Monthly Archives: March 2015

Resolution Progress 2015: First Quarter

I figured I would get back to doing quarterly reviews of progress on the resolutions for the year.

  1. Read 52 books. A quarter of 52 is 13 (the same as a suit in a deck of card). I am a few books ahead at 15. My Goodreads user challenge.
    • Read 50% by female authors. So far only 3 are by male authors, so I am on track with 80%.
  2. Weightlifting:
    1. Bench 185 pounds (1RM equivalent). My best during the past month or so is 140 1RM. That is 37 up from the 1RM back at the start of the year. Just 45 more to go.
    2. Squat 245 pounds (1RM eq). My best during the past month or so is 169 1RM. That is 62 up from the 1RM back at the start of the year. Just 76 more to go.
    3. Deadlift 300 pounds (1RM eq). Finally recently did my first deadlift and started at two 45 plates for 5 reps, which is a 151.66 1RM. Still learning form, so the weight was very manageable.  Just 149 more to go.
    4. Drop to about 15% body fat. I did buy a set of calipers with a chart which says my suprailiac is 25.6%. Since I figured 25-30%, this is about what I expected. But I have a long way to go. Visually, I can see veins and muscle definition emerging, which is encouraging.
    5. Bring HIIT up to about 50-50. No progress.
  3. Take a trip at least 300 miles away from home. I did take a 825 mile trip for Mom’s birthday over a weekend. We went to Amelia Island and Jekyll Island. That was fun.
  4. Declutter Part II. Lost some of the progress made. Some of the pants now too big for me are separated out and put away. I’ll give it some time before I donate them. Started organizing and boxing the books I’ve read.

From Resolution Progress 2015: First Quarter published March 31, 2015 at 06:58AM.

Review: Allegiant

Allegiant by Veronica Roth
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Seems odd, but I found this the best in the series. Things start to click into place. The scientific explanations made sense of things that had bothered me about the story.

At first, the switching back and forth between Tris and Four seemed odd, but I eventually started to suspect why.

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From Review: Allegiant published March 27, 2015 at 10:21PM.

TED Talk: The Internet’s Immune System

I really enjoyed this TED Talk on hacktivists the first couple times I watched it a year ago and a few months ago. Not sure why I have not yet posted it.

The beauty of hackers, says cybersecurity expert Keren Elazari, is that they force us to evolve and improve. Yes, some hackers are bad guys, but many are working to fight government corruption and advocate for our rights. By exposing vulnerabilities, they push the Internet to become stronger and healthier, wielding their power to create a better world.

From TED Talk: The Internet’s Immune System published March 24, 2015 at 07:48AM.

Review: Insurgent

Insurgent by Veronica Roth
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

While I read Divergent for the Not Your Oprah’s Book Club, I had no intention of finishing the series. That stance changed when I decided I should watch the movie for Insurgent since my trainer talked about getting an extra part in it. Maybe his scene got cut, but it would be cool to look for him like I watched Zombieland to look for my cousin.

Much of my review about book one applies to this book two as well. Factions seemed derived. The conspiracy was weak and forced. I kept hoping that the whole book would be revealed to all be a simulation because that was the only thing that could save the plot. The big reveal was obvious from very early in the book.

This book gave me more of Four like I’d wanted from book one. (Book three apparently even makes him a narrator, which is an odd change given books one and two only follow Tris’ perspective.) Also better is he got to have a backbone, have feelings, and even express himself. Tris also better developed across this book compared to what I recall of the first.

I’m watching The Americans with the organizer of the book club and others. Something making me uncomfortable in that show is one of the handlers developing a dancing along statutory rape relationship with a teenager in order to get access to her CIA father’s house to record information. Phillip is in his thirties and the girl in her teens. Four is 18 and Tris 16. But I still feel like Four is an adult while Tris is pretending like the teen in the Americans. By this world’s standards Tris is an adult, so maybe I am on the wrong side of this. Also, I’m not so interested in love stories in general, so that I care at all makes me more squirmy.

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From Review: Insurgent published March 21, 2015 at 10:23AM.

Review: The Hunger Games

The Hunger Games
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Yeah, I am finally getting around to reading it and years of resisting pressure. I rarely read something while everyone else does. The Harry Potter, Twilight, Hunger Games, and Percy Jackson phenomenons where all for Generation Y while I am GenX. I cannot think of an equivalent for my generation. I guess we were too infatuated with MTV. What is it with dystopian settings for Young Adult fiction? Are they worried about the end of the world?

The writing was pretty direct and simple. It really felt like something Jennifer Lawrence could have written. I’ve decided I ought to watch the movies because it feels like the casting choice there was brilliant.

Predictably, the first part of the book is where we meet Katniss and the shape of the world and the setup for the Hunger Games. Following her perspective, especially the Fog of War, improved the story during the games as wondering what will happen and surprises helped. I was somewhat disappointed the ending did not leave more of a cliffhanger for prompting to immediately need to read Catching Fire.

Kind of felt Katniss possessed too much Emotional Quotient at times compared to the near constant describing her as impulsive. In the end, I think Katniss is much more level headed than she thinks she is. Perhaps as she grows confidence over achieving success, she will grow into it.

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From Review: The Hunger Games published March 14, 2015 at 11:29AM.

Review: The Gatekeeper

The Gatekeeper
The Gatekeeper by Scott Ferrell
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Scott is a friend from high school. We played D&D and terrorized our hometown. I wanted to read this because I figured it would incorporate elements from that experience. Maybe I would even recognize someone I know?

Stories like this about the hero stuck in another world are among my favorites. The D&D cartoon from the 80s, The Sleeping Dragon, and others unveil the challenge of learning to deal with a realm possessing unfamiliar physics, more sentient beings than just humans, and everyone looking at Terrans like they are idiots. Dealing with our world is hard enough. Getting thrown into something very different should break anyone. Relating to the protagonist, Gaige, was easy because I was the outsider kid struggling with parents and other kids not understanding.

The Gatekeeper started strong and kept up the pace. Gaige, Aoife, and Seanna were enjoyable. Foreshadowing of the twist was there but not too obvious where it would go. I am looking forward to reading the rest of the series.

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From Review: The Gatekeeper published March 07, 2015 at 10:05AM.