Monday, April 24, 2006

Now, was that so hard?

All my life, there has been a stigma attached to April 24. It’s been a day I’ve looked forward to; a day that was surrounded by celebration, amusement and merrymaking. There have also been a fair number of these days that were marred by loneliness, sadness at the passing of time and some searching for a direction. Most of that was after graduation from High School and into my first couple of years of University. I’m glad to say that today is about the happiness and that I’ve found direction, purpose and a wonderful woman to share the passing of time.

Yesterday, at my birthday party, several people asked me what it was like, this inexorable march toward middle-age. Having given it some thought, I told them that it took me by surprise a little. I was expecting to take it like any other birthday, just a number going up, not a big deal. Then it hit me. I actually started to feel old. Not old, creaky and breaking down (although Saturday’s hockey game hit me like a tonne of bricks) but just like I’m not youthful any longer. Sure, older people will say, “wait ‘til you’re my age before you complain about being old.” Problem with that is, I’ll never be your age. You’re older than me now, you’ll be older than me in twenty, forty, seventy years, assuming we’ve managed to cheat Ol’ Man Death that long. I don’t know what sort of social stigmas are placed on 30. I know it’s meant to be a transformation from liberty, rebellion and fast times to responsibility, attachment to home and family but anyone who knows me knows that my life has never really been about rebellion, I’ve never felt any lack of liberty, and, quite frankly, my ass is far too large to accommodate any sort of fast living. (Maybe fast-food living, but that’s another matter entirely).

As I head into the fourth decade of my life, there are certain things I can look back on with a chuckle, where there was only dread embarrassment, heart-rending sorrow or some sort of boundless rage not seen since Ben Stiller in Mystery Men. It’s nice to have some insulation from those raw emotions and that pain. Sure, I still have scars from what I endured, but I would be as arrogantly egocentric as I was at 19 if I thought that anyone who’s made it to 30 has done so without his or her share of scars.

Some thoughts at 30:
First love is wonderful and it really, really sucks.
Getting out of bed after a day of sports may just be the hardest thing in the world.
My wife and two kids are the best thing to ever happen to me.
A life without distractions doesn’t seem like much of a life at all.
Neither does a life without focus.
Doing something you love doesn’t make it easier, it just makes it easier to try harder.
The saying: “Nothing worth doing is ever easy” serves as a good mantra when you’re doing something hard, but it’s basically bullshit.
It’s better to do the right thing that’s hard to do than to put it off by doing the easy thing. That always bites me in the ass.
Swearing is cool.

Next up: Sprint to the mini-goal finish-line.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Once more, into the books

The second annual Liam-and-Kim-and-Sean-attended Library book sale took place on Saturday, April 8, 2006. Here, for your reading pleasure, are the books I got.

Stephen King – The Stand
I’ve seen the movie and listened to part of the audio book. It’s pretty good, so far, and I guess has pretty strong ties to The Dark Tower, so I wanted to read the rest of it. And now I can.

Lloyd Alexander – The Prydain Chronicles
This, along with The Narnia Chronicles, was my first foray into the world of Fantasy. And now, just like Narnia, I want to read these books to Nicholas, and Lillian eventually as well.

Jack Whyte – The Sorceror: Metamorphosis
I actually found two copies of this. The first one was an old, beaten-up copy that had the first ten pages shoved back into the middle of the book. There was a hesitation when I found the second copy: I actually felt guilty about leaving a broken book behind.

Terry Pratchett – The Carpet People
This is apparently the first thing that Terry Pratchett wrote (or had published, anyway) and with all the good things I’ve heard about him, it seemed like a good idea to pick this up.

Stephen King – The Drawing of the Three
I love The Dark Tower and when I found my own copy of the second book, I jumped on it with both feet.

Marion Zimmer Bradley – Ghostlight
Kim likes Marion Zimmer Bradley – at least the Avalon series, so I figure I’ll give this one a shot.

