Wednesday 31 December 2014

Assassin's Creed: Unity

Book 27 of 2014 is Assassin's Creed: Unity by Oliver Bowden.

I bought this book at the airport in Darwin and mostly read it on the four hour flight to Sydney. I love entertaining easy reads on airplanes and this was easy. That was about all it was.

As someone who hasn't played the game, I thought it sounded like a fun adventure book placed in the centre of the French Revolution. The idea isn't bad at all but like most bad stories, they had no idea how to wrap up the book without making a man save a woman.

They have a good strong female protagonist and it finishes in a way that makes her look stupid and irrational, even after 400 of 460ish pages of making her out to be so strong and driven.

1 Templar traitor out of 5.

Should I read this? Don't read this. I know, I know, I shouldn't have expected anything.
What did I learn? Computer games and books about them have no idea about women.

Saturday 27 December 2014

The Snow Queen

Woo hoo! I have reached my goal of 26 books for the year. Of those 26 books, 12 were audio books. Audio books have been a new experience for me and one that I've had to adapt to because your brain works completely differently when you read a book to when you listen to one. It has given my eyes a break and allowed me to hear stories I already knew through someone else's reading. It is true that I mainly used audio books to re-read some of my favourite books.

Book 26 of 2014 is a free audio book as a Christmas present from Audible. I recommend Audible US because it has many more titles than the Aussie site. Shoosh, don't tell them I live here.

The book was The Snow Queen by Hans Christian Anderson, read by Julia Whelan who was Audible's narrator of the year.

This a story I know very well from my childhood and has been one of the reasons I have avoided Disney's version - Frozen. They never tell a story the way it was written and tend to make the women weak and the animals sing.

This is worth the read or the listen. I'd recommend that if you read it in Darwin that you do so with the air conditioner on full.

4 evil shards of glass out of 5.

Should I read this? Yes. It is delightful.
What did I learn? People are not evil. They just have shards of evil glass in them.

The Brothers Karamazov

Book 25 of 2014 is The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoyevsky.

It is secret that I love the Russian authors and this book did not disappoint me. Although I had to stop several times and read other books in between, I enjoyed the soul challenging ideas contained within.

Although I am not a religious person, I loved the discussions and ideas around free will and our human mortality. There were a few chapters that left me lying on my bed staring at the ceiling pondering the purpose of life in the context of me, me, me.

Lines like...

"Above all, don't lie to yourself. The man who lies to himself and listens to his own lie comes to a point that he cannot distinguish the truth within him, or around him, and so loses all respect for himself and for others. And having no respect he ceases to love."

"I love mankind, he said, "but I find to my amazement that the more I love mankind as a whole, the less I love man in particular."

"The more stupid one is, the closer one is to reality. The more stupid one is, the clearer one is. Stupidity is brief and artless, while intelligence squirms and hides itself. Intelligence is unprincipled, but stupidity is honest and straightforward."

4.5 brothers out of 5.

Should I read this? Yes. Just read it. Make it one of your 101 to read before you die.
What did I learn? The Russian authors embarrassed us in our own language.

Maze Runner Series

Books 22 (Maze Runner), 23 (The Scorch Trials) and 24 (Death Cure) of 2014 are the Maze Runner series by James Dashner.

In the post apocalyptic tradition of the Hunger Games and Divergent, Dashner gave us a group boys trapped in a giant maze trying to work out why they are there and how to escape.

The main difference between this series and the other two is that the whole experience is seen through the eyes of a 16 year old boy. The writing and thinking is obviously aimed at young men and was quite interesting to experience. It showed strength and vulnerability when I expected whinging and angst.

This series was hard to put down but that was after I got through the first book which was painfully drawn out at times. If you can make it through the Maze Runner (book one) then you will enjoy the whole journey. Each book follows are path but adds great characters and scarier and scarier monsters.

It is an easy read so do have a read.

It is an entertaining 4 right turns out of 5 in a maze.

Should I read this? If you enjoyed the Hunger Games and Divergent then this is a series for you.
What did I learn? To a young man, friendship is the more important than anything else. Even more so than girls and maybe even your life.

Friday 26 December 2014

Self Destruction and other Bloody Games

It is hard to explain to another person what it feels like to look at yourself in the mirror each day and see your eye droop and a scar running through the middle of you face.

People tell you that they can not notice the difference but you can.

I've seen angry people, broken people and odd people with scars. I often wondered if you could see the scars in them, on them. Sometimes, I will double take and realise that they have no physical scar and then I wonder what I saw.

My biggest concern in life is the baggage that I carry and trying to not let me ruin all that comes in the future. Even with each improvement, it feels like trying to use only my body and physical strength to stop an 80 carriage freight train that is committed to its momentum.

Since being mugged, I can not seem to control the anger inside me. It isn't usually aimed at others but is more inward and destructive. Self destructive. It can not be avoided or reasoned with. It can not be placated or understood, no matter how much therapy I do.

