“May have been the losing side. Still not convinced it was the wrong one.”

"This report is maybe 12-years-old. Parliament buried it, and it stayed buried till River dug it up. This is what they feared she knew. And they were right to fear because there's a whole universe of folk who are gonna know it, too. They're gonna see it. Somebody has to speak for these people. You all got on this boat for different reasons, but you all come to the same place. So now I'm asking more of you than I have before. Maybe all. Sure as I know anything I know this, they will try again. Maybe on another world, maybe on this very ground swept clean. A year from now, 10, they'll swing back to the belief that they can make people . . . better. And I do not hold to that. So no more running. I aim to misbehave." ~ Captain Malcom Reynolds

Sunday, January 30, 2011

◦Day 20 – Favorite kiss or love scene

Ummmmm really? I can't think of one for this... guess it's because they aren't the key fixture in my books.


For there are none so demanding as a kitty who feels her snuggle time in a lap has been neglected...

Saturday, January 29, 2011

◦Day 19 – Best ensemble of characters in a book

OK, think this FINALLY catches me up after the week!

The characters inhabiting the world of The Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan.

Many, myself included, have commented and complained about the trilogy which has turned into an epic beyond measure... the fact that each book is hundreds of pages long, and that after over 20 years we are just now finally approaching the end.

But that is because Mr. Jordan made each character an individual, and takes the time to develop and write about each. If the play doesn't have just one star, but an ensemble cast, it tends to take a bit longer.

Along with this development, Mr. Jordan manages to get you invested in each of these characters - you aren't skipping a chapter to get back to the main story, or just skimming over things trying to move on. Each person's actions are important and have effects which reverberate throughout the tale.

Fortunately Mr. Sanderson has done a good job in continuing the style and quality - here's hoping that the wrap-up volume satisfies us all.

◦Day 18 – Favorite book cover

Given that as we have discussed my greatest love in reading is the fantasy and science fiction genres (and does anyone besides me remember when they were considered the same thing by bookstores?); and that IMHO some of the best art in publishing graces the covers of these works, this one is near impossible to answer. In fact, a number of good stories and series drew me in simply due to the quality of the artwork and scene depicted (similarly, I found a number of stories which I then considered horrible despite the covers).

While I enjoy a number of the Frazetta/Brom/similar "sword and sorcery" style covers which used to be the most common, I think my greatest enjoyments have been the artists who have decorated the Taltos novels by S. Brust, or the work of Thomas Canty which enjoyed a brief vogue in the 1990's.

◦Day 17 – Favorite trilogy or tetralogy

This one was a toss-up between the Takeshi Kovacs stories by Richard Morgan and the first Royal Assassin series by Robin Hobbs. Plus, both fit the criteria of "good series which don't drag on for years and years," which can make it much more palatable!

However, in true reflection the winner is The Faded Sun novels by C. J. Cherryh. Quality science fiction, believable aliens (who are more than humans in rubber masks) and an examination of what makes cultures tick. Even after 30+ years they still read true.

◦Day 16 – Your guilty pleasure book

As a genre, I still enjoy a number of young adult/teen fantasy series - Ranger's Apprentice, The Last Apprentice, Eragon, John Bellairs, and others of similar ilk. Despite the fact they are intended for a younger audience I often find the writing to be on par with "adult" series, and they are a nice escape when all I am seeking is to enjoy the story.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Still behind

Long week here, dealing with some stuff - will catch up tomorrow hopefully.

deposition - legal term for Shakespeare was right...

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

◦Day 15 – Favorite female character

This one actually wasn't hard - Hermoine Granger.

She's smart, loves learning & reading, and can't help but share her knowledge. She doesn't see a need to play dumb just to impress some boy, or to compromise her principles.

And, for the record, I think that Emma Watson hit the role perfectly, note for note with nary a failure.

◦Day 14 – Favorite male character

Hmmm a tough one here. Going to have to go with several, just to be difficult:
Spenser, from Robert B. Parker's series.
Burke, from Vachss' novels.
Fitz, from Robin Hobb's Royal Assassin series.
Sleel, from Steve Perry's Matador series.

