Wednesday, October 16, 2013

The Fires of Heaven

The Fires of Heaven (Wheel of Time, #5)The Fires of Heaven by Robert Jordan

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

As I continue through the Wheel of Time series, I find myself skimming through certain portions. Especially the character quirks, features, sayings, etc. that keep getting repeated. The series so far might have been a little shorter if I didn't have to repeatedly read about Nynaeve tugging at her braid.

I will keep reading and keep skimming if I need to.

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Saturday, August 24, 2013

NOS4A2

NOS4A2NOS4A2 by Joe Hill

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Christmasland is not a place I ever want to visit.

Joe Hill, son of Stephen King, does a pretty nice job writing horror fiction. N0S4A2 was a quick and engaging read; the characters were developed nicely. Some of the imagery was down right creepy, like fishing hooks for teeth creepy.

I'll probably check out some of the other things Joe's written.

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Monday, August 19, 2013

The Dog Stars

The Dog StarsThe Dog Stars by Peter Heller

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Not many survived the flu; those who did likely got The Blood. It seemed as if the twilight of humanity was trying to swallow all who remained.

I made my way quickly through this story; it was one of those novels that I just had to finish as soon as I could. It wasn't exactly the happiest of subjects, but it didn't need to be, it was fantastic regardless.



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Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Gun Machine

Gun MachineGun Machine by Warren Ellis

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

It starts with a naked man in a building, who just happens to be breaking from reality and carrying a shotgun. Two New York City Detectives enter the building with the intent of taking the naked gun slinging man into custody. A knee buckles and one detective is shot dead, the second detective then shoots the naked man dead. The result of this mess is a whole in the wall, which leads to an apartment lined with hundreds of guns. The detective isn't allowed to take leave after the shooting; he's got to work the massive amount of work he just uncovered.

I enjoyed this fast paced adventure, the story was put together well and the dark humor was great. I'll be reading Ellis' other novel at some point in the future; I'll check out some of his graphic novels as well.

This was a great find at the local library on the new fiction shelf.

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Sunday, August 4, 2013

The Andalucian Friend

The Andalucian FriendThe Andalucian Friend by Alexander Söderberg

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

This book let me down; I had high hopes for it.

The book has a mix of things I hoped would be awesome, a couple of crime families, corrupt police officers, and mayhem. The way the story was composed and weaved together was odd and uneven. Apparently this is the first book of a trilogy, but I can't even begin to understand how this will turn into more than what it already is, something I didn’t like.

Ah well, onto the next one, hopefully it’ll be better then this one.

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Saturday, July 27, 2013

Zeitoun

ZeitounZeitoun by Dave Eggers

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Abdulrahman Zeitoun stayed behind when he should have left. His wife and children fled New Orleans when Hurricane Katrina was barreling toward the city, while he stayed to watch over their properties and belongings.

The book documents the state of the city after the flooding and the erroneous arrest and jailing of Zeitoun for looting. He was arrested while he was in his own home and then transported to "Camp Greyhound" a temporary prison erected at the New Orleans Greyhound Station. He was transferred to another facility and held for 23 days without standing trial.

It's disappointing how FEMA handled this disaster. This book doesn't detail FEMA’s entire story, but sheds enough light from this one instance to make you sick to your stomach. It makes me want to know who was responsible and if they were held accountable.

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Wednesday, July 24, 2013

The Great Hunt

The Great Hunt (Wheel of Time, #2)The Great Hunt by Robert Jordan

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Book two in the epic Wheel of Time series didn't let me down, though it had a few slower parts I could have done without. I can see why this series is so popular: it's good.

I'll keep on trucking and get to book three soon enough.



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Friday, July 19, 2013

Furies of Calderon

Furies of Calderon (Codex Alera, #1)Furies of Calderon by Jim Butcher

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

After reading the first book in the Dresden Files series by Jim Butcher, I decided to pick up the this book, the first book in the Codex Alera series. I was happy to read this and I'm pretty sure that I'll like the rest of the series. I have a feeling a lot of things are going to be reveled and most things are not as they seem. I'll get there at some point to find out.

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Sunday, July 14, 2013

New Spring

New Spring (Wheel of Time, #0)New Spring by Robert Jordan

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I read this Wheel of Time prequel quickly to get a little backstory about two of the characters first introduced in The Eye of the World. It read fast since it was only a little over 300 pages, pretty small compared to the other WoT books I've seen. I enjoyed it, and plan to read The Great Hunt soon.

