Saturday, December 31, 2016

A Vacation with my Sister and the Kiddos

The week leading up the New Year was quite a delight for me. I enjoyed Christmas quite a bit - spending time with both my own family and my boyfriend's family. The day after Christmas, my sister, her kids, and I went to a lodge to celebrate her 40th birthday. It was a lot of fun. We did some chillaxing, took the kids to a bouncy house and to the pool and basically just enjoyed ourselves. And then, bonus, I had the day after my vacation off of work (just the way the schedule worked out) so I got time to rest from my vacation. Climbing after a toddler in a bouncy house is a lot harder than you'd think!

Friday, December 30, 2016

Packing for Mars, by Mary Roach

Packing for Mars is a hilarious and informative book about the difficulties astronauts face in outer space. It covers most bodily functions, eating, and what happens to food (and bodily fluids) in zero gravity. However, it has very little to do with visiting Mars. 

I admit that I found this book a bit slow at the beginning, but it perked  up around the time she started talking about the sleep studies NASA is performing. I want $7000 to lie around in bed all day for 3 months! I even called up the number provided on the NASA website to volunteer, but the number didn't work. *sigh* Oh well, I really didn't want to ruin my bones. Having studied bones for my dissertation, I recognize the long-term effects of a study like that. I was also thrilled when Roach quoted my dissertation adviser on the effects of hibernation on bear bones. How funny!

I definitely recommend this quirky book to anyone who enjoys knowledge for the sake of knowledge and isn't easily grossed out. 

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Hope in the Dark, by Rebecca Solnit

Hope in the Dark is a short book of essays about the importance of recognizing small victories in the face of what seems insurmountable challenge. Solnit is a radical activist who passionately protests many issues such as NAFTA, the destruction of the environment, and war. The book was beautifully written - Solnit surely knows how to compose a sentence. 

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Merry Christmas to all who celebrate

Happy holidays to everyone! Personally, I celebrate Christmas as my seasonal holiday, and it happens to be Christmas, so Merry Christmas to all! 

Friday, December 23, 2016

Around the World in 80 Books - A 5 Year Project

Last year, Book Riot published a list of books entitled Around the World in 80 Books, a Global Reading List. I was thinking today about what I'm missing out in my reading habits, and I decided I need to read about other places / cultures more often. So I think I'll make a 5 year project out of this. Here is my modified list. The books in bold are the ones I already own and will start with - though I can't promise much this year. 

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Back to the Classics 2017

I have some pretty full plans this coming year, and none of my plans include reading classics. That's a shortcoming I ought to rectify, and Back to the Classics (hosted by Karen @ Books and Chocolate) is a great way to do that. I don't know if I'll actually be able to finish the challenge (I didn't last year either) it's a great goal regardless. We only have to read 6 to "complete" though! Surely I can do that.

The Righteous Mind, by Jonathan Haidt

The Righteous Mind explores the polarization of American politics with a focus on the different moral foundations of conservatives versus liberals. He explores the question of why both conservatives and liberals tend to think they are morally in the right and that the other side is morally wrong. Haidt spends the first two chapters providing experimental evidence of why Hume was right to say that reason is the slave of passion. He suggests that you can't make reasoned decisions without emotional backing. Haidt uses Damasio's findings, presented in his book Descartes' Error, to back this up. Damasio found that people who do not feel emotion due to brain damage are flummoxed by even small decisions like what brand of milk to buy or what order to perform a set of tasks. Haidt then references studies that suggest that people will use emotional intuition to come up with a point of view, and then look specifically at evidence that supports this intuition, ignoring evidence that contradicts their own views. 

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

#Readers' Workouts: Issue 1

Despite my minimal-meme policy on my blog, I've decided to participate in Joy's Readers' Workouts meme to help me be held accountable in my workouts. As I said in my update this weekend, I have decided to get healthy again by training for a 100 mile bike ride in September. Part of that choice is just enjoyment in the accomplishment, but part of it is because I want to lose weight. Ever since I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and went on medications, I have been gaining weight. I would like to lose that weight again and be back to the person I was. So I will eat healthier, exercise more, and mostly give up diet soda (not altogether - failed attempts in the past have taught me that giving up soda altogether only leads to relapse later). I'm giving up the diet soda because I've heard rumor that it negatively affects one's metabolism so that people gain weight when drinking it. 

Friday, December 16, 2016

Polar Vortex Baby

So Polar Vortex 2017 has hit Minnesota. And on top of that Winter Storm Decima is coming! We're supposed to be pelted with ice and snow tonight and then have temperatures down to -23 degree Fahrenheit tomorrow. Mmmm. I look forward to going to work at 4:30am. At least I don't have to drive far! 

Chaos, by D. J. Schuette

Chaos, by D. J. Schuette

Special Agent Nicholas Keegan would like to spend more time with his wife, but he just can't lay off his work as a forensic criminologist for the FBI. When he spearheads an update in the ineffective national criminal database ViCAP, collating previously unentered data, patterns start emerging and Keegan realizes that a brutal crime he's investigating is really just one in a series of murders. 

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Reading the Bible as Literature: Some supplementary reading

I've only read the Bible through once before, and that was a rushed reading in my youth to say been-there-done-that. I've been wanting to study its literary, historical, and spiritual content more closely for a long time, and in the year 2017 I'll start with a literary group reading. Everyone is welcome to join me for some or all of this project. 

Monday, December 12, 2016

Neurotribes, by Steve Silberman

Neurotribes, by Steve Silberman, read by William Hughes

Silberman explores the history of autism by weaving stories / case histories of autistic people in with stories of psychological and ideological leaps in the understanding of autism. He reveals a lot of details I didn't know about researchers like Hans Asperger and the making of the movie Rainman. It was information that I was intrigued by, though I found his writing style to be a bit winding at times. In the end, I felt a little lost about what the thesis of Silberman's book was - or if he had one at all. Before reading the book I expected to get a history of autism research with a lot of current information on the neurodiversity movement. But because there were so many stories of autistic people woven into the book, I didn't really get what I expected. The information seemed a bit scattered. Not that I didn't enjoy the book - I did. It was interesting reading about all those case histories - it gave the book a personal air. I just expected a more A-to-B-to-C historical account of the history of autism and the neurodiversity movement. 

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Winter has come

Winter has come! It's cold and windy outside, and supposed to drop even lower next week. I've gotten out my winter jacket, and still need to figure out what happened to my gloves. Nothing much happened this week worth noting. Hero has recovered splendidly from her surgery and everything is calm here at Casa Hibernator. 

Friday, December 9, 2016

A Confusion of Princes, by Garth Nix

A Confusion of Princes, by Garth Nix
Read by Michael Goldstrom
17yo Khemri has just become a prince of an intergalactic empire. But being a prince isn't at all what he expected. There's no cruising around the empire in his shiny new ship, having adventures and making his fortune. No, the Emperor will be retiring soon, and Khemri must prepare to compete for the status of new Emperor. 

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

The Price of Silence, by Liza Long

The Price of Silence, by Liza Long
When, in December 2012, Adam Lanza rampaged Sandy Hook Elementary, killing 20 children and 6 adult staff members, people blamed the mother for not taking proper care of her child. But how was she supposed to care for her mentally ill son when the mental health system is so broken, argues Liza Long. Ms Long is also the mother of an unstable, mentally ill child who has violent outbursts. She can relate to Adam Lanza's mother's quandary. 

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Plans for 2017

Due to the complexity of my reading plans next year, I've decided to make categories to organize my thoughts and make sure I read everything: 

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Hero's Fix

Doesn't she look pissed?
This was a pretty good week for me, though not so much for my Hero. I spent a fortune getting her fixed on Thursday. She was sent home wearing an Elizabethan collar, which made her look really cute and forlorn in the kennel, but as soon as she was out she started freaking out and running around the room backwards. Then she kept trying to drink some water, but couldn't get at it. Within a half hour of returning home, I took the darned thing off. Now, she and I are sitting on the bed in the spare bedroom, and she's happily purring away. So things have gotten a bit better. 

Friday, December 2, 2016

2016 #ReadIndie Challenge

I just found this lovely challenge to review indie books hosted by Cornerfolds and Books and Prejudice. AND an indie book I want to read was just released a couple days ago! It's called Chaos, by Julian Kincaid. I had the opportunity to read and comment on the beta-copy, so I know it's going to be good. It's a meta-thriller in which the psychopath murderer has his own real-life blog at Check out the blog. If you like what you see, then read the book. Expect a review here within a couple of weeks.  

Gods Behaving Badly, by Marie Phillips

Gods Behaving Badly, by Marie Phillips, read by Rosalyn Landor

It's hard for the Greek gods in the modern world. They've lost most of their power, and are stuck living in a dilapidated house in London. In order to make a living, Aphrodite answers sex calls, Apollo is a TV psychic, and Artemis is a dog walker.  They still treat humans with the same snide disregard, though. When Apollo insults Aphrodite, she decides to take revenge on him by making him fall in love with a homely young woman, Alice, who is their housemaid. This sets off a storm of bad luck for everyone involved. 

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Chi's Sweet Home

Chi's Sweet Home Volumes 1-12
by Konami Kanata

Well, it's time to catch up on my reviews. I'm behind by 5, and expect to finish one or two more books by the time I catch up on those. :) Upcoming are Gods Behaving Badly, by Marie Phillips; Confusion of Princes, by Garth Nix; The Price of Silence, by Lisa Long; and Neurotribes, by Steve Silberman.