Friday, January 20, 2017

The 306 Greatest Books #143 - The Last of the Mohicans

The next up on my reading of the 306 greatest books is The Last of the Mohicans by James Fenimore Cooper. This book can be found on the Sybervision Book List and My Book List.



I am conflicted about how I feel about The Last of the Mohicans. In one respect, this book is beautifully written with prose that just oozes with descriptions giving the reader a wonderfully rich experience that isn't overly cumbersome to dive through. On the other hand, this book is horribly racist towards Native Americans, displaying them as "brutal savages" who don't know any better. It is possible to view this book as a product of its time. If this were written today, it wouldn't make it passed the editor's office before being rejected outright. However, at the time it was written, this is how people thought (I assume). It's not even all of the Native American's which are depicted as moral-less savages, but they are all given pretty short shrift. I enjoyed the book though, once I was able to get beyond that. The story is basically divided into two parts. The first part is about a group of "white people" trying to make it to Fort William McHenry on Lake George in New York with the help of the last two Mohicans. I know this area very well, since some of my family is from there and I've been to this fort. So this part of the story was fun for me. I could picture the scenes in my head. However, the story was also rather confusing at times, especially keeping all the people straight. Cooper calls the main characters and tribes by different names frequently and alternates with just the first names or just the last names to the point that it took me about 100 pages before I was certain who was who and how many people were actually in the story. The second part of the story they travel up north and I won't go into any more for the risk of spoiling it for someone who may be interested in reading it. I found the ending though very satisfactory and the author didn't pull any punches. Overall, even with the poor representation of the Native Americans, I think this was a very well written, good story. It plays more as a historical reenactment than a work of fiction, and I think that is what helped me get through the racist elements. So I feel that I can recommend this book.

Monday, January 2, 2017

2017 Personal Goals - Initial Post

As a recap of the previous years we have:

2010: 14% completed
2011: 30% completed
2012: 48% completed (counting partial completions)
2013: 28% completed (counting partial completions)
2014: 37% completed (counting partial completions)
2015: 29% completed (counting partial completions)
2016: 29% completed (counting partial completions)

Well I keep getting worse on my percentages. Time to focus. Let's make 2017 the year we top 50% done. I'm not shrinking the list down at all, which means I'm going to need to work harder at completing it.
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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 191.1

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

4. Read last 5 books on the Sybervision Book List
Start - Current count is at 95.

5. Read a total of 12 books on my book list. (need to get to 200 books by my 40th birthday) 
Start - Currently my total count is at 142.

6. Finish 2 more Geological Movie Reviews 
Start - Earthquake still looks like the best bet.

7. Watch 10 of the 100 Greatest Movies of All Time 
Start - Current count is at 77.

8. Finish 50 things on the Blog/Website, with 30 specifically on my To Do list.
Start - My To Do list currently has ~160 things on it.

9. Finish 8 things on the House Things to do List 
Start - The list currently has 29 things on it.

10. Finish skinning the top of the hovercraft 
Start - Hopefully I can make some time to get to it this year.

11. Get my 5K time under 25 minutes 
Start - My current best is 28:32

12. Collect and photograph all of the Star Wars Comics 
Start - It is time to finish this up. A lot more work involved here than I anticipated.

13. Submit 2 papers for publication
Start - Time to focus on my publications this year.

14. Get caught up on my to read pile (which is mainly Star Wars but some other stuff as well)
Start -  I read many of the books I was behind on last year. Time to get fully caught up on my to read pile.

15. Watch and re-review Two entire lists of one of the 10 Top Ten Movies
Start - Working my way through the Top 10 Sci-Fi movies now.

16. Collect, photograph, and organize my Star Wars novel collection (0% done)
Start - I have it mostly set with paperbacks but I would like to get the collection organized and get the first release hardcovers.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

2016 Personal Goals - Year end Wrap-up

Twelve months done. Let's see how I did.
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1. Finish 1st Draft of my Novel (0% done)
Start - Again on the list.

