Saturday, December 31, 2011

2011 Book Roundup

It's time for my end of year book roundup. At the end of 2003 I started to keep track of every book I read and I've kept at it now for eight years!  In 2011 I read a total of 68 books, 22 of which were new and and 46 were re-reads.  My reading has taken me from the deserts of Arrakis, the chaos of Saxon Britain, and the beginnings of Middle Earth, to conflicts that happen "A Long Time Ago", 40,000 years in the future, and in 19th century England against hordes of "dreadful" undead.  Overall a good year I think.  Personal favorites this year were "Readme" by Neal Stephenson and A Dance of Dragons by George RR Martin.Next year I plan on cutting down on the re-reads, although to be honest there are a number of worlds that I love enough to have to dig into thousands of pages again to experience.  For 2012 I am asking everyone I know to give me lists of books they love  or think I should read.  I want to try to do my best to read as many of them as I can and to expand my list for next year.  


Dune - Frank Herbert (01/05/11)
Dune Messiah - Frank Herbert (01/10/11)
Children of Dune - Frank Herbert (01/20/11)
The Tomb and Other Tales - H.P. Lovecraft (01/29/11)
The Last Kingdom - Bernard Cornwell (02/02/11)
The Pale Horseman - Bernard Cornwell (02/06/11)
Lords of the North - Bernard Cornwell (02/10/11)
The Fall of Reach - Eric Nylund (02/13/11)
The Flood - William C. Dietz (02/16/11)
Frist Strike - Eric Nylund (02/20/11)
Ghosts of Onyx - Eric Nyland (02/26/11)
Contact Harvest - Joseph Staten (03/08/11)
The Hobbit - JRR Tolkien (03/16/11)
The Cole Protocol - Tobias S. Buckell (03/20/11)
The Silmarillion - JRR Tolkien (04/05/11)
Crossfire - Matthew Farrer (04/12/11)
Legacy - Matthew Farrer (04/17/11)
Blind - Matthew Farrer (05/01/11)
The Diamond Throne - David Eddings (05/07/11)
The Ruby Knight - David Eddings (05/08/11)
The Sapphire Rose - David Eddings (05/12/11)
Domes of Fire - David Eddings (05/15/11)
The Shining Ones - David Eddings (05/20/11)
The Hidden City - David Eddings (05/25/11)
Pawn if Prophecy - David Eddings (05/28/11)
Queen of Sorcery - David Eddings (05/29/11)
Magician's Gambit - David Eddings (05/30/11)
Castle of Wizardry - David Eddings (06/01/11)
Enchanters' End Game - David Eddings (06/03/11)
Guardians of the West - David Eddings (06/05/11)
King of the Murgos - David Eddings (06/07/11)
Demon Lord of Karanda - David Eddings (06/10/11)
Sorceress of Darshiva - David Eddings (06/12/11)
The Seeress of Kell - David Eddings (06/13/11)
Belgarath the Sorcerer - David Eddings (06/18/11)
Polgara the Sorceress - David Eddings (06/25/11)
A Game of Thrones - George R.R. Martin (07/03/11)
A Clash of Kings - George R.R. Martin (07/14/11)
A Storm of Swords - George R.R. Martin (07/21/11)
A Feast For Crows - George R.R. Martin (07/31/11)
A Dance of Dragons - Geroge R.R. Martin (08/08/11)
At the Queen's Command - Michael A Stackpole (08/18/11)
Fifteen Hours - Mitchel Scanlon (08/21/11)
Knee Deep - Mitchel Scanlon (08/21/11)
Death World - Steve Lyons (08/25/11)
Rebal Winter - Steve Parker (08/27/11)
Rogue Squadron - Michael A Stackpole (08/28/11)
Wedge's Gamble - Michael A Stackpole (08/28/11)
The Krytos Trap - Michael A Stackpole (08/30/11)
The Bacta War - Michael A Stackpole (08/31/11)
Wraith Squadron - Aaron Allston (09/02/11)
Iron Fist - Aaron Allston (09/04/11)
Solo Command - Aaron Allston (09/05/11)
Isard's Revenge - Michael A Stackpole (09/09/11)
Starfighters of Adumar - Aaron Allston (09/12/11)
Dead Men Walking - Steve Lyons (09/18/11)
Heir to the Empire - Timothy Zahn (09/21/11)
Dark Force Rising - Timothy Zahn (09/23/11)
The Last Command - Timothy Zahn (09/26/11)
Reamde - Neal Stephenson (10/19/11)
Gunheads - Steve Parker (10/27/11)
Ice Guard - Steve Lyons (11/06/11)
Desert Raiders - Lucien Soulban (11/12/11)
Royal Babylon - Karl Shaw (11/24/11)
The Hunger Games - Suzanne Collins (11/26/11)
Dawn of the Dreadfuls - Steve Hockensmith (12/07/11)
Manta's Gift - Timothy Zahn (12/09/11)
Angelmass - Timothy Zahn (12/26/11)

