Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Book #10 - American Assassin

51QGWsWIocL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-76_AA300_SH20_OU01_I picked American Assassin up at Christmas in the bargain bin, where it also exists at Amazon. I’ve loved the Mitch Rapp series, and was looking forward to reading this one. However at $14.99, that didn’t seem to make sense for an e-book. Having finished it, I’m glad I waited.

I enjoyed the book. It’s the recruitment, some training, and the first couple missions for Rapp, just out of college. He’s an enigma, brought in by Kennedy and Stansfield, both earlier in their careers.

Stan Hurley, a friend of Kennedy’s father, is tasked with training recruits and finding someone to fit the role Rapp grows in. However he hasn’t had success with SEALs, Delta Force, and other trained military men. He doesn’t like Rapp, who’s skill seems to be far beyond hid years.

The book is written well, but the story bothers me. We never find out why or how Rapp can fight so well, even when he’s apparently not been trained. His attitude are similar to the ones we see later, and he has a penchant for action, not waiting. However he has too much success, too many skills, that just make the book feel inconsistent. I wish Flynn had written this earlier in his career, when Rapp was still evolving because it almost seems like we have a Rapp looking back at his life, in the best possible way, perhaps embellishing some events.

A Solid Laser Printer

41RaggnhBzL._SL500_AA300_I bought a Brother 2060 about 5 years ago to serve as our primary printer at the ranch. It was a basic, compact, black and white laser that did a good job for us. It seems as though we’ve had it forever, and I’ve only replaced the toner once. We don’t print a ton, but it’s been a very solid printer.

In that time, we’ve had an HP inkjet, and an Epson Workforce 610 Inkjet all in one that currently works fine, but is very flaky on the network. We’ve been reduced during the last week to saving images to a flash drive and plugging that into the Epson.

That’s because the old Brother seemed to die. The feed for paper (auto or manual) just won’t pull paper in, and so the machine doesn’t print.

I asked for a few recommendations from Twitter. I was thinking to bite the bullet and get a color laser, which might replace both printers, and keep the Epson as a spare. We don’t print a lot, but the kids sometimes need color for school stuff, and we definitely need something to print out the occasional document. Usually so we can tackle the process using the antiquated fax method.

We looked at a few recommendations and were considering the a Brother color laser, but it felt wrong to spend $300 for something that we rarely need. I’d rather fuss with the inkjet when we need it, or even buy new ink.

So we settled on the Brother 2270, pictured above. It’s a low end printer, for $120, and hopefully it will last as long as our previous one.

No Skiing

At least not this week, no skiing. I was planning on going Tuesday, but I was fighting a cold and somewhat miserable. Friday was my fallback, but I’m not feeling good still, and there are things to be done, so I’ll skip this week.

Next week, however, I may take two days off. The season is getting late and I’ll be gone the last week of the season for most resorts.

Quick Hits

I brought Kendall home and we walked in the house. I went back to work, and a few minutes later saw her run by the window outside, heading to the barn. I figured she wanted to see Rain on a warm (50F), calm, sunny day. About 10 minutes later, Rain comes walking by my window, with Kendall on top. They went by 2 or 3 times, and looped down into the front a bit.

I finished something up, and by the time I walked out to go get Delaney, about 25 minutes after bringing Kendall home, she was putting Rain back in the pasture. Just a quick ride, bareback, all by herself.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Ready for outside

I’m hoping things clear up and we can have an outside scrimmage next week for baseball. This week we were back again in the cages, this time way up North. We tried to work one tunnel with real pitching, and one with BP, and it was OK. I had 3-4 sessions in the BP tunnel, and threw 2-3 more for a few people. Not hard sessions, but I was working on the step, hold, and the throw my wrists. Overall it felt like a slightly backward step in my hitting, but I think the step will help.

In the live tunnel, I tried it, but with mixed success. It didn’t help that the pitching mound felt close, more like 55 than 66 feet. I mostly held up on bad pitches, only swinging at one outside, and one low that I couldn’t stop. Of the 4 or 5 times I was in there, a couple strike outs, a couple weak hits and one solid shot.

A little sore today from the swinging, though my arms feel OK since I didn’t throw a lot. Looking forward to actually getting outside and fielding some grounders at some point.

