Last of the Books

I now know that I can read over 100 books in a year. Go me. Will I be able to do it again? I don’t know. I spent the first quarter of the year unemployed and my loving wife was given a request of keep plying me with books.  Despite that request, in reviewing the titles I did not have a typical “random books” year where my wife will literally comb through the shelves looking for random books although a number of this years titles were based on previous years’ discoveries.

Here are the last few titles on my list for 2010.

91    The Dreaming Void    Peter F. Hamilton
92    The Temporal Void    Peter F. Hamilton
93    Side Jobs    Jim Butcher
94    Catalyst    Anne McCaffrey and Elizabeth Ann Scarborough
95    The Giant Book of Private Eye Stories    Bill Pronzini and Martin H. Greenberg, ed.
96    Enough Rope    Lawrence Block
97    Daughter of the Blood    Anne Bishop
98    Heir to the Shadows    Anne Bishop
99    Queen of Darkness    Anne Bishop
100    Dreams Made Flesh    Anne Bishop
101    The Shadow Queen    Anne Bishop
102    Shalador’s Lady    Anne Bishop

A few notes on the last few: Astute readers will not that the last book was read earlier in the year. I’m still counting it. I love the Black Jewels realm and will reread this series until the books collapse into dust.  Peter F. Hamilton’s universe is one I’m rapidly growing to love. Jim Butcher can’t write enough for me to read. The short stories were read throughout the year and added now because I kept forgetting to put them in the list.  Catalyst? Well it was cute and if you have cats you will enjoy it.

Christmas Lights

They are the instrument of annoyed half-deity, of this I am certain.

In other news the Christmas lights are not on the house because they attacked me. They are sitting on the downstairs desk where I can keep an eye on them.

Gift list is updated

Dear people reading who send me gifts (aka my wife). My gift list is now updated for the upcoming Christmas season. Some of the additions include:

  • An old school safety razor and shaving kit. I’d love to use one of these for my wet shaves so that I can say screw you to the 12 bladed monstrosities currently infesting the market. There are at least two places where I can buy honest to goodness razor blades for less than half a dollar! Try Fendrihan from Mississauga. I’d suggest either the Weishi or Merkur  Double-Edge.
  • The Middle Length Discourses of the Buddha: A Translation of the Majjhima Nikaya. Translated by Bhikkhu Nanamoli and Bhikkhu Bodhi. ISBN-10 086171072X
  • The Long Discourses of the Buddha: A Translation of the Digha Nikaya. Translated by Maurice Walshe ISBN-10: 0861711033

I may add  a couple more things as I think of them. I’d say the list is pretty good for people who interact with me on a daily basis.

Also remember that used books are fine.

Caffeine-ing it — old school

Caffeine is a vital drug in the modern world and many are the solutions to the problem of proper brewing. My solution? I ignore most of the evidence of the elitist crowd and go old-school, 1940s through 1970s old school. I have a stove top peculator.

Stovetop percolator

That’s right folks. I use an energy inefficient way of brewing coffee. Why? Because that’s the way coffee should be made. At least in my mind. You see, I don’t buy gourmet coffee. I buy either the blue tin or the red plastic container depending on which is cheaper that week. I don’t purchase Starbucks, grind my own beans on a daily basis, or sit relaxing with an aroma wafting from a bone china cup. I drink out of a thermos.  Coffee needs to be hot and bold. It needs to keep me awake and not falling off of a ladder.

Why not just use the plastic thing beside the sink? I do 0n occasion when I’m feeling particularly lazy and don’t want the hassle of washing the other one out. Coffee in the percolator though gets hotter, tastes stronger, and doesn’t rely on plastic construction. Far too often I look at the crap that sticks around the plastic and think “I really don’t want to drink that.” A stove top percolator is easily washed, longer lasting, and less harmful to the body (provided you have a steel and not aluminum one, we still don’t know the whole story with Al and Alzheimer’s).

In many ways it is symbolic of the modern era. How many plastic coffee makers have you thrown out? I’m up to two and I only started drinking coffee in the mid-2000s.

So I revel in my mild anachronistic tastes. If it got us through to today there can be nothing totally horrible with it.

Some job satisfaction

I’ve more or less been left to my own devices the last few days at work. Yesterday seemed rather wretched, I felt like I got nothing done and spent most of my day moving my ten foot ladder around the site into a ceiling space eight feet high to do four feet of pipe covering. Ugh. Today felt more productive but in terms of total footage it was nowhere near my best. The good thing about today was a word of thanks. Despite my own opinion statistically speaking I’ve cleared out 80% of what we need to do one floor. All my work today was spent in a lift truck, er well the lift truck got me up so high and I had to climb a tad every now and then. At the end of the day I was chatting with the plumber foreman, told him where we stood with that part of the project, and got thanked for all my hard work. It was a nice affirmation, coming as it did after such a harsh day.

