PCP: The Meeting

The Meeting

There’s obviously waaaaaaaay more to our meeting than that, as we had met randomly on Xanga (a now defunct blogging platform) and our shared interest in a Saturday Sabbath led us to email and become friends. Still in the days of dial up so things went much slower. We never thought we’d have a chance to meet because of being on opposite sides of the US, but when the wedding of my friend “Stamps” occurred, we decided to meet in real life. I was with my group of Bibleschool Graduate friends and she was with her brother, so everyone was safe. It was almost literally love at first sight, but even that was tempered by the several years we had had of getting to know each other as friends. We had a rock solid foundation too, as we were both very dedicated Christians. So we began courting.

What came next? Well, I guess you’ll have to come back next Saturday for …..
* cue dramatic music *

The Land of Water and Fire!

Author Index: Update

Back in November I began to work on my Author Index Project for the blog. I started out haphazardly but then decided to be a bit more organized about it. I started at Z and have been steadily working my way backwards. Once I finish I’ll go through and add all the new authors I’ve read since then and then try to update it on a monthly basis.

BUT!

I am finished with up to the M’s. What a chore! 79 authors with the last name starting with “M”. And only about half of them had their names as tags so I had a bleeding lot of work to do. The only other letter with more authors is “B” at 87. I am not looking forward to that already :-/

But rejoice with me. Things like this make me happy 😀

January ’23 Roundup & Ramblings

Raw Data:

Novels 13 ⭤

Short Stories 0 ⭤

Manga/Graphic Novels 2 ⭤

Comics 3 ⭤

Average Rating 3.19 ⭤

Pages 3238 ⭤

Words 1002K ⭤

The Bad:

Cat Magic – 2stars of cult programming masquerading

Bone #16 – 2stars of complete and utter filler

The Good:

Santiago – 5stars of re-read goodness

James and the Giant Peach – 5stars of just the right book hitting at the exact perfect moment.

Miscellaneous Posts:

Personal:

January has been one of the worst we’ve had in about a decade. Even worse than last year’s January when we both got covid and had to go to the hospital via ambulance.

I got a light case of food poisoning between Christmas and New Years. On New Years, Mrs B had the start of a crohn’s flair up that turned into the worst one she’s had in 10 years. Then she got vasculitus and we’re still dealing with that. Urgent Care visits, ER visits, dr visits, specialists being as unhelpful as possible, it all came together to make life as close to a living hell as we could imagine. While Mrs B is doing better now and her primary care doctor has started her down the right path of specialists to see and taken care of getting her out of work, Mrs B still has a good way to go before she’s healthy again. This has obviously been preying on my mind the entire month.

Also, Mrs B takes a monthly injection and her specialist has completely dropped the ball on getting the authorizations for that. Thankfully, since I am me, and expect the worst of everyone and every situation, I had prepared for just such an eventuality. But it means the safety cushion is now gone so I have to start building it back up again.

Outside of work, I pretty much retreated into our condo and outside of church, had zero social time in real life. I’m still pretty raw emotionally right now and it doesn’t take much to hurt me, hence the limited real life social thing. There’s no need to take it out on other people who are just asking an innocent question.

What this whole time has also shown me is that when I am in the middle of a situation, I have ultra-mega-tunnel vision. I can’t trust myself to look at the big picture or to think properly. Not being able to trust myself is very unpleasant and for an introvert like myself, extremely unsettling.

Because I’ve been so unsettled, my writing has gone up about 10,000%. I figured I was going to have many days in January where I had no posts and was kind of looking forward to doing nothing. But when I stress, I write. So I wrote every day here on the blog and actually already have half of February taken care of too. My personal journal writing became a daily thing instead of a weekly thing. The Cervantes Journal I showcased in November? I’m already 2/3rds of the way through it. It used to take me a year to go through one of those. I’ve also been reading my journal from my junior year in Bibleschool and I hope to be talking about that sometime in March. It’s slow going because as emotional as I am now, I was a daily rollercoaster of ups and downs in my 20’s. It’s making my Freshman Journal look pretty even-keeled!

Multiple rain and snow storms have also meant work has been unsettled and so it feels like every aspect of our lives is in turmoil right now. All small stuff, you know, but like I said, tunnel vision makes it hard to get perspective. Even with church I am dealing with some interpersonal stuff, which while not bad, is just one more thing that makes me go “Oh come on, I do not need to deal with this right now”.

