Thursday, December 27, 2007

Two momentous bar-going birthday parties in three days, the latter on Christmas.

I'm taking a bit of a break.

Thought I'd post once in December. No real content here, move along.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

My Slavicist hobby continues...

I've recently read my first book in Slovak, and think it would make for an excellent translation into English.

Granted, "The Old Man and the Ocean" is a bit of a clunky title, and "Ernest Hemingway" doesn't seem like a Slovak name, but it was a compelling read nevertheless.

New hobby: trying to learn things about Sorbian!

Tuesday, October 30, 2007


...oh, is that all?

One earthquake under my belt, anyway. Well, one California one.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Pro pána krále!

Burner of Corpses was just over one hundred and thirty pages. I translated a first draft in nine and a half months. Six pages was probably my maximum for any one day.

I've done that amount of new writing in the last seventeen days. Twenty-eight more pages to go. I think I can be done in the next forty-eight hours.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Pan Theodor Mundstock

So this novel, Fuks' first, had been the bane of my existence.

Not really, but it certainly was a non-starter.

I tried a hand at it in October 2005, after I got done transcribing Burner of Corpses. Got a few pages into it.

Didn't pick it up again until October 2006. Did maybe a page, couldn't even make my way out of the first chapter. I put it on my to-do list for 2007 back in January, after a whole lot of other stuff (The Way to the Promised Land, some reading, lots of transcribing.) Did the aforementioned stuff, and then stalled.

Wrote part of one sentence on August 17. Part of the same sentence on August 19. Finished the sentence on September 1st. Managed to hack my way into Chapter 3--twenty-four pages, all told--right before I moved.

I picked it up again a week and a half ago, figuring if I did a page and a half a day I might get done by the end of the calendar year. But then it became my job for four hours a day. Eighty pages done since last Monday--eighty pages in eleven days. Forty-seven of those since Monday morning. That's four days. I've broken my own record for productivity, I think, five or six times, and certainly all four days this work week, and am about to write through my second pen.

Seventy-eight pages to go. If I keep this pace up, I'll have done a quarter of everything I've thus far translated in three weeks' time.


Tuesday, October 16, 2007

"Instantly there was a racket that sounded to the keen ears of the bloodhound like a police dog being forcibly dressed in women's clothes by a leopard, and that is precisely what it was."

James Thurber, Further Fables For Our Time.

I love Thurber, and not just because of The Thirteen Clocks He's strongly reminiscent of Čapek. Except less horticulturally inclined, I suppose, but no one's perfect.

In California, unemployed, translating up a storm, &c.

Monday, September 24, 2007

We don't know where we're landing yet, but we're definitely taking the leap. Random errands and packing today.

Montpelier--->Burlington today.
Burlington--->Ann Arbor (we think) tomorrow.

And points west.

Sorry if I've been hard to get ahold of. It's going to get slightly harder (goodbye my cell phone). I'm gonna keep writing, both for myself and for others.

To work.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Pan Theodor Mundstock

I translated originals for the first time in over five months today, rattling off a couple of pages of Pan Theodor Mundstock, and did some editing on a collection of short stories I finished transcribing, oh, a year ago?

Progress is being made. I'd like to have edited and formatted versions of the two collections of short stories, as well as a second computer draft of the novella I've just finished. All while continuing to chip away at the largest project I've yet undertaken.

This illustrates some of the problem of a massive quixotic project composed of several slightly-less massive projects running in parallel. And highlights the important fact that you really can't do multiple things at once.

No way out but through, however. We'll see what September brings.

Friday, August 31, 2007

Wheat and chaff

Casting a ruthless eye to one's library, especially in the light of a very long move, leads to some interesting discussions. What complicates things is that there are two conversations at work--what can I get rid of wholesale (and the concomitant question of "how?"), there is also "what can I take with me?" The results have been...interesting. Mostly it's a matter of giving up, grudgingly, some side interests. I don't need seven books right now on German, I need an actual desire to learn to read German.

I need one translation project text and that's it. In May of 2005 I was translating Czech with a book, my dictonary, a red pen, and the back of an e-ticket confirmation in the Vienna airport. (I still have those integrated into the notebook I'd run out of space in, naturally.) I don't now need three Čápek plays, say, even if they are Czech postwar editions, even if one is R.U.R, which I might want to read at some stage, it's just distraction. I hope this streamlining is good for productivity. (Now, don't think I'm trashing these other texts, oh no. They'll be kept.)

