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Tuesday, January 5th, 2016
9:05 pm
What I read in 2015
Before I list what I read last year, I wanted to mention that I plan to make a real effort to post here on a regular basis this year.  I'm setting myself the goal of doing so once a week for the entire year.  So, if anyone is still reading livejournal, I hope that in the process of getting to know a bit more about me this year, I'll  get to know some of you better as well.

2015 reading list:


Making Callaloo in Detroit (a collection of short stories) by Lolita Hernandez
Stoner by John Williams (my 'classic' this year)
The Three-Body Problem by Cixin Liu
The Elegant Universe by Brian Greene
Madd Addam by Margaret Atwood
Lagoon by Nnedi Okorafor
The Land Across by Gene Wolfe (I like Gene Wolfe - but this felt very anachronistic, like something he would
                                                      have written 60 years ago)
Half a King by Joe Abercrombie
The Martian by Andy Weir
The City on the Edge of Forever - the original teleplay in graphic novel form - by Harlan Ellison

There were also a couple bonsai books but, as you can see a pretty short list.  Dealing with Moms, took its toll
on free time this year - and to be honest, I've let myself get caught up in too much of the good TV currently being
produced.
Friday, January 2nd, 2015
11:36 pm
What I read in 2014
Here's the list of what I read in 2014.

My reading took quite a hit due to my duties on Detcon1 as well as a couple other things.
I read 6 books before the con, the rest after the con was over.  Here's the list - mostly in
the order I read them:

Accelerando                       Charlie Stross
The Hidden Reality             Brian Greene (an excellent book describing some of the possiblities of recent physics
                                                                  and how they relate to what our universe may be like)
Ender's Game                    Orson Scott Card (reread for the movie - I'm still impressed with this book after 30 years)
VFW: Veterans of the Future Wars       Edited by Martin T. Ingham (Has a story written by my son Joe!)
Alien Island                        T.L.Sherred
Kabu-Kabu                         Nnedi Okorafor
Paradise Tales                   Geoff Ryman (a great collection of stories by an author I had not read before)
The Liminal People            Lama-Everett
Pirate Queen - The Life of Grace O'Malley               Judith Cook (This was something from Kathleen's library)
Trafalgar                            Angelica Gorodischer
Old Man's War                   John Scalzi
Miracles of Life                   J.G.Ballard
The Drought                       J.G.Ballard
Budayeen Nights                George Alec Effinger
An Aberrant Mind               Ken MacGregor (a collection of short stories by a friend of my son Joe)
How to Stay Sane               Philippa Perry
The Omen Machine           Terry Goodkind
Codependent No More       Melody Beattie
Immortal Muse                   Stephen Leigh (Steve, I was impressed with this book - it felt like you stepped up your
                                                                    game in several areas with this one - or the muse really took hold.)
The Warded Man               Petter V. Brett
Vulcan's Soul #1 Exodus    Josepha Sherman and Susan Shwartz
Crystal Rain                       Tobias Buckell

No real classics here, only 4 non fiction.  I was impressed with the quality of the Detcon1 give away titles.
I enjoyed most of them.
Friday, January 3rd, 2014
9:49 pm
Books I read in 2013
This list is a little shorter than the past couple years, but I'm pleased with the variety.  Now if I'd just remember it all.
If you're curious about any of these books, feel free to ask me about them.

