Sunday, March 29, 2009

Fractured--#18 finished

Fractured is a good book, a good detective/thriller type book.  I enjoyed reading about the investigation and the characters in the book.  It is about a high school girl that was kidnapped along with a murder and a self defense murder.  Not a topic I think a parent really wants to think too much about.  I guess this book is part of an ongoing series on the lead detective Will Trent.  I will probably look for other books by this author because I liked it, but not loved it.  A good read overall though.

I have already posted it on PBS because there were something like 6 people that wanted it so I should have it mailed off early this week.  I also bought another copy of Chasing Harry Winston that was on sale at the library.  I figured that would be an easy credit to get since I knew there were over 400 people wanting the book still.  I am racking up credits at PBS.  I just need to get some of these other books read while they are still on Wish Lists over there.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

A few miles this week

Well I was able to get a few miles in this week.  Monday was only 1 mile & I was done.  I don't know if it was because I hadn't run in 5 days or something like that or if I just wasn't really into running.  Oh well that happens.

Tuesday was supposed to be our workout day but our babysitter was running late & I was tired from work so Debbie went to workout & I stayed home.  Thursday was our next workout day and I tried lifting some weights but my shoulder wasn't really up to it.  I got on the treadmill & put in 3 miles though.  I know I went faster the last 2 miles than I normally do on the treadmill--maybe I am finally getting the hang of it.

Today it has been raining all day long so I hit the community center again.  I didn't do the treadmill, but instead hit the walking/jogging track above the gym.  I did a slow 3 miles.  That is 7 miles for the week if anyone is counting.  Not that great but right now just need to keep getting some miles in.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Now reading

Since finally finishing War & Peace, I am able to branch out a little on what I am reading.  Of course, I haven't really done that yet.  I am still working on The Memory Keeper's Daughter, but haven't really gotten very far in it yet.  I started a 2nd book, Fractured by Karin Slaughter a detective book.  So far kind of gruesome and interesting.  It is on some Wish Lists at PBS so I want to get it read & then in the mail while people still want it.

Speaking of PBS, I will be mailing The Farther Shore in the next couple of days.  I like earning those credits, just need to get more books read so I can add to my Posted Books list.

I will probably take a couple of minutes and look at picking out a 3rd book.  I might not start it till the weekend but I do want to start thinking about it.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

The Farther Shore--#17 finished

The same night I finished War & Peace I also finished The Farther Shore by Matthew Eck.  It was a good quick read about a group of soldiers serving in Africa, maybe Somalia the book doesn't say, that get caught inside a city and have to find their way out.  It is a tough read about how rough the situations they get in are.  The soldiers are trying to get out of the city and after their rendezvous fails have to do it on their own.  Once out of the city they are still nowhere near a military base so have to make their way along a road and ocean beach.  A monsoon comes in and they have to hole up before continuing. 

The book really digs into the worsening psychological impacts on each soldier as well as the physical difficulties.  Like I said it is a tough read.  A good read and would certainly recommend to people interested in military stuff especially dealing with Somalia.  I think it is on a couple of Wish Lists over a PBS so I will probably be mailing it off in the next few days.

War & Peace--#16 finished

Well, it certainly took long enough--started sometime in Nov & finished today.  Somewhere around 4 months or so to get it done.  Unlike previous times it was not the only book I was reading, somewhere around 20 other books were read along with War & Peace.  I am not sure what there is to say about the book right now, but will hit on a couple of thoughts.

1. Given how different the times were then in comparison to now, it is amazing how the real everyday thoughts and desires are still very much the same.  People's desire to be loved, to find meaning in life, to strive for stability and peace are feelings that Tolstoy wrote about that anyone today can understand and feel alongside his characters.  The insight he has into people is as true then as it is today, making this a truly timeless novel.

2. Tolstoy seemed to have little respect for Napoleon.  I don't remember getting that feeling from when I read it before--although years and slipping memories might be the case as well.  Tolstoy spends much time in his discussion of Napoleon focusing on how he is perceived by historians and why he feels they are just wrong.  The end of the book seems to want to kind of take the historians and most professor types to task, but really I am not sure how effective it was.  By that point, I had hit the wall and just wanted to complete the novel.

