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Showing posts from November, 2010

144 Books in 2010 Update

I forsook house cleaning, social engagements, sleeping and Facebook (gasp!) but I got back on pace. Through November, I've read 132 books.

Twelve to go!

I have six from the library waiting for me to plow through them. I'm finding it hard to believe that the end is this close.

Book Review - The Philosopher's Dog

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The Philosopher's Dog by Raimond Gaita

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Wow, this was heavy. Too heavy for me. I was expecting some nice stories of people and their relationships with their pets. While there is some of that, it's really more a deep philosophy treatise. Not exactly a quick, pleasant read. Perhaps I would have enjoyed it more if I'd know what I was getting into.



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Fantasy Football Update - Week 12

I blame the New England Patriots for my loss in the club league this week. My opponent had three Detroit players going against me. That would seem like a good thing except NE apparently forgot how to play defense. I'm now tied for second with two other players and Crash (Crash!) is in first place one game ahead of us. I'm too fatigued to even figure out if I have a chance of making the playoffs. I actually don't think that I can. Sigh.

The report on my work league is much cheerier. I won both my games this week and have a firm hold on second place so I'm going to make the playoffs regardless of how I do this week. Sweet!

My strategy for Pick 'Em didn't play out very well this week but I'm still in first place by 13 points in the club game but I've fallen into a three way tie for third place in my work game. We only pay out to three spots so I need to have some stellar picks this week.

Book Review - Eiger Dreams

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Eiger Dreams: Ventures Among Men and Mountains by Jon Krakauer

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

An outdoorsy buddy of mine at work loaned me this collection of stories by Krakauer. I still admit I don't get the whole mountain climbing thing but I found all of the tales interesting and some of the characters fascinating. There's a lot of history and geography, some of it even close to home in Arizona.



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Book Review - Cross Bones

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Cross Bones by Kathy Reichs

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Shades of the Da Vinci Code and its like, Cross Bones finds Tempe investigating ancient remains that could have a major impact on organized religion. Do they belong to Jesus Christ? Ryan and Brennan end up in Israel to find out. Reichs does a great job of providing a history of the area while developing the story.



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Book Review - Monday Mourning

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Monday Mourning by Kathy Reichs

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Brennan is called in to examine three sets of bones found in the basement of a pizza parlor. Her detective nemesis, Claudel, thinks the bones are ancient and not fitting for an actual investigation. While trying to prove him wrong with the assistance of Ryan and her friend Anne, Tempe finds herself in over her head in a very creepy case. Trust me, it's icky.

While Tempe still rushes in to danger more than I'd like to see, at least she's now getting herself out of the situations without (mostly) the "fade to black then an exposition of what exposition" that Reichs has been using.



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Book Review - Holy Smokes

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Holy Smokes by Katie MacAlister

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Nice addition to the series. Aisling's in her usual mass pickle situations and manages to come through with a combination of ingenuity and sometimes good luck. A few new characters are brought in to the mix with some nice added drama. The whole series is a fun set of reads.



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The TV Binge Continues

Tonight's viewing:

2 episodes of Lie To Me
2 episodes of The Good Guys (please don't let this get canceled)
1 episode of Chuck (Richard Chamberlain is a great bad guy and even I want to do Sarah)

I also went to the library so I'm loaded for reading for the long weekend. That's perhaps not as mind numbing as watching the tube.

Rock On

I often say (only somewhat tongue in cheek) that technology is evil. It is when it doesn’t work, that’s for sure. However, I am currently in love with a certain piece of technology. No, not my Mac nor my Elph nor my Droid. It’s my DVR.

Between traveling and trying to read an insane number of books this month, I’d fallen way behind on my TV shows. Thanks to my DVR and fast forward, I was able to watch oodles of shows last night and still get to bed on time.

