Wednesday, June 27, 2007

I'm Not Gonna' Make It, But...

An update on my book progress.

Since Tuesday a week ago I've completed six chapters. This week I'm out of town on business until tomorrow night, so I'll be lucky to get another chapter done.

There's no way I'm going to meet my original goal of having a first draft done by the end of the month, but I think it was a good catalyst to get me crankin'. The new goal is July 15, which I think is doable.

Now it's off to meet a friend for dinner.


Badaboom Badabing...

Friday, June 22, 2007

All Alone in San Antone...Sort Of

Well, I'm all alone in San Antonio...at least for the next hour or so while my wife treats herself to a facial at a local spa. Figured it would be a good time to sit in Starbucks, have my morning espresso, and do this post.

I am sorry to report that I have no interesting bar stories to share...yet. Simply because I haven't been in a bar...yet. But, the weekend is just beginning.

I do, however, have a little story about my flight here a few days ago.

The wife flew in before me so she could catch up with some friends and family. I flew in alone on Wednesday. Long trip. Full trip. Tight trip. Hot trip..but not in a good way.

I can see why Southwest Airlines is one of the few making money. There wasn't a single empty seat on either leg of my flight...and that's where the story begins.

I'm lucky enough to snag an aisle seat near the front of the aircraft, which is my first choice. So far, so good. On the first leg of the trip, the people who sat next to me were average in size, so the trip was pretty comfortable. So far, so good.

On the second leg the crew announced that all seats would be occuppied. A bit of gray portending clouds on the horizon, both literally and figuratively. The woman who was sitting in the middle seat next to me on the first leg slipped over to the window seat. I jokingly remarked "Let's pray for a skinny one." She looked at me like I had a big green booger hanging out of my nose...so I guessed she either wasn't religious or she was a travel newbie.

People started boarding, and I kept a discreet but watchful eye for the point in time when passengers kind of pause to look for seats closer to the front of the plane rather than just going for the rear. My goal was to attract the attention of a no-more-than-average-sized person and offer the middle seat. So, each time such a person came near I would try to make eye contact, stretch and yawn to visibly attract their attention, etc., etc.

This failed to work, but there appeared to be a bright side. Everyone had moved past my row, and no new passengers were entering, so I thought maybe I lucked out and the middle seat would be empty. So far so good.

"That seat available?"

A woman, who had approached from the rear of the plane was standing in the aisle next to me. Apparently she had gone to the rear, found no seats, and worked her way back to the front.

I stood up and stepped into the aisle to let her get to the seat. Did I mention she was large? Yup, to say she'd weigh in at 250 would be extremely complementary. And she was only about five foot six. Think about it. Five-six, two fifty plus. Are you getting an image of short and wide? Very wide? Like in brick shithouse...very wide brick shithouse? Okay then, I'll continue.

I slip back into my seat, fasten my seat belt, continue reading my book. But I notice she's trying to get the attention of the flight attendants...probably to get one of those seat belt extensions. Then I also notice that her head is higher on her seat back than mine is, which is strange because I'm several inches taller than she is. She kept leaning forward, her head touching the back of the seat in front of her, then she'd lean back and try (unsuccessfully) to sit straight up, and then repeat the leaning, etc. I pondered this for a good three or four minutes.

Then the sound came. A little "thwoosh" sound. And a little, barely audible, sigh of relief from her. And all of a sudden her head was almost level with mine.

Now in case you're having trouble visualizing what happened, let me spell it out. She tried to squeeze into the middle seat, but she was so wide her body couldn't fit between the armrests. So, she just kind of sat there, suspended between the armrests, contorting her body until her flesh gave way to gravity and she was wedged into her seat. Wedged in so tightly that she couldn't sit up straight, so she spent the entire flight leaning forward.

Oh yeah. And her flesh also expanded sideways, up and over the armrest...and into my seat space. So I had to lean into the aisle...for two and a half hours. Oyyy, my aching back.

And then the heat came. Body heat. Sweaty body heat. Sweaty body heat you could feel all the way into the aisle. And she kept dabbing herself with a handkerchief. Her face. Her neck. And, errr, yes...her armpits.

I guess it could have been worse...she could have dropped the handkerchief on me. And, at least she helped prepare me for the heat and humidity here in Texas. :-)

Come to think of it, I probably should have joined my wife at the spa this morning to get a massage and work the kinks out of my back.


Badaboom Badabing...

Monday, June 18, 2007

How Did We Ever Survive?

Someone sent a version of this to me over the weekend and I thought I'd share it here.

This is post is dedicated to all the kids who survived the following:


  • First, we survived being born to mothers who may have smoked and/or drank while they were pregnant. They took aspirin, ate blue cheese dressing, tuna from a can, and didn't get tested for diabetes.

  • Then after that trauma, we were put to sleep on our tummies in baby cribs covered with bright colored lead-based paints.

