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Page turners

Time to catch up the old library. This is going to be sort of a long list so we’ll run through them quickly…

Scared Stiff by Annelise Ryan

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This was a fast read about a murder in a small town. You know one of those that everyone knows everyone else’s business? It was enjoyable and I really liked that the protagonist wasn’t taken too seriously throughout. She had more than her fair share of embarrassment which made for a great change of pace from the perfect heroes in most stories. 6/10

A Band of Misfits by Andrew Baggarly

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I had to relive the great postseason run of my San Francisco Giants after the disappointment of not making the playoffs last year. What a fun ride! 9/10…but I’m really biased.

Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

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The second in the Hunger Games trilogy. Started out great and kinda fizzled at the end. I just expected more before I ran out of pages…7/10

Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

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The conclusion of the Hunger Games. Don’t know why, but I wasn’t satisfied with this one. Wanted more from these characters I grew so fond of in the first two books. 4/10

The Long Run, by Mishka Shubaly

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This was a mildly entertainingly narrative of a man that transformed from a drunk, druggie, couch potato slob to a long distance runner. 5/10

The People of The Mist by Haggard H. Rider

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Mr. Rider has taken me on a few great adventures now and is becoming one of my favorite authors. They are page turners that a filled with adventures of explorers and treasures. This one didn’t disappoint. 8/10

The Prince and the Pauper by Mark Twain

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Another great classic from THE great American author. I wish I could spend one day in his imagination. 8/10

Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens by J.M. Barrie

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The origin story of Peter Pan. Just had to find out how the story started, could have lived without it. 3/10

Sons and Princes by James LePore

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A gritty story from the New York mafia and protecting your children. Was a good decent read that kept me interested from start to finish. 7/10

Dust by Arthur Slade

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Off the wall story involving missing children and a Piped Piper type character. I didn’t want to like it, but I kept coming back to see what was going to happen. 6/10

Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad

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The basis of Apocalypse Now. An journey on a river of chaos and insanity. 7/10

Under Your Skin by JR Chartrand

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Teens are literally scratching themselves to death in this mystery novel. One that you have to keep reading to see what is going to happen. 7/10

The Spy Who Came In From The Cold, John LeCarre

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The best spy novel ever written, even though it’s a bit dated now. I couldn’t put it down and agree with all the hoopla over it. Think that I am going to have to read it again though, I’m sure there are parts that I will love rediscovering. 9/10

The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova

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I had stared this book a handfull of times and stopped in about the same place each time. Just couldn’t get into it for some reason. This time I put my nose down and powered through and was pleasantly surprised that is got really good after that stopping point. A different perspective on the typical Dracula myth. 8/10

Birdmen by Phil Williams

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The only reason that I picked this out was that I have met the author. He is the husband of my best friends cousin…full disclosure. What an incredible surprise when I became completely immersed in the story. The twists and turns of a military tour were incredible and I truly came to care for the guys and what they were going through. I would highly recommend and hope that there are more stories to come from this yet pretty much undiscovered author. You’ll thank me for it. 9/10

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer

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I went for this because of the movie trailer starring Tom Hanks and Sandra Bullock. What a weird journey I was taken on. Sad, disturbing and somewhat depressing. Then I tried to watch the movie and was incredibly disappointed, should have never been attempted as a film. I would give the book a 7/10.

Superbia by Bernard Schaffer

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A cop mystery that deals with cop killers, child predators and police corruption. 7/10

The Girl That Kicked The Hornets Nest by Stieg Larrson

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I just hand to finish the trilogy. While I was into what was going on in the back of my mind I had a nagging voice repeating “this is nowhere close to the first one.” While I am going to miss Mikael Blomkvist and Lisbeth Salander and where their adventures might have gone. I think it might be best that they separated ways after three books. 7/10

The Parrot Talks in Chocolate by Everett Peacock

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Wanted some lighter subjects and this was just the ticket. Nothing can beat tiki bars, Hawaii, surfing and bar stories. No plot to follow, no deep meaning to unearth, just observations of life in an island bar. Good fun read that brought a smile to my face and a desire to get back to an island ASAP! 8/10

Whew…caught up on my reading. Hope I don’t get that far behind again.

Til next time…get out and live!

