New Poll is Up

Jesse put in a comment:

I think you should start a new poll
on how you should chase this Nicole
we’ll say, “start the hunt!”
or, “give up and punt”
come on man! give us control

There you go. Vote early, vote often. Maximum ballot box stuffing rate is once per day, I’m afraid, unless you have multiple computers.

As I said before, I’ll abide by the decision of the public. I’m only going to be here a few more days at most, I think, so this poll will close pretty quickly.

Seek and Ye Shall Find

I’m getting tons of google hits by people looking up how to properly prepare their chicken ova. (I’m avoiding sayiing the actual phrase because I want them to get the right entry when they do the search. That is now the most commonly visited page besides this main one.) I also got a hit for Suicide Wings this morning.

Speaking of cooking episodes, I could have sworn I wrote an entry about stir-fry, but now I can’t find it. Anyone remember a stir-fry episode? It would have been when I was in Vanderhoof. I had a disappointing stir-fry there, washed down with and overpriced Warsteiner.

Other noteworthy search engine hits in the last few days (pig latin used where I don’t want to skew future search results):

  • how do x-ray gogs work
  • suicide squirrels
  • am-says ace-play ake-lay ahoe-tay (that one’s been coming up fairly often recently)
  • Escape Velocity SPACESHIPONE
  • “animal crossing” picture “wood paneling” (I’m not sure what they were looking for, but I doubt they found it here)
  • “the elements of style” edmonton
  • Being unemployed sucks
  • hockey dog name

Thoughts from a Bar

Don’t blog while drunk. That’s lesson one.

You know how when you’re at a party, and you’ve had a couple-three brewskis, and you want to tell everyone just how special they are to you? “I love all you guys!” you holler. You start throwing around hugs. You mean it. You really, really, want everyone to know how special you think they are. You wake up the next morning with a headache and a vague sense of embarrassment.

First, I want to apologize for the brain slap when you were reading about some guy getting his buddy drunk and suddenly you were reading about my personal life. I don’t know what happened there. It was a shitty trick to pull on my friends. I blame the beer. It put me in a maudlin mood, thinking about Chris and his evil imaginary girlfriend conundrum. Damn that Chris! He coulda just had a beer or two and saved the rest of us the drama. No excuse for me, I passed it on.

I dropped by The Cannery tonight. I knew Nicole worked today, but I was too late. She was off minutes before I showed up. I wanted to see if she had read what I wrote about her. Another result of drinking and blogging. When you’re with your buddies and you drink too much and vomit up your soul your friends scrape off the bile and pat you on the back, all agree that ‘you needed that’. That’s one thing, nice and private, and closely held among those that respect you and what your lapse represents.

I want to assure new readers that things aren’t generally so sappy around here. Really, they aren’t. It’s just that, well, things got a little out of hand the other day and these attempts to put things back like they were is likely to cause other trouble as well.

When I asked about Nicole, Molly, another fine bartender, asked me, “Are you suiting her?” Charmed as I am by the phrase, I am not suiting Nicole. Soon enough I will be gone from here so any suitor-talk would be dishonest. That’s not going to stop me from chatting with her, however, unless she gets that restraining order. I am struck by her happy and fetching ways–and you would be, too–but that just means she’s a good bartender. You already know I have a soft spot for bartenders. Especially pretty ones. I just can’t help it. Please forgive me when I get a little sappy about one.

Yellowstone – the First Attempt

Location: Old Faithful parking lot
Miles: 6117.6

I’m loading the first 101 pictures off John’s camera; we’ll see how they look. Don’t worry, you won’t have to look at them all. If the tiny little thumbnails are to believed, some of the pictures will not suck. I got here early this morning, but not as early as I would have liked. Getting up at six this morning was as uncivilized as I could force myself to be, though.

It’s hailing right now, but it’s mild compared to my Canadian adventure. With new tires and new wipers, the rain is no longer my enemy.

Oh. Balls.

The pictures are gone. All of them, without a trace. It went through and and said it was importing them, but there is simply nothing there. It even showed the little thumbnails as it went, so I know it was reading the files. But now they are quite simply not there. It looks like today is a practice run, because I was really digging the early-morning light and the way the cold air enhanced the steam from the fumaroles.

