May 2009


The year is close to half way over, but I am not close to being half way done with my goal of reading 36 books this year. However, I feel some consolation that the books I have read so far have been challenging (not the kind of stuff I would normally read) and very enjoyable.

One of my favorite websites is The AV Club. In particular, they have a fantastic book section and some interesting ongoing features. One of the ongoing features, called Gateways to Geekery helps readers engage in a subculture which may seem impenetrable (e.g. west coast G-funk, power pop). One recent column was dedicated to classic crime fiction — describing it as a genre with roots all the way back to Edgar Allen Poe. The article was convincing enough that I mentally committed to read a book by Dashiell Hammett if the opportunity presented itself. On a recent business trip, my connecting gate in the Cincinatti airport was right next to a particularly good airport Borders. While browsing, I came across The Thin Man by Dashiell Hammett and immediately recalled my emotional commitment, so kept the promise to myself and picked up a copy

the_thin_man.largeYeah, it was OK. I wasn’t captivated and am not going to hijack my reading plans to become a fanboy. The story was more or less only interesting to me because I appreciated how much of a spoof the Naked Gun movies were of this particular type of writing. It wasn’t terrible, but it definitely fell far below my heightened expectations.If you want my copy, ask.

I did feel really cool buying it and reading it on the airplane.

  1. Outliers (read)
  2. The 7 Triggers to Yes (read)
  3. East of Eden (read)
  4. Duma Key (listened)
  5. Past Caring (listened)
  6. Jesus Wants to Save Christians (listened)
  7. Ladies and Gentlemen: The Bible by Jonathan Goldstein (read)
  8. Christ the Lord: Out of Egypt by Anne Rice (listened)
  9. The Thin Man by Dashiell Hammett (read)
  10. The Go Point (In progress, reading)
  11. Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal
  12. Peopleware
  13. Back of the Napkin
  14. Over the Edge of the World (Magellan’s terrifying circumnavigation of the globe)
  15. Lisey’s Story
  16. The Time Paradox
  17. The Creative Habit
  18. Revolution by George Barna
  19. The Relational Way
  20. The Art of Learning: An Inner Journey to Optimal Performance
  21. Spin Selling
  22. Genesis
  23. Exodus
  24. Leviticus
  25. Numbers
  26. Deuteronomy
  27. Beloved by Toni Morrison
  28. Emergency Sex
  29. Founders at Work (http://www.scottberkun.com/blog/2007/book-review-founders-at-work/)
  30. E Myth Revisited
  31. ?
  32. ?
  33. ?
  34. ?
  35. ?
  36. ?

This space is reserved for activities which fit in toDr. Stephen Covey’s famous fourth quadrant. If you are unfamiliar with his self-improvement masterpiece “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People”, the fourth quadrant contains activities which are simultaneously not urgent and unimportant. These are not activities in which highly effective people frequently engage.

frantic

I would like to point out the best game I’ve ever downloaded and played on my iPhone called FlightControl by Firemint. I read about it on the Wired Blog and decided to give it a shot.

The premise is that you, the game player, are a flight traffic controller attempting to land jumbo jets, jets, small planes and helicopters. It’s a maze of flight patterns and trying to land so many flying objects concurrently is sickeningly fun. The gameplay starts slow, then is beyond a human being’s ability to control within 5 minutes. The music sounds like something from a lounge in the 50’s, the graphics are easy on the eyes and this is a natural use of touch screen technology. It doesn’t hurt that the game lavishes you with praise such as “Smashing” and “Jolly Good” as you safely land aircraft — which during my best game, I’ve successfully done 65 times.

If you have the means (an iPhone, $.99 and 5 minutes here and there), I would highly recommend this as YOUR next quadrant 4 activity.

Recently, my family had some family pictures taken by Loree Alayne Photography at the Indianapolis Art Museum. We went at 5pm, which is almost dusk during this time of year in Indiana, and the weather was perfect. The session went well and was a lot of fun, but we were concerned that the pictures would not turn out well because the kids were somewhat challenging. We expected that we would have some good individual shots of the girls, but none of all of us.

I’ve never been so happy to be so completely wrong. Loree is a photographic genius and is great with kids! Here are a few examples to give you an idea of how they turned out.

86web

41web

69web1

Loree has also added a post to her blog with a few more pictures.

Book 7 in my quest for 36 was a great book by Jonathan Goldstein. I was introduced to his humor through his regular contributions to This American Life. I’m not really sure how I found out about this book, but I’m glad I did. Jonathan writes somewhat tongue in cheek riffs on famous bible stories from a very human perspective. The stories are sometimes hilarious, sometimes ridiculous and sometimes really touching.

Here is a pretty good example of what you would be in for if you chose to read this book. The following is Isaac’s consolation blessing to Esau (who had his real blessing stolen from his younger twin, Jacob. It’s a long story):

Bless thee. Bless thee. May thine health be passable and thine income middling. May thou find a bride of so-so looks and mediocre bust. May thine days pass with relative tolerableness.

Another choice bit is David (the wannabe comedian) who saw his fight with Goliath as a potential comedy skit to please God:

The manner in which I kill Goliath will cause the whole world to laugh, thought David. Even God himself will laugh.

David wanted to please the Lord, and he believed a good hearty chuckle would do him good.

Then on to the fight. Immediately following a bunch of “No, I will feed your body to the birds and dogs” trash talking is the following:

“You win,” quipped David, “but you still might want to chew on a mint leaf.”

“I shall chew on your still-beating heart,” parried Goliath.

“Do you kiss your brothers with that mouth?” asked David.

The book is laugh out loud funny. If you are offended by farce, particularly farce which involves beloved bible heroes, this book is not for you. As a believer myself, I felt like it was a good natured and well imagined parody of the big stories in the bible (Adam and Even, Cain and Abel, Tower of Babel, etc).

  1. Outliers (read)
  2. The 7 Triggers to Yes (read)
  3. East of Eden (read)
  4. Duma Key (listened)
  5. Past Caring (listened)
  6. Jesus Wants to Save Christians (listened)
  7. Ladies and Gentlemen: The Bible by Jonathan Goldstein (read)
  8. Christ the Lord: Out of Egypt by Anne Rice (In progress, listening)
  9. The Thin Man by Dashiell Hammett (In progress, reading)
  10. The Go Point (In progress, reading)
  11. Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal
  12. Back of the Napkin
  13. Over the Edge of the World (Magellan’s terrifying circumnavigation of the globe)
  14. Lisey’s Story
  15. The Time Paradox
  16. The Creative Habit
  17. Revolution by George Barna
  18. The Relational Way
  19. The Art of Learning: An Inner Journey to Optimal Performance
  20. Spin Selling
  21. Genesis
  22. Exodus
  23. Leviticus
  24. Numbers
  25. Deuteronomy
  26. Beloved by Toni Morrison
  27. Emergency Sex
  28. Founders at Work (http://www.scottberkun.com/blog/2007/book-review-founders-at-work/)
  29. E Myth Revisited
  30. ?
  31. ?
  32. ?
  33. ?
  34. ?
  35. ?
  36. ?