Friday, December 30, 2011

The End

Tomorrow is the last day of 2011.  While I don't usually do the whole new years resolution thing last year I said I would try to do a few things during the year and mostly I've accomplished them I think. There are still a couple more wayward resolution type things the I might be able to cram in at the last minute. Lets see what happens shall we?

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Just waiting for the snow

It's the end of December, the new year just around the corner and I am ready to hit the slopes. Just one small problem....no snow yet. While we did have a big storm back on Halloween, since then the weather ha been downright balmy.  It finally turned cooler about a week or so ago, and the moutains have been churning out snow as best they can, but sadly 21st century snow making technology cannot compete with the awesome power of mother nature.  I'm sure that she is just saving up and biding her time before hitting us with a monster storm. In the meantime, my new skis are sitting here waiting for that day. I can't wait!

Monday, November 14, 2011

About time

A couple of years ago I was stuck on a plan for more than 4 hours sitting at the gate. The airline, U.S. Airways wouldn't let us off, let us get out of our seats, or even give us water to drink. This was officially the worst flight I had ever been on and consequently the last time I ever flew on U.S. Airways.

It looks like the new rule that the Department of Transportation instituted is finally coming into effect. Read about it here...

Press Release | U.S. Department of  Transportation

The results of the new rules prove that regulation isn't always a bad thing. A lot of people would complain that the government shouldn't be meddling and that companies can and should regulate themselves. Well to those people out there I say look at the stats. The airline industry had plenty of time to regulate themselves and didn't do anything. Instead it took an act of government and for that I am thankful.

Now only if we can get them to do something about the those health insurance companies.

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Teachers

Saw this kicking around the interwebs today....just wanted to share.


Are you sick of highly paid teachers? Teachers' hefty salaries are driving up taxes, and they only work 9 or 10 months a year! It's time we put things in perspective and pay them for what they do - babysit! We can get that for less than minimum wage. ... That's right. Let's give them $3.00 an hour and only the hours they worked; not any of that silly planning time, or any time they spend before or after school. That would be $19.50 a day (7:45 to 3:00 PM with 45 min. off for lunch and plan-- that equals 6 1/2 hours). Each parent should pay $19.50 a day for these teachers to baby-sit their children. Now how many students do they teach in a day...maybe 30? So that's $19.50 x 30 = $585.00 a day. However, remember they only work 180 days a year!!! I am not going to pay them for any vacations. LET'S SEE.... That's $585 X 180= $105,300 per year. (Hold on! My calculator needs new batteries). What about those special education teachers and the ones with Master's degrees? Well, we could pay them minimum wage ($7.75), and just to be fair, round it off to $8.00 an hour. That would be $8 X 6 1/2 hours X 30 children X 180 days = $280,800 per year. Wait a minute -- there's something wrong here! There sure is! The average teacher's salary (nationwide) is $50,000. $50,000/180 days = $277.77/per day/30 students=$9.25/6.5 hours = $1.42 per hour per student--a very inexpensive babysitter and they even EDUCATE your kids! WHAT A DEAL!!!! Make a teacher laugh; re-post this to show appreciation for all educators!!!

Sunday, November 06, 2011

Occupy Boston

This weekend I visited Occupy Boston.  The camp was very neat and clean and everyone I saw for the most part were keeping it orderly.  I didn't make a count but there easily could have been 150+ tents there not including community tents(ie: first aid, information, donation tents, etc).  I think I must have caught the camp as a down moment as I didn't see more than 100 or so people around, but I believe there was a rally going on somewhere and that is were everyone was.

