Sunday, December 30, 2012

The 306 Greatest Books - #114 Selected Stories by Anton Chekhov

The next book up on the reading of the 305 Greatest books is Selected Stories by Anton Chekhov. This book can be found on the Norwegian List and partially on Zane's Top 10 List.



 There are two sets of Chekhov stories on these lists. Zane's Top 10 list includes all of his stories (~200) while this one, only has 24 stories. You can find my reviews of the individual stories HERE along with all of the possible translations of the titles (since there are a few known with multiple titles). In general the stories are ok. Many of the early ones feel like Poe without the twist, in other words rather boring. But his later stories did have the ability to make me feel for the characters even if the story was only 2 pages long. The stories ranged in length from 2 to 35 pages long with most of them being under 10 pages. Should you go out and get this? I don't think it is necessary. His writing is good, but overall, I didn't feel anything great reading the stories. Perhaps I am just not a short story advocate.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Twas the Night Before Christmas (kind of)

This was posted by Ken Carpenter on the Vert Paleo mailing list back in 2007.


Twas the nocturnal segment of the diurnal period preceding the annual
Yuletide celebration, and throughout our place of residence, kinetic
activity was not in evidence among the possessors of this potential,
including that species of domestic rodent known as Mus musculus. Hosiery
was meticulously suspended from the forward edge of the wood burning
caloric apparatus, pursuant to our anticipatory pleasure regarding an
imminent visitation from an eccentric philanthropist among whose
folkloric appellations is the honorific title of St. Nicholas.

The prepubescent siblings, comfortably ensconced in their respective
accommodations of repose, were experiencing subconscious visual
hallucinations of variegated fruit confections moving rhythmically
through their cerebrums. My conjugal partner and I, attired in our
nocturnal head coverings, were about to take slumberous advantage of the
hibernal darkness when upon the avenaceous exterior portion of the
grounds there ascended such a cacophony of dissonance that I felt
compelled to arise with alacrity from my place of repose for the purpose
of ascertaining the precise source thereof.

Hastening to the casement, I forthwith opened the barriers sealing this
fenestration, noting thereupon that the lunar brilliance without,
reflected as it was on the surface of a recent crystalline
precipitation, might be said to rival that of the solar meridian itself
- thus permitting my incredulous optical sensory organs to behold a
miniature airborne runnered conveyance drawn by eight diminutive
specimens of the genus Rangifer, piloted by a minuscule, aged chauffeur
so ebullient and nimble that it became instantly apparent to me that he
was indeed our anticipated caller. With his ungulate motive power
travelling at what may possibly have been more vertiginous velocity than
patriotic alar predators, he vociferated loudly, expelled breath
musically through contracted labia, and addressed each of the octet by
his or her respective cognomen - "Now Dasher, now Dancer..." et al. -
guiding them to the uppermost exterior level of our abode, through which
structure I could readily distinguish the concatenations of each of the
32 cloven pedal extremities.

As I retracted my cranium from its erstwhile location, and was
performing a 180-degree pivot, our distinguished visitant achieved -
with utmost celerity and via a downward leap - entry by way of the smoke
passage. He was clad entirely in animal pelts soiled by the ebony
residue from oxidations of carboniferous fuels which had accumulated on
the walls thereof. His resemblance to a street vendor I attributed
largely to the plethora of assorted playthings which he bore dorsally in
a commodious cloth receptacle.

His orbs were scintillant with reflected luminosity, while his
submaxillary dermal indentations gave every evidence of engaging
amiability. The capillaries of his malar regions and nasal appurtenance
were engorged with blood which suffused the subcutaneous layers, the
former approximating the coloration of Albion's floral emblem, the
latter that of the Prunus avium, or sweet cherry. His amusing sub- and
supralabials resembled nothing so much as a common loop knot, and their
ambient hirsute facial adornment appeared like small, tabular and
columnar crystals of frozen water.

Clenched firmly between his incisors was a smoking piece whose grey
fumes, forming a tenuous ellipse about his occiput, were suggestive of a
decorative seasonal circlet of holly. His visage was wider than it was
high, and when he waxed audibly mirthful, his corpulent abdominal region
undulated in the manner of impectinated fruit syrup in a hemispherical
container. He was, in short, neither more nor less than an obese,
jocund, multigenarian gnome, the optical perception of whom rendered me
visibly frolicsome despite every effort to refrain from so being. By
rapidly lowering and then elevating one eyelid and rotating his head
slightly to one side, he indicated that trepidation on my part was
groundless.

Without utterance and with dispatch, he commenced filling the
aforementioned appended hosiery with various of the aforementioned
articles of merchandise extracted from his aforementioned previously
dorsally transported cloth receptacle. Upon completion of this task, he
executed an abrupt about-face, placed a single manual digit in lateral
juxtaposition to his olfactory organ, inclined his cranium forward in a
gesture of leave-taking, and forthwith effected his egress by
renegotiating (in reverse) the smoke passage. He then propelled himself
in a short vector onto his conveyance, directed a musical expulsion of
air through his contracted oral sphincter to the antlered quadrupeds of
burden, and proceeded to soar aloft in a movement hitherto observable
chiefly among the seed-bearing portions of a common weed. But I
overheard his parting exclamation, audible immediately prior to his
vehiculation beyond the limits of visibility: "Ecstatic Yuletide to the
planetary constituency, and to that self same assemblage, my sincerest
wishes for a salubriously beneficial and gratifyingly pleasurable period
between sunset and dawn."

Merychippus and a Hippo New Year

Monday, December 10, 2012

The Source Behind some Christmas Traditions

As I go back and drudge up old things that were passed around many years ago. This post goes into the source for a lot of the Christmas traditions that we have today. Thanks Stuart Sumida who sent this out over the Vert Paleo list serve back in 2007.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------

As you sit back in your chair this Christmas ­- Christ's Mass - (the biggest holiday of the Ancient Roman World called Saturnalia and the birth of the Persian Sun God Mithras was named the birth festival of Jesus by Pope Leo the Great in 885 A.D.) December 25th was also the Feast of Sol Invictus, the Invincible Sun, a cult popular to Romans like Constantine, the first Christian emperor. Modern estimates based on the census records of Augustus and astronomy calculate Jesus' actual birth may have occurred in July although Christians had started to use the Saturnalia as the birthday feast as early as the 300's A.D.)

...by your yule log (German Norse custom, the Yule Festival lasting twelve days),

...wrapping your presents in pretty paper (Roman Saturnalia custom)

...with your house all decorated with lights (Roman New Year custom)

...under your mistletoe (Druid custom),

...drinking from your Wassel Bowl (Anglo-German hot beer with toast floating in which is why we "toast" with the words "was-heil"-hail to you.  Egg Nog was a drink of Elizabethan sailors which means 'Eggs with Grog".)

You're admiring your Christmas Tree.  Besides Druid tree worship, in Ancient times Germans and Vikings brought evergreen boughs into their homes at the winter solstice to bring back the plants from winter. Legend was in the 8th Century Saint Boniface stopped pagan Germans from sacrificing to Odin at a sacred oak by declaring the oak sacred to the Christ child. In the Middle Ages Dec 24th was the Feast of Saints Adam & Eve. The western theatrical tradition survived in the form of Medieval Mystery Plays, acting out stories from the Bible. So this day they would do a play about the temptation and expulsion from the Garden of Eden. A tree was brought into the church and decorated to represent the Tree of Life, glass balls representing the fruit. This is one of the origins of the Christmas Tree, The Feast of Adam and Eve was dispensed with during the Counter-Reformation. This custom was brought to America first by Hessian German soldiers, but it really caught on when Queen Victoria's husband German Prince Albert set up a Christmas Tree in the British royal palace in the 1840. Charles Dickens called it " A new German toy." In 1877 The New York Times called Xmas trees " A useless rootless corpse, unworthy of the day." But Soon everyone had to have one, and anything fashionable in England was soon cool in America too. Thomas Edison first replaced the candles with a string of electric lightbulbs in 1882, President Grover Cleveland lit the first White House Christmas tree in 1895.

