Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Another Library Raid

I had to drop off some of our checked out library books for the kids because there were holds out on them--we weren't able to renew. While there I of course had to check out the For Sale table. I came home with Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood and I Am Charlotte Simmons by Tom Wolfe for the price of one dollar. I have heard of Margaret Atwood but haven't read anything by her yet so I thought I would give it a try, or at least get it home where it will become part of my never ending pile of books I need to read. I have read Bonfire of the Vanties and Man in the Full by Wolfe and really enjoyed both. I also have the Right Stuff in one of my bookcases, but just haven't gotten to it yet. I read a couple reader reviews at Amazon that didn't really like the book, so not sure about it. I would imagine that while there is some legtimate criticism of it, I will probably also enjoy it because I have liked his other novels. Again for the price of one dollar, I can't really complain even if both books are duds.

I was off work today so I was able to get in some good reading today. Mostly I was on The Drifters but tonight I have put some time into The Phantom as well. Both books are keeping my interest so I figure I will probably continue floating back and forth between the two. I have The Hobbit in the wings for my next book so those two new books are probably pretty far back right now in my reading pipeline.

One of the message boards I check in at, Runners World, linked and talked about how only 1 in 4 Americans read more than 4 books in the last year. I didn't clink on the link and read the article, but that won't stop me from thinking about this a little. Not sure what that says about our country. Obviously people are probably spending too much time on TV, that was almost too easy. I also think commute times for many workers is just too great, especially those I see locally. It is almost normal for a 30 minute each way commute. That is at least an hour a day wasted in a car listening to the radio. I know many people that commute much longer than that also, up to and even over an hour each way. I guess after a day a work and a long drive home, staying awake and reading a book might be too much. Not to even mention how early they have to wake up in the morning to do it all over again. Of course there is the overscheduled lives of people as well. Workouts, kids stuff, meetings, internet time, etc that all eat into a person's free time. It is too bad, because I think reading is one of those activities that like exercise will benefit a person through their entire life.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Real Quick Now

Don't have much time but want to get something down. I got 3 miles in tonight at the Community Center on the indoor walking/jogging track. Not very exciting but at least it was something.

Now reading Phantom of the Opera & The Drifters--Michener. Also picked up a copy of The Hobbit from my used bookstore for $2.00. I hope to get started on The Hobbit next & maybe even before I finish the other two.

I am tired of the snow & ice around here. It is time for Spring already. On that note, I will call it a night.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

God Clobbers Us All--done

It didn't take long once I finished up The Rule of Four to polish off God Clobbers Us All. I really kind of liked it which still kind of surprises me now as I type it. Based in CA in the mid-70's with the main characters all working at a nursing home with drugs, missing person and sex as the main actions throughout. The two main characters, Edgar and Pat both seem to develop throughout the book and when you hope they make some progress, they kind of slip back. They all have obvious flaws that are not only obvious to the reader but also to the character themself. But the characters don't just solve their problems and move on, instead they kind of break out of the pattern for a little time and then slip back into it. It could be kind of depressing in the end except Edgar is young, still a teenager, and has shown some ability at making good choices. Of course going the easy way with drugs and just hanging out is also very possible and in the end everything is left open.

I am having a hard time deciding if I would recommend this book. I am sure I would to people I know are readers and would enjoy something a little different. I would have a much harder time recommending to someone in general though. I will pay attention to other books by Poe Ballantine though, I did enjoy his writing style and realistic characters. This book alone has made the $1.50 I spent buying used library books worthwhile and reminds me I have to get to a library branch and checkout their books for sale. Not too bad for a book that the main reason I bought was because the writer is now living in Chadron, NE.

Sunday, February 17, 2008


I guess I need to do one of these catch-all writeups every once in a while.

--I have picked up Phantom of the Opera as my new book. Have only read the intro so haven't really gotten anywhere with it yet.

--Read quite a bit in God Clobbers Us All. Some good writing going on and some kind of plain old weird happenings as well. Should have it finished in the next few days, so I will be looking for another book right away to go with the Phantom.

--Still no running. I wanted to get a run in this weekend at some point. This was one of my 3 day weekends, but with Angie's surgery & Debbie feeling kind of bad all over, running was just not in the cards. I will get some kind of run in this week, even if it is just a 2 mile thing at the Community Center.

--No PSR tomorrow, President's Day, so that takes out one of my possible running times also.