Liars and Outliers                                                                                                                                             by Bruce Schneier
Halting State                                                                                                                                                      by Charles Stross
Glasshouse                                                                                                                                                         by Charles Stross
Buddha’s Brain  - the practical newuroscience of happiness, love and wisdom                   by Rick Hanson
Quiet – The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking                                          by Susan Cain
First and Last Men – A Story of the near and far future                                                                   by Olaf Stapledon
Ender’s Game                                                                                                                                                    by Orson Scott Card
Power, Inc.                                                                                                                                                         by David Rothkopf
Arctic Rising                                                                                                                                                       by Tobias S. Buckell
A Thousand Words For Stranger                                                                                                                by Julie E Czerneda
Bonsai from the Wild                                                                                                                                     by A. N. Lenz
Squirrels – The Animal Answer Guide                                                                                                    by Richard W. Thorington Jr. and Katie Ferrell
Self comes to Mind – Constructing the Conscious Brain                                                                 by Antonio Damasio
Redshirst                                                                                                                                  by John Scalzi (Must have been a weak Hugo field that year)
Neptune’s Brood                                                                                                                                             by Charles Stross
Kiln People                                                                                                                                                        by David Brin
Thinking, fast and slow                                                                                                                                 by Daniel Kahneman
Valor’s Trial                                                                                                                                                        by Tanya Huff
The Secret Garden                                                                                                                                          by Frances Hodgson Burnett
Siddhartha                                                                                                                                                          by Hermann Hesse
A Dead Man in Deptford                                                                                                                               by Anthony Burgess
The Fabric of the Cosmos                                                                                                                             by Brian Greene

Thursday, August 22nd, 2013
11:14 pm
I just finished a book by Tanya Huff - 'Valor's Trial'  It was published in 2008 and being 'that' type of reader (one who tends to read the intro and foreword and dedication) I noticed the author had dedicated this book to Mike Glicksohn.  Here's what she wrote:

--------------------------
For Mike Glicksohn.

Who has the very first book I ever signed. (I spelled my own name wrong.)  Whose friendship has been a constant touchstone for the last thirty years.  (Possibly twenty-nine, but who's counting.)  Who was pretty much entirely responsible for the Mictok when he requested "death by giant spider".  (Okay, so technically they were only obliquely at fault for Sergeant Glicksohn's death but still . . .)

It's about time he got one just for him.
--------------------------

If I ever cross paths with Tanya Huff, this is the book I'll have her sign.
Monday, March 11th, 2013
1:39 am
Really enjoyed the warm weather today.  I've been a bit of slug for the past few weeks, which is unusual for me.  I don't have too much of a clue as to the reason(s) for it, but given how I felt today, it might have had at least a little to do with Michigan's preponderance of overcast winter days.  So today, I got busy and put together a couple bluebird nesting boxes (I had purchased the wood to do this 3 weeks ago) which will be put up tomorrow, hopefully in time to still get used this season.  We have actually spotted some bluebirds around the house, so I'm slightly hopeful.  I also made a blood orange chiffon pie which turned out quite well.  I have a couple other little projects to get moving on.  Maybe I can use today's momentum to help get me back crossing off things from my to do list.  Why is it that list never seems to empty out?
Thursday, January 10th, 2013
12:42 pm
What I read in 2012

Here's the inventory of what I read in 2012.  It's significantly shorter than 2011,
but a couple on the list turned out to be serious time sinks (getting Netflix has
had an effect as well). But I already have a stack of 7-8 I'm ready to get started on
this year and am planning to get more read this year.  I will probably even reread a
couple books (Ender's Game in advance of the movie and A Fire Upon the Deep,
before I read the sequel, The Children of the Sky) which is something I almost never do.

Guns, Germs, and Steel - The Fates of Human Societies by Jared Diamond
Someone Comes to Town, Someone Leaves Town by Cory Doctorow
Mirror Maze by Michaele Jordan
Earthbound by Joe Haldeman
The Annotated Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov (annotated by Alfred Appel, Jr)
The Sagan Diary by John Scalzi
Buddha Boy by Kathe Koja
Understanding Orchids by William Cullina
Bonsai with Japanese Maples by Peter Adams
Damnation Alley by Roger Zelazny
Shadow of Ashland by Terence M. Green
The Languages of Pao by Jack Vance
super-cannes by J.G. Ballard
Deepsix by Jack McDevitt
Ishmael by Daniel Quinn
Thorns by Robert Silverberg
Bonsai Design by Peter Adams
Step Gently Out by Helen Frost and Rick Lieder
History of Art by H.W. Janson

