Thursday, November 29, 2007

Bowl of Cherries

Well - that was a crazy read! I saw this one go by at work and got sucked in by the line in the blurb that read "ninety-year old debut novelist." Then I read more and it sounded like the kind of wacky fiction I like to read. Boy, was I in for it, though. My best description? Kurt Vonnegut meets Tom Robbins, and they collaborate on a novel using a 1951 unabridged thesaurus. I mean, read the blurb on amazon - and then think of that plot, wrapped in a tapestry of vocabulary words that were almost beyond comprehension. Surprisingly funny and tender for all that. Not sure if I'd really recommend this one to anybody; I don't know anyone weird enough...

Book 89

Wednesday, November 28, 2007


Aside from training, an afternoon run, and finding dinner, here's most of my life for the next couple days...

Mr. Monk and the Two Assistants

I noticed this new Monk book when doing some book shopping for our summer trip up to Oregon - Mich read it, but somehow I never got around to it. Well, I just did, and it sure was fun! I'm not much into reading books based on TV shows (some Star Wars books, OK, but those were based on a movie...) but it's alright every once in a while, I guess. The only problem is that my head kept trying to read the characters in their own voices, and it's kind of hard with some of them (Sharona specifically, for those of you who watch Monk.) Anyway, great read - felt just like one of the shows, and only took slightly longer to read...

Book 88


I've had Chance sitting on my bookshelf for awhile, and threw it in to bring along on a whim. It's pretty much basic statistics, clearly and interestingly explained, with real-like examples. While the equations get kind of hard to follow after awhile, the chapters are pretty short, and it's not to hard to keep interested. Funnily enough, one of the chapters mentions Pascal's Triangle, which Julien noticed on the wall of a MAX station in Portland, and somehow Mich didn't recognize (shame...)

Book 87

San Mateo Public Library

A few pictures of the San Mateo Public Library, where I'm spending this week at a training:

A model of the building, on display inside. The conference room I'm in is at the far left of the building.

The conference room (Acorn room, I think) with it's aforementioned HUGE screen.
Oak Meeting room, actually - Here's floor plans if anyones interested in that sort of thing...

A view from the magazine mezzazine (try to say THAT out loud) toward the staircase.

And a view from the third floor across toward the cafe and internet stations, and down toward the second floor and mezzazine.

Worth mentioning: this library has the most comfortable meeting room chairs I have ever been in. They're a wire frame with stretchy mesh fabric on them, and I'm totally comfortable sitting in them all day. Good thing...

Tuesday, November 27, 2007


So, enough with the books review. I'm away from Reno for a few days attending a training on MARC records as part of my new job as a cataloger. It's being held in San Mateo, CA, at the newly built public library here. I'll be here for four days (today was day 1), heading back to Reno Friday after class. Couple pictures so far:

Morning view from my motel, in Belmont, CA.

Outside the San Mateo library. I'll have to try to get a few more pictures tomorrow; it's really a beautiful facility...

2001: A Space Odyssey

It seems like I had tried to read this a while back, but didn't make it through it for some reason. At any rate, it's one of those classic SciFi series that I have on my shelf, but don't remember reading. And I needed a new "gym book" (to read on the stationary bike) so I grabbed this. Boy, was Arthur C. Clarke a good storyteller. It seemed a little dated, but it's probably more amazing that it doesn't seem REALLY dated - it was published in 1968, almost 40 years ago now (sorry to any of my readers whom I just made feel old...) While some of the technology is out-of-date, the science still holds true. And of course, Clarke's storytelling holds it all together anyway. Going to finish up this series at some point soon, too...

Book 86

Keeping it Real

Keeping it Real
is another book that I noticed while cataloging it - actually, I was cataloging the sequel to it, and decided that it looked good enough to read the first one beforehand. Pretty crazy - this is seriously SciFi/Fantasy. Sexy motorcycle-riding cyborg chick heroine, studly rock and roll elves, demons... Wow. Very well conceived world (worlds, really) though, and a good read. I will go on to the next book, but not immediately - gotta give this one room to sink in...