I guess the more I look at it, the more it's how many books I take with me, versus how many I leave behind, with an eye, to borrow a phrase, towards radical parcimony. I'm even toying (halfheartedly) with the idea of leaving my giant Czech dictionaries at home, though that would leave me at the mercy of the Internet for my word-finding needs. I might even leave some Fuks behind. That's unlikely too, but this feels like a healthy streamlining instead of a purge.

Ten more days of work.

EDIT: I think I can get everything I want to take with me, books-wise, into a single paper box. It's hurt, and it will hurt, but there's a lot of good in there. Nick, heads up that you may be getting another box of mailed books, if you're so inclined.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Finished with two things...

I put in three and a half weeks' notice at the job today, and then came home, and, after some desultory packing, finished transcribing The Way to the Promised Land . Two short story collections, the novel, and now this novella. About 160,000 words, all told.

It's a start.

Friday, August 10, 2007

If it weren't for punctuated equi,li?bri;um...

I was going to follow that title up with "there'd be no equilibrium at all" but then realized that didn't make sense. It's the equilibrium-rupturing what's important. It's the punctation that's important, for many reasons besides separating us from the e e cummingses of the world.

I'm nine thousand words into an August transcribing jag. ( The Way to The Promised Land emerges from an inchoate state) Three months of negotiations with management have left me itching to take on a landlord who is acting both childlishly and illegally tomorrow. The lease is up in three weeks, and California beckons shortly after.

So how much can I get done before then?

To work.

Monday, August 06, 2007

You know those Germans...

So evidently the middle English had a word for Prussia, a variant of the then-Middle French Pruce (currently Prusse, if my high-school French hasn't mouldered away completely). This variant was Spruce.

Whence the name of the genus of tree (whose leaves provide an emergency source of Vitamin C), and (I am given to understand) the verb and adjective, after an apparently trim and tidy "Spruce leather." Those Germans were stereotyped for their meticulous cleanliness even then, it seems.

I'm seven thousand words in to August's transcribing binge, and brought my Czech-English dictionary home from work, where it had languished lo these several months.

I daresay I'm sprucing my writing up a bit.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

UE 203 contract negotiations finished--ratification on Monday!

So I've been engaged in contract negotiations: what are our rights and protections as a union? How much money's on the table, and how do we spread it around?

After three and a half hours on Tuesday and Wednesday, almost seven on Thursday (until 11:30) and then another six yesterday (9-3) we finally hammered out a tentative agreement. It's a two year contract, we kept fully-funded single-premium health care for the life of the contract, and got some nice raises this year, and at least cost-of-living increases (if not more) for those who stick around.

Ugh. Trying to revise and update a seven-tier wage scale with a bunch of different steps with people placed on those steps in different ways back when it was a different scale the year before and trying to figure out contract language to deal with all the random situations people have worked their way into.

But we had a good committee, and no one has to deal with this for another 21 months or so. Now we just sit around and watch the daily machinations of store life show us where all the loopholes are.

It's good to be done.

Friday, July 13, 2007

A second post?

Well, it is a day off now after all. After some interesting-ish bouts with productivity, I may have inadvertently stumbled on a way to get some things done.

My afternoon:

1-2:50. Internet-based wasteland. Although I supposed I did archive a bunch of e-mail. Better strike that second sentence and refer to the first.
2:45. Mix small vodka tonic. Add ice. Have preliminary sip.
2:46-3:05. Shave, clean bathroom, make bed, shake out dog bed, wash dishes, put away dishes, rinse recyclable bottles, wipe down counter, finish getting dressed, hang up some clothes.
Now: Back to computer, lightly sipping drink.

This seems like something it would be easy to abuse (jusht one more and then I'll shweep the kitshen, I shwear!) but it seems to be working so far.

Yes, it's a worthless blog post, but it's something, and that, I feel, must be better than the nothing that was up here. Hmm. Maybe I can type a thousand words before my ice melts...

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Apologies and explanations...

To Jef and Jesse, I offer apologies for the lack of a letter. It's been a good summer, but times have been trying of late, what with the increasing stress of negotiations and the summer thunderclap that was the death of an old friend which has hit me harder than I would have thought possible.

I cannot write more right now. Nevertheless, I remain optimistic. My grandmother would have told me that everything would look better after a good night's sleep. And I look to get up swinging in the morning.

Ars longa, vita breva and all that.

To work.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Let's try something

You write me a comment and I'll mail a letter within two weeks of getting your address. The catch: you'll have to send something back within two weeks of getting something.

Also, am struggling with productivity on the Czech front. But one thing at a time.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

First the cell phone...

...and now I have my own MacBook too. Mmmmmm, laptop-y goodness. I'm trying to integrate all my writing projects (like the ones I've posed piecemeal to this blog) into nicely organized Scrivener files. (Nick, do you have the full version? Is it worth it?) and beginning to try to conceive of hosting some of my increasing collection of Fuksiana online.

Also, random music uploading and my third Finnish lesson. I suppose I must loves me my adessive case, but I mean, come on. Finnish has such a multiplicity of these things and the adessive has to be a locative "on" case, the instrumental, and the basis for indicating possession (no verb "to have") all at once? And if I have to say Mannerheimintiellä (On Mannerheim Avenue) one more time....

Saturday, April 14, 2007

If I...

If I awoke on New Year's Day as the Lord God--no, wait, that wouldn't work, the Lord God doesn't sleep--then if I awoke on New Year's Day as St. Peter, I would say: "What should I do this year for those irascible Czechoslovaks? They are such heretics, and sometimes--blast them--entirely ungrateful; but there must be some good in them. I think that their weather is too extreme; maybe that is why they are so cantankerous and stubborn. It is hot and stormy in the summer, so they grumble irritably; in the winter it's so freezing that everyone thinks only of themselves, acting like icicles to others. The climate does that. And so they don't like anything; winter is too cold and summer too hot; if something is black, it is too black for them, and if something is white, it is too white for them; never in their life is anything just right. They are accustomed to this from this weather of theirs. Wait just a moment, you tricksters, I'll show you; I'll grant you a nice bit of summer, like by the seaside; I'll give you mild winters, with snow, naturally, a little bit of snow is a good thing, and comfortable summers with sun and plenty of moisture--it would be deviltry if I didn't alter it for you. If you were milder to yourselves, your weather would be nicer; but if you don't want to start yourselves, I will do it for you. Let the Lord God help you in the New Year!

If I awoke on New Year's Day as prime minister, I would wonder greatly at that and stoke my chin, at a loss. (Aha, I would say, I have to shave.) When after a while I got used to the miraculous change in my existence, I would stay in bed for a few more minutes, as I had done hitherto as an ordinary citizen, but I wouldn't go back to sleep. I would ponder. "My word, we have the anniversary of the republic to do this year. I know what; I'll call the ministries together and say: "Boys, last year we presided over the monument to Austria; this year we have to preside over the monument to the Republic. Look, we have to put things together somehow; left and right camps, it's for the birds; the republic, it's like--a circle; how can there be a left and right wing of a circle?" Then a number of other arguments would occur to me, but I would put those off until the ministries arrive; then I would get up, making sure--for luck in the new year--that I got up on the right foot.

If I awoke on New Year's Day as the Lord Mayor of the city of Prague, I would gaze a while into the far future and then I would say: "It seems to me that that that Čapek is right; they really should have started in with that green ring around Prague. When I imagine those beautiful lanes...and the clearings for the children...and little groves here and there...well then, let's get to it."

If I awoke on New Year's Day as a millionaire and a man of the ruling class, I would say: "It's already 'twenty-eight? God, how time flies! Ah well, this year I've got to do something with my money, got to set something up in memory of or establish something, as long as it's worthwhile. It's worth some thought, but the money will be there; we will take care of that.

If I awoke on New Year's Day as a twenty year-old, I'd turn over to the other side and keep sleeping; I'd have lots to think about after New Year's Eve.

If I awoke on New Year's Eve as my puppy, I would scratch myself a bit with my back leg (having some disorderly flea on the nape of my neck) and then I would say: "This year I won't anger my master any more, I will go outside nicely, I won't scatter bones on the stairs, I will keep clean, I won't sleep on the couch, I won't run through every row in the garden. For that I would receive a cube of sugar and be immeasurably overjoyed with life.


Karel Čapek, Almanac (posthumous collection of short writings)

Sunday, April 01, 2007

It has been brought to my attention...

that my earlier post's tone may have been a bit on the confusing side.

I wasn't originally thrilled with the horribleness of Simmons' offer, but had a series of good conversations with a number of people. I accepted but deferred to the fall of 2008. This opens up options to look around--one of my new goals may be URI's library program, with its regional New England tuition. Also, it probably behooves me greatly to volunteer at libraries and look at scholarships and that sort of thing.

