Monday, October 29, 2012

Academ's Fury by Jim Butcher

The second novel in the series took a bit more time to get going, but, having finished it, I can see how it all ties together.  If you're finding the middle a little slow going, slog through it because it'll be worth it.

It was interesting to read he had based this series on a challenge - a writing-mate said he couldn't make a good story out of a lame idea and he made one out of two - lost Roman legion and Pokemon.  Heh.  This book has a bit less magic than the first, but maybe that's because the concept no longer needs to be explained.

I was pleased to note there wasn't too much time spent catching the reader up from the events of the first story.

I highly recommend this book and will read the rest of the series as fast as the library can deliver it.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

The Blinding Knife by Brent Weeks

I thought Weeks' The Black Prism was awesome so I jumped a chance to plow through the second Lightbringer novel, The Blinding Knife.  It did not disappoint though I thought it was epsilon worse than the first due to some "Huh.  What?" moments in the middle.  Don't get me wrong though; this book is still awesome and better than 99% of the fantasy books out there.

The magic definitely obeys Sanderson's First Law and you get a little more insight into how it works in this book.  You also get plenty of magic, intrigue and fighting.  Weeks isn't quite as descriptive as Abercrombie when it comes to the fight scenes, but it is still more than adequate.

I highly recommend this book and I eagerly await the next installment.

Fitness update

I was sick for the first part of this month, got better and then took a knee to the thigh while playing basketball.  It didn't feel like a regular charlie horse and never bruised up.  I guess they call those deep muscle bruises or something.  Anyhow, I took a week off to heal up, but got back to business this week and was able to undo some of the chunkening.

The charts show I'm in about the best shape of my recent life.  I feel pretty good, but I could be doing better by cutting back on the junk food and by being disciplined with my exercise.  For instance, I skipped squash this morning because I couldn't get my ass out of bed.  It's just one workout, but that attitude could be preventing me from getting really ripped so I need to work on it.

The good news is I've avoided the cyclic uptick and have continued to drive all numbers down, down and down.  Most people who haven't seen me for a while ask how much weight I've lost or comment on it.

The other good news is the tabata workouts are working which is good because they're fairly short and will allow me to sleep for another 30 minutes a night.

Next month's update will include the Thanksgiving holiday, but I'll try not to eat too much junk food then.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Man on a Ledge

Fuck me crosswise with a chainsaw.  This movie sucked big time donkey balls.  I'm not even sure where to start, but firstly HOTEL WINDOWS DO NOT OPEN!  The entire premise of the movie is blown with that fact right there.  The rest is just the usual bad physics, bad police work and stupid dialogue.

The plot is terrible and the only redeeming part is some T&A.  It's fantastic, but doesn't even come close to making up for the rest of the shit show.

I do not recommend this movie and want two hours of my life back.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Exercise compromise

I have a tough time getting up early enough Monday morning to exercise so I usually sleep in and miss my workout completely.  This morning I decided to do a shorter workout so I can sleep in a little bit (I still woke up at 5:20) and still get some work in.  

I'm not sure why I thought doing a tabata upperbody workout would be easy.  I did 8 sets, 0:20/0:10, of pullups, pushups, dips and an Indian club workout.  I haven't done squat since getting kneed in the thigh last Monday night so I was definitely feeling it.  I think most of my upperbody strength is held back by weak hands and/or wrists.  I don't know if it's because of too much computer use (carpal tunnel) or what, but my hands don't feel as strong as they should be.  My calluses hurt after a couple of pullups, but eventually I started to get fatigued elsewhere - it traveled down to my arms.

The pushups weren't too bad, but I was nearly too wasted to bang out proper dips.  The Indian club workout is more for loosening up my arms and shoulders than anything.

I wonder if once a week of tabata is sufficient or would more be too much?

Sunday, October 21, 2012

The Furies of Calderon by Jim Butcher

I really enjoyed Butcher's first Dresden book so I thought I would check out his other series.  Holy moly.  This book is awesome.  I plowed through it on my Kindle since I borrowed it from the library and I wasn't sure for how long my loan was and I didn't want to miss out a chance to finish it.

He has created a unique world with a very interesting kind of magic.  It is more sword-and-sorcery fantasy than his Dresden book, but not in the same hokey vein as Tolkien.  His magic definitely passes Sanderson's First Law and is well explained without the pedantic lecturing of Feist.

