The Borrowers, by Mary Norton

Tuesday, January 27th, 2015

untitledI was introduced to the Borrowers some years ago when I saw the movie, the one where John Goodman plays the villain. I liked the movie and thought I should give the book a read, though it took me a while to get around to it. As is usually the case, the book is not quite like the movie.

The Borrowers, by Mary Norton, is a fun children’s book about tiny people living  under the kitchen floor of a great big house.. It’s never specified when the story is taking place, but I think it’s set around the early 1900s, in England.

Only one family of Borrowers is left in the big house owned by Aunt Sophy. The rest of the Borrower families have moved out for one reason or another and have not been heard from since. Though Arrietty, her mother Homily and her father Pod convince themselves that there are many more Borrowers in the world, they might well be the last of the Borrowers. Arrietty meets Sophy’s nephew, the Boy, and the Boy offers to help her find other Borrowers, if they can be found. Among other things.

Branch, by Gustavo Bondoni

Wednesday, January 14th, 2015

branchBranch, by Gustavo Bondoni, is a novella about the discovery of a new human species. They look and behave like the rest of us, but they’re not quite like us. The biggest difference is that our species and theirs cannot breed.

So, there is a team of scientists working in India, at the village where this new species lives. Most of the scientists are good, decent and sensible people, but one of them is a royal pain in the ass.

When India’s soldiers move to the village to assure the safety and secrecy of the villagers, everything is peachy until the doctor with the bad attitude decides to spread the word about the villagers being different from the rest of the human race. The news spreads around the world and soon there are thousands of bigots who think the world would be better off if this new branch of the human race is eliminated, in the name of God, of course.

A fun read. Some bits stirred my emotions.  Bondoni did it right.

Jim Harbaugh in the Big House

Friday, January 2nd, 2015

We got him. It’s been official for a few days now. Jim Harbaugh has signed the contract and is the head coach of Michigan’s football team. This makes me happy. I couldn’t watch the Wolverines’ last season. I watched maybe five games and then I just totally gave up on them for the season. That’s saying a lot, because I really, really love the Michigan Wolverines. But this last season was such a disaster that I couldn’t watch. I just couldn’t.

Brady Hoke really fucked up. The guy made some horrible coaching decisions, even violated some rules. It was time for him to be gone. Jim Harbaugh has a great coaching record and a Super Bowl under his belt. Though he did not win the Super Bowl that year, he got his team there and that’s a big thing. It’s also known that Harbaugh did very well coaching college football before going to the NFL. I read somewhere that he feels his way of coaching is better suited for college kids. That’s one of the reasons why he decided to leave the NFL and return to the NCAA and his old school.

The 2015 college football season is a ways off, but I’m looking forward to it. I have faith that Harbaugh will turn things around.

Welcome back to Michigan, Jim.

 

2015 Is Here

Thursday, January 1st, 2015

We’re here. This is the year Marty McFly went to in Back to the Future Part II. We still don’t have flying automobiles, hoverboards, automatic dog walkers, “Power laces, all right!” shoes, or those really cool Pepsi cans. But we do have a lot of neat stuff, so science fiction is happening in some ways.

Looking back on 2014…. Well, to be honest, I don’t really want to look back. I want to look forward. Now that we’re here, I want to look at 2015. I want things to happen in 2015, things that I can look forward to. Sure, I’ll still reflect on things from the past, whether good or bad, but right now I’m not in the mood.

But I will say this about 2014, it was a decent year, with the usual ups and downs, some of it heartbreaking and some of it not bad at all. I did manage to make another short story sale. It’s been quite a while since I last made a sale and it’s good to be back in the game. I also finished that novel I had been working on for too long and I’m already 20,000 words and 98 pages into my next novel. So, I would say 2014 was a year I accomplished a few things.

I plan to step up my game in 2015. I want this to be a more productive year than last year was. I also hope to make a few more short story sales and land an agent for my novels. I want this to be a good year.

2015, we made it.

