Finally Friday, Jan. 10th Edition

I’m trying something new, a weekly post. Let’s see how long I can keep up with it!

I am part of a group here at work we call the Marketing Content Team. We focus on making a connection between Work & Life in the spirit of broadening the reach of our brand through various media: blog posts, videos, and audio from our podcast that we share across multiple social media platforms. We were talking yesterday about how the average length of blog posts (in general, based on actual statistics) has grown over the last few years, and about how most successful blogs have a focus. It won’t work if you try to cover everything.

Not sure what it means to be successful at blogging, but I’m guessing it means you have a lot of readers or subscribers, and possibly it helps you make money? I don’t have a lot of either happening here, and perhaps it’s because I don’t have a specific topic I focus on. I think that’s because I’m interested in a lot of different things and have many opinions on them to share. I respect my readers/subscribers and I’m grateful for your input and interaction, but at the end of the day I believe I’m still writing these posts for me. I do wish I’d get more questions, responses, or arguments from readers, but I don’t think it will determine whether I continue doing this or not.

On to continuing to blog about pretty much anything & everything!

In the off chance you’re not following me on Goodreads, here’s what I’m currently reading/trying to finish:

 

Half a War (Shattered Sea, #3)

 

The Massacre of Mankind

 

The Blues won last night

as they should have against a far inferior Buffalo Sabers team. They’ve got a young Captain, center Jack Eichel, who is the kind of player I’d probably root for when he’s not playing the Blues. He scored a goal and really looked like he was getting frustrated his team was getting spanked, probably knowing he was one of only a few good players and couldn’t do everything himself. The Blues won 5-1

The Cardinals made a trade

Yes, I’m still a baseball fan, and while the Cardinals get mentioned in conversations about blockbuster deals and potential trades, their ownership/management seldom seems willing to buck up for the marquee players. Yes, they made a deal last winter for Paul Goldschmidt, a bonafide star, but they’ve been few and far between since Albert Pujols left all those years ago. The club seems content to make money hand over fist, be near the top of the attendance numbers every season, but not, from the fans’ perspectives, do whatever it takes to be a championship team again.

 

 

Image result for JOSE MARTINEZ

Image Credits: Creator: Dilip Vishwanat Credit: MLB Photos via Getty Images Copyright:2019 Major League Baseball Photos

 

That said, they traded Jose Martinez, a fan & clubhouse favorite, and rookie Randy Arozarena, to Tampa Bay for lefthanded pitching prospect Matt Liberatore. He’s a very highly touted/rated prospect, but it’s the offense that failed them in the playoffs last season, so every is still scratching their heads about what the organization might (hopefully) do to improve in that regard. Yes, there’s a blockbuster out there waiting to happen- Colorado 3B Nolan Arenado is likely to be traded this winter, one of the best at the position- and some think this deal could be a precursor to the Cards making a big move, but I doubt it happens.

That’s it for today. I could rant for hours about the dumbest president in our nation’s history, the lies, his sycophantic cabinet (I’m looking at your stupid face, Mike Pompeo) and the most evil person in Washington D.C. (Mitch McConnell for those not keeping score) but I won’t. Have a great weekend!

Missed it by *that* much

It’s a new year, and you know what THAT means, right? Another year where I tell myself I’ll write more, starting by posting to my blog (at least) once every day…

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Now that we’re all done laughing at the idea, I bring your attention to the date, January 2, 2020, so we can chuckle again because I’ve already failed in my quest. So… onward we go, and maybe if I finish the year with 363 days of posting I can look back in anguish at my inability to even log in to WordPress yesterday, but that’s unlikely to happen. I’ll just move ahead. Join me, won’t you?

I always have a lot to say but I usually say it on Twitter, or I say it on the podcast we started at work last year, or simply at home with the (mostly) like minded love of my life, but I’d enjoy more involvement from you readers; more dialogue, more arguments, so I’m going to try and put more of those things here this year. STLB_Logo_twitter

In 2020 I’ll be discussing St. Louis Blues hockey, my kids, food, books I’ve read, music I’ve listened to, blogs, Tweets, politics, the ongoing demise of humanity, all the ways the place I live (St. Louis, Missouri, United States of America) is great and/or cool AND the ways in which it’s decidedly NOT. If I offend, it’s probably not my intention, but I will not apologize. You can choose to not read it. OR, maybe comment and let’s talk about it. I can be reasonable in the face of reasonable objection.

