Monday, October 18, 2010

Book Reviews

I've been meaning to do a book review or twenty for a couple years now. It started with reading Artimes Fowl by Eoin Colfer and wanting to warn others away from the book. So here is a string of micro reviews. I might break it down into a few posts.

Artimes Fowl (book 1) by Eoin Colfer - Great premise and interesting characters for an urban fantasy comedy but what I want to know is where was the editor? A good story was crippled with countless viewpoint errors. You would start the scene in one character's head and in the middle shift to a second, or even a third, and no, I don't think the author was aiming for third person omniscient. Also the story would jump forward and backward in time as scenes changed leaving one having to mentally break from the actual reading just to try and figure out "when" you were as well as where and with which viewpoint character. It kept pulling me out of the narrative of what otherwise was an interesting story.

The Mistborn Trilogy by Brandon Sanderson - I loved these books. This is dark and edgy epic fantasy at it's finest. The characters are well rounded and likeable. There are huge world changing twists and turns in every book and the magic is truly unique. The story tackles the question of what if the farmboy hero takes his journey and loses, becoming the evil dark lord. It focuses on a man bent on bringing down the dark lord and the entire system by creating a religion centered on himself, and focuses on a distrustful teenaged girl who gets pulled into believing his plan just might work. If you like supernatural kung fu you'll love the metals based magic system called allomancy which allows mistings and mistborn to ingest certain alloys and be able to push and pull on everything from metallic objects to peoples emotions. These books contained truly unique magic and magical creatures. Elves and dwarves need not apply.

Traffic: Why We Drive The Way We Do by Tom Vanderbilt - This is a delightful read about the task so many of do each day and seldom think about. Why do people slow down to to look at accidents? Why does it feel like the other lane is always faster than your own? Why do we drive the way we do? This book explores one of the most common activities we engage in, driving, in a fun yet educational way. I recommend this to anyone who has ever found themselves in a traffic jam wondering what created it when by the time they get out there was no visible cause of the jam.

Stay tuned for more micro-reviews!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

The Family Just Got Bigger

Sorry I'm posting this a few days late. Helping with diaper changes and wondering if your baby is eating enough tends to push general announcements to the back of my mind. But anyway, I'm sure many in the family, particularly those who are too far away to visit have been dying to get a look at the new addition to the family. Well here she is.

Not to boast or anything, but she was the cutest one in the whole hospital because she was sporting the new female version of the Fall 2010 Talmage Signature Series hair style. All natural, no infant toupee, or hair treatment formulas were required for this authentic look.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

On Heroism

So I just finished writing my latest book and was discussing it with a coworker of mine. I may have written my first true tragedy. Instead of ending the book on a wedding, as seems to be a common theme in my stories (maybe I'm a hopeless romantic), the protagonist dies, and not even in a glorious way, sick, alone, and facing an antagonist that through the story becomes increasingly sympathetic to the reader (who also loses everything in the end).

If someone is dying anyway from a terminal illness, is it heroic to die fighting for some great cause? One argument from my coworker was that it is better to live to save others another day than to save someone once and not be able to do more good because you're dead. Save someone today, someone else tomorrow, and save another the day after that. It's better than saving someone today and not being able to save any more.

But if you're dying anyway, you won't have any tomorrows or the day afters to save others. You have today and only today. We concluded that to die having done nothing is far less heroic than to die trying to help. In the end, it is not the hero who decides whether they were heroic, it is decided by those saved. In fact, one could argue that it is more heroic to not believe in your own heroism.

I heard a statement that said, the difference between bravery and insanity is that the brave were afraid but did the dangerous thing anyway. Those that don't understand or care about the danger, are not brave but crazy or stupid. Heroism tends to tie into bravery. The hero is the one who didn't want to, was afraid to, but did the right thing anyway, even though it was hard.

Skate or Die, 720, or Please Just Don't Break Anything!

So we have the DB for the summer and felt we should enroll him in some fancy pantsy youth program to keep him entertained and build some skills of some sort. The first thought was more swim lessons. Then we got a flyer with our utility bill for summer programs and, right there among everything else, was Skate Camp!

"Ah ha!" I exclaimed as I heard the choir of angels sing in the background. "He'll love it and it'll be way more gnarly than that silly swim thing!" So we signed him up. In a way this was vicarious wish fulfillment for me as I loved skating as a kid and not just the video games from the 1980s (Skate Or Die and 720).

We dragged him over to the city's skate park on the first day with brand new gleaming pads and helmet and a five dollar skateboard from the second hand store. He had a good time learning the basics in his first class but none of the "cool tricks".

In his next class, he got a different teacher who informed us that his five dollar second hand skateboard was junk. They lent him one of the school's boards and it was night and day. He wasn't fighting it and could do much more.

The next day he added to his now slightly scuffed up pads and helmet, a totally rad new skateboard from the local skate shop. Everything from the bearings to the trucks to the deck were vast improvements over a wally world reject dropped off at D.I..
So yesterday, I took him to the skate park for some practice time and he was ripping it up in the bowl when I got this crazy idea that I could be a gnarly skater dad since I had skated on lousy wally world boards (sorry Mom, I really liked them at the time. I promise) as a kid too.

