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Pirates in Paradise 2008 - Key West, Fl

(Photo: Mission's Collection)
Mission the surgeon at his work
with his new Bone Saw
Introduction: Being an account of the adventures of the good surgeon Mission who was captured and pressed into service by pyrates...wait a minute. That's what happened last year! Why is he back here again?! I'll bet he didn't even try to escape from Fort Edward/Zachary Taylor in Key West during this year's Pirates in Paradise Festival. Bloody pirate!

Prologue - Preparation - The beginning of the account of the long tale of gypsies and wandering thieves that made up the arrival of our own ship's surgeon in Key West; Also including details of his trips via various vehicles and discussions that took place therein. (Note: Several people have whined that this page is irrelevant to the event. They're probably right, but I don't care. Still, feel free to skip to the next one if you're so inclined.)

"It is better to travel well than to arrive." –Buddha

I stared in disbelief at the queue in front of the Delta ticket counter at Concourse B in the Atlanta terminal. There must be 75 people in line! I was sweaty and disheveled from jogging. I had run from my arriving flight at the one end of Concourse A to my Miami flight at the other end of Concourse B only to see the gate door close. The flight attendant on the flight had instructed us to go to the next available flight to our destination if we missed our departure. It was at the opposite end of the Concourse! There the gate agent sent us away. "Go to the ticket counter in this Concourse," she instructed the twenty or us who had missed the other flight. At least I was getting my exercise. The ticket counter line moved.

I thought that this would have made an amusing beginning for the Surgeon's Journal for PiP '08 – except I had already decided not to write one. Nor would I create another web page. They were so much work and I was convinced that only a few people even bothered to read them. The line moved again. I resolved to find an airport restaurant after the ticket situation was settled and tuck into one of the fictional books I had reserved for this trip to Key West. The people behind me were now in the fifteenth minute of being on hold with the Delta 800 number, waiting behind the mob trying to get to the Delta ticket counter in the Concourse. Gee, that would make for a funny story.

Despite my best intentions, once I arrived in Key West, Leigh told me that people were not yet sick of reading the Surgeon's Journals. So here I am, my computer on a very tall stand by the window, trying to catch a whiff of the crappy wireless internet connection, writing.

(Photo: Red Jessi)
Th' Southernmost Typist
This looked to be the trip from hell. I flew in on 11/30, the Sunday after Thanksgiving – reputed to be the worst possible day of the year to fly from what I've heard at the worst possible time (midday). While traveling on the worst day of the year at the worst time into Delta's worst connecting airport, I somehow missed my connecting flight in Atlanta (motto: Fly Into Delta's Hub in Atlanta…so we can really mess up your flight.")

I had originally planned to rent a car, discovered that since my company pays my car insurance, I have no personal insurance, making my car rental bill exorbitant. So I decided to charter a bus. With the missed flight, my chartered bus was at risk. The phone number was in my checked luggage due to some overzealous packing on my part, but a driver from the company had gotten the idea that I was to arrive on Wednesday and had called to tell me they were at the airport and where the hell was I? (They didn't state it quite like this.) This meant that driver's number was in my phone and I was able to reschedule my bus.

While I wound up waiting around the Atlanta airport an extra four hours, they did decide that since it was their fault I missed my flight, they would not only automatically check me into the next available flight, but would also upgrade me to first class. Color me happy.

(Photo: Sharon, Callahan Digital Art)
Bucky in Paradise
I sat next to a girl who had emigrated from Cuba when she was 7 years old with her parents. When we met, she was 19 but she still looked like she was 12. We had a very interesting chat. In an blatant attempt to tie this into this bizarrely long introductory segment of this year's Surgeon's Tale, I expounded to her upon the wonders of Pirates in Paradise, focusing particularly on my gibbeted pirate skeleton. When Bucky, my dead and gibbeted pirate, was brought up, she didn't smile all glassily and gradually edge away from me in her seat, so I continued to explain how haunted house props were made and talked about some of the ones I have created. When I mentioned all this was on my website, she actually asked for the web address, which I gave, duly noting where the '07 Surgeon's Tale was.

To complete this almost totally irrelevant aside, I found I was the only person on the chartered bus (I expected there to be several people) and had a fascinating chat with the driver who had moved to Marathon two months ago from Vale, Colorado where he had spent the last four years as a ski bum in what he described as a "mid-life crisis." So the four hours flew by while we chatted. We were so interested in each others bizarrely different life choices that we may exchange cards at Christmas.

I did absolutely nothing of note on Monday (12/1) except pick up my bike from the fort that Harry had generously allowed me to leave there last year and try to figure out what exact spot I should position the computer in to get the really, really crappy wireless internet connection to work.

Oh, and I typed in a bunch of notes from John Woodall, whose book on Sea Surgery is much better now that I can automatically substitute s's for f's thanks to my reading of Wiseman's book. I have also rapidly learned to substitute j's for i's, u's for v's and v's for u's and am now reading Woodall at the fourth grade level.

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For those of you who want to get the most out of your PiP '08 Surgeon's Journal reading, there are thirty extra pages. Each extra page has an expanded batch of photos that didn't fit, expanded commentary and expanded, yet still often failed, attempts at humor. Extra pages are accessed by clicking on photos that contain a skull icon in one of the lower corners. I have subtly placed copies of thie icon above and below this bit of text for your reference. These pages will open in a new window or tab so you won't lose your place.

Now, I can just about guarantee that you're going to forget this by the time you get to the first one. (I can guarantee this because I always forget.) So I'm going to remind you about the skull icon when you get to the first one. After that...you're on your own.

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