Short note

Just checking in for a short note to report that I weighed in at 211lbs for the weight loss challenge.
Some other notes:
Having some issues remembering all the books that I’ve read in the last 6-8 months. I should have kept better track, but I’m working on it.
I have some other bigger news, you know…things to cross off. Just have to get used to using my iPad or go get my laptop. The app is a bit different than the website, but I’m having a chance to watch the ins and outs of it.

A “shot” at catching up

November 11, 2011 Leave a comment

So I’m into the new house and WAY behind on this project. So in the interest of getting back on course I am going to speed through the last couple of months with a pic and brief description on my adventure. Sorry for the brevity of this post, but I will continue to wallow in procrastination if I don’t get all this out at once. Afterwards I will attempt to continue my journey and keep it as up to date as possible.

Ribs, Slaw and Black Eyed Peas from Tyler Florence Cookbook- All were very good!

Roasted Potatoes and Bananas for Cody from Tyler Florence Cookbook

Roasted Bananas, Cinnamon and Brown Rice for Cody from Tyler Florence Cookbook

The Score- A heist novel, I always wanted to be part of a heist!

Point Man - A how-to in leading a family through the dangers of the world with God as your guide.

The Magic Finger- I don't know what Roald Dahl was on, but it was good stuff. Another crazy adventure that I took RObby on before he fell asleep.

The Turtle Boy- A weird, strange, disturbing trip. That's what I get for trusting Amazon to give away a book.

Oh yeah, I know how to shoot this now...

So that last one I might have to explain a bit. My friend and co-worker Ed decided that it was unacceptable that I didn’t know how to shoot. So he gathered up some firearms and ammo and we went up to a range at the top of Cow Mountain. Along for the ride came another co-worker Pat (from Exploring NorCal fame) and his son. We got to the range and first thing that we notice is a 25′ tree burning right next to the staging tables. Next thing we notice is a guy directly underneath the tree, which I have to point out has been burning for quite a while and is threatening to fall at any moment, raking the ground to gather the brass from expelled rounds. So we get a table in relative safety and do a gun safety briefing. Ed was really good at explaining how all the guns worked and what to do. It really set my mind at ease, until I fired my first shot. It really is amazing that man has harnessed that much power in such a small package. After a few more rounds I was starting to get the hang of it and enjoy myself. I was still only hitting my target about 1 time out of 10, but I was really proud of that 1 time. After about an hour more and more people were showing up and it got quite crowded with people starting to do their own thing we decided it was a good time to go and we left.

I did feel much more manly going down the mountain.

Surgery, Extra Hair, and lots of reading

September 12, 2011 Leave a comment

August 14th I woke up at the station and sat up with pain in my tummy. (I have a 2 year old and tummy is perfectly acceptable medical terminology in my world. Belly, Stomach, Abdomen, Beer Dumpster…they all work.) I didn’t think too much about it at first. We had put away some pretty good sized burritos the night before and figure that I just needed to pass something and the pain would disappear. So I went home and went about the day, taking care of the boys, fixing breakfast for them, but the pain was getting worse and I wasn’t able to pass anything. By that I mean gas or bowel contents and to me that is frustrating.

When I got home that morning I told my wife to sleep in while I took care of the boys. When she got up a hour or so later she walked out to find me face down on the couch holding my tummy is obvious pain. Of course I tried to play it off like some tough guy and said I just needed to fart and it was no big deal. It went like that most of the day with the pain not subsiding and I became increasingly grumpy and less helpful around the house. Finally around six that evening my wife told me that I was going to the ED to get checked out. At that point I didn’t even put up a fight. I figured the worse that could happen was they told me I had gas lodged somewhere. I was wrong.

So I went to the ED and one of the Doc’s was a good friend of mine. We were talking about the Giants and everything was good. Then he did the physical exam and the entire tone of the room changed and he went from my friend to a Doctor. He told me that he was calling the surgeon immediately and that I would be in surgery in a hour or less. I was going to lose my appendix.

Last pic of me with all the original parts

Long story short…I woke up without an appendix. Surgeon told me that I was lucky to have come in when I did, that another hour or hour and a half and it might have burst and then my procedure wouldn’t have been laproscopic. Took three weeks of lifting restrictions, but I am back to 100%.

I took that time to do something that I’ve never been able to do before…grow a beard.

As grizzly as I probably will ever be.

