22 October 2012
(with help from Nick Podehl)
For those of you who haven’t been paying attention, Patrick Rothfuss’s two novels The Name of the Wind and The Wise Man’s Fear are masterpieces of storytelling. The characters are complex and richly developed, the writing is lyrical and meticulously crafted, and the plot is engaging. This is one of the best stories that I have read. Rothfuss’s writing is clever, and thoughtful… and even when not a lot is happening, I am drawn along because I care about the characters.
So when I had the opportunity to check out the audiobook from our incredible Seattle Public Library, I took it even though I had already read the book. I wanted to read it again anyway.
I got hooked on audiobooks when I was commuting to a day job, and had to spend 30 minutes in the car each morning and again at night. An intriguing audiobook would make otherwise dull and frustrating time pass quickly. I cannot recommend them enough… especially if you can get them from the library. Audiobooks are relatively expensive because the publisher has to pay the voice actor(s), sound engineer, and producer. A long novel can be upwards of 40 hours long, which adds a substantial cost to production above what the author gets. And yet, I would say that the experience of a well-produced and expertly-narrated audiobook is worth the money.10 October 2012
Karawynn and I caught a local flight from a tiny airstrip near our resort hotel on the Pacific coast to the big city of San Jose and stayed the night at a low-key but comfortable bed and breakfast before beginning our long journey to the jungle. The next day, we woke early and took our breakfast in the pre-dawn with sounds of the waking city filtering in through the patio doors. The first leg of our journey took us over paved highways and roads in ever-thinning traffic, winding through suburbs, past coffee plantations and up into the mountains.
Come Mister Tally Man
I expected this four-and-half-hour drive to be dull, but it wasn’t. The guide was informative and entertaining. The mountains are all volcanic and many of them are still active. They’re blanketed with lush vegetation and sculpted by streams and waterfalls, some of which we could see from the road. On the East side of the mountains, the land slopes down into a broad, lowland expanse which eventually ends at the Caribbean Sea. This is where pineapples and bananas are farmed, packaged, and shipped out to destinations around the world.
After nearly three hours, we turned off the paved road and drove slowly on gravel. We passed pastures of grazing water buffalo and drove through acres upon acres of banana plantations. When the guide asked us if we wanted to stop and take a look at a banana processing and packing plant, we readily accepted.17 August 2012
June brought more traveling. After getting back from our month in Mexico, Karawynn and I were in Seattle for only three weeks before we lit out again for regions southward. It was great to see my brother and sister and their families under happy circumstances. The previous time we’d all seen each other was when Mom died — a very sad and difficult period.25 April 2012
Karawynn and I are in Mexico for a month, undertaking an experiment wherein we gather data to determine if we can live here after Claire moves out in five years or so. Karawynn discovered this particular place after detailed online research of a variety of expat communities that matched two main criteria: 1) good weather year round and 2) lower cost of living than in the United States. Thus we chose to visit the Ajijic Mexico area, along the north shore of Lake Chapala about 45 minutes by car from Guadalajara — the second largest citiy in Mexico.
We’ve been here about a week and half now and here are my impressions so far.21 March 2012
A year ago, I made a decision to start tracking my food calories in an effort to lose the extra 30 pounds I’d gained in the past decade. This decision not only resulted in better health, but also a fundamental change in my awareness of food — and an improvement in my happiness, my personal relationships, and my overall quality of life.13 February 2012
One year ago today, my mother died after a long battle with ovarian cancer. She had dodged breast cancer bullets a couple of times … well, not really dodged so much as taken them in the chest. But this time the bullet was a shotgun shell to her abdomen full of twelve gauge tumor pellets. Her doctors performed surgery, but with so many tiny tumors the odds of getting all the cancer weren’t good.
After surgery, the chemotherapy made Mom’s life a waking nightmare of nausea and weakness and pain. This was her fourth round of chemo, and since it wasn’t working all that well — not buying her much time — she made the conscious choice to stop treatment.20 January 2012
In 2011, we made a conscious decision to have a frugal Christmas. This resulted in some unexpected benefits, and also unearthed some deep-seated emotions.