Book 85

Sunday, November 25, 2007

M is for Magic

Neil Gaiman rocks. There's just not much other way to say it. I've read all of his other fiction, most of his children's books, and even some of his graphic novels, and enjoyed every one. He is an expert storyteller, with a sense of magic and wonder that is unmatched. M is for Magic is a collection of short stories, an area in which he particularly shines. These run the gamut from whimsical and fun to strange and a little creepy, but all are wonderful. WONDERFUL. While reading them, I kept thinking "This is what stories should be." READ THIS. Seriously. It'll be good for your soul.

Book 84

Impossibly French

Someone at the library gave me this book to see if Mich would be interested in it, so I brought it home. It's non-fiction, so of course she didn't want it. For some reason, I picked it up and started reading it yesterday, and found it interesting. It's definitely written for a female audience, but from the perspective of an British woman living in France, trying to figure out how French women are so relentlessly stylish. I liked it for the same reason that i like a lot of ex-pat literature - it's the story of someone trying to understand and fit into another culture. And the culture is what it came down to - the reason that French women have that certain air about them is that it is valued and supported by the whole culture, from the availability of beauty pharmaceuticals to government support of working mothers to French social values and mores. Well-written and a great glimpse inside another culture.

Book 83

Thanksgiving moments

We had a bit of a full house here for Thanksgiving - Grand and Great-grandparents, nieces and nephews, uncles and aunts. 12 adults and 5 children, total. Prety fun time - I'm just going to let a few pictures speak for themselves...

Sofia and Grandma Gail finishing up the Turkey Trot



Needs a little more time...

Happy Gus and the Thanksgiving Matisse

Thanksgiving toast

Mich, Nathan and Sarah

This'll probably get me in trouble...

Saturday, November 24, 2007


I picked up Bust while cataloging the sequel to it, Slide - thought a noir, pulp fiction-y novel might be a fun quick read. Plowed through it in less than a day, and yeah, it was a pretty okay diversion. Violent, weirdly funny, dark underbelly of New York City. Not much more to say about this one...

Book 82

Born Standing Up

I've liked Steve Martin's writing in the past, especially his last couple of novels. When I saw this one, I wasn't sure if it would be my kind of book, but after glancing at a few pages and remembering his writing style, I decided to give it a chance. Born Standing Up isn't Martin's full autobiography, but really the story of how he became a comic, refined his act, hit it big, and moved on. He has a great writing style - humble, straightforward and honest. This read pretty quickly, but was pretty enjoyable.

Book 81

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Ender's Game

It's been awhile since I'd read Ender's Game, by Orson Scott Card, and I'd forgotten how powerful a book it is. No wonder it was a Hugo and Nebula award winner. It's the story of Ender Wiggin, a young boy who, throughout the book, is trained to be a commander in a coming war with an insect-like alien species. It's a powerful book because of the insight Card puts into the young, smart characters, as well as The way he sets up the rest of the books in the series. I think I'll pass on reading the others for now; I've got other stuff I want to get on to. But it looks like the story will finally be made into a movie in 2008, by director Wolfgang Petersen. Should be interesting.

Book 80

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

The Perfect Mile

The Perfect Mile is one of those books that I've had sitting around on my shelf for awhile, just waiting until I was out of other stuff to read or my interest got piqued by it again. Well, both of those happened, and I picked it up, and was immediately involved in the stories of the three main runners who were striving in the early 50's to break the 4-minute mile barrier. The book follows Wes Santee, a University of Kansas runner, John Landy, and Australian schoolteacher, and Roger Bannister, a British med student, as they struggle everything it takes to be a world-class athlete - training, dedication, politics... and more training. We see Bannister break the 4 minute mark (no spoiler there, I hope) and follow them to the Empire Games in Vancouver, where two of the three run a race billed as "the mile of the century." Excellent glimpse into another era of sport; when the ameteur ideal was just giving way to the modern professional athlete. Inspiring, as well - got me out to the track last weekend.

Book 79

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Stick To Drawing Comics, Monkey Brain

Scott Adams is just brilliant. Seriously, pretty much everyone has found humor in a Dilbert cartoon at some point or another, and his writing shows the same kind of spare, pithy humor. He has a talent for suggesting outlandish but somehow compelling solutions to problems, as well as an analytical world view that I can identify with. The different format in this book (entries from a couple paragraphs to a couple pages) lets him riff on whatever is in his mind at the time, which could be anything. Readers of his blog will recognize some themes, but this isn't just a book of recycled blog posts. I seriously recommend this one.

