Saturday, February 2, 2008

A solid UFC PPV event

We gathered tonight to watch the UFC Pay-Per-View event, and it was a solid one, as most have been over the last few years. The highlight for me was Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira showing amazing heart and incredible Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu skill to submit Tim Sylvia early in the third round and win the heavyweight championship. Nogueira took a great deal of punishment, as he typically does, but he walked out triumphant.

On the writing front, I continue to progress far more slowly than I would like. I fear I must rework my schedule yet again to make more time. My current rate is unacceptable. Back to it.

The crazy clock

Every night about 10:00, our dog, Holden, comes into the den, plops onto a pillow, and begins the nightly spaz routine, an always different sequence in which he flips onto his back, wrestles with the pillow, kicks, stretches, moans, and generally turns into a complete loon.

Every night about 2:00 a.m., our cat, Lyra, leaps onto the floor of the den and begins her nightly spaz routine, another constantly varying display of strange behavior, in this case centered on menacing dust molecules, invisible air demons, and so on.

I've come to believe that in each of their cases some built-in crazy clock has sounded the alarm and made insane behavior suddenly normal and desirable.

Once you accept the notion of the crazy clock, you have to ask the obvious question: do people have it? If so, is it okay for them to heed its siren call?

Crazy clocks may well be the source of a lot of the world's strangeness. I certainly wish some folks would learn to find the off switch for theirs.

No doubt the crazy clock gene will appear soon. No doubt.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Home again

Today was a travel day, the kind of travel day that grabs you by the throat and says, "Welcome to the packing plant, Meat!"

The best part of the day was not having to get up insanely early. I time-shift to new time zones pretty much instantly, so for me the wake-up call came too early, but at least I had almost seven hours of rack time. Sweet.

The San Francisco Airport Authority some years ago decided that returning rental cars was entirely too easy. Millions of dollars later, the process is now sufficiently complicated that if you miss one sign, you can end up in Reno--where they'll charge you an extra fee for the car return.

After overcoming this challenge, we rode the airport train the many stops to our terminal, waited to check in, waited for security, waited for what proved to be a passable lunch at a taqueria, and waited to get into the Admiral's Club. Sense a theme?

Our flight to DFW was late due to weather. When it arrived, it was a classic case of spam in a can--and we were the spam. The large, obnoxious man in front of me leaned back so far I had to work by holding my laptop open in a V in my lap and reaching inside it, but I did finish some work.

We pulled up to the gate at DFW a luxurious 30 minutes before our flight to RDU was to take off. Much speed-walking through the terminals and AirTrain riding later, we made it to our next flight--where we were again the spam.

To my pleasure and amazement, we landed on time, our luggage arrived, and I've finished my writing for the day.

Circumstances conspired to stop me from working, but they failed. Life's small victories are victories nonetheless. I hope your day included a few.

Thursday, January 31, 2008

A few Bay Area observations

Like most major highways in overcrowded metropolitan areas, US 101 will never be finished.

All states should require SUV buyers to take remedial turn signal usage classes before they can leave the parking lots with their new wagons of highway destruction.

Half Moon Bay is still amazingly beautiful.

Mezza Luna still makes some of the best gnocchi I've had. On a cold night, its gnocchi in gorgonzola cream sauce is the kind of tasty warm goodness that makes you happy.

If you haven't driven the steep San Francisco streets, trust me: they're worse than they look in the movies.

My comb is older than yours. (Okay, that has nothing to do with the Bay Area, but it's true nonetheless.)

He who is blogging is not working on his novel. (Another one that's true but unrelated to this area.)

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Snapshots from a day

A drive down 101 into the heart of Silicon Valley, traffic as heavy as rush hour at home--but it's just before noon and light for here.

Lunch with a client at an Armadillo Willy's. We're not in Austin, but this is pretty darn good 'que.

A drive back up 101 during rush hour--an ordeal that took over two hours and culminated with 101 being closed due to an accident. I love the weather here, and many amazing tech companies call this area home, but I'm happy to live where I do.

I have to give credit to our rental Kia, a brand I generally disdain, for handling well all driving to date. Its horn, though, cries out, "I have a tiny penis!" Think the sound you'd hear if you stomped on a rat's testicles.

Tokie's, a restaurant we frequented when I was coming to this area monthly, still makes tasty sushi. I have an irrational fondness for the place and recommend it.

East Coast or West, I end up working too late and sleeping too little. I sense a pattern.

And a book that calls to me to work on its outline!

Tuesday, January 29, 2008


At lunch today I took the time to run out to the Pancho Villa Taqueria, a bustling place in downtown San Mateo. A co-worker introduced me to this place almost a decade ago, and on one of my early visits she suggested I try a sweetened fruit drink, the Mandarina, that they make on the premises.

I was hooked.

I've never been able to get it anywhere else. Very frustrating.

Today, I drank an extra large, as I always do when in town, then regretted it for the next several hours, as I also always do, as my belly coped with the sheer volume. Of course, the al pastor super burrito I consumed--their burritos are also top-notch--didn't help the volume issue.

If you're in the area, go back to Third Street and up a couple of blocks to M is for Mystery, a fine independent bookstore where the staff know their stock, read and love their books, and take pride in that knowledge. I dropped way too much money on books I could have ordered cheaper online, but I felt good supporting the place. I also tried to talk one of the owners, Ed Kaufman, into carrying my Jon & Lobo books, which I think fit the thriller mold while also being SF. Ed said he'd give One Jump Ahead a look if I sent him a copy; I must remember to do that.

Back to writing, from which I have now strayed too long.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Travel day

I got up a little after eight, still groggy from having less than four hours of sleep, and showered and headed to the airport. Travel was the usual joy, though this time the free bandwidth in both the RDU and ORD Admiral's Clubs worked without a hitch. The flight from ORD to SFO was over an hour and forty minutes late, but I spent the time in comfort and finished some work, so I have no room to complain.

Once upon a time, you'd land in an airport, grab your bag quickly, catch a rental car shuttle, and get your car. In SFO, you go down an escalator, wait a half hour or so for your bag, go up two escalators, walk a couple of blocks, go up another escalator, ride a train for ten minutes, stand in the rental car line, and eventually get your car. You then follow a course plotted by a drunk trying to draw concentric circles, and if you're lucky you end up heading to your destination. Today, I enjoyed that process--in the rain. Big fun.

Dinner actually was fun and tasty, because it was at one of my Bay area eating traditions: Max's in Burlingame. I should have demonstrated better self control, but I couldn't resist the patty melt, which is one of the best of its type anywhere.

I'm actually typing bits into the Overthrowing Heaven outline, so I feel vaguely better about the book. Of course, I'll feel a lot better when I'm actually writing it--for a while. Then the dread will come, and the cycle will repeat, as it does.

But I gotta write, so I will. And at least right now, I think this one is going to be good.

Back to it.


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