The book is well paced with plenty of action and intrigue.  The characters are well-written though some could use a bit more depth.  A minor quibbling for sure.

I highly recommend this book and I already grabbed the second one from the library.

Friday, October 19, 2012

The San Francisco 49ers are awesome.

After last night's thrilling game, I'm not sure why anyone would root for any team other than the San Francisco 49ers.  Their former number one pick, Alex Smith, was a worthy selection over Aaron Rodgers and SF definitely made the correct call in retaining Smith over signing free agent Peyton Manning.  Rodgers and Manning may have won Super Bowls, but Smith holds the SF single season record of fewest interceptions in a season with five.  He also has some awesome career marks of a 58% completion percentage and a 76.4 quarterback rating.  For folks who don't follow football, those numbers are outstanding and most definitely cannot be duplicated by any journeyman quarterback who would play for half the money.

Smith is also clearly the engine driving SF rather than Frank Gore whose punishing inside running pales in comparison to Smith's caretaking.

And that defense?  Wow.  Their strategy of letting the Seattle receivers get open and then willing them to drop easily catchable balls including one which would have been a touchdown?  Sheer genius.

Given the result of last night's matchup, I'm going to burn all my Seattle gear and root for SF for the rest of this season and beyond.  I'm going to the Seattle-SF game in December, but I'll root for the SF instead so they are clearly the superior team.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Virginia visit 2012

In the last weekend of September, I went down to Fredericksburg, VA to visit my cousin who was there for work.  I flew in to Dulles and rented a car to drive down as my cousin works for the government and can't have any non-governmental passengers.  It was an awesome weekend for sure. 

The first morning we drove down to Monticello to see where Thomas Jefferson spent most of his time.  The people there do a great job of explaining the house and Jefferson's philosophy so I highly recommend it.  After soaking up some history, we went into Charlottesville for lunch.  It wasn't anything special, but it seems like a pretty cool college town.  That night we went into downtown Fredericksburg for Oktoberfest drinking with my cousin's colleagues.  Most of the people there had been drinking since one in the afternoon, but I caught up with a couple of steins of quality beer.

The next morning we went to George Washington's boyhood home, Chatham House and the Fredericksburg battle site.  Lunch was barbecue and then I headed back to the airport.

Virginia is an awesome place to visit if you're into history since you can't go five miles without passing by a Civil War battlefield.  Flying in to Dulles allows you to bypass the Beltway traffic, but it's a pretty crappy airport.  I took a Freedom Pat on the way back because I refuse to go through the backscatter machines and I wasn't in a hurry.  The TSA jerks gave me a hard time, but I was well within my rights.

I think I'll try to get back to DC next spring for cherry blossom season and to finish off the Mall.  Maybe I can get to Mount Vernon as well.  It's too bad my other cousin no longer lives in Arlington because then I could crash at his place.

You can find the picture vomit here.  I need to learn how to adjust the white balance since it was pretty sunny out.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Storm Front by Jim Butcher

I had seen many of the Dresden Files books at the library, but never the first one so I finally put a hold on it.  I'm glad I did because it is well-written with a good pace and the right amount of action.  I also like how there is a detective element to it.  The magic comes close to violating Sanderson's First Law, but perhaps it will be fleshed out in future books.

The author does a good job at hinting at more stories to tell about the protagonist's past and he's more an anti-hero than a white knight which suits me.  I believe life is more gray than black and white.

I highly recommend this book.

Zone One by Colson Whitehead

I got this book from my library on my Kindle because it was highly rated there and I like post-apocalyptic stories.  I'm not a fan of zombies, but this book had a different take.  Unfortunately, it falls completely flat due to the author's pretentious language, do-nothing characters and a slow pace.  The story focuses more on the thoughts of main character rather than the zombies and I was ok with that path until a third of the way through when I realized I didn't really care what happened.

The author should have relied less on his thesaurus and more on better pacing.  Give me a reason to care about someone as mediocre as the main character.  Perhaps it was meant to be ironic, but I'm not a hipster nor do I want to be one.

I do not recommend this book.

Friday, October 12, 2012

The Grey

I remember there was some controversy when this movie came out because people thought it was needlessly anti-wolf and that it promoted wolf killing.  Having finally seen the movie, I disagree.  It's a survival movie that has wolves as an element, but I don't think it glorified killing them or turned them into villains.  They were just being wolves.