Yes, there are common elements amongst all of those.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

◦Day 13 – Favorite childhood book

The House With a Clock In Its Walls by John Bellairs.

Nothing but an enjoyable read, well-done for all ages to enjoy and cherish. One of the highlights of last year was when Jacob decided he was ready to sit & listen to the whole thing. And one of the books I made sure to keep in hardback to pass on down the road.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

◦Day 12 – An book you’ve read more than twice

This one is funny - apparently it's not "normal" for people to read something twice? Because I have a significant number in my library which I've read at least twice, if not five or more times...

I've already mentioned The Lord of the Rings. Other entries in the "frequent read" category are The Matador novels by Steve Perry; the Spenser novels by Robert B. Parker (particularly Early Autumn); the Takeshi Kovacs series by Richard Morgan; John Bellair's childrens stories; anything by P.J. O'Rourke; Katherine Kimbriel's Alfreda stories; Manly W. Wellman's Silver John stories; Adam Hall's Quiller novels; Jim Butcher's Dresden Files; Steven Brust's Vlad Taltos series; Roger Zelazny's Chronicles of Amber... that's just off the top of my head, and there are several others.

Friday, January 21, 2011

◦Day 11 – A book that disappointed you

As Time Goes By - the sequel written for Casablanca.

I've loved the movie since I first saw it on TV as a kid, and it is one of the staples in our collection. Particularly for the fact that there are so many intriguing characters - not just Rick and Ilsa, but all of the others about the scene - people you wonder at their pasts, their own tales, and where they end up.

But the fact that the movie ends without answering all of that (much like real life) is one of the strong points I guess. The book was an attempt to follow things beyond the movie, but IMHO just was unable to succeed. Perhaps it was merely a case of the bar being set too high - it doesn't give you much to work with really.

Thursday, January 20, 2011


Been a long week, with my schedule kind of skewed - which has meant me not being home for time with my family in the evenings, cooking supper etc. Hopefully all straight now.

Along with that I managed to get my head smacked today, and now have a nice-sized goose egg and cut to go along with it.

◦Day 10 – A book you thought you wouldn’t like but ended up loving

Again, going to have to come back to this one.

And... even with 24 hours to consider, I honestly can't think of one for this. Maybe it will come to me over the weekend...

◦Day 09 – Best scene ever

Had a hard time coming up with this one - I have favorite scenes from many books, and it would be hard to label just one. But, here is one in particular which came to mind: In The Lord of the Rings, where Peregrin Took takes his oath of fealty to Gondor and the Steward Denethor.

Not because of the particular dialogue (though well-written, as all his stuff was), nor of any particular excitement - it's actually in a relatively slow section of the story.

No, it's due to the realization in Pippin's mind - the first time he truly faces the cost of what he is swearing to, the price which must be paid for the peoples of Middle Earth to fight Sauron, the fact he is dedicating his life to something bigger. Up until this moment Pippin was sort of along on his "grand adventure" still - sure, things got rough, but he never really looked at the bottom line - sort of an example of the Hobbits as a whole. But, with this one scene, he truly becomes a hero in his own right.

I will also say that this is one of the scenes in the movie trilogy which Peter Jackson got spot-on - the expressions, the filming and everything else capture it beautifully. And no, I'll hold my other rants on the movies in abeyance!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

◦Day 08 – Your favourite work in translation EDIT

Can't come up with one for this easily - I'll come back to it if I think of one.

Sorry for the delay, been a busy few days...

I thought of one yesterday but wasn't able to post til now - in line with Joshkie actually - the Go Rin No Sho (A Book of Five Rings) by Miyamato Musashi. An excellent work on both tactics and strategy, whether a student of the sword, martial arts or life in general.

And, with respect to Mr. Erickson, I had considered the Bible - but it didn't meet the criteria I needed ( a reflection of my character and not of the book itself).

Monday, January 17, 2011

Another entry

In the seemingly-endless moments which teaching other officers gives me:

Folks, the purpose of the instructor's observations and constructive criticism is to impart key points, help you avoid getting fired/sued/etc., and most importantly, to help you stay alive.