Bill McKay – MageKnight: Rebel Thunder
I didn’t know, going in, that MageKnight was a Collectible Card Game but I’ll go ahead and read this anyway. It can’t be much worse than the Magic: The Gathering book that I have.

William W. Johnstone – The Last Gunfighter: Manhunt
I’m not going to not get a book by a guy who has such a close name to mine. That’s really the only reason I got the book. But I’ll read it anyway – who wouldn’t want to read about the LAST gunfighter?

ed. Mark Tier – Visions of Liberty
This looks like a lot of Science Fiction that I’ve read, seen or heard about. It’s a compilation of liberation stories by numerous science fiction writers. I’m not impossibly intrigued, but it DOES seem kinda neat.

Richard North Patterson – Protect and Defend
Y’know, every time I see a book by Richard North Patterson or Michael Connelly, or David Baldacci, or one of those guys, I wonder, “When will they run out of words to fit that pattern?” Because it’s always something along the lines of: Extreme Justice or To Serve and Protect, or Honour over Violence or something schlocky like that. I’ve since come to realize, though, that they’re never going to run out. There are too many words and too many combinations. Protect and Defend didn’t look like anything but standard Richard North Patterson fare but I was feeling it, and it was only 50 cents.

Sara Douglass – Hades’ Daughter
I’ve heard good things about Sara Douglass. I have a couple of her books that I haven’t gotten to yet: The Wayfarer Redemption, the Axis trilogy – and now I have a Greeky Geeky book to throw on the pile.

Diana Gabaldon – The Fiery Cross
I have no idea anything about this book. It has a nice cover and a lot of pages and it seems like it will be about something fantasy-ish. Now, I’ll be wrong and it will be some kind of romance novel that never ends… but I’m interested in finding out.

Elaine Flinn – Tagged for Murder
This looks like it’s based on crap but it’s a mystery and I likes the mysteries.

Steven Brust – The Paths of the Dead
This is the only book I’ve ever taken out of the Edmonton Public Library and I didn’t get a chance to finish it. Now, I can take my time.

Stephen R. Donaldson – The Gap Into Madness: Chaos and Order
I know nothing about this book, other than it’s written by Stephen R. Donaldson and I liked the Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever enough to want to try this one.

Katherine Kurtz – The Temple and the Crown
I have some other stuff of hers and what I’ve heard of her is encouraging enough to intrigue me.

Andre Norton – Warlock
I’m not entirely sure what prompted me to get this book, other than the fact that Andre Norton died, either early this year, or late last year.

H. N. Turtletaub – The Gryphon’s Skull
Another Greeky Geeky book for me to read at my leisure.

Eric Van Lustbader – Jian
Apparently, the Jian is superior to the ninja. However, there are do not appear to be any ninja in this book. Or maybe that’s just because they’re so good at hiding.

L. E. Modesitt jr. – Wellspring of Chaos
I sometimes wonder why I continue this series. Between The Magic of Recluce and The Death of Chaos, this was a fantastic series. Then I read Fall of Angels and the ensuing books, and it took a serious down-turn. However, I’ve started the series, and it doesn’t offend me to continue, so continue I will.

Curt Benjamin – The Gates of Heaven
This one looked like it might be good. It’s the first book of a series about something. But the cover looked good. God, I’m superficial.

Richard Sherbaniuk – The Fifth Horseman
I’m guessing this is about Mr. T. I heard that Mr. T was the fifth horseman but he decided to take his van instead.

Orson Scott Card – The Crystal City
I really liked Ender’s series. This one is definitely different from that one but it’s also written very well. I look forward to getting back to these books.

Raymond E. Feist – A Darkness at Sethanon
All of my Krondor books went away, and this is my first (or second) step in the attempt to recompile them.

ed. Carol Edgarian – The Writer’s Life
Kim picked this out for me. I’m not sure what she was expecting. I’m not sure what *I* was expecting when I started looking through it but it’s basically a book of quotes by some famous writers. It’s pretty interesting, even if a lot of the quotes are taken out of context.