In other news, I threw on Last FM with the country tag and they just now played a song I didn’t feel like hearing (sorry Shania). This includes a couple of random bands I’ve never heard of before. Good job Last.fm I may keep you around after all.

Bookish Update — 85, 86 …

Although I haven’t posted them here I am more or less up to 85 books. I think there might be a few more, no scratch that, there are a few more that need posting (my short story bathroom reading books for a start).

I’ve read up to the latest Charlaine Harris (I hadn’t read anything since All Together Dead). I’ve come to the conclusion that the Sookie Stackhouse series is essentially a bildungsroman. It is the story of how Sookie, who is a well over legal age naif at start of the series, progresses and changes through her experiences. She may not fit the classical idea, especially given her age, but her lack of experience and ‘condition’ have prevented her from growing up until the introduction of Bill the vampire.

I reread the early R.A. Salvatore Wizards of the Coast books for something to do.

Whoops. One more. Make that 86.

I reread Dune.  I consider it to be one of the few classics, and yes I’m sorry it is a classic, that I will voluntarily touch again (the others being Huckleberry Finn, and Canticle for Lebiewitz). Every time I read it something new is opened to me.

Whoops. Some more. 87, 88, 89

I picked up Summer Knight (which should be my favorite given the number of times I’ve read it) and followed up with two more books in the Harry Dresden series stopping only because I couldn’t figure out where in the hell we put Dead Beat.

And there’s 90. Chronicles of a Vampire. Because I was really bored, hadn’t finished it the first time, and it was the only vampire book in the house that I could find.

There will be more. I’ll post when I find them.

Whew

So my domain and website renewal are the middle of October not the middle of November. I’m back online so email should work again.

Working towards typical

To paraphrase one of my favorite authors there is no normal in our house, just typical. Thankfully we seem to have reached typical again.

The last few days seem far more relaxed. We are still grieving for Cotton but the overpowering cloud of pain seems to have lifted. I was able to mock my wife tonight for yawing like a Wookie and she laughed at my imitation while calling me an idiot. Like I said, typical.

A sadder note

On Wednesday our lovable cat Cotton passed away. He fought back long enough and hard enough to have one last round of his routine. He got Kate out of bed, he met me in the kitchen when I got home, and he hung out with us on the couch.

I’m not feeling great today, a bit of the typical September sinus infection is hitting me. This is when I miss him the most. He would always come over and provide love and compassion if you were not feeling well.

It is so very hard to not miss a creature who decided his sole ‘job’ in life was to provide love for his people.

My sad summer (but with some hope)

Warning: The following post is quite sad and I am trying not to cry while writing it.

The past few months have been really difficult. Back in July we had our annual vet visit and ran a senior blood panel on our eldest cat Cotton. Last year’s senior panel showed a thyroid problem which we got under control. This year’s panel showed something a little harder to deal with: diabetes.

We started off by treating him with caninsulin but it hasn’t seemed to work. His glucose level started at 26 and has been hovering at 36 for the last few weeks. That’s bad. To make matters worse Cotton started loosing a lot of weight. He slowed his eating and started drinking less water throughout the day. We were trying everything including feeding him by hand and giving him subcutaneous fluids. We finally discovered that his sole remaining tooth had been pressing into the top of his mouth and created an abscess. Even worse, we just found out that he had ulcers at the back of his mouth. He’s not eating because it hurts too much. How can you top that? Simple. You find out he has bronchitis.

Saturday our vet told me he doesn’t know what else he can do, especially if we cannot get him eating. Cotton may have given up.

When we first got Cotton from the cat rescue group his mouth was a wreck. Living outside, without dental care, left him with severe gum disease and rotting teeth. He was listless and looked like he had given up on life. But we got his mouth to stop hurting and he slowly pulled himself back together. He ate his breakfast, walked over to the dangling cat toy, worked out until he was exhausted and went to sleep. He brought himself back from death.

Last night Cotton walked downstairs to use “the real litter box” for the first time in a week. He’s slowly eating his slurry and drinking more water even though it hurts. We are switching him to a new insulin when it gets delivered to the vet. He looks like he’s finally shaken the cold.

We’re not out of the woods yet but my little guy doesn’t look like he’s giving up. Anything prayers/mojo/vibes you want to send will be greatly appreciated. He’s a smart boy. He’ll let us know if it is not going to work. Until then we will be doing whatever we can to help him get better.