I’m a clean shaven dude. That’s just who I am. Beards are also frowned upon at my workplace. By frowned upon I mean strictly forbidden through department policy. The reason for the policy is that we have to be able to seal our facemasks to our clean shaven face during a firefight so that we are breathing sweet cool clean air instead of hot, dirty, chemical smoke. So I have never allowed a beard to take root. The longest I had gone is probably three days without a shave. For the first time in my facial hair growing life I wasn’t going to be required to harvest my facial crop.

No fear in that beard

Just before the hacking

I made it just over 2 weeks. Then Dani stopped kissing me and I couldn’t stand that. It was quite a topic of conversation for the two weeks that it was there, then it was gone. It was really strange that I looked weird to me. It was funny that I walked out and said hi to Robby and he had to double take and then touch my face a couple times, like he was making sure that it was me.

So just like that #156 is off the list.

Another side effect of the surgery was that I was able to get through a bunch of books. I had some time on my hands.  So instead of the usual long winded run down…well you’ll get this.

Bumfuzzle: Just out looking for Pirates, by Patrick Schlute- Young couple turn their back on “normal” society and point a boat west until they make it back where they started from.

Bumfuzzle

a stolen life, by Jaycee Dugard- Memoir of the most famous kidnapped child ever found. Very descriptive and traumatic. Made me want to allow torture in the prison system.

a stolen life

The Help, Kathryn Stockett- Southern belle comes home from college and writes about all her friends little secrets and the horrible way they act and treat their housekeepers in the ’60s.

The Help

Heaven is for real, Todd Burpo- Little boy has an appendectomy and visits heaven, then comes back and tells his parents. I’ll let you decide what you believe, but it was inspiring and gives me hope.

Heaven is for Real

There, I think your up to date. I can’t promise for how long though. I don’t know what is about to happen next.

American Baseball History – A complete course

September 11, 2011 Leave a comment

I have considered myself a baseball fan from the moment I learned the game…I think I was seven. I played and watched and every once in a great while went to a San Fran Giants or Oakland A’s game. It taught me teamwork, respect, work ethic, fair play, unfair play, passion, heartache, and joy! It also taught me appreciation of “the moment.” That time in every game in which the outcome hinges upon. Some games have one, some have several. More than any other spectator sport baseball is built upon “the moment.”

Recently I had become more and more aware of some gaping holes in my knowledge of the history of the game. Sure I had heard of stories about the game and “moments” of it’s players, but stories have a way of becoming blurry with the truth the more they are told. I wanted to find the truth in all these “fish” tales of the game. My wife got me a book called Storied Stadiums by Curt Smith as a gift. It is a massive volume that highlights all of the greatest tales from every stadium that major league baseball has ever been played in…up to just a few years ago. It has a wealth of knowledge, but is very difficult to follow along. Mr. Smith wrote in a very fragmented style and paid particular detail to the physical characteristics of each park. I thought that this book was at it’s best when delving into the actual game play in each facility. Every park in the history of the game has been witness to incredible feats and unbelievable “moments.”

Hx of all the parks in American Baseball

I used Storied Stadiums as an addition to the true meat and potatoes of my survey which has been Ken Burn’s documentary Baseball. This epic 20+ hour volume starts at the lie that has been passed as the origin of the sport (Doubleday denies having anything to do with the sport, much less inventing it) and last year updated it with a 10th inning that chronicled from the 1994 strike through the now infamous “steroid era.”  The early hours were largely photos and interviews with historians that have studied the game. As the years passed Mr. Burns added video and talks with the people that lived through those times and those games. Special attention was given to the Negro leagues and the treatment of the players that made that league just as competitive and popular (if not more so) than the MLB. The last couple of hours went quickly as it concerned the years that I could remember. I had much more fun reliving those moments, where I was, how old I was, what my world was like at the time, than all that came before. I think that is just in human nature though. Everyone like to hear and see their own stories.

I now feel like I have reasons to call Mays, DiMaggio, Mantle, Johnson, Aaron, and Gehrig my heroes. In addition to the ones I grew up with…Clark, Bonds, Griffey Jr., Ripken, Puckett, Williams, Thomas, and Gwynn. I understand some of the rivalries better (still don’t believe New York/Boston qualifies as a true rivalry…until 2003 anyway.) Mostly I just enjoyed sitting back and hearing and seeing the legends of the game replayed for me. All the Yankee champs, Boston near misses, Giants/Dodgers battles, Cubs heartbreaks, Cardinals champs, Orioles greats, and Braves destroying fans hearts as they moved from city to city.

