by John Scalzi
Published by Tor
August 26, 2014
I was worried it would be difficult to objectively review a book by an author I admire beyond his fiction writing, but as soon as I opened John Scalzi’s Lock In, worries gave way to fascinated enjoyment. I knew I was in for a good time when I slowed my usual mile-a-minute reading pace so that I could absorb the humor and details.
We are introduced to a near-future world through the eyes Chris Shane, or rather the vision sensors of a”threep”, Shane’s robotic body used in the real world. Shane is a spanking-new FBI agent and medically locked-in victim of a disease that swept the world a couple decades before. Partnered with a rough-around-the-edges agent Leslie Vann, Shane quickly discovers that casework can hit close to home.
Scalzi does a great job delicately world-building (world-tweaking?) around a gritty and suspenseful mystery. Lock In will surely appeal to both SciFi and thriller readers, or anyone looking for a fast-paced story.
by Meg Wolitzer
Published by Dutton
September 30, 2014
How many heartbreaks can a reader endure in the span of one book? Meg Wolitzer apparently tries to find out in her beautiful new YA novel Belzhar, due in bookstores at the end of September.
Jam Gallahue has no idea how lucky she and the four other students are to be in her Special Topics in English class. Nothing in life has seemed luck since the loss of her wonderful British boyfriend, followed by isolating depression and finally enrollment in a therapeutic boarding school. Compared to her grief, nothing seems particularly special about a class that emphasizes journal writing while studying The Bell Jar.
What Jam and her classmates soon discover is how …transporting writing in these specific journals can be. Each teen has a story of loss that brought them to the school, but leaving their individual traumas behind might be more dangerous and, yes, more heartbreaking than you could ever imagine.
Read this book. It isn’t the “Woe is me, I’m an angsty teenager” YA novel that you are used to. If you are the kind of person who cries at Humane Society commercials, invest in a box of tissues first.
i’m writing a list to avoid writing a cover letter. The World Cup qualifying games remind me that I will be turning 30 during the final tournament next summer. While there are a bunch of things I’d hoped accomplish by my fourth decade, here is a list of what I think I can actually get around to in the next ten months:
- Volunteer ✔
- Run a half marathon
- Learn to cook one new meal ✔
- Brush up my Spanish
- Finish my novel
- Visit my new niece (coming this October!) ✔
- See a game in Detroit
- Plant a garden ✔
- Discover new local places ✔
- Sing the National Anthem at a sportsball game
- Bike the Legacy Trail
- See the US Men’s National Team play ✔
- Get a motorcycle permit
- Change my own car’s oil
- Learn a couple salsa moves
- Eat four new foods ✔
- Sell 50 books
- Paint all the empty canvases in my house
- Finish knitting a baby blanket ✔✔✔
- Winterize the house before it snows
- Not drink alcohol ✔
- Drink water nearly every day
- Avoid the Internet one day a month
- Convince housemate to get rid of his car ✔
- Pay every bill on time
- Not get bronchitis ✔
- Not purchase any hammocks
- Make ginger ale ✔
- Take photos with a camera ✔
- Read 10 new books ✔
Update: Total failures on some, huh? I only bought two new hammocks, though. Let’s see how I do in my thirties.
A few times year a blog or magazine article titled something like “Top Ten Things the Airlines Don’t Tell You!” circulates, claiming to reveal all the horrors that go on behind the scenes in modern air travel. As prices for flights go up and amenities such as free checked bags are taken away, disgruntled travelers clamor to read and share the damning evidence. Most of these list simply regurgitate the same obvious tidbits (“If you are bitchy to the flight crew, they will likely give you shitty service!!”), but one “factoid” stood out to me:
Flight attendants only serve decaffeinated coffee. They want passengers to go to sleep and not bother them.”
This got me miffed. You can take away the free checked bags, tissue-thin blankets, tiny pillows, snacks, leg room, arm room, and head room. You can force me to pack all my belongings into a carry-on, take my shoes off, get a microwave scan and DNA swab. But if you serve me Decaf coffee, all bets are off.
I had to find out if this appalling claim was true. Continue reading
Dry heat is one thing, but I was also dehydrated, which is a horrible combination. Don’t hate on Arizona: Hydrate yourself.
