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!

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!

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)

[Repost] 50 Questions Answered by the Inestimable Bookstooge

I was looking through some of my older posts before I came fully to WordPress and ran across Answer All these Random Questions one. It made me laugh so I thought I’d share again. Ahhh, I do miss Booklikes….

This was Originally Posted in 2016.

1. Do you sleep with your closet doors open or closed?
Open. Too much effort in the morning to have to open them again.

2. Do you sleep with your sheets tucked in or out?
I roll around in my sleep, a lot. So they end up un-tucked.

3. Have you ever stolen a street sign before?
No.

4. Do you cut out coupons and never use them?
Yep. Then I quit when I realized what a time waster it was for me.

5. Would you rather be attacked by bears or bees?
In the woods: a bear. at least I could fight it off with my machete.
In the non-woods: bees. Easy to get treatment for.

6. Do you have freckles?
Yes

7. Do you always smile for pictures?
An emphatic no.

8. Do you ever count your steps when you walk?
Sometimes. More likely to count cars going the opposite direction from me when driving. Or count utility poles. Until I force myself to stop.

9. Have you ever peed in the woods?
Every workday. It’s just part of the job.


10. What about pooped in the woods?
Yes. Not fun, but circumstances leave you with no choice when you’re 1/2mile from any civilization.

11. Do you chew your pens and pencils?
No.

12. What’s your song of the week?
I don’t listen to music on the radio.


13. Is it okay for guys to wear pink?
As a man, I can speak authoritatively on this. And I will.
It is PERFECTLY OK to wear pink.
if you’re not a man.

14. Do you still watch Cartoons?
Absolutely. Spongebob never fails to entertain me.

15. What do you drink with dinner?
Usually one of those no-calorie flavored drink mixes you add to a 1/2 liter of water.
2022 Answer is: Vanilla Coke Zero!

16. What do you dip a chicken nugget in?
Nothing

17. What’s your favourite food?
Pizza.

18. Were you ever a boy/girl scout?
No.

19. Would you ever strip or pose naked for a magazine?
No. I have my dignity.
And I feel only sadness for those who do do such things. What kind of life are they living where they feel it necessary to do that?

20. Have you ever gotten a speeding ticket?
Yes. But not in the last 10 years.

21. Favorite kind of sandwich?
Bologna and cheese on whole wheat bread.


22. Best thing to eat for breakfast?
Rice krispies and hardboiled eggs. Quick, easy and almost no cleanup.

23. What’s your usual bedtime?
I start getting read by 9pm and if I’m good, 9:45pm. If I’m bad, I’ll stay up to 11 reading. And then I pay for it the next morning. I need 8hrs of sleep. Not 7.


24. Are you lazy?
Like you wouldn’t believe. We’re lucky if I vacuum the house twice a month.

25. What is your Chinese astrology sign?
I am theologically and philosophically opposed to mysticism. So I avoid this kind of thing like the plague.

26. How many languages can you speak?

Three:
American
Iglatinpay
Chinese-o.

27. Do you have any magazine subscriptions?
No. I haven’t had a magazine subscription since Scrye in the 90’s.

28. Are you stubborn?
Not at all. I’m the most laid back, easy to please, easy to get along with guy you’ll ever meet.


29. Are you afraid of heights?
Yep. Both hands on the ladder kind of guy.


30. Do you sing in the car?
I only listen to preachers and newsmen in the car.

31. Do you ever dance in the car?
How is that even possible?

32. Ever used a gun?
Absolutely. Own them too. Probably going to get my first sub-compact handgun this year in fact.
oh, little did I know when I wrote that answer. You can call me Mr Guns AND Ammo in 2022.

33. Last time you got a portrait taken by a photographer?
Highschool in the mid 90’s.

34. Do you think muscles are cheesy?
No.

35. Favorite type of fruit pie?
Banana cream pie or Pumpkin.

36. Occupation you wanted to be when you were a kid?
I don’t ever remember thinking about this.

37. Do you believe in ghosts?
Not in the sense of someone’s spirit being here in this world after death. Demons masquerading as said spirits, then yes

.
38. Ever had a deja-vu feeling?
Yes.

39. First concert?
Never


40. Nike or Adidas?
Don’t care

41. Ever take dance lessons?
No.


42. Regularly burn incense?
It is a fire hazard. So no.

43. Who would you like to see in concert?
Enya? But her music is multi-layered, so I’m not sure how well that would work out live in concert.

44. Hot tea or cold tea?
Iced chai. But that is it.

45. Tea or Coffee?
Coffee. Unless it is a hot afternoon, then I’ll take the iced chai.

46. Can you swim well?
No. Enough to save my life, but that is about it.


47. Are you patient?
Absolutely. In fact, in some circles I am known as Saint Bookstooge, patron saint of Patient People.


48. DJ or band at a wedding?
Neither. Both are too loud and annoying.

49. Which are better, black or green olives?
Black on pizza. but green with pimento’s straight out of the jar.

50. Would you rather live in a fictional world or the real world?
Real world. God I can trust. A human author, not so much.

PSA: How To Read 100+ Books A Year

I was “exploring” on WordPress the other month and came across Ahaquir and his blog, Books of Brilliance. He had done a post on how many books an average person in the UK or the US read and I found it interesting. I left a comment, as I usually do and he asked me if I would be interested in writing a guest post detailing how I manage to read 100-150 books a year. If you follow me (and if you don’t, here’s a Quick Primer on Me) you know I have been able to keep this kind of reading pace up for years. I was looking at my Calibre Library (which is a great way to manage your reviews offline if you are so inclined) and noticed that I started reading 100 books in 2006 and haven’t looked back since.

