Thursday, January 31, 2008

Okay, so maybe I'm still a little angry

I had believed I had achieved a state of Zen when it came to my laptop, the people at Gateway and the state of all things Tablet.

Turns out I'm not so Zen.

I unsubscribed to a mailing list that I found myself on promoting Gateway products. No problem. Then I went back to whatever task I was performing at the moment.

Some time later (a few moments ago) I saw the stupid Cow-Cube that Gateway is famous for. ANGER! I wanted to send off the email that I've been crafting since November. It's not something I'll ever send - it's just a chronicle of my experiences, profanity-laced, with capslock all over the place. It is not the kind of writing I'm proud of by any stretch of the imagination and it would likely have Dylan, Sean and whoever from Lethbridge reminiscing over the whole "THIS IS SO F#CKING STUPID" from first-year university.

I had put that letter away, with the intention of reading over it a couple of months, maybe years, down the road and laughing over it. Nope. I added to it. Then I deleted it. Stupid thing.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Onward Part 3!

That's Onward Part 3 with an exclamation, not Onward Part 3(factorial). I don't think there will be six parts but if there are, then I haven't thought that far nor have I decided to start writing on it.

That absurdity aside, yeah, I'm going to finish my book. I don't know how many words, how many pages or whatever it will take to get there but I've got some sketchy notes, I've got some good thoughts and most importantly, I've got the bug again.

I don't think I was burnt out by NaNo. That's the pace I want to be able to maintain. I think it's sustainable, at least over a little while, if I can a) overcome hardware failures, b) overcome my love of video games and c) keep it to a time when it doesn't affect my work or my family. Kim's scrapbooking table is right near the computer desk I used for the majority of NaNo, so it's not like I'll be completely ignoring my wife.

It's all there for me. Now I just need to pick up the pen (and put down the controller) and start writing again.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

P. S. I Love You

No, not you!

Well, okay, maybe you but that's not what I mean.

For Kim's Birthday celebration, we took in a movie. When I say we took in a movie, I mean we went to a theater to see it. This is the first theater movie that Kim and I have seen together since Lily was born. (I've only been to one - the God-Awful Shoot-Em-Up "Shoot Em Up" with the God-Awful Clive Owen. I don't regret seeing Shoot Em Up. It was humourous. I just wish I hadn't spent fourteen bucks on it)

The movie we went to see was PS I Love You. The movie starred Hillary Swank, Harry Connick Jr. and most notably, Gerard Butler from 300. It was a romantic comedy, kinda. I'd say it was more of a romantic tragedy (tragedy being opposite of comedy, not suggesting anything about the quality of the movie).

It's weird, because a lot of things from this movie draw me back to the weekend when Kim was gone. First, it was the first movie I saw in the theater since then, second, it was the first movie with Gerard Butler that I've seen since then and finally it was the saddest movie I've seen since Bridge to Terebinthia which I also saw that weekend. (Yes, I watch movies when Kim goes away. That's about all I do. Well, that and not sleep)

Some parts of the movie left me wondering why they were there but for the most part, it was put together very well, it was well acted (especially Harry Connick Jr. who played a guy with a social disorder... Brain Cancer. NIIIIICE!) and the story was pretty good. I wouldn't rank it up there among the best movies ever but it was a good movie to take a date to. Especially if you're married to her. And she's celebrating her birthday. But only the 28th birthday. Or something.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Happy Birthday to Sean

Most memorable Sean Johnstone birthday memory:

Staying up all night, watching Revenge of the Ninja. How many times did we watch that? I think Jack Barger was there. That's a name I haven't said in a long time and I don't think I've ever typed it.

Yeesh. Ooooold man.

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Monday, January 07, 2008

Confessor – Or – Terry Goodkind Is Smarter Than You And He Wants You To Know It

I wanted to like Confessor by Terry Goodkind. I really did. I loved Wizard's First Rule, Stone of Tears, Soul of the Fire and Faith of the Fallen. Blood of the Fold and Temple of the Winds were okay too but not as good. Pillars of Creation was good for what it was.

The last four books in the Sword of Truth series, Naked Empire, Chainfire, Phantom and finally Confessor were bad books. I don't mean they were bad books compared to his other ones (which, obviously, they were) but bad books all by themselves.

The worst part is that the story was still really strong. Goodkind set up a good world with good characters and put them in compelling situations. And he still writes action very, very well. And he has neat ideas that I haven't read in fantasy before. That's the part that kept me coming back.

The problem I have with the last four books is that what Goodkind writes about is directly contradicted by the way he writes it.

"Think for yourself" "Use reason" "don't listen to people trying to persuade you, think it out for yourself". While he doesn't necessarily use these words, these are his stances. I doubt that he'd argue with that himself.

