Tag Archives: Books

Yeeouch

Over the weekend, Ariesna and I went to the CPL to check out their latest book sale. She got a bit ahead of me looking around as I was carrying out picks. I was about to move to the next room to catch up to her when it happened. Suddenly I felt a sharp, red-hot pain stabbing into my back. I managed to get over to Ariesna and set the books down, but it was something of a close call. We left the library shortly after that to go home and set me up with a heating pad. A bit of heat, some back pain meds and my back was feeling better. I took the day easy sitting down, reading a book.

I was still mighty tired the next day. Every time I had turned over in my sleep; I was half awakened by pain in my back. But awake eventually I was and into the shower I went. I’d just finished my shower and was drying off when another spasm ripped through my back. This one was much worse and nearly sent me to my knees. Ariesna came back and helped me. Then she called the doctor’s office and made an appointment to get me checked out. I spent the rest of the day lying down on a heating pad.

Monday, the doctor checked me out. He prescribed some pain killers and a muscle relaxant. He also set up an appointment for me to visit a physical therapist. That appointment was earlier today. The therapist was a really nice lady. She had me describe my problem. She then had me go through a series of stretches and movements to help her figure out exactly what is wrong. She told me she believes one of the discs in my spine (in the border area between the lumbar and thoracic) has a small tear.

She immediately moved to reassure me this is not something that will require surgery. I don’t think I was looking at her nervously, so I’m not entirely sure why she leaped to get that bit of information out. Though if I were to guess, I would say most of her patients are considerably older than I am and they do not like even the hint of possible surgery.

Anyway, she instructed me in doing a couple of light exercises designed to ease the tension in my back and which should improved the blood flow along the damaged area. She said these exercises should be enough for my back to heal itself correctly. Provided I keep in mind for my back to heal properly, I have to be extra cautious about it for a couple of months. She recommended I think about the damage like it was a broken bone. Even if I am feeling 100% in a few days or a week, I’m still to take it easy on my back.

Whee, such fun. Ah well, at least I haven’t promised to help anybody moving anytime soon. :p

Review: Old Man’s War

Old Man's War

Old Man’s War
My rating: 5 out of 5.

For a while now I’ve been despairing of finding new science fiction authors I like. I would go through my local bookstores and the only ones that didn’t seem like pure twaddle were either books I’ve read previously or by authors I was previously familiar with. Authors who usually are very old or already dead. Oddly this problem only seemed to be happening with science fiction. Fantasy, horror, mystery and so on all are fine right now. I just haven’t for the longest time been able to find any decent science fiction by an author who wasn’t all corpsified (or close to being so). This has concerned me as I misspent much of my youth blasting around the universe on the dread rocketship Imagination fueled by the works of many fine authors. I wish to continue to doing so, but the fifth or fifty-fifth time you read a book it does not always generate as much juice as the first time.

All that being said, I am pleased to say I have found a new science fiction author who writes something worth reading! A while back, I was reading Doug Stewart‘s blog and he mentioned getting a particular book for his birthday. Interestingly enough the author of Old Man’s War, John Scalzi, stopped by Doug’s blog and wished him a happy birthday. I thought that was pretty cool of him. Given that Doug described the book as a gift that should “warm any decent sci-fi fan’s hardened heart”; my interest in this book was peaked.

I followed the link from the author’s comment to his website and noticed he had a free, sample chapter of the book online. I read through the sample and quite enjoyed it, so I added the book to my list1. A few weeks later, the wife and I stopped in a Barnes & Noble to rest our weary feet and grab a coffee from their café. Before we went into the café, we looked around the store for some reading material. I still remembered wanting a better look at Old Man’s War, so I hunted around and found a copy of it. I thought the plan was to simply browse through the material while having our coffee but I was overruled and she bought the book with the coffees. As we sat down, I started to flip through the book but she wanted to look at it. Since she hadn’t found anything to look at and I actually had several books at home I was in the middle of; I let her have it. That turned out to be something of a mistake on my part, as I didn’t get it back until she finished it the next day. Since I didn’t get it back right away, I stuck it into my stack of books to read. I held off a couple of days before I broke down and yanked it out of the middle of my stack. I read it cover to cover in a single evening and loved it. I just read it again (since I’ve been home sick for a week) and still loved it. But enough about me, you probably want to know something about the book other than I loved it.