--Angie's surgery went okay, too early to know for sure if this solved her lazy eye problem. She did start running a temperature this weekend though, that spiked at over 104. Our peditrician wants to see her tomorrow morning, so I will probably be doing this trip. Debbie is taking some new medication and doesn't want to drive on it yet.

--Had Thomas on the toliet for around an hour tonight, but no #2 yet. Debbie's sister was over today for haircuts and after mine was finished, I went looking for Thomas. He was squatting upstairs but hadn't gone yet. It was haircut first & then toliet, but nothing came. I know it will happen at some point, I just wish it was already.

--Baseball is starting up. While on paper the Cards look to be in trouble this year, you never know. I think it would take career years from several unexpected players to carry this team into the playoffs, but not impossible. Duncan, Ankiel and Molina are all about the right age where a bigger type offensive season could occur. Wainwright has to throw like a #1 and Mulder has to come back bigtime for this team to have a chance. I also worry about the bullpen in the sense, it was pretty good and that whole regression to the mean thing. Of course when I say bullpen, I don't mean the last guys in it like Jiminez, Maroth, etc--just the main ones. Also Kennedy & Isturis(however that is spelled) need to provide something on offense, otherwise I hope Ryan wins a job and one is sent packing. With the new GM, I am not sure what to think yet about his ability to make deals. Jocketty was certainly capable of making a good Spring Training deal, I hope Mo can make one as well to upgrade our middle infield preferrably.

--College basketball, Creighton is just dying on the road. They lost to Evansville and Bradley this week. Bradley I can understand, but Evansville is the type of game you just cannot lose if you want to see the postseason. I haven't checked SLU's record lately, but from what I remember I will be close on Majerus having his first losing season or not. Other than that not sure much else in the cards for the Bills. Behind the NCAA tournament there is the NIT and another one, so with a winning record, I guess postseason could be possible, but not likely.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

The Rule of Four--done

I finished off my 4th book so far this year, The Rule of Four. It is an alright read, kind of entertaining but also some issues that kind of have to be overlooked to enjoy. I thought the premise of the book was good, a Renaissance book that no one really understands with bonus points in that it is an actual book & mystery as well. I also was able to easily keep at with reading wise, because there was plenty of action/stuff going on throughout.

Unfortunately, there are several things about the book that just make it a good read and not really anything that will or should become lasting. The main characters are all college students, but I don't think they have a real class load, because all of their time is being spent on researching on character's final thesis. The whole timeline of this book is squeezed into just a few days with some flashbacks included. I just don't see where there are enough hours in these days to accomplish what the characters were doing. I never really made a connection with the characters as well and maybe because they were college students that was the reason. They just seemed a little to easily defined, but the book tried to make them more complicated at times and I just couldn't buy it. Also I was not a big fan of the ending.

This is a book that I think could have easily have doubled in size and been more satisfying. It seemed like it just pushed the action at points in order to just get through with it, rather than taking the time to develop some of the characters and plots a little more. Of course, I am just a reader and not a writer so I really have no idea what it takes to make a book either. Not sure I would recommend it to anyone, at least anymore than I do like a Grisham book. Good read with some action and interesting stuff, but make sure any expectations you have are tempered.

Kind of interesting side note. Our youngest, Angie, had her 3rd eye surgery yesterday for her lazy eye. I was able to put more than a few hours into The Rule of Four with waiting this out. The interesting part was after the surgery was finished her doctor came by to give us an update and noticed The Rule of Four and had read it also. He was more disappointed in it, he said the Dan Brown books are much better than it. I haven't read any Dan Brown yet, so that is probably why I am still calling this a good read, I don't think my expectations were the same as Angie's doctor on this. By the way, everything seems fine with Angie. It will be a few months though before we know if this surgery corrected her problem or not.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Boring Old Married Couple

Tomorrow is Valentine's Day and Debbie & I have agreed not to get each other anything. Neither one of us really wants chocolate, flowers or anything else like that--so it is for the best. We would just end up getting each other something mostly useless. I will probably stop & get her a card & cards or something small for the kids on the way home.

We had dinner at Steak N Shake tonight since Debbie has a Lenten study group tomorrow, this was kind of our Valentine dinner for the kids also. Thomas was pretty good in the restaurant, not sure if he is ready for a more adult setting yet though. Debbie had mentioned Applebees because it is family friendy, but I said I don't think our family is restaurant friendly. By the end of dinner tonight, Angie started singing loud enough to by annoying to the people at the table next to us I am sure. We wrapped up dinner & took our shakes home to eat.