The Blues are in 1st place as 2020 begins, coming off their 1st ever Stanley Cup win. I’m still riding the high of that so not much that happens this season will bother me, though I did pick them to repeat, which almost never happens in the NHL. While I’ll remain a loyal Blues fan forever, I struggle with the NHL becoming more and more of a burning pile of garbage in the way the league is run, the rules they make/enforce, and how they handle themselves from an executive standpoint. Clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right, indeed.

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We subscribe to Disney+ and for me, The Mandalorian alone is worth the cost. Very excited for Season 2. I grew up on Star Wars, and I’ve passed my love along to my kids, though at times I almost regret it. Our 4yo is in character (and costume!) nearly 24/7 and it’s exhausting. This Christmas was wall to wall Star Wars LEGO and they’re a source of contention between our boys on a daily basis. Neither (4 & 11) have seen all the movies, but we’re slowly getting there. Empire Strikes Back is still my favorite, The Last Jedi was near the bottom of my list, and as of today I’ve not yet seen Rise of Skywalker, so no spoilers, thanks.

I missed my “number of books I plan to read this year” goal for 2019 by a only a few, and currently I’m close to finishing The Massacre of Mankind, by Stephen Baxter, and Half a War, by Joe Abercrombie. The former is a sequel to “The War of the Worlds,” and though it was published in 2017 it’s got the same dry, British voice of the original 19th Century tale. The latter is the finale of a trilogy from one of my favorite all-time authors so you can probably guess which I’m enjoying more. I recommend both. Question: will you finish a book even if you don’t like it? I tend to be unable to leave a book unfinished. Maybe it’s an OCD thing. Follow me on Goodreads!

I’ll leave today on this: I will vote for the Democratic nominee, regardless of who he or she turns out to be. You should too. Whether the election is fair/legal/upheld/etc remains to be seen and is largely out of our hands, but it’s the only recourse we have to have even a remote chance of ending the nightmare that is our current state of government in this country. Have a great 2020!

 

WWW Wednesdays 3-6-13

This weekly event from Should Be Reading gives us a chance to share what’s we’re reading and often find new treasures we might have otherwise missed. Join in the fun!

To play along, just answer the following three (3) questions…

• What are you currently reading?
• What did you recently finish reading?
• What do you think you’ll read next?

I’m still working on the same books I had open last weekVampires in the Lemon Grove, by Karen Russell and Dreamland: Adventures in the Strange Science of Sleep, by David K. Randall. I’ve also started Grimspace, by Ann Aguirre.

 In between continuing those titles I picked up and finished Hounded (The Iron Druid Chronicles #1) by Kevin Hearne. I have to say, I nearly put this one down before I was halfway through. I loathe being unable to finish a book, but I didn’t feel like this was very well written. The dialogue seemed a bit clunky, too forced at times. The characters though, are intriguing. I’m also a huge fan of mythology and it’s well represented here. The book is a pretty quick read, so I finished it and you know what? I’m going to give the next in the series a shot. Hearne has something here to build upon and I’m hoping I enjoy the other “Chronicles.”

 Kevin’s titular druid, Atticus, reminded me a lot of a character I’ve met before and really loved, which may be why I’m giving that series a chance. The Alchemyst (The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel, #1) by Michael Scott is one of my favorites, the first installment in one of my favorite series ever. If you’ve not found Scott’s books yet, I highly recommend them. I may read this again next.

 Hexed (The Iron Druid Chronicles #2) by Kevin Hearne will be coming up soon too.

 

 

WWW Wednesday, February 27, 2013

This is a weekly prompt, thanks to Should Be Reading.

To play along, just answer the following three (3) questions…

• What are you currently reading?
• What did you recently finish reading?
• What do you think you’ll read next?

Currently I’ve got two titles open:

 Vampires in the Lemon Grove, by Karen Russell. It’s a book of short stories, and while I’m not usually a fan of reading shorts this collection is very enjoyable so far. The vampires are far from the popular versions you might be familiar with today.

 

Dreamland: Adventures in the Strange Science of Sleep, by David K. Randall, is a non-fiction look into our heads and nocturnal tendencies. No, it’s not all what that might sound like, keep it clean people. Apparently, humans naturally tend more toward “segmented sleep” than the “solid 8 hours” we so often talk about missing. Intriguing stuff.

I recently finished reading:

 In Milton Lumky Territory, by Philip K. Dick. Dick is well-known and respected for his writing, which I’d say typically falls into the “sci-fi” category, though he wrote professionally for 30 years in multiple genres. To be honest, I only finished this out of respect for the author, wanting to give it a chance to wow me until the end, and while the characters were somewhat interesting, it was more like a train-wreck you can’t look away from than something I enjoyed. Maybe it was the 1950’s setting, but it was boring to me. Plenty of underlying themes to dig out if you’re a fan of Phillip K. Dick.