3. None of his main characters is without some major type of flaws.  I think this adds to them and makes it much easier to identify with them.  It does seem though that being away from Moscow or St Petersburg is best for them also.  Not surprising since I believe that is also the life that Tolstoy preferred.

4. I kept asking myself throughout the novel, what was the audience that Tolstoy was writing to?  Was it to the upper class Russians who would have easiest access to the novel.  Was it to the Czar and nobility?  Did he believe the book would reach the peasant class or merchants?  I don't know if answering this question would add anything to my enjoyment of the novel, but was just wondering since I am sure it was something he probably thought of while writing.

I am sure there are other things that will come up and many others that will just be remembered from the novel.  At this point I cannot say if I will be reading it again in the future.  I would like to think that I will, but it is not one that I can easily page through either.  It is an both and enjoyment to read and also in a sense an accomplishment as well.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Busy night

It was a busy night here.  First, Rose had a girl scout skate night so we had to get her up to school so she could go to that.  At least they had some moms helping out so one of us didn't have to go on this trip.  

This was also parent teachers meetings tonight.  Both kids are doing very well.  Thomas is reading which he has been for quite a while, but his teacher & his aide both said he has really improved and recognizes many words.  He is also reading numbers up into the 200s.  He is also doing things like identifying coins and how much they are worth and other simple math games.  He still has very little writing skills so is behind there, but overall doing very good.  Rose is just a delight to have says her teacher.  That is good to hear because at home she sometimes/many times acts like a slacker teenager instead of a delightful 10 year old.  She is scoring well on the tests, gets along well with everyone in class and reading & comprehension is great.  All good things.  Could work on spelling a little more and maybe doing some more writing projects are things for her to work on.  Spring break is here for them so hopefully some of those things are done instead of 6-10 hours of TV or computers each day.

After the teachers' meetings, it was go to the book fair.  Couldn't find anything that Thomas wanted, he only wanted Baby Einstein books--those are too young for school age kids I guess so they didn't have any.  Rose had picked out a Pokeman book earlier we got and Angie got some book with stickers.

Once we got home, it was time to go workout.  We actually met our babysitter at the book fair & she just walked home with us.  I mostly did weights and then did do 1 mile in around 13:15 on the treadmill and then something like 6 minutes on the bike.  I really don't like treadmills but I guess I need to get used to them or at least do a better job of tolerating them.

Then home, eat, read a little, fight kids to bed, a little TV and then read a little more till I am down here.  I saw a headline that President Obama made a kind of offhand joke about his bowling being like Special Olympics.  That is just disappointing and I also thought of Sarah Palin and her son Trig as well.  While Obama certainly wasn't trying to be hurtful, it doesn't really show much respect for people and kids with special needs.  I hope an apology comes out soon but he does seem to have a stubborn streak too so not sure if an apology will happen.

I am reading The Memory Keeper's Daughter by Kim Edwards.  Good book so far and actually I also taped/DVRed the movie earlier this week also.  I am not too far into it, maybe 60 pages or so out of 400 in total, so a long way to go.  I am getting very close to finishing War & Peace also--I am under 100 pages to go.  Should be done with it Friday night or Saturday.  I also have The Farther Shore by Matthew Eck, but I haven't started it yet.  It is on a couple peoples WL on PBS so I kind of want to read it so I can then mail it out for credits.

In the mail today I received another order from PBS.  It was one that I had gotten from the Book Bazar on the website.  It was a 4 for 1 deal.  I ordered The Kite Runner and also got Angels & Demons by Dan Brown, Avenger by Forsyth and Bleachers by Grisham.  All books that I want to read if only I can find the time to get to them and the other 30+ books I have stacked around too.  It is 12:50 so just a few minutes of reading and then sleep.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Good weather = exercise

We have had a string of days of good to great Spring weather here.  Sunday I got out and put 2.5 miles in.  I was planning on running during PSR on Monday but after driving out there found out there was no PSR so no Monday run.  Tuesday we went for our workout at the community center even though neither of us wanted to do it.  I didn't run but instead just did some weights on the machines and finished with around 10 minutes on the bike.

