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  1. The sun is just setting over the trees to the west. I can hear the lake across the worn out road, its waters making the gentle sounds that come with the beginning of winter, the end of a year. Its what they would have called an "Indian Summer" 200 years ago. The first big freeze has come and gone and its still warm enough to go outside without a coat. It means that winter will be particularly harsh this year. On the back porch is stacked some firewood to keep the house comfortable and warm during the colder nights. The four dogs run and bark at the distant sounds the wind carries to them, sounds I can just barely catch if I listen hard enough. Leaves still rest on the trees, various shades of red and orange and yellow. In less then a month this all will be replaced with the quiet of dead winter. What color there is left in the world will be washed over by soft sheets of cold white, like silk or satin. My step-father prepares his expensive grills for probably the last real cook out that can be had this year. Inside, my mother cleans her already pristine house as if we were going to have guests, but we never do. Even my brothers are hesitant to come to this place, this Oklahoman Alcatraz. For all its niceness, for all its glamor and the gold things, for all the relics and antiques, this place is a prison. A prison built on the philosophy that more money, more things, more land brings more happiness. They tell me I will understand when I am older, but I shudder to think of the life I might have lived that would lead me to think of things as my bastion of joy in the world. So much waste has gone into the building of this fortress that it saddens to think what those things might have been good for.
  2. So its been about two weeks, maybe a little less, since I left home. Already, so many things have happened that have changed my view of the world. I have learned to appreciate so much more.

    For those of you who do not know my situation, it is this: I am homeless. Two weeks ago I got in an argument with my parents that was really the culmination of several things having recently gone wrong. It ended with me leaving for good. I have been living in three places for the past two weeks; a car in front of wal-mart, a tent on the banks of the North Canadian river, and in the bedroom of a very close friend of mine. It is my intent to post in this blog whatever revelations and realizations I have about life in the hope that someone may benefit from them somehow. Now, on to the point.

    In the short time I have been on my own, I have come to realize a great deal about the world around me. My views on certain things have been greatly altered.

    MY VIEWS
    When I left, I was held firmly by the belief that while people might try to be good, most are not. I believed that people were generally looking out for just their own selfish desires. I know now that isn't the case at all. Complete strangers have been so helpful to me that it is hard to imagine. How can someone who has never met you be so willing to help you out? In short, I now believe that people are generally good. I believe that a person will do what he or she can in order to help a person if they really need it.

    THE RIVER
    On one of the first nights of my new adventure, I came across a group of people, a couple of whom I knew and one of whom I was a good friend, who routinely camped along the banks of the North Canadian River. I had never been camping before, but I had always liked the thought of myself as being a sort of rugged survivor type guy. Well, something changed in me that first night. Not a shallow change either, but a deep, core change. A spiritual need seemed to have been fulfilled. I'm not quite sure what did it either. Maybe it was the way the waist-high water rushed about me, carrying in it all the little particles of sand and dirt it picked up from it surroundings. To me, that river was life the way it should be lived. The river did not stop because someone told it to stop. It was a force. It was a vital essence of such great influence that its very flow caught up the little motes of dirt and grimy rocks and took them to far away places. Eventually those things ended up in a lake somewhere, but they would have been clean. That is what life should be. No one should root themselves to one spot. Life is short and there is so much world to see. Allow yourself to be caught up in that glorious river. Who knows where you will end up? I can promise, though, that whatever lake you at last come to rest in, your spirit will be clean and you will be fulfilled.

    That is what I have been taught about the world so far. I will try and update again before I leave for California on Thursday. You can bet I will update you guys on that though. Until next time...Peace!

    --Darkthought
  3. Swords of Vengeance RP
    Part I: The Shadow of Shogun

    An RP based partly on historical Nanboku-Cho Era, or South and North Courts Era, Japan (featuring actual places) and partly on Japanese mythology (featuring demons and certain types of magic). The story will be moved along by a series of missions that will be assigned according to your individual character. Please follow all rules set down by the GM for his word is FINAL.

    Mission assignments will be posted in blue.
    Character deaths will be in red.

    Rules
    --The word of the GM is final; do not dispute it.
    --Be kind and courteous to other players.
    --If you do not like a character in the game, leave it in the game, don't take it out on the player.
    --Please choose realistic names. No one in feudal japan was named Tony.
    --Have fun! It is a game after all...

    Setting
    It is Nanboku-Cho era Japan. The year is 1390.
    People to Know
    Southern Court Emperor Go-Kameyama—The young lord of the souther provinces. He is a kind and generous man, well loved by his subjects. Yet, his gentle nature forces him to give in to the whims of the Northern Court, a fact that many of his subjects have become put out with.

    Norther Court Emperor Go-En'yu—The pretender to the Chrysanthemum throne. En'yu is an old and sick man, his heart still thirsts for power. He will stop at nothing to achieve his goals.

