Monday, September 29, 2008

Destroyermen and HBO

First off, I finished Destroyermen: Into the Storm this weekend. The easiest way I can describe it is:

Imagine Kurt R. A. Giambastiani met S. M. Stirling. They concoct a story. They invite Robert Jordan to tell it.

Yep, that's right, Giambastiani's dinosaurs, Stirling's alternate history, and Jordan's pacing. Now, if anyone understood that, congratulations. You're one of about five people in the world to get it. For everyone else, keep reading.

Giambastiani wrote a series (The Fallen Cloud Saga) that tells the story of General George Armstrong Custer (and his son) in an alternate version of the US. One where the natives (i.e. Indians) ride dinosaurs. Sounds odd, I know, but if you haven't read it, give it a shot.

Stirling wrote (and still is writing) a series about the Change. It starts with Nantucket getting "zapped" back in time. The rest of the world (the one we know) suffers a change in physics resulting in guns, cars, and pretty much anything modern not working. Great series. Another must read.

Jordan wrote (and Sanderson will finish) the Wheel of Time series. A simple story of a young man destined to save the world and go crazy in the process. And by simple, I mean one of the most long and drawn our series of all time. Well, until Martin and a few others came along.

So, dinosaurs, alternate history, and slow pacing. That's the gist of this story. But don't get me wrong, I liked it. The chapters are massive. And by massive, I mean the average size book had seven chapters. Yeah. And there were times when the story plodded along as slow as an ancient turtle. But there's a gem in there. The gem is the overall story. Right now, we just get to brush the dirt and grime off the outside edge. And I'm sure the next installment (below) will be better.

In other news, I was recently reminded of the shows HBO has done in the past. I'm nearly finished with John Adams and have felt like it hasn't quite lived up to the others I've seen (Deadwood and Band of Brothers mostly). So I decided to see when HBO did their shows. Not when where they released, but when in time. So enjoy my spreadsheet goodness below.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Politics are like ticks

They suck your blood and give you diseases.

And because of that, I've tried to avoid talking politics here. I have opinions, admittedly strong ones, about the candidates. But I do believe that you and everyone else out there can believe in what you want.

To that end, I'd like to say two things. First, I'll let renowned author Paul S. Kemp speak my mind.

Second, I'd like to direct your attention to the crackpot candidate running for House of Representatives in an effort to represent our area. One Mr. Nathan Larson. For those of you not wanting to read the entire thing, here are a few choice quotes:

A better solution would be simply to privatize all schools and eliminate government funding for education.

Nathan supports providing police, courts, and prisons through the private sector. To help prevent abuses, it is desirable that citizens and communities be allowed to choose among competing vendors of these services.

All federal taxes should be repealed, and government services should be completely privatized.

And my favorite:

Nathan supports completely abolishing the United States military and replacing it with an anarcho-capitalist system in which private defense agencies compete for the business of American customers.

So in effect he wants to eliminate my wife's job, eliminate my job, and allow anyone with enough money and guns to run the country. I love the wild west and western expansion. But not that much.

Winnie the Whiz

First, if you're looking for some inspiration in your writing, maybe something involving castles, check out Gabriele's blog. She has some of the best damn castle photos out there.

Second, Target has started selling Sony Readers.

Target has started selling the Sony e-book Reader in all 1,634 of its stores. This represents Sony’s largest rollout of Readers to date, bringing the number of U.S. retailers carrying the device up to roughly 3,000. Target is selling the device for $299.

And finally, Winnie Cooper on The Wonder Years (aka Danica McKellar) appears to be a math whiz. Her recent book is called Kiss My Math: Showing Pre-Algebra Who’s Boss. And no, I'm not posting the other photos I found of her. You'll need to find those on your own.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Lost, Found, and Lost again

I've finished An American Robinson Crusoe by Samuel B. Allison and was left disappointed. Sure, it was a good spin on the original Robinson Crusoe, so good, it was pretty much the same book. Just shorter. And for kids. And that was the good part. But it clearly pointed out much of the similarities between this work and Swiss Family Robinson. Both are great books in the "cast-away" genre, but, well, it's just not the same. Can't put my finger on it, but it's just not the same.

With the end of Crusoe, I started The Disappeared by Kristine Kathryn Rusch. And right now I'm lost. I think I'm just far enough into it to have a lot of questions, but not far enough into it to have any answers.

Which brings us to Lost. The TV show. I'm totally hooked. Granted, I've heard good and bad about the show and I'm only in season 2 (supposedly before it gets bad), but I'm really enjoying it.