If your response consists of a myriad of excuses, validations, and "On the street I would have done X instead," you are missing the point and wasting both of our time.

◦Day 07 – A writer you don’t like

I am well aware that I am one of the three people in the Western world to say this, but I simply cannot enjoy Stephen King's writing.

I've tried, honestly - several times. Even made it all the way through a handful of his books. But, the only one I remotely enjoyed was Firestarter - and even that wasn't enough to put it on my "keep a copy around" list.

No, I have no particular reason why - nothing I find distasteful or anything like that. I simply cannot get into the man's work, which is a shame - as prolific and talented as he is, I should be able to enjoy something.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

◦Day 06 – Your favourite writer

This is another tough one - how do you narrow down just one author that is your favorite, particularly when you've been reading your whole life? There are far too many authors who have influenced me, whose work I have enjoyed and who I eagerly read when possible. Along with that, their are writers who I love for one or two of their works, but have other things I don't care for at all.

But, for my choice for this I will use P.J. O'Rourke. Like many others I have enjoyed his wit and humor throughout the years, since I first discovered him in my late teens. But I have also enjoyed his insights into society and world affairs, his ability to provide political and social analogies which explain so many of the issues of our days, and the eloquence of a fellow thinker.

Whether sarcasm or serious, wit or wisdom, Mr. O'Rourke's works have never failed to entertain.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Random bits from another DUI hunt

Yes, did some more overtime hours last night on a special. Easy money & beats a lot of the other off-duty jobs that people will work.

- While driving around in the sub-freezing temperatures, during the first part of the gig & having no luck, I had the observation that Momma Fargo can keep that cold weather drunk hunting stuff... Don't know how you survive in it for months at a time.

- Apparently it was high-school party night, as three of the drunks we picked up were in that demographic. Wonder how that looks on the college or job application - getting your first DUI before you even hit 21?

- Mine came with the added bonus of two underage passengers. One of whom started the encounter by lying about her age, then acting all surprised when I asked for her ID and she had to fess up - because I'm magically going to take her at her word? She was also the one with the rather-frustrated parent, as this apparently wasn't the first time she'd been called in the middle of the night to come pick her daughter up from the cops...

- As for the other parent, no, if your son had passed all the tests and not had any alcohol in his system, he wouldn't have been charged - the little piece of paper in his hands obviously says otherwise...

◦Day 05 – A book you hate

For what little it's worth, I don't have one for this - plenty of books I don't/wouldn't care for, but in & of itself I cherish the written word & find it hard to hate someone's efforts in that respect.

Friday, January 14, 2011

◦Day 04 – Your favorite book ever

For this one I have to go with The Lord of the Rings. I first read this when I was 11, and have re-read it every year since then. What I enjoy is the fact I still find something new each time, or see something in a new way.

I had ready fantasy and science fiction before then, along with other stuff. But this was the work that really opened these worlds to me, along with showing me the magic an author could create in his own universe. I can credit Professor Tolkein's work with a lifetime love of the genre, and an appreciation of the epic novel like no other.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

◦Day 03 – Your favorite recent book

Didn't sleep really last night, and have come down with a case of the "Wow, I really don't feel good" to go with it, so staying home today & posting a bit early.

For this one I went with the self-imposed additional limit of it having to have been published within the past year (a number of my recent reads are older, but just now working their way to that spot in the pile). It was a pretty tough choice amongst several candidates, but I am going with Jim Butcher's Changes, the latest complete Dresden novel.

Good plot, excellent character development and dilemmas, and of course a couple of twists. The kind that when you put it down you're annoyed at having to wait for the next installment.

Off to rest now, will catch comments later.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

◦Day 02 – A book that you wish more people had read

First off, thanks for the replies from those who shared - interesting to see how many of us share the same tastes in books and such.

For day two, I may surprise some with my choice - which is the Bible (Judeo or Christian version of your choice).

No, I'm not about to turn all religious on here.

The thing is - more good and bad has been done from what this book says, and more importantly what people THINK it says, over the last 2000 years than any other individual cause.

People have used the teachings to motivate them towards incredible feats of kindness, sharing, sacrifice, bravery and every other noble cause possible.

