Wednesday, January 31, 2007

The illusion of safety?

[note: this post was 90% complete on Sunday, but that last 10% is only being done now, 230am Wednesday]

So last Friday I was at the gym (*gasp!*) in the afternoon: Jeopardy! kept me company while I did my 40mins on the elliptical.

For the category of "Singapore", the first answer was something like "About 78% of Singapore are of this ethnicity"... and a contestant rings in with "What is May-Lay-Sian?" I started chuckling to myself,,, bad enough he slaughters the pronunciation of my nationality, but to think Malaysian is an ethnic group? I wish.... Heck, even the whole concept of Bangsa Malaysia [a Malaysian race / identity] has been thrown out the window by many politicians adamant in continuing politics based on race and race alone... so I suppose this indicates that particular contestant is not keeping up with news from that neck of the woods, heehehee!

Then there was a category of "Texas" [or something like that], where the $2000 answer was something about a person born in Dallas who is known for very long songs and the album "Bat Out Of Hell"... LoL, Meat Loaf not only made it on Jeopardy!, he's a $2000 answer! Way to go!

On a more serious note: while on the elliptical, my eyes were drawn to this little girl, probably no more than 5 y.o., playing outside with a brand spanking new skate scooter thingy. For at least 10 minutes there she was, scooting around along the paths, falling over once in a while, getting up again, scooting around, scoot scoot scoot.... and nowhere during all that time did I see anyone keeping an eye on her.

No one peeking out from a window,

no one sitting on a bench nearby,

no one.

Sure, the area in which that little girl played is technically a secure gated area for residents only, but heck, at least every other time I use the side gates, I find them ajar. And for the longest time, the gates to the garage were wide open too, allowing anyone to enter the premises. So if anyone wanted to sneak into the compound of this apartment complex, they could, quite easily. I've always said that these "security features" only provide an illusion of security... so if that had been my child, she wouldn't be out there without some sort of adult supervision!

This did trigger a flashback to when I was perhaps that kid's age... for some reason I think it was in Amsterdam, perhaps my parents had gotten a real bad connection back to Malaysia from Switzerland which involved a long layover in Amsterdam, so they decided to make it an overnight in a hotel in town rather than spend mind-numbing hours stuck in an airport? Who knows. The main this is, I remember that close to where we stayed, there was a playground, and my brother and I played in it [I assume with a parent or two closeby], and I really really really enjoyed myself there, especially on the swings, and it was with great reluctance that I left the playground in order to do some sightseeing / have dinner / whatever. Once we were back at the hotel, it was already dark, but I sooooooo wanted to go play on the swings again! So I asked "Parent, parent, can I go out and play on the swings?"

Any guesses as to that parent's response?

It screams "Don't be stupid! Just because we are not in Malaysia doesn't mean it's safe!!!!" or something to that effect.

With those two sentences, you can read a lot into that parent's mindset / frame of mind, eh? I won't elaborate, but let's just say "projection of a parent's own fears onto its child" features prominently...

Yep, let's just say growing up as me, it wasn't fun. I don't blame my parents anymore for what they've done in the distant past: I came to terms many years ago with the fact that I'm the person I am today largely as a result of all the things they did, and didn't, do during my formative years: if nothing else, my detachment has enabled me to step back and easily identify and tackle the bigger picture, to observe myself, heck to be more self-aware than the average person, even as I battle self-esteem and other unhealthy programming that occasionally rears its ugly head at the most unanticipated moments, leaving me and Kosh stunned at the intensity of my emotions [I term it regression, and trust me, it's an apt term!].

But at times like this, when I have a memory that bubbles up, when I step back and analyse what was going on at the time... it never ceases to amaze me, what was & wasn't going on: did they never think about the impact, both short- and long-term, their words and actions were gonna have??? Then I snort and just shrug it off: after all, a conclusion I came to a few years ago is that they are *so* not worth the expenditure of *any* of my energy. They need to climb out of their rut themselves. If they ever do, good for them, maybe we'll actually be able to relate one day... until then, well, let's just say minimising exposure is the best way to go.

Yeah, that's a downer, ainnit?

Maybe the next post'll be slightly cheerier,

Till then, ciao!

Monday, January 22, 2007

"Hey, he/she looks familiar...."

... or "what on earth would I do without imdb?!"

1. (re-)watching Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story while it was on tv the other day, the character Justin was soooooo familiar and yet I just couldn't quite place him. So out came the 'puter, onto imdb I went... and started LoL-ing once I found the fella's page... the actor is Justin Long, and he made his debut in this fantastic spoof of Star Trek that I've seen like oh only twenty times or so and is only one of my fave movies evah: Galaxy Quest! Can you place him now?