Book #9 - Rising Fears

risingfearsA gift from a friend, Rising Fears was a strange one for me. It was written by a friend’s cousin, and it was a gift, so I felt slightly obligated to read it.

It starts out like a horror story, a kid afraid of a monster in his basement. His mother think’s he’s overreacting and tries to get him to flick the light switch for the basement, just inside the door from the kitchen. He does, and he’s pulled into the basement and the door slammed shut.

From there the book follows a few people in Rising, Washington, a small town where people live normal, small town lives. However there’s something strange happening and the Sheriff, along with oen of the local teachers, is caught up I a Clive Barker- or Steven King-like story.

It’s OK, but the writing isn’t great. I’m not sure why, but it doesn’t have quite the suspense or grip of some other stories. The characters feel a little shallow, and weak, but the story moves along. Even though I didn’t love it, the story had me turning pages to see how things would turn out.

An interesting twist, and it’s OK, but nothing special.

Saturday, February 25, 2012


Despite feeling a bit sick, and Delaney still a little sick, we got up and headed to the food bank this morning for a little volunteer work. Kendall came along, and we were only a few minutes late getting there.

Surprisingly, no one showed up today. There's snow around here, but the roads in town were pretty clear and it was a mild, sunny day. In a dozen or so volunteer trips, this was the first time no one came. With no donations, or few, the kids didn't do much but sit around with the adults (3 of us) and chat for 2 hours.

Not sure if that's a good sign or bad one. I'd like to think it means that people weren't in bad enough shape to make the trip over, and I hope they weren't snowed in.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Day 16

Today should be day 16 for me this ski season. I haven't kept a good count, but in any case, it was a great day. Tia was going to join me, but her job blew up yesterday, and she couldn't take the day off. Delaney was feeling sick, Kendall made school, and I left as soon as I dropped her off and headed up.

High winds in Georgetown and the Eisenhower tunnel had me worried, but it wasn't bad at Copper Mountain. A steady wind, but not too hard. It was sunny, chilly, but not too bad.

I hit the slopes at 10:45, and had 2 and a half hours, getting in 10 or 11 runs, and having a great day. Music in the helmet and some good runs. Only two wrecks, both of which were slips on icy snow and I just slid to a stop.

A great break from work for me, and one that I've been able to do the last 3 weeks, and hopefully the next three as well.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

A Depressing Set of Reads

A few of these popped up today on my radar, and I skimmed through them over time. They were interesting, but together, they paint a rather sad portrait of the state of the US.

The Constitution Soaked in Urine noting that we have a diffusion of responsibility in this country, which is causing us issues with the way we move forward. Add to that a fickle public, responding to shallow media, and it’s a mess.

Even Critics of Safety Net Increasingly Depend on It: I don’t even know where to start here. Lower middle class, retirees, lots of them upset about government assistance, but probably unable to feed their families every day without it. It feels like this is a huge rock and a hard place issue in the US. The one thing I liked in there was the one representative saying we should have the conversations about changing benefit for people under 55. I might slide that back to 50 in this economy, but we need to do something.

Hope Corporations Con Congress - This pisses me off to no end. We have serious issues in the US and Congress is fucking around with copyright? For the-love-of-your-diety-of-choice, go back to 14+ 14 years and let corporations make their own way on this. Spend the time on something else.

National Margarita Day

I heard about this yesterday, and decided to celebrate.

Photo Feb 22, 9 03 30 PM

Work, writing, and car repairs all day. Homework with the kids, working late, a quick run, and then off to karate. I got home and walked into the kitchen with some groceries, including some ice cream that Kendall had requested. I grabbed tequila, Grand Marnier, the salt and rimmer, and mixing cups. The kids were watching, and Tia sat there quietly while I mixed up two margaritas for us.

It was weird for me, since I mix drinks like 2-3 times a year. We rarely make cocktails at home and it feels funny to be doing it, but it’s been a long year so far, and it was nice to close down the night with a drink.

Of course I had to check on work, and found this on my desk this morning.

Photo Feb 23, 8 00 39 AM

That would be disturbing, along with the two bottles of beer next to the bed, except that those three drinks are the sum total of my alcohol in a week.