I am tired and am not sure when I’ll get to stop being tired. And so as you can see, the words just spew out like a raging torrent.

Plans for Next Month:

Pretty much exactly like this month. No movie, can’t handle it at the moment (not that I’m not watching stuff. I’m actually watching quite a bit more to try to turn my brain off). So Magic Mondays, books, manga’s and comics, some more of the PCP (Project Christmas Present) and if I get really words’y, probably some silly double posting just to vent and get it all out.

The Christmas Present – Intro

In my December R&R post, I made mention of a gift for Mrs B that took some time to create. It was small book, about 20 pages or less where I told a fable’ized version of our initial meeting and what came after. I commissioned some art work for it and with some help used Snapfish to put it all together.

With it being so many pages, I have decided to post a page or four each Saturday until I’ve put it all up. I won’t be able to use the gothic font or marble’ized background, and I’ll be changing the names, but other than that….. hahahaaa. I even tried to see if I could go back into Snapfish and download it as a series of images, but no cigar. Since I ordered it, they won’t let me edit it or work on it.

I thought about taking pictures of it all, but since it has our real names and real names of some of our friends, well, that’s just not an option either. Sometimes it is tough to be paranoid 😉 I am hoping to have this all posted by the end of February.

Cheers!

The Die Hard Book Tag

I’d like to thank Zezee for bringing this to my attention and to Pete for creating such an awesome tag.

John McClain – A book in which someone has a really bad time

Way-Farer. Jerome, the Main Character, an idealistic young man, has asked the Old Man on the Mountain to train him in the Way of the Sword. The Old Man does this by attacking Jerome every chance he gets, to force Jerome to develop his sixth sense for danger. One day Jerome senses danger as he is about to enter the cottage they share but instead of waiting, he decides to try to pay back the Old Man, with the result that the Old Man almost kills him with just a stone pot lid. Thankfully, things to get better for Jerome after that!

Holly Gennaro – A book with a superb leader

Erevis Cale. Probably my favorite Forgotten Realms character. He leads from the front and doesn’t shy away from doing what needs to be done. Like stabbing someone in the back 😉

Sergeant Al Powell – A book with a sidekick with a great backstory

Smikes, from Nicholas Nickleby. He’s not a “traditional” sidekick, like Robin is to Batman, but man, Smikes gets rescued by Nicholas and is his faithful servant until the end where he dies. If that’s a spoiler to you, well, you’re about 180 years behind schedule. So get with the beat, Baggy! And read yourself some Dickens. But I’ll save spoilering his backstory. There, you’re welcome.

Johnson & Johnson – A book with a pair of real dicks

The Lady and Soul Catcher from Glen Cook’s The Black Company. Each of these extremely powerful sorceresses encapsulate the idea of power corrupting to the uttermost.

Karl – A book with a revenge plot that needn’t have happened

Gankutsuou. A manga based on the anime of the same name, which in turn is based on the classic Count of Monte Cristo. The anime is amazing and I am glad I own it. But if even one of the people who turned Edmond into the authorities had actually told the truth, Edmond never would have been imprisoned and the whole Count of Monte Cristo would have never have happened.

Mr Takagi – A book with an interesting side character killed too early

Edwin Drood. While supposedly the “titular character”, getting bumped off right near the beginning of the book makes it too early for me. Thankfully, while the original story was never completed by Dickens due to the ungrateful sod dying first, David Madden stepped up to the plate and finished up the game for us.

Harry Ellis – A book with a character really out of their depth

Liath, from Kate Elliott’s Crown of Stars series. Unlike Ellis however, Liath know’s she’s out of her depth and does something about it during the series. She’s not a loser who dies like Ellis. But I gotta say, it was satisfying to see him die.

Richard Thornburg – A book with an infinitely punchable character

Yossarian from Catch-22. Ohhhh, I hated him so much!

Hans Gruber – A book with a fantastic villain

They just don’t make villains like ol’ Hans’y any more. And not many actors like Rickman either (sadly). But the closest character I could think of was Light Yagami from the manga series Death Note. An arrogant psychopathic genius who is eventually outwitted. Oh, it’s a good series! Just avoid the various movies, tv shows and especially the netflix movie adaptation. Go with the manga.

A Sabbath Letter #3

While Mrs B and I both aggressively work on keeping our lives from being overcome with busy’ness, sometimes an idea needs some concrete forms to crystalize. I found the following Sabbath email very helpful in that regards.