2. Having finally finished going through the entire Buffy series, I'd Netflixed some Angel discs [Season 4 Disc 6, Seson 5 Discs 1 & 2] to just follow the story arc of Spike and how he is established in Angel / Wolfram & Hart (W&H)... and one of the many W&H lawyers looked mighty familiar... again, I turned to imdb to confirm my suspicions.. and yes, the fella who starts a conga line during the Halloween party in Angel has for the past 1.5 years been sharing screen time with Angel [well, David Boreanaz anyway] as Dr Jack Hodgins, or "the bug guy", in Bones. Heh, that's kinda cool :-)

3. And with all those law & Order episodes I've been watching? That tv show has only been on for like 17 years, so it's not like there have been a whole bunch of actors who've participated in it.... not! So anyways, yes, last night there were two episodes with this blonde in the district attorney's office who looked very much like another [early] Angel character... looked her up, and whaddaya know, I was right, she was Detective Kate Lockley, remember her?

... and before you think I'm sadly always spot on for these "he/she looks familiar" incidents, I also struck out recently: another Law & Order person looked familiar, the one who's currently playing A.D.A. Alexandra Borgia [Annie Parisse] but nothing on her filmography says anything to me... finally figured out that she kinda looks like that actress, over at Without A Trace... agree or not?

... and last night The Dresden Files debuted on the Sci-Fi channel... of course, I didn't see it [I'm not gonna sign us up for a majorly expanded cable package *just* for that one channel, y'know!]. No big, it'll come out on DVD soon enough, LoL! Hopefully it gets renewed beyond its original order of 11 episodes, y'know? Then again, depends on the response... and from what I've read in the forum, there are those who totally hate that it's nothing like the book, and others who wanna give it a chance... either way, I'll get around to watching it, one day.

Till then? I'll continue doing what I do best: being a jobless bum & lovin' it!

Cheers!

Thursday, January 18, 2007

The Dresden Files, and other random jottings

crossword update: [for Kim, who asked if WordPlay gave tips on how to actually solve the puzzles {no, it didn't}] the trick is to have a pretty good/wide vocabulary.. but you also need to have that creative/twist that can match the clues to the answer. then again, do crosswords long/often/frequently enough, you begin to recognise common answers [for example, almost every puzzle I've done in the past 2 weeks have had "ade" in it, as in lemonADE, as in "summer cooler", or some clue like that...]... so if you wanna start, pick up a book of easy/medium puzzles and start from there...

telly update: we have cable! we finally bit the bullet and signed up for Comcast's Enhanced Cable package... aaaaand I've been sucked into watching all those CSI and Law & Order shows... and you know you've been watching too many of those when you dream about fingerprinting a hand/severed arm, LoL! One thing that is kinda disappointing me, though: this package we got doesn't include the Sci-Fi channel... but that doesn't stop me from seeing all those previews/teasers for The Dresden Files which starts this Sunday on Sci-Fi, sob sob sob!! Anyone able to record it for me? *flutters eyelashes*

weirdness update: got tagged by Adam to do this weird meme, but I've done it before ... okay so that time it was five weird things, now it's six, so I should add another? Hmmmmmm.... so many things to choose from, but which ones are "Safe" to be shared?? LoL!! Seriously... I thought about it, but nothing popped out at me... so maybe readers can delurk and tell me what else you find weird about me instead? :-)

sleep update: insomnia and totally screwed up sleeping times have been plaguing me this month... mainly to blame is Kosh's "night float" assignment this month, where he's on duty 6pm to 6am. Yes, read that again: 6pm to 6am. Totally screws up both our days! Add to *that* the availability of semi-decent tv programs at hours where previously I'd be *forced* to go to sleep because there'd be absolutely nothing to watch except infomercials, so I end up zombied out in front of the boob tube watching episode after episode of CSI:Miami on A&E even though David Caruso overacts & overdramatizes waaaaaaaay worse than Shatner ever did Kirk in Star Trek...

... and with all this funky screwy schedule, I've not been online / surfing / reading & commenting on blogs / posting my own blog posts the way I used to... miss me?

anyways... it's now past 2am... will try to hit the hay... g'nite!

Friday, January 12, 2007

Clue: little lower, 4 letters

When my first "serious" [read: a documentary!] Netflix disc arrived last week, I did wonder if I was going to like it or not... but my fears were quickly put to rest. Sure, it went a bit too long in one or two places, but overall, WordPlay gives a fascinating peek into the world of ...