However I think I might have another tonight. I still have supplies

Photo Feb 23, 12 38 32 PM

Book #8 - Inside Out

InsideOutInside Out is an interesting book. It continues the story of Ben Trevan, adds in Larison and gives you more insight into Colonel Horton. It starts out with Ben getting into a fight and arrested in Manila. Hort bails him out, and gives him an assignment to find Larison, who he suspects isn’t dead and is blackmailing the US government over torture tapes that disappeared.

It’s quite a conspiracy novel, with a long speech from Horton near the end on the corporatism of the US, which is actually scary.

The book is from two main perspectives: Ben and Larison. Ben is working with an FBI operation, and Larison, on the run and trying to blackmail the government over the tapes. There are other characters whose perspective we get, the corrupt lobbyist, the FBI agent, and more, but the book primarily centers on Larison and Ben.

It’s action packed, exciting, and maybe a little templated with the girl falling for Ben, but a book I enjoyed, and one that gave me more background on these characters. Now I want to read The Detachment again.


We were supposed to get a little snow today. I was surprised since I was walking around Parker yesterday in a t-shirt and jeans, crossing streets to get some lunch. This was the view from Delaney’s window this morning:

Photo Feb 23, 7 16 13 AM

It was still snowing when I took the kids to school. I actually had to shovel a bit to get to the truck since there was a foot or so of drifted snow around it and I didn’t have boots.

Still snowing now. Crazy.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

A $500 Oil Change

I took the Suburban in this morning for an oil change and tire rotation. I had other errands, so I scheduled this with them, expecting that this one would be a simple hour to get things done. I walked to Starbucks while the shop worked, and worked a bit. After a cup of coffee and 45 minutes I got a call.

"You want to come back so we can go over things?"

That's never good. I was hoping for a "we're done" instead. I walked back and found a list of rather minor things overall, but still a list that was somewhat long, but nothing major. Alignment, rear brakes, brake flush, emergency brake adjustment, etc. All around $50-100, but they added up to a $500 overall. I skipped the plug replacement because out of all of the things, that is a relatively easy one for me, and one I'm not sure wasn't done at 100k miles.

In any case, my 90-120min trip to town turned into a 5 hour trip. Fortunately I'd brought the laptop and charger, so I was able to get most of my presentation done and some writing done as well.


That's what I'd file this Tesla design issue under. Or maybe the customer service that Tesla is providing. If I hadn't already been worried about discharges stranding me, I know this issue would prevent me from purchasing this vehicle. The CS and tracking, arguably not well disclosed would be secondary, but also important reasons.

I can't understand how Tesla does this. If you have always on systems, why not connect those to a secondary batter, like the Prius does? In this way, the main battery could potentially hold a charge much longer, even a tiny one. If the other battery dies, you replace it, like any other car, and bring your "systems" on line.

I would hope Tesla engineers brought this to the attention of management and were told it wasn't a big enough issue. I can't imagine them being that stupid.

I can imagine management being that stupid.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Book #7 - Fault Line

faultlineWhen I read The Detachment from Eisler, the latest Rain novel, I didn’t realize that the Trevan and Larison characters came from other books. Fault Line was the first attempt to get some backstory on these individuals.

The book starts out with an inventor of an encrpytion technology being killed, and his lawyer, Alex Trevan, being worried about what will happen to his partnership status. When the patent examiner is also killed, Alex starts to think that something might be wrong and reaches out to his estranged brother, Ben.

The book reads a little disjarring as Alex seems to be the main character early, but then the perspective jumps to Ben, an operative for Colonel Horton’s secret JSOC group. “Hort” is back, which is the first clue this book contains some backstory I might need for The Detachment.

It’s a hard book to read, almost too fantastic to have the government chasing down this invention, along with very irrational and angry characters. Alex and Ben are furious with each other, unable to get along, and Alex’s assistant, Sarah, is drawn in. Being of Iranian descent, she isn’t someone Ben trusts.

It’s a simple story, one that seems predictable, but it did give me more insight into who Ben Trevan is, and also who Hort is. I immediately looked for another book with Ben after finishing this one.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Dog Park

Kendall asked yesterday if we could take dogs to the dog park today. I agreed, but said we’d only take 2. Three is a bit much, and it would be Uma’s first time. Today a friend asked if she’d come over for a sleepover, and she wanted to, but she wanted to hit the park first.

