Sunday, June 30, 2013

June 28, 2013

After men worked 11 hrs in 90 degrees to load the cargo container, we have a multiply punctured driveway, trash everywhere, piles of stuff that didn't fit in, etc. Then this morning a weigh station called and said the container is overweight. Now my husband must round up some people to help him unload 1,200 lbs of stuff. The first to be jettisoned are Gary Friesen's books. Sorry, Gary. They will go back into our garage and then we don't know what. It is a wonderful thing to be helping with the building of the Kim Foreman Bible Institute in Huye (Butare) Rwanda, next to the National University of Rwanda, but if we had known we would have so many setbacks (much more than mentioned here) we might have passed on the honor.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Review of Quintessence by David Walton

The book reviewer at Christianity Today recommended this book. I'm so glad I saw that and then bought the book.What a Ride! This alternate history/alternate physics!/adventure has everything: good writing, delightful dialogue, explorations of science and religion. There are hatreds, there are loves. There are puzzles galore. There are really fun animals.
The book opens with the sentence: By the time Lord Chelsey's ship reached the mouth of the Thames, only thirteen men were still alive.   You want to know more, yes?
If you like the works of China Mieville, you will like this book. If you like metaphysical and physical exploration, you should like this book. If you like the clash of grand personalities, you might like this book. I cannot recommend this book highly enough. I'm looking forward to reading it again.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Driving Men Women

At one time my sister-in-law and I could not get our husbands to put gas in the car before the fuel gauge dropped below one quarter empty. They preferred to drive on empty or leave us the cars on empty since the gas gauges were liars and you can drive for miles with the gauge on empty. It took a few decades before the men could hear what the women were trying to tell them. The world for us women is a lot more dangerous than it is for men. I suppose a healthy, adult male could run out of gas and then some roving predator could rape him, but I'm fairly certain the odds of that are much, much lower than it is for women. It's not so much that the inconvenience in a hurried life of pumping gas trumped my safety, it's more that he simply did not think about what we women have to think about all the time. But he finally did get it, and now I almost never start out a trip with an empty tank. Sometimes I fill it, sometimes he fills.
He fills the car tank at the cheapest gas station that takes cash. I fill at the gas station three blocks from our house. The filling is more expensive because I opt to let the station attendant fill the car. I want that gas station to continue in business. That means that I and a lot more people need to patronize the business. So my supporting a local business trumps my husband's saving a few dollars. For him, frugality trumps patronizing a local business.
My husband will drive miles and miles out of the way to avoid red lights. He seems to find a red light holding him back a grave insult. He wants to choose when to stop and when to go.
I find the looking and calculating Can I go? Can I go? frustrating and tiresome. And I dislike merging; looking over my shoulder and calculating and looking and calculating all the while going forward at 60 miles/hr. I would much rather take a straight route, stop at the red light, go at the green light. Simple. I can think about things other than whether or not today I die in a car accident.
Of course, my husband knows that he will never be in an accident because he is a good driver.
I have no such delusions about myself.
There was the day we were taking all our adult children (except the wookie) to the beach to have a fun day while discussing family matters and I told my husband to not take hwy 26 because there were too many head on collisions from sleepy drivers coming back from the beach. He did not want to take the long way with red lights on it, but he said he would. Except he lied. I was reading the paper and so did not notice when he took 26 anyway, and I never saw the car with the sleepy driver that ran into our car. I just saw the air bag deflating through the tear in my newspaper. Years later, one of the kids still has a hurt spine. One kid had to delay boot camp for a year. All of us were sore for weeks. At the family meeting, he told the boys to listen to their wives. Yeah right. He still drives where and how he wants no matter what I have to say.
I dislike being stuck in stop and go traffic. My husband gets frantic about being trapped. He might characterize his attitude differently, but that's what it looks like on my side of the car. He gets irate at people who "cut him off". What cut? I say. The car got into our lane in front of us. So what? He had to get in front of some car. Why not ours? What difference does it make? Then he gets irate at me.
I'm not being fair here. The biggest factor in his traffic frustration is the pain he is in. He crushed his feet several years ago, and although he can walk (Thank God) simply being awake any period of time makes his feet hurt. He is always in a hurry to get home so he can put his feet up.
And that brings up another difference that I do not know is male vs. female or just him and I. He thinks that if he thinks about being careful, he is being careful. He went on the roof, two days after his mother died, to put on zinc to kill the moss, and he thought about being careful while he was up there. If I had been awake that early morning, I would have insisted that he place a board or ladder near the edge or tied a rope around him and some stay, because unless you put up physical barriers, you are not being careful. So, his mind drifted, and he stepped off the roof and fell 20 feet to the concrete driveway, crushing his feet and lower legs.
Odd thing: for decades before that happened I would often wake up from nightmares about me pleading with him to be careful while he worked on something, sometimes it was a tablesaw. He would ignore me, and then he would accidentally cut off his hands. Control issues much? Um, yeah.  Nightmares about the children involved my trying to call them back to shelter whilst they ran out into the path of tornadoes. Anyway..... after that incident I never had another nightmare like that.
So.... Driving, men have such different attitudes from women.  Or am I the only one who thinks that?