Today I was off work and was able to get 4 miles in.  All four miles were between 12:40 and 12:20--slow but at least consistent.  It was a good thing that I didn't wait though because a good rain came in tonight.

Tuesday, my mother-in-law came over with some extra potatoes that they had after planting theirs.  Rose helped Grandma hoe the ground and get the potatoes planted.  So I guess I can officially say my garden is started.  I will do some tomato plants as well, not sure about anything else though.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Northern Sky--#15 finished

Northern Sky is a book that I am really not sure why I bought in the first place and they why I started reading it.  It is by a British writer who is also a radio guy.  It is a book about 6 people or mates who's lives revolve around each other and folk music.  I am not a big music fan and probably less folk, especially British folk.  The book was a library sale purchase so it cost a quarter, so that is probably why I bought it.  I would also guess that I figured it would be one that would also be a candidate for someone to want at PBS.  

As far as why I started reading, I know one of the reasons was it was over 300 pages--312 to be exact.  From looking at the list of books read this year, there were too many in the 200 to under 300 page range.  What the list doesn't tell anyone is that this whole time I have also been reading War & Peace so I have not wanted to take on another long book at the same time.  Since Northern Sky was just over 300 pages, I guess one night I decided it was a good book to read.

Now ever since I started reading it I have kind of questioned why I am reading this.  I didn't really enjoy it pretty much the whole way through.  The main character Ed is a drunken fool that seems to have a chip on his shoulder about everything as well as being irrational about most things.  This book is almost about a whole series of bad ideas and happenings that he basically causes or antagonizes.  It just seemed to reinforce the whole way through or at least remind me of my bad decision to read the book.  

This Ed character is also a university professor, at least associate, and that just continues to amaze me--why did the author make such an idiot also a professor.  None of the characters really deal with their shortcomings and their problems, instead they are either pushed aside or used as a crutch for their not having to face up to life.  First everyone drinks too much and no where in the book does anyone think that quitting or at least cutting way back would be a good idea.  For a university professor--not just educated person--Ed can't seem to ask any decent questions or set any type of limits of Matt the pushy music agent type friend.

It is really a book not worth your time, unless music and or folk music is your thing.  It is a far better book than The Yellow Sailor but that is just not saying much either.  I am looking forward to posting it on PBS now and will just have to wait out the day for when I can mail it out to someone else.

Run in

I was able to get a decent but slow run in today of 4 miles.  The first mile was slow--getting to be too normal--13:16, 2nd was around 12:45, 3rd at 12:05 and 4th around 12:15.  I ran my normal park--Woodson Park, which is very flat and no one around.  I am happy with this.  I know I am out of shape and this was just a building block kind of run to get me back into this running thing and shape.

Thursday we did get to the community center for a workout while the new babysitter was watching the kids.  It was only for an hour but that was plenty of time for both of us since our bodies aren't used to doing this workout thing.  We started on the treadmills and I did 1 mile mixed walking & running somewhere around 13:40.  Then I hit some of the machines--mostly for my arms, but did a leg exercise as well.  While Debbie was on the eliptical, I went on the recumbant bike and did that for 10 minutes or so.  I figured a good workout in case I want to try to actually accomplish that whole bike to work thing I talked about last year.

My weekly mileage for running ended up being 7.3, not too bad after too many slacker weeks.  Hopefully I can keep getting 3 runs in a week and get to around 7-10 or more miles per week.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Slow Short Run

Well, I didn't get a run in over the weekend so I was finally able to run tonight after work.  It was cold, in the 20s with windchill being in the teens.  I thought I had a stocking cap in the car, but my wife thinking it was my son's had taken it inside.  I had an old baseball cap, but that did nothing for my ears.  Anyway, I knew I was only going for a short run so I just did it.  