I was impressed with how good natured everyone was.  While I did notice a selection of what I like to call "the crazies" most of the people I saw seemed pretty much like myself.  One interesting moment was when I walked by two guys debating about what the government and corporations should be doing. While both were obviously coming from different sides of the issues they seemed to be having fun with it.

Overall I'm glad I went.  I think the movement is trying to do something good. My concerns are that the radicals will either take over or that the media will focus on them.  Not that I have any personal problems with what I consider the radical side of the protest(Pro Communism/socialism camps) but I think that the stigma associated with them will scare away the "average" american.  I think that when I get a chance I want to go back Occupy Boston again and see how it changes as the weeks go by.




No idea if this is true. I'm not a coke drinker anyway. 

Yup...that is me!


Wall of Signs


Live Music

I really liked this one. 


99%

The QR code on this one caught my eye.  Must be the marketer in me. 

Monday, October 31, 2011

Occupy the Living

I saw this on Sluggy Freelance this morining and thought it was great.  Please make sure to check out Pete's comic by clicking clicking here

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Snow

It's snowing out...in October. While not unheard off I'm not ready for it.  There was a time when I looked forward to those white crystals that fell from the sky.  That was a long time ago though, when I was younger living in the north country.  I think it might be a sign of age that as I get older it gets harder and harder to embrace the cold.  There are days still when a freshly fallen snow blankets the yard that look upon it with the wonder of childhood...then I realize that I'll probably be digging out my car at some point and the fantasy is lost.  Mind you, I wouldn't trade it away, oh no.  For me, winter balances out the year and makes me appreciate the rest of the year's weather here in New England.  At least it looks like it won't last long.  Hopefully by tomorrow the snow will be nothing by a memory.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

For America!

Warren Buffett, "I could end the deficit in 5 minutes," he told CNBC. 
"You just pass a law that says that anytime there is a deficit of more than 3% of GDP, 
all sitting members of Congress are ineligible for re-election. The 26th
amendment (granting the right to vote for 18 year-olds) took only 3 months
& 8 days to be ratified! Why? Simple! The people demanded it. That was in
1971...before computers, e-mail, cell phones, etc. Of the 27 amendments to
the Constitution, seven (7) took 1 year or less to become the law of the
land...all because of public pressure.

Warren Buffet is asking each addressee to forward this email to a minimum of
twenty people on their address list; in turn ask each of those to do
likewise.
In three days, most people in The United States of America will have the
message. This is one idea that really should be passed around.

*Congressional Reform Act of 2011*

1. No Tenure / No Pension. A Congressman collects a salary while in office
and receives no pay when they are out of office.

2. Congress (past, present & future) participates in Social Security. All
funds in the Congressional retirement fund move to the Social Security
system immediately. All future funds flow into the Social Security system,
and Congress participates with the American people. It may not be used for
any other purpose.

3. Congress can purchase their own retirement plan, just as all Americans
do.

4. Congress will no longer vote themselves a pay raise. Congressional pay
will rise by the lower of CPI or 3%.

5. Congress loses their current health care system and participates in the
same health care system as the American people.

6. Congress must equally abide by all laws they impose on the American
people.

7. All contracts with past and present Congressmen are void effective 1/1/12.
The American people did not make this contract with Congressmen. Congressmen
made all these contracts for themselves. Serving in Congress is an honor,
not a career. The Founding Fathers envisioned citizen legislators, so ours
should serve their term's), then go home and back to work.

If each person contacts a minimum of twenty people then it will only take
three days for most people (in the U.S.) to receive the message. Maybe it is
time.

THIS IS HOW YOU FIX CONGRESS!!!!! If you agree with the above, pass it on.

Plumbing Adventures

Have been dealing with plumbing adventures here in the house the last few days.  Basement flooding, pipes bursting, backed up drains. It was an interesting time. Luckily we have a handyman on call who came withing a day to get it fixed.  Seriously though, its an interesting time when you can't run water without something exploding in the house.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Book Review: "Reamde" by Neal Stephenson

I just finished Neal Stephenson's latest novel "Reamde". At 1056 pages this is a monster of a tome to pickup, so it might be a bit much for a "beach read" but overall an enjoyable book.  See description below.