He contradicts "Think for yourself" by spelling out every last detail several times. I like to think that I'm smart and well-read enough to reason out that if Jagang yells at Nicci for making him mad enough to hit her, that he thinks it's her fault. I don't need to be told it multiple times in a book, let alone a chapter, let alone a paragraph. I like to think I have enough capacity as a human being to see that Jagang telling Nicci how much he wants to have sex with her is his way of trying to tell her he loves her in his own warped way. I don't need to be told it multiple times in a book, let alone a chapter, let alone a page. Goodkind gives absolutely no room for a reader to think about what something means because he has already driven the point into the ground. These points lose their effectiveness because he has to explain them over and over again. See, impact is lost when there is over-analysis. That's because the action fades in the reader's mind due to the passage of time it takes to read the excessive explanation as well as the breaking of the spell that should be narrative. Have I made myself clear enough? Because I could explain it some more.

He violates the whole "Don't listen to people trying to persuade you on things" by using the last what, five? Ten? pages to basically decry religion. You would think that someone who was so into people reasoning things out for themselves would leave it to you to come up with your own conclusions. But no, if you believe there's more beyond this life, that sin exists and that you should hold yourself back from sin to enjoy eternity in heaven, that you hate life, reject reason and deserve to be removed from his world. I don't know what to believe where a higher power is concerned. Generally, I don't concern myself with those thoughts. To me, they're unproductive and I prefer my unproductive thoughts to be about football. I certainly don't think, however, that people who have faith in something they can't prove are doing so because they hate life. The point is, Goodkind is shouting this from the highest rooftop, trying to persuade you that he's right. Isn't that against one of the core themes of his book?

My first guess as to why the quality in his writing fell so far is lack of editorial control. Either Terry Goodkind got enough "juice" so to speak that he no longer had to go through an editor or the guys with the blue pen were intimidated and unwilling to cut into the sermon on the mountain. Or possibly they just thought that it would sell well regardless of what was in it. I don't like to think that the publishing world works any of these ways and I don't like to think that someone who wants to put the best story that they can out there would be willing to do that. However, I have come to the conclusion that Terry Goodkind was not interested in putting the best story that he could out there.

What I believe is that Goodkind wanted to get his message out there so badly when he realized that he had multitudes of fans, that he was no longer worried about the story. This was about what he wanted to say to the world. My opinion is that when you are a writer, you have a responsibility to the story before anything you owe your world view or your agenda. Terry Goodkind couldn’t get out of his own way and his ideals cluttered up what was otherwise an exciting, compelling story.

It's too bad, too. I don't know what Goodkind's goals are, when it comes to being an author but he could have been the guy who changed the face of Fantasy if he weren't trying so hard to be the guy who changed the face of Fantasy, if you know what I mean.

That said, I won't read any more that he writes. It's too much to get into a compelling story just to have it murdered by a hack of a writer whose ego is more important to him than the story is.

Year In Review 2007 PART TWO


July was pretty big. I returned to Blogger after a month-long sabbatical. We had a garage sale (that did not do nearly as well as we had hoped). I sold my old bike and some books. Mostly I baked under a harsh July sun while reading Steven Erikson and R. Scott Bakker. We also took our first ever family-trip-style vacation. We took Mary-Jane's Buick over the mountains to visit Kim's brother Trevor. Fortunately, this trip extended into August because I'm having a hard time remembering anything from August as well.


We took the trip down to Vancouver and something that I did not mention in our initial report of the trip was that the whole group of us (Trevor, Mina, Trina, Kim, Lily, Nick and I) went for a walk in Golden Ears Park. There's an amazing waterfall there. This in and of itself probably does not deserve mention in a capping of the year, but Nick took a ten-foot tumble off of the path, scraping, bruising and doing everything but breaking bones. Talk about scary - it was time to leave. The rest of the trip was nicer than that, visits with family I haven't seen in far too long (since the Wedding, I suppose) and the drive home was a little frustrating but doable. After that, we found out that we were excused from the money Howard and Mary Jane had lent us for the house. Not an inconsiderable sum. My jaw hit the floor at that.


We finally made good on our decision to homeschool Nicholas. I have to admit, I was relieved. Nervous? Sure. Worried about his best interests? Of course. But it only takes walking back in my mind to March of 2007, screaming at Nick over the course of four hours, trying to get him to draw a circle. Yeah, this is the right decision. I thought so in September, and I still think so in January. Yeah, there are things that he'll miss out on but I think the bad things he'll miss out on outweigh the good things he'll m is out on and he'll get more good than bad homeschooling. I don’t agree with all of my wife's stances on homeschooling or the establishment of formal school but we agree that this is in Nicholas's best interests. Also, Robert Jordan died. He fought against Amyloidosis with everything he had but unfortunately, as with so many people, the disease doesn't care how much you give. It keeps taking. I was shocked when I learned he was dead even though I knew that death would come to him too soon.


I deem October 2007 to be mad rush month. What I remember of non-work time in October is filled with typing out the first part of my story. I wanted to get it finished in time for November when I would write part 2. I fell a little short in October but I included the end of part 1 into part 2 for National Novel Writing Month. (More on that later) There was a lot of time spent in front of the tablet, in the basement, while my wife scrapbooked. I spent a lot of October driving Howard's van. That was fantastic. I would definitely do it again if asked.