But, unfortunately, it has also been used to justify some of the most horrible, cruel, and depraved acts in the same time.

Yet with all this the great majority of those guilty have not read the work in question, instead cherry-picking their verses to fit the cause of the moment, and missing the message behind the whole.

So, I think that if more people actually took the time to read and think about this incredible work - whether you call it history, inspired faith, or simply a good allegory for living - that so many of these same people might hopefully change for the better.

Just my thoughts.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Meme time

OK - first the list, from A View from a Cube:

◦Day 01 – Your favourite series of books (with more than 3 in the series)
◦Day 02 – A book that you wish more people had read
◦Day 03 – Your favorite recent book
◦Day 04 – Your favorite book ever
◦Day 05 – A book you hate
◦Day 06 – Your favourite writer
◦Day 07 – A writer you don’t like
◦Day 08 – Your favourite work in translation
◦Day 09 – Best scene ever
◦Day 10 – A book you thought you wouldn’t like but ended up loving
◦Day 11 – A book that disappointed you
◦Day 12 – An book you’ve read more than twice
◦Day 13 – Favorite childhood book
◦Day 14 – Favorite male character
◦Day 15 – Favorite female character
◦Day 16 – Your guilty pleasure book
◦Day 17 – Favorite trilogy or tetralogy
◦Day 18 – Favorite book cover
◦Day 19 – Best ensemble of characters in a book
◦Day 20 – Favorite kiss or love scene
◦Day 21 – Favorite fictional romantic relationship
◦Day 22 – Favorite ending/climax
◦Day 23 – Most annoying character
◦Day 24 – Best quote
◦Day 25 – A book you plan on reading
◦Day 26 – OMG WTF? plot
◦Day 27 – Favourite non-mainstream writer
◦Day 28 – First book obsession
◦Day 29 – Current book obsession
◦Day 30 – Saddest character death

This is one I should be able to do alright on, as I have been a prolific reader since early childhood. So, we will see what I can come up with - some of which may be repeats, or just what pops to mind at the moment, and all subject to change at a whim...

Day One: Favorite Series of Books, with more than three in the series:
This is a tough one - I have a handful of authors who I have followed over the years, and whose name on a title is pretty much a guaranteed purchase. Some I like for the characters and plot, some for the mindless distraction of it, some the setting - you get the point.

Just to share some of my thought processes - I ruled out The Lord of the Rings, as I consider that a single tome, not a series. I love The Dresden Files, but for some reason it just doesn't make number one on the list. Steve Perry's Matador Series are excellent, but there is a... depth... lacking which I feel appropriate for this choice (apologies if you read that Steve - and not meant as an insult to your fine work!) The early Robert Parker Spenser novels would have fit, but unfortunately he lost steam down the road with them IMHO. I can think of a handful of other authors who also do great stuff I always buy, but again none have quite the gravitas for this answer. Robert Jordan doesn't get the nod because while I still like The Wheel of Time, there is a point to wrap the gorram story up already! I even debated Calvin and Hobbes as a timeless classic, but felt that was stretching the definition a bit.

So, for my selection - the Burke novels by Andrew Vachss.

They will never qualify as lighthearted reading, and yes they can be bleak, blunt, and crude in some ways. Vachss discussed many topics before it was acceptable to face them in the open light. His "heroes" were anything but noble and pure, much like the world they moved in. The answers were rarely black and white, and sometimes the story ended with people worse off than it began.

But through the entire series Mr. Vachss drew me in; he imparts his thoughts and lessons amidst the drama of a well-tuned tale, and you come away from the book exhausted but feeling the better for surviving the event. You became invested in the characters and their world, and you understood a bit more what drives some of the things which occur. And in the end, maybe you even questioned a few of the things you thought before. Isn't that what all a good story is supposed to do?

Looking forward to seeing who else joins in on this...

Monday, January 10, 2011

A Timely Quote

From the Rev. Paul's site:

"We must reject the idea that every time a law's broken, society is guilty rather than the lawbreaker. It is time to restore the American precept that each individual is accountable for his actions."
~ Ronald Reagan

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Who we are

Having enjoyed the laughs from the "psych profile" recently done by the Army on bomb techs, I will now add another - not in a humorous, but a realistic tone.

