Vacation Wind Down

Ah, I can’t help but wonder how many Americans are in my same boat. I thought that being off for a week was supposed to rejuvenate one. Instead, I feel I’ve fallen so far out of my sleep pattern that it’s gonna be real tough to lug myself out of bed at the appointed time tomorrow: 4:15. *big yawns*
Even though I didn’t really go too many places this week, I still feel that it was quite productive. I initiated my application for the computer training course I referred to a few entries ago. It will cost a bit, but I am hoping that the benefits will be more prominent for me. Because almost everything depends at least to some extent on computers and knowledge of them these days.
That feeds well into what I’ve been reading these days. I started the WWW series by Robert J. Sawyer, mmm, maybe 3 and a half weeks ago? The books are, in order, Wake, Watch, and Wonder.
The main premise is that a young woman named Caitlin, an American citizen who has moved with her physicist father and learned mother to Canada, gains sight for the first time via an experimental operation by a Japanese doctor. He connects her to an electronic device that they jokingly call an “eyepod” that corrects the scrambled signals from her nerves to her brain and thus make her able to see. This requires a lot of adjustment, as she’d previously been blind all of her life.
Something goes a bit wonky, and Caitlin discovers that she is able to also “see” the web. She makes a fascinating find that seems quite relevant when viewed against the current revelations regarding NSA data collection capabilities.
There are a lot of controversial philosophical and religious ideas within those pages, but I find it to be good food for thought. I’ve just started the final book this week, and am curious to see how the story will end.
I read almost the entire second book during this past week, and especially on the 4th of July. I hadn’t had much to do for the early afternoon, so I texted around to see what some of my friends were up to. One of my very kind former classmates offered to come and take me to get some frozen yogurt at a local place that I think is called, sensibly I suppose, Local Yogurt. I forgot to ask her specifically, but just googled area places and that’s the one to come up. I had delicious cheesecake flavored yogurt covered in crumbled brownies. We sucked it down while sitting at an outdoor patio and taking in the beginnings of an area fireworks show.
And so I prepare to totter off and get another workweek underway. Hopefully it will be a good one, and especially if I can get all of the ducks on which I am still working in a row. I’ve opted to participate in a project called Audio Mo that asks folk to come up with and record some sort of piece every day for the month of July. You can hear those, as well as my other Audio Boo uploads, if you wish. Also, give me more topics! I’ll write more probably by Friday, as things finally start to take shape. Till then, have a good week.

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Book Review: The Forgotten, by David Baldacci

I will begin by saying Happy Mother’s Day to all the women out there working hard and raising their children. Or, I guess by this point it’s more appropriate to say I hope you’ve had a great Mother’s Day.
Read a piece I wrote a few years ago entitled Reflections on My Mother about the great work she did in bringing up and caring for her family. There were definitely a lot of us!
As he often does, David Baldacci explores the ties among family members and the lengths one will go in order to ensure those members are treated fairly. This novel continues to follow John Puller, an officer in the US military who likes to chase down leads and conduct somewhat off-the-books investigations in different parts of the country. While it is a sort of sequel to Zero Day, I would say that one need not have read the former to enjoy this book. It might make things clearer though, as Puller constantly mulls over “the events of West Virginia” the context of which you wouldn’t understand without having read that.
Having been given time to convalesce from those events, Puller suddenly receives a letter from his Aunt in Florida. He’d not connected with her in years, but saw her as a valuable part of his upbringing and one who gave sound advice and was always there to talk to.
She writes that certain happenings in the town of Paradise are concerning her, and wonders if perhaps he could look into things. By the time he arrives on the scene, she has apparently met her demise due to suspicious causes.
The story is told from a third-person perspective but mostly from Puller’s point of view. As in Zero Day, Puller interacts with his father John Puller SR., who is dealing with increasing Alzheimer’s disease that leads him to believe he is still conducting battles as a high-ranking army general. The relationship between father and son is moving, although I think too much mention is given to the fact that Puller the son is just going along with this painful game because he doesn’t know how to break the real news to Puller father. The reader pretty much gets the point after the first two references.
Also as in zero Day, a dynamic that seems to be leading toward romantic connection is developing between Puller and the main female cop in Paradise: Cheryl Landry. I am not entirely certain if that will happen though, due to the fact that I’m only a little less than halfway through the novel.
I feel safe in recommending this book, as long as you can deal with a fair amount of violence and loss of life. It’s a good, easy read that I’ve mixed in among the myriad other books I’m working my way through as well. If only I could read while on the job!
I think I may have read more Baldacci than I have almost everyone else. I like his ability to so widely vary his styles, though I imagine that makes him hard to categorize as family-friendly vs. more adult-oriented. I suppose this challenge can be mitigated by doing what one should anyway: vetting the book before allowing young ones to be exposed to it. In any event, I’ve not been let down by any of his works that I have chosen to check out.