Lesson learned: The object is always to get back home safe.

I will always love this game. This year has been trying with the Giants free falling in their division and the sweet memories still fresh from the World Series Championship, but that is why I’m a fan. It is a game of emotion, some good, some bad. At the end of the year only one team is happy with how it went. Only one team is shedding tears of joy, the rest are just wiping their tears and prepping from the next run at the title.

Surgical Delay

September 8, 2011 1 comment

I’ve been out for the count for the last couple of weeks due to an emergency appendectomy. Seems with all the time that I’ve had at home I would have been posting updates, but it wasn’t so. I will be getting back to it soon with another item off the list, many more books that I’ve read (had a bunch of time to read when you can’t work or lift much), and some of things that have been going on. So until then I hope you are out living the life that you’ve always wanted!

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Writing Baseball on my 100th Post

August 7, 2011 2 comments

So I’ve hit the triple digits. This is my 100th post on this blog.  I am very proud of this little accomplishment. Not to mention all the adventures that I have enjoyed on the way. I am surprised that I have kept up with it. It’s been over a year and a half, I’ve knocked off 22 items from the list and started a bunch more. Highlights have included the World Series, learning to pole dance, flying an glider, learning new skills, reading more than I have since I was a kid, proving that I can go without my deepest seeded vices, and becoming a better person. I’ve become a father again. I’ve learned to appreciate my life and all the blessings that I have in it. Most surprisingly I have made “virtual” or “cyber” friends. People actually read what I was writing, and often commented. That was most incredible to me.

Enough with patting myself on the back.

Today I accomplished a skill that I really am surprised took me this long to get to. I have been rapidly increasingly my historical knowledge of baseball. I’m closing in on finishing off Ken Burns’ Baseball documentary, reading a history of all the major league stadiums, and constantly keeping up to date with current events. For those that aren’t as up to date as I am, my beloved SF Giants have been in a slump the last two weeks, losing many more games than they have won. Of course being a loyal fan I must have been doing something wrong. I decided to stop their bleeding by finally undertaking scoring a game. The Giants had lost 3 in a row to the Philadelphia Phillies and needed a helping hand.

I can tell you exactly what happened with these hieroglyphics.

I think that I had put off learning to score a game mostly because baseball is a very emotional event for me. I hang on every pitch and have been known to spew obscenities when I disagree with a call. It is one of the few events in my life that I have allowed myself to get completely engrossed in. I am a completely baptized and faithful to the religion of baseball. My bishop is Bochy and our robes are the Orange and Black. I was afraid that if I was worried about filling out the complex looking boxes for every batter I would miss something.  Lord knows I didn’t want to miss a minute of action, they are so far and few between with these Giants.

So to get started I looked up this site that explained how to keep score. I loved that it was like a secret language that I was learning. I loved that the first lesson is that there is no wrong way to keep score of a game. The goal of keeping score was just to be able to look back and tell what happened during the game. I looked at it this way, I’ve been speaking ball for a long time…it was way past time to write it as well. You know, become fluent.

Step one was to find a score card and these guys had several different layouts to choose from, download and print. Easy Peezy! Next was the game. I was extremely nervous, mostly because I couldn’t bear to think of the Gigantes getting swept by the Phils. Since I was sitting at work we had to DVR the game and I ended up running about 2 hours later than real time due to calls. The first couple of innings were work trying to figure out how it all worked, but by the bottom of the 3rd I was in a groove and starting to enjoy myself and joke around about it. Really helped that the Giants showed up and hit today giving Timmy Lincecum a lead to work with. There was a couple of times that I got wrapped up in the game and would have to think about what I just saw in order to put the play down.

This is how you spell Giants Win!!

Written Baseball

In the end, Giants win, I learned and proved that I could score a game. Might have even started a new hobby for myself. Until today I never understood why the little old ladies sat there with their books and scribbled down the entire game. Now I do. It keeps you engaged and actually gives you a chance to feel like your participating in the game.

Thanks to everyone that is reading this. I really do appreciate that you took the time. I also am hoping to keep it going for a while. I am having a great time with this and feel it has enriched my life. Even though I have spent less time on pursuing the items the last few months I am in this for the long haul and hope one day when I am much greyer on top, have a few more wrinkles, and move a little slower that I look back and smile upon an entire list of crossed out adventures.

Til post 101…