Holly bloomed only at this time of year and to Medieval people looked like the Crown of Thorns with the little red berries symbolizing blood droplets. Poinsettas were introduced in the 1850s by the U.S. consul to Mexico, Jacob Poinsetta.

And you dream of a visit from Santa Claus.  A hybrid of Anglo-Dutch customs appearing in its modern form in New York in the late 1850's. The English form was St. Nicholas, a big jolly Bishop in a red suit and the Dutch had Kris Kringle, the elf who dropped down your chimney and was also known as 'Klaus-in-the-Cinders' or 'Cinder-Klaus'. The Welsh had a Druid priest who distributed magic mushrooms wore a red robe with white fur trim. To avoid the more toxic qualities they fed
these mushrooms to Reindeer and drank an ale fermented from their urine.  Yeah, that's where the Reindeer come from. The first image of him was drawn in 1859 in the New York Sun by cartoonist Thomas Nast for the anonymously published poem "A Visit from Saint Nicholas" attributed to Clement Clarke Moore. Nast also created the Democratic Donkey and Republican elephant. In 1866 Nast originated the idea that Santa was from the North Pole to stop post Civil War squabbling as to
whether Santa was a Yankee or a Southerner. The modern Santa Claus image was created for a 1930's Cocoa Cola ad by illustrator Haddon Sundblom

The song "THE TWELVE DAYS OF CHRISTMAS" was a secret code from an unknown author in the XVIII Century. From 1558 until 1829, Roman Catholics in England were not permitted to practice their faith openly. Someone during that era wrote this carol as a catechism song for young Catholics. It has two levels of meaning: the surface meaning plus a hidden meaning known only to members of their church. Each element in the carol has a code word for a religious reality which the
children could remember.

The partridge in a pear tree was Jesus Christ, don't ask me why. Two turtle doves were the Old and New Testaments. Three French hens stood for faith, hope and love. The four calling birds were the four gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke & John. The five golden rings recalled the Torah or Law, the first five books of the Old Testament. The six geese a-laying stood for the six days of creation. Seven swans a-swimming represented the sevenfold gifts of the Holy Spirit: Prophesy, Serving, Teaching, Exhortation, Contribution, Leadership, and Mercy. The eight maids a-milking were the eight beatitudes. Nine ladies dancing were the nine fruits of the Holy Spirit: Love, Joy, Peace, Patience,
Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness, and Self Control. The ten lords a-leaping were the ten commandments. The eleven pipers piping stood for the eleven faithful disciples. The twelve drummers drumming symbolized the twelve points of belief in the Apostles' Creed.

The carol "Silent Night" was composed by Austrian minister Rudolph Scribner in 1848.

Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer appeared in 1939 in a story by a Montgomery Ward Department Store ad exec named Mayo - Gene Autry the Singing Cowboy recording the famous song (after dozens of other singers passed on doing so).

So here's wishing you hopes for a "White Christmas" (song written by Russian-Jewish composer Irving Berlin) and a very Happy New Year (courtesy of the 12 month calendar reformed in 45 B.C. by the Hellenic-Egyptian scientist Sosigenes for Julius Caesar, modified by Pope Gregory in 1582 and not accepted by English speaking lands until 1752, else we'd be celebrating New Years in March - the stubborn Old Believers were called April Fools.)

Merry Christmas, Freylich Chaunnakah, Happy Ramadan, Happy Winter Solstice, Happy Washing of the Buddha, Happy Birth of Mithras - who was born in the wilderness and adored by shepards, Io, Io, Saturnalia, Joyeux Noel, Bozego Narodzenia, Frohe Weinacht, Prettig Kerstfeest, Nadolig llawen, Selamat Hari Krismas, Happy Birth of Sol Invictus the Sungod, Happy death and rebirth of Baldur son of Odin, Happy beginning of the rise of Porsephone back from Hades to her mother Demeter, and
please pass the reindeer pee! ­

Enjoy!          

Tom & Pat Sito (and Stuart Sumida) 2007

Friday, December 7, 2012

2012 Personal Goals - Month 11 Update

11 Months down. Just need to get through the holidays.

1. Finish first draft of my novel -
January 1st - 3rd year on the list. Lets see if I can do it this year. Starting point - 1st section first draft is done.
Months 1-11 Update - Nothing new

2. Drop weight to 167
January 1st - Again 3rd year on the list. I think I will have a little more time this year to get it done. Starting point - 182.1.
Month 1 Update - 181.7
Month 2 Update - 179.0
Month 3 Update - 178.3
Month 4 Update - 175.3
Month 5 Update - 173.6
Month 6 Update - 172.1
Month 7 Update - 169.5 (Almost there!!)
Month 8 Update - 169.9
Month 9 Update - 168.2
Month 10 Update - 170.1
Month 11 Update - 171.8 - Damn holidays

3 Read 2 of the Top Ten books on Zanes book list
January 1st - 3 books are left on the list. I am currently in the middle of War and Peace and hope to finish it by March.
Month 1 Update - Finished Book 3 of 4 in War and Peace.
Month 2 Update - Finished War and Peace. 1 book to go.
Months 3-10 Update - Nothing new
Month 11 - Started reading some of the Anton Chekov short stories


4. (DONE) Read 7 books on the Sybervision Book List for a total of 75
January 1st - To get to a nice round number of 75 I want to finish 7 more books.
Month 1 Update - Reading War and Peace
Month 2 Update - Finished War and Peace. 6 books to go.
Month 3 Update - Nothing new
Month 4 Update - Read Camille and The Rime of the Ancient Mariner. 4 books to go.
Month 5 Update - Read How We Think. 3 books to go.
Month 6 Update - Read Carmen. 2 books to go.
Month 7 Update - Read Turn of the Screw. 1 Book to go.
Months 8-10 Update - Nothing new.
Month 11 Update - Read Far from the Madding Crowd. Done!

5. (DONE) Read 7 books on the BBC Book List for a total of 45
January 1st - These are generally easier books to read, especially with Annabelle.
Month 1 Update - Reading Anne of Green Gables and War and Peace
Month 2 Update - Finished War and Peace. 6 books to go.
Month 3 Update - Finished Anne of Green Gables. 5 books to go.
Month 4 Update - Nothing new
Month 5 Update - Read The Faraway Tree. 4 books to go.
Month 6 Update - Read The Story of Tracy Beaker. 3 books to go.
Month 7 Update - Read Double Act. 2 Books to go.
Month 8 Update - Nothing new.
Month 9 Update - Read Girls in Love. 1 book to go.
Month 10 Update - Nothing new
Month 11 Update - Read Far from the Madding Crowd. Done!

6. Update 2 Geologic Movie Reviews
January 1st - I have 1 update I need to do one one movie and a complete overhaul of the other.
Months 1-7 Update - Nothing new
Month 8 Update - Finished the corrections to Dante's Peak. 1 to go.
Months 9-11 Update - Nothing new

7. Finish 1 more movie on my Geological Movie Review
January 1st - Look to do 1 more movie, most likely Earthquake!.
Months 1-11 Update - Nothing new


8. Watch 15 of the 100 Greatest Movies of All Time (according to AFI)
January 1st - Current count 70 so 15 more will get me 1/2 way to the goal.
Month 1 Update - Watched High Noon. 14 more to go.
Month 2 Update - Watched Double Indemnity. 13 more to go.
Months 3-6 Update - Nothing new
Month 7 Update - Watched Sunset Boulevard. 12 more to go.
Month 8 Update - Nothing new.
Month 9 Update - Watched The Gold Rush. 11 more to go.
Month 11 Update - Nothing new

10. Skin the top of the Hovercraft
January 1st - I finished working on the bottom last year so lets see if I can get the top done this year. And with my new garage heater I will be able to work during the colder months.
Months 1-8 Update - Nothing new
Month 9 Update - Put on one coat of protectant. Nothing much but it's a start.
Month 10 Update - Nothing new
Month 11 Update - Put on second coat of protectant.