So I dropped into the bowl with my son's board and nearly broke my arms while the DB and a couple other kids watched. Dads need pads too... and maybe skate lessons.

Discussing it with the 12 year old Tony Hawk, he said that he wished the skate park had a bubble in the winter, like swimming pools, so he could skate year round because, everyone forgets some of their skating skills over the winter. I had a good twenty of those to forget how to skate, as if I was every any good to begin with. Going to the mall and back isn't exactly a half-pipe. Despite nearly killing myself and being totally outclassed by little kids a third my age, I had a blast on the first actually good board our family has ever owned (sorry again, Mom).

Watching my son go from having to stop the board and turn it with his hands to making smooth 180 kickturns in the bowl made me proud. He is working hard and getting better all the time!

So if you're wondering where we'll be, find us at the skate park practicing our fakie vertical 360 kick flips. I'll just have to get some pads before I try that one though... and a better life insurance policy. The kid, he's made of rubber, he'll survive anything.

Catch ya on the flip side dudes!

Saturday, March 06, 2010

You don't see this on your odometer every day!

This last Wednesday, on my way to work, Sippy the Wonder Saturn reached this magic mile and I had my camera ready and here it is, 222,222 miles! Maybe I'll get another picture when we reach 234,567 miles.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

I Love My Dog

After taking care of two other dogs in the last few weeks, I have come to realize that my dog is actually quite a nice little guy. Right now he's sleeping on the couch next to me being all cute.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Love Her

Thanks Eliza for the idea. I'm copying it.

How and where did you meet your wife?
We met online through an LDS dating website. We were both about to give up on the the site and the idea that it could find us anyone too. It's a good thing we didn't give up!

What was your first date?
Dinner at a park and then an outdoor movie at another park (The remake of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, weird flick). It was on my birthday in 2006. I didn't know why but I felt like I really should ditch my family on my own birthday. It turned out that it was a great idea. I met the woman of my dreams that day.

Our second date was on her birthday, a week later. We helped her get refreshments for her own birthday bash and went to the grand opening of the pixar movie Cars.

When and how did you know she was the girl you wanted to marry?
I think I knew by the time of our ice cream parlor date sometime in the late summer. She wasn't so sure yet. The funny thing was we hadn't kissed yet.

When and where did you first kiss?
She was beginning to wonder if I really loved her because we had been dating steadily for months and I hadn't kissed her yet. It was a full week since the conversation where she demanded that I either kiss her or stop pretending to like her. We had gone to our second Real Salt Lake game and at the end we kissed on her porch. It was quick and short.

Who said I love you first?
I don't remember. I knew I wanted to get married before she did but I don't know who said the magic phrase, "I love you" first.

How long did you date before you got married?
Six months to day.

How did you propose?
Technically, on I-15 zipping along at 80 mph toward Malad Idaho for a family dinner at my sister's house. We didn't even slow down.

Officially, I had planned to propose on an early morning hot air balloon ride in Park City. Due to poor weather, I ended up taking her to breakfast at the Waffle House in Salt Lake and proposed in front of the building. Not quite as romantic. Plan B could have used a little more attention.

How long have you been married?
Two years, two months, and twelve days.

What does she do to surprise you?
I don't know. Otherwise it wouldn't be a surprise now would it?

What is her favorite color?
Silver. She likes silver things.

What is your favorite feature of hers?
She has a beautiful smile but I have to admit that I really like her um... mammary organs. Yeah, I'm a guy.

What are your favorite qualities?
I love her testimony and that she works so hard at her callings, even when they stress her out. I like that she is down to earth and practical. I also like that she is madly in love with me even though I'm not always sure why.

Does she have a nickname for you?
She calls me "T". I think it's cute, it's better than some of my Junior high nicknames I had like "Speedy" and ""Crazy".

What is her favorite food?
I'd have to say sweets, particularly if chocolate is involved.

What is her favorite sport?
Cycling is her favorite. She'll even do it in the cold of winter. Brrr!!!! I suspect if she had a horse she'd also be doing rodeo things like barrel racing. And she likes paintball which delights me to no end.

What is her favorite music?
Country music and church music.

What is your favorite thing to do as a couple?
I don't think there's any one thing because most everything we do together is nicer than doing it alone. I like reading together, playing paintball together, cycling together, and doing married couple things... together.

How old is she?
Exactly one week younger than me, to the day.

What do you admire most about her?
I'd say her testimony and passion for the gospel. It makes getting through life so much easier when you can share it with someone who loves her savior, follows his prophets, and makes the effort to make an eternal marriage work. She inspires me.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

It Feels Good To Be Running Again

As the New year rolled around, I reviewed my bucket list and resolutions for the year. The longer I waited, the harder running a marathon would get. So I started working out!

I plan to run in the Salt Lake Half Marathon in April and the Ogden Marathon in May. I've got a long way to go as I've built up years of not quite exercising enough. I'm a little over three weeks into it and I already feel much better. My inner high school cross country runner is beginning to stretch his legs again. I'm so excited!