CROSSWORD PUZZLES

Yup, crossword puzzles! Yes, I *am* a bit of a geek!
Some learnings and random thoughts that went through my head while watching WordPlay:
  • Wow, there really are some very. intense. crossword puzzle people out there
  • There is some sort of cult surrounding the New York Times' puzzle
  • Crosswords in the early part of the week are easy, crosswords at the end of the week are difficult
  • I want to be a puzzle constructor!!!! Waaaaaahhhhhhhhhh!!!!

Crossword puzzles have surrounded me from the beginning: Until her eyesight failed her, my Swiss grandmother did her daily crossword puzzles religiously. And at my parents' place, Section Two of The Star newspaper gets cannibalised at the end of the day, folded just so, and piled up in the bathroom or on the bedside table of - my father.

Me, I've tried to tackle crossword puzzles before, but never got too far. The clues were usually totally indecipherable to me. Unless they were of the very easy just-think-of-a-synonym type puzzles. But those abstract anagram type things, gah!! And it's those abstract anagram type clues that plague most of The Star's puzzles, brrrrrrr!!

I don't think I *liked* liked word play games, but I didn't mind challenging myself at Scrabble once in a while. Until 2002 or so, when I started playing against an ex of mine, and he kept winning! What a blow to my Leo pride!! So I got hold of a PC Scrabble game, found out about these special 2-letter words like aa*, ae**, oe***, "Q"-words without "u"****, learnt lots of strategy, was glued to the PC for hours on end playing versus the computer, and improved considerably. I also got myself a Scrabble Dictionary, that's how driven I was to get better at the game!

On a roll, wanting to keep that aspect of my mental capacity primed, I started to do all the puzzles found in the [old] Malay Mail: they had a Scrabble-related thing [I usually managed to score above par, whoohoo!], a "Word Wheel" [find as many words from the 7 or 8 letters provided, bonus if you found a word using all those letters], and a very simple crossword puzzle. This usually got me though my lunch hour of work while sitting in "my" corner of the Coffee Bean :-)

I dabbled a bit in Word Racer [I think, an online version of Boggle on Yahoo!Games], but while I knew there were lots of more experienced people out there, my lack of typing speed certainly impacted my already slow-compared-to-others performance, so I didn't bother too much with it.

Fast forward to recent years: Unfortunately, Kosh isn't a fan of word games - too much thinking :p I understand, though - he's on his feet and having to keep mentally alert for hours and hours on end, so he doesn't view Scrabble [nor Boggle!] as fun *or* relaxing. Didn't help that I was also totally kicking his butt despite a few years' hiatus from the game, heeheee! So even though we did buy ourselves a Scrabble game, we haven't touched it for aaaaaages [and I don't insist, even though I miss it!].

In August '05 I started keeping my brain challenged with sudoku, although I got kinda bored with it soon after I started cracking the "evil" ones relatively easily [end '05 / early '06]. I then moved on to KAKURO - it uses pure logic, just like Sudoku, but it also involves a bit of math. It's awesome! I'm at the stage where I can breeze through the easy and medium levels, get challenged at the hard level, and usually get stumped at the expert/challenger levels. I carry a "Kakuro To Go" book in my bag so I can easily whip it out if I've got time to kill when out and about.

But Sudoku and Kakuro deal with logic and the left brain... crosswords deal with words in a creative manner, engaging the other side of the brain...

... and after watching WordPlay I had this lingering itch to set my brain working on crossword puzzles despite my earlier lack of real success. Since Sunday, I've been visiting Dell Magazines [gotta love the 'net!!] and trying out their daily crossword. And yes, they too have this early=easy, late=hard thing because that Sunday puzzle I started with was almost impossible [more on that in the next paragraph], but Mon - Wed was easy, Thurs was a bit challenging, and today's puzzle is just as bad as Sunday's!!

A very useful resource I found [only yesterday!] to help me: One Across. Without it, I wouldn't have last Sunday's puzzle completed [well, *almost* completed: I didn't get back to the website in time to view the answer, so there's one little corner that just. doesn't. quite. work. ... oh well!].

So there you have it... my most current/recent time usage method.

... ... ... And, have you thought about the answer to clue that's the title of this post?

I'll tell ya in the comments.

Cheers!

NOTE:
    * aa = n rough, cindery lava
    ** ae = adj one
    *** oe = n a whirlwind off the Faeroe islands
    **** all i remember is qat but there are more, trust me...