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Thursday, July 11, 2013

11/22/63

11/22/6311/22/63 by Stephen King

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Time travel, boooo-weeeee-ooooooooohh.

In my opinion this is something that can be completely bungled, especially when it comes to flow and continuance. I can imagine the lines of the story turning into a big knot if things aren't done well. Luckily Stephen King wrote this and he seems to know what he's doing. King must have done an amazing amount of research for this, it really shows.

This was a fun and engaging read from the beginning to the end; this book goes on my list of one of King's better books.

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Wednesday, July 3, 2013

The Eye of the World

The Eye of the World (Wheel of Time, #1)The Eye of the World by Robert Jordan

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I devoured this book.

I'm happy that my local library has such a great selection. I had heard about this series for a long time and wanted to explore it from the beginning. I did no research on it, so I really didn't have a clue about what I was getting into. I'm glad I did it that way, so I had no preconceived notions. I will keep on reading the series; I'm going to grab the short prequel, New Spring, and the second in the series, The Great Hunt, as soon as they're returned to the library.

I've got plenty to keep my summer reading hunger satiated.

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Sunday, June 2, 2013

Eat & Run

Eat and Run: My Unlikely Journey to Ultramarathon GreatnessEat and Run: My Unlikely Journey to Ultramarathon Greatness by Scott Jurek

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Born to Run followed by Eat & Run, two very good motivational running books in a row. I think I needed to read the words in those pages, it made me realize that hard goals are reachable regardless of it's related to running.

Reach for the stars, you just may touch one.

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Saturday, June 1, 2013

Denver: Libations

As previously stated my wife and I recently visited Denver.  This is my last Denver post and it regards beer.  Denver is a pretty big beer town and they do it well and for that I am extremely happy.

Great Divide - Great Divide's taproom was a little cramped and pretty much completely packed when we got there mid-afternoon.  I was underwhelmed by the staff work the taproom. They got you what you wanted when they got to it.  The beer was pretty good, I'd say it was better than average.  I would drink it again; I just didn't fall in love with any one brew while I was there.  The brewery and taproom seemed to attract an abnormally large volume of hipsters, I'm not sure that's a good or bad thing.

New Belgium Brewery - Hands down, New Belgium Brewery was the best beer experience I've ever had.  First, there was the tour.  The tour was awesome, we walked with our guide all around the brewery, sample beer, and at the end of it we got to go down a slide.  Those working in the tasting room were great and attentive to a packed room.  The culture and excitement for their jobs that just oozed off the staff was contagious, if I could drop everything, move to Fort Collins, CO. and work at New Belgium I would.  I think I feel in love with the Lips of Faith series while I was there, the La Folie, Pardebloom, and Pluot were probably my favorites.  The regular line is pretty amazing too.

Breckenridge Brewery - We headed to Breckenridge's restaurant near Coor's Field and enjoyed a flight of beers from the local area.  I decided to do this, instead of going for all Breckenridge beer, which I can get here in Indiana.  The brew was good and so was the food, it was a pretty good place to visit.

Wynkoop Brewery - One block from our hotel sat the Wynkoop Brew Pub that we didn't know was there, we happened upon it by accident.  We sampled several beers and were happy with what we got, though I believe my favorite of theirs was the ColoRojo an American Amber / Red Lager.

Avery Brewing - Thanks to some bad directions for our phone's GPS we got to Avery a little slower then we wanted to.  In the end it worked out, because when we left we were happy.  Everyone in the taproom was great and took good care of us.  The food was taken care of by a catering company in the same area in the office park they're located in and it was really tasty.  We tried several good beers, even a spicy beer.  The best thing I tasted though out of the load of good beer was the Maharaja, a double IPA.  Though I really enjoyed Ellie's Brown Ale too, I was partial to it before I ever tasted it due to the dog on the label.

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Denver: Chow

My wife and I went to Denver a few weeks back and I've been a little busy and neglected to get the rest of my thoughts down about the trip until now.  This post will be covering the food we encountered while on our trip; I'll have one more post regarding our beverages.

McCormick's Fish House - I wasn't overly impressed with McCormick's Fish House, the restaurant attached to the Oxford, which was where we were staying.  The waitress was mediocre on the verge of terrible while the food was merely ok.  The best part about the meal was likely the Denver Pale Ale by Great Divide I had while eating.  The ale was most enjoyable after the flight to Denver.

