Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Sheild Of Lies Review

Shield Of Lies (Black Fleet Crisis Trilogy #2)
by Michael P. Kube-McDowell

Review By: Neil Richard

Rating: 2.5 out of 5

Lando – Lando gets his behind kidnapped (or shipnapped) by the living ship. He, Lobot, 3PO, and R2 get stuck in the living ship. They eventually learn that the ship is semi-sentient (smart enough to defend itself, not smart enough to communicate with). While wandering around inside, they discover a string of rooms that turns out to be a history of the previous owners. Their status is still undetermined at the end. I do love the interaction of Lando and Lobot. I’m starting to wonder if these two are sorely under-represented in the books.

Luke – Luke is off galavanting around the galaxy trying to find his mother. While we now know who his mother is (Padme), we learn about where his mother came from. This is probably my biggest gripe about the book, the big discrepencies between the book and the movies. Obviously they didn’t know about the movies when they wrote the books, but it still bothers me.

Leia – Leia is again the strong female lead, just as she was in the movies. It is nice to see her in a few family settings, but this book isn’t really about her family, so I can see why there isn’t much of it. It’s also nice to see her come back to the strong leader that she is once she sees the error of her previous decision to not fight the bad guys.

Again, it’s nice to see a well written book. It lacks a bit more than the first book, but most often the second book in a series is.

The review is also available in Word and PDF.
© 2006 Productions

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

The Chuck Norris Rap

YouTube - The Chuck Norris Rap

It doesn't get any better than this on the last day of tax season.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Before The Storm Review

Before The Storm (Black Fleet Crisis Trilogy #1)
by Michael P. Kube-McDowell

Review By: Neil Richard

Rating: 3 out of 5

Finally. A decent book. Not too heavy on the action, but full of intrigue. Lots of twists and turns that kept me on the edge of my seat.

The New Republic is approached by an outside group to join together as equals. Unknown to Leia, the real plan is to set-up the New Republic and begin the domination of their area of space.

Leia seems to think everyone (including Han) is conspiring against her to force her into resigning. The good news is she sees what’s actually happening in the end and takes action.

Short review but a good read. Check it out.

The review is also available in Word and PDF.
© 2006 Productions

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Death On Naboo Review

Death On Naboo
by Jude Watson

Review By: Neil Richard

Rating: 3 out of 5

I’m starting to get so confused with the timeline in Star Wars. And I’m about to the point of just giving up.

With Death On Naboo, Watson continues to shell out some decent writing. She’s done well in the past and continues to show her skills in writing good books for kids. In this one (which appears to be the last of the Last of the Jedi series), the same crew tramps around Coruscant and a slave world, all in an attempt to fight the Emperor and Darth Vader.

It all ends well and it appears the birth of the Rebellion is organized by this motley crew. While they may not be strong characters at times and the action may be a bit weak, the overall plot is decent and, as with many young adult books, is easy to read.

The review is also available in Word and PDF.
© 2006 Productions

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Foxtrot strikes again

First, apologies to Bill Amend for using his material.

Second, I've been a fan of Foxtrot for several years now and I've always loved the little tidbits Amend has included from time to time. From TIE fighters in the background to blatent puzzles, I'm always laughing at Pete, Paige, and (especially) Jason.

In honor of Amend's great work, I've taken the liberty of coloring in his latest puzzle. If you're a math nerd (or a compulsive counter like me), you'll enjoy this.

Here's the original strip.

After a bit of work (about 3 hours).

Finally finished (total time was about 5 hours - which happens to be a prime).

And after a bit of PhotoShopping (more like PhotoChopping), I got this.

Enjoy fellow nerds!

Note - For those that don't follow the strip, the finished product shows a remarkable likeness of Paige, Jason and Peter's sister. Posted by Picasa

2 random thoughts for today

Snakes On a Plane
For those of you not in the know about this upcoming movie, check out the ever-popular site Snakes On a Blog.  I’m currently listening to some of the fan-made music.  Can’t beat it.