T. F. Banks – The Thief Taker
This is part of a series. I don’t know what to expect but it looks good.

Stephen King – Rose Madder
There were a whole bunch of Stephen King books for sale. Aside from The Stand and all the Dark Tower books that I found, I picked up a couple Stephen King books. Why I chose this one and not another, I can’t really say.

Elmore Leonard – Be Cool
I like the way Elmore Leonard writes. And the movie wasn’t bad either. I don’t know if he wrote this book just for the movie or if he thought it was a good premise all on its own, but it seems to work.

Timothy Zahn – Heir to the Empire
I bought three Star Wars books. I remember reading part of this one about fifteen years ago or so. Man, I’m getting old.

Anne Bishop – Queen of the Darkness
This is the first book of a series. I found book two somewhere but I didn’t pick it up. “Why,” I thought to myself at the time, “would I want a book two when I don’t have the book one?” I’m kicking myself, now.

Lynn Abbey – Thieves’ World: Sanctuary
There’s nothing wrong with a little sanctuary. Especially when you live on a world teeming with thieves. At least, I’m assuming that’s what this book’s about. We’ll see.

Robert Ludlum – The Bourne Supremacy
I’ve been told these books are much better than the movies. I found the first two and I’m looking forward to reading them.

Jon Land – Labyrinth
As far as I know, this book has nothing to do with the movie of the same name. Unless David Bowie shows up in this, too.

Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett – Good Omens
I’ve read the first little bit of this. It’s pretty good so far but I was hip-deep in other books when I started it. I’ll be able to give it the attention it deserves, in time.

Jack Whyte – Clothar the Frank
I really hope that Jack Whyte turns out to be good. I have a lot of his books, now.

Piers Anthony – Cube Route
I haven’t read a Xanth novel since before my university days. I hope it’s not too disappointing.

Irene Radford – Guardian of the Promise
How many books have there been about modern-day people interacting with people from Arthur’s time? Certainly, this can’t be as good as Indiana Jones: The Last Crusade (which, I guess, should be changed to Indiana Jones: The Second-Last Crusade).

David Farland – Wizardborn
I want to read the Runelord series. I have it in this year’s 50-book schedule, and this is the third book in that series. I guess if the first two are good, I’ll put this one in the schedule, as well.

Stephen King – Needful Things
I’m pretty sure Max Von Sydow is in the movie for this book, so I got the book.

Herman Melville – Moby-Dick
Call me Ishmael. I like books on boats.

L. E. Modesitt jr. – The Ethos Effect
I got this one because I want to start my way into Science Fiction and what better way than with an author I already know?

Dan Chernenko – The Bastard King
He’s a king, but he’s a real bastard. It looked good on the outside.

Jerry Pournelle – The Houses of the Kzinti
I swear, there were fifty copies of this at various tables. I got sick of it staring at me, so I bought it and the rest of the copies left me alone.

Curt Benjamin – The Prince of Dreams
The second book in the series. So there.

John Moore – Heroics for Beginners
I was somewhat impressed by a book on the same theme that I got last year, Sir Apropos of Nothing by Peter David. We’ll see…

Robert Ludlum – The Bourne Identity
Matt Damon could kick my ass.

David Morrell – Double Image
This is another guy with the random-title-generator.

Michael A. Stackpole – Star Wars: X-Wing Rogue Squadron
I think I played this game once. And I enjoyed the Wing Commander books…

Sir Walter Scott – Rob Roy
Never seen the movie. I hope the book is good.

Karin Lowachee – Cagebird
I got this book in the hopes that it would be better than the blurb on the back of the book.

Stephen King – The Gunslinger
I saw it and I wasn’t going to not get it.

