Monday, September 1, 2014

Read at Your Own Peril

cover_277

The Waystone Inn lay in silence, and it was a silence of three parts.”

These words open (they are actually the second sentence of) the first and last pages of each of the books in  the Kingkiller Chronicle trilogy. 

Of course, I’m only assuming that they appear in the third book, and that is the problem.

After seeing an offer on Amazon.com to pre-order Doors of Stone, the third and final book in the series (with a publication date of mid-October) I was finally ready to tell you to beg, borrow or buy, but for goodness sake read Name of the Wind and The Wise Man’s Fear, the first two novels in the series by Patrick Rothfuss. 

Today, that page  no longer appears on the Amazon website, and speculation on the web is that  actual publication of that final book might not happen this year, or even in 2015. 

One writer, supposedly in a position to know, claims that the entire trilogy was written before the release of Name of the Wind in 2007, and that Rothfuss is merely editing, tweaking, and refusing to release Doors until he’s satisfied that he got it right. The author’s own blog seems to support that – in an interview, he says “When I finally finished, I looked back and realized I had a trilogy's worth of material.” Both his website and his blog mention the book but give no real answer as to when it will become available.

I fell in love with Name of the Wind ,  It is easily the best book of this genre I’ve ever read. Having just completed it for the 4th time, I can confirm that this is one of those books that just keeps getting better.  You can’t help becoming immediately invested in the main character.  It is a delightful tale told with some of the most elegant prose I’ve ever read.  I would say that it is poetic, but the protagonist, like his father before him, considers poets to be unfortunate creatures who lack the talent for music.

The Wise Man’s Fear continues the story, and is just as compelling.  It has been around since 2011, when it was #1 on the New York Times best seller list.  That’s long enough for readers to be suffering from severe symptoms of withdrawal. 

I would love to recommend the  Kingkiller Chronicle series, but I won’t.  In good conscience, I can not.  They – the first two - are wonderful books, but I can only tell you to read them at your own risk.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Geaux Tigers

LSU

In a sold-out game billed as the Texas Kickoff, the 13th ranked LSU Tigers met the number 14 Wisconsin Badgers in Houston’s recently renamed NRG Stadium last night.  It wasn’t pretty, but the boys from Baton Rouge scored the last 21 points of the game to win 28-14.  That took their non-conference winning streak to 46, the longest in college football.

Since they are just down I-10, most Houston fans consider the Tigers to be the home team.  Most, that is - except for Texans star J.J. Watt who is clearly a Wisconsin fan.  He has two younger brothers –junior fullback Derek and freshman tight end T.J.- who play for his alma mater.

Neither Watt brother had much to do with last night’s outcome.  Maybe if they lined up on the other side of the ball….

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Ta-Deck-Oo

tdecu

The University of Houston Cougars played their first football game in their brand new stadium last night.  

TDECU Stadium – the Texas Dow Employee’s Credit Union bought the naming rights – replaces the old Robertson Stadium where I marched as a member of the Hamilton Junior High Band back in the 50s.  Robertson was okay for junior high games, but was not much of a college stadium even then.  It was an embarrassment compared to Rice Stadium a few miles west.

It would be nice to report that the Coogs christened their new digs with a win.  Unfortunately, the UTSA Roadrunners, who have only had a football team since 2011, beat the home town team 27-7.  Total yardage was almost even, but the Roadrunners intercepted four passes and recovered two Cougar fumbles.

UH finished with minus-26 yards rushing on 23 attempts.  Most of the fans had already left when Ryan Jackson avoided a total shutout with a 2-yard scoring run with only 1:04 left on the clock.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Yes Means

My niece just got back to Houston after driving her first-born son to California for his freshman year of college. 

It may well be just a coincidence, but on the day she returned, the California legislature  sent the governor a bill requiring all colleges receiving state funds to redefine acceptable sexual behavior of their students.

In cases of sexual assault, Senate Bill 967 goes beyond the old “No means No” standard, and attempts to define when “Yes means Yes.”  In the words of the bill, “Affirmative consent means affirmative, conscious, and voluntary agreement to engage in sexual activity. ... Lack of protest or resistance does not mean consent, nor does silence mean consent. ...(consent) can be revoked at any time."

