Nick Hornby – Read to Enjoy, not to Read

This article by Nick Hornby in the UK’s Telegraph is a great insight on reading and I share a lot of his views on it.? To sum it up, for those of you who won’t go and read it yourselves, Hornby says that the important part about reading is reading something you enjoy.? If you don’t enjoy it, or if it’s boring, or if you can’t make heads or tails of it, it’s like negative reinforcement, you read less because you dread opening up the book.

He mentions the literary world who makes fun of the people who have read “The DaVinci Code,” and don’t read the modern literary novels that are a little bit more challenging to the reader, and how they have it wrong.? It’s not about nessicarily what you read, but the fact that you read.? Reading “East of Eden” will not make your life better, but if you read it and enjoyed it that’s what counts.? I’ve been hard on “The DaVinci Code” as a book, but I will not begrudge those who have read it or are reading it.? I’m excited that they are even reading.

I’ve seen reports out there of the fact that a good portion of adults have not read a book since they finished High School.? To me, and my love of reading, this is such a sad fact.? I love the feeling of opening up a good book and getting lost in it, and I want everyone to experience it, and if Dan Brown’s thriller can do it, then great!? It’s one of the reasons I love the Harry Potter books, even though I’ve only read one of them.? We’re getting a new generation of kids who might just love reading so much they’ll continue to do it beyond the books they must read for school.? Wonderful!!!

Jess and I discuss this from time to time.? I’ve got a few books that I want to read that have sat on my to read shelf for ages, because of the fact that I just don’t think I’ll enjoy reading them, or the process of trying to slog through the book is daunting (will Faulkner please stand up).? I’m thinking of just trading them back in, because I know I’ll never really get to them.? I want to read books I’ll enjoy, and I am doubting my enjoyment of them.? I might really like them once I got over the hump, but in reality, I don’t have much reading time and why would I want to put it into something I may not like, when I have plenty of books I know I’ll enjoy.

Jess has a similar problem, in that she selects books from time to time that she just can’t wait to finish, even if she doesn’t like it so much.? She refuses to not finish a book, even if she is bored to tears by it.? She may put it aside for a while, but she’ll plod on till the end.? I’ve told her to drop a book if she doesn’t like it, but she always pushes on.? I’m amazed by it really.

Read a book, but read it because you like it, not because you think you must like it or must for “cultural” reasons.? Reading should be fun.

Active RBI Baseball and Tecmo Bowl Players

mbotrell.com has done a great job of seeing who on the rosters of RBI Baseball, Tecmo Bowl and Tecmo Super Bowl are still active and playing professionally.

It’s still amazing to see Rodger Clemens still pitching.

And for those of you who havn’t seen it yet: I present the 10th inning of the 1986 World Series – as recreated in RBI Baseball by a dedicated fan.

Music – Live vs. Studio

Over on goodhodgkins, the writer has collected songs from the blogosphere (stupid word) that have a live version that sounds better than the studio version. One fun bit of data, one of the songs he notes is Radiohead’s Like Spinning Plates, where he finds the live performance much better. The performance he speaks of was the September 11th, 2001 performance in Berlin, where my friend Kevin and I were there for the very emotionaly charged show.

Word of advice though – If it’s a day of a huge national disaster, and it’s also your girlfriends birthday – Call her.

Games and Learning

I was looking around the net as usuall, but ended up finding this post on Games and Learning. The author hits his point right on the head. Educational games tend to suck. They beat you over the head with what they are trying to teach you. Math games are some of the worst, but I remember reading and geography games as well.

Thinking back to my childhood and educational games that I’ve played, Oregon Trail stands out as a game that accomplished what it was trying to do. Make learning about how hard it was to cross the country in a wagon train, while having fun.

I think as my son grows I want to make his learning much like this as well. Take things that are normally long lists or excercises in memorization, and create a way that he just knows the answer instead of trying to recall his list in his head. Make his geography and history fun, but also second nature. I think this will be a good challenge for my wife and I as we look to educate him.

Tacoma Coffee – The Kickstand Cafe

Again on the search for good coffee in Tacoma, we come to the Kickstand Cafe. I’d insert a link to their website but they don’t have one-I think you know this frustrates and confuses me. Located near downtown Tacoma and Wright Park, the Kickstand is home to Tacoma’s growing crowd of hipsters (Seattle transplants or high schoolers who just don’t know any better). It was founded by a young couple, who about 2 years ago sold it and moved. The new owners have cleaned it up and tried to improve the service. They have managed to retain much of the old flavor of the place while making it a bit more welcoming to Tacoma’s diverse population.

Starting with the atmosphere, they’ve done a good job keeping it a comfortable but modern setting. There’s a mural on the wall that survived the change of hands as well as a rotating display of local art. Their back room, which went from a dark hole where no one went, was transformed under the new owners to a usable space with plenty of light and a great place for the local music and shows that are put on there, as well as a place to drink the selection of wine and beer they now offer.

They are currently using Caffe Vita coffee. Which is both a good and bad thing. I’m happy they are not using some of the local roasters (Fox Hollow and it’s ilk), but Vita just isn’t as good as some of the other Seattle roasters. The good thing about Caffe Vita, is the barista training that they offer to those who use their coffee. It might not be much, but any training on proper techniques is better than none.

Problem is, the baristas of the Kickstand are widely varied in their skills. I’ve been in and had either Chris (one of the owners), or another of his baristas make me and my wife a great pair of drinks, with great foam, and shots that were not over extracted with decent cr?me. But on a return visit on a Saturday evening, the barista was clearly inexperienced and made one of the worst Americao’s I’ve ever had, and my wife’s short latte was more a lukewarm steamed milk with no foam. Very disappointing.

