Monday, December 29, 2014

Book list for 2014

Wellp, it's that time again. Time for my end of the year book list, that is. It's a pretty big one, and I must say, this year I hit a plethora of great books . . . I mean, truly great, I'll mention the top 5 at the end of the list (and it should be mentioned that I re-read several books this year, and so I will not be including those in my consideration for the top 5). So, without any more delay, here it is:


01. A Short Stay in Hell by Steven L. Peck
02. Spinoza: A Very Short Introduction by Roger Scruton
03. Beowulf
o4. A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens.
05. Endymion by Dan Simmons
06. Sir Gawain and the Green Knight
07. The Rise of Endymion by Dan Simmons
08. Waiting for Godot by Samuel Beckett
09. The Crucible by Arthur Miller
10. The Fellowship of the Ring by J. R. R. Tolkien
11. A Book of Showings by Julian of Norwich
12. The Book of Margery Kempe
13. The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer
14. Utopia by Sir Thomas More
15. The Two Towers by J. R. R. Tolkien
16. Mosaic of Thought by Keene and Zimmermann
17. Doctor Faustus by Christopher Marlowe
18. Twelfth Night by Shakespeare
19. The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde
20. The Martian by Andy Weir
21. Picasso and the Lapin Agileby Steve Martin
22. Red Shirts by John Scalzi
23. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
24. 2001: A Space Odyssey by Arthur C. Clarke
25. Way Station by Clifford D. Simak
26. Calculating God by Robert J. Sawyer
27. Ringworld by Larry Niven
28. Buddhism as Philosophy by Mark Siderits
29. Buddhist Philosophy by William Edelglass, Jay Garfield
30. The Foundations of Buddhism by Rupert Gethin
31. The Rape of the Lock by Alexander Pope
32. Rainbows End by Verner Vinge
33. Letters to a Young Mormonby Adam Miller
34. The Eye of the World by Robert Jordan
35. The Color Purple by Alice Walker
36. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
37. Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell
38. Kindred by Octavia E. Butler
39. To Your Scattered Bodies Go by Philip Jose Farmer
40. The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
41. Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes
42. Double Star by Robert A. Heinlein
43. Feed by M. T. Anderson
44. American Gods by Neil Gaiman
45. Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke
46. The Magicians by Lev Grossman
47. The Rover by Aphra Behn
48. The Magician King by Lev Grossman
49. The Magicians Land by Lev Grossman
50. Re-Reading Job: Understanding the Ancient World's Greatest Poem by Michael Austin
51. Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe
52. Sundiver by David Brin
53. Gulliver's Travels by Jonathan Swift
54. Candide by Voltaire
55. Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie
56. Ancillary Sword by Ann Leckie


1. The Martian by Andy Weir

2. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

3. Flowers for Algernon by David Keyes

4. Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke

5. Re-reading Job: Understanding the Ancient World's Greatest Poem by Michael Austin

(These 5 books aren't in any order other than the order in which I read them).

Runners up:

Letters to a Young Mormon by Adam Miller
The Magician (Trilogy) by Lev Grossman

Friday, February 21, 2014

Being Sick and How Biking Saved My Life

(I wrote this last year in September on a separate biking site, but thought I would share this here. For the story of the entire experience here is another post I wrote about this).
At the end of January I got sick. Not your normal cold, or even something that may have you decommissioned for a few days or a week. This had me in the hospital twice and bed ridden for six weeks. But this is not exactly what this article is
photo 1 (1)The day after I was able to shuffle up and back down the hall. Couldn’t bend my leg at all and did a total of about 100 ft. before feeling exhausted.
about, at least not the reasons for my being sick, (I’ll just say that I have some serious auto-immune diseases). Rather, it is about my getting back on the bike from a state of almost no strength and a severe inability to walk on my own.
One of the results for being sick and bed-ridden was that I got a blood clot, (Deep Vein Thombrosis or DVT). This was extremely painful. And what made it worse was that a family friend had died from one he had gotten behind his knee (same place as mine) a year ago. Typically, with this type of thing, the treatment is massive amounts of blood thinners to break the thing up over a day or two. However, I was able to receive a different treatment. They went in surgically and broke the thing up.
The reason they treated mine differently was greatly because of my general heath, or fitness, (I was still sick, but not that type of health). Because I biked everyday for two years before getting sick I was in a narrow health range where they could do this surgery. This was almost completely because of biking.
However, all that aside, being sick, and then having surgery on my leg put me in a pretty weak spot when it came to getting back on the bike and being able to do what once came so naturally to me. I had lost 30 lbs, much of that muscle. I was terribly weak and my left leg was pretty screwed up/traumatized from the clot and surgery. I could barely walk, and even when I did I’d be exhausted very soon after starting.
After 4 days in the hospital I was finally sent back home. The thing about this blood clot is that I got a team of doctors who actually helped me get over my previous illness. And so, feeling better than I had in months, despite the stiff/sore/swollen leg I was determined to gain my strength back.
This started slowly. Each day I would go on two walks up and down my street. They were short, but it was something, and I kept at it with the help of my Dad and brother, Jaron, who would come over to help with my walks. I had a cane the whole time, not able to put a lot of pressure on my leg, but soon, after a week, I started to leave the cane behind.
photo 3 (1)
Out for a walk with my handy cane.
Soon, I was able to get on my bike, hooked up to a trainer, and start pedaling. It was something… Not much, but it felt good to sit on the saddle, (which still hurt from losing so much weight) and begin to pedal again. For a
photo 2 (1)
On the trainer, working up my strength.
week, every day I worked hard to get my legs strength back that I had obtained over years of biking previously. I was determined. I think this attitude helped a lot with my recovery. I wanted to change. While still be discouraged about my situation and how tired I’d get over a shot amount of time, I saw the progress. It was the first physical progress I had made in nearly 3 months. That was important to me.
I started work soon after and was encouraged to drive for a few days but I couldn’t do it. I had to bike. I took my mountain bike bike as It seemed like it’d be more stable and easier to sit on and took it out that first morning back to work.
It was amazing!
It was like riding a bike for the first time. The warm air blowing past me as my still weak legs pedaled steadily towards my works building. It felt great and renewed my desire to work back up to where I’d been at the start of the year.
Where I am Now
There’s a purpose to this story. Not necessarily about my sickness, but about what cycling has done for me. It has literally saved my life. It has given me a reason to stay positive during difficult days.  While I’m still no where near the biking caliber I was once at, I am getting there slowly. And I think that’s OK. I have a great team who encourages me, and pushes me. Biking can be a hobby, but for most people I’ve known it is more than that. It affects your life. It is a change in how you view yourself and your surroundings. It grows to be an important part of who you are.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

When Humans Chose Compassion Over Violence

Man playing piano for police [Kiev, Ukraine, 2013]

A brave priest organises a human shield between protestors and police [Kiev, Ukraine, 2013]

A student protesting education reform leans in to kiss a riot officer [Bogotá, Colombia, 2011]

A student protesting education reform hugs a policeman [Bogotá, Colombia, 2011]

Protesters share crackers with Colombian riot police [Columbia, 2013]

Woman successfully defends a group of cornered riot officers from angry protesters [Bogotá, Colombia, 2013]

Egyptian woman kisses a policeman during the revolution against the Mubarak Government [Egypt, 2011]

Woman defends a wounded protester from a military bulldozer [Egypt, 2013]

Christians protecting Muslims as they pray during the revolution [Cairo, Egypt, 2011]

An anti-government protester offers a rose to a soldier [Bangkok, Thailand, 2013]

Caring citizens offer tea to British riot police [London, England, 2011]

Citizens band together to clean up the mess following London riots [London, England, 2011]