“Be still and know that I am God”  Psalm 46:10 

I was recently given a book with a very odd title: Praying Like Monks, Living Like Fools, by Tyler Staton. Mr. Staton is the lead pastor of a church in Oregon and the national director of the the 24-7 Prayer Movement in the United States.  The book cover tells me that it will “open or reopen the lines of communication with your Creator,” and will show you how to “practice multiple positions of prayer, including silence, persistence, confession, and more. I want to share with you for this Sabbath message the first of the monks’ prayer postures—“Be still and know.”

Mr. Staton begins the second chapter reminding us of how truly difficult it is to “be still,” compared to the days before the invention of the clock, the light bulb, and the I-phone. For example, a 2019 survey found the average I-phone user was staring at his phone screen for over five hours each day! He includes an anecdote about the Christian philosopher, Dallas Willard, who was asked, “What do I need to do to be spiritually healthy?” After a long pause he answered, “You must ruthlessly eliminate hurry from your life!” So if hurry, along with “busyness and overload,” crowds God out of many Christians’ lives, learning to “be still” is a good antidote.

For being still, Mr. Staton suggests that his readers try this method, and perhaps you would like to try it sometime this Sabbath day!

  • First, create a daily ritual. Choose an ordinary quiet place like your favorite chair in your bedroom.
  • Second, sit straight up with your two feet planted firmly on the floor.
  • Third, lay your hands in your lap, palms open, facing up.
  • Fourth, close your eyes and breathe in deeply and slowly three times.
  • Fifth, pray something simple and invitational like “Here I am Lord” or “Come, Holy Spirit.”
  • Sixth, be quiet. Be still. Wait!
  • Seventh, set a goal of at least two minutes before you open your eyes. Gradually work this up over a period of weeks to ten minutes.

When I tried this, I kept repeating to myself, “Be still and know that I am God” to keep out distracting thoughts. Finally, I decided it had been a good five minutes and opened my eyes. When I looked at my watch, it had only been two and a half minutes!

God help us all to learn to “Be still” in this hurried, frantic world of instant gratification. The Sabbath is a great time to practice this!
Shabbat shalom,

Christ’s Blessing on you all this Sabbath.

Bookstooge Reviews 2022

THE STATS:

Annual Blog Stats

Posts – 380 (↑61)

Words written – 185.5K (↓10.1K)

Views – 28.3K (↑1.1K)

Visitors – 7.5K (↓2K)

Followers – 400 (↓19)

Comments – 9.3K(↓1.5K)

Book Stats

Books read – 247 (↑ 54)

Pages read – 52769 (↑3.3K)

words read – 16487K (↑ 1.1K)

average rating – 3.23 (↓0.15)

GENERAL THOUGHTS:

General Life Thoughts:

The year in general sailed along for both Mrs B and me. We both ended up working more than usual (I think our average weekly was 42 or 43 hrs). Those extra hours made a big difference. Student loans are finished! So now we’re using that money to pay down extra on our mortgage. I’m hoping we can shave off 5-6 years off the loan life. That’s my next big life goal, to get that mortgage out of the way.

We helped out each month with super church (sunday school) and live streaming (so 2 sunday’s a month) and I’m finding my tolerance for the kids is waning. There is one parent who pretty much brings her kids to be babysat and they’re not disciplined at home so they’re not model kids. Thankfully, after having used the “nuclear option” once, (take them out of class and march them up the middle of the aisle and drop them back off to their mom in the middle of the sermon) they’re learning I mean business. They’re not bad kids, just unruly and undisciplined. But it’s exhausting and those Sunday’s I come home and flop on the couch. Streaming is easier but mainly because I refuse to treat it like a show. I use 4 camera angles and that’s it. I don’t zoom around, I don’t focus on people playing special music, etc, etc.

This year was just a blur. Not that good things didn’t happen, or bad things, but overall it went so fast that it was over before I realized what was going on. Which is fine when you’re concerned about who is elected to political offices, but not so fine when it comes to paying bills. Actually had one bill go to a bill collector because I completely forgot to pay it. Sigh, life moving faster isn’t necessarily a good thing.

One of the kids at church expressed interest in Magic earlier this year so I’ve been getting together with his Dad and him once or twice a month and turning him into a life long addict. Someone’s gotta do it, so it might as well be me 😀 Speaking of Magic, I began collecting the Mirage set from 1996. Along with 4th Edition, those cards are some of the iconic visual memories of my late teen years. Plus, collecting cards doesn’t take up nearly as much space as collecting books does, hahahahaa!