Easters of Yore

Ok, I failed at posting every day already. But there’s a reason for that! I’ve just gotten this new PC, a nice Dell Inspiron 17-inch laptop, and I’m kind of trying to get everything up and running. I’m approaching that status fairly quickly, though.

I hope I’m actually getting this entry’s content into the right place, because at first the edit boxes didn’t seem to be labeled. I played around with the preview links, and now I think things are working properly.

Anyway, Happy Easter! I’ve enjoyed having Friday off this past week, and feel a lot more relaxed for it. It makes me tempted to petition for a four-day workweek, but I know those days are over. I suppose I’ll just have to enjoy the time off whenever it comes.

I did venture over to Dunkin Donuts, which isn’t too far from my neighborhood, on that Friday. I mostly had to learn where exactly the building was. The streets are at somewhat odd angles, and there is a set of widely spaced steps that one must ascend in approaching the entrance. No one came to speak to me as I sipped coffee and read more of The Aviator’s Wife, however it was good to just listen to the ambience of the people as they came and went.

Yesterday was spent chatting with neighbors while sitting under the glorious sun. One of the best things I can say about my little area of Duke Manor Apartments is that there is a strong sense of community here. I stay in E, the guy in D helps me with technology issues as he’s really good at that kind of stuff. The woman in C reads my mail, sometimes transports me to the grocery store, and is just generally a supportive ear. She doesn’t let anyone move in here to whom she hasn’t introduced herself. She’ll bound out to the truck and help you offload your stuff! And she saw me the first time I really stepped outside after arriving that cold January weekend.

And today I sit, listening to the Yolanda Adams station on Pandora and reflecting on Easter as a kid. I don’t think my nieces and nephews celebrate it in the same way we usually did, but then I”m not sure much of anything is the same for them.

First, we often went to the sunrise service. If I thought 11:00 AM was early to attend church, try 6:45! Many an elbow to the ribage was necessary to keep me awake while sitting on those hard ews. It was the one rare time, when I was quite young, that my biological male parent actually came along to church with us.

After that service, they would feature an awesome breakfast of eggs, grits, sausages, biscuits and gravy, orange juice, and fruit. Great, I’m making myself hungry at a time when I can’t do much about it other than having a bowl of frosted flakes.

Then, we would head to Sunday School, and finally to that 11:00 service. This was definitely the longest day of the year in my mind. I’m pretty sure I did often go to sleep by that point.

Out of the doors and onto my grandma’s house for dinner. The thing I most remember about this time is the endless photos we seemed to take. Each of us individually, in smaller groups, lined up against the piano, standing outside, in just about every configuration you can imagine. My face would hurt from trying to smile.

Then the kids would be herded inside while the adults ran around in the grass and distributed eggs for the anual Easter egg hunt. My Aunt would always include three plastic eggs among the edible ones: one with money, one with a prize that would allow you to select some extravagance that she’d pay for (my cousin got it one year and took piano lessons), and a third with a piece of paper that said “rotten egg”.

Because my cousin and I were blind, we would usually be taken around by my other Aunt, who is sadlyu no longer living. She would divide the eggs between us, even though my cousin couldn’t stand the things anyway and so his lot would just be redistributed among the rest of the kids.

I would venture to say that I kind of lost my afinity for boiled eggs because I ate like 9 or 10 of them pretty quickly one Easter. NOw they don’t seem so kind to my stomach. Give me scrambled!

The last time I even had something remotely resembling that tradition was back in 2011, when my Aunt told me to hop a train down from Chapel Hill, where I was in graduate school at the time, to join her for two services. We went to sunrise in Charlotte, then hopped on the highway to attend the 10:30 service in Southern Pines, NC. That was definitely a long day as well, but fun as it concluded with a delicious meal at Golden Corralle.

What are/were some of your Easter traditions? I’m sure they may have been similar to what I experienced, but well we all come from slightly different backgrounds. I hope you’re having a good one, in any event.