The list:
1 episode of Castle (Lyle Lovett!)
2 episodes of Bones (yay, no Hannah to speak of)
1 episode of Raising Hope (great show that everyone should be watching)
1 episode of Fringe (OMG, it is getting soooo good. Too bad they’re going to kill it by moving it to Friday nights)
1 episode of The Big Bang Theory (the kiss was frakking hilarious!)

That’s five hours of programming and I chunked through it in closer to four. Sweet.

Tonight will be more of the same. I’m hoping to get caught up on Lie To Me, Chuck and Terriers (another g…

Fantasy Football Update - Week 11

Good news in the club league. I won my game and moved back in to a tie for first place with Steven and Crash. Crash! That's the last time I loan her my draft notes.

I went one and one in my work league. I made a mistake and let a guy who works for me talk me out of starting Mike Goodson for Carolina. He said Carolina's so bad that he won't get very many points. Yeah, he was wrong. Goodson racked up 18 points and I would have won both games if I'd started him. That dude is so fired. I'm still in second place but third and fourth are creeping up on me. I need two wins this week to maybe get a little breathing room. We have two more weeks before the playoffs start.

My Pick 'Em results weren't so great this week but I'm still in first place in the club competition and tied for third in the work one. The leader in the latter is untouchable, he's been amazing.

Book Review - Super: A Novel

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Super: A Novel by Jim Lehrer

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

OK, I'm ignorant. I had no idea Jim Lehrer was an author. I just picked this up from the New Books section of the library. Turns out, it's his 20th book. What a bad former bookseller I am!

The action takes place on a train called the Super Chief which traveled across the US and was known as "The Train of the Stars". Characters include Clark Gable, Harry Truman, a mysterious stowaway, a Santa Fe airlines detective, an ill millionaire and several more Hollywood types. Two murders later, the story concludes in a surprising manner.

Lehrer's epilogue states that the characters were all real but I couldn't find reference to a few of them so who knows? It was a good story, regardless.



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LOL

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This is a cartoon by my friend, Bob Karwin. It's funny yet sad - when are we going to stop giving up our rights?

Book Review - Fly Away Home

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Fly Away Home by Jennifer Weiner

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Very engrossing tale focused on the wife and two adult daughters of a politician who gets caught in an affair with a young woman. All three women go through life changing events and experience personal growth and maturity.

I loved the wife, Sylvie, the most. After devoting all of her adult life to helping her husband with his political career, she's adrift when she leaves him. But, she doesn't stay aimlessly morose and instead develops new interests, repairs her relationships and becomes comfortable in her own skin.

Of the two daughters, I liked Lizzie, the youngest, the best. Probably because she readily owns up to her insecurities where Diana, the oldest, comes across as more judgmental of others even while she's making some poor life choices.

Great fiction with a real life feel.



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Perfect Day

I’ve been looking forward to yesterday for so long. The last race of the NASCAR season with an incredibly close race was a big part of the excitement. Going to Tucson to see Jim Hoehn in a house concert was a big part of the excitement. It wasn’t until a few days ago that I realized those two events were actually on the same day (even though I knew they were both “on Sunday”) and even crossed the same timeline.

Ugh.

The race started at 11 AM and the show was at 2 PM. I had the latter in my calendar at noon but that was because that’s the latest time I needed to leave the house. Took me a while to figure that out, too. Man, that two week cold I had really killed some brain cells.

I turned on my TV at 11 to catch the start of the race. Only to find my TV flashing a “no signal found” message. WTF? 11 AM on Sunday when football is starting as well as my race and the cable is out! I called into Cox and got a reset on my cable box and, after turning everything on and off a few times,…

Book Review - Light My Fire

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Light My Fire by Katie MacAlister

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I'd give it 3 1/2 if I could. This was a fun read.

Aisling continues to get in over her head as someone's trying to kill her, imps are after her, she's pulled into a battle for supremacy in hell and her Guardian mentor is issued a cease and desist order from the Guild on training her. Oh, and the magic group in France still wants her to take over.

The adventures are all well and good but what I liked the most was that Aisling is actually maturing and trying to deal with the issues in a more professional, thoughtful manner than in the prior books where she just went off on everyone and somehow ended up successfully coming out of her adventures.



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Book Review - Let My People Go Surfing

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Let My People Go Surfing by Yvon Chouinard

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

One of my co-workers suggested that our Management group read this book and I concur! It's the story of Patagonia, a company that started with the owner making and selling climbing gear out of his car and is now a premier seller of outdoor gear and clothing.

This is a wonderful tale of a company's creating and evolvement into a great corporate citizen. From providing one of the first on-site day cares to changing over to organic cotton because it's less harmful to the environment, Chouinard and Patagonia are practicing what they preach. Chouinard is very passionate about the environment and doesn't shy from giving some strong opinions on globalization, the political climate, marketing, customer service and the shortsightedness of human behavior among other subjects.

In addition to the story, there are some wonderful photos.



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Book Panic

I'm really starting to worry about making my 144 books in 2010 goal. I'm at 123 books and I need to be at 132 by the end of this month to be on pace. That's a lot of reading in two weeks. Especially, when I'll be traveling for part of it.

It's off to the library tonight to stock up again.

Book Review - The Double Comfort Safari Club

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The Double Comfort Safari Club by Alexander McCall Smith

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

It's funny that the title of this book has the word comfort in it because that's how I think of this series, it's comfortable. You know you're going to get a couple of mysteries, some mild interpersonal conflict and more of a history and description of Botswana.

This entry finds Mma Makutsi's fiancee suffering a severe injury after which his No. 1 Auntie decides to separate the pair for good as well as a cheating spouse, a search for someone to give a legacy to and a visit to a safari camp. An enjoyable read.



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Book Review - How We Decide

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How We Decide by Jonah Lehrer

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

If I could give 3 1/2 stars, I would.

Lehrer's book explores how we make decisions based on what part of our brains we're using and what outside factors are affecting the process. Because I've read a lot of material on this subject, some of the studies were already known to me. However, he made it interesting with several interviews including NFL QB Tom Brady and professional poker player Michael Binger. There are a lot of examples, studies and interviews in here which is surprising considering it's not that long of a book.



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Fantasy Football Update - Week 10

Mixed results this week.

I felt pretty good going into the club league game last night because I had two players going and my opponent only had one. Unfortunately, that one was Keliand Williams who scored 31 points. Steven is now solely in first place in our division and I'm tied for second with a .500 record. That's how much parity we have there.

My work league went much better, mostly due to the stellar performance of my backup QB, Matt Cassel, who scored 44 points this week. I won both of my games, including one against the dude in first place so I picked up a game on him. I'm 13-7 and he's 16-4. Third place is 2 games behind me.

I moved solely into first place in the club Pick 'Em league and am third in the work one. Unfortunately, I missed first place for the week by 3 points. We do weekly payouts on that and I need another to get close to breaking even on my buy-in.

Book Review - Blockade Billy

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Blockade Billy by Stephen King

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I haven't read Stephen King since, gosh, a long, long time ago. I thought this book would be a good chance to revisit his work since it's short (no reading 600 pages to find the story fully explained in the last 20 with an explanation out of nowhere which is why I stopped reading him) and about baseball which I love.

This was a nice, quick read (very nice since I'm behind in my pace to hit 144 books this year) set up as a narration to King from an old baseball coach about a star player that came out of nowhere in the 1957 season. He seems like a boom to the team but signs point to something dark in his nature that ultimately prove true.



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Book Review - I'm With Fatty

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I'm With Fatty by Edward Ugel

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

After being convinced that if he doesn't lose weight, he's going to die soon, Ugel decides to try to lose 50 pounds in 50 weeks. This is the often painfully honest of his account of that task. He covers a lot of ground, much of it familiar to those who are extremely overweight. From the embarrassment of having to wear a CPAP device to control his sleep apnea (he was literally turning blue every night) to feeling unattractive to his wife to being a social hermit to avoid others seeing him to food binging and, the biggie, feelings of shame for getting to the state he was in, Ugel covered it all.