Brazilian protester carrying an injured officer to safety [Sao Paulo, Brazil, 2012]

Protesters in Brazil bring cake to an officer for his birthday [Brazil, 2013]

An Iranian police officer is protected by civilians after being beaten by rioters [Tehran, Iran, 2009]

A young boy offers a heart-shaped balloon to police [Bucharest, Romania, 2012]

Riot police and protesters share a cry together [Sofia, Bulgaria, 2013]

Riot police help a woman affected by tear gas [Ankara, Turkey, 2013]

Girl hands water to two officers [Bosnia, 2013]

German riot officers take off their helmets and escort Occupy protesters [Frankfurt, Germany, 2011]

Protesters help a dog affected by tear gas [Ankara, Turkey, 2013]

Child touches his reflection during a KKK demonstration [Georgia, USA, 1992]

Mourners form a 5-mile barrier between a soldier's funeral and Them [USA, 2012]

Flower power during the Vietnam War Protests [Arlington, Virginia, 1967]

A child poses beside National Guard members during the LA Riots [Los Angeles, USA, 1992]

Occupy protesters help a woman in a wheelchair escape teargas [Oakland, USA, 2011]

Syrian war orphan shows revolutionary spirit as he calls for Saudi support of the rebels [Saudi Arabia, 2012]

Egyptians embrace army soldiers after they refuse orders to fire on civilians [Cairo, Egypt, 2011]

Originally found at

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

The Best, The Worst

I had a pretty big list of books that I read for 2013, and so decided, for those interested in reading, or wanting to know what the best books were . . . I am going to present the top ten books that I read this year, (which was actually a challenge to whittle it down to only five). I also will give you the worst ten books I read this year. So here you go:

BEST BOOKS OF 2013 (not in any particular order)

1. A Short Stay in Hell, by Steven L. Peck

2. Ethics, by Benedict de Spinoza

3. The Ocean at the End of the Lane, by Neil Gaiman

4. The Fault in Our Stars, by John Green

5. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, by J. K. Rowlings

6. Looking for Alaska, by John Green

7. The Fall of Hyperion, by Dan Simmons

8. The Myth of Sisyphus, by Albert Camus

9. Selected Poems, by William Carlos Williams

10. Heidegger and a Hippo Walk Through Those Pearly Gates, by Thomas Cathcart and Daniel Klein

WORST BOOKS OF 2013 (not in any particular order)

1. The Blithdale Romance, by Nathaniel Hawthorne

2. The Dark is Rising, by Susan Cooper

3. Unwind, by Neal Shusterman

4. Thirteen Reasons Why, by Jay Asher

5. Family Happiness, by Leo Tolstoy

6. Deaf in America, by Carol Padden and Tom Humphries

7. Dissemination, by Jacques Derrida

8. The Day of the Locust by Nathaniel West

9. Over Sea, Under Stone, by Susan Cooper

10. Short Stories, by Nathaniel Hawthorne

Some books I want to read/finish:

1. A Tale of Two Cities, by Charles Dickens

2. Time Reborn by Lee Smolin

3. Fear and Trembling, by Soren Kierkegaard

4. A Sickness Unto Death, by Soren Kierkegaard

5. Great Expectations, by Charles Dickens

Monday, December 30, 2013

The Books of 2013

This year I read a lot. A lot, because of school and stuff being required, but also, there was a lot I read just for fun. And so, here is the list of books I read, in order, this year. Not sure if I'll be reading as much in 2014, but who knows. As of right now, I don't know which I would say are the best. There were a lot of really good books, and a lot of really horrible books. Maybe I'll come up with those lists and post them with some New Years resolutions. But for now, the list of books read in 2013.

