Last night, my guitar instructor asked me, “what’s that symbol.” Referring to the rampant lion shield logo, as I have both a rampant lion sticker on my guitar case and I now have rampant lion guitar picks.

I told him it was a personal logo that I use on my website and assorted other projects. He didn’t seem particularly impressed or ask what that website might be. So, pretty much the response I get from everyone.

But wait, what about those guitar picks? I know. Amazing right! We live in such a wonderful time, that for $10 I can send away to China and have half a dozen guitar picks with my personal logo printed on both sides at mailed to back to my house in less than two weeks. Sure, I ordered the wrong ones and got the leather keychain, pick holders instead of six additional picks. But you can get a dozen custom picks for $9.99 at this Amazon link. I think they turned out quite nice.

guitar picks

I’ve had my first negative experience with an Amazon purchase experience. This is an actual Amazon issue, not a problem with one of their vendors. Which is impressive, given how often I shop on Amazon and how many years I’ve been using them. The issue was resolved, but it was still a thing. Here’s what happened.

I’ve been on Lady Ronn to upgrade her camera for a while now. The Canon Rebel she’s been using is nice enough, but it’s not professional quality and if she’s really going to go for this photography thing she needs something else. Her instructors agree. So, after much brow-beating, badgering, and bullying, I finally got a decision out of her. Which is all I was really waiting for; an excuse to spend gobs of money.

I loaded my Amazon cart up with camera equipment and made my purchases. Which went pretty much as I would expect. Flawless. Except that an hour later I received an email letting me know that there was a problem with my order, the purchase had been rejected, and I needed to change my payment information. Okay. That was my bad. I used the Amazon Store Card and the limit on that card wasn’t enough to cover the cost. I should have used my credit card, but I hadn’t thought about it. I don’t spend sums of money like this very often. And here’s where the problem starts.

There is a handy button on my order to change the payment source. And I have three sources to choose from, but it doesn’t matter which one I choose. Everytime I make a change it won’t take. The screen loads and indicates that the payment source has been changed to the Store Card… which is not what is supposed to be happening. I fought with that for 10-minutes before deciding that it didn’t matter how many times I repeated the process it wasn’t going to change. Because it didn’t!

My next idea was to raise the limit on the Store Card. So, I go to the website, request the increased limit, it gets processed immediately, badda-boom, badda-bing, and I go back to my order page and try again. It still says it has changed the payment source, but it still isn’t changing anything. It’s also not registering the new limit, so it’s still failing. Another 10-minutes of trying to make that work… didn’t.

At this point I was annoyed. Trying to find a customer service number for Amazon did not improve my attitude. Finally, I found a link to a text window that offered me a callback to resolve my issue. And that call was almost immediate, the lady on the phone was helpful and pleasant, everything seemed to be resolved. She told me that I’d get a message if there were any other problems. So I went to bed thinking things were fixed. Not so much.

I checked the order details when I woke the next morning and saw that the $8 screen protector was now paid for and shipping. The camera and the lens… not so much. Change payment source, please. Head explodes!

After cleaning up the mess and digging a bit more into the payment links, I found a place to “retry” a payment type. In case you fat fingered your numbers or made some sort of error while entering a card. With one click I was able to refresh the payment attempt, recheck the card balance, and complete the purchase. Success.

The camera and lens showed up today, but the process of getting them here was not a particularly positive one. Sorry for the long rambling rant. That’s my story. Later.

Look it’s me talking about another thing I bought. Yeah, it is. But in my defence, most of the things I buy are pretty lame. And anyway, birthday.

So, another birthday present arrived from Amazon. This time it’s a new office chair. Because the last two have been terrible. I really miss my Aeron chair.

office chair

It doesn’t look much different than my old chair, but it’s much more comfortable. It actually has padding on the seat that pads. The adjustable arms don’t swivel around like they’re lost. It’s wider and sturdier. It weighs quite a bit more, surprisingly heavy. The only complaint I have, the backrest doesn’t lean back in a comfortable way. It just feels awkward. But I don’t lean back when I’m working anyway, so it shouldn’t be a thing. I’m pretty happy with it so far.

I also picked up a set of better wheels for this one. They’re supposed to be easier on the floor and that should let me get rid of the mat under my desk. Which will be nice, because it’s pretty slippery when there’s no weight on it and it’s nearly dropped me on my ass a few times as it slides across the floor. As an added bonus, these wheels are a lot quieter than the hard plastic wheels that always come with this type of chair. They roll real nice, too.