  • We had no childproof lids on medicine bottles, doors or cabinets and when we rode our bikes we had no helmets...not to mention the risks we took hitchhiking.

  • As infants & children, we would ride in cars with no car seats, booster seats, seat belts or air bags.

  • We drank water from the garden hose and NOT from a bottle.

  • We shared one soft drink with four friends, from one bottle...and NO ONE actually died from this.

  • We ate cupcakes, white bread and real butter and drank koolade made with sugar, but we weren't overweight because...WE WERE ALWAYS OUTSIDE PLAYING !

  • We would leave home in the morning and play all day, as long as we were back when the streetlights came on.

  • No one was able to reach us all day...and we were O.K.

  • We would spend hours building our go-carts out of scraps and then ride down the hill, only to find out we forgot the brakes. After running into the bushes a few times we learned how to solve the problem.

  • We did not have Playstations, Nintendo's, X-boxes, no video games at all, no 150 channels on cable, no video movies or DVD's, no surround-sound or CD's, no cell phones, no personal computers, no Internet or chat rooms...WE HAD FRIENDS...and we went outside and found them!

  • We fell out of trees, got cut, broke bones and chipped teeth...and there were no lawsuits from these accidents.

  • We ate worms and mud pies made from dirt...and the worms did not live in us forever.

  • We made up games with sticks and tennis balls or whatever else we could find laying around...and...although we were told it would happen, we did not put out very many eyes.

  • We rode bikes or walked to a friend's house and knocked on the door or rang the bell, or stood at the back door and just yelled "Hey, Billeee"

  • Little League had tryouts and not everyone made the team. Those who didn't had to learn to deal with disappointment. Imagine that!!

  • The idea of a parent bailing us out if we broke the law was unheard of...they actually sided with the law!

  • If we didn't make the school team...or if we did, but didn't get to play much...our parents never went to the coach or the administration and whined!

  • We had freedom, failure, success and responsibility, and we learned...HOW TO DEAL WITH IT ALL!

If you survived any of these you were probably born between 1930 and 1970...CONGRATULATIONS!!

These generations have produced some of the best risk-takers, problem solvers and inventors ever!

You might want to share this with others who have had the luck to grow up as KIDS, before the lawyers and the government regulated so much of our lives for our own good.

And while you are at it, forward it to your kids so they will know how brave (and lucky) their parents were.

Kind of makes you want to run through the house with scissors, doesn't it?!


Badaboom Badabing...

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

And Another One Bites The Dust

Oh what a good boy am I. I just finished another chapter of the novel. Maybe Friday's post was a good thing.

I'm really getting back into the story. I only wish I didn't have to work the next two days so I could devote more time to it.

So now, to celebrate, it's off to Ristorante Tuscany to have some grilled octopus.

Don't say yuck...it's delicious...and no...it doesn't taste like chicken.

Another Bar Story...This One's For Duke

Yeah, yeah, yeah. I know I probably spend too much time in bars, but if I didn't where would I get all these stories to share?

Actually, I wasn't going to post about this until the weekend, since I should be working on my book, but after reading my friend Duke of Earle's post today about his trip to Austin, I figured he could use a story.

I'm in Chicago (actually a suburb of) this week. Last night I tried this place for dinner and, as usual, decided to sit at the bar and eat (see...I don't just go to these places to drink). It was packed and I figured there was a good chance of getting into one of my usual discussions with people. As it turned out, I was more of an observer this time.

So I'm sitting at one end of the rectangular-shaped bar. Right about in the middle of the bar are three twenty-something Hispanic girls sitting with a guy...two to his left, one to his right. The one to his right was extremely overweight...we're talking 200-pounder...and she was taking turns giving me the eye and talking with the guy, which I have to admit was flattering considering our age difference. After half an hour she got up and went home to take care of her babitas. One of her girlfriends then turned her attention to the guy.

Did I mention that they were pretty drunk? And, they spoke perfect English, no trace of an accent until they got really shit-faced.

Anyway, I couldn't hear all the words in the conversation because the place was pretty loud (ahem...not that I'd ever eavesdrop), but I (and everyone else at the bar) did catch a few of the phrases she shouted over the roar of the crowd:

"Fuckin' Sox rule!" (the Sox game was playing on the tv)
"I probly shouldn've beat my fuckin' daughter so much..."
"I used to beat her fuckin' ass so much man..."
"I grew up in New York City, man. You don' know shit. You grew up in a fuckin' white bread box, man..."
"Are you Norte Americano, or are you just gay?" (to the Hispanic guy stocking the bar with fresh glasses)

Meanwhile, her other girlfriend, who was even drunker, was talking to the air. I couldn't hear what she was saying, but the bartender had to tell her to be quiet several times. She started looking left and right, a mean look on her face, like she was looking for someone to start a fight with. The blondie girls to her left turned their backs to her, I guess so they wouldn't make eye contact. Finally, she called someone on her cell phone and started cursing at them.

