I think I need a napkin scanner.

Gyroscopically balanced GPS-guided motorcycles to win some contest sponsored by the pentagon. Ways to cool the London underground. Most of all, construction details for the hotel on the moon. Napkin Scanner. Naaaapkin Scanner. Yeah, that’s it.

NaNoWriMo coming

and I am ready to go. My story has crowded everything else out of my head, making me even less productive than I was while I was traveling. Is is very hard to wait till saturday to start typing.

House Still Standing

The weather cooled off today – there were even a couple of raindrops – and the wind was off the sea and brisk enough that air quality was finally good enough ride my bike. A good day.

Incredulous Rant

if he can possibly believe the things he says. His repeated mantra was that as a result of his foreign policy, the world is safer and freer.

Picture the giant exclamation point and question mark popping out of my head when he said that. China may be freer now than it was three years ago, and you could argue that Afghanistan (or, at least Kabul) has more freedom now, but we in the United States are considerably less free than we were.

And safer – he’s joking, right? RIGHT? This comes from the same administration that has insisted that we need to surrender the constitution because of dire international threats. So just what danger has been reduced? There are more countries that dislike us. There are more arab countries unwilling to cooperate with us materially to combat international terrorism. We have erected ineffective security measures all over the country so we will get the feeling that something is being done, but none of those measures do more than inconvenience the populace.

Oh, but if I’m wrong, and we are safer now, can we have our freedom back?

bad news is illegal

OK, I see where the desire of the media to use those images for their own agenda would be objectionable to the families and to the servicemen themselves, but you can’t help but wonder about the timing. Never has an administration been in the position of sacrificing the lives of Americans at such a rate in a war that is ostensibly over. I would love to see Wolfowitz explain to the mothers of those slain servicemen how the sacrifice of their loved ones was worthwhile as it furthered his personal vendetta against Iraq. The dude was jonesing to go over there long before 9/11. Before that day, his opinions were being sidelined. After that day, his agenda became US policy, over the objection of many cabinet members. It will take us decades to repair the damage he has caused.

Where was Bush? You don’t really think he’s making the decisions, do you?

La Dolce Vida

Right now I am sitting in my back yard in a lounge chair, one dog in my lap, the other sitting in the sun nearby, on a cloudless sunny day in late October. The wireless network has a good signal out here, and I have been working on my word processor and exchanging emails all morning. The screen is a little dimmer than I would like, and the fridge is a long way away, but those are quibbles.

This is really, really nice.

Addendum 4/10/04:
To all you people who got here because of the inexplicably high position Google gives this rather mundane blog entry when one searches for “la dolce vida”, welcome! Try the main page, and see what’s going on with my homeless tour, or put in your $0.02 on one of my Get-Poor-Quick Schemes. Perhaps you have a crackpot idea of your own to share. What fun!

NaNoWriMo Plan-O: Let it Snow, Let it Snow, Let it Snow!

I read a bit on a site by a software engineer/writer who had a system that really made sense to me, called the snowflake process. I have started to use it to plan my November novel and it has already paid great dividends. It has forced me to pay attention to the parts of the story I had been glossing over in my mind, and I was surprised at how easily ideas came once I forced myself to address them. There was a big hole in the middle of the narrative, and now I know (in a very general way, to be sure) how I’m going to fill it.

Cool.

Better Get Hoppin’

before someone aces me out. I saw another plan for a moon hotel, designed (like all of them) to look cool FROM THE OUTSIDE. Aye, yi, yi. So far no one seems to be considering making the place the best experience possible for the guests.

I’ll try to put together a description of my plan and put a link to it here. Multi-billionaires looking for and investment may contact me directly.

By the way, the astro-jump concession has already been spoken for.

Air Show This Weekend

A B-2 went over a few minutes ago while I was out back with the dogs. They were unimpressed. I thought about going; watching those things take off and land is a visceral experience, and hell, I’ve paid tens of thousands of dollars to build those things; I may as well get something out of it.

Of course, Santa Ana winds started this morning, so it will be hotter than hell out there on the tarmac at Miramar MCAS. I think that’s God saying “stay home and work on your resume instead.” After all, if I don’t get another job real soon, who’s going to pay for the next batch of planes?

Scratch one cat

It’s pretty common for me to hear the coyotes partying late at night, but last night was unusual because they invited a cat to the affair. The cat must have been cornered or surrounded, because it put up a fight for quite a while but did not escape.

Spike and Lefty were very interested in going out to join the fun, their tiny dog brains not capable of understanding that they would not last nearly as long as the cat. I closed the glass door before the end, for my own peace of mind and to keep the boys from tearing through the screen. For all I know the cat finally got away, but I doubt it.

Why Czech will never be the language of the world

One day I was out on my own and wrote down all the phrases that I had wished I could have been able to say that day. On that list I had asked why sometimes ‘water’ was ‘voda’, as in dobra voda meaning ‘good water’, and why sometimes it was vodu as in jednou vodu, meaning ‘one water’ when asking for another water.

Mariana went through my questions and answered all but that one. When I asked her the next day why it wasn’t jednou voda she looked at me and said, “Because voda is the infinitive.” I blinked a couple of times and said “Infinitive of a noun?”