Debbie said that Thomas' teacher told her they were studying America today. I didn't have to hear the rest, I knew then he started singing Neil Diamond's America--Coming to America, Today. He loves that line. We were interrupted so I am not sure what else his teacher told Debbie, but I am guessing they had to have cracked up.

Since finishing Wuthering Heights I have been putting some time into The Rule of Four. While certainly not great literature, it is starting to become a fun page turner. This also means that God Clobbers has been kind of pushed to the background the last few days. I need to get better at this reading multi-number of books at once. Lately, I have been getting too wrapped up in one and ignoring the other too easily. This as you can probably guess, also means no 3rd book being started right now either.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Waking Up

On Sunday, Debbie & I were greeted with a funny wakeup story. Since we had a trivia night Saturday and the kids didn't get to bed with the babysitter, Sunday was kind of a sleep in late morning. It was somewhere around 8:00am or so, when I heard Thomas and Angie in our kitchen doing their morning routine of talking back and forth to each other like an old married couple. Well, Angie found this noisy ball rattling thing and started pushing it or rolling it, whatever it was causing noise. Thomas tells Angie, "Angie, stop making noise. Mommy, Daddy & Rose are sleeping." Well that was not enough to make Angie stop, so she kept at it and about 1 minute later, Thomas comes into our room to let me know Angie is making noise. I was just laughing. He got in bed with us for a couple of minutes and then pulled me out of bed and got the cartoons started. Those two are funny to listen to in the morning, if they don't have any distractions--their back and forth banter just cracks me up.

Ice/snow/sleet kind of combination hit St Louis this afternoon which caused PSR to be cancelled. This of course means no running again for me. Not sure when I will actually get back out there and put some miles in. Hopefully sometime this week, but no promises.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Reading Update

Finished off Wuthering Heights today. Glad it is finished, certainly not one of my favorite books. I am glad that Cathy & Hareton got together, at least there are a couple of people that can be salvaged from the wreckage of the list of characters in this book. Glad I can say I have read this book and the characters are memorable even if I did not like them and have a hard time believing in their reality. I am not sure I am going to be able to read another English novel for a while, I have a Dickens & a Hardy and a couple others, that I think have now been pushed back a little farther on my stack of books to read list.

I have already started on another book--God Clobbers Us All, by Poe Ballantine. This is one of the books that I just picked up a couple of weeks ago at the library sale. The author lives in Chadron, NE--since NE is my home state, I had to buy the book. It also sounds kind of interesting and it is also not all that long--something around 190 pages.

I am still on the Four book. I haven't read anything on it for about a week now since I was trying to finish up Wuther Heights. I probably won't read anymore tonight, but maybe pick it up tomorrow night.

Well, I am at 3 books read for '08 now, good start but still a long ways to go with my wanting to get 2 read a month. I just watched the last part of the Lord of the Rings tonight. I have this book and do want to read it also. I have read the Hobbit many years ago and will probably read first before getting into the Lord of the Rings series. Not sure if that will be this year or not, but it is now on my radar. Not sure if I am going to try to start a 3rd book or not yet, give me a few days & I will see.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Just Checking In

It has been a few days so I better get something down. I think I will go back to the quick hitter tabs.

--Super Bowl. I am very happy the Patriots lost. I grew up with the Miami Dolphins as my favorite team and remember doing a 4-H speech about the undefeated 1972 team. While the Patriot winning streak may have been longer, they don't have an undefeated season. This is one record I am glad did not fall and certainly glad it wasn't the Patriots that did it.

--No Running. I haven't gotten back out there yet. I picked up a cold sometime on Saturday and am still getting over it. It kind of peaked Sunday morning and has been slowly getting better. Tomorrow night is out and probably Friday night as well, so maybe Saturday day I will try to get a few/couple miles in.

--Reading. Still working on Wuthering Heights and The Rule of Four. Enjoying both books, although as I said before, don't really care for any of the characters in Wuthering Heights. I looked/thought about starting a 3rd book but haven't yet. I guess I did grab an old textbook on Arab/Israel Conflict and read part of the intro, but I am not really counting that--no real plans to continue either.

--Kids. Angie, the youngest, is sick. I just came on today and I guess she threw up tonight, the poor thing. Thomas is fighting the same cold that I have I think. He is doing a really good job of blowing his nose. Also I found his glasses tonight, they were behind a speaker by our TV & Stereo. The glasses has been missing for a couple of weeks. Rose is good, still doing Cello practices 3 times a week. She said she is still not using the bow, not really sure why other than maybe she just isn't catching on with it. She ended up getting her 160 boxes of girl scout cookies sold so she will get the prize she wanted. She is not doing softball this year, she has been saying all along she didn't want to, but I was hoping she would change her mind. She wants to play tennis instead, not sure there is anything organized around here for this or if it will be me or Debbie just out there with her. Supposedly she will be learning this in PE also.

