National Religion in Ireland except Belfast, which is still part of the Commonweath and is largely Protestant. (This seems to be a sore topic for some Irish, I recommend not initiating this topic for conversation. The country’s division isn’t a taboo subject, but I advise letting the locals open dialogue. Southern Ireland seems to be a little less hot about the gulf than are the northern Irish.)

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We should have eaten there. It felt like destiny, but C-Jane had another agenda. C-Jane’s traveling style is very different to mine, just as her writing style is completely opposite. She does research, then thinks about logistics, and decides in advance whether or not an adventure is feasible. I follow a Hunter S. Thompson style of tourism, “Buy the ticket, take the ride,” but without my spray-can of mace and accompanying bullhorn.

I hate planning trips. I prefer to ask the locals what they are proud of, see whatever I see, purely by finding things accidentally. Finding the Blaa Blaa Blaa Deli was more than an accident, I felt it derived from Divine Providence—by God, we were in ‘Kil’kenny.

C-Jane used her Executive Power to veto my Blaa Blaa Blaa experience. She said “NO!” I cowered, too tired to resist. She then said “I want to drink local brew at a 700-year old inn.”

When you move from a state that is 150 years-old (Texas) to a state that is 100 years-old (Nevada) to yet another state that is 100 years old (Oregon), 700-years is incomprehensible. Here is an example—back when the colonies that would eventually become the United States still comprised of British religious nuts wearing big buckle hats and shoes while eating turkey with doomed, yet unsuspecting natives—the inn pictured below was already 350-years old.

That reality still doesn’t stick to the brain, does it? My dates above are not exact, but they are in the ballpark of reality. Metaphysically, it will do.

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See the established date on the sign–1324AD. I’m not making that up. Nearly 700-years old. C-Jane and I enjoyed a pint of Kilkenny Red Ale. I wolfed down a half-order of Banger’s and Mash with a side of Sweet Peas. Yummy, yum—for real, they were good. Below is more history of Kyteler’s Inn. Posting the pic saves me from plagiarizing.

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Finally, we hung out at the Kilkenny Castle, but we did not go inside. We wandered the grounds, found an old graveyard, (barely as old as Texas) and took several pictures. Soon after, we got back on the bus, talked with Donny, and eventually went to our hotel (which I’ll cover in a future post.) Here are the best pictures of the castle for your enjoyment.

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Nothing says Middle Ages like a tractor and a back-hoe. Here, in case your eyes are as bad as mine…

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Yes, the tractor dates back to the Norman Invasion of Ireland. Cromwell’s Knights rode them and terrorized the locals before using them to build this castle. That primal tractor is the last of its kind. Kept here in Kilkenny for anyone to see, free of charge. The castle tour costs 12 Euros, but the grounds are free.

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Same castle, different vantage. I think we took this pic from the Green’s Bridge, but I forgot, and we were very tired on that first day.


How to Get to Ireland When You are Poor

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C-Jane and I just got back from Ireland. Many people have said, “WTF? We make twenty-times what you make in a year, and we can’t go to Ireland!” That is a true statement, if you’re a fry-cook for a fast-food restaurant, you made twice as much money as I did last year, I promise. It is said that 10% of all professional writers make over $10,000 a year; I am among the 90%.

So, how does a poor bastard like Big-J get to Ireland for a week? Part of it is savings from the evil hospital job that I foolishly/wisely left a couple years ago. But that is only marginal. Here are the major contributors to having a week long international vacation.

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1) Ireland is hurting for money

Ireland has financially suffered like the U.S. is about to suffer. To help pull themselves out of their mess, they’ve offered awesome vacation packages to stimulate their economy. To get our great deal, we had to buy our package a year ago, but it was such a sweet deal that C-Jane and I couldn’t refuse. $1200 for both of us, covering hotels and breakfasts, transportation via tour bus, and visiting three cities including Dublin for Saint Patrick’s Day.

2) No cable/satellite television

By sacrificing this useless service, we’ve saved over $600 each year for the last two years. Not only did that cover the cost of our tour, but neither of us have been brainwashed, leaving us as free thinking people. We also suffer less from fear and anxiety than most Americans, thanks to the absence of constant media programing.

3) Basic phone plan

We do not have smart phones. We spend $125 less per month than the average American couple for phone service. This covered our air-fare. Verizon gives lots of money to political groups that are tricking us out of our rights. As free-thinking Americans, we want to limit their ability to continue giving our money to political groups that don’t represent the majority of Americans. Once our contract with them is over, we will find a cheaper phone plan and save more money for our next trip AND continue the fight to maintain our rights.