The band applauds their biggest (well, big for her age) fan.
Something to Keep my eyes busy while I knit
This is a livefeed of a drop of pitch expected to fall any day now. This is kind of exciting because pitch is a fluid that moves so slowly, there have only been 8 drops since the physicists at Queensland University started this experiment 80 years ago. Because the drops are so rare, no one has witnessed one. Now thanks to the power of video and the interwebs, think of this blob as the slowest lava lamp you’ve ever watched, with thousands of your furthest friends.
A bad sign for any team
Please excuse the pun in the title, but the Columbus Crew scoreboard caught fire. We can all agree that Ohio’s professional teams are cursed, right? I mean, where does this even fall on a scale of one to LeBron?
As a Sporting KC fan, I’m allowed to be amused because no one was injured. I’m also amused because they have an advertisement for a shaving cream that leaves legs incredibly dry after use. Seriously, just use baby oil or conditioner.
Image via kckrs who got it from SoccerInsider
Call me selfish, but at least a few hours of my life will be significantly dampened if the Red Wings miss the playoffs for the first time I can remember. This is the one sport in which I’ve lived a charmed life, free of the pitying looks that accompanied the 90’s Tigers, Lions and Fighting Irish. The Red Wings play in Hockeytown, for crying out loud. Don’t let them take that away like they took away the College Hall of Fame from South Bend.
It all comes down to tonight’s game versus the no-hope Dallas Stars. Jimmy must be perfect, and our aging stars need to take their arthritis meds and (oh God don’t say it) out-shine the Stars. Once we’ve made the playoffs and Detroit’s reputation stays intact, then we’ll figure out how to inject some vitality into the AARP -bound Wings.
Posted in Detroit
Tagged Detroit, hockey
Charlie Davies went back and hugged all the people who helped save his life and made it possible for him to return to the soccer field:
I was pleased as pie to receive the following email from Better World Books:
from:Better World Books firstname.lastname@example.org
date:Tue, Jul 19, 2011 at 4:30 PM
subject:Your order has been shipped!
(Your book(s) asked to write you a personal note – it seemed unusual, but who are we to say no?)
Holy canasta! It’s me… it’s me! I can’t believe it is actually me! You could have picked any of over 2 million books but you picked me! I’ve got to get packed! How is the weather where you live? Will I need a dust jacket? I can’t believe I’m leaving Mishawaka, Indiana already – the friendly people, the Hummer plant, the Linebacker Lounge – so many memories. I don’t have much time to say goodbye to everyone, but it’s time to see the world!
I’ve bolded books read, italicized books not completed.
The BBC apparently believes most people will have only read 6 of the 100 books here:
1 Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen
2 The Lord of the Rings – JRR Tolkien
3 Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte
4 Harry Potter series – JK Rowling
5 To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee
6 The Bible
7 Wuthering Heights – Emily Bronte
8 Nineteen Eighty Four – George Orwell
9 His Dark Materials – Philip Pullman
10 Great Expectations – Charles Dickens
11 Little Women – Louisa M Alcott
12 Tess of the D’Urbervilles – Thomas Hardy
13 Catch 22 – Joseph Heller
14 Complete Works of Shakespeare
The rest after the jump…
I was a runner once. People who know this always expect me to be good at running. It isn’t the same as learning to whistle or tie your shoes, you can’t just go back to 6:45 mile splits after years of laziness. I hadn’t even bought new running shoes in the three years prior to last month.
Blah, blah, blah. I want this shirt ($25), but only after I’ve started running again. I’ve already promised to start running, because that’s how I justified buying the shoes.
This time I will also do my best not to injure myself in the first month. Once I get back into the routine of running, I usually try to add on miles too quickly and end up with shin splints or Morton’s Neuroma. Then I stop running for six months or so.
Not this time. I am going to Brave the Run, and hopefully be wearing this shirt at a 5K by September.
|This will only hurt a little…
Don’t know if you noticed, but the FIFA Women’s World Cup Finals began over the weekend. The US team has a great chance of advancing pretty far, which is a welcome reason to celebrate after the disappointing loss of the USMNT at the Gold Cup.