Description from Amazon.com:

Neal Stephenson, author of the #1 New York Times bestseller Anathem, returns to the terrain of his groundbreaking novels Snow Crash, The Diamond Age, and Cryptonomicon to deliver a high-intensity, high-stakes, action-packed adventure thriller in which a tech entrepreneur gets caught in the very real crossfire of his own online war game.

In 1972, Richard Forthrast, the black sheep of an Iowa farming clan, fled to the mountains of British Columbia to avoid the draft. A skilled hunting guide, he eventually amassed a fortune by smuggling marijuana across the border between Canada and Idaho. As the years passed, Richard went straight and returned to the States after the U.S. government granted amnesty to draft dodgers. He parlayed his wealth into an empire and developed a remote resort in which he lives. He also created T’Rain, a multibillion-dollar, massively multiplayer online role-playing game with millions of fans around the world.

But T’Rain’s success has also made it a target. Hackers have struck gold by unleashing REAMDE, a virus that encrypts all of a player’s electronic files and holds them for ransom. They have also unwittingly triggered a deadly war beyond the boundaries of the game’s virtual universe—and Richard is at ground zero.

Racing around the globe from the Pacific Northwest to China to the wilds of northern Idaho and points in between, Reamde is a swift-paced thriller that traverses worlds virtual and real. Filled with unexpected twists and turns in which unforgettable villains and unlikely heroes face off in a battle for survival, it is a brilliant refraction of the twenty-first century, from the global war on terror to social media, computer hackers to mobsters, entrepreneurs to religious fundamentalists. Above all, Reamde is an enthralling human story—an entertaining and epic page-turner from the extraordinary Neal Stephenson.
Neal Stephenson happens to be one of my favorite authors and he rarely disappoints. "Reamde" follows a similar style to some of Stephenson's earlier works(Interface, Zodiac, The Big U) as in he shied away from the "tech" and "science"  that fills books such as "Cryptonomicon" and the "Baroque Cycle." Yet, like many of his books "Reamde" is filled cover to cover with nerdy and insane over the top action, written is a style that makes Russian mobsters, jihadists, chinese hackers, and american gun nuts seem like the norm.

My only real complaint about this book is that believe it or not, I think story could have been longer. I don't want to give anything away so I wont give specifics, but another 200-300 pages about events in the world of 
T’Rain world running parallel to the real world events would have fit in nicely.  Also more it felt as if one of the antagonist groups in the story got left out at the end.

Overall I really enjoyed reading "Reamde". I admit that I  might be biased as I do have every Stephenson book currently in print and try to read them all every other year or so, but if you are new to Neal Stephenson and enjoy thrillers then this might be for you.  If you are already a fan of his books then you will probably think this is not one of his best works, but I still recommend reading it.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Rent-A-Car

I'm getting ready for a trip to Florida this weekend and today I reserved my rental car at Hertz.  For some reason the internet decided that it would be a good idea to error out as I was hitting the "submit" button approving my rental. The result of this being that I now have 2 reservations with the same reservation number with 2 different rates.   I called Hertz and the lady on the phone told me that she didn't know what happened but I shouldn't have gotten the lower of the rates, but as I did receive a confirmation letter though it will be honored.  I get the feeling though that when I go to pick up my car I'm going to be hassled about the rate.  I did a print out of the confirmation and can pull up the email by phone if I have any problems. Still, its a rather ominous beginning. Fingers crossed.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Lemon Tree


Early this summer I bought myself a Meyer Dwarf Lemon Tree.  After getting one for my father a few years back I had been looking to get one for myself for a while.  It's only been a few months and already its grown like a monster. By my estimation it will be as tall as I am by next year. I can't wait for it to blossom again as earlier this summer it was covered with flowers. With all the branches that have grown I can only imagine how many will blossom. It usually takes a year or so for the trees to start to sprout lemons, but my fingers are crossed that by next fall I can make some lemonade!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Vindaloo

I went out to dinner tonight at India in Providence.   This is probably one of my favorite restaurants in the area and I don't think I've been there since April....so yea, its been a while.  My favorite dish there is the Chicken Vindaloo.  Heavy on SPICE the meal is amazing.