The most dangerous bird in the world

Apparently it's the Cassowarie, a native of Australia. How dangerous? It can kill you at worst. At best, it'll just break your leg or slice your skin open. Scary. And kind of mean looking.

For me, all birds are deadly. Well, chicken and turkey at least, I've never been brave enough to taste anything else.

On a side note, don't kill the Cassowarie and eat it, it's endangered.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Only in Shebby

Only in Shebby (aka Shelby, NC - where we used to live) would you see a headline like this: Police: Man bites woman's ear; dog bites man

Sometimes I miss the place. Sometimes I don't.

And Google appears to have partnered with a former employer (Books-A-Million) to include a new widget on their site, aka Google Preview (which doesn't work for me right now).

Oh, and Heroes was on last night. It was good, but I don't have anything major to say at the moment. Give it time.

Monday, September 22, 2008

I feel bad

...and it makes me feel good. I skipped the Y this morning as I appear to have been every one's bathroom/snoring/coughing/crying buddy last night. Which means dear old dad got about 3 or 4 hours of sleep. So in an effort to curb The Grouch inside of me, I went back to bed for a bit.

In other news, I installed the lights in my shed yesterday. Four, shiny, fluorescent lights now hang form the ceiling. I also trimmed the grass and pulled some weeds (some - not all). And of course I watched the Steelers loose. Yuck.

Saturday was spent running around town buying groceries and filling prescriptions. I did manage to put in a little workout that afternoon, but nothing major. Although I am very proud of my sub-10 mile (despite how old it makes me feel).

I also finished the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy this weekend and didn't much enjoy it. I think it's the whole Monty Python style of humor that, while I find mildly amusing, I don't find overly funny. Maybe if Mel Brooks would have been a bigger influence I would have liked it more. I also started An American Robinson Crusoe and was surprised. Here I was thinking this would be an American version of the classic. Unfortunately I was right. It seems to be more of a kid's book than anything, so I'm cruising through it pretty fast.

Destroyermen is moving along nicely. Still a bit clunky at times and certainly dense, but it makes for a good challenge as I really want to see what happens.

Friday, September 19, 2008

She knows me

The good/bad news of the day...the lady at the front desk of the local YMCA knows me. Not by name, but as I walked in this morning and went to flash my little temporary pass, she said "Don't bother. You're okay."

Yes, I'm there that much. So far, every weekday morning. Granted, not everyday is a "hard" workout day, but I try to do something at least.

In other news, I'm suffering through Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. That's right, I said suffering. I never could get into the whole Monty Python style of British humor, and that's exactly what this is. Monty Python. In space.

Now, Mr. Bean? I love Mr. Bean. He's awesome. But he's more physical comedy than odd, witty, bizarro, British humor. Sorry, make that humour.

Destroyermen: Into the Storm is gathering steam, so to speak. It was rough going in the start, and is just starting to shine through the clouds as a series (and author) that shows promise. I'm still holding out high hopes for this book and I get the feeling that it might, just might deliver. And if not now, at least in the next book.

For those that haven't read it yet, think Kurt R. A. Giambastiani meets S. M. Stirling. Dinosaurs meet The Change. I think four people in the world will get that. And none will be reading this blog. Oh well. Have a good weekend.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

The Bandwagon

Because everyone else is doing it....
(maybe that's what they should call memes, "that thing that everyone else does, so you need to too)

Take a picture of yourself right now.
Don't change your clothes, don't fix your hair...just take a picture.
Post that picture with NO editing.
Post these instructions with your picture.

I really wanted to post this one:

But this is the real me. Don't I look excited?

Wednesday, September 17, 2008


It's the little moments in life like this that I enjoy being a father and a dad. Watching my little girl dance around and play without a care in the world. Forgetting that an hour ago she was so scared she was shaking. Scared of getting a shot from the dentist. But now dancing and playing. Dancing without a care. Dancing like she's the star of the show.

She dances in the sunshine with the music blaring in the air and the blue rubber of the indoor playground as her backdrop. The ants on the floor search for their morning repast as mine still lingers on my breath. Cars sail by outside like ships in port with their captains rushing to deliver their crew dirtside.