Many studies have been done over the years on just such a thing - trying to figure out "what makes us tick" as it were, how to improve training success rates and ensure career longevity & all that. This study, done by the South African Navy, comes closer than most I've seen in explaining it all.

We are a hard group to label though. I've known bomb guys who are introspective bookworms, and others who are the life of the party. Teetotalers and drunkards. Womanizers and preachers, world-class athletes & guys who bust their ass just to make the times (which are hard BTW). People you can peg in the community in a second, and others that you'd never guess. It takes all sorts.

What bomb techs do share is some definite traits. Self-discipline when it comes to the job, a desire to be the best at what they do. You have to be somewhat intelligent, and definitely have to have a love for the job. Yes, there is a bit of cockiness and self-confidence too - if you spend your day looking at live bombs designed to blow you up it kind of gives you a bit of an ego perspective when someone else wants to bitch about being swamped in the latest TPS reports...

I think the best single description I've seen of the job is "a great team of talented individuals." You have to be able to work with others, to take & give criticism, advice, and share knowledge amongst your peers, and to strive towards the common task at hand on any particular day - but when it all comes down to it, it's just you and the device face-to-face getting things done...

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Presented for your amusement

Apparently the U.S. Army recently commissioned a study of Explosive Ordnance Disposal personnel, trying to evaluate both school success and post-trauma issues.

The study came back with the following evaluation of EOD Techs across the services as a generalization:

"Functioning sociopaths with latent homosexual tendencies."

and yes, I am quoting. :D

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

History Evolves

From Peter today, a link to an article discussing new evidence which shows man most likely had a seafaring culture tens of thousands of years earlier than thought.

Beyond the normal interesting aspects of this, I find it curious in that for many years "discredited" researchers have made claims of various strength as to early civilizations which were then inundated through post-ice-age flooding; not to mention the near-universal legends worldwide which point to prior societies. While obviously much of this is questionable, I am of the belief that "traditional" history and archaeology has ignored a great deal of evidence because it doesn't fit in the normal squares & boxes which they wish.

I for one am glad to know there are still plenty of surprises left in the tale of where we came from.


- Regarding the name change for those who wondered - for various reasons, I wanted a bit more distance on the blog between it & my "real" life. Not that a good search can't find stuff, but I don't want to make it easy for folks. So, I took a name Kaylee used for Mal in one of the episodes & used that. Hope that explains.

- Heat is still out for at least one more day, if not longer. Previous owners, being cheap on some of the upgrades, apparently used an electrician who installed the system with substandard wiring. The lucky part is we avoided a house fire and any associated damage. Unfortunately, this has my tropical wife less than happy as we deal with the minimal circles of warmth our space heaters provide.

- Merlin has a funny one here about the things you don't know before raising children. However, he left out some of the key parts:

  • Despite how cynical, tired, and everything else you are on those late night feedings, prepare yourself for the burst of warmth in your heart when a tiny face looks in yours and smiles in wonder at mommy and daddy.
  • No matter how educated and experienced you are, see the world in a new way every day as your child asks questions, learns about things, and explores on their own journey.
  • Have a really crappy day at work, feel tired and worn out, and have zero desire to relate to any other human - til you walk in the door and are met with the cries of joy and leaps into your arms of young lives who consider you the most wonderful person on the planet.
Being a parent is beyond a doubt the most challenging and terrifying thing I have done in my life - it has stretched the boundaries of my patience, endurance and sanity more than I can mention.

It has also brought me joys and accomplishments I would have never imagined, and I wouldn't trade it for the world.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011


And now the heat has gone out.
2011 is shaping up to be a year of challenges ...

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Happy New Year

Spent my evening earning some overtime money & dealing with a "less than pleasant" spoiled drunk girl. Who, true to form, rattled off almost all the classic DUI arrest lines: "But I wasn't driving that bad." "I'm almost home." "But I did fine on all my tests." etc. etc.

Anyway, starting the year off right with two cartoons for your enjoyment: