Saturday, June 23, 2012

The 306 Greatest Books #109 - Carmen

The next up on my reading of the 306 greatest books is Carmen by Prosper Mérimée. This book 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

The next up on my reading of the 306 greatest books is The Story of Tracy Beaker by Jacqueline Wilson. This book can be found on the BBC and My Book Lists.

Following the trend of reading the children's books on the list with my daughter 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 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 ( 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.


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!