And as with anything good in life, it must come to a premature end. There are other errands to run and trips to make. But I can take solace in knowing my father, my dad, can enjoy the same things later today as she will be playing and dancing here again. A repeat performance for lunch. While I'm sure to miss the moment it happens, I'm sure a smile will cross his face at least once. A smile that will act like the spotlight on the dancing star.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Weekend Drudge Report

The good news is, it really wasn't much of a drudge-like weekend. We started out Saturday morning doing a charity walk for the local SPCA (where we adopted Henry from). It was nice to get out and do something besides the usual shopping. And (bonus for me), it gave me an excuse to skip the Y the day before and after so I could run the two mile route Saturday. I didn't do as well as I wanted (kind of hard to run as fast as you did 15 years ago), but I'm happy with my time. I did learn that I need to make sure my socks are on right as I'm now sporting a blister on my heel. After that we did a mini-run to the stores and I got some lights for my shed with some gift cards.

Then it was home for showers and naps before heading back to town for an alumni gathering for our college (Edinboro University of Pennsylvania). It was nice to see so many people from the area (nearly 100) but I only knew like two people. And one of them was my wife. But we met some other graduates and had a good time. And to prove we were a married couple with children, we spent the rest of our date night shopping for groceries. If you have kids, you'll understand.

Yesterday was more shopping in town, more groceries, and more prescriptions. I swear strangers would think were all drug addicts by looking at the long line of meds on our counter. But they all help. A lot. And William appears to be over his upset stomach and even seems to be taking to drinking more water. Something we'll be encouraging after learning about too much juice from Elizabeth's dental trials.

Today was catching up with laundry, dishes, and recovering from the Steeler's win last night. I love my big screen, but man am I tired by 11pm. But I did make it to the Y and did a mixed workout today (damn blister hates me when I run). And they finally got their showers fixed, so I could clean up before coming home.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Crazy or not?

Don't worry, I'm not crazy enough to think these sorts of things about crossbows. I mean, seriously, who carries a crossbow anymore?

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Momma don't let your kids drink juice

While the saga of Elizabeth's teeth continues, I thought I'd take a moment to delve deep into one of my greatest fears; being a bad parent.

Elizabeth went to see the dentist a few weeks back for the very first time. At four years old, she was scared, but we had been preparing her for awhile, telling her what to expect, what to do, even getting her some books about the dentist. During her checkup/cleaning, she did a wonderful job listening to the hygienist and sitting still in the chair. She even spoke to her (which means she couldn't have been too scared) during the cleaning. When the dentist came in and started calling out numbers and letters and codes, I knew something was wrong.

You see, I've been around dentists long enough to know what that secret speech means. I've had teeth extracted with nitrous oxide (laughing gas), with Novocaine, and with nothing but (what I can only describe as) acupressure (it didn't hurt, so I was okay). I've had braces and all the torture that goes along with it. I've had things ground and drilled and glued. My last "bad" trip involved me nearly choking on a mold for a night guard. Then I nearly choked again at the price. Anyway, that special code meant only one thing. Cavities. Granted, I only have three myself, I still know it isn't a good sign.

So when he was done, the dentist advised Elizabeth should come in for a one-stop fix-it session. They'd put her under (with real anaesthesia, not just gas) and take care of her teeth (lots of cavities and crowns). We were shocked. Scared. Nervous. Angry. All sorts of emotions going through our heads as parents (and I'm sure Elizabeth had some thoughts too).

Well we survived the long dental session (nearly two hours) and the recovery. She still has some pain so I'm sure we'll need to go back to touch up the bite plains. But all of this is just a little taste of how crappy things can get by letting your kids have juice.

That's right, juice. I'm sure most of you drink it at some point during the day, so hurry over to your fridge and grab a bottle. I'll wait while you bring it back.

Back? Good. Now read the ingredients. See anything that could be sugar in there? More than likely you do. Don't drink juice? Not a problem. Think about what you eat for breakfast. According to the dentist, if you eat anything besides sausage, it has sugar in it.

Why is juice (and the sugar in it) bad? Well, we all know too much candy (and the sugar in it) rots your teeth. But we never thought juice would be like liquid candy. We gave Elizabeth two juices to drink everyday when she went to the sitters. Sure, we brushed her teeth, but never religiously. Not every morning, every night, and every meal in between.

I guess I'll finish this long diatribe off with some sound advice from a parent that feels like crap about how his daughter's teeth have fared over the last four years. Give your kids juice during meals only. Let them drink only water in between meals. Brush their teeth as soon as they get them. Once a day is okay, twice is better. When they're old enough to chew gum (and not stick it under the table), make sure they chew sugarless gum (like Trident). All of this will save you two grand in dental bills and a heap load of guilt.

PS - See? I made it a Three for Thursday day!

Two thirds

So my last post from today said I was a third of the way to my workout goal.

