Sunday, January 22, 2017

love story that works

Eleanor and Park

Rainbow Rowell does not disappoint.  Well...just a teeny tiny bit, at the end.  I wanted a little more thought behind the inaction, but that's okay.  I wasn't mad about it.

Yes, I'm being purposely obtuse.  Eleanor is a new girl in school--the mean kids call her Big Red and torment her accordingly.  Park is an oldtimer in the neighborhood who doesn't fit in but doesn't get picked on--he's been around for too long, keeps his head down, and has friends.  You know they'll end up together on account of the book title, but in the beginning you begin to wonder how?

The audiobook narration was superb, with different actors voicing the two alternating stories.  I usually hate the alternating narrator style, but she pulled it off and I loved it.  In fact, she's the only author I ever read who did it for the right reasons and did it right. Superb!

Friday, January 20, 2017

Not inspirational but informative

Tread Lightly

I guess I'll have to read this again before saying much about it.  I read it during vacation, mostly in front of a big screen TV playing NCIS episodes.  My concentration must have been faulty.

I remember that it's full of summaries about research into the question of why running injuries seem so common nowadays despite mankind's unique adaptation to running over a lot of years of evolution.  The most common predictors of a future injury are previous injury, lack of experience, competition, and weekly running distance. Since a runner can't or won't control these factors, what can he do?  in an attempt to answer that question, the author does an near-exhaustive research into the factors that can be controlled--footgear, running style, and nutrition. 

The first two topics are done well but the nutrition chapter is skimpy.  I get kind of sick of the "paleo diet" assumptions that human evolution stopped in the prehistoric period; that human gut microbes (which continue to evolve) don't play a part in optimal nutrition; and that food preparation methods don't have an impact on their nutritional suitability.  You can skip this whole chapter and still get a lot out of the book.

Lot of good syntheses of research here and a few good conclusions that I'll leave you to uncover on your own.  That way you get the research as well--plus an opportunity to question it.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Short and okay about it

The Summer I Became a Nerd
by Leah Rae Miller

Silly little YA book about a cool girl who secretly likes comic books. Her search for the latest edition of a comic puts her inside an actual comic book storefront, gasp--anyone could see her.  Even the cute guy who works there.

I enjoyed it.  Very, very light and airy in both plot and detail. In fact, I'm not completely sure the author did her research into the worlds of comics and role playing games.  But I knew enough to fill in the gaps for myself.

So--nice, quick, vacation book. Worked for me.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Before kicking the you-know-what

One of my life's ambitions (you can call it a bucket if you like, but a bucket of what?)   One of my ambitions is to jog in the most beautiful places I can manage. It's not going to be easy since (a) I don't have a jogging partner, and (b) I do have a full-time job.  But my dog can help out sometimes and if I don't start spending less time jogging and more time on the job, I won't have that distraction much longer.
So here are my results to date:

1) The route from my door up the 'back way' to the top of the hill sports some of the most varied wild flowers I've ever expected. And there's one house with some amazing garden plots--I lusted after their rose bushes all summer. No scenery, but there are cows, vultures, snakes, and after a hard rain, tarantulas!  Nice.

2) Plano bike trails.  I only started them this fall after leaves went brown and evenings went gray, so they're not exactly beautiful to look at. But they're peaceful and contain ducks--lots of ducks.  I think I saw a young bobcat in December!

3) Schofield Barracks, Hawaii.  Okay, not exactly beautiful, but Hawaii!  This year the trees with the orange flowers were in bloom and littering the pavement, plus the birds are plentiful even if sparse in species.

4) Beach in front of Ala Moana Shopping Center, Honolulu.  My first experience of jogging barefoot on sand. I was carrying a ten pound purse and I wasn't dressed for the work, but my feet held up fine. They weren't as tough as they used to be so I kept a watch for shells and rocks.  The only thing that hurt badly enough to stop me was the tiny stretch of bumpty asphalt leading back to the car.  I could get into this beach running thing.

Where next?  TBD

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Vacation read of top enjoyment

Walking Man
by Robert Wehrman

I really wanted to love this but simply didn't, for all that I devoured it in two large bites-- on the airplane and on my first day of vacation.  Colin Fletcher was a complex guy and had a complicated life, and Mr. Wehrman didn't gloss over any details. But neither did he make them sing.

The section on the writing of The Man From The Cave disappointed me. Of course he (Fletcher) had already told it all in the book; there was no point in repeating it.  But I'd hoped for some deeper insight into the connectedness he felt with his research subject.

So I'd say Mr. Wehrman did an extremely good job of research but didn't put his parts together so well.  The writing was just a tad bland, and he seemed to be going off in too many different directions with his conclusions.  But I still enjoyed the book, a lot.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Fruits of Hawaii

I don't know why apple bananas are seldom seen on the mainland, but I assume it's because people know only the boring, green, watery taste of commercial bananas.  That's okay by me--if people don't know what they're missing, more for me!

We also tried a few "ice cream apple bananas" and didn't like them very much.  Maybe they just weren't ripe--they seemed hard and tasteless.

Then we split and shared a fruit that we all adored.  We could have eaten ten of them.  Each.  I didn't catch what the name was--it was roundish, slightly asymmetrical with a bit of a stem like a mango, but this was no mango!  It was creamy, like a pureed peach.  Best guess is that it might have been an apple guava--

We ate a few kumquat and were mostly underwhelmed.  Very tangy.  If I ever see a jar of kumquat jelly I'll grab it.

Of course, we had to try out the rambutan.  Despite their forbidding exterior, they're easy to pull apart and such down the soft berry inside.  Wish we'd bought more.

And finally, a star fruit.   (I'm not counting the avocado because I eat them all the time, but this was huge and perfect and possibly the best avocado I ever tasted.)

The star fruit was pretty good but not super sweet--you eat it skin and all.  I'd eat more of them but probably not buy them at a grocery store.  Fruit bought at a farmer's market and eaten on a log at the beach while watching kite surfers is always going to taste better than fruit at the store. 

Heavy sigh.

During holiday catch up

Dog Girl

Robin Brande writes such good stories!  This one is about a shy girl who's been wounded by her experiences with bullying school mates.  She decides to retire from society and concentrate on her true love--training her dogs.  Somehow she decides to volunteer one of them to act in the high-school's drama competition, and while the dogs steal the show she starts to slowly make friends again.  Or so we hope--she insists on pulling away whenever people get too close.  But as the dogs have their tricks and she has a few, too.  The show must go on!