Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Santas and Monsters

This is a very unusual time for me. It's early December, and normally that means I'm in the throes of having two jobs, late dinners, itchy beards, and the general feeling of being run-down. But something is very strange this year. It is December 3rd and I have not been Santa once. So basically I have Christmas season free time for the first time in 4 years.

Call it 'A Series of Fortunate Events' if you will. First, the November schedule moved Santa's arrival back and shortened the season to 7 weeks. Second, there is a new scheduling software that looked at my availability and said, 'nope!' There is another 'Bye' week that sneaked by. Since I have not been scheduled as the big guy, I've been working as an Elf. And I may have done a little too good of a job of it.

Now I'm worried that I've proven myself to be a better elf than a Santa. There are worse things I guess, I wonder if this is how professional backup quarterbacks feel? Am I destined to having the Christmas season equivalent of giving high-fives to the place kicker and fetching Gatorade.

That is legendary Mizzou quarterback Chase Daniel . . . oh and Drew Brees is there too.
What have I done with copious amounts of free time? Read fiction, of course. I'm currently in the middle of The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan. And I've started reading The Warrior Heir by Cinda Williams Chima.

Non-Fiction has been largely absent the past few months. So to swing myself back towards the light, I figured I would need something to satisfy my fiction cravings while still being Non-Fiction. And I think I found it. Meet my next selection, The Lady and Her Monsters: A Tale of Dissections, Real-Life Dr. Frankensteins, and the Creation of Mary Shelly's Masterpiece by Rosanne Montillo.

Frankenstein holds a very special place for me. I first read it in 6th grade in a very dark and lonely place in my life. I am looking forward to cracking this one open.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Back to School Night

Last night my wife and I started back to school. We attended our first class of Dave Ramsey's bible-based 9-week course, Financial Peace University.

We tried this out a few years back, after I got laid off and we just got married. We had a lot of success with it. We listened to the audiobooks and after following the advise given we eliminated all of our credit card debt. We felt so good about it that we celebrated . . . by racking up even more credit card debt.

Now, with a year-and-a-half old running around it's time to hunker down and get serious about eliminating debt and increasing our savings.

So, part of our homework for the class is to read chapters from the book, Dave Ramsey's Complete Guide to Money.

Normally I would have some reservations about this, I'm a very impulsive shopper. But this class lets me use spreadsheets to track things and the kit we received had a free pencil . . . pencils and spreadsheets are two of favorite things, I'm in.

Time to get a, peace of the action.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Book Perks

One of the great perks of working at a library is that when it's time to take books out of circulation there is a huge sale, like there was this weekend. And after the sale, whatever does not sell is available for library employees for the low low cost of absolutely free!

So, after picking my way through the fiction section, obliging my compulsion for giant Tom Clancy novels, and selecting a few new sci-fi authors to test out I decided to roll the dice and grab a biography at random, just for fun.

The result was: Rubinstein: A Life, by Harvey Sachs.

Forgive the photo, the camera on phone is dying.

It's the story of Arthur Rubinstein, a classic pianist of the 20th century. I'd describe him more, but I don't want to ruin the surprise.

While this particular book is now off the shelf, there is another if you are interested:

My Many Years, by Arthur Rubinstein.

There is also some music CDs available that I will be checking out as well:

Complete concert Carnegie Hall 19 April 1953
Arthur Rubinstein Chopin-nocturnes

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Losing my Addictions

I believe in God. If you don't, then that is your right. But for me, whenever someone asks me if I believe in God my answer is always the same: No one could live the life I have and not believe in God. 

But this is not a post about God or religion. I just think it is amazing how God can throw things at you right when you need them.

Recently, we went out to the sand hills of Western Nebraska to celebrate my in-law's 40th wedding anniversary. When we got back I scrolled through all the pictures we had taken. there were plenty of pictures of the little girl, several of her cousins, aunts, uncles, grandma and grandpa, but then I started looking for pictures of my wife and I. There were 0. I asked my wife about this and she said she didn't like have her picture taken. I concur.

I don't like pictures of me because they show me how fat I am.