Yes indeed. There are seven forms of each noun, although form 2 and form 4 are usually the same, and the difference between them is apparently meaningless in English. I’m used to the idea of masculine and feminine nouns, but conjugating nouns? In Czech, and presumably Slovak and maybe others, nouns are either masculine, feminine, or neutral. There are seven standard patterns for conjugating masculine nouns, four for feminine, and four for neutral. As far as I know there is no way to tell by looking at a noun what gender or pattern to use. You just have to know.

I’m guessing that when a Czech parodies a foreigner, they always use the infinitive form of the noun. I bet it’s friggin’ hilarious.

A Czech Tale

The first night we stayed with Marek (pronounced marrrk), and there is a story there, but not the story for today, children. It ended at 6 am with a long cab ride. Ask me for the story of Marek’s parents some time over beers. Weird.

So a couple more nights like this follow, and Phil and I are feeling pretty run down. We decide to head over to Telc (pronounced teltch), as it is a very nice little traditional czech (pronounced check) town with a very old town center. Phil (pronounced fill) called his focus-puller and cameraman friend Tomas (pronounced toMAHSH – it would be more obvious if I could type the accent marks) to see if he wanted to come out and play. He replied that he could join us for a while, but that he had been up all night playing bluegrass music with his old band, and he was very tired, so couldn’t stay out late. Whew! An easy night at last.

We met up with Tomas and his girlfriend Dasa (pronounced dasha) in the town square, and went to the restaurant owned by a friend of Marianna’s (probably not really spelled that way) named Ivan (pronounced eeVAHN). Dasha was heading back to Prague that afternoon, and once she was gone Tomas seemed much more interested in hanging out. He cancelled plans to go and edit a documentaty he is working on and invited us over to his house. Uh, oh (pronounced here we go again).

At his house we met his parents, who were really very cool. They gave is beer, and after a little conversation Tomas’s mother complained that we weren’t drinking them fast enough. Tomas and his father played some music for us, and dad showed us some of the american folk and bluegrass albums he had collected quite illegally during the communist times.

After a while Mom came back from the kitchen with some sausage and bread and cheese, a traditional czech snack. The sausage had been made from wild boar by a friend of theirs only the day before. I’m no sausage expert, but this was pretty tasty. Then dad got up and came back with a vodka bottle. Not to worry, he quickly said, this was not vodka but slivovitce (pronounced, more or less, SLEE-vo-vit-seh), a drink made from plums (was it plums? it’s all so hazy now) and very alcoholic. This had been made by a friend of his. It was pretty tasty, but I had to be careful – if I let my guard down for a moment, my glass was refilled. There was some other really sweet cherry booze that we tried also, but apparently it’s purpose is to give the women something to sip while the men drink their slivovice. Talk about your good hosts. There was also plenty of good conversation, with Tomas and Phil being very diligent with translations.

Well, of course after that there was nothing Tomas wanted more than to go out drinking. We went to a little bar near the center of town (the town is small enough that almost everything is hear the center of town), and bellied up to the bar. Tomas is the only czech I have been with that even considered sitting at the bar. Tomash was barely staying awake until a bunch of women showed up. Nothing came of that, but that got him going again and then there was the whiskey… It’s hard to find good scotch in the czech republic, but that night we did. We had a good time discussing movie stuff – My brother (for my sake) and Tomas (for his own) thought it would attract the women over to us if we were talking like we were going to film a movie in town. Of course it didn’t work, but we did come up with a really good steadycam shot involving two cranes and all kinds of people moving around. (Apparently cable cams aren’t good for shots that require tight sound synchronization. Who would have thought?)

So there you have it, just another day in Cesky Republiky (prounouced Cheskie rePOOblikie).

Jerry (pronounced jerry)

Another bad idea

While traveling around the Czech Republic, it occurred to me that all the postcards of the attractions were aerial views. That got me to thinking, and when I start thinking you know there will be blimps in the picture somewhere. So…

What if there was a tour company that took people all over Europe by blimp? It would be a big ‘ol blimp with enough room that the passengers could sleep in comfort and dine in style, and it would mosey about the countryside from one attraction to another. It would be a cruise ship of shorts.

Getting people on and off the blimp is an issue, of course, but with a big enough blimp you could have a hangar and a small plane to ferry people up and down.

Not much fun on a windy day, though, and who knows how people would feel about a giant blimp blotting out the sun?

Guess I Should Plug the Software

– not getting stuck on some detail or having t go back and find something you wrote somewhere a hundred pages ago, and inevitably editing instead of getting new ideas down. Of course, when the time comes to edit, you want to be sure you find all the places you weren’t sure about the first time you wrote them. If you’re not sure you will find the trouble spots later, you won’t be able to let them go for now.

Key features are:
– Outline that grows with your work, or you can use to define the parts of your story ahead of time.
– Character database where with two clicks you can store character names and descriptions for later reference.
– Margin notes so you can jot something down next to text you want to revisit later. This is an amazingly handy function.
– Regular note panel so you can remember the last time you ate.
– It actually knows what a chapter is (or whatever organizational structure you want to use).
– Better performance than most word processors for really, really big documents.
– More accurate page count.

If you are interested in the software, drop me a line. Man, I dig those margin notes.

Jerry For President

The obvious question is “Why the hell would you go and do something like that?” I simply couldn’t find anyone to vote for who would put my interests over those of big campaign donors. I am accepting absolutely no campaign contributions, and I hope to get a few votes. Most of all, I get to call George Bush a moron and an embarrassment to our country in a constructive, political manner.

The name of my party is Not For Sale.