    Hanzo Hattori—Leader of the Koga clan Ninja. A fierce warrior who is a master of remaining unseen if he wishes it so. He weilds a claw on each hand, both engraved with golden dragons.

    Takamaru—Leader of the Momochi clan Ninja. Thought small, he is quick. Barely a man, he is only eighteen years of age and already more adept with the fangs than men twice his age. His carefree attitude belies a dark side that comes out. His fangs are emblazoned with images of fighting wolves.

    Rikimaru—Leader of the Goda clan Ninja. He is a giant of a man. While slower than most, he more than makes up for it in raw strength. Despite the worst situations, Rikimaru never loses his composure.

    Jubei Yagyu—Leader of the Yagyu clan ninja. Jubei is an unparalelled swordsman. His family was once the sword trainer of the emperor himself. Jubei wears an eye-patch with the image of a demon's eye drawn on it. Some say it lets him see into a person's soul.

    Onmyogi-- An old man who seems to have lost his mind as well as his teeth. He has a passion for young ladies. Do not let his vices fool you though, he is a master when it comes to poison and a shrewd tactician.

    Lord Hotta—Leader of the Kishu clan Ninja. Hotta is a very rich and well respected man, despite his ties with the ninja clan. He wields a spear in place of a bow staff. The man is very prideful. He keeps a pet dog that is trained to hold a wakizashi it its mouth and dive at foes.

    Sandayu Momochi—Leader of the Negoro clan Ninja. She is the only female clan leader. The twin sister of Takamaru, she is quiet and composed. Her daggers are the counterparts to Takamaru's fangs.

    Oman—A priest who is an expert swordsman. He works for the Southern Empire, but many do not trust him.

    Shigimaru—A master less samurai whose services are open to the highest bidder. He kills without remorse.


    Ninja Clans
    -Negoro Clan—Specialize in archery and dagger fighting. Their color is blue. 3 Ninja Magics not exceeding Level 2.
    -Goda Clan—Specialize in katana and thrown weapon fighting. Their color is red. 3 Not exceeding level 2.
    -Momochi Clan—Specialize in fangs and hand to hand combat. Their color is gray. 4 not exceeding level 1.
    -Iga Clan—Specialize in dual wakizashi and poison. Their color is dark green. 2 Not exceeding level 3.
    -Yagyu Clan--Specialize in Daikatana and Grappling Hook use. Their color is black. 4 Not exceeding
    level 1.
    -Koga Clan—Specialize in Claw fighting and Ninja Majic. Their color is purple.3 Not exceeding level 5.
    -Kishu Clan--Specialize in Bokada(staff fighting) and animal friendship. Their color is white. 3 not exceeding level 4.

    ---------------------------------------------

    Character Sheet:
    Name:
    Age:
    Clan(ninja only):
    School(samurai only):
    Master(samurai only; Ako or Iba):
    Weapon:
    Majic(Ninja only):
    History:
    Description:
    ---------------------------------------------

    Schools (samurai only)

    Iaido-- Iado is a sword style associated with the smooth, controlled movements of drawing the from its scabbard, striking or cutting an opponent, removing blood from the blade, and then replacing the sword in the scabbard. While new students of iaidō may start learning with a wooden sword depending on the teaching style of a particular instructor, many of those who study iaidō use an unsharpened sword. Advanced practitioners of iaidō use a sharpened metal sword.
    Because iaidō teaches the use of actual metal weaponry, it is almost entirely based on the teaching of forms, or kata. Multiple person kata do exist within some forms of iaido, but the iaidōka (practitioners of iaidō) will usually use bokken for such kata practice. Iaidō does not include direct competition or sparring of any kind. Because of this non-competitve aspect, and iaidō's emphasis on precise, controlled, fluid motion, it is sometimes referred to as "moving Zen.” Followers of this school seem to posses the uncanny ability to remain calm in any situation. More often than not, a fight will end with one strike.

    Jodo-- meaning "the way of the “jo” or jojutsu, is a style using short staffs called jō. The art is similar to Bojutsu, and is strongly focused upon defense against the sword. The Jo is a short staff, usually about 3 to 5 feet long, about the average length of a walking stick. However, the art was not used, as one might fancifully imagine, by travelers to ward off aggressive bandits or swordsmen. The martial art of Jodo was the province of professional warriors. Followers of this school are skilled at fighting multiple sword wielding opponents.

    Kenjutsu-- Kenjutsu is the style that specializes in use of the katana. Though similar to Iaido, Kenjutsu is more focused on actual combat. Followers of this school are expert at wielding the Katana and have even been know to wield two at a time effectively.

    Kyujutsu-- Literally meaning “way of the bow”.
    Kyujutsu is not limited by age, sex, or physical condition. Almost anyone can take it up and learn if the are dedicated enough. Though anyone can learn, it may take a lifetime to perfect. Followers of this school possess unrivaled skill with the bow.