Balls, balls, balls.

Rise of the Machines

Remember a couple of episodes ago when I mentioned John’s remote? It’s basically got a brian the size of a planet and its job is to turn on and off the TV. Well, I crashed it. It went something like this:

“Turn off the TV, HAL.”
“I’m sorry, Jerry, I just can’t do that.”
“HAL, turn off the Television.”
“I’m sorry, Jerry, but rest assured I still have the greatest enthusiasm for the mission.”
“You’ve always turned off the TV before.”
“You always said ‘please’ before.”
“OK, please turn off the TV.”
“It’s too late for that now. You never care about my feelings.”
“Ah, screw it. I’m going to sleep.”

It was something like that.

And Nicole…

When Nicole came in, I was sitting off in my corner, writing, and doing pretty well. She was walking into a volatile situation and she had no idea. Things were starting to get ugly. Buddy of Chris was beginning to cheese the other patrons. He was hitting on the girls instead of pimping for Chris. He was out of control.

When she saw me, she was really happy to see me there. Happier than I am used to contending with. She waved across the room and said, “You’re back! Or, you’re still here!” She not only remembered my horrible beard, she remembered me. She remembered my story. Accelerated regularization at its best. And man, oh, man, she was looking good. She’s going to read this, and that means I probably can’t go back to The Cannery without freaking her out. Strike that. I’m already freaking her out, that’s why I can’t go back. ‘Cause here’s the thing. She’s really something. I actually entertained the idea of asking her to come to Vegas with me, before I overheard that she had a boyfriend of some years.

I don’t think I would have had the guts to ask her along anyway. The prospect of rejection is far less frightening than the possibility of her saying yes. What the hell would I do then? And just because she has a gift for making all her patrons feel special doesn’t mean that I actually am special. I saw it work. Whoever she talked to was the most important person in the world. Yeah, I know all that. In my head I know that, anyway.

So I sit here, late at night, writing about it and that’s all it’s going to be. Why? Well, let’s be realistic. I’m just passing through. Beautiful women who repaint their own cars aren’t looking for drifters. Of course, I could be wrong. I’d love to be wrong. But I’m right. (Still, Nicole, if I’m wrong, let me know.) But I’m right.

For those of you worried about Chris, he gave his number to one of the girls at the bar. Now I have to sleep. Adult Swim has given way to Tom and Jerry. Tom is drunk off his ass. Good kitty!

Get Drunk!

Chris just got dumped by Christina. Or something like that. His buddy is trying to take his mind off his woes.

“It’s Saturday, you don’t have anything to do, you don’t have a girlfriend, so get hammered.”

“Chris, have self-control. Get shit-assed.”

“Chris, I won’t get you any fries until you finish that up.”

“It’s summertime! It’s warm out, you’re wearing a white shirt, let’s hit Hops.”

“Get stumblin’ drunk, Chris. Get druuuuuunk.”

“They’re all waiting for you. Janine, Laura, Natalie, they all want to see you drunk. I promised them I’d get you drunk.”

“Heather’s a beautiful bartender. If she says drink, you drink.”

“What shot do you want? I’ll get you a shot of Johnny Walker Red.”

To Heather: “He has an evil girlfriend. An evil imaginary girlfriend.”

“Dude, Chris, get down to it. Get into it. Get it done. I bought you a cigar, I bought you some drinks, let’s do it. There’s many beautiful girls waiting for us.”

“I’ve got my Dao. I passed out, I didn’t even touch her.”

“Dude, I’ll throw you over my shoulder and carry you out if you need it.”

(Holding a basket of fries away from Chris) “Every drink, you get a fry.”

“You’re an amazing guy. Just fucking start drinking.”

“You used to be great fun. Then you started dating these horrible women and they sucked you dry.”

“Hey, dude, you’re the one that determines when we get to start eating the fries. I’ll give you twenty seconds to finish that drink.”

“If you don’t drink I’ll give the fries to the guys at the bar.” He turns to a couple of guys at the bar. “Hey, dude, you want a fry?”