They use a well worn La San Marco for their machine. It’s seen better days and has been repeatedly patched to keep it going, but it can produce good shots if you are patient (I myself put in a brief stint as a Kickstand barista).

The Kickstand, if you can get a good barista, is one of the better coffee experiences you will get in Tacoma. Decent to good Caffe Vita, with great atmosphere, and the bonus of theThe Grand Cinema next door, showing the latest indie films. My advice, carefully watch what the drinks of the people in front of you look like. If they’re sketchy, go for the drip, or a smoothie. You’ll be better off, and you’ll enjoy your experience more.

Pandora

I wish I could remember where I found the link to Pandora.

What is Pandora? It’s an incredible webapplication that answers the question, “If I like xxx band, then what are other bands I might like?”, and in the end Pandora does a great job of answering this question. It’s simple to use. You enter a band name, it’s music engine looks for music that is either by that band or possibly sounds like it. Easy, but the system is a learning system, in that you can give the song it plays a thumbs up or down based on how you like it, and how well it meets with your band criteria. It’s almost like a radio station that plays music you like and if you don’t it’s easy to skip. But the great part is that it introduces you to bands and artists that you would never have heard otherwise.

Feeling mellow – put on your Death Cab for Cutie “station”, feeling like going dancing – put on your Daft Punk station. Try it… It’s replaced internet radio for me while I work, and I’ve heard quite a few bands I’d like to learn more about.

Pat Robertson Makes Me Mad

Okay. You know what, I’ve had it with Pat Robertson. The old guy has gone too far, again. Saying that because the citizens of Dover, PA voted out the school board that was trying to bring intelligent design into science classrooms, God has left there town and if a disaster strikes, too bad. God isn’t going to help you. What the fuck.

I’m sad for the moderate Republicans and moderate Christians these days. With crackpots shooting off their mouths, behaving in a decidedly non-Christian ways, and then claiming to represent the will of God in the country. Is God going to leave you because you don’t agree with him? Did Jesus suggest overthrowing the Romans, or assassinating Herrod? No. Pat Robertson, where is the God of love and peace and forgiveness that I learned about? Where is your tolerance and willingness to embrace the outcasts? I guess I’m just not down with this warmongering, if you’re not 100% with us you are wrong type of mentality that I see in some of the Republican party over the last 5 years.

I understand Pat Robertson that you believe that you are saving the country from going down the road to Soddom and Gamorra, our “moral decline”. I see it as taking our country away from the freedoms it was founded upon, creating a society of intolerance and fear. I’m glad that moderate Republicans are finally standing up to the far-right and getting the country back on a middle road that can more evenly represent the will of the American people. Keep working guys. Keep working on bringing your party back from the brink, and saving it from people like Pat Robertson and Dick Cheney.

Impending Fatherdom

I’m going to be a dad in less than two weeks the people in the doctors office tell me. Two weeks till my life is going to be completely different. Two weeks until I’m partially responsible for making sure that my son grows up and stay’s alive long enough to take care of me. I’m going to have to teach him useful things, some of which will be fun (doing his shoelaces) others will be a trial (how to use a toliet, though that has an upside of no more diapers). In short I’m incredibly excited and terrified and a little mystified all together in one.

Jess, my wife, is doing very very well. She’s tired, of course, of lugging around a baby that loves to kick her in the ribs, and sit on her bladder, but has had an overall great pregnancy with all the horror stories we’ve had to endure from people. She’s started the nesting phase, tearing out part of our kitchen at 8:30 on a Friday night because it seemed like a good idea, even though we are not remodeling the kitchen until at least next spring.

It’s been interesting going with her places and seeing people. People love pregant ladies. They’ll talk to a complete stranger and share details of their family life with you like you were an old friend, just because of your belly.

So soon. Things will be different. I can’t wait, but I don’t think I’m fully ready, but then when is anyone “ready” to be a parent? Go Ash William Anderson, can’t wait to meet you.

Job Hunting

I’ve been job hunting for the last month or so. Was laid off from my last job doing pharmaceutical sales (yea, I know, it’s an “evil” industry, but at least I was selling drugs that make people live longer and were not something like Viagra). The timing of the whole thing really sucked, with a baby on the way and needing health insurance, let alone an income to provide for the guy was at the top of my mind every day.

It’s interesting working more now in the career style jobs now. It was always growing up and through school, one interview and you’re hired, come to work next week to fill out this paperwork. The further you progress up the pay scale the longer it seems to take. Phone screening, then phone interview, then paperwork to fill out, then in-person interview #1, in-person interview with someone else #2, then maybe an offer, or “We went with the person who has experience in this field already.”

Monster.com was my primary source for finding interviews, and where recruiters seemed to find me as well. It’s amazing how many more calls you can get when you have 2 years of experience, versus 2 1/2 years ago when I first started down the career path route. Companies that wouldn’t touch me were calling me now. Though it was for things like financial planning, insurance sales, copier sales, or a good favorite one was selling house siding at 100% commission, no benefits and you start in the territory in the winter (which of course is when everyone thinks of doing home improvements!).

I’d get down from time to time. It’s funny. You miss working sometimes. You miss having a place to go and do “work” even if it bores the hell out of you sometimes, or if you love it, it’s worse. The other reason I’d get down is the fact that, here I am, supposed to be the provider financialy for my family and I don’t have a job or income. Great. I’m such a good husband and dad-to-be! You get over it, and then look some more.