Right, Old Man’s War is set in the future. How far in the future is not explicitly stated but it seems to be the not-too-entirely-distant future. In this future, humanity is living and fighting amoung the stars. It turns out while there are numerous stars & planets out there; only so many of them are of any use to us and to the other races we’ve met. That’s right, there is alien life out there and it ain’t friendly. Human space is protected by the Colonial Defense Forces (CDF) which boasts the oldest army ver fielded by man. The CDF’s infantry is entirely made up of the elderly. People, like the main character (John Perry), cannot even join the CDF until they turn 75. The elderly are joining up in droves because they all know the CDF must have someway to make them young again. After all at 75 years on Earth, humans are not exactly in the ideal condition for fighting a war.

The book starts with Mr. Perry visiting his wife’s grave and then joining the army. From there it’s a fast sprint through the rest of the story. Mr. Scalzi’s writing is easy to read, in part because he does not bog you down with tons of details about the new technologies used in the future. Also the characters are very likable and easy to relate to. But the book is not without its flaws.

The CDF is an independent entity from Earth and has more power than any goverment on Earth, but there’s nothing in the book telling us how this came about. Mr. Scalzi hints at it saying that the CDF isolated Earth from the rest of space2 and then used technologies it developed or stole from other races to maintain its monoply on humanity’s spaceflight. The actual details of how the CDF managed the initial isolation and how they continue to keep Earth from building more skip drives3 and sneaking off planet. Also the plot covering John Perry’s rescue by the Special Forces and subsequent interactions with his rescuers seems…. a bit too deus ex machina. Mind you it was fun to read but it stretches the believability more than just a little and no I won’t tell you exactly why as that would require me to reveal big spoilers of the plot. Hopefully some of this will be cleared up in the sequel, The Ghost Brigades (due out next week according to Amazon.com).

1 The list of books in my head that I need to buy when I have the money and am in a bookshop. It fluctuates depending on how good my memory is, how empty my wallet is, how often I’m visiting any given bookshop and how big an impression a book or an author makes on me.
2 Due to an outbreak of an alien disease that sterialized all but 1/3 of Earth’s men.
3 The skip drive is the FTL drive in Mr. Scalzi’s universe.

Review: Deception Point

Product Image: Deception Point

Deception Point
My rating: 2 out of 5.

This started off as a fun book and for a long time into it I was able to suspend my disbelief to enjoy it. It read something like a weak Tom Clancy novel. At least up until a certain point in during the climatic finale of the story. At that particular point in the story, my disbelief slipped into overdrive and suddenly I felt I like was reading a bad movie script. *sigh* And it was so looking better than

To avoid spoiling the book for those still interested, the scene in particular will only be described after cut. Even there, I will try to avoid spoilers as much as possible but if you wish to read the book completely spoiler free; go read it before you read the rest of this article.
Continue Reading

Dang Computers

I finished my evening in front of ye olde boob tube1 at 10 and was thinking about heading to bed early. I decided just before doing so I’d go read some email, maybe run CastPodder and grab some stuff to listen to at work. That was nearly two hours ago and I’m still not continuing on my way to bed. *sigh* I really should learn my lesson and stop thinking I can hit up the crack pipe use my computer for a just a few minutes. On the bright side, my last run of APT-GET updated amaroK which fixed an annoying crash I’d been experiencing for the last week or so. Also, I setup amaroK up to use the MySQL backend and it’s massively faster than using SQLite. The only downside is that somewhere along the way of my manual attempts to fix the crash, updating to the latest/greatest and switching the MySQL backend; amaroK “forgot” which songs I’ve already listened to. This brings my playlist of “new” music to just under 3,000 tracks2.

1 T.V. for you little whipper-snappers.
2 This playlist excludes podcasts, audiobooks and the like but does include music that is podsafe or ripped from CDs that I own.

Problems

CoffeeBear.net is currently experiencing some problems. We are aware of the issue and looking into it. We’ll let you know when we have it fixed.

Update: The problem appears to be related to the plugin I’ve been using to display books and whatnot down the side of the site. I’m still investigating why this started happening and will restore the site to normal once I’ve got it fixed.

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