Diana Gabaldon – Dragonfly in Amber
I got this one on the strengths of The Fiery Cross. Which weren’t much, but the book was 50 cents.

R. A. Salvatore – Star Wars: Attack of the Clones
I’d wanted to read this book before I saw Attack of the Clones but I didn’t. I’d like to, though, to see how they explain away that awful, awful love montage in the movie.

T. F. Banks – The Emperor’s Assassin
I really don’t know what to expect from this series. It sounds good but I’ve been burned before.

James Joyce – Finnegan’s Wake
I liked some stuff of his that I read in University. I’m hoping this will be just as dark and depressing as the rest of it.

Robert Silverberg – Sorcerers of Majipoor
In my hunting-down of the Majipoor books, I’d never actually heard of this one. Does that mean he’s still writing them?

Charles Dickens – Nicholas Nickleby
My dad always calls Nick “Nicholas Nickleby”. I want to see if I should be offended or not.

Mark Merlis – An Arrow’s Flight
Yet another Greeky Geeky book for me to read.

Roger McDonald – Darwin’s Shooter
Whether this is about an assassin, a photographer or an alcoholic, it should make for some good readin’.

Stan Lee – The God Project
Okay, okay, so it isn’t the same Stan Lee. The title (which I’m sure has nothing to do with the book) sounds intriguing.

J. Gregory Keyes – The Waterborn
He dropped the J. and wrote some good books (The Briar King and The Charnel Prince). I’m hoping that his first book will be as good as his last two.

Jack Whyte – The Saxon Shore
I bought a Jack Whyte book a couple of years ago and never got to it. It’s one of the Arthur books. While there are a lot of Arthur books out there, there aren’t a lot of GOOD Arthur books out there. I’ve heard good things about Jack Whyte and I hope they’re true.

Stephen Chambers – Hope’s End
This one, from the cover, looks like a good, solid Fantasy novel. So I’ll probably hopelessly disappointed by it.

George R. R. Martin – A Game of Thrones
I hoard copies of A Game of Thrones. I lost a copy and I had another one’s cover ripped to bits by some people my brother works with, so they could use the pieces of paper for cribbage pegs. (My brother got the bastards back, though. He smashed their board to bits with a sledge hammer. He’s so cool) So now, when I see a cheap copy of the book, I pick it up.

Robert Silverberg – The Mountains of Majipoor
I started collecting the Majipoor because I was intrigued in the brain behind the Legends compilation, featuring such fantasy luminaries as Robert Jordan, George R. R. Martin, Terry Goodkind, Raymond E. Feist and a whole bunch of others. I’ve read the first bit of Lord Valentine’s Castle (which I picked up at last year’s library book sale) and it turns out the main character’s a good juggler.

Ursula Le Guin – A Wizard of Earthsea
This one seems to be a Fantasy standard. Kind of like The Lord of the Rings among others. I look forward to reading it.

Terry Pratchett – Hogfather
If nothing else, it’s supposed to make me laugh.

Christopher Hyde – Black Dragon
The title made me look at it but something that it said on the cover made me buy it: By the author of Hard Target. We all know what a masterful story that was. “No, you should know better!”

Thursday, April 06, 2006

California Dreamin'

Turns out, I'm headed to California on Sunday.

Being the only remote member of the development team is not without its frustrations - not being able to go to the lead engineer and sit and talk through a problem is the main one. But it's not entirely without its perks, either.

Sunday morning, I will strap myself into a plane and head down to Mountainview, California, where the rest of my development team is. I'm kinda looking forward to it and I'm kinda not.

On the positive side, I get to meet the rest of the team and Jim Whitelaw informed me the other day that his friend has a sailboat and we're all going sailing on the Sunday.

On the negative side, I don't get to bring my family. Kim's never been alone in the house and I feel like I'm abandoning her to the not-so-tender mercies of the world.

Plus, I'm going to miss my guys.

However, it's for five days and it will be a valuable experience.

California, here I come.