General Bookish Thoughts:

Looking at those numbers, man, did my book numbers go up! Part of that is because I was reading individual issues of comics all year (whereas I had only started doing that in July of 2021), but even that only accounts for about an extra 25, so I simply read MORE this year. The Pages and Words metric fully back that up. It didn’t “feel” like I had read more, but with not picking up any other new hobby, Reading picked up the slack.

The rating is down only a little bit from last year, but 2021’s rating was down from 2020’s, so I’m on a downward slide, albeit a very slight one. I think that is because I’m reading more. There are more crap books than fantastic books out there, so the more I read, the greater my chance of a getting a crap book. All it takes is ONE one star book in a month to drag the whole year down. And since I am so picky about handing out 5stars, well, it doesn’t surprise me. But as long as I stay above a 3star average, that means I’m enjoying the majority of what I read. I’ll try to be content with that.

With all of that being said, I only had FOUR 5star reads this year and all of them were re-reads. I had NINE 4.5star reads as well. On the other side, I only had TWO half star reads and NINE 1star reads. So I feel that I balanced everything out in the end.

With around 57 of the reads being re-reads (including ALL of the Bone comics), I’m still sticking around the 25% mark. I have a feeling that number is going to drop in ’23 as I am becoming more leery of re-reading my “old favorites” as I move into the phase of life (fully middle aged now) and all of my manga will be new to me as well. I am ok with this change.

Well, despite my issues with WP.com in 2021, I still came crawling back for more in 2022. To the point where I have a paid plan and Dotblog Site, sigh. Thankfully, I haven’t experienced some of the problems that I did last year, but I never count WP.com out of the problem fight. If they can’t make one problem get you, they’ll invent a whole new one, the wretches.

I have also realized that despite all of my complaining and grumbling, that I have nailed myself to WP.com. The finishing up of construction on The Hotel Bookstooge pretty much saw to that and the continued work on the Author Index is like putting up shutters on the windows. You only do that if you think you’re going to stay in the place for a while.

Between the paid plan’s upgrade to my storage, Dropbox and Caesium, space is not an issue for me.

The Churn continues apace with other bloggers slowing down, stopping or just moving on to other hobbies. I have also done my own share of unfollowing this year and finding new bloggers to follow. If I could have one blogging wish for 2023, I wish that things would stay stable in that regards. That’s a vain wish though, knowing how unstable the world in general is right now.

So the long and short? I’m here, I’m standing tall (well, kind of) and I’m not planning on leaving. But I’ll still be complaining.

Blogspot continues to be my review backup. Not in any meaningful way, as I didn’t do any work on the old reviews, so it’s as big a mess as my WordPress used to be. But it’s there for me when WP.com does something truly stupendously stupid (like they seem to do 3-4 times a year) and is a good safety valve so I don’t feel that WP.com is my only option.

Partway through the year (July to be particular) I stopped crossposting my reviews to Librarything. I had given up on the platform as a social site in 2021 and thus it was pretty inevitable that I stopped using them all together. Guess I’m more surprised it took me as long as it did than anything.

Calibre continues to putter along offline just fine. It is what I now use to check up on anything in particular. Now that it has full database searching abilities, I can look for almost anything and with enough patience, find it. I am currently using version 6.9 and will be updating as the creator puts up new updates.

THE BOOKS:

Best Book of the Year:

Without a question, A Christmas Carol read by Patrick Stewart. This is now my favorite version of this story and I suspect it will be an annual tradition.

Worst Book of the Year:

Definitely Flashman. He lies, murders and rapes his way through the book and we’re supposed to find it amusing. I definitely did not.

PLANS FOR 2023:

Personal:

The Self-Study for my Level3 Certification didn’t work out at all in ’22. I think that really needs to be a top priority for this year. I’m just afraid that I’ll slack off again though and “do it next month” all year long.

The potential move to Georgia is now indefinitely put off. It’s going to take an emergency to get us down there and even then we’d have to think about it. It is going into a closet shelf in the very back of my mind for now.

Trying not to make many, if any, plans. Because situations are easier to handle when you don’t have expectations about them.

Drink a lot of Rockstar energy drinks. Because I can.

Blog:

Continue working on my author index. Continue my Magic cards each Monday. So it’s going to be business as usual. I haven’t had a creative idea for some time about a long running series of blog posts, so I might end up not trying to do any. Which is too bad because long running series of posts is always easier to write and schedule than anything else.