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

kitchen experimentation

Experiment Number One:
    If you pick up a bottle of Pace Hot Chunky Salsa, you might see on its label a recipe for a Southwestern Beef Stew or something like that. Last week, I decided to try it out. This was as I was at the grocery store and had picked up a bottle of Pace & had the list of ingredients right there ;-) Ended up gathering everything except cumin, since I wasn't sure if we already had that or not [we didn't. oh well!]. The next day, I got everything together, doubled the amount of green peppers, added onions and yellow peppers, cooked as per the recipe.

    The result?

    Well, let's just say I think I might have sprained my shoulder I was patting myself on the back so much, LoL!

    Seriously - that is such a simple recipe, but it makes a great meal! The only drawback is that the supposed 6 servings actually make 3 servings in this Naranek household. So, on my next grocery trip? Bought DOUBLE the meat & beef broth. Next week, we'll see if a double portion tastes as good ;-)

Experiment number Two:
    I've used Onion Soup Mix as a "shake and bake" type thing on chicken and fish in the past few months. But on each pack, they had this recipe for meatloaf which kept calling out to me. Not just because it's "Meat Loaf" lah, but because it looked really simple. So, decided to try THAT out. I already knew that the 2 lbs of ground beef was not going to happen: I made it 1 lb of ground beef and 1 lb of ground turkey instead. I also added I stalk of celery - cut really small, of course. Mixing everything homogeneously took a while, but was fun. Final customization: Kosh, lover of hard-boiled eggs that he is, suggested adding a hard boiled egg or two into the "loaf" as per a family tradition or something.

    The result?

    A slightly crumbly meatloaf, without an overwhelmingly "dead cow" taste, nice and juicy, excellent taste... yup, yet another successful experiment!

    We still have half the loaf in the fridge. We'll probably tackle that this weekend.

So yeah - two recent kitchen experiments that went really really well :-)

Oh, but before you jump to conclusions: while I've only had the one unsuccessful experiment result so far [involving squash and fish - tasteless, urgh!], I'm certainly no expert, and don't even pretend to be. And I'm certainly not one who willingly does things in the kitchen on a regular basis! But yes, occasionally I get bitten by the food experimentation bug... and I gotta say, it does help to have an extremely willing and undiscerning victim like Kosh [he didn't think the fish and squash was *that* much of a disaster, that weirdo!] to partake of these experiments.

And that we have a dishwasher that isn't me.

And even more: this recent spate of bug bites has helped reduce the number of times per week we end up eating food from my fave Thai restaurant [or Mexican. or Chinese.] That should help reduce the grease and carb consumption, eh?

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

2006 books (Part 2)

HAPPY 2007, EVERYBODY!
May the year be challenging yet fulfilling for you and yours.

I'm not one to bother recapping the past year. Neither am I one to make/publicise any resolutions... but I *do* have *some* unfinished business for 2006: my book list!

Refresh you memory of Part 1 here: there were 48 books in that list. How many did I consume in the second half of this year? Read on (or cheat and keep hitting PgDn) and find out....

July
  1. The Curse of Chalion - Lois McMaster Bujold
    A reread. It was great to revisit the realm where they believe in the five aspects of God - Father, Mother, Daugher, Son, and [wait for it..] Bastard! On one hand it's a typical fantasy tale of power struggles and magic, but on the other hand it's told in a way that's different enough to be recommended.

  2. Paladin of Souls - Lois McMaster Bujold
    A reread. This is not so much a sequel to The Curse of Chalion, as a spin-off: a character who didn't get too much page time in the first book gets a tale all to herself - a tale of redemption, of rebirth, of faith. And the Bastard features prominently. Excellent!

  3. Smoke and Shadows - Tanya Huff
    Eh. So the ex-lover of a vampire is trying to make it in showbiz, the studio where he works actually has a female wizard in charge of special effects, and a bad guy from another dimension is about to open a doorway into this world. Sounds good, but falls kinda flat.

  4. The Magicians' Guild - Trudi Canavan
    A street urchin unexpectedly discovers she has magic talents when she throws a rock at shielded magicians - and strikes home! The fugitive needs to control her abilities - so should she be fleeing or enrolling in the Magician's Guild?

  5. Stolen - Kelly Armstrong
    Werewolves exist. So do real witches, half-breed demons, and other "special" "species". And some bored rich dude with too much time on his hands likes to capture them, release them in a controlled environment, and hunt them down. This time, he captured the wrong werewolf, and while her people on the outside try to figure out where she is being held, she has to keep on her toes to stay alive. Not too bad, I'll look into more by this author.