There are successes and failures and a lot of self destructive behavior that he makes no attempt to hide but tries to understand why he sabotages his own efforts. There's a particularly painful section on a huge food bender that he goes on when his family is out of town. Bender is a good term for it because it reads just lik…

Yes, I am a Pariah

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I came back from Florida on Monday with a cold. A pretty bad one, actually. I somehow made it through work on Tuesday but said I would work from home on Wednesday if I wasn't feeling better. I wasn't so I stayed home and managed to get in five hours before I had to go nap for 2 1/2 hours. Man, my bed never felt so good.

After an early bedtime last night, I felt pretty good this morning. So, loaded up on Dayquil, I came in to work. Apparently, I overestimated my health level because I was sneezing, coughing and blowing my nose constantly once I got in to my office.

One of my co-workers gave me some blended oils on a tissue to breathe in. He said it helps kill viruses and would stop my coughing. He was right on the coughing. I did much better after just a few minutes.

When I came back from a meeting, I noticed this sign by my office door:



The bio-hazard symbol. Nice.

The only meeting I had today, I held in a really big room and I'm going to keep my door mostly shut an…

Book Review - Supreme Justice

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Supreme Justice: A Novel of Suspense by Phillip Margolin

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Margolin bring backs some characters from Executive Privilege in this character laden story that alternates going back in time then into the future. Brad Miller is engaged to Ginny and clerking for a Supreme Court justice and Dana Cutler has settled into her career as a PI and into a healthy, romantic relationship.

A death row appeal comes to the court and the violence comes fast and furiously. The body count in this book is pretty high and the level of conspiracies even higher. I found it far-fetched but entertaining.



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Fantasy Football Update - Week 8 and 9

I know it's not very timely but I was in Florida for both weeks of these games.

Week 8

I won in the club league and moved into a 3-way tie for first place in our division. In my work league, I went 1-1. I think that was enough to move me into second place.

Week 9

Fun! I played against The Rocket Scientist in the club league. I asked one of our friends whom he thought wanted to win more (TRS and I are both battling to take control of our respective divisions). Of course, the answer was me! Steven was playing against the guy tied with TRS for first place and was also tied with me for first in our division. I was hoping for a Pfister win for me and a Pfister loss for him while TRS wanted just the opposite.

We were both half happy with the results. I beat TRS (in a game that ended up much closer than he thought it would based on my early lead) and Steven won as well. That leaves Steven and me tied for first as the third player lost. TRS is tied with two other players for first s…

Book Review - The Reckoning

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The Reckoning by Kelley Armstrong

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Nice conclusion to the trilogy that leaves it open for more books. I'll read them.

There was a surprising amount (to me) of death and violence in this for a Young Adult book. The kids think they've found sanctuary with an old friend of Derek's and Simon's Dad but all is not as it seems. I liked their displays of resourcefulness and the maturing of Chloe as she moves from little girl who just wants to get along to confident young woman.



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144 Books in 2010 Update

Ugh, I've fallen behind pace. I've finished 117 books and should be at 120. Traveling is interfering with my reading.

Book Review - The Good Son

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The Good Son by Russel D. McLean

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Interesting character study. Our hero is a Scottish, former cop who's now doing PI work. He's suffering from depression and post-traumatic stress after the car crash that killed his fiancee. Into his life comes a client looking for the history of his estranged brother's life and extreme, ugly violence ensues. Twists and turns and lots of man's inhumanity to man that I found disturbing but compelling.

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Book Review - Kitty and the Dead Man's Hand

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Kitty and the Dead Man's Hand by Carrie Vaughn

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Kitty and Ben are getting married and decide to do the deed in Las Vegas. They stumble upon some very strange lycanthropes, meet up with the local vampires and Ben reunites with some of his old bounty hunters. Chaos ensues. I hope to see some of the new characters in later books.

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