Monday, September 17th, 2012
1:40 am
Posing a question...
I seldom take part in political conversations, partly because I'm conflict averse, but more importantly, because I find them frustrating.  I feel that way because it seems to me there's not much value to it.  For example:
     1)  If you're talking with someone who has different views than you it often devolves quickly and nothing useful comes of it.
     2)  If you're talking (in a civilized manner) with someone who has different views than you, you may have a lively and   
          entertaining conversation but people tend to have the views they have, you are not likely to change their opinion based
          on your conversation.
     3)  If you're talking with someone with like views, you may find it an affirming conversation, or more likely...
     4)  You will find yourself being cynical about the system for a plethora of valid reasons.

So, to me it looks like nothing useful comes of it.  For me, something useful would take the form of something I could reasonably expect to do that would really have a positive effect on the political process in this country.  (I don't ask for much, do I?)

This brings me to my question - 

     If you had the power to make one change to improve the political process in America, what would it be and why do you
     think that one thing would make a significant difference?
Wednesday, January 25th, 2012
9:43 pm
Who's read Cory Doctorow's "Someone comes to town, Someone leaves town"? I just finished it and would like to hear others' opinions.
Wednesday, January 11th, 2012
8:30 pm
What I read in 2011
I don't know about you, but sometimes I get into a bit of a book collecting frame of mind as opposed to book reading.
So, at the start of 2011, I decided to make an effort to read some of the books I had been collecting that involve some
of my hobbies and interests.  That way, I might actually gain some knowledge and insight into said hobbies and interests

Here (in no particular order is the list of what I read in 2011.

The Quest for the Perfect Hive (A history of Innovation in Bee Culture) by Gene Kritsky
Girl, Interrupted (haven't seen the movie yet) by Susanna Kaysen
Driftglass by Samuel Delany
Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
World of Ptavvs by Larry Niven
The Sea Wolf by Jack London
Troublesome Minds by Dave Galanter (a Star Trek novel)
Bloodthirst by J.M. Dillard (a Star Trek novel)
The Secret History of Moscow by Ekaterina Sedia
Night of the Living Trekkies by Anderson and Stall (better than I expected for what it is)
The Humbling by Philip Roth
Brightness Falls From the Air by James Tiptree Jr.
Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides
Who Fears Death by Nnedi Okorafor
The Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi
Successful Bonsai Growing by Peter Adams
Shekina by Kuspit and Nimoy (this is really just a book of photographs)
Router Joinery Workshop by Carol Reed
Bonsai in Your Home by Paul Lesniewicz
Biscuit Joiner Handbook by Hugh Foster
Advanced Origami by Michael G. LaFosse
Origami Art by Michael G. LaFosse and Richard L. Alexander
Origami Bonsai by Benjamin John Coleman
501 Best Shop Tips for Woodworkers
The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell
Polaris by Jack McDevitt
Prador Moon by Neal Asher
The Fifth Head of Cerberus by Gene Wolf
Tower of Glass by Robert Silverberg
Three Roads to Quantum Gravity by Lee Smolin
The New Cool (A Visionary Teacher, His FIRST Robotics Team, and the Ultimate Battle of Smarts) by Neal Bascomb
Gold Boy, Emerald Girl by Yiyun Li
Deep Down Things (The Breathtaking Beauty of Particle Physics) by Bruce A. Schumm (one of the better books
of it's kind that I have read)
The Improvisational Cook by Sally Schneider

I got these read by early October, then picked up The Histories by Herodotus, a Penguin Classics book.  It is a
translation of Herodotus' that describes the war between the Greek city-states and the Persian army that took place
in the fifth century bc (along with lots of background info).  His writings are from 30-50 years after the actual events.
It's one of those books where you need to read the 50+ pages of footnotes to assist your understanding as you go.
This book was really hard to read.  With no real grounding in the era, the never ending listings of places and names of
men, their sons, daughters and on rare occasions, wives, it could knock me unconscious in a matter of 2-3 pages.
The first 400 pages were the worst, after that there were far fewer digressions because the war was beginning in earnest
and staying on topic made it much better.  I didn't finish it until today, but I'm leaving it behind in my 2011 list, partly
because most of it was read in 2011, but more because I want to put it behind me.  I did learn some interesting things
reading it though.  I'll look at archaeological artifacts with a more appreciative eye because of it, too.