    Naginatajutsu-- The art of wielding the Naginata, a rod with a long curved blade attached to the end. Followers of this school are skilled at fighting many opponents who may use a variety of weapons, but can be severely limited by enclosed spaces. The follower of this school can also take out horses.

    Kusarigamajutsu-- The art of fighting with the Kama, a pair of small scythe-like objects usually linked by a chain. The follower of this school is almost unrivaled in speed. The chain binding the Kama can be used to disarm an opponent or strike at a greater range.
    ----------------------------------------------

    Ninja Magic
    Ninja Magic, or Kuji-In, is central to the power of the ninja and is activated via hand signals that allow the Ninja to channel various worldly energies. What makes the ninja so strong, as opposed to the common sorcerer, is that a ninja's power comes from the world around them, as opposed to their own internal strength. The strength of individual jutsu is determined by ones level of harmony with the universe.


    Intonjutsu(1)—The art of disappearing. At level one, the ninja is able to conceal him or herself in the shadows to a great degree and is skilled at finding good hiding places. The ninja is usually able to remain unseen.

    Level 2—The ninja has ascended to average skill in Intonjutsu. A ninja that has achieved this degree of mastery has studied his opponents well and gains the ability to predict their movements, allowing the ninja to avoid confrontation all together.

    Level 3--The ninja is above average in the use of Intonjutsu. A ninja that has reached this level of mastery has gained the ability to disguise themselves as the enemy and remain relatively unnoticed, essentially allowing the ninja to walk right in the front door.

    Level 4--The ninja is greatly skilled in the devices that dictate the usage of Intonjutsu and has an adept understanding of his environment. A ninja that has mastered the skill to this degree can disappear at will for a short time, allowing him to literally be invisible.

    Level 5—The ninja has mastered the use of Intonjutsu to its fullest degree. Such a harmony with nature has been achieved that the ninja can appear to become part of his surroundings. A master of Intonjutsu may have the ability to teleport over short distances, giving him a great advantage in combat and escape.

    Bo Ryaku(1)—The art of deception. At the most basic level of mastery, the ninja is able to talk his way out of almost any situation and is able to convince weaker minded people that what he says is true. The ninja is usually believed.

    Level 2—Moderate skill has been achieved in the use of Bo Ryaku. A ninja that has reached this degree of mastery is able to convince foes to become his allies.

    Level 3—Above average skill has been reached in the use of Bo Ryaku. A ninja that has reached this degree of mastery
  4. The poem, I wandered lonely as a Cloud by William Wordsworth is an exemplary piece of poetry if only for its use of symbolic elements throughout. Even in the first few lines it becomes apparent that Wordsworth is trying to convey some kind of profound concept in expertly veiled items like trees, water, and clouds. The poem's main meaning would be lost were it not for this perfect use of symbolism..
    The most readily apparent symbolic element of the poem is the reverse personification of the poet himself with the line "I wandered lonely as a cloud." In doing this, Wordsworth takes the reader out of the action, away from the world to a high place that is hardly reachable. He has made himself alienated and at the same time an element of nature, paralell to the earth. He has become an impartial and isolated third party that will bear witness to the ongoings far below. Wordsworth continually describes all other elements in the poem as having human characteristics. The daffodils are "tossing their heads" in a "sprightly dance". This draws a stark contrast between Wordsworth as the poet and the blissfull crowd of floweres below.
    The second symbolic element of the poem are the daffodils themselves. Symbolizing rebirth and new beginnings, the daffodil is virtually synonymous with spring. Though their botanic name is narcissus, daffodils are sometimes called jonquils, and in England, because of their long association with Lent, they’re known as the “Lent Lily.” Lore connecting the daffodil to not only a sign of winter’s end but a lucky emblem of future prosperity is found throughout the world.
    The trees that loom up next to the daffodils are a major element in the poem as well, though relatively little attention in paid to them. Nature scenes including trees and forests contain multiple mythic and symbolic qualities. The deep-rooted meaning of trees is apparent in common metaphors such as the Tree of Life and our ancestral heritage depicted in family trees. Christians see Christ as the cosmic carpenter and His ultimate sacrifice is represented by a wooden cross.
    The next element of symbolism to take note of is the water itself. Water is often used to symbolize things in literature. Since water is often a sign of life, many times water represents life. Water can also be broken up into two categories: fresh water and bad/polluted water. Fresh water can represent good health, and bad water symbolizes bad health. Arthurian legends employ the idea that if one walks in a river long enough they may find themselves in the fairy/mythical world. Water features in many Bible stories; Moses' is one example.
    These elements come together in a very surprising and unique way that seem to mirror the feelings and emotions of the humans they are meant to portray in the poem. Wordsworth is trying to convey the idea that nature is more alive than most people give it credit for. He seems to be trying to tell us to stp[ to appreciate the wonder of nature every now and then and to not get so lost in day to day activities. It is in this way that symbolism is the most vital part of William Wordsworth's I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud.