Reading List and Life’s Plans

This year in an attempt to increase the number of books I read per year, I set a goal of reading 4 books a month. This goal seemed entirely reasonable and would put me above previous years at a total of 48 books. I’m ending that goal now.

Let me say, I am 3 books behind at the end of July, but that’s not why I’m stopping. I fully believe I could catch up those three books, though I do tend to read long books. I’m stopping the goal due to the fact I have just signed up for 9 credit hours of classes next semester.

My knowledge is rusty, and I’m really going to need to read up on my subjects. As a matter of fact, I’m starting rather soon. I pulled out my BLS for Healthcare Professionals books yesterday so I could start reviewing. BLS is a prerequisite for my Basic EMS course starting in September. I have a feeling I’ll also need to review my first aid hand book that I also pulled out yesterday.

My other class is A&P. I’ll begin looking over my wife’s book as soon as I get the course syllabus. That and I’ll use A&P wallpaper on my computer to help study.

I won’t be giving up on reading; I’ll just be slowing the pace. It is healthy to know when to stop trying for your goals because of a life-changing event. It should be an interesting remainder of the year.

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Sunny Day Haikus

The warmth is a drug
Pulling me out of my seat
Outside addictions

How I yearn to read
Out under the sagging elm
The book as my world

An escape calls me
Beautiful realms crying out
Touching upon mine

The grass grows so lush
A perfect seat beneath me
A padding for hours

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Dear Gym,

I will be back; I promise. Let me tell you what’s going on.

My wife just graduated nursing school. She spent every week night and most weekends studying for years. She didn’t get out much. Her social life was smothered, going out with more of a whimper than a bang. But now she’s done.

She will be training and working some evening and overnight shifts coming up, however she is currently working day shifts. This means I can actually spend time with her after the work day. We can cruise the streets, wander around Wal*Mart for hours never walking the same hour twice, or chase squirrels with bottle rockets. The time is ours to enjoy!

So, I will see you again, and soon. The long after-work hours of braiding each other’s hair and whispering passive aggressive secrets about the imagined lives of unknown neighbors will end soon. Shortly I will return to your harsher embrace. Your free weights will bow me over like a 90 year old osteoporotic. Your leg extensions will cause me to strain and strain until I wet myself just enough to be embarrassing but not enough to inconvenience the next person on the machine. Your treadmills and I will spend long half hours in sweaty, tortuous bliss.

Until then.

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Fantastic Caverns and Zio’s Photos

Fantastic Caverns was a ride on a Jeep drawn cart through old underground caves. There are very few of these around that are accessible by Jeep.

The formations are pretty cool and provide a fertile imagination with many ideas.

Out of the natural beauty into the man-made scenery of Zio’s Italian Kitchen. I found the floorplan and decor quite interesting.

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2010 Vacation – Sunday: Fantastic Caverns, Zio’s Italian Kitchen, and Andy’s custard

First thing Sunday morning I got the internet connection up and running. That meant it wasn’t going to be a week of roughing it, Grizzly Adams style.

Krissy’s grandfather picked us up late in the morning and we headed back up to Springfield to the Fantastic Caverns, one of the few underground caves you can ride a Jeep through.

The tour was quite interesting. We were told about the rate of growth of stalagmites and stalactites, and were then told to approximate the age of the cave by the length of the stalactites. Using this equation, they are old.

The caves were quite historical, found during the Civil War (I believe) and kept from the government’s radar by the finder so they weren’t used by troops. They were underground storage areas, bars during prohibition, KKK meeting areas, and entertainment areas, with a full bar and stage. Yes, one cavern was actually that big!

We were quite hungry upon leaving the caverns, so we headed to Zio’s Italian Kitchen. The fare was probably Olive Gardenish, but the decorations were even better. It was an open floor, with Italian columns and ambiance. My salmon was a bit fishy tasting, but it was an overall enjoyable experience.

On the way home, we just had to stop and experience for ourselves the wonders of Andy’s custard. In our Bangor, Mainer minds, it was just a slightly different version of a Dairy Queen. The Blizzards are called Concretes. I had mine with peanut butter cup, and it was delicious.

Sunday night we just lazed around the room, which became our normal evening habit. This is when I got most of my reading done. I finished two books (one I had started before we left) and started another during the entire trip.

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2010 Vacation – First: Brewer to Branson

On Friday night we drove down to Portland to spend the night. We knew the plane left Portland at 6:30 AM, and we weren’t making the drive Saturday morning. We stopped at Red Robin in Augusta so I could have a Royal Red Robin burger. I love those things.

We dropped my car off at the Doughty’s house so we wouldn’t have to pay a week’s worth of parking fees at the Portland airport. Scoob brought us to the Courtyard by Marriott where we had one night in a beautiful room and only a couple hours, all said and done, when we were conscious to enjoy it.

Our checked luggage was 61 lbs, so Delta was going to charge us an extra $90 fee. We decided to juggle some items around and transferred 12 lbs into our carry on. The carry on became rather bulky.

The flights were perfect. I thought the first one, to Atlanta, was actually kind of roomy. I had an aisle seat and my wife sat in between me and a young man who has been in the Marines for about a year. There were a couple of his Marine buddies on the plane and an older man in fatigues. We were safe from terrorists.

We were starving and had a 4 hour layover in Atlanta, so we hit Popeye’s for a meal and Ben & Jerry’s for dessert. Popeye’s was at 10 AM, but we had already been up for 6 hours, so it didn’t feel like chicken and biscuits for breakfast.

Atlanta had wifi, but I couldn’t get a good connection. It had electrical outlets for the laptop, but I didn’t see it until it was almost time to go. I read while Krissy tried to nap. We were both rather distracted from our goals by everything that goes on in an airport. Plus, there was a Delta credit card booth by us and the workers were constantly trying to get passers-by to sign up. Sucky job.

The flight from Atlanta to Springfield was smaller, but I had a window seat. Unfortunately I was too tired to really spend much time looking out. I sorta, mighta barely fallen asleep a couple times.

The Springfield airport is rather small, so we had no trouble finding Krissy’s grandfather and our checked luggage. As far as we could tell, nothing was missing from the luggage. Success.

We were planning on being treated to Lambert’s, home of the Throwed Roll [sic], however the wait was almost an hour. We were driven to Branson and taken to Panera instead. I know people really like their Panera, but when you’re expecting Lambert’s, Panera just isn’t all that.

We got a bit of a road tour of hilly Branson before we made it to the resort. We unpacked and then were taken to Harrison AR to get the truck we were borrowing. The drive is through the Ozark Mountains and is quite scenic.

We got back to the resort, unpacked, and got comfortable. I tried to set up the internet connection, but the computer wasn’t playing nice (it does that sometimes, even when the internet connection itself is fine). I got tired of fiddling around and we read the rest of the night.

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School is Wrapping Up

May 2010 is finally here. On the 15th, my wife graduates from college. She has worked incredibly hard for the last 5 years, part time and then full time, to accomplish this goal. I know it might seem like it from some of the nurses you meet, but colleges don’t just give away a Bachelor of Science in Nursing.

School is wrapping up (actually, today she takes her last tests), but there are few, if any, nursing jobs around. Hey, remember that nursing shortage we had and were told would last for many years? Well…not so much. Nursing shortage, meet healthcare crisis and overhaul. Meet hospital downstaffing, nurses staying put in their current positions, and therefore a lack of new positions to be had. Meet the State of Maine, where the state doesn’t pay its hospitals for taking care of its state-insured patients.

The job search is on. Until very recently, the only places she has been able to apply to were out of state. Will we be moving to Virginia? That would be nice, actually. Or, could she be hired at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota? Cold, but acceptable.

School is wrapping up, but the future is extremely uncertain. It’s like rushing full tilt toward the edge of a cliff.

What’s over the edge?

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And Then I Ate at a Vegetarian Restaurant

No, this is not some hilarious one-liner to end a crowd-pleasing joke. This is a true account of my experiences last night. The wife and I drove to Portland, two hours away, to join our friends at a birthday dinner. The restaurant chose was vegetarian. And, I believe, not just vegetarian but vegan as well. Some entrees were even gluten free, great for those with unfortunately severe dietary constraints.

We looked over the menu thinking there had to be something that would be the slightest bit appetizing. Well, there was: some kind of spinach and soy cheese wanton. However, that was an appetizer, and my wife seemed loathe to let me order only an appetizer and not a main dish. I might add a couple things at this point: 1) I am very good at choosing only a simple appetizer and enjoying it at a place where the menu seems a bit suspect to my tastes. One time I ordered only a bowl of clam chowder, and enjoyed it, while the rest of my dining party was nauseated with their dinner selections. I spent less money and had a better dinner. I trust me. This did not happen last night. 2) There was another person at the dinner last night, much smarter than I was allowed to be, who was allowed to not order anything at all. Nothing. He didn’t order only an appetizer. He ordered nothing. And he got away with it. I don’t know exactly how the birthday girl thought of him, but I didn’t hear anyone coming down on him for not ordering. Taking those two facts together, I should have just gotten an appetizer.

My steamed vegetables came to me covered in peanut sauce. I thought it would be pretty good and all I would have to do is pick out a few of my least favorite vegetables. Unfortunately, the peanut sauce was chunky not smooth. Also unfortunately, as of late my body has had a bit of a problem with chunky peanut sauce.

A couple weeks ago I was, what one would call, violently ill. The last thing I had eaten earlier in the day we some roasted peanuts. The taste of roasted peanuts stayed with me through the entire day as my stomach ached and caused the most nauseated feelings I have had in a decade or two. These feelings culminated in a grand, if not violent, outpouring of nothing other than chunky peanut sauce a few times that night. Flash forward that picture to the chunky peanut sauce I was staring at on my plate last night. I should have just gotten an appetizer.

We headed back toward home from the interestingly busy vegetarian restaurant and decided to stop at a Dairy Queen at the halfway point. The DQ in Augusta is a small little hole in the wall with no inside seating, though it does have inside serving. The pictures of the 25th anniversary Blizzards were deliciously tempting. I ordered a medium Tagalong Blizzard to make up for my dinner. The Blizzard looked great; the kid had even sprinkled some of the Tagalongs on top when he was done mixing it up.

The first few bites were not too bad. I was just enjoying the ice cream, a delicacy I don’t indulge in quite so much these days. After the first bites, I noticed the Blizzard was awfully soft. It was as if the ice cream was melting rapidly or maybe it wasn’t too hard to begin with. It also started tasting funny, and not a good kind of funny like a clown. It was definitely the bad kind of funny, like nauseating chunky peanuts.

I finished almost the entire Blizzard (hey, I paid for it), and drove home quite disappointed all in all.

Today I had a Mint Oreo Blizzard for lunch. It was awesome. The end.

Posted in Ramblings, What's Up? | 3 Comments

Loot List – Christmas ’09

I haven’t seen any loot lists this year. People either have better things to post about, or they are slacking off from their blogs as I have been for a while now. However, I will now regale you with my amazing memory of what I got for Christmas.

Ted Dekker’s Green
Ted Dekker and Erin Healy’s Burn
Mark Schultz’s Come Alive
Jeremy Camp’s Speaking Louder Than Before
Warren Barfield’s Worth Fighting For
Big Daddy Weave’s Christ is Come
Sport Coat
T-shirt
Bacon Salt
Tiger calendar
Munchkin card game
Socks
Starburst

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Remembering Vacation

I was on vacation from the time I left work on Christmas Eve until the morning of January 4th. In an effort to help me remember what went on during vacation, I thought I’d document daily highlights here. Apparently this is becoming somewhat like a diary.

12/24/09 – Went to my mother’s for her birthday and to swap Christmas gifts.

12/25/09 – Christmas at home. Then the wife’s dad and sister came over for gifts and lunch. Then to her mom’s house for gifts, and then to her aunt’s house with my wife’s entire family.

12/26/09 – We stayed inside all day. What a happy Saturday!

12/27/09 – Church in the morning, and then the Doughtys came a day early to stay with us! We went to Asian Palace II. It’s not all that.

12/28/09 – Got together with friends to have a prime rib dinner (delicious!), exchange gifts, and play a board game.

12/29/09 – I’m not sure we left the house for anything…the Doughtys were still here, though!

12/30/09 – The Doughtys left. We went to church that night. Then we drove to my wife’s work to look at the Christmas picture she painted on the window there.

12/31/09 – Lunch with my father and half-brother (on his side). It was great to catch up and get to know them a bit better. We stayed up until midnight, logging on to the computer just in time to watch the ball drop in New York.

1/1/10 – We didn’t leave the house. A great New Year’s Day. There was much computer time and much reading time. That’s my idea of a great day.

1/2/10 – We went to lunch with my mother and went grocery shopping, despite the snow storm that has been raging for two days, because we needed to get out of the house. Apparently the wife goes a little stir crazy sometimes.

1/3/10 – Another day without leaving the house. I think life is grand.

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Change of Plans

See, here’s the beauty of plans instead of resolutions. Nobody bats an eye when you change your plans. If you change your resolutions, though, you essentially break your original ones. Here are some ideas I’ve come up with:

What if I was more observably affectionate toward everyone, instead of just my wife and my God? Obviously not everyone in the same way, but what if I just planned on being more kind as a whole? I was looking through my paltry amounts of posts from last year and I saw that I was becoming a softy, at least toward my family. Maybe I could work on that in all of my relationships. We’ll see.

Maybe I could set a goal on the number of books I want to read a month, and then allow myself to read my comics once I’ve reached that goal? Four books a month is achievable. It would let me achieve my plan of reading more books than the last two years, and it would often give me some time at the end of the month to immerse myself in the comics I’m craving to re-read.

There. We’ll see how these work.

Later.

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Plans

Now is the time of year when people are posting their resolutions. I do not use the term ‘resolution’ unless it is something I truly resolve to do, something I will not fail at, something at the foremost of my thoughts at all times.

No, instead of resolutions, I will share my plans for the new year. These are goals, sure, but they are less stringently enforced or sought after than resolutions. I will not make 90 day action plans to meet these goals, nor will I obsess about them. These are things I plan to do in the new year:

I plan to display more observable and outward affection to my wife. The original thought was to love my wife more this year, but that hardly seems an observable goal. I want to move beyond any inward build up of love and onto an outward manifestation.

I plan to display more observable and outward affection to my God. Again, to say I will love God more this year is great, and should be a goal of everyone for every year, however I want this to be noticeable to an observer. Not for my sake, naturally, but to display that there are people in this world who still care about him, to be a light, using terminology Christendom is familiar with.

I plan to read more books. This is somewhat of an arbitrary plan, as one could actually read fewer books containing more pages and end up having read more than previous years. However, all things averaging out in the end, I would like to get back into the book reading habit. I have spent much time over the past few months re-reading some of my comic books. It was (and is) a yearning inside me to re-read them until I’m caught up again with the monthly storyline. However, I plan to put this aside to get back into a regular book reading routine.

I plan to lose weight. Seriously, I got on the scales a few days ago and it went up higher than ever before in my life. I didn’t stop at my arbitrary, self-imposed maximum. No, it kept going almost 10 lbs higher. It was horrible. I have been pigging out for over a week now. Luckily most of the junk food is gone, and my wife has the same plan. We’ll lose weight, and we’ll do it with diet and exercise. That means getting back to a regular gym schedule as well.

I plan to post to my website more often. If I don’t, then I’ll start to wonder why I keep it, which would be completely understandable. I spend so much time as a taker, reading other people’s blogs and following people on Facebook and Twitter. I want to be a giver. At one point I fancied myself as somewhat of a writer. I’d like to get back to that. We’ll see what happens.

Those are my largest plans for the year. I have other minor goals, like being more fiscally responsible, catching up on painting some miniatures (for a board game I haven’t played in months, unfortunately), catching up on digitalizing my pictures, and some other catching up I can’t think of now. I don’t want to play catch-up any more. So, let’s see how this all goes.

Later.

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Everything is Bigger in Texas

It even took longer to descend through the cloud cover.

Once we had made it underneath the overcast sky, Dallas spread out before us as far as the eye could see. It was dark out, so what I actually saw was lights. The ground was flat, and out my window lights spread all the way to the horizon. Looking across the aisle and out the other window, I saw the same sight. Dallas was huge.

From the airport we rode a bus to the rental car station. I am used to rental car stations being located inside the airport. This trip was 10 – 15 min of nonstop travel away from the airport. The rental station alone was a large building full of unused space.

I could get used to the great wide open.

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Hey, I’m going to Dallas!

I’m trying to tell everyone in pretty much every online venue I have.

I have a cousin getting married in Dallas. I’ve been to Austin, TX for a week…in years gone by…and I loved it. When my mother asked if I wanted to join in the party heading down, I sure did! The bad part is that it is relatively expensive (I thought I had money to blow at the time she asked) and I have to leave my wife behind. She’s in the middle of a school semester and has to work clinical hours while we’re gone.

Other than that, I expect to love it. I think I’d make a good Texan. Let me head south and mess with Texas and we’ll all find out.

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Teen Chess Club

I’m helping a friend run the Teen Chess Club at the Bangor Public Library. The club will meet every Thursday. The first session is this week, 10/1/09, from 5:30 – 7:30.

I hope it’s not just me and him playing chess against each other…

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Vigilante

Josiah stood outside the convenience store, sucking on a Tootsie Pop while his trenchant flapped in the breeze. A desperate looking man headed toward the establishment door, eyes darting. Josiah deliberately kept his face forward and his eyes looking in a different direction. He watched the man from his peripheral vision. The crazed man entered the store. Josiah waited a few heartbeats and followed.

The store was empty, and the desperate man had wasted no time pulling a gun on the clerk. Josiah caused the robber to turn toward the door. “Don’t move, pal.”
“Hey, tough guy, don’t point that thing at me unless you intend to use it.” Josiah flicked his right wrist and a knife appeared. The robber fired the gun.

Josiah threw the knife with his right hand, while bringing his left arm in front of his chest where the gunman had been pointing. It stung like mad, but the metal plate in Josiah’s forearm deflected the gunman’s bullet. On the other hand, Josiah’s throwing knife had knocked the gun out of the man’s hand before he could get off a second shot. The robber gaped at Josiah, and then he looked for the gun. The weapon had fallen behind the counter.

The robber looked at the gun and looked at the clerk. The clerk was scared, not moving. The robber looked back toward Josiah, but he was gone.

Josiah shoved a display of two liter bottles over upon the robber. The man fell, hitting his head on the counter. Josiah plucked his throwing knife out from under the bottles. “Sorry about the soda. Maybe you can return it for credit.” Sirens began a couple of blocks away. “He’ll be out until the police you called get here. I wouldn’t touch that gun if I was you.” Josiah walked to the back of the store and out the delivery exit.

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Deeper Water by Robert Whitlow

File Under: Christian – Fiction – Law

I found Deeper Water to be an unexpectedly interesting book about a young woman from a dedicated Christian home. She is a law student going to the big city for an internship. Since she’s a conservative Christian from a small town, life gets very different for her.

This book captured my interest in its conservative Christian focus. The stands that the family takes are some of the same ones that I have been raised on. Also, I’m occasionally interested in law-based books, but some get too technical for me to care to follow. (I’m a bit challenged, what can I say?) This book was easy to follow, as the technical aspects took a back seat to the story.

Some things that surprised me about the main character, though, were personality quirks. For the beliefs/personality setup we were given on the main character, I found her to be a bit snippy at times. Also, she can be rather evasive with the truth. These are qualities I would not expect, but ones we were shown right from the beginning, so I can’t really say they didn’t fit the character.

I can identify with her struggles both with her everyday faith and with her interaction with the big city. The best thing I can say about the book is not that it is great fiction but that it exceeded my expectations. (I guess Bryan would call that a cannarf.)

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Family Friendly is Expensive

Yeah, so I’m doing more things with my family. Can I tell you that it’s mostly eating out? This is getting expensive! My dining out monthly expenses have increased since June.

May: $138.55
June: $211.21
July: $240.49
Aug: $265.03 (so far!)

I’m going to need a grant soon to be able to keep up my family friendly ways. Either that or go back to being a hermit.

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Project Complete

I completed my project of the week on Wednesday last week. Midweek church service was unexpectedly canceled due to a death. I had the night free, and I went for it. I’m still sorting through little slips of paper and notes I have written myself, but the organizing and the polishing of the desk is a success. Now to keep plugging at the rest…

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Project of the Week: Clean the desk!

It’s sad to officially term this a project, but I really need to get the other 2/3 of my desk clean. It hasn’t happened just saying I need to do it, so now it’s a project. I have until Saturday night. I’d better stop typing and go…

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