Neuromancer

Thought I’d share another book review- maybe I’ll follow some Blogging 101 advice and make this a Weekly Feature. Tough for me to commit to something like that though, it makes the blog feel too much like work. Or maybe I’m too lazy? Hrm.

Anyway, I’m a big fan of the Star Wars universe and to a much lesser extent the world of Star Trek, but I’ve never been much of a Sci-Fi reader. I’ve tried on numerous occasions but I always tend to prefer Fantasy. You might think with my technology background and enjoyment of computers the opposite would be true, or perhaps I’m not reading the right Sci-Fi.

I can say this for sure: William Gibons’s Neuromancer hooked me in the first few pages and I could barely put it down. I’m especially drawn to characters when reading fiction and Case, Molly, and Co. pop out of the pages of this book. I see now why it’s considered a classic of the Science Fiction genre and highly recommend it.

Neuromancer won numerous awards upon its publication in 1984. Gibson’s portrayal of advanced artificial intelligence, computer hacking and cyber-security were probably outlandish but are eerily familiar today. I wont give away too much, but I know advances have been made in the development of AI by entities in both private and government sectors to the point where his ideas no longer seem so far-fetched.

Another topic Gibson touches on in Neuromancer is that of genetic alteration and physical enhancement through technology. It’s another area in which our future may not be different (and soon!) from the picture of society he painted in 1984. He followed up with two more novels in the “Sprawl” series, and I’m sure I’ll tackle them next, at least to see if any familiar faces remain throughout the story.

Have you seen that Hollywood hit starring Keanu Reaves, Johnny Mnemonic? Gibson wrote the original. Yes, I know, not exactly awe-inspiring, but Neuromancer from ten years prior is worth the read.

The Prisoner of Heaven

I had to share my review of this book, being about as enjoyable a novel as I’ve ever read. The Prisoner of Heaven, by Carlos Ruiz Zafón, is the third in a set of books, all connected but each a jewel in its own right.

This is one of those books you wish you could give more than 5 stars. Zafón is one of those rare artists who creates in a multitude of media all at once, his words like diffused watercolors, bold, bright oils, soft, blended pastels and hard, cutting lines of darkest ink, all swirling and dancing across the pages, mesmerizing, yet simultaneously solid. A firmament of reason and familiarity that leaves you with a smile on your face. Comforting while at the same time able to shake you to the core, leave you grinding your teeth.

“Prisoner” is the third novel of Zafón’s I’ve read and is quite possibly the best of the three. If you’ve read any of his work you’ll know that’s a tall order. It meandered at a point, in a slightly drunken way, but sobered quickly and left me turning pages, unable to stop reading until I saw what ends his characters were moving toward. Even in its completion “Prisoner” leaves some questions unanswered, but not in a terribly frustrating way. You find yourself transported, standing on a wrought iron balcony looking out over a Spanish city at sunrise, the colors both muted and sharp, and smiling to yourself, knowing it could only be that way.

It’s Time for St. Louis Blues Hockey!

The time is upon us once again. Today is Blues Homer Opener Eve and the ‘Note looks ready to tackle the first game of the regular season tomorrow night at the Scottrade Center here in St. Louis. I no longer post my opinions over at BleedinBlue.com, but by no means should you avoid it. That’s my go-to site for Blues news.

I will prognosticate on all things St. Louis Blues (sounded good in my head) here on my lonely little corner of the internet and if you like what you read, or want to rip me a new one, please say so in the comments. Share my link and get some of your Blackhawks, Kings, or dare I say, Red Wings fan friends over here to spar with me!

On to the matter at hand. The Blues open the 2014-15 campaign Thursday, October 9 at home versus the New York Rangers. The roster of 23 was finalized yesterday morning after practice and the team looks ready to blow away last year’s offensive numbers. On paper. I’m very happy with the way the roster rounded out, especially in that Magnus Paajarvi won a spot as an extra forward in what is probably the deepest group the Blues have had in almost a decade.