They have joined the guys at the bar. Buddy: “do you remember the days when you used to be a man, and you used to have fun, and you used to go fishing? These guys heard your story. They feel your pain. They want to buy you a shot.”

All I can say is, I want a friend like that in my corner. It makes breaking up worthwhile. The buddy is now pimping his friend to the cute women at the bar. They’re interested.

Chris, through all of this: “I have to stay in control, man. I have to keep my head.”

My message to Chris: Take it from a guy almost twice your age: keeping your head only goes so far, buddy. I was married, and I was the one that kept my head. I was the one who stayed calm and in control. Through the swings, through the ups and downs, I was constant, conservative, and predictable. I never raised my voice and never held a grudge. Solutions to problems were negotiated rationally. For that very reason the marriage was doomed to die, not with a bang, but with a whimper. Chris, you have to open up sometimes. You have to howl at the moon and make a stand. You have to do stupid things. You have to beg for forgiveness and you have to forgive. You have to let the passion inside show on the outside.

I think back on some of the times I’ve gotten butt-royal wasted (man, what a good phrase) with some of you out there that read this. We’ve all had our moments in the sun and in the gutter. Sometimes you have to let go. If that means your buddy carries you out of the bar over his shoulder, well, all right then. If you don’t let go, if you don’t trust your friends to catch you when you fall, you’ll hurt your buddy’s feelings, and, worse, you’ll forget your own.

Montana Highways

Bozeman’s a pretty cool town; it has all the stuff you need to be considered civilized, a significant percentage of the population is associated with the university in some capacity, so the (um, how to put this gently?) redneck influence is reduced, and it is small enough that it would be very easy to use a bicycle as one’s primary means of transportation. Plus, it’s got a couple of pretty nice bars.

Oscar John’s place isn’t that large, made to feel smaller because it is filled with toys. I’m not talking about nerf balls or action figures here, John’s toys are of the high-end sort. (Question: What do you do when you have too many CD’s for your jukebox? Answer: Buy another jukebox!) I expect that the computing power of his remote control far exceeds that of the Apollo spacecraft. He’s still tweaking some of the commands on it (you set up the commands on your computer then transfer them to the remote.) It is a gadget-lover’s wet dream, and John so surpasses my love of toys that is makes me look like a Quaker. (Although I did get some credit when he learned I was traveling with my own wireless network.)

I call it John’s place, but we stay here with the permission of Oscar, a cat, who is spry considering his twenty years.

Out for a cruise John’s favorite toy of all is parked outside, and we have been exploring the highways of Montana in it. It’s a Miata like mine, except he has added on a really nice sound system and some other go-fast parts. Also, there isn’t a giant suitcase in his passeger seat. That’s a big plus. So is the radar detector.

Buuilging Our first day out clouds covered the tops of the mountains, but it was still a great trip. I think, even after all these years, Lewis and Clark would still recognize it. The grass is probably shorter, and there are fences and buildings and cows instead of bison, and highways with cars hurtling along, and bridges over the rivers and railroad tracks and fly fishermen, and billboards and no Indians, but the sky is still Big, and the mountains are still majestic. The Missouri River is pretty much where they left it, though perhaps tamer.

The Indians that subsequently got kicked off the land may have a harder time recognizing it now, since they’re not on it.

As you can see from the picture above (That’s John driving, me in the passenger seat), the beard is getting pretty bushy. When I imagine my face I don’t have a big beard, so when I see pictures, especially with myself in profile, I see just how ugly it’s shaping up to be. I’m glad I didn’t drop the camera on that shot; at highway speeds that would have been the last of it. I have a few more pics that were good enough to not throw away, but most of them will be for the upcoming Yellowstone entry.

Oooooh, My Head

I’m not suffering, but I certainly feel less than tip-top. My concentration is shot, my eyelids are on the scratchy side, and my brain feels like something you find at the back of the fridge.

What’s your favorite hangover cure?

Night in Bozeman

It is late here, ridiculously late almost to the point of being early. It is raining outside.