I am going to try to do some more “arty” stuff but we’ll see how that pans out. I would like it to work but the logistics might be greater than anticipated.

Movies are still completely up in the air. There are so many movie reviewers out there. Besides, I don’t watch new stuff and even when I do watch stuff, I don’t really watch it that well. More like “listening to it” with glances up at the tv when there’s no dialogue to tell me what’s going on.

This might end up being a very sloggy blog year :-/

TOP 5:

Book Review Posts:

Non-Review Posts:

Commentors + Runner Up:

Movies:

Hall of Shame (5 least viewed posts)

December ’22 Roundup & Rambling

Raw Data:

Novels – 12 ⭤

Graphic Novels – 4 ⭤

Average Rating – 3.27 ↑

Pages – 3723 ↑

Words – 1259.5K ↑

The Bad:

Unsouled – 1.5stars of disgusting web novel disguised as a real book

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #12 – 1.5stars of utter ignorance on the subjects being written about

The Good:

A Christmas Carol read by Patrick Stewart – 5 stars of pure audio goodness!

In the Best Families – 4.5stars of Nero Wolfe NOT being Nero Wolfe

Movie:

Event Horizon was a great horror space movie that could have been better.

Miscellaneous Posts:

Personal:

Mrs B and I got sick near the beginning of the month but it wasn’t covid and it wasn’t serious. A couple of days out of work and we were good to go again.

Life was just busy from Thanksgiving til now. I think that contributed towards the sickness actually. One Saturday I slept for almost 12hrs.

I spent a lot of the month getting Mrs B’s Christmas present ready. It was a collaboration so I had to coordinate with some other people and one of them I had to collaborate through a 3rd party, so it was a lot of work to get things done that would have taken half the time and effort if I could have had direct contact. Oh well. It’s done now and turned out very well.

Plans for Next Month:

Well, just like always, I STILL have to deal with my upcoming Year in Review Post. I always leave it til last minute, always bemoan the fact in this final Roundup post and never actually do anything to change that. If I wasn’t so awesome, I’d be disgusted with myself 😉

I do plan on adding Manga back into my reading mix so that “open day” disappears. Might end up leaving Saturdays open for last minute silliness, we’ll see. I had talked about something, with somebody, sometime, for my next movie idea but I didn’t write it down and so have completely forgotten all the details. If that was you, would you mind saying what it was in the comments? Thanks. Otherwise, I might just let movies slide for a couple of months while I flail around looking for something suitable. Magic on Mondays will go on as usual.

Work continues apace on the Author Index and I’m in the P’s now. If I can keep up this momentum, I should be able to wrap this project up in 2023. Or I might stall out. It’s a tossup at this point.

See you tomorrow as I blab about the whole of ’22 then.

Merry Christmas!!! (2022 Edition)

merrychristmas

Luke, Chapter 2, Verses 1-20

The Birth of Jesus

At that time the Roman emperor, Augustus, decreed that a census should be taken throughout the Roman Empire. (This was the first census taken when Quirinius was governor of Syria.) All returned to their own ancestral towns to register for this census. And because Joseph was a descendant of King David, he had to go to Bethlehem in Judea, David’s ancient home. He traveled there from the village of Nazareth in Galilee. He took with him Mary, to whom he was engaged, who was now expecting a child.

And while they were there, the time came for her baby to be born. She gave birth to her firstborn son. She wrapped him snugly in strips of cloth and laid him in a manger, because there was no lodging available for them.

The Shepherds and Angels

That night there were shepherds staying in the fields nearby, guarding their flocks of sheep. Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them. They were terrified, 10 but the angel reassured them. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. 11 The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David! 12 And you will recognize him by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger.”

13 Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others—the armies of heaven—praising God and saying,

14 “Glory to God in highest heaven,
    and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.”

15 When the angels had returned to heaven, the shepherds said to each other, “Let’s go to Bethlehem! Let’s see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”

16 They hurried to the village and found Mary and Joseph. And there was the baby, lying in the manger. 17 After seeing him, the shepherds told everyone what had happened and what the angel had said to them about this child. 18 All who heard the shepherds’ story were astonished, 19 but Mary kept all these things in her heart and thought about them often. 20 The shepherds went back to their flocks, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen. It was just as the angel had told them.


God is not some remote dictator who doesn’t care about you. He sent His son Jesus to be one of us, God Incarnate in human flesh. He was born 2000 years ago and He wants you today. He is calling you, please listen.

Have a Merry Christmas!