Osh shows off the new road jersey

Here’s what the lines might look like tomorrow night. Regardless of the combinations, we know they’ll be sporting new sweaters.

Forwards

Patrik BerglundDavid BackesT.J. Oshie

Alexander SteenPeter StastnyJoakim Lindstrom

Jaden SchwartzJori LehteraVladimir Tarasenko

Steve OttMaxim LapierreRyan Reaves

Extras: Paajarvi and Chris Porter

Defensemen

Alex PietrangeloJay Bouwmeester

Kevin ShattenkirkIan Cole

Barret JackmanJordan Leopold

Coach Ken Hitchcock has already penciled Brian Elliott in as the starter in goal, explaining that with only 9 games this month both he and rookie Jake Allen will see playing time early on. Goaltending might be the only area the Blues don’t appear to be stacked, as neither Ells nor Allen has been a “true” number one goalie for any length of time. Hopefully the competition between the two netminders pushes them both to play lights-out.

The sparse October schedule is also the reason given for not placing newcomer Carl Gunnarsson on IR and keeping someone like local (Chaminade) product Chris Butler or Petteri Lindbohm on the big club roster. Gunnar (and Hitch) apparently feel he’s close to returning to contact and might even see game action by next week. St. Louis has a 4-day break between Game 2 this Saturday and Game 3 a week from Thursday. The Blues didn’t want to pay an extra defenseman to sit on the bench for 2 weeks.

My D-pairings are really just an educated guess and I’ve already heard something different:

Frankly those who are already Blues fans know the forward lines could change too after the first shift. Recently the coach mentioned he was liking the way Lehtera and Lindstrom were skating together, but Lehtera-Tarasenko was raved about since the start of camp. Hitch is all about chemistry, but if he sees something on the ice he rarely hesitates to make changes to his lines on the fly.

St. Louis scored 239 goals last season, tied for 6th in the league (with San Jose.) That was the best showing by the Blues in a decade. The additions up the middle if the ice of Stastny and Lehtera could mean an outbreak of offense the likes of which few current fans have ever seen. St. Louis led the league in Goals For in 1996-97 with 256. This year’s squad could rival that total from just their forwards. Don’t laugh, this is as deep a bunch as I can remember and the Blues could very well have multiple 25+ goal scorers this season.

Forward Jaden Schwartz now wears #17 in honor of his sister. Schwartz wore #9 last season

Yes, I’m drinkin’ the Kool-Ade, I always do. I was laughing yesterday with a co-worker about how almost every October Blues fans are excited and pumped-up only to be exhausted and deflated come the following Summer. I’m expecting HUGE things from the Blues this season, and anything short of (at least) a trip to the Stanley Cup Finals will be disappointing. Another quick playoff exit will likely also mean the last St. Louis fans see of Ken Hitchcock behind the bench.

The Blues start this season smack in the middle of (another) St. Louis Cardinals playoff run. I always Bleed Blue but the city is draped in red for now and I’m happy to root the Cards towards the World Series yet again. MLB Playoffs will make for some television conflicts as Game 1 of the NLCS coincides with the Blues game on Saturday, but that’s okay, I have 2 TVs ;)

GO BLUES! LONG LIVE THE NOTE!

Commenting with Confidence

Thanks again to Blogging 101 via The Daily Post & WordPress U. This course has been fun and I look forward to more each day.

Today’s assignment: read six posts written in response to yesterday’s prompt, and leave comments on at least two of them.

Going to list the six blogs I read for yesterday’s prompt response, just to give a little linky love:

Brainwashed Beautiful Mind

Rock, Paper, Scissors (Lizard, Spock)

Serena.

Wasted Days and Wasted Nights

The Sunny Narrative.

Reflections

I chose to comment on more than 2, because the posts jarred some bit of memory loose from the clutter in my brain. Interacting with readers and other bloggers is part of what I enjoy about the entire experience, especially when you come across those of like mind or interests.