I don't remember a whole ton of November. There are a couple of things, though. NaNoWriMo. That's the main one. Kim, Lily and I went to Calgary for a LLL conference. Pedro, the faithful Tablet curled up its toes and refused to start up again. I don't know, really, what to do with his remnants. I want to put it back together but I find the prospect daunting.


I should be able to remember the contents of December. It just happened. I spent a lot of the time stressing about Christmas, avoiding doing anything too stressful and I read a lot. I finished, I think, five books through December. That's 2007 in a nutshell.

Friday, January 04, 2008

Year in Review 2007 PART ONE

So it turns out that there's a conflict between cribbage and the keyboard so I got rid of cribbage. It's a fun game but it's hardly worth the fight. I can't exactly say that I know why this game or the program that allowed the palm to be accessed as an external drive would have caused these conflicts but that's hardly my problem. I guess it is my problem but I just couldn't be bothered by it right now.

Anyway, that rambling was meant to serve as preamble for my 2007 year in review, a review that will, by necessity, take place in hopefully satisfying chunks. We'll just have to wait and see how satisfying those chunks turn out to actually be. There are a lot of typos going on with this tiny, teeny keyboard but I'll try to clean that up and actually get something written. And I'll try later on to get those applications back on the palm and see if it's a memory thing or a conflict thing or a "The moon is in the third alignment with Venus and Uranus so the keyboard was out of metaphysical alignment with the fourteenth house of Sagittarius" type of thing.

Without further ado:

2007: A year in review


January was a month like any other. It was a month where I took the bus very often, I remember that much. A lot of tiptoeing around the fact that Kim had dietary issues, Nick had dietary issues and Lily had, well, you guessed it, dietary issues. All three of them cut out most things from their diet, and that was a serious period of adjustment, but it was absolutely necessary. Lily was getting rashes, Nick and Kim were getting stomach issues and everyone was all-around miserable. Aside from the adjustment to our lives with that inclusion, there did not seem to be much different there from December 2006. It would be nice if my tablet still worked so that I could consult my notes from December 2006 to see if I'm a lying sack of shit but I don't think I am anyway.


2007 saw the return of a Liam-post-graduation tradition of the likely-to-fail 50-book goal. Once again, I struggled to get even half-way there but I have to admit that it has become more about the struggle, the documenting of the books I have read than it is about actually making it to 50 books. I also tried to do a daily meditation - a way of getting my head straight before I started my day. I don't think it was such a bad idea but I have to admit that I should not have made them publicly consumable (if that's what I mean).


In March, I sat in line one cold morning to wait for the passport office to open. I waited for probably in the neighbourhood of four and a half hours to get in. I was the first one in line. The Life of Pi and my Tablet PC got me through the wait. It was really nice to walk out of there and see the disgustingly long line waiting to get into the office. I like to think that they had to wait just as long as I did. But they got to spend the majority of their wait, if not the entire thing, inside, where only the last hour or so of my wait was inside. Still, I got to go home and those suckers were stuck in line. SEE YA, SUCKERS! Bet you wish you were me, now.


I got older. I got crazy for spring. I got a new bike and started biking to work. I love my bike. I miss having a rigid framed bike but this one is better than any bike I've ever ridden. I'll take it, I'll ride it into the ground and I will appreciate the gift that it was. April was also the end of my second year as a Beaver Leader. I wasn't nearly as burned-out as I had been the year before. Maybe I was more used to leading, and more able to deal with it but I am pretty sure that it was mostly just a good group of Beavers. We moved into Soccer season and I was the head coach.


JavaOne, Beaver Camp, Soccer and biking. These were the things that dominated my May. I remember JavaOne being a cornucopia of sessions, eating, watching TV, not sleeping and then not sleeping some more. I really do sleep best at home.


I'm not really sure what happened in (to?) June. I know I was working quite a bit and I spent a lot of time with soccer and biking and I'm pretty sure that I might have spent a little bit of time with my family too but the specifics elude me. I think I was spending too much time on Facebook at that point.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

New Year, New Goals

While some people might feel the need to commit to resolutions in the new year, I've always thought that goals are more important, easier to keep and harder to slip out of. That said, here are some of the goals that I am mulling over in the new year (I do not know whether they collide with my 101 in 1001 or not):

Keep up with putting events/contacts into my PDA. I'm always forgetting stuff. Not phone numbers or names but events. I am the worst calendar keeper known to man. If I put it on there, I will remember, if I don't, I won't.

Start and finish part 3 of the story. I've already started it (one paragraph scribbled in pencil on a coil-scribbler whose location I don't know counts, right?)

Go through with the blue pen and edit the heck out of parts 1 and 2 of the story.

50 books (ho hum, been there, done that)

Bike to work more regularly in the summer

Make my lunch more regularly all the way around

So that's it. The enormous first post of 2008. It would be more substantive but I haven't even mulled over 2007 yet. Should hopefully be more upbeat than the 2006 version of the same thing.

Until more later on,


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