  6. The Novice - Trudi Canavan
    Book 2. Sonea starts her life as a novice in the Magician's Guild, and faces the usual outsider alienation and bullying; but that's nothing compared to the secret she holds about the High Lord of the Magicians - is he actually a Black Magic practitioner?

  7. The Black Echo - Michael Connelly
    A reread. The first Harry Bosch novel introduces us to Harry, who is in disgrace because he'd shot a suspected serial murderer who was later found to be reaching for his wig, not a gun. A body stuffed into a drainpipe leads to Vietnam and diamonds. Gritty. Realistic.

  8. The Black Ice - Michael Connelly
    A reread. The second Harry Bosch novel deals mainly with drug trafficking in Mexico, but it's certainly not a straightforward tale.

  9. The Concrete Blonde - Michael Connelly
    A reread. The third Harry Bosch novel sees Harry in court facing a civil suit brought by the family of the suspected serial killer he'd shot dead a few years earlier. But a mysterious tip yields a previously undiscovered body, same M. O., but killed well after Harry's victim had been shot. So did he shoot the wrong person? Is the killer still out there?

  10. The Last Coyote - Michael Connelly
    A reread. In the fourth Harry Bosch novel, Harry is suspended for having attacked his boss. So he turns his attention to solving the murder of his mother - unsolved for over 30 years. While he finally gets to the answer, the journey there may have extreme consequences.

  11. Dragon Prince - Melanie Rawn
    A reread. Book One of the Dragon Prince trilogy. Dragons. A young prince needing to outsmart and outmanouver older and more established rivals. A wife with sunrunning abilities. Typical fantasy stuff.

  12. Dead Beat - Jim Butcher
    Book 7 of the Harry Dresden files. Harry is blackmailed into finding The Word of Kemmler, but this turns out to be an extremely hazardous task, what with a whole bunch of necromancers also wanting the same thing. An explosive and high tension tale.

  13. The High Lord - Trudi Canavan
    Book 3. Does an ancient enemy gather its forces - an enemy forgotten or dismissed too easily by the Guild Magicians? Sonea needs to trust the High Lord even as he introduces her to the forbidden Black Magic.

  14. On a Pale Horse - Piers Anthony
    Incarnations of Immortality Book 1. My favourite of the entire series - dealing with Death.

  15. Bearing An Hourglass - Piers Anthony
    Incarnations of Immortality Book 2. The most confusing of the series - so Chronos lives life backwards?? Eh??

  16. With a Tangled Skein - Piers Anthony
    Incarnations of Immortality Book 3. By the time you reach this book, you realise that it's pretty much the same formula - mortal becomes an Incarnation. satan messes with new Incarnation. New Incarnation needs to see though his lies all by him/herself. Satan thwarted. This one deals with one of the Incarnations of Fate.

  17. Wielding a Red Sword - Piers Anthony
    Incarnations of Immortality Book 4. Dealing with the Incarnation of War... and you meet sning again / for the first time. Hmmmmm....

  18. Being a Green Mother - Piers Anthony
    Incarnations of Immortality Book 5. Things seem to run in the family, and you start to wonder about Piers Anthony's overall story arc... this tale has a slightly different twist, and you get to see Satan through new eyes - just how human is he?

  19. For Love of Evil - Piers Anthony
    Incarnations of Immortality Book 6. The story of how the "current" Incarnation of Evil got into his office. Showing how "human" he is, and painting him not as a pure evil person, but, strangely enough, someone who is just doing his job.

    [Didn't get to touch Book 7 before leaving Malaysia, pity! I vaguely remember how everything is finally brought together by the tale dealing with the Incarnation of Good, i.e. God]


    August
  20. The Book of Divination - Ann Fiery
    Eh. Meant to read-read, ended up skimming it instead. This overview of divination is really not worth a read: if you want to know details of various methods of divination, might be better to get a specialised book.

    (Yes, only one pseudo-read for this month - but hey, it *was* my first month back in the U.S.! Had better things to do than read!!)