 

 

Building a Better Blogroll with Blogging 101

Readers and (especially!) commenters help to enrich my blogging experience. I’d write without them, though perhaps in a different voice, but over time I’ve come to derive more enjoyment because of the opportunity to interact with other writers and bloggers. Blogging 101 continues to be a fun exercise in tightening up my blog, dotting all the I’s and crossing all the T’s.

Today’s assignment: share a few links you love.

Below are three links to blogs you should be reading if you’re reading mine. Which you are. In the past you’d be able to see my entire blogroll in my sidebar, but I don’t want to beleaguered the point I’ve changed things up. I’m happy with the new look despite my penchant for reminiscing about my now hidden widgets.

I wanted to highlight a few that don’t usually get linked but that I enjoy and appreciate. Start clicking!

Only Here, Only Now. Thomas Ross provides much-needed affirmation, relaxation, and stress relieving posts here. I hope they have the same calming, introspective effect on you that I get from reading there.

My Blog Can Beat Up Your Blog. This is one you’ll find me linked to from time to time because of Lance Burson’s feature there: The 100 Word Song. I thought I’d share a portal to his world of fatherhood, music, and leftist snark because it’s (sadly) been a while since I made time to join in the 100 Word fun. 

Thin Spiral Notebook. I like Tara R.’s blog because it’s full of photographs and still contains her writing. I’d like to take a cue from This Spiral and put more of my own images on my blog.

I wanted to throw this last one in there because not only did I used to write for BleedinBlue.com but I remain a huge Blues hockey fan. They have great articles about the team, the NHL, and all things hockey. Give them a follow!

The Missing Sidebar & Making it Count

During the course of Blogging 101 I’ve completely revamped the look of my blog. In doing so, I’ve done away with the Sidebar feature in the spirit of drawing focus on the content of my posts. That makes this a little difficult:

Today’s assignment: add and/or customize two widgets, one text-based and one image-based.

I have a long list of widgets already set on my Sidebar, but my current Theme doesn’t show them. That could change moving forward if I decide on another make-over, but for now I’m sticking with my look. Please enjoy the following post as I completely ignore today’s task ;)

Photo Challenge: NIGHTTIME

I enjoy taking photos of the sky, be it daytime, nighttime, cloudy, sunny, or any combination of those conditions. I tried capturing a shot of the last Super Moon of 2014 recently with my iPhone camera. I’d love to have a DSLR, but until I get a job as a professional photographer I can’t justify the cost! 

Super Moon, Saint Louis, MO Sept. 23, 2014

Choices

I’ve been participating in Blogging 101 from WordPress U, and yesterday we were asked to make comments where we hadn’t previously. The new task is to “Be Inspired By the Community:”

Today’s assignment: write a post that builds on one of the comments you left yesterday. Don’t forget to link to the other blog!

I found Live & Learn, where David Kanigan will often share inspirational quote, poems, and some fantastic photography. I enjoyed his post and it prompted me to think about how I feel we’re shaped by the choices we make in our daily lives.

Whether good or bad, past choices make us who we are in the present. You can certainly choose not to think about or dwell on the unpleasant ones, but unless you’ve reflected on them enough to learn not to make those same mistakes again, shutting them out and denying them as an integral component of your current makeup isn’t healthy. Just as we enjoy remembering the positives, we must embrace the negatives as growth opportunities. They’re all part of us.

I made choices over 10 years ago to get married and have a child. My marriage didn’t last, and ended in divorce, but had I not taken that path I might not today have my wonderful daughter. I might also have pursued a direction that wouldn’t have led to the amazing woman I’m with now. Those choices play a role in how I look at the world and challenges presented on my present road.

What kinds of choices do you think about? Does one stand out in your memory? Regret isn’t a productive emotion, but sometimes we can’t help feeling it. The key is to try to focus on how we can use the choices we’ve made to make new ones we feel better about now.