I thought it was pretty well done though there were a couple of slow parts.  The ending was definitely unexpected, but a welcome change from the usual Hollywood crap.

I highly recommend this movie.  It certainly motivated me to hone my survival skills and to put survival gear in my car in case it goes off the road and some wolves are after me.

Monday, October 8, 2012

How do you know if you're crazy?

I've always wondered if you can self-diagnose craziness.  I mean, if you're sane enough to rationally judge your state of mind, then how can you be crazy?  On the other hand, you can tell when you're drunk so why not when you're unbalanced?

Sunday, October 7, 2012

New York Giants Training Camp 2012

The Giants were back in Albany for their 2012 training camp and I walked over one day to check it out.  They're coming off a big Super Bowl win earlier this year so expectations were high and the crowds were thick.  This year, they opened up the viewing areas a bit.  Before you could only watch from one end zone, but they opened up two more sides so more people could get closer to the action.

It was a nice day out and well worth the walk over.

You can find the picture vomit here.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

My obesity fix

It's not hard to see Americans are getting fatter by the minute and I think our diet is to blame.  People eat crap and too much of it.  Rather than tax sugar, I would set up a sliding tax based on the number of ingredients.  If you buy something like an apple or an onion, you pay no tax.  If you buy something with 2-5 ingredients, you pay maybe a 20% tax.  Something with 6-10 ingredients would have a 50% tax and so on.  I would eliminate all other taxes on food.  Yeah, it would make some food become prohibitively expensive, but that would be the point.  And no, bread wouldn't count as one ingredient.  In fact, modern bread would be heavily taxed because it is enriched beyond belief.

Perhaps my tax is too harsh, but the idea would be to discourage people from buying anything, but whole foods.

Visit to NYC September 2012

The Sunday before Labor Day, I took the train down to NYC to tool around.  I spent most of my time walking around Central Park because I hadn't seen it before.  The weather actually cooperated.

You can find the picture vomit here.

Visit to Oregon Aug 2012

You know I'm a lazy bastard when I'm putting up vacation photos nearly two months after I got back.  Anyhow, in August I flew to Oregon to visit with my family.  I got to meet my nephew for the first time since he was born in April of this year.  I spent most of the time hanging out with family and friends.  I played some tennis, went on a long ass hike in the Columbia River Gorge with my dad, went to the beach with my brother and his family and drove down to Bend to visit friends and family.  On my way out of Bend, I hit Smith Rock since I had never been there.

It was great to visit Oregon in the summer when it's not as likely to rain.  I had an awesome time for sure and I wish I lived closer.

You can find the picture vomit here.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Modern Family: Season 3

Another solid season with an unexpected cliffhanger at the end.  I appreciate this show for the jokes and for the lack of a laugh track.  And Sophia Vergara's tits.  Let's not forgot those beauties.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

I read the second Hunger Games book via the Kindle lending library.  It picks up where the first book leaves off and is really just an extension.  It offers nothing new, but, if you like the first book, you'll like the second.

As I mentioned before, the writing isn't great, but the books are still entertaining.  I don't really care that much about the characters, but I like post-apocalyptic stories.

I recommend this book.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Magician: Apprentice by Raymond E Feist

I finally decided to start at the beginning of his Midkemia books.  This one is the first part of his first book which was broken in two for who knows why?  Probably money.  Anyhow, this book is better written than the later ones which suggests he's coasting.  It happens to the best of them and Feist is far from the best.

This book is ok, but is fairly standard fantasy work.  I recommend it as a beach read.

Machine Gun Preacher

I wanted to like this movie because the guy tried to do right, but it was too slow and too boring.  I couldn't bring myself to care about any of the characters.  Unfortunately, that attitude is also held by a lot of Americans because the Rwandan genocide and Sudan civil war went on for a long ass time with a lot of innocents getting killed.

I do not recommend this movie.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Fitness update

The month of September was pretty good to me because I was able to get really frickin' close to my target body fat percentage of 20%.  If I hadn't gotten sick about a week ago, I think I would've made it, but last week was spent hacking stuff up.  Even so, I think I'm definitely on the right track.  I still feel pretty crummy, but I'll try to fight through it.

I'm pretty stoked that I had to drop the lower limits on the graphs.