2. Drop weight to 167 (We''ll count that as 0% done)
Start - This has also been on the list since the beginning. Starting at 179.7
Month 1 - 179.0
Month 8 - 189.6
Month 10 - 190.2
Month 12 - 191.1

3. Read 1 of the Top Ten Books on Zane's List (0% done)
Start - In the middle of The Stories of Anton Chekhov.

4. Read 6 books on the Sybervision Book List (including 2 in the Science or Philosophy sections) (92% done)
Start - Current count is at 89.
Month 1 - In the middle of The World as Will and Idea
Month 8 - Finished The World as Will and Idea and The Three Musketeers. 4 to go.
Month 10 - Finished Vanity Fair. 3 to go.
Month 11 - Finished Paradise Lost and in the middle of Babbitt. 2 to go.
Month 12 - Finished Babbitt and Pilgrim's Progress. I read all 6 books, but I only did one of the Science or Philosophy books. 

5. Read a total of 12 books on my book list. (need to get to 200 books by my 40th birthday) (83% done)
Start - Currently my total count is at 131.
Month 1 - Finished Artemis Fowl. 11 to go.
Month 2 - Finished Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. 10 to go.
Month 3 - Finished Mort. 9 to go.
Month 8 - Finished Guards Guards!, The World as Will and Idea, and The Three Musketeers. 6 to go.
Month 10 - Finished Vanity Fair. 5 to go.
Month 11 - Finished Paradise Lost. 4 to go.
Month 12 - Finished Babbitt and Pilgrim's Progress. Total of 10 done.

6. Finish 1 more Geological Movie Review (0% done)
Start - Earthquake still looks like the best bet.

7. Watch 10 of the 100 Greatest Movies of All Time (20% done)
Start - Current count is at 75.
Month 8 - Watched 2001: A Space Odyssey. 9 to go.
Month 10 - Watched Bringing up Baby. 8 to go.

8. Finish 50 things on the Blog/Website, with 25 specifically on my To Do list. (86% done)
Start - My To Do list currently has ~150 things on it.
Month 1 - Finished 5. 45 to go.
Month 2 - Finished 6. 44 to go.
Month 3 - Finished 8. 42 to go.
Month 4 - Finished 10. 40 to go.
Month 10 - Finished 18. 32 to go.
Month 11 - Finished 38. 12 to go.
Month 12 - Finished 25 items on my To Do list and 18 other items. A total of 43.

9. Finish 8 things on the House Things to do List (63% done)
Start - The list currently has 27 things on it.
Month 1 - In the middle of the kitchen remodel still.
Month 2 - Finished 1 item, installing new furnace. 7 to go.
Month 11 - Finished 3 more items, finished the kitchen, dining room, and front entryway remodel. 4 to go.
Month 12 - Finished 1 more item. Gutter covers installed. 5 total done. 

10. Finish skinning the top of the hovercraft (0% done)
Start - Hopefully I can make some time to get to it this year.

11. Get my 5K time under 25 minutes (0% done)
Start - My current best is 28:32

12. Collect and photograph all of the Star Wars Comics (50% done)
Start - I got most of this done last year. It's time to finish this up and move on this year.
Month 1 - Only one comic left to go. Photographed box 5.
Month 8 - I have almost everything collected and photographed. I have 1 box left to go.
Month 10 - Everything in boxes has been collected and photographed. Just need to organize the photos and website them.
Month 12 - Slowly collecting the harder to find items like the comic packs.

13. Submit my Masters Thesis for Publication (0% done)
Start - Last year was actually spent getting a chapter of my dissertation published. Let's move on and get this done this year. This was the last big thing I had left to get published which I wrote before.

14. Get caught up on my Star Wars to read pile (50% done)
Start -  Right now I have more than a bookshelf full of books that I am behind on reading.
Month 1 - Slowly working through my pile of stuff to read when I get the chance.
Month 2 - Still reading through the pile.
Month 10 - I actually have my 3 big piles down by about a 1/3rd. Not too shabby.
Month 12 - Finished probably more than have on my to read pile.

15. Watch and re-review an entire list of one of the 10 Top Ten Movies (20% done)
Start - I finished one set of 10 last year. I plan on doing another set this year.
Month 8 - Watched/rewatched Back to the Future and 2001: A Space Odyssey on the Top 10 Sci-Fi Movies list. 8 to go.

16. Collect, photograph, and organize my Star Wars novel collection (0% done)
Start - I have it mostly set with paperbacks but I would like to get the collection organized and get the first release hardcovers.

-----------------------------------------------Other items of note-------------------------------------------------

Although I didn't get as much done on my list as I hoped, over the last few months I have gotten my "to do" pile down from about 9 boxes of stuff and paperwork to about 2 boxes of stuff and paperwork. Hopefully this year I should be able to get caught up on everything. That's the plan at least.