So we packed up and drove over to the Cherry Creek park. Deuce was so excited, Uma less so, but she did well on the drive. It’s good to see her getting used to driving in the car. We got there, paid, and let them out. Deuce was ready to take off, and we leashed him briefly, but let him off in the park after a few minutes. Uma stayed leashed until we walked half our loop and got near the water.

Photo Feb 19, 12 41 35 PM

Uma was a little intimidated when dogs ran up to her, and she would freeze, but she didn’t growl or bark, and her hair didn’t stand up. After about 10 minutes, we let her off near the water, where she couldn’t get near cars, and she had fun running after Deuce and other dogs. However when they ran through the mud or snow, she’d stop on fairly clean ground, not wanting to splash.

Photo Feb 19, 12 41 53 PM

She did well, even walking away with one lady that petted her a bit. That was my main concern and we ended up leashing her again after that since she wasn’t paying a lot of attention to Kendall or me.

Photo Feb 19, 12 42 36 PM

She stayed pretty clean, Deuce not so much so. However they had fun, and went to sleep as soon as we got home.

Photo Feb 19, 2 12 00 PM


Little sleep last night. I think Uma was up every hour or so, at least 6 times, and at 7am, I finally locked her out to get a couple hours of sleep.

I sense a slow Sunday coming my way.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Hay Mover

When we went to big bales, we worried about moving them around the property. The first year wasn’t bad since we had 8 delivered at a time, and just dropped them in the barn from the trucks and fed off them. However this year, with a hay shortage, we decided we needed more and had 24 or so delivered in the fall. A friend has a similar, but slightly smaller, tractor, and he built a set of pallet forks for his tractor.

We were hoping he would help us, but he ended up getting hurt, and with hay getting in short supply in the barn, we decided to just order some. A little bit of trouble since the original forks we planned on were not being made, but we decided to move to a skid steer adapter, and then add pallet forks, or other attachments to that.

Photo Feb 18, 3 00 05 PM

I’d been meaning to go get them, but too busy. However today, despite waking up a little late, I packed up Kendall after feeding horses and raced up there. We were pushing 82 in a 75 most of the way, arriving at 11:58 (they closed at 12). They’re in the country, and good neighbors, and a guy stuck around to help me load my stuff, and take the bucket off. They’re going to adapt the bucket to work with the skid steer, and so  I left it, bringing back the load above. Pallet forks on top, and the skid steer adapter on the bottom.

We got home, and my first step was to remove the old bucket quick attach frame. Not sure what we’ll do with that, but I pulled it off.

Photo Feb 18, 3 00 14 PM

It’s four bolts held in with pins and they were fairly easy to remove. A little pounding, but it worked fine. However it’s a pain and definitely not what I want to be doing to switch from the forks to the bucket.

Photo Feb 18, 3 09 00 PM

I then lifted and grunted the adapter near and managed to get it attached. The first pin is in above, and surprisingly it wasn’t too bad to get them all in. However that thing is a 100 lbs of solid metal and not easy to move. Taking this one and off would not be fun.


Photo Feb 18, 3 10 12 PM

Once it was on, it looked pretty good. I had to lift the tractor and then adjust it slightly to get the pins in, and then I added the forks.

Photo Feb 18, 3 18 00 PM

We didn’t move hay, but we did test them out and they worked pretty good.

Photo Feb 18, 3 19 20 PM

My Little Rider

When we got back from the tractor shop today, Kendall said she wanted to ride her horse. I made her put a jacket on since it was chilly, and as I was getting the tractor set, she came out with a jacket and went to get Rain.


By herself, she got a bridle on and was tying the line together to give her a rope reign, just as her mother does. She did that and with a boost from me, she was on the horse.


While I played with the dogs a bit to keep them away, she rode around the yard a little, down the driveway and back, working on a few things.

Photo Feb 18, 3 28 50 PM

When we went for a walk later, Rain followed us down the driveway, inside the pasture, and Kendall would go over there a few times, working on some trick with her, and getting Rain to do something for a treat. It was pretty cool.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Daddy Daughter Weekend

Tia left early this morning with the boys, flying to Seattle for the weekend. They’re checking out the city, giving Kyle a chance to check out the city and schools up there. He wants to move up there next year, and this was a fun weekend with Tia.