Bistro Vendome - One of the tastiest meals on our trip was on the evening we arrived, which happened to be our wedding anniversary.  Bistro Vendome is in Denver's Larimer Square, since it when we made reservations we let them know it was our anniversary the started us out with a nice glass of champagne.  We started with mussels, and then moved to our main courses, me: duck leg confit and her: lamb leg.  We finished with the chocolate bread pudding, again it was very good and the service was great.  The next time we're in Denver, I foresee us stopping back in.

The Delectable Egg - We visited The Delectable Egg for breakfast one morning since it was close to the hotel.  They had a nice menu with a lot of good options; it reminded a lot of Le Peep, which is a good thing.

Jax Fish House & Oyster Bar - Again we stuck close to the hotel for dinner at Jax Fish House.  We got in at the end of happy hour to a packed house.  We ordered some tasty oysters to start and finished with up the special of the day, which was seared ahi tuna.  Unfortunately the ahi was dry, average, and not so special.

Old Major - A very hip spot with a lot of pork to partake of.  The service was pretty good, but nothing to write home about.  I picked a plate that probably sampled much more of a pig than I ever should have tried to wrangle.  The food was fine, but I definitely wasn't blown away by it.

Casa Bonita - This Denver area landmark was so awful, that it was awesome.  What other restaurant have you been to that has cliff divers and terrible stage shows?  The food was pretty meh, but the sopapillas were just fine.  One visit is probably all I will ever need to never forget that place.

Slotted Spoon - This meatball eatery was probably one of my favorites on the trip.  It was tasty, with all kinds of meatball options, from chicken, salmon, and more.  I personally had the Picnic sandwich and it was delicious.

Bonnie Brae Ice Cream - This one is real simple: delicious homemade ice cream.

Biker Jim's Gourmet Dogs - One of the last spots we visited for food in Denver was Biker Jim's Gourmet Dogs.  They have a real interesting menu with all kinds of meats from rattlesnake to reindeer.  I personally had the elk jalapeño cheddar dog and it was delicious.

 

Born to Run

Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never SeenBorn to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen by Christopher McDougall

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I enjoyed this book a lot, as a runner there are a lot of things from the book that I can apply to life and my running. The runners and personalities detailed in this book were defiantly engaging and fun. This book makes me want to reach for the unobtainable, because no matter how much self-doubt I have I can always do more than I think I can.

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Sunday, May 19, 2013

Denver: Happenings

My wife and I got back from our vacation from the Denver area this past weekend and I wanted to publish the first of three posts about the trip.  I'll share my thoughts, be warned they might be brief, about the places we visited and a few pictures too.

Garden of the Gods: The ride from Denver to Colorado Springs was very nice with many mountain views.  The park was well kept with a lot of unique red rock formations.  There were several trails and a good bit of horse manure along the way; there were regular horse rides throughout the day in the park.

Goorin Brothers: Denver offered our first in-person visit to a Goorin Brothers store; we'd done our previous shopping online.  We found hats, hats, and more hats there as well as great service.

Sombrero Ranch: If I had ever been on a horse before this trip, I certainly didn't remember it.  We decided before we got there to book the breakfast ride, and it was a good choice.  We got a lot of good views on the trails to and from the breakfast spot, the horses were nice and not too ornery and our guide kept us safe and provided good conversation.

Rocky Mountain National Park: The Park offered a lot of wonderful mountain views, but unfortunately a lot of the roads were still closed due to the winter season.

Tattered Cover Book Store: A block from our hotel was the Tattered Cover Book Store; it was a two-story building full of glorious reading.  They offered many types of books some with autographs; we picked up coffee and breakfast from their cafe.  It was a place I'd like to go back to.

Colorado Rockies Baseball Game:  We were able to catch a Rockies game while they were playing the Yankees.  The Yankee's fans were a bit obnoxious but oh well, we did our best to stay warm on a cold and soggy night the best way we could: trash bag ponchos.

The 1up:  This bar near the Rockies baseball park offered a lot of old video games; though I think I had more fun playing with their enormous Jenga sets.

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Thursday, May 16, 2013

Ashfall

Ashfall (Ashfall, #1)Ashfall by Mike Mullin

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

It's the end of the worlds as we know, the super volcano under Yellowstone erupted and spirals everything we've ever known into a dark place. Chaos reigns in the days, weeks, and months after the event, a teenager sets out to find his parents in Iowa, who left for a weekend trip just before the explosions. He deals with some very tough choices, but finds a friend along the way.