11. Catalogue, photograph, and organize Star Wars collection by CVI
January 1st - With Star Wars Celebration VI coming up in August I want to catalogue and photograph my collection to get ready to know anything I need to buy when I go.
Month 1 Update - Caught up on the pile of recent stuff but nothing else.
Months 2-7 Update - Nothing new
Month 8 Update - Went to CVI but didn't get this finished in time, will have to get this done by the end of the year.
Months 9-11 Update - Nothing new.


12. Do 1 major job each month on the "Things to Do for the House" list
January 1st - With an updated list we have 20 things that we want to do to get the house in tip-top shape.
Month 1 Update - Started working on some things but nothing finished
Month 2 Update - Finished putting boards in the attic and moving stuff up there. 1 task done, 11 to go.
Month 3 Update - I was going to replace the side door but it turned out to be a lot more work than I anticipated so I only have it about 2/3rds done. 11 still to go.
Month 4 Update - Finished installing the new side door. 10 to go.
Month 5 Update - Extended the sprinkle head. 9 to go.
Month 6 Update - Several projects are in process but one project took a lot more work than was anticipated. Still 9 to go.
Months 7-8 Update - Nothing more completed
Month 9 Update - Finished removing the mirror and upgrading the attic. 7 Projects to go.
Months 10-11 Update - Nothing new

Other items of note:
Besides the holidays I have been mostly busy with school. I submited another manuscript for publication and my first manuscript was accepted for print. We just need to wait for the technical edits on that and it should be all set to go.

---------------------------------------FINISHED!---------------------------------------------

9. (DONE) Do 1 Geological Fact for each month.
January 1st - This went over well last year so let's do it again.
Month 1 Update - I wanted to finish these early and release them as the months went by. I have 9 done so far. 3 left to go.
Month 2 Update - Finished the last 3. So this task is DONE!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Santa's Out of Prozac - Humor

Here is some Santa humor. Watch out for naughty language.


Dear Santa,
I've written you for three years now asking for a fire truck. Please, I really really want a fire truck this year!
Love, Joey

Dear Joey,
Let me make it up to you. Christmas Eve, while you sleep, I'm gonna torch your house. You'll have more fire trucks than you'll know what to do with.
Santa
*******************************************************

Dear Santa,
I don't know if you can do this, but for Christmas, I'd like for my mommy and daddy to get back together. Please see what you can do.
Love, Teddy

Dear Teddy,
What, and ruin that hot affair your dad's still having with the baby-sitter? He's banging her like a screen door in a hurricane, son! Let me get you some nice Legos instead.
Santa

*******************************************************
Dear Santa,
I left milk and cookies for you under the tree, and I left carrots for your reindeer outside the backdoor.
Love, Susan

Dear Susan,
Milk gives me the shits and carrots make the deer fart in my face. You want to be a kiss-ass? Leave me a glass of Chivas Regal and a nice Cuban cigar.
Santa

*******************************************************

Dear Santa,
I really really want a puppy this year. Please please please PLEASE. Jimmy

Jimmy,
That whiney-begging shit may work with your folks, but that crap don't work up here. You're getting another sweater.
Santa

*******************************************************

Dear Santa,
What do you do the other 364 days of the year? Are you making toys?
Your friend, Thomas

Dear Thomas,
All toys get made in China. I have a condo in Vegas, where I spend most my time squeezing cocktail waitresses asses, and losing all my cash at the craps table. Hey, YOU wanted to know!
Santa

*******************************************************

Dear Santa,
I wud like a kool toy space ranjur for Xmas. Iv ben a good boy all yeer. YeR FReND, BiLLy

Dear Billy,
Nice spelling. You're on your way to being a career lawncare specialist. How 'bout I send you a fucking book so you can learn to read and write? I'm giving your older brother the space ranger,at least HE can spell!
Santa

*******************************************************

Dear Santa,
I have been a good girl all year, and the only thing I ask for is peace and joy in the world for everybody!
Love, Sarah

Dear Sarah,
Your parents smoked pot when they had you, didn't they?
Santa

*******************************************************

Dear Santa,
I need more Pokemon cards please! All my friends have more Pokemon cards than me. Please see what you can do.
Love, Michelle

Dear Michelle,
It blows my fucking mind. Kids are forcing their parents to buy hundreds of dollars worth of these stupid cards, and none of you snot-nosed brats are even learning to play the game. Let me get you something more your speed, like "Chutes and Ladders."
Santa

*******************************************************

Dear Santa,
I want a new bike, playstation, a train, some G.I. Joes, a
dog, a drum kit, a pony and a tuba.
Love, Francis

Dear Francis,
Who the fuck names their kid "Francis" nowadays?
Santa

*******************************************************

Dear Santa,
Do you see us when we're sleeping, do you really know when we're awake, like in the song?
Love, Jessica

Dear Jessica,
You are that gullible? Good luck in whatever you do, I'm skipping your house...
Santa

*******************************************************

Dearest Santa,
We don't have a chimney in our house, how do you get into our home?
Love, Marky Mark

Dear Marky Mark,
First, stop calling yourself "Marky"; that's why you're getting your ass whipped at school. Secondly, you don't live in a house, that's a low-rent apartment complex you're living in. Thirdly, I get inside your pad just like all the burglars do, through your bedroom window.
Sweet Dreams!
Santa

Sunday, November 4, 2012

The 306 Greatest Books #113 - Far From the Madding Crowd

The next book up on my reading list is Far from the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy. This book can be found on the Sybervision and the BBC book lists.



I have mixed feelings about this book. On the one hand the ending was exactly as I had hoped for during the duration of the book and I felt excited that it was actually happening. I was also pleased that I wasn't sure exactly what direction the book was going for the majority of it. It kept me guessing. On the other hand I kind of get tired with books that take a strong female lead and beat her into submission for the majority of the book. The main female character, Bathsheba, was this strong, independent woman who could not stand to think of a relationship for the first half of the book. But then that one man comes into her life that spells trouble. The story revolves around the mistakes she has made in her 'love' life and how she must own up to them. The book is well written and easy to follow, so there were no problems there. At the end of the book I felt that it was a must recommend (based on that satisfactory conclusion) but for the majority of it I couldn't see this as being a good book in the modern context (I don't typically appreciate the degradation of a strong female character). So I will say that you should read it if you are aware of what you are in for and can accept that.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

2012 Personal Goals - Month 10 Update

10 Months down. Almost done with the year.

1. Finish first draft of my novel -
January 1st - 3rd year on the list. Lets see if I can do it this year. Starting point - 1st section first draft is done.
Months 1-10 Update - Nothing new

2. Drop weight to 167
January 1st - Again 3rd year on the list. I think I will have a little more time this year to get it done. Starting point - 182.1.
Month 1 Update - 181.7
Month 2 Update - 179.0
Month 3 Update - 178.3
Month 4 Update - 175.3
Month 5 Update - 173.6
Month 6 Update - 172.1
Month 7 Update - 169.5 (Almost there!!)
Month 8 Update - 169.9
Month 9 Update - 168.2
Month 10 Update - 170.1

3 Read 2 of the Top Ten books on Zanes book list
January 1st - 3 books are left on the list. I am currently in the middle of War and Peace and hope to finish it by March.
Month 1 Update - Finished Book 3 of 4 in War and Peace.
Month 2 Update - Finished War and Peace. 1 book to go.
Months 3-10 Update - Nothing new


4. Read 7 books on the Sybervision Book List for a total of 75
January 1st - To get to a nice round number of 75 I want to finish 7 more books.
Month 1 Update - Reading War and Peace
Month 2 Update - Finished War and Peace. 6 books to go.
Month 3 Update - Nothing new
Month 4 Update - Read Camille and The Rime of the Ancient Mariner. 4 books to go.
Month 5 Update - Read How We Think. 3 books to go.
Month 6 Update - Read Carmen. 2 books to go.
Month 7 Update - Read Turn of the Screw. 1 Book to go.
Months 8-10 Update - Nothing new.

5. Read 7 books on the BBC Book List for a total of 45
January 1st - These are generally easier books to read, especially with Annabelle.
Month 1 Update - Reading Anne of Green Gables and War and Peace
Month 2 Update - Finished War and Peace. 6 books to go.
Month 3 Update - Finished Anne of Green Gables. 5 books to go.
Month 4 Update - Nothing new
Month 5 Update - Read The Faraway Tree. 4 books to go.
Month 6 Update - Read The Story of Tracy Beaker. 3 books to go.
Month 7 Update - Read Double Act. 2 Books to go.
Month 8 Update - Nothing new.
Month 9 Update - Read Girls in Love. 1 book to go.
Month 10 Update - Nothing new

6. Update 2 Geologic Movie Reviews
January 1st - I have 1 update I need to do one one movie and a complete overhaul of the other.
Months 1-7 Update - Nothing new
Month 8 Update - Finished the corrections to Dante's Peak. 1 to go.
Months 9-10 Update - Nothing new

7. Finish 1 more movie on my Geological Movie Review
January 1st - Look to do 1 more movie, most likely Earthquake!.
Months 1-10 Update - Nothing new


8. Watch 15 of the 100 Greatest Movies of All Time (according to AFI)
January 1st - Current count 70 so 15 more will get me 1/2 way to the goal.
Month 1 Update - Watched High Noon. 14 more to go.
Month 2 Update - Watched Double Indemnity. 13 more to go.
Months 3-6 Update - Nothing new
Month 7 Update - Watched Sunset Boulevard. 12 more to go.
Month 8 Update - Nothing new.
Month 9 Update - Watched The Gold Rush. 11 more to go.
Month 10 Update - Nothing new

10. Skin the top of the Hovercraft
January 1st - I finished working on the bottom last year so lets see if I can get the top done this year. And with my new garage heater I will be able to work during the colder months.
Months 1-8 Update - Nothing new
Month 9 Update - Put on one coat of protectant. Nothing much but it's a start.
Month 10 Update - Nothing new


11. Catalogue, photograph, and organize Star Wars collection by CVI
January 1st - With Star Wars Celebration VI coming up in August I want to catalogue and photograph my collection to get ready to know anything I need to buy when I go.
Month 1 Update - Caught up on the pile of recent stuff but nothing else.
Months 2-7 Update - Nothing new
Month 8 Update - Went to CVI but didn't get this finished in time, will have to get this done by the end of the year.
Months 9-10 Update - Nothing new.


12. Do 1 major job each month on the "Things to Do for the House" list
January 1st - With an updated list we have 20 things that we want to do to get the house in tip-top shape.
Month 1 Update - Started working on some things but nothing finished
Month 2 Update - Finished putting boards in the attic and moving stuff up there. 1 task done, 11 to go.
Month 3 Update - I was going to replace the side door but it turned out to be a lot more work than I anticipated so I only have it about 2/3rds done. 11 still to go.
Month 4 Update - Finished installing the new side door. 10 to go.
Month 5 Update - Extended the sprinkle head. 9 to go.
Month 6 Update - Several projects are in process but one project took a lot more work than was anticipated. Still 9 to go.
Months 7-8 Update - Nothing more completed
Month 9 Update - Finished removing the mirror and upgrading the attic. 7 Projects to go.
Month 10 Update - Nothing new

Other items of note:
Very busy month. I traveled to NY for my sister's wedding. Had the Tough Mudder which I thought I did very well in. Went to Vegas with my wife and best friend. And work on my dissertation. Very very busy. Hopefully November isn't so rushed.

---------------------------------------FINISHED!---------------------------------------------

9. (DONE) Do 1 Geological Fact for each month.
January 1st - This went over well last year so let's do it again.
Month 1 Update - I wanted to finish these early and release them as the months went by. I have 9 done so far. 3 left to go.
Month 2 Update - Finished the last 3. So this task is DONE!

Friday, October 12, 2012

2012 Personal Goals - Month 9 Update

9 Months down. 3/4s of the way there.

1. Finish first draft of my novel -
January 1st - 3rd year on the list. Lets see if I can do it this year. Starting point - 1st section first draft is done.
Months 1-9 Update - Nothing new

2. Drop weight to 167
January 1st - Again 3rd year on the list. I think I will have a little more time this year to get it done. Starting point - 182.1.
Month 1 Update - 181.7
Month 2 Update - 179.0
Month 3 Update - 178.3
Month 4 Update - 175.3
Month 5 Update - 173.6
Month 6 Update - 172.1
Month 7 Update - 169.5 (Almost there!!)
Month 8 Update - 169.9
Month 9 Update - 168.2

3 Read 2 of the Top Ten books on Zanes book list
January 1st - 3 books are left on the list. I am currently in the middle of War and Peace and hope to finish it by March.
Month 1 Update - Finished Book 3 of 4 in War and Peace.
Month 2 Update - Finished War and Peace. 1 book to go.
Months 3-9 Update - Nothing new


4. Read 7 books on the Sybervision Book List for a total of 75
January 1st - To get to a nice round number of 75 I want to finish 7 more books.
Month 1 Update - Reading War and Peace
Month 2 Update - Finished War and Peace. 6 books to go.
Month 3 Update - Nothing new
Month 4 Update - Read Camille and The Rime of the Ancient Mariner. 4 books to go.
Month 5 Update - Read How We Think. 3 books to go.
Month 6 Update - Read Carmen. 2 books to go.
Month 7 Update - Read Turn of the Screw. 1 Book to go.
Months 8-9 Update - Nothing new.

5. Read 7 books on the BBC Book List for a total of 45
January 1st - These are generally easier books to read, especially with Annabelle.
Month 1 Update - Reading Anne of Green Gables and War and Peace
Month 2 Update - Finished War and Peace. 6 books to go.
Month 3 Update - Finished Anne of Green Gables. 5 books to go.
Month 4 Update - Nothing new
Month 5 Update - Read The Faraway Tree. 4 books to go.
Month 6 Update - Read The Story of Tracy Beaker. 3 books to go.
Month 7 Update - Read Double Act. 2 Books to go.
Month 8 Update - Nothing new.
Month 9 Update - Read Girls in Love. 1 book to go.

6. Update 2 Geologic Movie Reviews
January 1st - I have 1 update I need to do one one movie and a complete overhaul of the other.
Months 1-7 Update - Nothing new
Month 8 Update - Finished the corrections to Dante's Peak. 1 to go.
Month 9 Update - Nothing new

7. Finish 1 more movie on my Geological Movie Review
January 1st - Look to do 1 more movie, most likely Earthquake!.
Months 1-9 Update - Nothing new


8. Watch 15 of the 100 Greatest Movies of All Time (according to AFI)
January 1st - Current count 70 so 15 more will get me 1/2 way to the goal.
Month 1 Update - Watched High Noon. 14 more to go.
Month 2 Update - Watched Double Indemnity. 13 more to go.
Months 3-6 Update - Nothing new
Month 7 Update - Watched Sunset Boulevard. 12 more to go.
Month 8 Update - Nothing new.
Month 9 Update - Watched The Gold Rush. 11 more to go.

10. Skin the top of the Hovercraft
January 1st - I finished working on the bottom last year so lets see if I can get the top done this year. And with my new garage heater I will be able to work during the colder months.
Months 1-8 Update - Nothing new
Month 9 Update - Put on one coat of protectant. Nothing much but it's a start.


11. Catalogue, photograph, and organize Star Wars collection by CVI
January 1st - With Star Wars Celebration VI coming up in August I want to catalogue and photograph my collection to get ready to know anything I need to buy when I go.
Month 1 Update - Caught up on the pile of recent stuff but nothing else.
Months 2-7 Update - Nothing new
Month 8 Update - Went to CVI but didn't get this finished in time, will have to get this done by the end of the year.
Month 9 Update - Nothing new.


12. Do 1 major job each month on the "Things to Do for the House" list
January 1st - With an updated list we have 20 things that we want to do to get the house in tip-top shape.
Month 1 Update - Started working on some things but nothing finished
Month 2 Update - Finished putting boards in the attic and moving stuff up there. 1 task done, 11 to go.
Month 3 Update - I was going to replace the side door but it turned out to be a lot more work than I anticipated so I only have it about 2/3rds done. 11 still to go.
Month 4 Update - Finished installing the new side door. 10 to go.
Month 5 Update - Extended the sprinkle head. 9 to go.
Month 6 Update - Several projects are in process but one project took a lot more work than was anticipated. Still 9 to go.
Months 7-8 Update - Nothing more completed
Month 9 Update - Finished removing the mirror and upgrading the attic. 7 Projects to go.

Other items of note:
Working mostly on my dissertation. I am also doing a Tough Mudder in October so a good chunk of my time has been relegated to working out for that. Busy busy.

---------------------------------------FINISHED!---------------------------------------------

9. (DONE) Do 1 Geological Fact for each month.
January 1st - This went over well last year so let's do it again.
Month 1 Update - I wanted to finish these early and release them as the months went by. I have 9 done so far. 3 left to go.
Month 2 Update - Finished the last 3. So this task is DONE!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

My conversation with Enterprise Rent-a-Car

So I rented a car at Enterprise today. Not really as amazing story but I thought this conversation was "interesting".

I noticed that the front tires on the car were low and my wife agreed with me. So after she dropped me off I went inside to building, since I was going to be driving a long way I figured it was best to fill them up. I asked the guy, who was not the guy who initially helped me, if they had a tire pump. Here is my conversation:

Me: Do you guys have a tire pump? The tires on the car are low.

Enterprise Man: Your car or ours?

Me: Yours.

EM: What's wrong?

Me: The tires are low and I have a long drive and I wanted to fill them up.

He seemed to not believe me by EM and I walked outside and I pointed out the tires. He then tells me to pull into their little service station where he measures the PSI of the tires.

EM: It is at 30.

My intial thought is, "yup, that's really low." He then goes to turn the pump on. I take off the cap to the other tire and try to fill up the tire not realizing the pump needs to warm up. So I wait. He then goes into the car to look at something then comes back out. I look at the tire to see what to fill the tire up to.

EM: It should be filled to 32.

Me: 44

EM: 32

Me: 44

EM: Inside the car says 32:

Me: The TIRE says 44 right there (pointint to it). I have rarely seen a normal tire ever be filled up to only 32.

EM: Oh, we normally take it to Firestone to work on the tires. They must have changed them and not updated the inside of the car.

Really dude? You don't know how to fill up the tires on cars and you work with CARS!!! This just amazes me.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

100 Greatest Movies #74 - The Gold Rush


The next movie up is The Gold Rush which is #74 on the 100 Greatest Movies list and #58 on the 10th Anniversary Movie List.




This was my first silent movie and it actually wasn't that bad. I had these preconceived notions about silent movies, that they were often campy and not very well put together. And even though the movie was very choppy due to the editing it actually was pretty enjoyable. Would I put this on the list were it made today? Oh hell no. This is by far not the best movie ever made, but I can see where this was groundbreaking at the time. Would I watch this again? Not likely, but I am glad that I did watch it once. The movie is Charlie Chaplin acting like stereotypical Charlie Chaplin (which may only be stereotypical in hindsight) and trying to find gold in Alaska during the gold rush. Although most of the movie had nothing to do with the gold rush and more about Chaplin stumbling around from one misadventure to another. Overall, it was fun but it felt like several episodes of a slow TV show instead of a well edited movie.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Dinotopia and Indiana Jones Timelines

Well I am announcing a few new timeline on my website.

The first is one I am hosting for a friend of mine Luke Van Horn. It is the Indiana Jones and the Chronology of Chaos, a very extensive coverage of all the Indiana Jone's Expanded Universe.

 
The second one is a timeline that I am in the process of building up, Dinotopia: A Timeline Apart from Time. Currently I have all of the main illustrated novels by James Gurney on there and I will slowly add in other information as I can.

Friday, September 7, 2012

100 Greatest Comedies #29 - This is Spinal Tap

The next movie I watched This is Spinal Tap (1984) which is #29 on the 100 Greatest Comedies list.



This movie has a lot of phrases and scenes that have become pop culture icons including the "goes to 11" scene which is likely it's most famous. The movie is set up as a mockumentary (maybe even one of the first ones) that follows the fictional band Spinal Tap. Spinal Tap seems like a mash up of the Beetles, the Rolling Stones, and several of the larger bands of the day taken to the extreme. Everything they did was as far out there as they could think of but still be "possible" in the real world. Although some of the movies on the 100 Greatest Comedies list were slightly humorous, many didn't make me laugh out loud. This movie was different. Through most of the movie I couldn't stop laughing even though there were several parts I felt I was missing the joke. Perhaps some of it didn't age as well as others but in general this is still a fantastic movie.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

The 306 Greatest Books #112 - Girls in Love

The next book up on my big read is Girls in Love by Jacqueline Wilson. You can find this book on the BBC Book List.



This is the third of the Jacqueline Wilson books that I have read on this list with only one left to go. After the first one which I recommended (The Story of Tracy Beaker) and a little bit of the same in the second book (Double Act) I am getting the feeling that all of Wilson's book follow the same formula. The book is about a thirteen year old (or so) girl who doesn't feel good about her self and has better looking friends who are all hooking up with boys but she can't. Therefore she must spend most of the story trying to find a boyfriend while not realizing the guy she already met isn't that bad. It's cutesy but that's about it. All of Wilson's stories seem to be about a girl with a problem (orphanage, ugly, dead parent, etc.) and places the reader in those situations while not always solving anything by the end of the book. Wilson's stories are tired by the third time around and this book makes me loath having one more of her books to read.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

2012 Personal Goals - Month 8 Update

8 Months down. 2/3rds of the way there.

1. Finish first draft of my novel -
January 1st - 3rd year on the list. Lets see if I can do it this year. Starting point - 1st section first draft is done.
Months 1-8 Update - Nothing new

2. Drop weight to 167
January 1st - Again 3rd year on the list. I think I will have a little more time this year to get it done. Starting point - 182.1.
Month 1 Update - 181.7
Month 2 Update - 179.0
Month 3 Update - 178.3
Month 4 Update - 175.3
Month 5 Update - 173.6
Month 6 Update - 172.1
Month 7 Update - 169.5 (Almost there!!)
Month 8 Update - 169.9

3 Read 2 of the Top Ten books on Zanes book list
January 1st - 3 books are left on the list. I am currently in the middle of War and Peace and hope to finish it by March.
Month 1 Update - Finished Book 3 of 4 in War and Peace.
Month 2 Update - Finished War and Peace. 1 book to go.
Months 3-8 Update - Nothing new


4. Read 7 books on the Sybervision Book List for a total of 75
January 1st - To get to a nice round number of 75 I want to finish 7 more books.
Month 1 Update - Reading War and Peace
Month 2 Update - Finished War and Peace. 6 books to go.
Month 3 Update - Nothing new
Month 4 Update - Read Camille and The Rime of the Ancient Mariner. 4 books to go.
Month 5 Update - Read How We Think. 3 books to go.
Month 6 Update - Read Carmen. 2 books to go.
Month 7 Update - Read Turn of the Screw. 1 Book to go.
Month 8 Update - Nothing new.

5. Read 7 books on the BBC Book List for a total of 45
January 1st - These are generally easier books to read, especially with Annabelle.
Month 1 Update - Reading Anne of Green Gables and War and Peace
Month 2 Update - Finished War and Peace. 6 books to go.
Month 3 Update - Finished Anne of Green Gables. 5 books to go.
Month 4 Update - Nothing new
Month 5 Update - Read The Faraway Tree. 4 books to go.
Month 6 Update - Read The Story of Tracy Beaker. 3 books to go.
Month 7 Update - Read Double Act. 2 Books to go.
Month 8 Update - Nothing new.

6. Update 2 Geologic Movie Reviews
January 1st - I have 1 update I need to do one one movie and a complete overhaul of the other.
Months 1-7 Update - Nothing new
Month 8 Update - Finished the corrections to Dante's Peak. 1 to go.

7. Finish 1 more movie on my Geological Movie Review
January 1st - Look to do 1 more movie, most likely Earthquake!.
Months 1-8 Update - Nothing new


8. Watch 15 of the 100 Greatest Movies of All Time (according to AFI)
January 1st - Current count 70 so 15 more will get me 1/2 way to the goal.
Month 1 Update - Watched High Noon. 14 more to go.
Month 2 Update - Watched Double Indemnity. 13 more to go.
Months 3-6 Update - Nothing new
Month 7 Update - Watched Sunset Boulevard. 12 more to go.
Month 8 Update - Nothing new.

10. Skin the top of the Hovercraft
January 1st - I finished working on the bottom last year so lets see if I can get the top done this year. And with my new garage heater I will be able to work during the colder months.
Months 1-8 Update - Nothing new


11. Catalogue, photograph, and organize Star Wars collection by CVI
January 1st - With Star Wars Celebration VI coming up in August I want to catalogue and photograph my collection to get ready to know anything I need to buy when I go.
Month 1 Update - Caught up on the pile of recent stuff but nothing else.
Months 2-7 Update - Nothing new
Month 8 Update - Went to CVI but didn't get this finished in time, will have to get this done by the end of the year.


12. Do 1 major job each month on the "Things to Do for the House" list
January 1st - With an updated list we have 20 things that we want to do to get the house in tip-top shape.
Month 1 Update - Started working on some things but nothing finished
Month 2 Update - Finished putting boards in the attic and moving stuff up there. 1 task done, 11 to go.
Month 3 Update - I was going to replace the side door but it turned out to be a lot more work than I anticipated so I only have it about 2/3rds done. 11 still to go.
Month 4 Update - Finished installing the new side door. 10 to go.
Month 5 Update - Extended the sprinkle head. 9 to go.
Month 6 Update - Several projects are in process but one project took a lot more work than was anticipated. Still 9 to go.
Months 7-8 Update - Nothing more completed

Other items of note:
I wanted to finish a but of things by the end of summer and I did most of them including writing the first draft of 2 more chapters and writing the first draft of the first part of my Master's Thesis for publication. I also completed revamping my website, so now I am just working on adding new content. And I went to my first Star Wars Celebration which was fantastic if not a little stressful due to a toddler in tow.
---------------------------------------FINISHED!---------------------------------------------

9. (DONE) Do 1 Geological Fact for each month.
January 1st - This went over well last year so let's do it again.
Month 1 Update - I wanted to finish these early and release them as the months went by. I have 9 done so far. 3 left to go.
Month 2 Update - Finished the last 3. So this task is DONE!

Star Wars Timeline Update


Well after a year without updates I finally have a new timeline posted. This one includes 128 new entries as well as some updates.

Due to the time it takes to update these I am planning on updating one of the lists a month instead of doing them all at once as I was doing before. Look for the next update at the beginning of October.

http://www.dinojim.com/SW/StarWars.html#The_Star_Wars_Timeline_Checklist

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

2012 Personal Goals - Month 7 Update

The 7th Month is done. On the backstretch.

1. Finish first draft of my novel -
January 1st - 3rd year on the list. Lets see if I can do it this year. Starting point - 1st section first draft is done.
Months 1-7 Update - Nothing new

2. Drop weight to 167
January 1st - Again 3rd year on the list. I think I will have a little more time this year to get it done. Starting point - 182.1.
Month 1 Update - 181.7
Month 2 Update - 179.0
Month 3 Update - 178.3
Month 4 Update - 175.3
Month 5 Update - 173.6
Month 6 Update - 172.1
Month 7 Update - 169.5 (Almost there!!)

3 Read 2 of the Top Ten books on Zanes book list
January 1st - 3 books are left on the list. I am currently in the middle of War and Peace and hope to finish it by March.
Month 1 Update - Finished Book 3 of 4 in War and Peace.
Month 2 Update - Finished War and Peace. 1 book to go.
Months 3-7 Update - Nothing new


4. Read 7 books on the Sybervision Book List for a total of 75
January 1st - To get to a nice round number of 75 I want to finish 7 more books.
Month 1 Update - Reading War and Peace
Month 2 Update - Finished War and Peace. 6 books to go.
Month 3 Update - Nothing new
Month 4 Update - Read Camille and The Rime of the Ancient Mariner. 4 books to go.
Month 5 Update - Read How We Think. 3 books to go.
Month 6 Update - Read Carmen. 2 books to go.
Month 7 Update - Read Turn of the Screw. 1 Book to go.

5. Read 7 books on the BBC Book List for a total of 45
January 1st - These are generally easier books to read, especially with Annabelle.
Month 1 Update - Reading Anne of Green Gables and War and Peace
Month 2 Update - Finished War and Peace. 6 books to go.
Month 3 Update - Finished Anne of Green Gables. 5 books to go.
Month 4 Update - Nothing new
Month 5 Update - Read The Faraway Tree. 4 books to go.
Month 6 Update - Read The Story of Tracy Beaker. 3 books to go.
Month 7 Update - Read Double Act. 2 Books to go.

6. Update 2 Geologic Movie Reviews
January 1st - I have 1 update I need to do one one movie and a complete overhaul of the other.
Months 1-7 Update - Nothing new

7. Finish 1 more movie on my Geological Movie Review
January 1st - Look to do 1 more movie, most likely Earthquake!.
Months 1-7 Update - Nothing new


8. Watch 15 of the 100 Greatest Movies of All Time (according to AFI)
January 1st - Current count 70 so 15 more will get me 1/2 way to the goal.
Month 1 Update - Watched High Noon. 14 more to go.
Month 2 Update - Watched Double Indemnity. 13 more to go.
Months 3-6 Update - Nothing new
Month 7 Update - Watched Sunset Boulevard. 12 more to go.

10. Skin the top of the Hovercraft
January 1st - I finished working on the bottom last year so lets see if I can get the top done this year. And with my new garage heater I will be able to work during the colder months.
Months 1-7 Update - Nothing new


11. Catalogue, photograph, and organize Star Wars collection by CVI
January 1st - With Star Wars Celebration VI coming up in August I want to catalogue and photograph my collection to get ready to know anything I need to buy when I go.
Month 1 Update - Caught up on the pile of recent stuff but nothing else.
Months 2-7 Update - Nothing new


12. Do 1 major job each month on the "Things to Do for the House" list
January 1st - With an updated list we have 20 things that we want to do to get the house in tip-top shape.
Month 1 Update - Started working on some things but nothing finished
Month 2 Update - Finished putting boards in the attic and moving stuff up there. 1 task done, 11 to go.
Month 3 Update - I was going to replace the side door but it turned out to be a lot more work than I anticipated so I only have it about 2/3rds done. 11 still to go.
Month 4 Update - Finished installing the new side door. 10 to go.
Month 5 Update - Extended the sprinkle head. 9 to go.
Month 6 Update - Several projects are in process but one project took a lot more work than was anticipated. Still 9 to go.
Month 7 Update - Nothing more completed

Other items of note:
The website is almost finished being updated. About a week left of work. So then I can move on to some other website updates. The dissertation is steadily coming along. Another first draft of a manuscript has been completed and I am working on a poster for a conference.
---------------------------------------FINISHED!---------------------------------------------

9. (DONE) Do 1 Geological Fact for each month.
January 1st - This went over well last year so let's do it again.
Month 1 Update - I wanted to finish these early and release them as the months went by. I have 9 done so far. 3 left to go.
Month 2 Update - Finished the last 3. So this task is DONE!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

100 Greatest Movies - #12. Sunset Boulevard (1950)

This time we are looking at Sunset Boulevard (1950) on the 100 Greatest Movies List (#12), it is also #16 on the 10th Anniversary List.


     Often while watching these old movies you often feel like they are old movies. Movies made for their time but not really timeless. Sunset Boulevard breaks that pattern. This movie feels as if it could have been made today. The performances are superb, especially the lead, Gloria Swanson, who plays Norma Desmond, a washed up actress of the silent screen era. She is a bit off her rocker, but you don't realize by how much until the end of the movie. She plays the role perfectly. The best role though I think goes to the butler, Max. He plays this sympathetic, stone-faced character throughout, but it is not until almost the end that you find out how sympathetic he really was. Riveting throughout and a joy to watch, a must recommend.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

The 306 Greatest Books #111 - The Turn of the Screw

The next book up on my reading through the 305 Greatest Books is The Turn of the Screw by Henry James. You can find this book on the Sybervision Book List.



Looking back at a previous Henry James book I had read, The Portrait of a Lady, I mentioned that James was an easy author to read and the story simple to follow. Not so much this time. In this story, James had a tendency to write these really long run-on sentences the entire way through the book. I thought perhaps this would change because the story started off as a narrative by the person who is writing the framing story, supposedly James. The majority of the book though is based on a diary by a woman who the story happened to. The writing is exactly the same in both instances, with these long, drawn out sentences, all with quite a few commas in them. Here is one for instance: "The homage of which they were so lavish succeeded, in truth, for my nerves, quite as well as if I never appeared to myself, as I may say, literally to catch them at a purpose in it." This style is rather difficult to follow at times. Other than that though the book was rather interesting. It is about a woman who serves as a teacher for two students in a house which happens to be haunted by the former governess and the former handyman. The ending was rather cryptic though and the language made the entire book feel cryptic, like I wasn't entirely sure what was going on. But after reading a synopsis I think that I understood it pretty well as I was going. So, in summary, an intriguing story but a difficult one to understand.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

The 306 Greatest Books #110 - Double Act

The next book up on my reading through the 305 Greatest Books is Double Act by Jacqueline Wilson. You can find this book on the BBC book list.



This is another book by the person who brought us The Story of Tracy Beaker, which I recommended. I thought that story was different enough to be considered by people to read. This book has a similar vein in that it is a story told in the first person, but this time by a set of twins. They go back and forth as to who is writing the story talking about their day to day lives during some major changes as their father quits his job and moves to the country with a girlfriend, bringing them along. I enjoyed reading the story but I felt that nothing really changed by the end of the book. I felt the same at the beginning as I felt at the end. Kind of blah. Sure things happened and the book was different at the end, but not a really satisfying finish. It felt like an episode of a sitcom. An ok read but not a "great" story as some on the list so I can't recommend anyone pick this up.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

2012 Personal Goals - Month 6 Update

The 6th Month is done. Half way there.

1. Finish first draft of my novel -
January 1st - 3rd year on the list. Lets see if I can do it this year. Starting point - 1st section first draft is done.
Months 1-6 Update - Nothing new

2. Drop weight to 167
January 1st - Again 3rd year on the list. I think I will have a little more time this year to get it done. Starting point - 182.1.
Month 1 Update - 181.7
Month 2 Update - 179.0
Month 3 Update - 178.3
Month 4 Update - 175.3
Month 5 Update - 173.6
Month 6 Update - 172.1

3 Read 2 of the Top Ten books on Zanes book list
January 1st - 3 books are left on the list. I am currently in the middle of War and Peace and hope to finish it by March.
Month 1 Update - Finished Book 3 of 4 in War and Peace.
Month 2 Update - Finished War and Peace. 1 book to go.
Months 3-6 Update - Nothing new


4. Read 7 books on the Sybervision Book List for a total of 75
January 1st - To get to a nice round number of 75 I want to finish 7 more books.
Month 1 Update - Reading War and Peace
Month 2 Update - Finished War and Peace. 6 books to go.
Month 3 Update - Nothing new
Month 4 Update - Read Camille and The Rime of the Ancient Mariner. 4 books to go.
Month 5 Update - Read How We Think. 3 books to go.
Month 6 Update - Read Carmen. 2 books to go.

5. Read 7 books on the BBC Book List for a total of 45
January 1st - These are generally easier books to read, especially with Annabelle.
Month 1 Update - Reading Anne of Green Gables and War and Peace
Month 2 Update - Finished War and Peace. 6 books to go.
Month 3 Update - Finished Anne of Green Gables. 5 books to go.
Month 4 Update - Nothing new
Month 5 Update - Read The Faraway Tree. 4 books to go.
Month 6 Update - Read The Story of Tracy Beaker. 3 books to go.

6. Update 2 Geologic Movie Reviews
January 1st - I have 1 update I need to do one one movie and a complete overhaul of the other.
Months 1-6 Update - Nothing new

7. Finish 1 more movie on my Geological Movie Review
January 1st - Look to do 1 more movie, most likely Earthquake!.
Months 1-6 Update - Nothing new


8. Watch 15 of the 100 Greatest Movies of All Time (according to AFI)
January 1st - Current count 70 so 15 more will get me 1/2 way to the goal.
Month 1 Update - Watched High Noon. 14 more to go.
Month 2 Update - Watched Double Indemnity. 13 more to go.
Months 3-6 Update - Nothing new

10. Skin the top of the Hovercraft
January 1st - I finished working on the bottom last year so lets see if I can get the top done this year. And with my new garage heater I will be able to work during the colder months.
Months 1-6 Update - Nothing new


11. Catalogue, photograph, and organize Star Wars collection by CVI
January 1st - With Star Wars Celebration VI coming up in August I want to catalogue and photograph my collection to get ready to know anything I need to buy when I go.
Month 1 Update - Caught up on the pile of recent stuff but nothing else.
Months 2-6 Update - Nothing new


12. Do 1 major job each month on the "Things to Do for the House" list
January 1st - With an updated list we have 20 things that we want to do to get the house in tip-top shape.
Month 1 Update - Started working on some things but nothing finished
Month 2 Update - Finished putting boards in the attic and moving stuff up there. 1 task done, 11 to go.
Month 3 Update - I was going to replace the side door but it turned out to be a lot more work than I anticipated so I only have it about 2/3rds done. 11 still to go.
Month 4 Update - Finished installing the new side door. 10 to go.
Month 5 Update - Extended the sprinkle head. 9 to go.
Month 6 Update - Several projects are in process but one project took a lot more work than was anticipated. Still 9 to go.

Other items of note:
Not much going on. I am steadily working on 3 different manuscripts for my PhD to be published. I should start a 4th one soon and working on the introduction chapter of my Dissertation as well. My website is slowely being converted over and it is currently ~2/3rds updated. Other than that not much.

---------------------------------------FINISHED!---------------------------------------------

9. (DONE) Do 1 Geological Fact for each month.
January 1st - This went over well last year so let's do it again.
Month 1 Update - I wanted to finish these early and release them as the months went by. I have 9 done so far. 3 left to go.
Month 2 Update - Finished the last 3. So this task is DONE!