So, lastly
Herodotus - The Histories
Sunday, January 2nd, 2011
10:53 pm

Five or six years ago I had the feeling I had digressed to a point where i was reading very little, so I decided to set aside the books that year.   At the the end of the year, the stack was a mere dozen high, but to be honest was still a few more than I expected (probably because the act of keeping track kept me more focused on reading than I would have been otherwise).  Since then I've kept rough track and have managed around that number since then.

At the start of 2010, I set myself a goal of 24 books for the year and, in fact, managed 30.  A good friend, haniaw  sometimes posts what she's read in the past year.  I'm copying her good idea.

What I read in 2010...Collapse )


Thursday, September 9th, 2010
9:00 am
Quantum encryption!

Evidently in use by certain banks for select cases already.
Thursday, June 17th, 2010
1:28 pm
Floor repair
I took off the last week of May - to make sure I got the floor repair in my family room done before House Party in July.

For those of you that don't know and are interested:

My house has been added on to at least three times.  In one of these, the family room with fireplace was added to the house.  Most of this room has a nice tongue and groove 3/4" wood plank floor.   When this was done, for some reason, they left behind a 5 x 5 foot section of linoleum - the same stuff that is in the kitchen.  The only thing I can figure is that there was some other structure there when the room was put in place that was later removed, leaving the old flooring, now a part of the family room.  In any event, my task was to replace the linoleum with wood plank that would match the existing flooring.

Here's the photo record:

at the start
original floor removed
creating a staggered edge
the new flooring
mostly installed
first coat of stain
second coat of stain
finished floor

The trickiest part was matching the stain.  I spent a couple days trying dozens of combinations on the extra pieces I had.  I finally came up with one coat of early american stain, followed by one coat of a mix of 3 parts pecan, 2 parts cherry and one part english walnut (like I said, I tried dozens of combinations)

Overall, I'm pretty happy with the result.

Next up, new linoleum in the kitchen.
12:32 pm
Book recommendation

I just finished 'Mockingbird' by Walter Tevis.  His better known works include, 'The Color of Money', 'The Hustler' and 'The Man Who Fell to Earth'.
I read 'The Man Who Fell to Earth' just prior to 'Mockingbird' and found I liked the later more.  That could be due to the diverging directions the lives of the two main characters take.  Mockingbird is a dystopian story, somewhat simple in some ways but moving and close to profound in others.  It's a good read - and how can you not like a novel with a cat named Biff!
Thursday, May 27th, 2010
8:05 pm
No wonder I was as drenched as a wet rag yesterday!

I put in most of the replacement plank floor yesterday.  Spent about 6 straight hours at it.
I turned on the air conditioning in the house mid morning, hoping to keep things cooler
than I usually do.  I was so busy that I didn't notice until late in the afternoon it was 80 in the
house.  By then I was exhausted and dismissed it as an anomaly.  Maybe it was hotter out
than I thought and the unit couldn't keep up.

Today, by 2 pm, the house was once more warmer than it ever gets with the air on and I
decided I needed to investigate.  I checked the unit outside and lo and below it was not
running.  Checked the breaker in the house - it was not thrown.  I had my hot water heater
replaced last month, so I looked to see if anything was left disconnected, switched off that
might be the culprit - no luck.

So tomorrow I'll be calling for service on my air conditioner.  Time to see if there's a rebate
program for an energy efficient model and then see if I can afford it, because I'm expecting
I'll need to replace my air conditioner in the coming days.
Tuesday, May 25th, 2010
8:00 pm
I'm on vacation this week - mostly because my company has a use it or lose it policy and I want to make sure
I don't lose any of it (lost a couple days last year).

