Sunday, February 20, 2005


On Friday I met an old friend for dinner and for a night out. I'd had a full week; I wrote an article on new residential real estate development for the Construction News in Prague, sorted out a scheduling crisis at the Budapest Business Journal for our daily new briefing service, I taught 8 hours of classes and attended to such domestic duties as cooking and washing dishes. When I sent an email on Thursday to my old friend Gregg about getting together on Friday (an event we'd been planning for about two weeks), I wasn't exactly excited. My first wish was to go to the Synagogue for Sabbath prayers and Sabbath dinner. This is an event that has brought me much joy in the past. The smell of the ancient synagogue, dancing with the boys (no girls allowed) and the festive meal afterwards (girls allowed) replete with singing. But Gregg had inidicated that he wasn't much into the idea. And of course by the time his workday finished and he's made his trip to the Gym, it would be long after sundown and too late to welcome the Sabbath in customary fashion.

So we settled on meeting along with his live-in girlfriend Monika at a new trendy and posh Indian restaurant, Kama Sutra, owned by a friend of mine. Gregg explained the three of us would meet there and then he and I would go out afterwards.

I arrived and took a seat at the bar under the emormous wrought iron shandelier surrounded by earthtones and flame lighting. I ordered a small beer. I wanted a Kingfisher, an Indian brew, but the only beer they had was Heineken. It was the first beer I'd had in weeks. On the stool next to mine sat a brown paper bag containing the Yoga teaching manual that Lucia, my wife, had borrowed from Gregg a small enternity ago.

The meal was good enough, but not fantastic. Maybe because it was just the three of us. Monika told me about her recent experiences with veganism and macrobiotic eating. Gregg told me about how he's back to eating meat and off Yoga. He said he had been going to the gym, that he's been making a lot of business trips to Turkey. He asked me if I'd been smoking pot. I told him I hadn't.

Gregg gave Monika the Yoga manual to take home. I politely refused the organic banana that Monika offered me. Looking back, I could have accepted it and given it away later.

Gregg and I walked a bit in the coldish night air toward the massive St. Stephen's Basilica (featured in Modanna's Evita). We didn't have a proper discussion about where to go next before Gregg was on the phone with his work colleague Charles Booth. He chatted breifly with him about where to go, then asked me. As I was unable to generate an extemperaneous response we headed to "Negro", a cramped glitzy place on St. Stephen's square to wait for Charles and his girlfriend.

Things would likely have been better had we walked some more and reflected on where we might like to go or simply walked and found someplace, perhaps in the seventh district. But I was too acquiescent and Gregg was in his manager's mode, so Negro it was and soon I was surrounded by cigarette smoking yuppies of various nationalities with beat music so loud I couldn't hear myself think. After maybe an hour and a straight vodka later I was out of there to catch the last metro and bus home, picking up some kefir on the way.

I could complain about the evening, but I won't.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Entertainment of my mind

When I have the time in the mornings I walk to the tram instead of taking the bus. It's a downhill walk along tree-lined streets including once street lined with enormous beech trees. The houses are also impressive, a number of Hapsburg-era mansions among them with their red tile roofs and gold-colored exteriors. As I stroll, a story unfolds itself in my mind. The latest one is inspired by an article I read about crystal methamphetamine use in Indiana.

The article describes the murder of a little girl who witnessed some youths using meth in an apartment complex. There were also some details about the local meth trade including mention of a meth lab that exploded recently.

The story that ran through my head was about a pair of brothers, both in their twenties who manufactured and distributed crystal meth for the Indiana market. The younger one ran the lab and the older one ran the distribution business. Keith, the tall skinny red-haired lab technician, was a bookish sort who over time turned a stove top meth lab into an automated production facility in a 100 sqm basement the boys had built for that purpose. Keith spent 2-3 hours a day in the lab, changing the mixes, unloading the product and cleaning it up. The rest of the time he passed reading books, listening to jazz music, surfing the Internet, watching TV, practicing Yoga and relaxing in his Jacuzzi.

Ben, the dark-haired, bearded older brother, drove his red pickup truck once a week to a steakhouse in a neighboring town for a poker game. As the game would wind down, each player would leave at intervals, each taking a different circuitous route to one of several secret spots in the woods where they would all again convene and Ben would hand out consignments of product. This elaborate procedure had all been masterminded by Keith. The business turned a profit of several hundred thousands a year for the brothers. Neither of them used the product on a regular basis.

Friday, February 11, 2005

domestic life

This morning I was going through my morning drill, up at 4:30, shower, Yoga, breakfast, off to my first job, etc. As I was setting up my laptop to read a news story or two with my muesli, Lucia asked me if I would like to come up to the loft to make love to her. Yes, I replied, but added that I simply did not have time. In the past I used to go up and cuddle with her after Yoga, but experience taught me that my schedule tended to get thrown as a result.

It is so easy for her or you to criticise me for not being more attentive. But gee whiz, I live here in Budapest with my wife from Russia and my son who was born here and I have to pay the rent and bills and keep everyone fed. So I have to make choices. If she wants to cuddle, I'll be home later today before Eldar is home and I told her so. But honestly, with all the things on my mind in the morning and the tight schedule I have to keep it's not exactly easy to throw everything aside, take off my clothes and climb back into bed because Lucia asks me to. But she's already decided that this was some sort of a test for me, so she wasn't about to let up.

I began making my normal moves, fixing breakfast, etc. Then she threatens to cut up my clothes if I don't come to her. This wouldn't have thrown me so if she hadn't once before cut up all my favorite shirts when I hadn't come home at the exact hour she had wanted me to. (It had been early evening, by the way.)

So I climb up and embrace her for a few seconds and tell her I'll be back that afternoon and she makes some remark like "go to your Csilla" referring to my colleague at work.

Things quickly got messy.

Sunday, February 06, 2005

faster than light travel, realtime communication between stars

I've had some thoughts on breaking the "light barrier" and now may be the only time I have to write them down. Einstein, so I remember, tells us that as an object approaches the "speed of light," its mass approaches infinity. Now I have a whole heap of issues with the "speed of light" that I won't get into now. But assuming Einstein is right, and assuming this issue of infinite weight gain really is a problem, how can superluminous travel be achieved?

My knowledge of textbook physics is pretty shallow, but I'll give this a stab. And the only way to prove me wrong, remember, is to demonstrate in real time with real objects, rather that on paper or on the computer screen, that this couldn't work. Here goes:

Use your own mass as fuel to generate the power you need to fly. The more of your own mass you consume, the faster you go. This counters Einsteinian position that the faster you go, the heavier you become. So light barrier, go to heck.

How can the above be achieved with known technology? It is widely assumed that energy is stored as mass. As most scientists and logicians will tell you, the reverse is also true, mass is stored as energy. The energy evident in the movement of every electron around the nucleus of every atom is just the energy we need to both propel ourselves foreward and reduce our mass to counter Einstein's barrier.

So what we need is a conductor/transformer that will tap this energy driving the electrons and convert into gravity - gravity that could be channeled to push us forward. This latter bit exists in the form of electrogravitic capacitors. The "lifters" you can read about on the Internet demonstrate this. Their problem is they rely on such huge amounts of electricity that in order for them to rise up, they have to be plugged in to an external power source too heavy for them to carry with them. But if the above mentioned conductor/transformer were created and put to use, then there would be no need for an external power supply, for the objects own mass would serve to propel it.

The Dilithium crystal on Star Trek - the lynchpins enabling Warp Drive - is a fictional representation of this conductor transformer. In a similar way that a silicon crystal is able to convert radio waves to electricity, the dilithium crystal converts the force of electron rotation into propulsive gravity.