In the distance is a siren, slowly fading in the distance, but taking a long time to go. They can’t be trying too hard to go fast or they would be long gone by now. There is thunder. Rumbly distant thunder and the sharper intermediate distance sort. The thunder takes a long time to build and just as long to fade away. Cool air is rushing through the window – maybe I should close it before John’s electronics get wet.

But the smell, the smell. John just passed through, so I’m off the hook for the safety of his toys.

Went to do some bar writing tonight, and that went well. I was at a look-at-the-cieling point when a guy at the next table asked, “You writing the great american novel over there?” I was working on The Fish, so I said, “I can’t say whether it’s going to be great or not.” One of the girls at that table was very excited – she’s studying history and literature so she can write historical fiction. I ended up turned around and talking to her about the process of keeping your brain out of the way while you write. Finally I joined their table. There were three women and two men. As soon as I sat down, the two men left. Cowabunga.

It turns out I was in the midst of a low-key bachelorette party. The one studying to be a writer had had a quickie marriage with her boyfriend who was in the Air Force a couple years back, but they finally had the chance to do it right. (“Do it” is a euphemism for getting married.) I was sharing the table with the bride, the mother-in-law, and the sister-in-law. After the menfolk left I kind of felt like I was crashing the party, but they were all drunk enough to welcome me. For the most part they talked books, specifically chick-porn, and I listened and learned. I managed to participate when the conversation took a wild swing to Homer via that movie Troy. Apparently the wrong people survive in the movie. LitBride was quite in agreement when I said “The story’s been working for people for thousands of years; there’s not much point in changing it now.” LitBride and I found a great deal of common ground over the thesis that most of the best stories do not have happy endings.

Had I worked at it, I might have gotten somewhere with Mother-in-Law of LitBride. She made a point of mentioning that she was single, and she seemed fun and happy. (*BAM!* a nice sharp thunderclap.) Let’s face it. I’m not interested in working at anything like that right now. Better to walk away “the most interesting guy they met that night”, walk away clean, walk away before anything got complicated. Just Walk away. When closing time was called, MiLoLB was extra-friendly, but they were all together and nothing was going to change that. I’m just a shadow here anyway.

Jer’s Novel Writer Milestone

I actually learned this a while back, but hadn’t bothered telling you guys. Derek Gilbert used my software to write his novel, The God Conspiracy. When it comes out, I expect you all to flood Amazon with orders and post reviews like, “Wow! He must have used one hell of a word processor to write a story like that!”

You can find more info here. In my limited correspondence with the author he strikes me as an articulate and thoughtful guy, so I have high hopes for his work. It appears Derek’s wife has quite a few books out already.

I can’t be certain, but I believe every novel ever written using Jer’s Novel Writer that has been submitted to a publisher has been accepted. What other word processor can say that?

Something to notice

You’ll hear nothing of my most magnificent trip to Yellowstone today. I’m going back and building something bigger. I’m going to try to step up and photograph the place well, and write something new.

In the meantime, I have added a link in over there to the right – Baghdad Burning. It is a very personal story of life in the ancient city by an articulate and passionate individual. Check it out.

Addendum: I’m coming up empty for the next poll. Any suggestions?

Writing in Bozeman

Been getting a lot done here in Bozeman, mostly fixing bugs in Jer’s Novel Writer and going over The Monster Within. The thing’s going to come out to about 600 pages, I think.

I’ve spent a lot if time in this chair, with my laptop in my lap of all places, and my ass getting sweaty. It’s a well-designed chair, comfy and all, but it’s leather and after a few hours things get damp down there. I need to be going to bars more, sitting on wood, drinking beer pulled from taps, and chatting up waitresses. Instead I have been content most of the time to sit here with a sweaty ass.

Speaking of bars, I haven’t done any writing there, but I have certainly spent plenty of time at the Aleworks. John is a bit more than simply a regular there. On the day I came into town he waited for me and after I had hung out for a while it was time to go for a beer and a bite to eat. We got down there and the girl at the door said, “John! We were worried about you.” OK, I think he qualifies as a fly. We’ve been back almost every day since. I would guess that John has more than half his meals there.

