Friday, November 21, 2008

On another note

My wife, Diane, and youngest daughter, Gwynedd, come home today. I'll be picking them up at SeaTac airport in another 5 hours. Don't think I'll be doing much reading (or blogging) for the next couple of days.

They've been living in Jerusalem and working in Bethlehem, Palestine for the past three months. Diane is the transition director of an acute day treatment facility/school for traumatized children there, the Holy Child Program. Gwynedd has been working at the school as a general go-fer/PE teacher. Haven't seen either of them since August.

It'll be good to have them home for awhile. They plan to head back to the Middle East in January, but all of the major holidays (Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years, Gwynedd's birthday) fall between now and then, so a good time will be had by us. Not grammatical, but accurate.

Finished One . . . Start Another

I finished Scardown at lunch time today. A good and satisfying read; the story is full of space-opera type action, but it is much more complex than that. There are several characters that you really begin to care about; when they're hurting, you hurt along with them. Good stuff.

A coworker handed me the first two novels in The First Law trilogy by Joe Abercrombie, The Blade Itself, and Before They Are Hanged. I don't read all that much fantasy (though now that I think of it; The Hobbit/Lord of the Rings, The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant, the Unbeliever by Donaldson, LeGuin's Wizard of Earthsea series, McCaffrey's Dragonriders of Pern series, all of Rowling's Harry Potter books, Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time series (before I lost patience with him in book 6), C.S. Lewis's Narnia and Perelandra series, and several others all reside in my library, so I can't say I don't read fantasy). I guess I should amend that. I don't read much fantasy compared to the amount of science fiction and mystery stories I read. There, that says it better.

Anyway . . .

The Blade Itself starts out "The End" and then plunges right into a fight and a cliffhanger. I am a sucker for books that begin well and this one does, in spades. I'm about twenty pages into it, but I can already tell that I'm hooked as the first two major characters are sufficiently complex and compelling to keep me reading all by themselves. Good stuff.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Well . . . . Hello!

So, yes, I am joining the blogosphere.
What will this be about? Just as the title says in it's own way; books, cars, raising coho salmon on McAleer Creek in Lake Forest Park, and music.

Yes, it is an odd set of topics, but there you go. That's what I'm interested in, so that's what I'm going to be writing about. Likely, there will be other topics that intrude. Oh, my God. I left out basketball! How could that have happened? (I actually went back and fixed the title, I think) I have been playing, watching, or coaching basketball since I was nine. And I haven't been nine for a really long time.

OK, so what am I reading currently? Scardown by Elizabeth Bear, the second novel in her Jenny Casey trilogy (at least I think it's a trilogy at this point). Set in the not too distant future (2060's) when global warming's effects are being felt with a vengeance, the first AIs are being 'born', the US is in the shitter, and the Canadians are the world's police force for hire. Geniveve Marie Casey is a fifty-year old former Canadian Master Warrant Sargeant who has gone back to her native country after living in the North End of Hartford, Connecticut for several years (that's why I was initially attracted to the book; I student taught English at Hartford Public High School in 1974, not quite the North End, but close enough to have a good sense of the geography she's writing about. And my momma was born in Hartford and lived on Sigourney Street for her first three years). She is a combat veteran/hero who was given a nanoprocessor-controlled nervous system and left arm after surviving a nasty incident. She is self medicating and generally falling apart when she is yanked back to Canada via her nasty assassin older sister, Barbara. She gets drafted into Canada's starship flight program and befriends/works with and AI that is the ghost of Richard Feynman. I will not give away the whole plot, you can certainly read the book for that. I do like it though. Hammered is the first book in the series; Worldwired is promised as the conclusion. I'll have to make my way to Third Place Books to pick it up fairly soon now.

So, what am I listening to and liking, these days: Orchestra Baobab's Made in Dakar; Randy Newman's Harps and Angels; Irma Thomas' Simply Grand; Ballzack's Yeah Indeed; and Charlie Haden Family & Friends' Ramblin' Boy. Yes, my tastes are somewhat diverse, but what you'll hear about from me mostly is jazz, blues, rhythm & blues, some rap and hip hop, rock & roll, a bit of country and some pop music. I've been buying music since I was 12 when I first got a job delivering newspapers in Meriden, Connecticut and have been buying ever since. Between my wife and I we have 800+ vinyl albums and 600+ CDs. They mostly fit into those genres above, but some do not (like the Gregorian chant, classical music, and comedy albums to name a few).

Not much car related stuff going on these days. The track driving season is over and it's time for winter maintenance. I've got a 2000 BMW M Roadster that is significantly modified from stock. My son, Francis, and I picked it up at the factory in Spartanburg, South Carolina on May 14, 2000 and drove it home 5,500 miles to Seattle in 11 days on all the two lane roads we could find. I was trying for a Blue Highways (if you've read that book by William Least Heat Moon) sort of trip. Since then I've accumulated 172,994 miles on the odometer. It is my first sports car (though I've wanted one since I read The Red Car when I was 11 or 12) and my daily driver. It has also been my ride in One Lap of America for the past six years. You'll be hearing much more about One Lap over the next several months. In fact, I will be using this blog as my main communications tool during that event which happens at the beginning of May this year.

For now, I've got to fix both windows as their transport mechanisms are all kerfluffle. Also, Francis and I are going to be adding better air ducting to the front brakes (we have had significant issues the past two years with the new big brake kit from Ireland Engineering (I can't believe they have the gall to use the word Engineering in their company name given the crap quality of the kits they produce). In addition, we are going to be giving the trailer some much needed maintenance. We're replacing the complete axle assembly, both tires and the spare tire as well. With 100,000 miles on the trailer and almost no maintenance, it is a wonder it lasted as long as it did before giving us trouble this year. I'll probably talk about that later.

Right now, there's nothing much going on on the salmon raising front, though that is coming up in another month or so. Over the past 10 years I have raised 630,000 fall-run coho salmon in an incubator and relased them into McAleer Creek which runs through my front yard. If I were at home during daylight hours, I might get to see some of the returning fish, but at this time of year it is dark when I go to work and dark when I get back, so the only chance would be on weekends and I haven't seen any lately.

That's enough for now. Little by little you'll get a picture of my crazy life.

These are the things that interest me. If any of them are of interest to you, great. Read along


About Me

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I'm currently 60 years old. I currently work as the learning management system specialist for American University of Madaba in Madaba, Jordan. I was originally certified as a high-school English teacher and taught school for 13 years (1 year of substituting, 1 year of 7th grade, 2 years of a combined 5th, 6th, 7th grade, 9 years of 8th grade). I've worked for hardware and software companies for the past 23 years doing training, training materials development, certification test development and other education related stuff. My wife and I have raised four children to adulthood; some of them live at home at the moment, but that won't last (they're too independent for that). We live at home with 2 Golden Retrievers, 2 black cats, a crazy cat, and, during the winter, 70,000 coho salmon.