June 1942: A Boy Out Of Time, A Girl Out Of History, by Quito Washington

Wednesday, December 10th, 2014

51LfdolVS5L__BO2204203200_PIsitb-sticker-v3-bigTopRight0-55_SX278_SY278_PIkin4BottomRight122_AA300_SH20_OU01_Not bad. Pretty damn good, actually. I usually don’t bother with self published books, but June 1942: A Boy Out Of Time, A Girl Out Of History, by Quito Washington, is one I’m glad I read. I’ll be honest, I think it could use a bit more editing. I spotted a lot of typos and there were places where commas should have been but weren’t. I also saw some point of view violations. But if you’re not anal about that stuff, this is a very enjoyable book.

I would say it’s science fiction with a mild blend of fantasy. Though there were times when I thought it was a ghost story, then I’d think it was contemporary fiction, but with some of the story set in the past. But in the end it came clear what this actually is and it was well played. The plot was strong, the story was convincing, the characters were believable.

Not bad.

Romeo and Juliet, by William Shakespeare

Tuesday, November 4th, 2014

untitledI’ve been behind on my reading. Finally got back into the motion and finished off William Shakespeare‘s Romeo and Juliet. That means it’s time to resume my hobby of writing something about every book I read.

I pretty much already knew the story of Romeo and Juliet, though I never actually read the book. I’ve heard about the story and I’ve seen parts of the Romeo + Juliet movie from 1996, though I don’t think I ever watched it all the way through. So, I knew what the story was about, but I didn’t have the whole story down and I figure I ought to know it.

Shakespeare’s usual poetic play of words is in this book just as it is in every other book of his. Yeah, he was a crafty writer. I kept imagining that I was watching the play as I read. I would see the actors waving their arms about as they spoke their lines. Some bits made me laugh out loud and other bits struck an emotional chord. So, I say Shakespeare did it right.

Shoeless Joe, by W.P. Kinsella

Friday, June 27th, 2014

51RICEgQ3aL__BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-v3-big,TopRight,0,-55_SX278_SY278_PIkin4,BottomRight,1,22_AA300_SH20_OU01_If you know me, you know I love baseball. I practically worship baseball. It’s like a religion to me. My team is the Detroit Tigers, but I love the game so much that I’m often happy to watch any teams. It doesn’t even have to be Major League teams. I’ll watch the minors, college, independents, even little league teams. And I like all things that have to do with baseball. Field of Dreams, starring Kevin Costner, is one of my favorite movies. Shoeless Joe, by W.P. Kinsella, is the novel Field of Dreams is based on.

As is usually the case, the novel is not quite like the movie. There are plenty of differences between the two. But the movie is still an excellent adaptation of the story Kinsella wrote. Shoeless Joe is like the Baseball Bible. If you want to understand my insane love for baseball, read this book.  It talks about several interesting pieces of baseball history and, through dialog, it explains why baseball is so important to people like me. There’s also a very nice touch of humanity that is shared by several characters.

I absolutely loved this book.

 

The Price of Spring, by Daniel Abraham

Monday, June 16th, 2014

518Y2XtUQWL__BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-v3-big,TopRight,0,-55_SX278_SY278_PIkin4,BottomRight,1,22_AA300_SH20_OU01_The Price of Spring is a beautiful but sad tale of a world that is broken. An empire where women are no longer able to bear children has never recovered from the last war with Galt. It’s up to the poets to make the world right again, or to do further damage. But with the old grammar lost, a new grammar must be made in order for a poet to bind an andat, a small god that from the moment it is bound must do the will of its poet.

Daniel Abraham‘s world develops in a way that makes me think of a blooming flower garden. At first it was all dark and murky, but as I continued along the world became brighter and more colorful. The characters were interesting and lovable, and there were scenes, especially one in the epilogue, that stirred my emotions.

I don’t want to reveal much about the story itself. It’s a rule I try to stick to when writing these little pieces about the books I read. But this is a good book, a fun read, and all the usual things I say about the books I enjoyed.

