Sunday, September 28, 2014

The 306 Greatest Books #125 - Faust

The next book up on my reading of the 305 Greatest Books is Faust (A.K.A. The Tragedy of Faust) by Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe. This book can be found on the Sybervision Book List and the Norwegian Book List





Upon reading the first few sentences of Part 1, I was thinking, "Yea, I can really get into this". Part 1 was written in a poem like style very similar to The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, which I also loved. So I could see some promise in this. Then the story shifted and it mimicked Book of Job, which I didn't like, but I felt the concept was good and could see where they could improve upon it. Later on, the story morphed again, this time feeling very much like Dante's Inferno. Another story that I rather enjoyed. So in general, I had some promise for this story. Throughout part 1 I was riveted and excited to see where the story went. When I reached the end of part 1, the way several things were revealed was amazing. Initially I had thought we were supposed to guess at what happened but then the author revealed what happened afterwords, letting the information flow out in an unexpected way. Very enjoyable and satisfactory. IF the story had ended after part 1, this would be a 100% recommend. However, it didn't. The story of Faust is written as a play, although there are so many characters at some points I can't imaging it actually being acted out. Faust is a scholar who makes a deal with the devil, another main character, in exchange for excitement (as I interpreted it). He uses the devil throughout the story in order to get his way and eventually ruins a girls life. And so ends part 1. Part 2, was published after Goethe's death and feels in many ways, like someone else wrote it. Or at the very least, like a different story. The plot is all over the place, sometimes it has Faust, but often it doesn't. The text is difficult to understand at times, perhaps due to the translation, more likely due to the story. At least there are some weak threads which tie back to the first part, especially the image of a beautiful girl seen in Part 1, who reappears for a large portion within the middle of the story. However, the story is barely intelligible and doesn't contain the magic emphasized in Part 1. So in summary, Part 1 is a definite recommend, but I personally can find no reason for anyone to read Part 2. There is a wrap-up to the part 1 story within Act V of Part 2, but really, it isn't all that fulfilling. 

Monday, September 22, 2014

The 306 Greatest Books #124 - Watership Down

The next book up on my reading of the 305 Greatest Books is Watership Down by Richard Adams. This book can be found on the BBC Book List and My Personal Book List.




I had read Watership Down over a six month period to my daughter, reading about 4-8 pages a few nights a week. It is a long book to read like that but overall the story was straightforward enough that I was able to do this. There were not a lot of twists and turns that would require extensive knowledge of previous parts of the book to make sense of the ending. In general, the story follows a group of rabbits that leave their home due to the psychic feelings of one of the rabbits. They eventually make their way to a new home but realize that they don't have any female rabbits and need to recruit some of them as well. Although, this is a simple story it is by no means bad. I really loved the way it is written. The descriptions given throughout the story are fantastic and you really get to feel for these rabbits with their struggles. The story is gripping and you really do not know who is going to live and who is going to die. How might they get out of a certain situation? And even though many things that happened would be out of the ordinary in a rabbit's world, the author set it up so well that it made sense in the story. I enjoyed how the author treated the different species as well. Mostly, if an animal was a different species the language would appear broken to the rabbits since that was not their native tongue. It really isolated them from the rest of the animal kingdom but also set up some opportunities for these rabbits that other rabbit groups would not have thought of. Overall, this story is often referred to as a children's book, probably because it is written at a junior high level and also, it is about rabbits. I would not pigeon hole it, though. This is probably one of the best books I have read in the last few years, and if I was not reading it with my daughter, I probably would have finished it within a few days. A definite recommend.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

2014 Personal Goals - Month 8 Update

8 months in. That is all.
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1. Finish 1st Draft of my Novel
Start - Again on the list.

2. Drop weight to 167
Start - This has also been on the list since the beginning. Starting at 183.8
Month 1 - 182.0
Month 2 - 185.2
Month 3 - 190.7
Month 6 - 187.2
Month 7 - 190.2
Month 8 - 186.3

3. Read 1 of the Top Ten Books on Zane's List
Start - In the middle of The Stories of Anton Chekhov.

4. Read 7 books on the Sybervision Book List (including 1 in the Science or Philosophy sections)
Start - Current count is at 78.
Month 1 - Finished The Prince and the Pauper. 6 to go.
Month 2 - Reading A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court 
Month 6 - Finished reading A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court. 5 to go.
Month 7 - Reading The Way of All Flesh.
Month 8 - Finished The Way of All Flesh. 4 to go.

5. Read 2 books on the BBC Book List
Start - Current count is at 48.
Month 2 - Finished Vicky Angel. 1 to go.
Month 7 - Reading Watership Down.

6. Finish 1 more Geological Movie Review
Start - Earthquake still looks like the best bet.

7. Watch 10 of the 100 Greatest Movies of All Time
Start - Current count is at 75.

8. Finish 56 things on the Blog/Website Things to do List (~1 a week)
Start - The list currently has ~150 things on it.
Month 1 - Started working on some stuff but have nothing finished.
Month 2 - Finished 3/56. 53 to go.
Month 3 - Finished 4/56. 52 to go.
Month 6 - Finished 5/56. 51 to go.
Month 7 - Finished 10/56. 46 to go.
Month 8 - Finished 15/56. 41 to go.

9. Finish 10 things on the House Things to do List
Start - The list currently has 29 things on it.
Month 1 - Finished fixing all the "sweating" toilets. 9 to go.
Month 7 - Finished fixing the crawl space door. 8 to go.
Month 8 - Busy month, fixed 6 more things. 2 to go.

10. Finish skinning the top of the hovercraft
Start - I started working on it 2 years ago but with wood purchased lat year I hope to finish that part.

11. Get my Sprint Triathlon time under 1:25:00
Start - My current official best is 1:41:45.2

12. Get my 5K time under 23 minutes
Start - My current unofficial best is ~28:30
Month 6 - New Nike Running app keeps a record of these things now. Current record is 28:32.

13. Catalog and Photograph the Comics portion of my Star Wars Collections
Start - Currently I have some of the comics photographed so if I get the time this should

15. Submit 3 Scientific Manuscripts to Journals 
Start - I have 3 manuscripts in the almost there phase. I hope to get these submitted soon.
Month 1 - These will get submitted once the dissertation is completed.
Month 6 - With the dissertation finished, these are mostly complete and ready for submission.
Month 8 - One of the manuscripts is in the preparation stages and should be submitted early this month.

16. Defeat 5 Star Wars Games
Start - With collecting so many games that I have not had time to play I want to set aside some game time.
Month 3 - I finished Angry Birds Star Wars. 4 to go.

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      Slowly getting things under control. I feel like I have much more time now to be able to work on the things on my lists and I feel I have a better handle of my time in order to do what I want, when I want.

-------------------------------------------Done-----------------------------------------------

DONE! 14. Finish Dissertation
Start - Currently I have to finish up analyses, finish writing, and format it. Not much work at all.
Month 1 - Working steadily on this. Finished 1 chapter out of the remaining 3, with another one almost done.
Month 2 - Continuing to work on this almost every day. Down to one set of analyses left.
Month 3 - Finished up my analyses and 1 out ~5 appendices that needs to be built.
Month 6 - The dissertation is currently written and approved by my committee. I am awaiting the thesis office to get back to me with formatting edits that need to be made.
Month 7 - The dissertation is DONE!!!!