Next up in the queue:

 Grimspace, by Ann Aguirre. I’m going to give the Sirantha Jax series a try. I’ve never been a big sci-fi reader, but I love a good series, gives me more time with the characters. I heard about this one through my Goodreads friends.

 

 

What are YOU reading?

Thanks to Should be Reading for the fun prompt. It’s always cool to see all the different kinds of things being consumed out there by readers!

To play along, just answer the following three (3) questions…

• What are you currently reading?
• What did you recently finish reading?
• What do you think you’ll read next?

 Currently reading In Milton Lumky Territory, by Philip K. Dick. Not very far in but it’s intriguing. Dick’s characters seem flat, but more alive than they should be, which is pulling me in but also disconcerting at the same time.

 Also reading Last Argument of Kings, by Joe Abercrombie, book three of his The First Law trilogy. This has proven to be a wonderful ride in a sort of “real-fantasy” setting. Rich characters and a complicated world as backdrop for multiple story lines. Highly recommend.

 And also reading Heir to the Empire, by Timothy Zahn. It was suggested as a jumping off point for someone getting a first taste of the Star Wars extended universe. Zahn has written a number of Star Wars novels.

 I just finished the second book of that trilogy, Before They Are Hanged. It was better than the first book (The Blade Itself) and each of the characters in it are endeared to you further and further as you read on. Good stuff.

 I also recently finished The Long Earth, by Terry Pratchett & Stephen Baxter. Really fun, had a bit of Pratchett’s Discworld feel, but different enough to stand alone as a fine piece of sci-fi-ish fiction.

 I *also* just finished Star Wars: Scoundrels, also by Timothy Zahn. I had picked it up and intended to read if after Heir but the draw of Han Solo and Lando Calrissian was too strong 😉 I enjoyed it, but honestly I’m more of a swords & dragons kind of geek than a sci-fi reader, despite my love of all things Star Wars.

The next thing I read (after finishing all of the above) may be Gun Machine, by Warren Ellis. With guns a hot topic these days this new novel stuck out enough for me to want to check it out. Gun is his second novel.

It’s the questions

Inspired by my friend Kat over at Kat O’ Nine Tales, here is a song and some answers to questions you didn’t know you wanted to know but I just know you’ll be glad you now know. Proceed with caution.

1-Did you ever wonder how they get the “M”s on M&Ms?

Yeah, no. Sometimes I wonder why there aren’t more green ones in each bag, but then I’ve been M&Ms free for a while now, so I don’t even wonder that much anymore. Actually sort of rude for you to taunt me with the memory, thanks.
2-If you could only read one book for the rest of you life, what would you have for a snack?

Smoked almonds, definitely smoked almonds.
3-What was the first CD that you ever bought? (Not record or tape, but CD.)

So hard to remember. Using my Call a Friend lifeline on this one and he says it was probably Depeche Mode, possibly The Smiths-Meat is Murder.

4-Are you stealing your Internet? If so where are you located because I’m tired of paying for mine.

Not even. My 50Mbps cost me an arm and a leg, but it’s fast and I’m thrilled.
5-Do you think that I’m joking?

Yeah, no. I can tell by your unsettling stare you are dead serious.
6-Should I keep asking questions?

Do you honestly think we’ll keep answering them?
7-If you answered “no” to number 6, why did you read this? If you answered “yes”, are you mental?

If you have to ask ~sob~ ~choke~ I guess you don”t really know me at all!
8-If you answered number 7 yet said “no” to number 6, are you a Cthuhlu? If you answered “yes” to both number 6 and 7, then you are probably me 

That is highly improbable, and would likely result in some sort of tear in the fabric of Space and Time.

9-I talk to myself.

Orange.

10-Number 9 wasn’t a question unless you are me, then you know what I was asking.

Zombies.

11-Are you sleeping okay, dear?

Much better lately, actually. Sometimes the dreams wake me. And the screams. Maybe it’s the screams in my dreams? Just kidding, I don’t sleep.

WWW Wednesday, Jan. 2, 2013

Once again, via Should Be Reading, it’s time for WWW Wednesday!

To play along, just answer the following three (3) questions…

• What are you currently reading?
• What did you recently finish reading?
• What do you think you’ll read next?

 

I am currently finishing up The Twelve, by Justin Cronin. It’s almost “horror” fiction, but somehow more intellectual than traditional hack & slash or monster-movie scary. This is #2 in a trilogy, the third book not yet published. It’s one of those stories that will be tough to wait for.