The guy talking with the child beater got his check and left. The child beater went running after him. Just as he pushed through the revolving door I heard him yell "No way," to which she replied "Why the fuck not?"

Right about that time the Jimmy Buffet song "Why Don't We Get Drunk And Screw" popped into my mind. I was tempted to start singing it, but feared it might make me her next victim, so I decided to hold my wise-ass tongue.

She then returned to her seat and proceeded to argue with her girlfriend. By this time, the bartender was ready to cut them off, and asked if they needed a ride home. They didn't like that at all, and insisted that they were okay to drive. The bartender pushed to let her call them a cab.

"Fuck you. I'll get my own fuckin' ride, fuck face."

A guy shows up, and one of the girls starts slobbering all over him. Turns out he was going to drive them home. They had a few more drinks and left. As they were leaving they passed by two elderly guys and decided to hit on them.

"Hey man, you like whad you see?"
"Hey man, you wan' some a this?"

The guys just turned away from them and continued their conversation, to which one of the girls replied:

"You don' know whad you missing, man. Whad', you no like some chica poosie?"

The last thing I heard their male friend say was "You better not puke in my car."

As soon as the chicas left, the blondies who had been sitting next to them started gossiping like a bunch of barbie bitches.

Oh, and I stopped for a drink at another place on the way back to my hotel...and there's another very different story there. But, that's another post.

Now I need to get back to the novel...before I head out again tonight.


Badaboom Badabing...

Monday, June 11, 2007

Progress-to-Date

I decided that I'd try to post every day or every other day with a summary of my progress. I'm hoping that's motivation enough to keep writing.

I played hooky this weekend, but knocked off two chapters today, and started a third which I will finish tomorrow.

So far so good.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Maybe Worth a Shot...

This is not my usual type of post but, what the hell, maybe it'll help.

I've been working on this novel for the last several years. Too many years! It's just a personal little project to help myself explore whether I've got even a smidgen of creativity mixed in with all the technical skills I've accumulated over the decades. I only half care if it ever gets published.

In the past, I've sometimes let working on the book go by the wayside for up to six months before I get back to it. I really want to finish it. I'm about halfway, maybe a little more, finished at this point. So, I've set myself a goal to finish the first draft by the end of this month. Ambitious? Yes. Make that a friggin' yes! Reaching the goal will require me to complete 20-30 chapters, meaning I'll need to write an average of 1+ per day (aren't you awed by my mathematical prowess), roughly. My chapters average 3-5 pages, so they're more like scenes, and I've got about a dozen of them kind of identified already. I think 150 pages may be doable (is 'doable' even a word?)...if I can stay focused. Believe me, staying focused is the big problem.

Anyway, I got the idea that if I posted about this maybe some of you will brow beat me inquire about my progress and it might help me to stick to it. Figured it might be worth a shot.

Now, it's off the blogging and back to making stuff up...

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Like Brother Like Sister...Or Vice Versa

I got the inspiration for this post as I was making a comment over at Viki's blog. It's amazing how the mind bubbles up some interesting memories...things you've totally forgotten about. This one was from about ten years ago.

At the time, my son was a very heavy duty tennis player. I won't go into details...suffice it to say he was highly ranked in the USTA junior program. Anyway, some friends in New York gave him a standing invitation to play at their country club anytime he was up visiting. So, one Sunday when we were up there he went over to play.

After about half an hour a pretty sizable crowd started to gather and watch since no one had seen him before and since, with his ability, he definitely stood out.

Then along comes my sister...proud aunt that she was. She hadn't watched more than a minute when she began jumping out of her chair to cheer him on. A few of her more memorable words of encouragement:

"Kill the bum!"
"Ram it down his throat!"
"Knock him on his ass!"
"No mercy!"
"Take no prisoners!"

There were a few more but I think I'll stop right there...though I still can't figure out how you knock someone on their ass in tennis. ;-)

Do I even need to say that she stood out as well...but in a different way?

So, being the ever dutiful father, brother, friend, and to spare everyone any further embarassment, I gently informed her that tennis spectator etiquette is a little different than in other sports. For example, clapping is permitted, but only if you clap for both opponents (she didn't like this one), and the occasional "ooh" or "ahh" is tolerated (this was a real test of her self-discipline)...and that's about it.

Fortunately...for everyone...she was a fast learner and complied.

Now, what I thought was kind of funny about this incident is that just a few years before it happened, when I went to my son's first tournament, I have to admit that I was almost a clone of my sister. Luckily, a friend sitting in front of me gently...and quickly...taught me the proper etiquette.

Ciao for now.

Badaboom Badabing...

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Heuristic Cyclic Path Algorithms in Stochastic Neuro-Optical Networks

Okay, Okay, I couldn't resist waxing a bit academic, so I just made up that title. But I think this reading test is pretty cool.





Grt txe pykutre?