In addition to satiating my curry cravings I was able to introduce Indian cuisine to someone who had never had it before which is always fun.  Luckily she enjoys spicy food and the vindaloo didn't scare her away. This is the second friend I've been able to temp to try Indian and so far I have a 100% success rate in converting them.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

It's getting cold and I love it.

It's Autumn and I love it.  I get to wear sweaters to work. The office is cold and sweaters are cozy. I think I was built for Autumn/Spring.  Winter and Summer are extremes and while I can handle them both I thrive during the equinox.

But winter is coming and soon I will need to start thinking about getting myself a pair of new gloves.  I used to have a nice pair of grey merino wool knit gloves. I got them while traveling in New Zealand a few years ago. I loved those gloves.  Unfortunately, while one a work trip in Columbus, Ohio I sadly left them in a cab while I was paying.  Not some cabby has my gloves and my hands get cold.  Hopefully I'll find some new pair soon...before it gets too cold.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

It's been a while

I know it's been a while since I've posted anything here. I need to use this more and will try to going forward.

Anyway...here are some tomatoes.
















Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Saturday, January 01, 2011

Books for 2010

Servant of the Empire - Raymond E. Feist (01/02/10)
Mistress of the Empire - Raymond E. Feist (01/13/10)
501st - Karen Traviss (01/19/10)
Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters - Jane Austin and Ben H. Winters (01/28/10)
New Moon - Stephenie Meyer (02/01/10)
Wolfblade - William King & Lee Lighter (02/04/10)
Sons of Fenris - William King & Lee Lighter (02/09/10)
Wolf's Honour - William King & Lee Lighter (02/13/10)
Soul Drinker - Ben Counter (02/18/10)
The Bleeding Chalice - Ben Counter (02/23/10)
Crimson Tears - Ben Counter (03/02/10)
The Geography of Bliss - Eric Weiner (03/11/10)
Watership Down - Richard Adams (03/16/10)
First and Only - Dan Abnett (03/21/10)
Ghostmaker - Dan Abnett (03/25/10)
Necropolis - Dan Abnett (03/28/10)
In Remembrance - Dan Abnett (03/28/10)
Honour Guard - Dan Abnett (04/02/10)
The Guns of Tanith - Dan Abnett (04/07/10)
Straight Silver - Dan Abnett (04/11/10)
Sabbat Martyr - Dan Abnett (04/14/10)
Traitor General - Dan Abnett (04/19/10)
His Last Command - Dan Abnett (04/21/10)
The Armour of Contempt - Dan Abnett (04/24/10)
Only in Death - Dan Abnett (04/29/10)
Titanicus - Dan Abnett (05/08/10)
City of Pearl - Karen Traviss (05/28/10)
Draco - Ian Watson (06/07/10)
Harlequin - Ian Watson (06/15/10)
Chaos Child - Ian Watson (06/20/10)
Ender's Game - Orson Scott Card (06/27/10)
Quicksilver - Neal Stephenson (07/19/10)
The Confusion - Neal Stephenson (08/04/10)
Eclipse - Stephenie Meyer (08/10/10)
Breaking Dawn - Stephenie Meyer (08/13/10)
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo - Stieg Larsson (08/21/10)
The System of the World - Neal Stephenson (09/13/10)
Odd Girl Out - Timothy Zahn (09/18/10)
The Law of Nines - Terry Goodkind (09/22/10)
Cryptonomicon - Neal Stephenson (10/07/10)
Anathem - Neal Stephenson (10/21/10)
The Domino Pattern - Timothy Zahn (10/27/10)
Fight or Flight - Sandy Mitchell (10/28/10)
For the Emperor - Sandy Mitchell (11/01/10)
Caves of Ice - Sandy Mitchell (11/04/10)
The Traitor's Hand - Sandy Mitchell (11/11/10)
Death or Glory - Sandy Mitchell (11/24/10)
Duty Calls - Sandy Mitchell (12/01/10)
Cain's Last Stand - Sandy Mitchell (12/05/10)
Ravenor - Dan Abnett (12/09/10)
Ravenor Returned - Dan Abnett (12/15/10)
Ravenor Rogue - dan Abnett (12/22/10)