The book was easy to read, it was written for younger readers though it tackles some tough subjects. The author who's from Indiana like me, gave me a bit of hope that I'll be able finish my story and get it out there.

On to Ashen Winter, the second book in the series.

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Thursday, May 2, 2013

Speed

Yesterday, I got up early and took care of my weekly sprint intervals at the indoor track at the Monon Community Center (MCC).  This has become a Wednesday morning ritual, a time when I wear no headphones and leave the phone in the locker.  I try to let it all hang out and listen to my body and just push.

Yesterday didn't feel too different, especially when I cursed the alarm when it went off at 5:00am; I got myself together and headed to the MCC and got started.  My method is to go 4 laps normal, then 1 lap sprint and repeat until finished.  I usually go 34 laps which is 4 miles, signs at the MCC state that 8 laps is a mile but we've figured out it's really closer to 8 and a half laps for a mile.  Anyway, yesterday I went in deciding to just push as hard as I could and ended up finishing the 34 laps in 33 minutes and 21 seconds (Avg. 8:20 mile/min).  My previous best was 34 minutes and 22 seconds (Avg. 8:34 mile/min), I pushed and finished a minute faster than my previous best.  It felt good even though I was completely gassed when I finished and started my walking cool down laps.  I gave it all and left nothing on the table.

I plan on changing to 3 laps normal and 1 lap sprints in the future; that will help push me even further along.  It'll be tough, but what's the point in playing it safe and taking the easy road?

 

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

The Phoenix Project: A Novel About IT, DevOps, and Helping Your Business Win

The Phoenix Project: A Novel About IT, DevOps, and Helping Your Business WinThe Phoenix Project: A Novel About IT, DevOps, and Helping Your Business Win by Gene Kim

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

An IT novel? Yes indeed.

I wasn't sure how this would really work, but really it worked out nicely for me. It was so easy to relate to; actually it was eerie considering I felt like I was reliving the past during certain parts. My IT career has been riddled with some of the same craziness described in this book.

It was written pretty well and was pretty quick to read; luckily I got this from Amazon for free on the Kindle. All in all it was a good find, thanks to a friend who recommended it.

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Monday, April 22, 2013

Carmel Half Marathon

The 3rd Annual Carmel Championship Weekend was a success; I was able to set a new personal record finishing the half marathon at 2 hours, 1 minute, and 32 seconds.  That was about 21 minutes faster than my previous record.  Some of the issues I saw and experiences last year were gone this year, no shortages on shirts and the post-race nutrition was managed better.  I'm not sure I needed it, but I did get chocolate milk and did chug it.  Boom.

It was amazing to see all the support for Boston among the runners and everyone on the sideline.  It was very touching.  Thanks needs to be showered on the police officers, EMTs, members of the military, and the rest of the volunteers who pulled off an amazing weekend of racing.  Again, thank you so much!

My next half marathon goal will be to finish in less than two hours; I'm already so close.  I'm not sure exactly how my time will be for the upcoming Geist Half Marathon with the hills and all, but I'll do my best!

Friday, April 19, 2013

Ascension: Rise of Vigil

[caption id="attachment_211" align="alignleft" width="300"]Ascension: Rise of Vigil Ascension: Rise of Vigil[/caption]

I funded Ascension Online on Kickstarter and because I made that very smart decision, I received a physical copy of Ascension: Rise of Vigil about two weeks ago.

This is the first physical copy of Ascension I've owned, before now I've only been playing it on my iPhone or iPad through the Ascension app.  Since I now have this copy I can sit down with my wife and or friends and enjoy some time together.  The app is great but will never replace the great times that you create when you sit down with your friends and play.

At this point I believe my wife and I have played through at least 5 complete games.  Each game has been different, both in cards played and in length of time.  The energy mechanic is fun and adds a nice twist: you may not always get to use all of your card's actions depending on that rounds draw.  This will definitely help keep each game different and adds to replay value.  The one thing that's stayed the same is that my wife continues to win!  I've yet to win a game against her, but that’s all right because we’ve had a great time playing.

We've both enjoyed this stand-alone expansion of Ascension and I plan to pick up Ascension: Return of the Fallen that will add even more variety and the ability to play with up to six players.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Goals

Yesterday was a whirlwind day so I've not had a chance to share this until now: I reached my goal weight!