I did 2.3 miles, first mile was 13:16 and 2nd at 12:49, don't know what the last .3 was, but like I said earlier--slow.  At least I got a run in I figured.  At the end of my run I really noticed my ears were cold and by the time I drove home I had kind of a headache brain freeze thing going.  I just sat on the couch for a while and it got better.  Lesson learned though, no more running in cold without proper clothes.  I could have gone to the community center but I didn't know I was without my stocking cap until I was at my park I was going to run at.

Tomorrow is our first night with a new babysitter that lives close by, I think just a couple blocks away.  My wife & I are going to go to the community center for an hour while she watches the kids.  I think it is somewhere around 7pm, so kind of a weird time--kind of late to not eat dinner beforehand and getting back around 8 is a little too late to eat then.  We will have to see how it goes.  Not sure if I will do running or just some light lifting--probably both if I hand to guess.

Monday, March 9, 2009


This was MVC tournament weekend.  My parents and my one brother and his wife all came into town for the games.  As I probably mentioned last year, the 4 games in one day is the best day of basketball each year for me.  Creighton was blowing out WSU before letting them back in it at the end.  It took an amazing shot by Creighton guard Woodfox to pull out the victory.  On Saturday, the team kept up it's lousy play and was blown out by Ill St.

The buildup to the championship game was great though, Ill St with very good athletes and waves of players and N Iowa with a solid, unflappable team.  The flashy team vs the old consistant one.  Well it went into overtime before N Iowa was able to pull it out.  Ill St player O Eldridge was amazing though and won the tourney MVP--only 2nd time in MVC history that MVP didn't go to winning team.  

Now Creighton is solidly on the bubble for an NCAA bid.  I am going back and forth believing they will get it, to no chance and they will be going to the NIT.  I really believe they deserve the bid, but the NCAA doesn't like giving out those precious bids to non-major teams.  I hope to be happy come Sunday, but not really expecting it.

The Last Patriot--#14 finished

I actually finished this book up a couple of days ago, but we had family in town staying with us so my computer time was very limited.  The Last Patriot is a good thriller type CIA/other good guy types vs Islamafacists.  An interesting story that incorporated the Barbary Coast pirates and Thomas Jefferson into today's war on terror and a big what if about Mohammed and the Koran.  I am not sure if the main character Scott Horvath is actually a recurring character for Brad Thor or not.  It kind of sounded like he could be.  In other words I am not sure if this book is part of a series or just by itself.  

I really liked the ease of reading it had with very short chapters.  This allowed me to read this book in short spurts and after a while it seemed I just kept at it.  Not great literature or anything but a good read for a thriller.

I have started reading Northern Sky by Mark Radcliffe a little over a week ago and I am still not sure why.  I have many books to read but started this one and so far don't really care for it.  I am only 38 pages in so I guess I could drop out but will probably stick with it.  Last night I also started reading The Memory Keeper's Daughter by Kim Edwards.  Only a few pages in so far, but I have known of this book for some a child with Down Syndrome is the key figure throughout.  I have also seen a few minutes of the movie, a made for TV thing--maybe Lifetime movie.  Of course I still have War & Peace also.  I really didn't have much time to read for the last few days though so need to get back on it, hopefully tonight.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Chasing Harry Winston--#13 finished

I had to finish this chic lit book before anyone actually saw me reading it, except my wife.  It was actually a good read, interesting characters that the book easily bounced between.  Three nearly 30 something women with relationship issues and how they worked and changed themselves in a year's period.  Nothing really deep or involved but a pager turner at least. 

I did enjoy that the characters had a normal feel about them, at least as normal as people with no financial pressures can be.  The men characters in the book were also not just what I was expecting that "men bad" type of character.  I don't think I am going to run out and read The Devil Wears Prada, but I might watch the movie if I see it on sometime.  My wife already went & saw it with her sister so probably won't be renting.

Not sure if a 3rd book will be started or not, I have The Last Patriot which was basically being ignored the last few days so might just spend time with it and War & Peace for now.  I do have plenty of books to crack though so might grab a 3rd sometime today, don't know yet.