Saturday, June 23, 2012

The 306 Greatest Books #109 - Carmen

The next up on my reading through the 305 Greatest books is Carmen by Prosper Mérimée. This can be found on the Sybervision Book List.




When I read some of these shorter, free books, on my wife's Kindle, I have a tendency to wonder if this is the actual book that is on the list. Carmen was one of these books because it took me three days to read, so I looked up the plot synopsis on Wikipedia, and lo and behold, yes this was the book on my list. Other than being remarkably short, I rather enjoyed the story. The book is broken up into 4 chapters with chapters 1 and 2 being the background of the narrator and his meeting with the principle character, Don Jose Navarro. Chapter 3 was the main story, and the one that the opera is based on. The final chapter, chapter 4, is a very weird chapter about gypsy life and language, that does not really follow the rest of the book at all. The main story, chapter three, is narrated by Don Jose from prison telling the main narrator about his life from being a good kid to his eventual outlaw ways, all because of the gypsy Carmen. I thought the story read very well and it was actually quite enjoyable, but I don't think it stood out enough for me to be considered a 100 Greatest Book. Usually those stories are pretty memorable and I feel this one will be quickly forgotten. A nice read, but not a must read.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

The 306 Greatest Books #108 - The Story of Tracy Beaker

Seeing as how I confuse people by remaining to call this the 100 Greatest Books list, I have renamed it the 306 Greatest Books. It is still the same thing (4 lists of the 100 greatest books and 1 top 10 list) but the title will illustrate that I am reading a total of 306 books for the series. The next book on the list is The Story of Tracy Beaker by Jacqueline Wilson. You can find this book on the BBC and My Book Lists.


  
Following the trend of reading the children's books on the list with Annabelle we have the first of the Jacqueline Wilson books on the list (of which there are 4). This book is about a girl who lives in an orphanage waiting for a family to foster her. It is told in the first person as a journal that Tracy (the main character) is writing. Actually, I found this book to be very very good in the context of a children's book. It shows that children in orphanages are not all broken and that it hardens children to  the reality in which they live. They are often rude, aggressive, and troubled not because they are bad children but because the situations make them that way and even with those problems they are still good kids. This book is an alternative take on what you would expect from the given situation and not one you would expect. Her mother abandoned her after the mother's boyfriend beat Tracy, hence the reason she is in the orphanage. She was fostered by 2 homes, beaten by one and the other had their own baby, so she had to leave. Based on this premise you would expect something different than what is presented in the story, but you don't. You get a heartfelt story about a girl who misses her mom and understands that sometimes life sucks. But you take what you can out of it. A definite recommend for the children's books.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

2012 Personal Goals - Month 5 Update

The 5th Month is done. Chugging along.

1. Finish first draft of my novel -
January 1st - 3rd year on the list. Lets see if I can do it this year. Starting point - 1st section first draft is done.
Months 1-5 Update - Nothing new

2. Drop weight to 167
January 1st - Again 3rd year on the list. I think I will have a little more time this year to get it done. Starting point - 182.1.
Month 1 Update - 181.7
Month 2 Update - 179.0
Month 3 Update - 178.3
Month 4 Update - 175.3
Month 5 Update - 173.6

3 Read 2 of the Top Ten books on Zanes book list
January 1st - 3 books are left on the list. I am currently in the middle of War and Peace and hope to finish it by March.
Month 1 Update - Finished Book 3 of 4 in War and Peace.
Month 2 Update - Finished War and Peace. 1 book to go.
Months 3-5 Update - Nothing new


4. Read 7 books on the Sybervision Book List for a total of 75
January 1st - To get to a nice round number of 75 I want to finish 7 more books.
Month 1 Update - Reading War and Peace
Month 2 Update - Finished War and Peace. 6 books to go.
Month 3 Update - Nothing new
Month 4 Update - Read Camille and The Rime of the Ancient Mariner. 4 books to go.
Month 5 Update - Read How We Think. 3 books to go.

5. Read 7 books on the BBC Book List for a total of 45
January 1st - These are generally easier books to read, especially with Annabelle.
Month 1 Update - Reading Anne of Green Gables and War and Peace
Month 2 Update - Finished War and Peace. 6 books to go.
Month 3 Update - Finished Anne of Green Gables. 5 books to go.
Month 4 Update - Nothing new
Month 5 Update - Read The Faraway Tree. 4 books to go.

6. Update 2 Geologic Movie Reviews
January 1st - I have 1 update I need to do one one movie and a complete overhaul of the other.
Months 1-5 Update - Nothing new

7. Finish 1 more movie on my Geological Movie Review
January 1st - Look to do 1 more movie, most likely Earthquake!.
Months 1-5 Update - Nothing new


8. Watch 15 of the 100 Greatest Movies of All Time (according to AFI)
January 1st - Current count 70 so 15 more will get me 1/2 way to the goal.
Month 1 Update - Watched High Noon. 14 more to go.
Month 2 Update - Watched Double Indemnity. 13 more to go.
Months 3-5 Update - Nothing new

10. Skin the top of the Hovercraft
January 1st - I finished working on the bottom last year so lets see if I can get the top done this year. And with my new garage heater I will be able to work during the colder months.
Months 1-5 Update - Nothing new


11. Catalogue, photograph, and organize Star Wars collection by CVI
January 1st - With Star Wars Celebration VI coming up in August I want to catalogue and photograph my collection to get ready to know anything I need to buy when I go.
Month 1 Update - Caught up on the pile of recent stuff but nothing else.
Months 2-5 Update - Nothing new


12. Do 1 major job each month on the "Things to Do for the House" list
January 1st - With an updated list we have 20 things that we want to do to get the house in tip-top shape.
Month 1 Update - Started working on some things but nothing finished
Month 2 Update - Finished putting boards in the attic and moving stuff up there. 1 task done, 11 to go.
Month 3 Update - I was going to replace the side door but it turned out to be a lot more work than I anticipated so I only have it about 2/3rds done. 11 still to go.
Month 4 Update - Finished installing the new side door. 10 to go.
Month 5 Update - Extended the sprinkle head. 9 to go.

Other items of note:
I received the manuscript that I had submitted and I spent the month rewriting that. So far that is almost done and only has one other person to go through before I can resubmit it. Other than that I have been organizing my stuff and redoing my website (Dinojim.com). I upgraded to Adobe Dreamweaver and it wasn't compatible at all with Frontpage that I had used before so I need to change each individual page. So, that is a slow process but getting there. I plan on (and have been) updating one page per day until I can get at least most of it done. Hopefully it will be near completion at the end of the month.

---------------------------------------FINISHED!---------------------------------------------

9. (DONE) Do 1 Geological Fact for each month.
January 1st - This went over well last year so let's do it again.
Month 1 Update - I wanted to finish these early and release them as the months went by. I have 9 done so far. 3 left to go.
Month 2 Update - Finished the last 3. So this task is DONE!

Friday, May 25, 2012

100 Greatest Books #107 - The Magic Faraway Tree

The next book on my 100 Greatest Books list is The Magic Faraway Tree by Enid Blyton. You can find this book on the BBC Book List.



The first thing that comes to mind after read this book is "What the hell?". I have read some really good books on the list and some not so good ones but this comes close to one of the worst books. I didn't even know it was the second book in a series until I looked it up afterwards, which explains some of the initial confusion. The story is about a bunch of children who go into the woods and visit magical lands on top of a magical tree. Now this is not the imagination of the kids going on, this really happens since the mother meets many of the creatures that come from the tree. Really? That is how you want to do this? I would have thought it was all in their minds and the mother doesn't see it, that would have been the way to go. But no. That is not the story. Also, the lands in general suck. There is the Land of Do-As-You-Please and other such nonsense. The book itself reads as several short mini-stories wrapped into one book, with them going on a mini adventure that is summed up in a couple of chapters. The good thing is that the stories are not drug out, and they get resolved fairly quickly. This book is such trite garbage that I don't recommend it to anyone.