That leaves me with Kendall, who’s been sick, but looking better today. We have horses, and a puppy, but hope to enjoy a quiet weekend with my little girl.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Ski Day

Excellent day skiing at Keystone with a friend. We met, drove up together, got in 10 fast runs, and drove home. I guess I am pretty fast since my buddy was a ski instructor, skiing for 20+ years and I got down the mountain quicker than him.

Sunny, calm, a great day.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

A crowded morning

I woke Delaney up at 6, but he was still feeling sick, so I let him sleep. At 7 I got up and Kendall complained of a sore throat and ill stomach and I let her sleep.

Uma didn’t want to sleep.

So I was up, sans pants, but with coffee, working at 7:15 and trying to get things done in my day with the expectation that I might be busy with kids and dogs today. Horses fed, and ready for my weekly call before the kids were up.

So far not too bad, but definitely a bit of an impact to the way I normally get things done. Fortunately I have some coding and testing to do, which is less concentration intensive than writing. The writing will have to be put off until Friday, when hopefully I’ll be down to one kid that can occupy herself.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012


Kendall not only was walking better in the boot when she came home, but she left her bag with me and went to the barn to see her horse.

Guess that “8” on the pain scale is now closer to the real 2-3.

Sick Kid

While the animals were entertaining themselves this morning, Delaney was laying in bed. He called last night while I had Kendall at the doctor and said that he had a headache. I told him to take Ibprofen and lay down. He did, sleeping in my bed, there when we returned, and there this morning when I woke up.
Photo Feb 14, 6 39 09 AM
I got him up, but then was back in bed when I came back in his room, Uma was testing the patience of Milky Way, who also scared Deuce the other day. I’m hoping Uma learns soon before she gets a long scratch on the nose.
Delaney said his stomach was upset, and he had homework to do. I wasn’t thrilled with the homework mention, but got him some food since he missed dinner last night. He was still feeling bad when I got Kendall downstairs, so he went back to bed, and I took Kendall to school.
Photo Feb 13, 5 26 47 PM
Today was the walking boot, after getting checked last night. X-rays were negative, and with no swelling, that’s what I expected. RICE prescribed, and I think Kendall’s starting to feel better, and my guess is she’ll be in the boot until Thur and then limp around for a day or two. She was definitely still talking up the pain this morning, but not acting quite so hurt. She certainly enjoyed being wheeled around the urgent care last night.
Photo Feb 13, 6 03 23 PM
She made half of choir, with her Valentines. Delaney’s asleep, and I have a happy herd.
Photo Feb 14, 7 40 04 AM

Internally confused

I have to admit that this article slightly has me confused: California Affirmative Action Ban, Proposition 209, Challenged In Court. The article talks about a challenge to Prop 209, a measure passed by voters that bans affirmative action from being used to consider university admission. Supposedly this means that you get picked to enter public college in CA based on merit, and not on race, sex, ethnicity, etc.

That’s good, right? It’s how I’ve tried to get through my career, based on my skills and accomplishments. I wanted to be considered along with everyone else on an even keel.

However there’s a good counter argument. The state of CA has a diverse population, and public school education (below college) isn’t fairly distributed. Almost half of the population is black, Latino, or Native American for high school graduates, but substantially less than that at the colleges.

There are lots of kids trying to succeed and working hard, but they don’t always have the same opportunities. And by the same, I don’t mean the exact same, but an even spread of opportunities. There are plenty of schools that don’t have the choices for after school clubs, sports, theater, etc. for various reasons (budget, safety, etc). If these are state funded institutions, shouldn’t there be more diversity that matches the country?

It’s a good argument either way. Perhaps we ought to have some bars set for admissions and the lottery out positions. I know that we want to think that merit should rule, but that isn’t necessarily the best measure, in my opinion. There is value to diversity, and there is value to serving the populace in a fairer way.

After all, I know that throughout much of my career in business, it isn’t the smartest, or the hardest workers that get chosen. And it isn’t the highest GPAs that get picked for college. It’s a subjective line, and I’m not sure that considering diversity is a bad decision when the population is very diverse.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Do You Need a Coach?