My World

Tuesday, April 1st, 2014

On Facebook, a friend shared this link: I’m Deaf and I’m Totally Cool With It, Thanks.

What I meant to be a short comment turned into the lengthy article below.

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I’m hard-of-hearing, quite far from being deaf as I can hear pretty much everything, a floorboard squeaking, the hum of the furnace, birds outside my window, though I don’t think I hear it all as clearly as a person with good hearing would. If someone speaks to me, I will hear their voice, but I can’t make out what they said about eighty percent of the time, unless they’re willing to repeat themselves, often three or four times before I understand them.

I don’t wear hearing aids. I’ve never been able to adjust to hearing aids. All hearing aids have ever done for me is amplify sounds to the point that they are annoying, and any speech I heard was vastly distorted and even harder to understand. A few years ago, I decided to give hearing aids another try. I had hoped that the newer technology would make a difference. But it didn’t. People told me I just needed to get used to them, but I gave them a chance. I wore the hearing aids every day for a couple of months, and then I was putting them in less and less. I don’t want to be trying to get used to hearing aids for months. I had to keep taking them out just so I could understand what people were saying.

It wasn’t so long ago when I thought I would go for cochlear implants. But then I changed my mind. First, because (as I understand it) the process of having cochlear implants put in would involve cutting the nerves that go from my brain to my ears.  My ears would become useless things sticking out from the sides of my head. I would never again receive sounds through my ears. All hearing would completely depend on a mechanical device that would be inserted in my head. I also began to suspect that cochlear implants really aren’t that much different from hearing aids, that like hearing aids they amplify sounds and distort speech. Some people might be able to get used to that, but I never could.  I’d go crazy if I had to be stuck in that world for the rest of my life. If I decide to turn the cochlear implants off, I would be stone deaf.

Because I’m hard-of-hearing, I’m used to the world of sound. I’m comfortable here. I don’t want to lose the hearing I have. This is why I wear ear protection when shooting guns or running chainsaws. I don’t ever want to be where I can no longer hear the sounds I enjoy, but I understand why people who are deaf to the degree that they can hear almost nothing or nothing at all would prefer to stay that way. Most of those who are deaf that I know personally do have a degree of hearing, but I imagine that what they hear is very densely muffled, to the point that they barely acknowledge it. Sounds don’t matter to the deaf the way sounds matter to the hearing . That’s their world, they’re comfortable there. If the deaf were somehow made hearing, the world of sound would likely be strange to them and they might be unable to adjust to all the noise.

Sometimes I feel like I’m stuck in the middle, between the hearing world and the deaf world, and can’t really fit into either world.  I wish I could understand the hearing people in my life better. I think it’s just as frustrating for them as it is for me when we communicate in person. Some people think I can read lips, but no, I cannot. If I made out anything you said, it’s because I heard you.

I would also like to be able to hang out with my friends who are deaf without feeling like a burden for them. I’m way out of practice with ASL. I don’t know anyone in Lapeer who uses ASL, so I haven’t had anyone to sign with since my last year at MSD.  I got a video phone last year so a friend and I could sign with each other and get my skills up to where I can at least hold a conversation in ASL with another person. But we haven’t been able to use the VP that much and I still have a lot of work to do.

When the Police Don’t Get It

Saturday, March 22nd, 2014

I recently went over an old non-public blog  of mine that I haven’t used since 2009. I found this entry from December 2008. I decided to rerun it on this blog. I was inspired to rerun the entry after reading this article: Police Brutality and Deaf People. Though my experience didn’t have a lot to do with the fact that I’m hard of hearing. It had more to do with the cerebral palsy I’ve dealt with since I came out of a comatose state when I was a toddler. My experience also wasn’t so bad, really, but I think it could have gotten worse. I think that if Bob hadn’t come out of the store when he did, the cop would have taken me downtown and put me in a holding cell for the night. I might be wrong, I’m not sure I heard him right, but I think the cop did say “I’m going to take you in” just before Bob came out.