So, yesterday Dustin and I visited my Mom.  We (mostly me) get to re-landscape the front of her house.  Yesterday we picked out the last of the stones we hauled out of there by the box load last fall, moved some big rocks (one bordering on boulder-dom) and dumped in 20 bags dirt, humus and compost.  Next step will be to order the new border bricks which I'll get to lay in place upon their arrival.

Today I began to repair the patch in my family room floor that is linoleum instead of pegged wood planks like the
rest of the room.  The tear-out went smoother than I expected - a rare event. 

Tomorrow I hope to get the new planks put in place.  I'll have a few photos of the process when I'm done.

...ahhhh.... vacation.
Friday, May 21st, 2010
6:46 pm
Trapezoidal Bookcase
I finally finished this project - which I started in the fall of 2008. 

I chose it because it required me to use tools I hadn't used before as well as learn a variety 
of new skills. 

I also decided to create a little portfolio of the various woodworking projects I've done.  The portfolio
is partly because I've given the majority of the pieces to other people, but also to remind me what I've
done, what was involved and what I learned doing each one.  There's also the optimistic notion that
I might get into making pieces for sale and this would provide a record of my work to show people.

Here's what I put in the portfolio entry:

Trapezoidal Bookcase

Made for me!
Started Fall 2008, finished Spring 2010
Dimensions approx: 61”h x 15”-22”w x 8”-11”d

  • Made entirely of walnut (from tree on Wallace)
  • First use of through tenons, pegs for fastening, biscuit jointer, two piece mechanical biscuits, plunge router, plunge mortiser, scraper
  • Learned that having everything 3 degrees off from 90 makes for a significantly less straightforward build. Had to be extra careful about orientation of stock when making cuts.
  • Learned better use of chisels. To avoid chip out, ALWAYS have waste wood up against the piece you are working on.
  • Built a special jig to cut the mortises using a plunge router.
  • Finished with Watco Danish oil, followed by several coats of Minwax wipe-on satin polyurethane.
  • Plans from the book Bookcases by Niall Barrett.
     
Photo of the bookcaseCollapse )Trapezoidal bookcase
Wednesday, April 14th, 2010
1:38 pm
A major pet peeve of mine is the use of misleading statistics to strengthen an argument.

Here's a decent write up about a particularly topical example...

 

Wednesday, April 7th, 2010
10:24 pm
When some staunch republicans not only recognize but voice their concerns about how Fox News goes about it's business, it gives me a glimmer of hope.
Tuesday, January 26th, 2010
10:25 pm
I'm looking to do a better job of keeping up with current events. I know most, if not all, of you are significantly better informed than I about the world at large. So I'm asking you to recommend the news sources you turn to for this purpose. The ones you feel provide mostly intelligent, thoughtful and cogent reporting, background and analysis with a minimum of bias.
Sunday, January 10th, 2010
4:11 pm
Looking back, Declaring forward...
I'm discovering as I review 2009 that I basically took the year off. I didn't accomplish anything of note. There were no big house projects, no woodworking projects, no self improvement projects worth mentioning. Aside from following through on an old promise to get a thorough physical checkup and do the various followup tasks, I'd have to say I pretty much coasted all year. I guess that's not all bad, but it did leave me feeling pretty unfulfilled starting out this year, not to mention not very impressed with myself.

So, for this year, at least to start, I began setting some weekly goals to get me moving in the right direction - did pretty well with them this past week. I've come up with some substantive goals as well.

Herewith:

Prepare for and take the PMP(Project Management Professional) exam. It will better position me to look for a job if/when the need arises.

Get under 200 lbs and stay there - exercise regularly for the entire year.

Finish my current woodworking project, do the family room floor project.

Read at least one book a month - I know that's nothing for the rest of you.
This month's book is Margaret Atwood's new novel 'The Year of the Flood'. Bruce, I owe you a report on 'Us and Them', which I read last month.

Become better informed. To that end, I'm taking recommendations from all of you for your favorite news sources that help you do the same.

That's enough for now, though I already know of things I'll be adding to the list...
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