Wednesday, December 31, 2008
"Woodrow Wilson and the Politics of Morality" written by John Morton Blum.
As this is the almost certainly the last book of 2008 I have finished I guess it's time for the years wrap-up. I actually finished 97 books. This is a lot more than my average of about one a week. This is primarily because I did more traveling this year with work.. It came out to 32,099 pages which is an average of 331 pages per book.
Next year I am setting myself a goal of 52 books (one per week), although this of course depends on the type of books. Fiction I read quicker than non-fiction and spy/thriller books I read very quickly so it all depends on what comes next up on my list.
I have 280 Works;
The five most popular labels - Deutsche Grammophon, Argo, Emi, Decca and Hyperion
The five most popular Composers - Michael Nyman, John Tavener, John Adams, Richard Strauss and Philip Glass.
The Five most Popular Countries of Composers birth - USA, England, Germany, Russia and Czech Republic
The Five Most Popular Decades composed - 1990's. 1980's, 2000's, 1940's and 1980's
I think that's enough stats for now...
Monday, December 29, 2008
"Stalingrad" written by Theodore Plievier.
This was a very good fiction book written from the perspective of German soldier's as they were surrounded and soundly beaten by the Russians in the battle for Stalingrad. It's a perspective I don't often think about i.e. that of the common German soldier was dragged along by the Hitler mania that swept that country.
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
Sunday, December 21, 2008
Nickel and Penny. They came into us the week of July 11th 2006. Nickel (left) a white guy was adopted out on August 13th 2006, followed by Penny, a brown tabby, a couple of weeks later on August 31st.
"Sharpe's Fortress" written by Bernard Cornwall.
This one of the Sharpe series that I thoroughly enjoyed watching as TV movies starring Sean Bean. They are set during the early 1800's during Wellington's campaign's in India and Europe. This is the first book of the series I have read and I thoroughly enjoyed it. It was a light read and fun.
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
Monday, December 08, 2008
Monday, December 01, 2008
I broke with my system of reading books in the order I got them!!! Those that know me will be shocked by this!! The reason is that I was sent a book to review.
The book in question is "Historic Photos of Raleigh - Durham" a book of approximately 200 historical photos of the cities of Raleigh and Durham going back to the 1790's when Raleigh was established as the North Carolina State Capital. It is not so much a "reading" book, but, one of interest to those who have a local interest in the development and growth of these two cities. It is incredible how far they have come. There is a small amount of very informative text written by Dusty Walcott and Kenneth E. Peters and will make a good gift for the local Triangle historian and those interested in this area. The photographs are very clear and give a very good pictoral narrative which makes any major writting redundant. The book is published by Turner Publishing.
Sunday, November 30, 2008
"Out of My Later Years" a series of Essays written by Albert Einstein during the period 1934 - 1950. This book is suprisingley simple to read and covers a wide range of topics from religion, to society, to War and Peace, to personalities, to being Jewish and of course science including definitions of relativity and the proof leading to his most famous equation - E=mc2.
One of my favourite quote comes from him and was from one of the essays in this book - "Science without religion is lame, religion with-out science is blind" (page 26)
Friday, November 28, 2008
Thursday, November 27, 2008
I am thankful for...
- My wonderful wife and family
- So many great friends around the world
- For all the opportunities that I have been given in life
- For the chance to say thanks.
- For the Sacrifice of Christ on the Cross
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
"The Old North State Book" a small booklet on facts about North Carolina...
Some Examples -
The State Bird - The Cardinal
The State Flower - The Dogwood
The State Insect - The Honey Bee
The State Tree - The Long Leaf Pine
The State Mammal - The Gray Squirrel
The State Shell - The Scotch Bonnet
The State Salt Water Fish - The Channel Bass
The State Historical Boat - The Shad Boat...
"The Lark Ascending" composed by Ralph Vaughan Williams and "Song for Atene (version for solo violin and strings)", "Dhyana" and "Lalishri" all composed by John Tavener. All where performed by Nicola Benedetti (violin) with The London Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Andrew Litton.
Monday, November 17, 2008
"Terezin / Theresienstadt" a compilation of works by Czech Jewish composers who all except one died in prison camps during the Holocaust. The works and performers are:-
"Ich wandre durch Theresienstadt" composed by Ilse Weber (1903-1944)
"Pod destnikem" and "Vsechno jde (Terezin March)!!" composed by Karel Svenk (1917-1945) all performed by Anne Sofie von Otter (mezzo-soprano), Bengt Forsberg (piano) and Bebe Risenfors (accordian).
"Ade, Kamered" composed by Ilse Weber performed by Christian Gerhaher (baritone) and Gerold Huber (piano)
" Und der Regen rinmt" composed by Ilse Weber and perfomed by Anne Sofie von Otter (mezzo-soprano), Bengt Forsberg (piano) and Bebe Risenfors (accordian).
"Ich weiss bwetimmt, ich werd dich wiedersehn" composed by Adolf Strauss (1902-1944) performed by Anne Sofie von Otter (mezzo-soprano) and Bengt Forsberg (piano).
"Terezin-lied" by a unknown composer performed by Christian Gerhaher (baritone) and Gerold Huber (piano).
"Wir reiten auz holzerman Pferden" composed by Martin Roman (1910 - 1996) performed by Anne Sofie von Otter (mezzo-soprano) and Bengt Forsberg (piano).
"Wiegala" composed by Ilse Weber performed by Anne Sofie von Otter (mezzo-soprano) and Bebe Resenfors (guitar).
"Three Songs" composed by Hans Krasa (1899-1944) performed by Christian Gerhaher (baritone), Ib Hausmann (clarinet), Philip Dukes (viola) and Josephone Knight (cello).
"Ein judusches Kind" composed by Carlo Sigmund Taube (1897 - 1944) performed by Anne Sofie von Otter (mezzo-soprano), Bengt Forsberg (piano) and Ib Hausmann (clarinet).
"Beryozkele" and "Six Sonnets, op.34" composed by Viktor Ullmann (1898-1944) and performed by Anne Sofie von Otter (mezzo-soprano) and Bengt Forsberg (piano).
"Four Songs on Chinese Poetry" composed by Pavel Haas (1899-1944) performed by Christian Gerhaher (baritone) and Gerold Huber (piano).
"Sonata for Solo Violin" composed by Erwin Schulhoff (1894 - 1942) performed by Daniel Hope (violin).
We should never forget!!!
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
Saturday, November 08, 2008
The reason why I am irritated is simple. The separation of Church and State. If any Christian, or Judeo-Christian symbolism is ever mentioned or displayed etc... the ACLU and many others jump on it as unconstitutional, bigoted etc... So, now here is the problem. Marriage in the definition of the term is a religious Sacrament, based on the Judeo-Christian-Islamic tradition, it is not a Governmental institution. Therefore if a religious group decides not to allow or to allow a marriage based on their doctrine it is their perogative. Likewise a Government body legally should not be able to issue a "Marriage License" of any description. It is as hypocrtical for athiest's to gain a "Marriage" license as it would be for a gay couple etc... The State should definately have some legal safe guards for couples and I do not have a problem with how that is defined. The State should not be able to define marriage of any description. Therefore, proposition 8 is irrelevent and as illegal as any proposition to set any definition of marriage. Leave marriage, or the ceremony, or Sacrament thereof to be where it belongs and let the State worry about the legal securities and rights within a legal "union".
A simple summary - Marriage is for "the Church" not State to define.
Thursday, November 06, 2008
Jenn's grandmother, De as she is affectionately know as was one of the kindest, funnest, strongest people I have ever had the priviledge of knowing. When I married Jenn I "inherited" a mother-in-law who was already a close friend and grandmother-in-law (who would kill me if I called her that!!) who accepted me 100% straight away.
I don't have the words to really express my love for De. We had so many blessed times together and were fortunate to be able to spend a lot of time together wherever we lived be it Texas, England, California or North Carolina. In fact, from the first time I visited Jenn and Roxie in Texas, in 1992, just as a friend, she welcomed me into her family. A will share a few brief memories over the years
A very precious, and, also sad one is the time I left after visiting them in June 1995. Her husband, Jenn's Pop, was really sick. As they dropped me off at the airport she hugged me and told me how seriously sick he was and asked me to take care of Jenn (this was when we were just falling in love - She and Pop had already figured it out before we did).
She came to visit us in London and we had a great time. She was obsessed with finding Beanie Babies and could never come to grips with the fact that she could not spend US dollars in England. We spent the night watching the Millennium coming in around the world with her, we went to Nebraska with her where she took me to visit their family home there, something that I will always treasure. She spent a few months with us in North Carolina when she was first getting sick. Above all we got to spend the last week of her life with her. All these times and many others are memories that can not be taken away, are so precious and will be with me for ever. However, the abiding memory of her is how much fun she was and how we always seemed to laugh all the time when we were together.
I am grateful that she was a strong, Christian woman who knew Christ and I know that she being welcomed home right now. That means we will see her again one day and be able to laugh with her again.
I am honoured to be part of her family and I hope to always do right by her in my Christian walk, but, also in taking care of Jenn and her family. I promised her I would always do that when I married Jenn and I always will.
We and I will miss her desperately, but, I know despite how hard it is roght now she will want the laughter to continue.
I love you De, thanks for the memories and untill we meet again - goodbye.
Wednesday, November 05, 2008
The bad is that Jenn's beloved grandmother died the day after we left Texas after visiting after a long illness. This meant we turned straight around and drove back to Texas (this meant adding another State to me "been there" list - Mississippi). I will write more about "De" on Friday.
The good thing is the historical election of Barack Obama. I hope that this can once and for all break down the barriers in this country and move equality of race, sex and any other prejudices that exist. It's going to be a tough job for him to live up to all the expectations and is going to be intersting what happens.
Sunday, November 02, 2008
Thursday, October 30, 2008
Monday, October 27, 2008
It was great to have my team back, and great that they were competitive and above all great that I have something to look forward to next year.
"Wisdom Hunter" written by Randall Arthur.
This book surprised me. I am not a big fan of "Christian Fiction" as it comes across tacky and in my opinion is quite often not well written. However, I really enjoyed this book. Why? Simply because it focused on issues that I feel strongly about. This is the legalism that is so abundant in the right wing, "evangelical", part of the Church today. In the story the "hero" is a pastor of a large church who was so rigid and legalistic that he ended up driving his daughter away and eventually she died, causing his wife to die of a "broken will". He eventually after some trials found true. living Christianity and what it is about in his quest to find his grand-daughter who he had never met. For me true, Bible believing, evangelical Christianity is not about a set of rules it is about living a life based on the teachings of Jesus which is compassion, love, forgiveness and equality. If your life is lived this way in a true submission to "The Spirit" the other things will come.
This is also in my opinion why a lot of Ultra-Right, and right-wing evangelicals have it wrong in so many issues. The Christ of the Bible was the ultimate socialist, or communist (of course the atheism of Marx and Engels makes this a bad analogy), for want of a better term. Our human understanding can not grasp the enormity of this concept, but, one only has to read the beginning of the book of "Acts" to see this in practice. So tell me, why is "sharing the wealth" wrong or, "Universal Health Care" wrong? We need to focus on the wider issues, not just the "ethical ones". For example fix the two issues I've listed the problem of abortion will become less because the financial means and other justifications to carry out this will not be there making the decision to save a life much easier...
OK, I didn't mean to go on such a rant on finishing a book, but, there you go. It's something I feel really passionately about!
Friday, October 24, 2008
Who did I vote for in the big one? I think for those who know me it was fairly obvious, but, I still reviewed all the issues. I meant to go over each on individually on this blog, but, once again time was non-existent. So I will do a quick summary below;
- Abortion - Palin is the strongest, McCain weak and for the Dems I disagree with both on this. Dems 0 Reps 1
- Cuba - Agree more with the Dems, not McCain. I believe talking should begin with their leaders. I do not agree with the embargo. Dems 1 Reps 1
- Economy - Agree a lot more with Obama than McCain, but, I think there are major weaknesses on both platforms. Dems 2 Reps 1
- Education - A toss up. I agree with parts of both. Dems 2.5 Reps 1.5
- Energy - I agree more with the Dems on almost everything. My major disagreement is drilling in Alaska as I believe the Technology is there now to keep it clean and environmental. I am pleased that Obama has not discounted Nuclear energy as this would have been a major disagreement for me. McCain is still to far stuck in the old way of doing things. Dems 3.5 Reps 1.5
- Energy - I think it is a wash. Although I believe we are called to be "stewards" of our Environment and therefore should do everything we can to protect it the science is still not conclusive as to the cause and there is a lot of unnesary hysteria caused by this. Dems 4 Reps 2.
- Gun Control - I think the 2nd ammendement is mis-understood and there should be gun control. Dems 4.5 Reps 2.5
- Health Care - Obama's plan is by far the best. McCain's is to be perfectly honest a hodge podge and a joke. However, Obama's plan goes no where near far enough. I think if the constitution was written today with what we know the founding fathers would have made health care a right. "Life, Libery and Happiness" is difficult if one can't afford to go to the doctors. Dems 5.5 Reps 2.5
- Immigation - Both identical and I don't really agree with either. Dems 6 Reps 3
- Iraq - Agree 100% with Obama and not at all with McCain. Dems 7 Reps 3
- Taxes - Agree with Obama, not McCain Dems 8 Reps 4
- Intangibles - Obama wins this hands down. Why? because he is fresh, but, above all comes across calm under pressure. He also has much more evengelical faith than McCain to ground himself. McCain, the so-called candidate with experience who can handle the pressure has shown himself to be the opposite. He comes across angry and erratic. The fact that he blew is so called best advantage (experience) by chosing Sarah Palin (I have nothing at all against her except there is no way she is ready and I think McCain has put her in a position to fail and be a scape - goat) says to me he cannot make smart decisions. In comparison Obama's choice of Biden, although, I was disspointed, was a safe and sensible choide. Dems 9 Reps 4.
Sunday, October 19, 2008
Thanks to all organizers, leaders and cheerleaders. It is nice to just lay back, read and not worry :)
1. Which hour was most daunting for you?
When I got up at 6am this morning to try and get some reading in.
2. Could you list a few high-interest books that you think could keep a Reader engaged for next year?
I am generally interested in all the books I read. I think reading thrillers this time made it a wee bit easier than last time where I read some non-fiction. Although having said that my "stats" where almost identical to June.
3. Do you have any suggestions for how to improve the Read-a-thon next year?
4. What do you think worked really well in this year’s Read-a-thon?
It was all good.
5. How many books did you read?
Finished three complete books and one I was half way through when I started. I abandoned one after 21 pages because it was not me. I also got about 25% through another.
6. What were the names of the books you read?
Night Judgement at Sinos, See How They Run, Strangers (abandoned), U.S. Marshals, A Small Town in Germany and A Small Death in Lisbon (incomplete - still reading)
7. Which book did you enjoy most?
Night Judgement at Sinos
8. Which did you enjoy least?
9. If you were a Cheerleader, do you have any advice for next year’s Cheerleaders?
10. How likely are you to participate in the Read-a-thon again? What role would you be likely to take next time?
Very Likely. Reader again.
They were two little, buff tabby brother and sister - Button, the girl (right) and Butter, the boy (left). They game to us the week of June 27th 2006. Button was adopted first the week of July 11th 2006, followed by his brother on August 19th 2006.
I finished the read-a-thon at page 122 (out of 451) in "A Small Death in Lisbon". That means I read 70 pages in 53 minutes during the last hour.
The final total of the event is:-
Books Finished - 3 1/2
Total Pages Read - 1159
Total Time Read - 14 hours and 4 minutes.
It's been fun...until next time :)
Saturday, October 18, 2008
I finished reading: "A Small Town in Germany" written by John le Carre. An interesting, but, very dry book.
Next up "A Small Death in Lisbon" written by Robert Wilson. (451 pages). However, I am really tired and have a busy day tomorrow so I need to turn in for a while. I plan on getting up at 6am to finish up with the last two hours.
Running Total -
Books Finished - 3 1/2
Pages Read - 1037
Total Time - 12 hours 26 minutes.
I am up to page 125 (of 311). Over the last two hours I read 71 pages in one hour and seven minutes.
Running Total -
Books Read - 2 1/2
Pages Read - 850
Total Time - 8 hours 56 minutes.
Over the next two hours I will be watching my San Jose Earthquakes play Kansas City in Major League Soccer whilst I read.
I finished reading; "U.S. Marshals" written by Max Allan Collins. This book was based on the screenplay of the movie by the same name starring Tommy Lee Jones, the sequel to "The Fugitive". This is the first time I ever read a book based on a screen play. It was ok.
I started to read "Strangers" by Dean Koontz. I have never read anything by him so I thought I would try. I do not like the "horror" genre so after 21 pages it was obvious this book was not for me. This the second book this year that I failed to finish after starting.
Therefore, the book I am now reading is the next one on my list, "A Small Town in Germany" written by John Le Carre. I am up to page 15 (out of 311).
This hour I read 92 pages in 48 minutes.
Running Total -
Books Read - 2 1/2
Pages Read - 740
Total Time - 7 hours 2 minutes.
I finished reading: "See How They Run" by James Patterson. An OK book, but, it was way too stop starty for me.
I started reading: "U.S. Marshals" written by Max Allan Collins. I am up to page 30 (out of 240).
This hour I read 58 pages in 27 minutes (we had lunch, hence less reading time).
Books Finished - 1 1/2
Pages Read - 493
Total Time - 4 hours 27 Minutes.
I finished reading:- "Night of Judgement at Sinos" written by Jack Higgins.
I started reading " See How they Run" written by James Patterson. Up to page 9.
Total Pages for the hour 73. Total Minutes this hour44.
Books Finished - 1/2
Pages Read - 152
Total Time - 1 Hour 34 Minutes
I will be reading as I always do, in the order I buy books, and as I don't look far ahead (one or two max) I really do not know what's coming up. At the moment I am in a whole slew of Thriller/Spy Novels which are light entertainment for me and do not take me long to read.
I will post every hour on how much I have read the previous hour and for how much time.
I am starting of the book I am currently reading: - "Night Judgement at Sinos" written by Jack Higgins. Currently I am on page 149 of 289, which therefore means I have 140 pages left to go in this book.
Friday, October 17, 2008
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
"The Partner" written by John Grisham.
The second Grisham book that I have read recently and again I thoroughly enjoyed it. I think finding out how much I have enjoyed reading him is the surprise of the year from the reading front. When I go to the big Wake County booksale in November I will certainly be looking for more books by him.
Monday, October 13, 2008
Wednesday, October 08, 2008
Saturday, October 04, 2008
Monday, September 29, 2008
Saturday, September 27, 2008
Durham County Cricket Club won the Cricket County Championship for the first time. Their Innings win versus Kent and Nottinghamshire's defeat to Hampshire sealed the deal. A great achievement for my home county after being first class for only 16 years. (Somerset have been competing since 1891 and have never won it).
Thursday, September 25, 2008
However, what really needs to be looked into is how did this happen? How can it be avoided in the future? and What should be done to fix things?
I am not an economist and have no pretensions to be one, but, a couple of lay-mans points that I want to make:-
- Those at fault should be accountable. Be it Government, the financial institutions, lobbyists, whoever. Some of the activities that have gone on are certainly on the criminal level.
- What action should the Government take? Bail out those billionaires that caused this problem with the average working man's tax dollars. I don't think so!! Why should we, the people, bail out these people when our jobs, our mortgages, our lives are crumbling because of these selfish, greedy fat-cats? They really help us when our houses are up for foreclosure because we got sick, couldn't afford Health Care, couldn't work and therefore got behind don't they? It is not Government for the rich, entitled, greedy. The Constitution is based on Government FOR THE PEOPLE...that's all people. It's about time the people realized this and fought for the rights we are ALL legally entitled by our Government not just the lucky few. Remove lobbyists, remove special interests, remove corporate campaign finance. Let the real people speak!! I have no problems with my taxes going to my buddy down the road about to lose his house, pay for him getting health care etc... I would pay more taxes for that. I DO have a problem with my taxes going to help Joe Billionaire out because he got into a problem by stepping on my buddy down the road. The founding fathers will be turning in their graves. We had the Revolution for this? The Boston Tea Party came to this?
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
Tuesday, September 23, 2008
Sunday, September 21, 2008
The first is that the Carolina RailHawks finished their Season yesterday failing to make the USL1 play-offs. This season has been a disappointment and I am sure that there will be many debates, inquiries and repercussions over the next few weeks as the team generally in my opinion under-performed and wasted too many opportunities. However, the strange thing was in many ways the game yesterday made me more of a believer. The reason why was the way the team wanted to win the game for the fans. Yes, there was still a chance to qualify for the play-offs, but, realistically it was a long shot, but, the fight towards the end of the game to get the win was the best I've seen for a long time. The win game 1-0 against Portland Timbers and like I said I think it was more for themselves and the fans. This made me more of RailHawk fan than anything else. They will never overtake Hartlepool or San Jose in the pecking order, but, they definately drew me a lot closer in yesterday and I will have a much greater passion next Season.
The second point is disgust at the New England Patriot fans. They lost their first NFL regular Season game today for the first time in I think 21 games. The fans booed and left early. Do they realise how lucky they have been and still are? I they are going to boo their team after one loss after the run they've had I do not consider them true fans. They are as disgraceful as their owners, the Krafts.
Friday, September 19, 2008
Wednesday, September 17, 2008
I haven't totally 100% decided my vote in this election as I still need time to go through issue one by one, but, this lady has not helped McCain's cause at all in my mind...
For Obama's plan go here:- Obama's plan.
For McCain go here:- McCain's plan
Sunday, September 14, 2008
Thursday, September 11, 2008
"Detained: A Writer's Prison Diary" written by Ngugi Wa Thiong'o.
It was written during and after is forced detainment in Kenya after he was arrested. This book was more a condemnation of the Pre-Independent and Post-Independent Kenya and the atrocities of the British Colonial System in that Country. Very disturbing and eye opening.
Wednesday, September 10, 2008
"The Romanov Prophecy" written by Steve Berry.
This falls under what I call my "silly" or "light" reading. I enjoy thrillers and especially spy thrillers, generally if they are based on events or places I am interested in. This one is based on a plot to find the heir the Romanov throne as post-communist Russia wants to bring back the Monarchy. I was a bit disappointed by this book. The concept was good. A clue based search, similar to Dan Brown's Da Vinci Code based on one of my favourite places and history periods, but, it didn't quite work for me. The search for the descendant ironically enough finished in North Carolina between Ashville and Boone.