Book 78

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Seventh at St. Andrews

Yep, another golf book. Sorry to be predictable, but I like to keep up on "the literature." Anyway, I noticed The Seventh at St. Andrews on the shelf waiting to be cataloged, and put a hold on it.

Pretty good stuff. Similar to Dream Golf, which I reviewed earlier this year, in that it's a accessible book about the design and construction of a golf course. It also contained a few of the same characters - David McLay Kidd, who designed the first course at Bandon Dunes, was also picked to design and build the seventh course in St. Andrews. Anyway, this was a good read for someone interested in golf and golf courses, and maybe with a soft spot for links-style courses.

Book 77

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Sofia is 3!

Yep, she's 3. We had a "birthday brunch" for Sofia today. Fritatas, challah (pretty multicultural breakfast, actually), fruit and stuff. Here's Sofia and her friend Pippa enjoying some juice:

Of course, there was cake as well - Sofia had requested a "rainbow cake", and this is what I came up with:

Sofia got to lick one of the candles:

And here she is enjoying (?) the cake itself...

I got to sneak her aside for a daddy/daughter self-portrait a few minutes later:

Here's a couple of present-opening pics:

This rubbery "piggy bank" had to be the hit gift - it oinked when you put a coin in it, and the girls filled it up, then dumped it out over and over again...

And of course, there was some outside playing time after:

All in all, a pretty fun birthday - thanks to everyone involved...

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Year of Living Biblically

I had read a couple of reviews of The Year of Living Biblically (sounded interesting, the kind of thing I'd read) before I realized that it was by A.J. Jacobs, the author of The Know-it-all, in which he reads his way through the whole Encyclopedia Britannica. The subtitle of the current book is "One man's humble quest to follow the Bible as literally as possible." And wow, does he. His writing is a great mixture of humor, reverence, thoughtfulness and the minutiae of his daily life. He goes to extremes to try to follow biblical instructions as closely as possible, and he invents wild justifications for things in his life that don't quite fit right within the structure he has set up for himself (his wife's in vitro fertilization, for example.) He talks to creationists, Hasidic Jews, a gay ultra-conservative Christian discussion group, and even snake handlers (keeping an incredibly balanced view the whole time.) In the end, though, he has to admit that any attempt at living a biblical life has to pick and choose which rules to follow, and interpret them in some way. Great book.

Book 76

Tuesday, November 6, 2007


Took a quick trip to Vancouver this weekend to see my parents, just me and the kids. This was the first time Sofia was really "into" the airplane experience, she loved watching out the window for the planes landing or taking off:

She was pretty excited when we got on the plane, and held my hand all through take-off and landing.

We couldn't get three seats all together, so Julien sat one seat back and across the aisle from us. He just hung out, read and did some puzzle books.

Barely recognized the guy picking us up at the airport - my dad had grown his beard out. Mostly for our benefit; he shaved it the next morning. Sofia was a little standoffish at first, but seemed curious later:

We went to the farmer's market in the Hollywood district in Portland the next morning, where the kids made some new friends:

Julien and Sofia both had 3 dollars to buy something at the market. Julien picked out a couple of apples and a pastry. Sofia wanted flowers. Here she is picking them out with Grandma Gail:

We had some big plans for the afternoon. First we drove partway from Vancouver to Portland and parked at the Vanport MAX stop. Here's the kids waiting for the train, and Sofia playing on a mosaic.

We took the MAX into downtown Portland, and got off near Pioneer Square and the downtown Library.

We took a look around the library, then left Grandma Gail and Sofia there to watch a puppet show that was happening. Julien, Grandpa Ken and I walked a few blocks to the theater that was putting on a Children's Theater show of Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing. We had seats pretty high up, in the second balcony. Julien seemed to really like it - kept his attention the whole time. Pretty impressive actors, those kids.

We took the MAX back to Vancouver and had a pretty quiet evening - here's storytime:

Had a pretty long night - that daylight savings kind of threw everyone off. The next morning we had a nice breakfast, then went town to the Colombia River one of our favorite places called Frenchman's Bar. They have a decent little playground there:

A nice beach to walk along looking for shells:

And a lot of sand to dig in and explore:

There were also some pretty good fall colors down there:

And that was pretty much the trip. To the airport and back home; pretty uneventful. Sofia liked studying the emergency card, for some reason...