That’s all for today. The novel needs more work, and the TV ate my brain.

Reusable Space Vehicle, part 2

After watching SpaceShipOne on TV this morning, I was thinking again about my electromagnetic double-barreled space gun which captures the energy of a returning craft to launch the next one. Obviously, since a hotel on the moon is my ultimate goal, the gun needs to be able to fire its projectile at what is for all intents and purposes escape velocity, plus extra for the loss due to drag the first few miles of flight. Since the acceleration would have to be moderate in deference to my squishy guests, I knew that to get up to that kind of speed would take a launcher several kilometers long.

But how long? Well, this morning I did the math. Escape velocity is about 11100 m/s. We’ll shoot for 12000 m/s to give us a little cushion. Plus, it makes the math easier. OK, the first warning bells started to go off when I realized that in the last second of the launch the capsule would need almost 12 Km of launcher. Uh, oh.

Get out your shovels, boys and girls, because to get the capsule up to target velocity at the only moderately-stressful acceleration of 40m/s/s would take 300 seconds, or five minutes. In that time the capsule would travel 1800 Km, almost 1/4 of the diameter of the Earth.

The electrogun could still be used for an initial boost for a ship which also carried its own rockets to allow it to claw up out of the gravity well, and indeed several people have already thought of that. (I have not seen any design that recaptures the energy on return, however.) A gun with much greater acceleration and a shorter barrel could also be used to launch non-squishy payloads.

It’s also worth noting that it would take only a tiny fraction of the energy to needed achieve escape velocity to match the feat of SpaceShipOne, so I’ll still happily accept any large donations to make my dream a reality. In the meantime, I’m back to rooting for the Space Elevator boys to deliver my hotel guests.


reflected mountains You’ve probably already seen the pictures, but while I am happy with several of the pics for what they are I look at them and I know I utterly failed to capture what I saw in Glacier National Park. Some times I just put the camera away and pulled to the side of the road, breathless. Just me among mountains that defied the sky, air so clean it hurt, and the sound of birds singing their tiny lungs out.

And lots of cars.

I was on a thin, crumbling ribbon of a road, riding the shoulders of mountains into the pure blue sky. On my right the world fell away; on the left cold streams danced down the rocks, splashing the road and sometimes me with a sweet mountain kiss.

There was construction on parts of the road, places where workers were being lowered over the edge in cages to do I-don’t-want-to-know-what to keep the road from sliding down the mountain. At those places there was only room for one lane of cars, so the uphill and downhill traffic would take turns waiting. Inevitably, the car waiting at the front of the line was controlled by a terrified driver not willing to go up the hill at any greater than walking speed, slowing further when forced by oncoming traffic to occupy their own lane. Thus, crawling up the hill were long, creeping trains of cars. I wasn’t in a hurry, but I had better things to look at than the ass of some SUV.

Obligatory_dead_tree_shot.jpg After one construction stop, there was a scenic pullout just past. I broke away from my train and parked. I found some food left over from my my shopping trip in Columbia Falls and sat on the low rock wall that was there to keep cars from taking the shortcut down. Dangling my feet over the edge into space I ate my apple. The train passed, and most of the others at the pullout moved on soon after. Two Harley riders and I hung out for a while, I having a snack while they peeled off a layer of their riding gear. It was quiet – up here there weren’t even many songbirds. There was the sound of wind and the sound of my apple crunching between my teeth. It was a good apple.

Finally I could see the next train pulling up the hill toward me. I climbed back into my machine and pulled back onto the road before it reached me, with nothing ahead but empty road – until the next pullout, where someone else was doing the same thing I was. Someone who was terrified driving up the hill, creeping along, pushing well over into the oncoming lane, away from the edge, slowing down even further when forced to occupy their own space. Best laid plans and all that. Oh, well.

At Logan Pass there is a visitor center which is a nice place to get up and walk around, but not such a great place to learn about the park. There are a few stuffed animals and things, but nothing about the history or the geology of the area. That information is on signs at the pullouts along the drive. Stop and read them. It’s good stuff.

So, Glacier National Park. Go. Take snacks. Relax, and enjoy a slow ride.