This is something that I must get through. It is a monsoonal storm.

All that happens to me is my responsibility. All that I do to others is mine to own. All that I am, I am.

How does one reconcile the breaks they see in themself? How do I know that the scars I see in the mirror are actually physical if others don't notice them? How do I make it through the storm or stop the train or forgive myself for the brokenness of it all?

I don't know the answers. I just keep on keeping on.

Saturday 6 December 2014

Just a thought

It must be your skin I'm sinking in
It must be for real 'cause now I can feel
And I didn't mind
It's not my kind
It's not my time to wonder why

Everything's gone white
And everything's gray
Now you're here now you're away
I don't want this
Remember that
I'll never forget where you're at

Don't let the days go by


I'm never alone
I'm alone all the time
Are you at one or do you lie?
We live in a wheel
Where everyone steals
But when we rise it's like strawberry fields

If I treated you bad
You bruised my face
Couldn't love you more
You got a beautiful taste

Don't let the days go by

Could have been easier on you
I couldn't change though I wanted to
Should have been easier by three
Our old friend fear and you and me


Don't let the days go by


Don't let the days go by



Black moon white again
Black moon white again
And she falls around me

I needed you more
When we wanted us less
I could not kiss just regress
It might just be
Clear simple and plain
Well, that's just fine
That's just one of my names

Don't let the days go by
Could've been easier on you, you, you



Monday 1 December 2014

14 Months of Me

Yes, yes, it can be argued that I already live a life that is all about me but this has not actually been completely true.

Over the last few years, I have spent a lot of time building my network and reestablishing my place in my profession in order to negate the depression destruction of it.

This has meant saying yes to other people and for the benefit of other people. I want to refocus on me.

My goal is to continue to extend my knowledge about a lot of things and also keep improving my brain. I want to write more, read more and sleep more alongside getting fit again.

Since the beginning of November 2014, I have put the following actions in to place and intend to continue this until at least the end of 2015. Yes, 14 months.

Now I do these things without fail...

  • Get in to bed at 10PM and sleep within 30 minutes;
  • Quit Facebook and other useless time wasting activities;
  • Continue with my habit of reading one book a fortnight;
  • Don't use the Internet after 9PM and before 8AM;
  • Say yes to things I've never done before but only if they improve me as a person;
  • Write at least one thing every single week;
  • Have no more than one night out a week;
  • Do at least three sessions of strenuous exercise per week; and
  • Only allow acquaintances in my work life and not my personal life.
So far, so good. I have a lot more time for self improvement and to achieve my goals.

2015 will be fricken fantastic! I will accept no less.

I broke up with the Facebook because it just wasn't useful

A week ago, I looked at how I use the Internet weekly, daily and hourly. It looked like this:

  • Facebook - hourly in that I at least looked at notifications and would share and post a lot other times;
  • Blogger - once a month to post a blog post or two, usually about reading or geek stuff;
  • Twitter - daily in order to find articles on topics I care about;
  • Google+ - every second or third day to read topics I'm interested in and for sharing interesting articles;
  • Flickr - weekly to upload pictures from my life that I want to share with loved ones;
  • LinkedIn - every second or third day to find interesting things to read and participate in discussion groups. Also share interesting reading I have found and think others will like;
  • Work email - week days at work but not outside work; and
  • gmail - once or twice a day max and mainly for dealing with job related stuff.

Then I read a quote from Jason Yip on Twitter that said...

Worry less about "Are my feelings / Is my behaviour justified?"; worry more about "Are my feelings / Is my behaviour useful?".

That one tweet made me stop and reassess so much of who I am and what I currently do. So, I asked myself: When I use the Internet is my interaction useful?
  • Facebook - No;
  • Blogger - Yes;
  • Twitter - Yes;
  • Google+ - Sometimes;
  • Flickr - Yes;
  • LinkedIn - Yes;
  • Work email - Absolutely; and
  • gmail - Yes.
It took me less than ten minutes to then decide that I would do the following things:
  • Stop using Facebook immediately and then delete my account if I didn't use it for 3 months;
  • Remove Facebook, Twitter and Google+ apps from my phone and other mobile devices; and
  • Log out of Twitter and Google+ and only log in when I explicitly wanted to use them.
For the first two days after stopping using it, I kept coming back to the same feelings and asked myself if the resulting reaction would be useful...
  • Should I tell someone what I'm doing or feeling? Yes, but more specific people and not Facebook; and
  • Should I check to see if anyone has sent me a message? No, they will contact me on my phone or via email if they need me.
After the initial habit change left me nervous and a little anxious, it all passed. Yes, I still use all the other sites with more intent than I did in the past but I don't use Facebook and I feel no need to.

Later on, I will write a more detailed post about why Facebook has irked me for the last 6-9 months and how that has aided in my persistence to not return. This is not the post for it. Again, would it be useful?

Wish me luck and if you can't find me online, you can find me on the end of a telephone.