--Trivia Nights. Our church had our trivia night on Saturday. Our table is usually decent at these, placing a couple of times and usually around top 1/3 or so. Not so on Saturday, we took a beating. We have another one this coming Saturday, same people at the table, so maybe we can bounce back some.

--Election. I am to the realization that McCain is going to get the nomination, oh well, I know I will be voting for him in Nov over whomever the Dem is. I might not be talking him up as much as I would other candidates, but I still think he would be the better choice than either Obama or Hillary. Also given his age, I would say there is a real chance that he might only be a one term president.

--Baseball. It is getting closer and closer to catchers & pitchers reporting for Spring Training. I cannot wait. Baseball has risen to the best sport for me, I just enjoy following it much more than anything else out there. The hot stove info, the stats, the minor leagues, college baseball, roster construction, lineups, etc, just a lot of great things/angles to the sport. Throw in that I also enjoy watching it and there you have it. I also want to catch a college game or two at SLU or other area colleges as well this spring. Gotta love free baseball.

Well, that ended up being a lot more typing than I figured I had in me. I guess I did have a little catching up to do.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Snow Day & Other Stuff

Here in St Louis we got hit with some snow. It started on Thursday and during the overnight we really got hit--somewhere around 8", but seemed like a ft when shoveling. I had the day off, so it was nice not having to clean off the car & get moving early--I was able to ease into it. The kids got out and played in it for a short time also. Angie basically had to stay on our front porch, the snow was too deep for her to walk in. It wasn't good packing snow, so no snow fights or anything. Mostly sledding and just playing in it. Thomas kept laying on his stomach and making karate chops into the snow--I think he liked how deep it was.

We had a meeting earlier this week with the team at school about Thomas and his behavior. He is too easily distracted at school and has a very hard time following directions. There were some good ideas that the school is going to implement to hopefully help the situation. Also it was mentioned that he hasn't remembered all of the words he has known in the past. This is surprising because he does have a very good memory. Debbie made little flash cards so we can go over his words. Also she has been working with him on reading the last couple of days. He actually read a couple of pages in a Dick & Jane book that we have. We were all pretty excited, especially Thomas. I read to Thomas everynight, but I don't make him read to me. I will start making him read and go over his words if he hasn't already done so with Debbie from now on. It is good to see progress, now if we could just get that on his potty training we would be in business.

I was able to put some good time in with my books the last couple of days. Wuthering Heights is moving along. Heathcliff just seems like a dick and I am not really sure why anyone is wasting time with him. I am to the part where it is just after Isabella has married him. I am so far pretty unimpressed with the characters, no one seems to have a decent mind. Every character so far seems a little over the top bizzare. I am having a hard time caring about any of the characters. Since it is a classic and one of those books that I should read, I will push on and see what comes, but not too impressed at this point.

My 2nd book is The Rule of Four by Ian Caldwell and Dustin Thomason. Still early, only 70 some pages into it, so can't really say much about it yet. From some of the reviews I had read previously, it should have a little action involved at some point and some mystery as well. I am hoping I can kind of push through it kind of quick. I have a feeling Wuthering Heights might be bogging me down and I don't want two books doing that to me at the same time.

Well, McCain won Florida and seems to have a lot of momentum right now. I am not sure Romney will be able to overcome it. I guess McCain would be better than either Obama or Clinton, but I doubt it will be by much. The other thing I am wondering about is if McCain would be able to run for a 2nd term if elected. Given his age, his choice of a running mate will be more important than just helping get him elected. I don't know what percent chance the VP might have in becoming President, but it would probably be much larger than any recent VP--probably since Reagan's 2nd term. Just something I was thinking about, not sure who would be on the list, but some guesses might be: Huckabee, Libermann, Hagel, Mel Martinez(FL governer whose endorsement certainly helped carry FL for McCain), Colin Powell and Fred Thompson. Guiliani is probably on the very short list for Attorney General. I don't think Romney would have any part of a McCain run, Mitt's negative ads I think has turned him off as a running mate. Libermann would really upset the conservative base, but that is what they deserve in going for McCain because he seems to be electable. I don't know, I guess I am still a little bitter about this since I don't see Romney as being able to stop McCain, oh well we will certainly see.