I have a corner in my book closet that I want to decorate with a sword. I used to have a really nice rapier and main gauche that would have almost worked. But the problem with a rapier is the guard is very deep and pushes the whole thing quite far out from the wall. Besides, I gave that sword to the oldest boy and don’t have it anymore. So, I’ve been looking for something, off and on, for a while now. I’ve considered cheap, wall-hanger swords with no real functionality. I looked at the Lord of the Rings swords, which are very nice, but too iconic and recognizable. Heck, I even considered making a sword. Still might. That would be very cool, but would involve new tools and probably a considerable amount of time. I’ve looked at some really nice swords that cost $700 or more, so much more, but that seems crazy given my budget and the use I’ll be putting this sword to. It’ll hang on the wall. A wall-hanger will be fine and you can get one for $50, but they look so cheap.

Rather than make a sword, buy a hand forged one of a kind, or pick up a cheap wall-hanger, after a lot of browsing Amazon and Kult of Athena I decided to go with something on the lower end of functional swords. This one is tough enough to handle a bit of cut and thrust, but not so elaborate or well crafted to break the bank. Besides, It’s my birthday and I can buy what I want for myself.

I’ve read reviews saying that this is a $450 sword and that anything below that is a bargain. If that is true, then I got a really good bargain from Amazon. Aw shit, I paid $270 for a damn sword I have no real use for. I’m an idiot. But it is pretty cool, if I say so myself. Here’s the Amazon link if you want to see more.

  • The Italian Long Sword is designed so that the blade and balance slightly favor the thrust, while still being capable of delivering astonishingly effective cuts.
  • Steel: 1060 Carbon – Is a high-carbon, cold rolled steel containing approximately 0. 50% carbon that can be hardened by heat treatment to a maximum hardness of approximately Rockwell C 58.
  • Leather / Wood Scabbard with Steel Fittings

I’m going to build a little sword hanger and get it put up this weekend. Happy birthday to me.

Italian Long Sword by Cold Steel
it’s going here
like this, but better

“You’ll always be fine. You’ll always be interesting, with your quirky cafe and your dead best friend. You just make me feel like I’ve failed.”

– Claire, Fleabag

Lady Ronn talked me into giving Fleabag a try. It’s a BBC series that’s available on Prime Video, you know, if you’re looking for it. I probably wouldn’t have watched it, simply based on the title. But then, after we watched the first two episodes, I started hearing good things about it from a few different sources. So, maybe I would have come around to it despite the title. I’ve got to say, I’m glad the lady turned me on to it. It was fantastic. I really enjoyed it.

“I’m not obsessed with sex, I just can’t stop thinking about it. The performance of it. The awkwardness of it. The drama of it. The moment you realise someone wants your body. Not so much the feeling of it.”

– Fleabag

It was both smart and clever, which is always a great combination. All the summaries say that it’s dry-witted, I don’t know if that’s the case, but it is very funny. I’d say that it’s weird and funny and profane and just really well done. I love the breaking of the fourth wall, which reminds me very much of Ferris Bueller and is done just as well. It’s relatable in a what-the-fuck sort of way. It’s sexual, relatable, broken, and depressing while being thoroughly entertaining. It made me laugh out loud, which is not a thing I generally do. It’s listed as a comedy, and it definitely is, but it’s got so much more.

Fleabag on Amazon Prime Video

I was going to say that I enjoyed season 1 more than season 2, but as I write this and think about it a bit more, I like them both but differently. There were three real years and a year of show time between the release of the two seasons. They are distinctly different and yet very much familiar. I hope there is a season 3, but I don’t need it. It wrapped up in a way that leaves me satisfied with the whole. I just read that Phoebe Waller-Bridge, the actress playing the titular character and upon whose one-woman show it’s all based on, is coming out with a Fleabag book. That’ll definitely be something I’ll be watching for.

“I mean, the man’s got a problem. But no-one wants to admit there’s a problem because then they don’t get to have crazy nights out with Fun Drunk Martin. He’s one of those men who is explosively sexually inappropriate with everyone, but makes you feel bad if you take offence because he was “just being fun”.”

– Fleabag

Go watch Fleabag. It’s really short, 12 half-hour episodes. That won’t take you anytime at all. The cast is great. The whole thing is funny and tragic and desperate.

“I spent most of my adult life using sex to deflect from the screaming void inside my empty heart.”

– Fleabag