    September
    *gasp!* didn't read a single book this month!! *gasp!!!* I had a good reason ;-)


    October
  21. The Lincoln Lawyer - Michael Connelly
    A rare non-Harry Bosch novel, but it's still set in Boschland since the protagonist Mickey Haller is Harry's half brother, after all! [More at FWDT]

  22. Life of Pi - Yann Martel
    A fantastic tale that had me searching the net to figure out if it was really fiction, or actually based on real life! Thought-provoking, and not for anyone who doesn't like to be challenged. [More at FWDT]

  23. Sunstroke - Jesse Kellerman
    The first novel by the son of Jonathan and Faye Kellerman isn't too bad. Perhaps a bit too convoluted, as if the author was trying to be a bit too clever with the plot twists and turns, but a relatively good read nonetheless. [More at FWDT]

  24. The Secret Life of Bees - Sue Monk Kidd
    Lily Owen leads a dry and unfulfilling life with her cold and distant father on their peach orchard. When her black nanny pisses off the worst white bigot in town when on the way to register to vote, Lily skips town with Rosaleen, with a vague hope that answers about her mother can be found in Tiburon, South Carolina. The rest of the tale, while rather contrived, is so engrossing and endearing that you just have to keep reading.

  25. Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West - Gregory Maguire
    Highly recommended! An amazing retelling of the L Frank Baum tale, but with a focus on who we know only as The Wicked Witch of the West by way of a sort of reverse-engineering, filling in so much back story that you can't help but be amazed at how much you had NOT questioned assumptions/conditions presented in the original story. You also will want to read the original tale to see just how much was pure imagination, and how much had some basis in the original tale. Whatever. Just read it. You won't regret it. Guaranteed!

  26. The Ninth Life of Louis Drax - Liz Jensen
    This is another unusual book dealing with the subject of a rather "special" child: this time it's young Louis Drax, who seems to have near-fatal accidents once a year. The compelling narrative switches from the mind of the comatose Louis to his doctor who might be uncovering the nasty truth about Louis' annual accidents. A vaguely unsettling story, but certainly worth the read.

  27. Fluke: Or, I Know Why the Winged Whale Sings - Christopher Moore
    Eh. This tale could have been a lot better. Yes, I learned about whales, and Jah... but overall, it disappointed. I think it tried too hard.

  28. A Salty Piece of Land - Jimmy Buffet
    An impulse borrowing, and I didn't know what to expect. The first part of the tale went a bit too slowly. Then it picked up speed, and read essentially like Forrest Gump, filled with some unlikely fortuitous coincidences that come together to form a surprisingly very readable book. From the guy who sang to us about searching for that lost shaker of salt. Who'd've thunk?

    November
  29. Cell - Stephen King
    On one hand, it was awesome to sink my teeth into a good old fashioned horror story from the master of the genre. On the other hand, this is a simpler version of The Stand. A very disappointing version. Readable, yes. Satisfying, no. But perhaps it will make you think twice about your dependency on cellphones!

    December
  30. Slaughterhouse Five - Kurt Vonnegut
    One of my target must-reads of the year. I think I'm going to have to read it a second time before I can form a real opinion of this tale. A time-travelling tale what is supposed to also be anti-war... unsual, for sure.

  31. Dune Messiah - Frank Herbert
    Kosh has dragged me kicking and screaming into this series. He also said this book was the least good of the original series, but I've got to say, I quite enjoyed the exploration of power, religion and "corruption of the message", and delighted in the idea that with the regular masses dabbling with the Dune Tarot and futuretelling, Paul's ability to foresee the future was severely compromised by the "muddying of the waters of the future", if you will.

  32. The Brief History of the Dead - Kevin Brockmeier
    Another unusual premise - that "heaven" is populated by people who are remembered by those still living on earth. So what happens when a virus seems to have wiped out everyone on earth? Who is keeping the "citizens" of "heaven" "alive"? It's an intriguing book, pity that the final chapter muddied everything up, as if the author became a bit too clever by half. Still worth a read.

  33. Everyman's Rules for Scientific Living - Carrie Tiffany
    Set in Australia's Mallee in the 1930's, this stark tale explores the growing of wheat in one of the worst areas to do so in Australia. But don't let that fool you into thinking it's a dry [haha!] tale: it's rich in exploration of the human condition, both good and bad. Certainly different.

  34. The Dead Zone - Stephen King
    A book I realised I'd never read [kept confusing it with The Tommyknockers], and finally sat down to read after catching a few episodes on late night TV. Ah, classic excellent King. Certainly worth a read.

Total = 48 + 34 = eighty-two books.

Kewl.

This is the first time I've ever kept tabs on books read. I think I'll continue this for next year. If nothing else, it helps me remember key points of each book, and helps me remember the book itself too!

I still wonder what my running total is: just how many books have I consumed in my 34+ years?
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