Most of us reach a point in our careers where we think we can tackle most of the challenges we face ourselves. We may ask questions, we may need to read, study, practice, or more, but we tend to have the self confidence to go it alone, making our own decisions and giving ourselves feedback on how things work.

However maybe there’s a better way. I read this piece about a surgeon that tried a coach and found it to be very helpful. To be fair, I’ve read Dr. Gawande’s book and enjoyed it: The Checklist Manifesto.

It’s an interesting idea. We often pay teachers and coaches to help us with sports, with some areas of our lives, but most of us don’t bother. I wonder if there’s something that’s worth investing in here professionally.

I think there is, and that’s probably the easy thing. Finding someone that you trust to be a coach, and you’d be willing to pay.


Here was Kendall on her last run at Copper yesterday:

Photo Feb 12, 2 57 58 PM

She got a snowmobile tow up from the West side of Copper and then a ride down to the Ski Patrol room where they iced up her ankle. We were coming down a slope, actually just turned onto a new trail, moving slow, and Kendall caught an edge somehow and flipped around sideways, her legs ending up with toes facing each other, bindings still intact. I’m not sure what happened, and it didn’t look so bad with us moving so slow. I helped her up, and she was laughing as I did, but then she was slow to come down. She said her ankle really hurt, and so we called the Patrol

Photo Feb 12, 2 42 10 PM

I get to ski a lot, so I sent Tia and Delaney up for another run while I waited with Kendall. Fortunately we were at an upper lodge, and she got hot chocolate while we waited.

At the bottom the patrol wasn’t too worried, but they did say we should have it X-rayed to be sure nothing major is wrong. We brought her home, iced the ankle, put it up, and elevated it for bed. She said it still hurt today, and wanted to use crutches to move around. With an air cast and crutches, I sent her to school since there was no swelling, and I suspect even if something is cracked or torn, they won’t do more than we already did.

So it’s off to get an X-ray tonight. I’m not sure how bad it is, and how much Kendall is playing it up, but we’ll see.

It was nice for the four of us to get up there, and get some runs in. The weather was sunny at times, and a whiteout at times, but a good day overall at Copper. Not cold at all.

And a fun trip home, with a long “Name that tune” session as we drove.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Book #6 - Latchkeys

latchkeysLatchkeys isn’t really my style of book. It’s written for kids, probably Kendall’s age, but a friend worked on it, so I grabbed a copy to read.

It was slow to start, but got interesting. A house made of a living tree, filled with doors that open into various times and places. A kid, alone often with his father away and his mother dead, gets chased by a shadow and a man and falls into the house. Or he’s “chosen” by the house.

A storyline that you might guess, and one that could appeal to kids with the magic of being chosen. It’s almost like a slightly more grown up version of The Magic Tree House stories.

Some places the detail is light, and it felt like I wasn’t very grounded in the story, guessing too much what was happening, but overall it was well written and enjoyable. A short one, and I think the series might be good for those 8-14 year olds.b

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

32 ft/sec^2

I wasn't going that fast, but I was trying at Copper Mountain today, flying down some of the blue runs on a very sparesly populated mountain.

The view from the top

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Meatballs and Salsa

I had some ground beef left over from a trip last week and decided to make some meatballs Sunday for the Super Bowl. I mixed the following together:
  • a pound and a half of ground beef
  • about 3/4 cup breadcrumbs
  • 2 eggs
and made meatballs.

They got dropped in the crock pot and 4 hours later we had this:

Mmmmmm. We (Delaney and I ) had meatball subs for dinner.

While we were waiting, I’d also picked up some salsas and guac from the store and we had a salsa challenge.

We had (clockwise from lower left):
  • mango lime salsa
  • roasted garlic salsa
  • salsa verde
  • chunky picode gallo
  • chunky mild Southwestern salsa
Delaney liked the mango lime and verde best. I preferred the garlic salsa. However they were all good.

Random video from the weekend

A few random videos from the weekend

Ping Pong with Delaney

We picked up the horse on the way home.

Attacking the driveway markers

Monday, February 6, 2012

Book #5 - The Rise of Endymion

endymionIt’s the last book in the Hyperion series, and The Rise of Endymion was amazing. It takes place four years after the end of Endymion, with Raul and Aenea living on Old Earth, studying with “The Architect”, who is no other than a resurrected Frank Lloyd Wright.