So Boston not so much in the foreseeable future, and maybe not at all--but that's probably for the best.

As for the moving, I've moved across town and in with someone. We're here through the summer, and then we'll see where we get taken.

It's good that the first has finally come; the mania of writing and deciding and moving was uplifting, yet draining.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Punctuated equilibrium, punctuated thoughts

I will not be attending Simmons in the fall; I am deferring. Not that I've done that yet. Though it needs to be in their hands by the end of the week. (This is not a Bad Thing; it is money-related, and hopefully opens doors for me to go work in libraries and research my options and apply for scholarships. Hell, I got into one of the best programs in the country, so I still have that going for me.)

I am planning a garden. Radishes will abound. So will weeds, probably. We shall see if I start anything from seed. I should do it soon. Peppers, maybe?

After a month's hiatus, I started translating again. Thirty-eight days straight of productivity later, I have finished another first draft. (This probably has something to do with my blogging absence--I was scared of jinxing the streak) I am up to a novel, a novella, and two collections of short stories. 150,000 words, maybe, since November of 2004. I don't want to lose my short-term momentum. I guess the editing pen must come out again.

I'm on the negotiations committee at work for full-contact, full-contract negotiations. Preliminary meetings are a bitch.

Finnish? Better not ask. (Damn, those lessons are expensive--I've only taken two, and am having fun, but haven't the time to study vocabulary. Or haven't been making enough time.)

I'm moving at the end of the week, too.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

As easy as yksi, kaksi, kolme...

It's been a positive week. Light travel (mainly to see kin), lots of sitting around writing (getting back into the translating thing, hope my first-quarter deadlines for Andrew's Czech studies can be met), lots of nice, relaxing time...

And I started my private Finnish lessons today, occasional semi-outrageous expense be damned.

Now I just wish there were a Finnish etymological dictionary within several hundred miles of here. Not that I have a tendency to get ahead of myself or anything.


Friday, February 16, 2007

"Dear Andrew,

It is my pleasure to inform you that the Admission Committee for the Graduate School of Library and Information Science at Simmons College has admitted you to the master's degree program for fall 2007."

So there's that, at least. Also, I'm on vacation for a week, and there's two feet of snow on the ground. It's been quite the last few days.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007


Nuts to all that 2 am nonsense. I'm taking the Finnish lessons (we're working on scheduling), and though I spilled a drink in my bag, causing the cheap fountain pen ink to run an inch at the centerline on my first draft of "The Way to The Promised Land," I'm off to the coffeeshop now to begin reconstructive work.

Oh, plus, I did the Penguin Plunge again. Lessee if I can rustle up any pictures.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Not a good line of thought to be having at two in the morning...

"Anyway, I was reading this arcane edition of this rather arcane mediaeval book, and I looked up, and suddenly I realised that the literary world in which I was immersed bore no relation to the one around me. It wasn't just that it was old. If I'd been reading Hamlet there might have been one or two people in the carriage who could relate. Sometimes you see pretty UCL or Goldsmith's girls reading Eliot and the like. Vergil, Beowulf, Chaucer, fine. But Reynard the Fox? At that moment I felt trapped, as if in a bubble or cocoon. I was overcome with the utter irrelevance of my intellectual life."

Italics mine. From this VUnEx post.

Replace "Reynard the Fox" with "translations of Ladislav Fuks and musings about private introductory Finnish lessons" and we're where I am right now. I would try to be defiantly proud, but that would just seem to be more isolating.

Ach běda mi!

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Quick question...

I sign up to take private Finnish lessons, even if they're somewhat expensive, right? I mean, money spent on education and all...

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

A short referát--Myši Natálie Mooshabrové

I am finally making more of a good-faith effort to read my collection of Fuks, both as a way to assimilate his oeuvre prepatory to future translation efforts and just as an attempt to keep myself in Czech input. I can stil read, and, from what I can tell by talking to myself, my spoken skills aren't going away as quickly as I might fear.