01. A Short Stay in Hell by Steven L. Peck

02. The Essential Writings by Ralph Waldo Emerson
03. The Republic by Plato
04. Poetics by Aristotle
05. Walden by Henry David Thoreau
06. The Guide for the Perplexed by Moses Maimonides
07. Meditations on First Philosophy by Rene Descartes
08. Macbeth by William Shakespeare
09. New Science by Giambattista Vico
10. The Complete Works of Emily Dickinson Edited by Thomas H. Johnson
11. Short Stories by Hawthorne
12. Course in General Linguistics by Saussure
13. Ethics by Benedict De Spinoza
14. The Blithedale Romance by Nathaniel Hawthorne
15. Discourse on Metaphysics by Leibniz
16. Billy Budd, Sailor by Herman Melville
17. Banito Cereno by Herman Melville
18. Dracula by Bram Stoker
19. Heidegger and a Hippo Walk Through Those Pearly Gates by Thomas Cathcart and Daniel Klein
20. An Essay Concerning Human Understanding by John Locke
21. Principles of Human Knowledge by George Berkeley
22. Narrative of the Life of Fredrick Douglass by Fredrick Douglass
23. Deaf In America by Carol Padden and Tom Humphries
24. An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding by David Hume
25. Dissemination by Jacques Derrida
26. Critique of Pure Reason by Immanuel Kant
27. Dune by Frank Herbert
28. Harry Potter and the Sorcerers Stone by J. K. Rowling
29. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J. K. Rowling
30. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J. K. Rowling
31. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J. K. Rowling
32. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J. K. Rowling
33. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J. K. Rowling
34. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J. K. Rowling
35. The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman
36. The Giver by Lois Lowry
37. Cats Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut
38. Thou Art That by Joseph Campbell
39. Gateway by Fredrick Pohl
40. Time Enough For Love by Robert A. Heinlein
41. When I Was a Child I Read Books by Marilynne Robinson
42. A Short Stay in Hell by Steven L. Peck (again)
43. The Fall of Hyperion by Dan Simmons
44. Forever by Judy Blume
45. Over Sea Under Stone by Susan Cooper
46. The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle by Avi
47. Selected Short Stories by Ernest Hemingway
48. Family Happiness by Tolstoy
49. The Day of the Locust by Nathaniel West
50. Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life by James Patterson
51. The Death of Ivan Ilych by Tolstoy
52. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
53. Coraline by Neil Gainman
54. Stop Pretending by Sonya Sones
55. Hadji Murad by Tolstoy
56. Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher
57. 100 Selected Poems by E. E. Cummings
58. As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner
59. Looking for Alaska by John Green
60. American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang

61. Unwind by Neal Shusterman
62. The Myth of Sisyphus and Other Essays by Albert Camus
63. Philosophy Bites Back by David Edmonds and Nigel Warburton
64. Selected Poems by William Carlos Williams
65. The Dark is Rising by Susan Cooper

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Squaw Peak

Since being sick I have not been able to go on any major rides. I lost a lot of the muscle I'd gained over the last 2 years of biking and have slowly been working back up to where I was, (which probably will take all the way through next summer). But there is definite progress. 

This last Saturday I was able to ride with Foster, Lorin and Jared, (the group that rode in Salt to Saint except we didn't have Jaron) up Squaw Peak. It was incredible to really see the difference that being sick had made. I've ridden Squaw Peak about ten times and could make it up in about 30-35 minutes. Now I was hitting 45 or 50 minutes. Not only that, but I was EXHAUSTED. I could barely make it up the last (steep) hill. But I did, which I'm pretty happy about. I plan on riding it at least once more before winter hits. 

Me, at the top of Squaw Peak.

 I'm very grateful for all of the riders I've gotten to know and ridden with that have been nothing but encouraging. I'm sure they've all seen or heard my frustrations at slowly getting back to where I once was but they've really helped me along and kept me motivated. I made it to the top of squaw peak last of everyone but still felt accomplished at doing it and am glad I had some awesome riders pushing me and encouraging me the whole way up.

All of us. Me, Jared, Lorin and Foster.