Once again the book goes from Raul’s adventures to the churches, who is still scared of the young messiah. We have Raul going off on his own adventure, losing five years of time debt as he tries to find the Consul’s ship and then meet Aenea on a mountain world that’s become the evolution of Tibet. Lots of Eastern philosophy, and very interesting in how they view the world.

The book has Aenea maturing, an incredible Dyson structure, and the reappearance of a number of the pilgrims from the first Hyperion. Somehow Simmons manages to weave an incredible tale, one that astounds and saddens at the same time. It contains sacrifice, that somehow seems to fit exactly in the story. Inspirational and enjoyable, but read the other three books first.

Book #4 - Endymion

endymion2When I read Hyperion I thought there were only two books. However a friend let me know there was a third and fourth, so I grabbed them. Endymion was very entertaining, and not at all what I thought. It starts out back on Hyperion, with Raul Endymion, a local guide and hunter, leading a group on a duck hunting trip. He ends up fighting with one of the men, who kills his dog, and ends up killing the man. He’s sentenced to death, with the resurrected hunter a witness against him, and is ready to die.

He wakes up, in the old university city of Endymion, in the company of Martin Silenus, the poet from the Hyperion series. Also, it’s nearly 3 centuries since the Fall of Hyperion book ended.

The book mostly follows Raul as he tries to rescue a young girl, a prophesized messiah, and keep her safe as they travel from world to world via the old farcasters that seem to work only for the young girl. We have the Consul’s ship, and Lenar Hoyt from the first books, the latter being the pope of a the new Catholic Church, where billions around the universe wear the symbiotic crosses that can resurrect them. The church has a way to prevent the issues from the first Hyperion book from happening and the Catholics rule the universe because of this.

It’s an interesting book, going back and forth from the church, the moral issues with the crosses, and the struggles that Raul has in coping with a young messiah who knows things, but doesn’t know everything. It’s a wild ride, and one that ends in a climactic encounter with the Shrike, and apparently, a Shrink 2.0 creature.

Read the first two books, but then read this one. It’s great.

Peyton or Eli? (or Brady?)

A few weeks ago I heard some people on the radio discussing the potential end of Peyton Manning’s career with the Colts. Since then we’ve learned his neck is OK and he plans on playing next year, but at the time we weren’t sure and the radio hosts were asking who is the better QB: Peyton or Tom Brady?

I don’t really like Tom Brady. I’ve disliked him since the famous “tuck rule” incident, I don’t like his body language on the field, and he seems like Michael Jordan: a complete ass. However he’s a fantastic quarterback and if I had to win a game, down by 10 with 2 minutes left, a few weeks ago I’d have taken Brady or Peyton for sure. He’s a clutch player in many ways, and he’s a proven winner. While Peyton is a better passer, I’m not sure he’s a better QB.

After yesterday’s Super Bowl, in which Eli Manning came back with an end of game drive to win, I’m not so sure. Drew Brees is incredible, but he’s got a little too much gambler in him, and I don’t know I’d trust him to win a game. Rodgers is amazing, and he might be someone I picked. Brady, despite having a bad game yesterday, is still clutch, but I think now I’d pick Eli.

Among the brothers, Peyton is clearly better in every statistical category, except one: Super Bowls. He has one to Eli’s two. I’m also not sure he’s as clutch as Eli is, and thus, not sure he’s a better QB.

It was an exciting game for me, seeing the Giants up, then down, then up again. The drive at the end had me yelling at the TV, bringing Delaney in from the other room to see what was going on. He watched the last two minutes with me, and it was certainly exciting, us high-fiving as the last incomplete pass fell in the end zone.

Eli isn’t as smooth, as flashy, or polished as the other QBs, but he’s done something none of them have: beaten Tom Brady twice in Super Bowls.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Order of the Arrow

Last night was Delaney's Order of the Arrow banquet for the Denver area. A few hundred boys showed up for a dinner and series of speeches downtown. I was originally thinking I'd come home since it was about 4 hours long, but ended up deciding to stay downtown after the dogs were outside most of the day and I thought they'd be fine at home.