This post takes me two-thirds of the way to a "Three for Thursday" posting session.

Can you tell I'm a compulsive counter?

So, I just finished listening to The Protector's War yesterday and finished reading Gentlemen of the Road today and I thought I'd talk a bit about each.

The Protector's War (by S. M. Stirling) is one of many in a series about The Change. Something goes kerplooey in the cosmic scheme of things (actually, it's more around the physics of the compression of gases not generating heat like before) and guns and cars don't work. Yeah. So the world is thrown into this medieval sort of style of living and I'm sure you can guess how some people adapted. Anyway, the series Stirling has written is awesome. One of the best alternate-history books (and series) ever written. If you like that sort of thing, check it out.

Gentlemen of the Road (by Michael Chabon) actually started life as a serialized story in The New Yorker. My previous experience with Chabon is limited to his recent The Yiddish Policemen's Union book, but the same style sticks out here as well. He writes well, is verbose, and tends to put the main pot on pause while he uses a plethora of vocabulary words. So it's a bit hard to get into sometimes, but the story as a whole is good. This one had some plot twists I wasn't expecting, but overall, I enjoyed it. It's also very short (around 200 pages) so it's a quick read.

Morning Photos

Since everyone was in a good mood this morning, and because we (and by we I mean everyone but me) were all wearing red, white, and blue, we decided to take some photos. So here's the family before school (yes, I know, I'm absent, but I was in my grungy workout clothes and had not taken a shower yet, so be thankful).

On a side note, I'm one-third of the way to my short-term fitness goal. No noticeable changes in my body (other than I'm sore) but after some measurements (keep it clean folks) I did manage to shave off an inch on my thighs and hips. Everything else stayed the same. So while that was a bummer, I feel great about my run today (and my time). Only four more weeks of torture!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Winter has come early

No, I'm not talking snow, I'm talking hibernation. For some reason I've been neglecting my readers here and on the UFO blog. I think I just need some mental down-time after my last class, the dental visits, and an attempt to get my old, creaky body into some semblance of shape.

My class was a nightmare. The professor was nothing short of Napolean in his tyranny. But I survived and I should scrape by with a decent grade.

The dental nightmares just seem to continue. Elizabeth pulled through like a trooper but will likely have to go back again to get things evened out so they don't hurt when she bites or eats. I'll post more on this later.

And getting my body in shape? That's more of a farce or a comedy or a tragedy. Maybe a mix of all three. I have one specific goal, it's very short term (since it's right around the damn corner), but I've been working towards it. I think I'll make it, but barely. In the meantime, the newly opened YMCA and their treadmills have become my best friends (or worst enemies).

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Thursday Confessional

Feel free to add your own confessions in the comments.

- I did not exercise yesterday. My penance was to exercise even more today.
- I did not read very much of Stone's Yule story. My penance is to finish it today.
- I volunteered to proof a paper for you-know-what. My penance is to ignore it until Monday.
- I did not record Nadal's win last night. My penance is to watch the replay today.
- I got hooked on Lost yesterday. My penance is to finish Stone's Yule story before I continue.
- I did very well at you-know-what over the last quarter. My penance is to attend an awards dinner tonight without my wife.
- I did not help my daughter brush her teeth everyday over the last three years. My penance is to be scared out of my wits while she endures serious dental work tomorrow morning.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

The Blade Itself

This one, by Marcus Sakey, wasn't nearly as good as the previous one, by Joe Abercrombie. But it was still good enough to read and enjoy. Abercrombie and Sakey clearly write in different genres, but Abercrombie is also a genius of sorts. So comparing Sakey to him wouldn't be right.

On it's own, Sakey writes a gritty novel about Chicago's North and South Sides and how two guys live on the wrong side of the law. When one bails on the other during a robbery gone wrong, he sets his life straight. That is until his partner gets out of jail years later and ropes him into doing something worse.

And that is what Sakey writes so well, a bad guy so bad you want to kill him. Sure, he made many of the classic mistakes of bad guys (like toying with his victim before killing him - thus allowing the hero to rescue the victim) but he's also one evil dude. Downright violent and damn near sociopathic.

While tings work out in the end (as expected) there were some weaknesses to Sakey's book. Mainly the predictability of it. Think about that classic television show or movie where the bad guy keeps winning and winning until the good guy comes back from the brink to win it all.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

New photos

That's right, there's new photos out there. Here's a few from the shed getting some drywall inside.

And here's a few from William's first birthday party.

And in an effort to drive some traffic to my other project, here's a sneak peak at something new.