An unfortunate thing I realized as I dressed to go to the Gold Cup game-watch: I don’t own any USA gear. No flag shirts, scarves, or hats of any kind. None of my clothing even combines the right colors of red, white and blue with the exception of a Guinness sweatshirt, which seemed to defeat the point. I have gear for Ireland, Brazil, the Red Wings, Tigers, Notre Dame, Kentucky and even Manchester City, but nothing for the US of A. I had a settle on a blue *gasp* dress. It obviously brought no luck to our boys, so I’ve decided it’s high time I gave our country its own spot in my closet.
I’m a big fan of the current USMNT third kit (red! $70), but today the Dirty Tackle blog pointed out the unusual design of the 2011 Women’s kit. They suggest it looks like a nurse’s uniform, but I think it looks comfortable. I’d probably get the Away Jersey ($80), if for no other reason than I’d spill on the white with my first beer.
Sources: Dirty Tackle Blog,
The Beautiful Gear blog
Sugar-in-the-raw vs. white sugar came up at brunch today, so I decided to look into it. This was the most surprising sentence in the Wikipedia Sugar page:
…it is impossible to develop cavities in the absence of fermentable carbohydrates.
Wow! I love the word “impossible” when used somewhat scientifically.
To answer the original question, sugar-in-the-raw, or natural brown sugar, is made by not extracting as much molasses while refining. It is produced during the first crystallization of the sugarcane, while white sugar, or table sugar, is produced after the third boiling and crystallization.
Or something like that.
Natural brown sugar is different from the brown sugar we bake with, which is white sugar with molasses blended back in.
(Confession: I thought white sugar was bleached like flour is. My bad.)
Things to say while raising a glass: Cheers!
I knew a few of them, but am always happy to learn more.
I enjoy biking, but am sometimes afraid to bike at night, even with my sweet KNOG Frog Lights. Fortunately folks like We Flashy are making it easier to be seen on the road. Using industrial-grade reflective material, they are designing clothing that keeps you safe on the road, while still looking hip out on the town.
|Can you see me now? Good.
Follow We Flashy on Twitter
Job hunt, take 139302841.
Work isn’t the cage
it’s the money we hold;
some people don’t mind
‘cuz their shackles are gold.
“They’re bracelets, mere trinkets,
and we know what’s ours,”
cry the imprisoned as
I stare through the bars.
Tho I don’t walk freely,
I will always refrain
from gilding the burden
Of my ball and chain.
The EPL season is winding down with little to celebrate. The same two teams are on top of the table, regardless of their uninspiring play. The middle of the table is secure; Liverpool climbed out of the basement so long ago that it’s difficult to remember that they were ever facing relegation. Plus, I can’t get too worked up for any of the the teams fighting to avoid the drop. I guess I wouldn’t mind if Blackpool hung around, but unless a back-room deal between them and the Red Devil Scum is formed, I’d say the Tangerines are as good as gone.
Manchester City is still in the FA Cup, which I attribute to my recently purchased Adam Johnson jersey. Their Premier League play, however… It’s as if they didn’t want it enough. They played decently against lesser teams, but when they faced the “big boys,” any offensive attack was abandoned. Hopefully this weekends FA Final will give me a reason to celebrate.
Which brings me to Arsenal.
Arsenal had a decent season with a couple exciting victories (12/17 v Chelsea comes to mind), but with those were some of mind-boggling losses and draws (2/5 v Newcastle: wow). They will finish third in the league for the second year running, plus they didn’t bring home any silverware. Years like these there is only one thing left for the Gunners to celebrate: St. Totteringham’s Day.
St. Totteringham’s Day, also referred to as St. Totteridge’s Day falls on whatever day the Arsenal secure enough points to mathematically finish ahead of arch-rival Tottenham Hotspur. This year the Gunners celebrated it on May 7th when Tottenham drew 1-1 with Blackpool, but the bliss of St. Totteringham’s Day really lasts until the first derby between Spurs and Arsenal next season.
Graphic is based on St. Alban. He was one of the first British Christian martyrs and is a patron saint of torture victims, which seems appropriate for Arsenal supporters. He was decapitated.