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Some thoughts about reviews of The Hunger Games Trilogy

WARNING: SPOILERS  If you have not read The Hunger Games Trilogy, do not read the following. One: it has spoilers.    Two: you will have no idea what I am talking about.
Whenever I post a review of a book, I like to look at other people's reviews because we all can see things so differently. Sometimes I wonder if I and the other reviewers even read the same book. This was especially true of The Hunger Games Trilogy, which I gave five stars to.
I was astounded at the number of people who hated the third book after loving the first book in the trilogy. Since the third book was a natural outgrowth of the the first, this made no sense to me. One person complained that Katniss had no character arc; she started out a whiny 17 yr old and ended up a whiny 17 yr old.  Excuse me, but whiny is the person who walked the same city block as everyone else in the group and now has to share that their feet hurt, they're hot, they're hungry etc. Complaining about legitimate hardship and trauma is not whining. Another person complains that the kick-ass Katniss they love went away in the third book. So did she change or not?  And excuse me, but Katniss broke. When you are subjected to continuous pressure, you are liable to break. I had the comparatively minor pressure of raising a violent, destructive child and I broke. No, I don't suffer PTSD. All I have to show for it are some nearly invisible scars and a knowledge that I don't do well under pressure. I would like to wish that knowledge away, but there it is. I have sympathy for the policeman and soldier who breaks performing their duties. If adult men break under such pressure, why should a kick-ass 17 yr old girl not break?
Some reviewers complained that the writing was bad. Sometimes I wish that I had not become a writer, because bad writing I never noticed before now repels me. I could read only a few pages of Stephenie Meyer before I gave up in disgust, and two paragraphs in the Left Behind series. But what was wrong with the writing in The Hunger Games? I thought about that a long time before I finally decided that perhaps they meant that the book is not written in a literary style. Totally irrelevant. I like literary writing and if a fantasy or thriller are written in a literary style, so much the better, but that style is totally unnecessary for this type of story. The writing became invisible as one raced to the next page to find out what would happen next. I noticed that those who complained about the writing still had trouble putting the book down as they felt compelled to keep reading.
I find myself impatient with books that have the heroes never getting sick, the heroes fighting on despite broken bones, the heroes taking a day or week to recover, the heroes never being traumatized by the trauma they are undergoing. That's partly why be the end of The Scarred King, my hero is suffering from PTSD.
But apparently, most readers don't want to hear it, thus the almost universal dislike of the third book. So, if I want to sell a lot of books, which I do as I want to buy a glass kiln and support some friends in Africa, maybe I need the make the hero more durable and kick-ass. But then, what self-delusions am I feeding into?
Oh, and what did you think of the part where Katniss votes yes with President Coin to restart the Hunger Games using the surviving Capitol kids? Since Katniss had spent the year trying to stop the Hunger Games, I was shocked and thought, "No, this is where you kill the evil president." (I am not a pacifist. Sometimes the only way you can make evil people STOP is by killing them.) So then I thought, "Okay, this is a tactic. Why did she vote that way?" and a few pages later we find out.
One of the reviewers complained that Gale just disappeared. Did they miss the part where Gale figures out that Katniss will always blame him in part for the horrendous death of her sister? Even an idiot should be able to see that romantic love cannot survive that.
Another complaint: there was no foreshadowing in the books. I don't know what to say to such a blatantly wrong statement. Another complained that they felt like they were being beat over the head by mentions of the mockingjay pin. Which reviewer do you think was right?
Well, on and on. What did you think of The Hunger Games trilogy, and why?