I recently finished Cold Days, the latest Dresden Files episode, by Jim Butcher. If you don’t know Harry Dresden then you need to meet him, and fast, there’s no telling how much longer he’ll be around. Harry gets himself into hair-raising situations in every novel, and you don’t always know he’ll come out alive. Sometimes though, being dead or alive isn’t really an obstacle to a wizard.

The next book I read will likely be The Renaissance Soul, by Margaret Lobenstine. This was on a list of “books that can change your life,” and looked interesting enough for me to pick up. The subtitle is Life Design for People with too many Passions to Pick Just One.

WWW Wednesday 12/19/12

WWW Wednesdays is a weekly meme held over on Should be Reading.

To play along, just answer the following three (3) questions…

• What are you currently reading?
• What did you recently finish reading?
• What do you think you’ll read next?

My current read is still Wheat Belly. It’s slow going, dense with chemistry so far, but makes an extremely compelling argument for eliminating wheat gluten from your diet. I’m going to try, we’ll see how it goes.

I never finished Cloud Atlas, came up <100 pages short, but had to return it to the library. Someone else had it reserved and I felt bad about keeping it. It’s definitely worth a read and I’ll finish it before seeing the movie.

I’m SO excited about my next read: Jim Butcher’s Cold Days, the latest Dresden Files installment! If you’re into mysteries, cop stories, fantasy, wizards, or even vampires, you’ll like the Dresden Files novels.

WWW Wednesday 12/12/12

WWW Wednesdays is a weekly meme held over on Should be Reading. To play along just answer the following questions.

 

WWW_Wednesdays4

 

To play along, just answer the following three (3) questions…

• What are you currently reading?
• What did you recently finish reading?
• What do you think you’ll read next?

Right now I’m trying to finish Cloud Atlas, by David Mitchell. It started off slowly and I nearly put it down but now I’m thankful I kept at it. It bogged down a bit near the middle but now I’m on the home-stretch and it’s been a wonderful ride. I highly recommend it.

I’m also reading Wheat Belly, by William Davis, MD. It’s basically a condemnation of what science and agriculture has done to wheat in the name of convenience and profit. I’m barely into it, but I have to say some of the arguments for eliminating wheat gluten (in nearly everything we eat) from your diet are compelling.

The last book I read was the very funny eBook, 101 Things to do Before the Apocalypse, by Jon Hanson. You should click on the image and go buy it today, it’s only $1.99 and would make a great Christmas gift for yourself or anyone you know who enjoys a good laugh. You can also read my review of it here on my blog.

 

The next thing I’ll read will likely be The Blade Itself, by Joe Abercrombie. It was recommended by a friend (thanks, Jeffery, if you’re reading this) and is a sort of dark-humor, fantasy offering, the first of three in a trilogy. I’m a sucker for trilogies.

Review – 101 Things to do Before the Apocalypse

If someone tells a joke but no one’s left alive to hear it, is it still funny? In the case of Jon Hanson’s 101 Things to do Before the Apocalypse the answer is a resounding, “Yes!”

Hanson has put together a bucket-list folks from all walks of life can occupy their time with as we near the Mayan Doomsday date of 12/21/12. As it’s the month of Christmas I think I’ll start by checking off #6: “Have Christmas Early.” December 25th comes days after the scheduled ruination of mankind, so why miss out?! One of the best things about the book is that similar things are grouped together so you can knock out two in a row. (#7 is “Buy Yourself Christmas Presents!”)

Whether you’re a student, parent, work a white-collar job, or you’re a ne’er-do-well slacker, this book has easy to accomplish tasks, all laid out  in a convenient format. They range from sound advice, to suggestions of questionable morality, to outright law-breaking, but not every suggestion is selfish or illegal. There are plenty of things on this list to make your neighbors’ last days a little brighter. One of my favorites is #18: “Give up Your Restaurant Pager:”

“If you find yourself waiting for a restaurant table among older people, keep an eye on them. If you get buzzed first, offer to swap with them. They have done enough waiting. You could also apply the same efforts to active duty members of the military and veterans. It’s the right thing to do and you’ll feel good in the process!”

Again, 101 Things to do Before the Apocalypse provides a wide variety of entertaining ways to spend your final hours, and though there are a few points of repetition along the way, those moments don’t detract from the overall enjoyment of the book. 101 is a big number, and I suspect the author managed to get them all in while dodging the authorities a few times. No small feat. I had fun reading this lighthearted take on our impending doom. It’s a fine reminder that sometimes we take ourselves too seriously. Go to Amazon and buy this book, you won’t regret it!