He went in with his usually quiet, subdued manner, but came out excited, so I guess he really enjoyed it. Good to see him progressing in Scouts, and makes me wish I'd done the same as a kid. He's one of the few kids from his group that went through the OA Ordeal last year that's actually attended the meetings and the banquet. I suspect he might be the only one to get to the brotherhood.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Buffalo Chicken Enchiladas

From The Novice Chef, a neat recipe for Buffalo Chicken Enchiladas that I saw this week and wanted to try. I grabbed some stuff from the store the other night, but I should have checked the recipe. No gorgonzola, and no green onions.

Anyway, I cooked the chicken yesterday in the crock pot, letting it slow cook for 5-6 hours with a little chicken stock, cumin, chili powder, garlic, and salt/pepper. It was nice and tender, fell apart with two forks, and only a slight flavor to it.

Today I mixed things up, adding mozzarella and the sauce to the chicken with a bit of yellow onion. Not much, but a little. I had Delaney come taste the enchilada sauce as I mixed in Frank’s Buffalo sauce, and he said it was fine.

Photo Feb 03, 12 26 25 PM

I heated the oven and assembled the enchiladas. Quick, fast, and once the chicken was done yesterday, this was probably 15 minutes of prep. Delaney asked for beans, so I added beans to a bunch of them.

Photo Feb 03, 12 30 10 PM

I dropped them in the oven, set the timer, and went to run for 18 minutes, coming back just in time to see the timer go off.

Photo Feb 03, 12 56 24 PM

Lettuce and sour cream for some, ranch for Delaney.


A Hard Knock Life

Life’s hard for some people today:

Uma relaxing mid morning
Kendall wishes this were her day. She’s got a project for school that she gets to do today, on a snow day. She’s delayed all week, and it was due today, but with the snow announcement last night, she got to put it off for a few hours.


The view out the front door today. Not a ton of snow, but enough, and more expected all day.


Delaney’s car and her kittens are taking it easy. I think Milky Way is struggling a bit with the kittens, as she’s always looking to get out and get attention, but not too much. She spends a lot of time with the little ones.

Tia got a Kindle Fire for her birthday last night. The kids wrapped it up nicely.

They enjoyed playing with it and it's a neat device. 

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Misc pictures

from the day

The trash man came, and since I was outside, he took the mattress as well since I helped him lift it up.

Photo Feb 02, 10 14 52 AM

Uma crawled up in my arms this morning, and fell asleep. Made it hard to work, but it was nice to have her relaxing on a quiet morning.


Photo Feb 02, 8 44 56 AM

Photo Feb 02, 8 43 20 AM

It didn’t last. She was a terror later, destroying more of the scratching post.

Photo Feb 02, 11 00 42 AM

However she did chill with Deuce a bit.

Photo Feb 02, 8 03 54 AM

We went for a walk in the afternoon. She found some snow.

Photo Feb 01, 3 08 16 PM

And was on high alert with the other dogs.

Photo Feb 01, 3 04 32 PM

Pre-Blizzard Maintenance

Glad I went out there to do some work today. After karate, it was coming down pretty good on the way home, about an inch or so, with 12-20” expected.

The generator for the house wouldn’t start last week and so I called a few places. I left some messages, not getting any calls back. I tried again, and got through to a guy but he wasn’t certified for maintenance yet. Only installs. However he did suggest I try checking the air filter since that might prevent starting. I knew I was getting propane, having checked that, and I had good battery.

So today I looked at the manual, walked downstairs, took off the side and looked for the air filter. I went back to the computer, looked at the manual again, and went back outside. I found the air filter, tucked way up under the control panel, in the back, behind the fuel lines. An impossible location, and I’m glad the knuckleheads who installed it didn’t tighten the hose clamp too tight. I got it off, checked it and it looked fine. It’s a sealed cylinder, not a great design, IMHO, but I blew it out with the air compressor.

That was it since the generator started without the air filter, and once I seated it back in there, it started again.

The battery was a little corroded, so I cleaned that as well.

Photo Feb 02, 2 51 40 PM

Then it was off to the store to fill the extra propane cylinder. I’m hoping we don’t lose power, but just in case. I also filled the tractor and the diesel container as well, along with a few other people that were equally concerned.