From 250 pounds to 165 pounds, simple math says that's 85 pounds ... but it was so much more.  The stress, guilt, anxiety, and the ongoing feelings of being ashamed of myself are gone.  All that has been replaced with a lot of energy, good health, and self-confidence.

I thank God, family, and friends for helping to keep going when I felt like giving up.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Roots: The Saga of an American Family

Roots-Thirtieth Anniversary Edition: The Saga of an American FamilyRoots-Thirtieth Anniversary Edition: The Saga of an American Family by Alex Haley

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I don't think I need to write too much about this story, because many others have pointed out its flaws and lavished it with praises.

I'll say that I found it very information and that it was eye-opening, yet the events are something that I can't quite fathom. I just can't wrap my mind around how someone can take a free human and enslave them. Unfortunately, the love of money and power has caused many terrible things. As far as the writing of the book, I found it easy to read and understand.  However, the conversations between the slaves were a bit taxing to figure out at times. The pacing of the story for the first ninety percent felt comfortable, then something seemed to break loose and the story picked up so quickly that it seemed to just fast forward and end.

I would give this one three and a half stars if I could, mostly because of the pacing near the end. Otherwise it would have been a four.

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It's Race Week!

Carmel Marathon Championship WeekendThe Carmel Marathon Championship Weekend is almost here, race day is April, 20th 2013.

The half marathon presented by The Runners Forum and the full marathon starts at 7:30am.

This race and I have a history.  The Inaugural race was in June of 2011 and I walked and sometimes ran the 8K event.  That was, at the time, the hardest five miles I ever encountered, my official finishing time was 1 hour 12 minutes 23 seconds (Avg. 14:23 min/mi).  The preceding two weeks or so leading up to that event I started walking, running a little, and tried to eat better.  It stuck, because the following year they moved the race to April and I ran 8K event in 49 minutes and 48 seconds (Avg. 10:02 min/mi).  This Saturday I should finish the 13.1 mile course around 2 hours and 5 minutes, hopefully around a 9:30 min/mi pace.

Through running, strength training, determination, and hard work I'm now at about a pound away from my goal weight, in total I've lost about 85 pounds.  So this race, that starts and finishes about 3 miles from my front door, is special to me.

This is the first of four half marathons that I've registered for this year.  My next race will be the Geist Half, which should a great run around the Geist Reservoir, on May 18th.  The next two will be in the fall, I'll running the half marathon at the Indianapolis Marathon for the second time and accompanying my wife for her first half, the Disney Wine & Dine Half Marathon, at the Disney World park complex in Orlando, Florida.

Yes, it's going to be a great year to run!

Monday, April 8, 2013

Up Early

There is nothing quite like getting up at 4:45am on a Monday to go running.  At this point I may have to keep chugging coffee to stay with it, my energy level hasn't bounced back yet.  The good news is this:  I'm ready for my next half-marathon on April 20th.  I was able finish my last long run, 12 miles of glorious fun, in about 1 hour and 52 minutes.  My goal is still around 2 hours and 5 minutes, with luck I’ll crush that!

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Age of Miracles

The Age of MiraclesThe Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I was able to read Age of Miracles during this past Easter weekend at my in-laws house. Between family, dogs, activities, eating, and other fun filled times I was able to read this rather quickly.

The story starts on a normal Saturday that is shattered when it's announced that the earth's rotation is slowing.  This affects the lengths of days and nights, gravity, the environment, and relationships between friends and family. It follows Julia as she copes with the changes and continues to live.

I enjoyed the writing style and the overall demeanor of the book; the people weren't perfect and were tried through a lot of changing bad circumstances. I look forward to reading more from Karen Thompson Walker in the future.

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Relaunch!

It's taken a little bit of time and preparation to get the site where I wanted it; as far as a useable feature set and also a design I enjoy.

Now that I’ve got things rolling, I'm not worrying about bringing any old posts back, which are still on Tumblr, this will be a fresh start.  I'll be using it to write about the things I experience and like, while also tackling bad experiences and the things I don't like.  Hopefully there won’t be many of the later.

I hope to post regularly, so stop back later or subscribe!

Citrix Smart Check Setup on XenDesktop/XenApp Video Walk-through

In this video walk-thro ugh  we setup Smart Check, one of Citrix's Smart Tools.  We used Citrix Cloud and XenDesktop. Here's a ...