Twenty years ago, the idea of gaining explicit consent before engaging in sexual activities was considered so extreme it was -- literally -- laughable. Saturday Night Live in 1993 lampooned the consent policy adopted by Ohio's Antioch College with a game show titled "Is It Date Rape?"

"May I elevate the level of sexual intimacy by feeling your buttocks?" the male asks.

"Yes. You have my permission," the woman replies.

The bill's proponents say that those who think seeking consent is awkward, unrealistic or mood-killing miss the point. I’m not sure I agree, but I am sure that healthy college students can and will overcome any obstacles placed in the way of their having sex.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Can’t Trust Pandas

panda suit

For some time now, workers in China’s panda breeding program have been wearing panda costumes when dealing with orphaned cubs.  The theory was that it helps the youngsters feel more at home with real pandas when returned to the wild.  Ridiculous as it may sound, they think it works.

Now, in a classic case of turnabout is fair play, keepers in Sichuan province say that Ai Hin, a six-year-old female panda has been faking pregnancy.

Ai Hin 

She had been scheduled to be the star of the widely-promoted first-ever live broadcast of  the birth of a panda cub, but the Chengdu Giant Panda Breeding Research Centre announced yesterday that they were calling it off.  Ai Hin is not, and never was, pregnant.

They think she faked the pregnancy because, according to panda expert Wu Kongju,

“After showing prenatal signs, the 'mothers-to-be' are moved into single rooms with air conditioning and around-the-clock care. They also receive more buns, fruits and bamboo, so some clever pandas have used this to their advantage to improve their quality of life.”

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Curses - Foiled

et-finger

I could have started this blog post from two totally different directions, so if the next couple of paragraphs seem to jump from one unrelated subject to another, just consider this a sort of prologue to set the stage. 

We have – hold on while I actually count them – a total of six cookie sheets in the drawer under our oven.  The oven would only accommodate two at a time, and there are only two that we ever actually use.  One is a huge aluminum thing that I picked up at a restaurant supply years ago, and the other is smaller; it’s an old steel cookie sheet that we’ve had forever.  That old tray gets used several times a week and washed about once a month.  That’s all the washing it needs because we always line it with aluminum foil.

The tips of our fingers are among the most sensitive areas of the human body.  They have about a gazillion nerve endings, each with a direct expressway to the brain. That’s why blind people read Braille with their fingers and not some other portion of their anatomy, and why nurses and phlebotomists take such malicious glee in poking fingertips for blood samples.

I had always thought that paper cuts were among the most painful injuries a person could sustain – pain far out of proportion to the seriousness of the actual injury – but you have never known real pain until you get a paper cut from the edge of a sheet of aluminum foil! 

I was lining the cookie sheet prior to throwing some biscuits in the oven the other day when I learned this for myself. 

I screamed! 

I made noises and said things never before heard in our house! 

I called that foil things that were physically impossible, even for recycled aluminum!

All I can say is, if you haven’t experienced this for yourself, count yourself lucky, and Don’t Try This At Home!

 

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

R I P

Kelvin tue nguyen

My circle got smaller with the passing of two good men this past week.

Tue Nguyen was one of several Vietnamese refugees hired by Global Services and trained as copier technicians.  He worked for me at Ikon Office Solutions when I headed the color copier group. 

One of the most impressive (and often most frustrating) things about Tue was that he absolutely refused to leave a machine until he was satisfied that it was fixed.  That sometimes led to one-hour service calls that stretched to two or three days, but if I had a machine no one else could fix, Tue was my go-to guy. 

Kelvin Ischy was one of the “instant grandkids” we acquired when our daughter Cheryl married Gene Ischy, Kelvin’s dad.  He was handsome, popular, and left us much too young.  He had just turned 21 this past July. 

We only saw Kelvin at family gatherings each Thanksgiving and Christmas, and I wish I’d had the chance to know him better.