Your birthday
So I got this idea from Erik’s blog (he got it from another) to look up my birthday on wiki and see what came up that was interesting.





Monday, April 10, 2006

Monday, Monday, da-da, da-da-du-da

No running today.  My original plan of running longer and faster this week was quickly tossed out the window when both treadmills were occupied today.  So I worked on my weights instead.  Nothing too intense, but it felt like it when I left.  Could have been the pork rinds and ice cream cake I ate before I went over.

  • 3 minutes – Warm-up on the elliptical machine

  • Calf raises – 3 sets of 15 reps (210, 210, 210)

  • Chest press – 3 sets of 10 reps (90, 90, 90)

  • Leg extension – 3 sets of 15 reps (110,110,110)

  • Lat pull down – 3 sets of 12 reps (80, 80, 80)

  • Leg curl – 2 sets of 15 reps (50, 50)

  • 2 minutes @ 7.0 – Cool-down on the elliptical machine    

Saturday, April 08, 2006

TGIF (actually a Saturday) - 4/8/06

Sorry about getting this out a day late.  Work is busiest right now, so my time is a bit limited.

Let’s see, what’s been going on here.  We celebrated Elizabeth’s birthday last Saturday with a party.  The attendees included Nikki and Brian (and their son Luke), Chrissy (and son Isaac), Rhonda (and son Aiden), Jen (and twin girls), Heather, my Dad, Yvonne, Elizabeth, and of course, me.  So with a full house, we had decorations up (which I’m becoming quite the expert at), balloons, food, cake, etc.  We talked and ate for a bit before moving outside to enjoy the sunny day.  After opening presents outside, we had cake and ice-cream, then play-time.  Chrissy and Rhonda stuck around after everyone else left and gabbed with Yvonne.  Dad and I hid on the front porch and did our own gabbing.

Sunday (Elizabeth’s actual birthday) was more of a private party with just the three of us.  After opening even more presents, Elizabeth had a great time playing with them all.  She didn’t seem too interested in the clothes (even those with Dora on them), but liked her books and toys.  She’s even started carrying around her Dora video camera pretending to take movies (but holding it backwards of course).

The rest of the week was spent as we usually do.  We get up, get our showers, get dressed, go to work, come home, eat, and go to bed.  Elizabeth will still open the door for me when I come home (if she hears me pull into the driveway).  She helps me empty my pockets.  She has also given me hugs when I come home lately (my favorite part).  She’s also a great helper around the house.  She’ll take dirty laundry to the laundry room (hers and ours).  She’ll “help” with the dishes by watching.  She’ll try to put Henry in his cage before we leave.  Just an all-around funny little girl to watch.

Yvonne’s been doing good at school.  I haven’t heard very many bad stories lately, so either things are better than normal or I’m not home long enough to hear them.  She’s taking Elizabeth to swim class on Saturdays and those are going well.

Work for me is hectic.  There’s always a fire to put out somewhere or food to deliver or agents to coach.  The list goes on.  I’m also trying some new things with my web site (nerd alert).  I’ve finally gotten my Google Analytics account, so now I can track traffic.  And I’m having fun playing with my XML file for the RSS feed.

Let’s see, what else is going on.  The shed is still quietly waiting to be finished.  I did get a chance to seal the sill plate inside and caulk around the roll-up door on the outside.  Up next (when I get a nice weekend) is sealing the concrete.  We’ll also need to cut the grass soon.  Once again our grass is brown and our onions are tall.

And that’s about all I have time for.  For those of you interested in pictures, here are the two separate pages I’ve uploaded.

Birthday Party 1
Birthday Party 2

Have a great weekend!

Friday, April 07, 2006

Finally Friday Today

Okay, so I didn’t run a mile today, but I did workout.  I felt like I was slacking a little by hardly breathing hard after my warm-up.  I think next week I’ll try to focus on running faster and longer (and increasing my lung capacity).