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4) No debt

C-Jane has paid off her student loans at a great sacrifice—she worked, and as a result paid them. We own our cars and we rent an affordable apartment. People who watch cable/satellite TV tend to believe the lies about the value of owning a home. Barely 1% of all Americans own a home; it is the banks who own them—as proven by the thousands of loan defaults over the past six years. C-Jane and I cut our credit cards into tiny pieces years ago. We are free.

5) Economy cars

C-Jane has a hybrid Honda, I drive an Elantra. We average 37MPG and we try to go everywhere together making one big circular route to knock out our errands. We pay $60 per month on gasoline.

6) Waste reduction

We waste nothing. The average American throws away tons of stuff every year. We take home un-eaten food from restaurants, we eat out as little as we can, we cook at home, we plan our meals, we wear our clothes until they serve us no longer, we shop at farmers’ markets, and we rent movies through Netflix as opposed to shelling out $22 per movie.

7) No children

Enough said. We all choose how we live. C-Jane and I have chosen to go to Ireland with our limited money, not produce expensive rug-rats. I realize some people actually want children, and I believe that if the above six points were sacrificed as aggressively as we have done, you and your children could go to Ireland for a week. Hell, if you aren’t a writer, you’d have tons of expendable money.

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Merry Christmas

For real, no joke…Merry Christmas.




Don Giovanni –– Portland


If you are new here on the Shortbus, this is not intended to offend––although it will. When the Shortbus began rolling over three years ago, I was a very embittered telemetry technician whose silly dream was to be an author. Now I’m an embittered author wishing he could just get a paycheck. Please read About the Author and Players to get a better understanding of how the Shortbus rolls.


Before I get started, I want to remind you all of something important— Why is this guy still making money?



Don Giovanni is a very complicated opera written and composed by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. That is all the fact you will get out of me on this one. C-Jane plans to write her review based on the truth, my review will be as if seen through the fractured lenses of our good buddy, Glenn Beck. My review will be as you would expect here on the Bus.


I hate opera. C-Jane’s dad, better known as Papa Calamity, has given me crap for liking theater, but hating opera. I hate the caterwauling and the foreign languages translated on a screen above the stage. I can’t very well watch a play if I need to read all the dialogue. It is hard to read with someone shrieking like a banshee.


The other attack from Papa Calamity was “How could I claim to appreciate classical music and still despise opera?” I’ll tell you, it is the lack of caterwauling. To appease Papa and to get him to leave me alone, I said I’d see one of Mozart’s operas. When Calamity Jane told me Don Giovanni was performing here in Portland, I was cornered like a rat.


C-Jane, high pressure saleswoman and possessor of Big-J’s balls, told me Don Giovanni was a performance about a womanizer who gets his comeuppance. I liked that already. She bought our tickets. I would only be responsible for purchasing dinner. I like to eat—hence, Big-J.


Don Giovanni is a very big deal; it is a highly-reputed opera. Our seats were a little above stage level, but on the extreme right side of the stage. We could see most of the performance quite well from our vantage.


The stage had been set up so upon entering the theater my first thought was that fortune smiled. I thought maybe I was about to see The Book of Mormon and not Don Giovanni. [See how nicely that ties in Glenn Beck?] There were two rows of uncomfortable chairs––about fifteen per row––and a big cross on the left stage wall. The opera was modernized from its original time-frame, and when the players appeared, their dress appeared late 1930’s to early 1940’s.


Act One begins with Don Giovanni wearing a mask and trying to get it on with young Donna Anna, who is betrothed to Don Ottavio. There was lots of caterwauling, then Donna Anna’s father shows up and threatens Don Giovanni. Don Giovanni smashes the old man’s head into the wall and he dies. Giovanni runs away.


Don Giovanni has a servant named Leporello, who happens to be my favorite character in the play. For the entire first half of the opera, I was convinced that Leporello was in fact, Don Giovanni’s conscience by the things he does to try to warn the women of what Giovanni is all about. Here is an example—the translation of Leporello’s caterwauling to heart-broken Donna Elvira is, “His conquests include 640 in Italy, 231 in Germany, 100 in France, 91 in Turkey, but in Spain, 1,003.” Later in the opera, it becomes clear that Leporello is quite corrupted by his own greed.


I’m not giving you the whole play. I’d have to start a Shortbus Wiki to get all the details, but there are more players than just these. There is also the peasant girl Zerlina and her betrothed, Masetto, who are cornerstone characters to busting Don Giovanni’s game.


As a play and as a symphony, this show was fantastic. Don Giovanni is touted as one of the best operas ever written. As perfect as the Portland performance was, it did not win me over to that noisy side of art. I still, and most likely will always, hate opera. As we’d left the theater, I admitted that the players and performers were the best––the show was impeccably directed and cast, but C-Jane would need to find a gay friend to go with her to the next opera.


Papa Calamity, I still hate opera.



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