I've recently read 1970's Myši Natálie Mooshabrové, (Natálie Mooshabrová's Mice). It's a change of pace thematically for me, as there is no perspective on the encroaching Holocaust, (as in My Black-Haired Brothers, Burner of Corpses, The Way to the Promised Land, and parts of Death of a Guinea Pig). The sense of horror and alienation in a confusing and ill-defined world remains, however. We are placed somewhere in a great Czech-speaking city, a sort of alternate Prague, fleshed out only with a few almost-real placenames, in a world where flights to the moon are becoming commonplace. Even people's names add to the disorientation--the title character's long dead husband was called Medard Mooshaber and their children are Wezr and Nabule. The police drop in unannounced, every civil servant in the city is evidently independently preparing a Dies irae, strange things occur in the cemetery Natálie works in, seedy characters appear and dissapear, and the crowds in the streets gather for a reckoning and a long-practiced requiem. (I don't normally talk like this, do I?)

And this is about all anyone will get to read of it in English for some time, unless someone picks this up as a project before me, which I simultaneously would embrace and fear; it's a lengthy work, and a bit farther down on my translating list, after the novella I'm currently working on, and then his first novel, Mr. Theodor Munstock. I mean, it's not like there's just a Czech version; I've definitely found Hungarian and German translations, and there might be an Italian--I've seen it referenced by name, at any rate. Maybe 2009 or 2010, the way I've been going, for a second draft?

Monday, February 05, 2007

Follies of scheduling.

It must have seemed like a good idea six months ago when I was at the dentist's, scheduling this morning's appointments. 8 am on a Monday's perfect, right? It's not as if I knew i'd be taking a job which required me to work until nearly midnight.

Three hours' sleep? Severe wind chill advisory? A half-hour walk uphill? I am there. Ah, the things we do in the name of oral hygiene.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Trash fiction alert!

In lieu of actual content, say, about how weird Little Children is, or about translation, or how much I seem to suck at cribbage, how about a list of Clive Cussler books and whether or not I have read them!

The Dirk Pitt Canon:

(X) The Mediterranean Caper
(X) Iceberg
(X) Raise the Titanic!
(X) Vixen 03
(X) Night Probe!
( ) Pacific Vortex
(X) Deep Six [I'd forgotten I'd read this]
(X) Cyclops [Ditto--though it involves a shootout on the moon!]
(X) Treasure
(X) Dragon
(X) Sahara
(X) Inca Gold
(X) Shock Wave
(X) Flood Tide
(X) Atlantis Found
(X) Valhalla Rising
(X) Trojan Odyssey
( ) Black Wind
( ) Treasure of Khan

Kurt Austin adventures (with Paul Kemprecos)
(X) Serpent
( ) Blue Gold
(X) Fire Ice
( ) White Death
( ) Lost City
( ) Polar Shift

I have read none of the Oregon Files adventures, of which there are three or four, nothing with Dirk Pitt, Jr. (the last two in the Dirk Pitt Canon--ew) and none of the nonfiction, though there's a copy of The Sea Hunters at North Country Books.

But I have a copy of Iceberg. [Edit: Which I have read! Outrageous. I only found this out after I logged off and went to fall asleep reading it.] It's funny that I've never gotten to Pacific Vortex, given that it's first in the chronology of the canon. Plus I have a copy in Czech. *shrugs*

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Schedule Hacking

I've spent most of the last three months closing the store and getting to bed sometime between two and five in the morning. The work's OK, but it's wearing. I was up at 6:30 for the first time I can remember in a long while today; took a little walk just after sunrise, had a bit of coffee (I think I managed to quit that again, but we'll see) and some breakfast, and am enjoying puttering around in the early morning. Sure, I have to work in seven hours, but there should be time for some more accomplishment before my inevitable nap.

It's fun to play around with scheduling, given that a few months of sameness makes you think that's the only schedule you've ever had.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Now that's why they play the game.

I just watched Boise State blow an 28-10 lead and throw an interception returned for a TD with 1:25 to go to go down 35-28 against Oklahoma. Then on 4th and 18, they tied the game with a touchdown [and PAT] on the HOOK AND LADDER with seven sconds left, and after Oklahoma scored on the first play of OT, they drove for a touchdown, and then went for, and scored the game-winning two-point conversion on a STATUE OF LIBERTY PLAY. I swear I could see Bob Stoops bursting blood vessels; go mid-majors!

Glad I watched, and glad I got some translating done before I really started to pay attention to what was going on. This helps keep me in line with my scarcely-articulated resolutions.

[EDIT: Also, the Boise State running back just proposed to his girlfriend, his school's head cheerleader, on national TV after scoring that winning 2-point conversion. I mean, no pressure or anything, right?]

Monday, January 01, 2007


Happy New Year, one and all. Mine was exceptional.