  • 4 minutes @ 4.5 – Warm-up on the treadmill

  • Calf raises – 3 sets of 15 reps (210, 210, 210)

  • Chest press – 3 sets of 15 reps (60, 60, 60)

  • Lat pull down – 3 sets of 15 reps (60, 60, 60)

  • Leg curl – 3 sets of 10 reps (50, 50, 50)

  • Leg extension – 3 sets of 15 reps (100,100,100)

  • Tricep pushdown – 3 sets of 15 reps (40, 40, 40)

  • 5 minutes @ 3.0 – Cool-down on the treadmill

Elizabeth turns 2 and I just get older.

A picture of Elizabeth and I on her birthday (April 2nd). She was very interested in how I was using my camera's timer to take pictures, so she had to get in one with me. Notice she's holding her "camera" from one of her Dora presents. Posted by Picasa

Planet Of Twilight Review

Planet Of Twilight
by Barbara Hambly

Review By: Neil Richard

Rating: 1.5 out of 5

I just want to cry right about now. All this time and effort to get these books on CD so I can listen to them in the car and all I want to do is jump out and run away. And stopping the car first is optional.

In Planet Of Twilight the usual suspects get into the usual trouble and rescue each other. As usual. The “big” twist of the story is the sentient bugs and crystals residing on the planet Leia and Luke get stranded on. The bugs themselves are the Death Seed Plague while the crystals can kill them (and be used in spacecraft).

We also see the continuation (and finally the end) of Luke’s infatuation with Callista. Maybe now Mara Jade can strut her stuff. And 3PO and R2 getting lost on their own without anyway of getting back to Coruscant? Whatever.

The best news out of all this? The next one in line, Rebel Mission To Ord Mantell, is actually pretty good.

The review is also available in Word and PDF.
© 2006 Productions

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Another Mile Today

I ran another mile today. Not major news, but I didn’t feel as old as I thought I would. I could actually keep my pace (one faster than yesterday at that) for half a mile before I had to slow down. And even then I could keep running for the entire mile.

  • 5 minutes @ 4.5 – Warm-up on the treadmill
  • Stretch
  • 6:00 minutes @ 6.0 – Run on the treadmill
  • 4:00 minutes @ 4.5 – Jog on the treadmill
  • 2:30 minutes @ 2.5 – Cool-down on the treadmill
  • Stretch

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Ugh, I ran a mile today

I skipped yesterday’s workout since I wasn’t quite feeling as good as I wanted.  But I went today and feel a little better.

  • 3 minutes @ 3.0 – Warm-up on the treadmill

  • Stretch

  • 13:25 minutes @ 4.5 – Run on the treadmill

  • 2:30 minutes @ 2.5 – Cool-down on the treadmill

  • Stretch

Monday, April 03, 2006

Postcard from Bayou Bend House & Garden

My Aunt and Uncle sent a postcard (this time for the grown-ups) from Bayou Bend House & Garden in Houston, TX. I'm not a big fan of Texas, but this looks like a nice place to visit. The back of the card says:

"A 28-room Greek Revival-inspired mansion is the crown jewel of Bayou Bend. Inside are exquisite 18th and 19th century furnishings, glass, silver, and art. Outside are more than a dozen acres of lush blooming garden."

Looking at the map, the garden's design from the postcard is clearly visible (just look down and to the right from the push pin-the push pin appears to be their parking lot).
A new week. A new month. A new quarter. A new time. A new toothbrush.

The same old routine. While I am getting tired of working out, I am seeing some limited results. Coming from the video game generation, I prefer something instant. Instead I get to force myself to weigh myself once a week and measure myself once a month (no double meaning there folks).

Here's what I did today:
  • 3 minutes @ 3.0 – Warm-up on the treadmill
  • Lat pull down – 3 sets of 10 reps (100, 100, 100)
  • Calf raises – 3 sets of 10 reps (190, 190, 190)
  • Chest press – 3 sets of 20 reps (40, 40, 40)
  • Leg extension – 3 sets of 10 reps (100,100,100)
  • Calf raises – 2 sets of 15 reps (140, 140)
  • Tricep pushdown – 3 sets of 15 reps (40, 40, 40)