My wife and I have talked on several occasions about how we need to change our lifestyle to be healthier but nothing ever seems to stick. We told ourselves after this mini-vacation that we would start something new. . . we didn't.

So last night, when my wife asked if I wanted to go for a walk and I declined, we ended up sitting on the couch instead. Somehow, the TV was navigated to a Michael Mosley program on PBS.

God bless PBS.

The show was about exercise and how researchers think we all have it wrong. We stopped and listened. An hour later we both were disgusted with ourselves and our sedentary lifestyle. 

As a result, my wife and I are both starting to plan out our new routines. She wants to do Gluten-Free, I want to go the Paleo diet route. Crazy-talk about gym memberships started spewing from our mouths.

That's all well and good. But deep down, hidden in the shadows, my addiction snickers at my aspirations. 

You see, I am addicted to Coke (Coca-Cola, that is, soda, lets not start any rumors). And every attempt I have made to break this addiction has failed, or has succeeded only to be destroyed shortly thereafter with a momentary sip that sends me right back where I started.

I know that any attempt at a healthy lifestyle is dead in the water if I don't fix this before. So as of this weekend I am starting. again, to break being the Coke junkie.

In the meantime, I have picked up a couple non-fiction books to help fuel the diet plans:
The Complete Idiot's Guide to Gluten-Free Cooking, by Jean Duane
The Paleo Slow Cooker: Healthy Gluten-Free Meals the East Way, by Arsy Vartanian

Monday, July 22, 2013

It's about to get Weird

I remember being in 4th grade (we'll say 1986ish) when, after being excluded from another round of Red Rover, a group of us 'odd kids' got together and realized that we had something in common: a fondness of the music of Weird Al Yankovic. Thus, our Weird Al Yankovic club was born. Of course, all we really did was sit around and listen to parodies. But it was a group to be a part of and that was something I really needed.

This Wednesday, 27 years later, Weird Al Yankovic will be performing live on 9th street in Columbia, MO.

Who has 2 thumbs and will be singing along in the crowded summer heat? This guy!

In honor of the greatness that is Weird Al Yankovic, and the sheer amount of awesome his albums have produced over the year, meet the next selection: Weird Al: The Book by Nathan Rabin.

There are no words to describe the nerd nirvana that will sweep over 9th street when 'Yoda' is played. I'm so excited.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Art imitating Video Games

With excitement growing over the release of Sony's PS4 and Microsoft's XBOX One, I felt it my duty as a video game junkie to create a Video Game book list.

I've already posted about Extra Lives: Why Video Games Matter, and I loved it, so let me present another Video Game related addition to the list: The Art of Video Games: from Pac-Man to Mass Effect by Chris Melissinos.

This was my first art book and it was fascinating to see the evolution of game design. Sadly, I have not played Mass Effect yet, something I intend to fix soon.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Road Trip!

Memorial Day weekend and the unofficial start of summer has arrived. For me, that means 4 entire days off from work(s) and a road trip up to Red Oak, Iowa for my nephew's birthday. And for the first time in a long, long time that I have not checked out a book on CD for the car. Instead, I have 3 eBooks and 3 mp3 audiobooks loaded onto my Nexus 7 and I'm ready to plug it into the car and go.

I'm still trying to come down from my eBook addiction, but I'm not doing a very good job of it. I blame Lee Child, as I was recently introduced to the Jack Reacher novels.

Memorial Day is also a sad time, it means football is still about 4 months off. That's scary.

In an effort to fight off football withdrawal, I've been working on a reading list of football books for the library. It's a lot of work, but friends don't let friends watch hockey.

I think it would be a little unfair to add all the books on my list to the Man Vs Nonfiction project, so I'm going to add just one:

Keep your Eye Off the Ball, by Pat Kirwan.

Pat Kirwan just so happens to be a well respected NFL analyst for CBS and spent some time coaching in the NFL. I'm very excited to crack this one open this weekend. He starts off talking about filling out a roster for a football game like you would at a baseball game . . . You have my full and complete attention Mr. Kirwan.