———————————————–

Most of you know I can’t drive because of my eyes. I might have some of you under the impression that I drink all the time and I’m always drunk. I have a few friends who think I’m an alcoholic and have suggested I get help more than once. I often drink a lot when I drink, yeah. But it’s not all the time.

The cops have stopped me a few times, just for walking. I was not drunk, but my balance isn’t very good and I guess most people who meet me for the first time are going to assume I’m drunk whether I am or not. I sway a little when I stand and I often stumble and trip when I walk. If you want me to walk in a perfectly straight line, you can forget about it because it’s not going to happen.

I understand why the cops stop me. It is part of their job to keep the streets clear of drunks. If they see a questionable character, it’s part of their job to check it out. I don’t object to their stopping me, but it’s a little scary when a cop rolls up behind you and flips on the flashers. I’ve even been barked at through the loudspeaker. To me it sounds like “Buhluh! Buhluh!”

I ought to give myself a pat on the back, though. I’m often a nervous wreck when communicating with most people, but all the times that I’ve had to talk to the cops I was strangely calm and level headed. This does not erase the fact that I half expect to be hauled downtown and locked up until someone can pick me up.

Last time this happened was back in September. I was walking to the store for a pack of cigarettes. The store is about a ten-minute walk from my house and I’ve considered it a blessing to have a store within walking distance. It meant I could get what I needed without asking for a ride.

That kind of changed in September. I was about to walk into the store’s parking lot when I looked over my shoulder into a pair of headlights. I thought the driver of the car was on his way to the store, too. I didn’t wonder why he was going the wrong way on the road, nor did I wonder why he was half on the shoulder, half on the road and aimed straight at me. I just thought I was in his way, so I started walking to the left across the parking lot to give him more than enough room to get by me. Then I heard two amplified and highly distorted words blast from a speaker. When I looked over my shoulder again, it was no longer just two headlights. Now a set of red and blues danced on the roof of the car.

I knew right away what it was about. I was prepared to go through the usual rundown of questions and then be on my way. The cop climbed out of his car, looked at me and said something. I’m pretty sure of what he said, but because I didn’t quite hear him right, I explained that I don’t hear very well and asked him to repeat.

“Have you been drinking?”

That’s what I thought he said. My answer was no.

He spread his arms. “Then how come you can’t walk straight?”

I explained.

“Have you been using drugs?”

Again my answer was no.

“Are you carrying any weapons or drugs on you?”

“No, sir.”

He asked me for ID, I gave him my state ID card. He looked at it and again asked me if I had any weapons or drugs on me. I said no.

“I’m going to pat you down.”

All right, now I’m feeling humiliated. People are driving by on the road and some of them are probably my neighbors. I was just going to the store for a pack of cigarettes, for God’s sake. That’s what was on my mind, but all I said was “Okay.”

He did the pat down, but all he found were my keys and my wallet. No weapons or drugs on me, except for what I might have stuffed up my ass, maybe?

So comes another set of questions. “Where are you going? What are you doing? Is that your shirt? What’s that on your shirt? You walk to the store every day? How come you don’t drive? You can’t drive at all? You walk to the store every day? Is that your shirt? Where do you live? Just down the road? You walk to the store every day…?”  Pretty much the same questions over again.

I answered each question as honestly as I could. I was starting to get the impression that he was looking for a reason to take me in, but then one of the employees came out of the store to drop some trash in the bin. The employee just happened to be Bob, who is often at the register when I go in the store. Though we never talked much,  we’ve done business for five years and we know each other well enough.

So, the cop goes to Bob and asks him if I really do stop in the store just about every day. Bob convinced him that I do and even tells the cop that I really do live just down the road. Finally, finally the cop is convinced that I’m not a drug dealer, a vandal or a burglar, or whatever the hell he thought I was. Finally he gave me back my ID card and let me go into the store and get my cigarettes. This whole detainment lasted about twenty minutes.

I was very thankful that he was not waiting for me when I came out of the store.