In the interest of “fairness”, because there are people out there who are picky and will be quick to discredit anyone, anytime over any issue for any reason, I must note that I include individual short stories if I read them as standalones and not part of a collection (say from a writer’s website) as well as manga and individual comic books. To compensate for this, I also track the number of pages read as well as the number of words read. So that gives me 3 metrics to measure by, That’s a lot of work and not something most people are going to do, but I wanted you to know how I do things 😀

My method is Simple, but it is not Easy. It is not for everyone and if it is not for you, then you need to be strong enough to admit it. Otherwise you will beat your head against the wall and cause yourself nothing but frustration and possibly anger and that defeats the whole purpose of reading for fun. So without further ado, here is my magic list of how to Read 100+ Books in a Year.

  • Make Time For Reading
    -You can do this by the following:
  • Turn off the tv
    -seriously. If you watch movies or shows on your laptop, turn that off too. Or your phone.
  • Delete your Social Media accounts
    -not just don’t use them, but delete them. If you have trained yourself to go watch kitty videos on Communist-tok or Youtube, that temptation will be too great to overcome. You will have to go cold turkey and it will take time to re-train your brain to accept activities in chunks of time greater than 5 minutes. This is not a diss to those who do such things, but a cold reality.
  • Reduce time spent on your other hobbies
    -Do you knit? Play video games? Play card or board games? Cook? Realize that you have to juggle all of them and if reading is the most important hobby to you, give it the time it needs
  • ALWAYS carry reading material with you
    -In the spring through fall, I carry my kindle Oasis everywhere I go. When I walk out the door, I check that I have my wallet, my keys, my phone, my insulin pump/meter and my kindle. For the 6 months of winter we have here in New England, I make sure I have a paper book that I can read at a moment’s notice anywhere, anytime.
  • When in a social situation, always choose reading over people.
    -People come and go but you only have that year to read those 100 books. Priorities, priorities, priorities.
  • Finally, hang out with readers
    -You are influenced, for good or bad, by those you spend time with. Choose people, whether online or in real life, who will help you towards that 100+ goal and not hinder you.

Now, while this has all been slightly tongue in cheek, reading 100+ books a year is completely up to you and within your power. It is not for everyone though. Some people are just too social and they NEED more interaction with people. I have been blessed with an introspective misanthropy, so that’s not a problem for me. But maybe you are one of those poor benighted people who is just full of sunshine and rainbows and loves being around and interacting with people. Then you need to admit that weakness to yourself and accept it. Just like I accept that when I go grocery shopping, I can’t reach the top shelf. There is no shame as long as you accept responsibility for your own shortcomings.

Whether this post helps you to read more or not, I hope it has opened your eyes to the fact that reading is completely within your grasp. There is no magic short cut. You have to put in the time. But you can do it. So go forth and read!

And a big thankyou again to Ahaquir for giving me the shove needed to write this out.

Journal the 17th – Cervantes: Letter to the King

Last April, I showcased my latest journal, The Tesla Journal. Usually, it takes me a year or more to fill up a journal. Well, I have been racing through that one and filled it up and started another this month. So of course I’m going to show off what version I got this time 😀 Paperblanks Embellished Manuscripts have become my favorite journal and they come out with new ones every year. It is worth the money.

So without further ado, here are pictures of the journal, which is titled “Cervantes: Letter to the King”.

Just to put things in perspective, it took me 11months to fill up my 15th journal. Then 7months to fill up the Tesla one (the 16th). We’ll see how long it takes me to go through this one. I’m already salivating about getting whatever the 18th journal will be. Does that mean I have a problem? Hahahahahaa! Well, whatever the case may be, you can be sure that I’ll keep on posting whenever I get a new journal. yum yum yum!

Thanksgiving 2022

Today is the day that Americans are supposed to give Thanks to God for the many blessings they have received over the past year, whether they deserved them or not. In this day and age of Commercialism, Covid19, Uncertainty and Fear, it is all the more important.

If you haven’t figured it out yet (or read my About page), I’m a committed Christian. In this context, it means that I’m specifically giving thanks to Jehovah God and not just some idea of a greater power.

Without Further Ado, I am thankful for:

Mrs B once again tops the list. Without her, my life would be radically different and none of it for the better.

I am thankful for my work. I am also thankful for Mrs B’s work. Not only does it provide the money that we need to live, but it keeps me occupied (idle hands are the devil’s tools after all). I also enjoy my work. Being outside with only 1 other person and not having to deal with office politics, etc, etc is a real blessing. It also gives me a chance to meet people I normally never would. And one thing that has been brought to the fore of my mind this year is that we can use our finances to bless others.

Church. The fellowship that I have with other Christians at church is priceless to me. The fact that there are also weekly Small Group meetings has been an immense blessing this year. Getting to know individuals is one of the greatest gifts I have been given. I also get to watch kids turn into teenagers, teenagers turn into young adults and young adults turn into adults. I also feel blessed that the Bible is taught every single week. The Word of God is the Word of Life.

I am thankful for my journal. I started the one pictured above in April (I talk about it HERE) and just finished it up this past month, so I’m already on a new one. Haven’t decided if I’ll post anything about the newest one, but chances are better than not as I just Like Journaling. Being able to articulate what I feel and why in total privacy with no one being able to judge me or even “suggest” anything feeds my soul.

Finally, I am thankful for eggnog. Life is made up of big and little things and having eggnog available from Thanksgiving to Christmas is a little delight that I revel in.

I think that is enough for now. God bless you all and may you find Peace in Christ Jesus.

The Bookstooge Chronicles: The Freshman Year

I’ve made my way completely through 400 pages of my freshman journal. Like I described in my Midlife Crisis Post, I was equally horrified, amused and entertained. 9/10ths of my entries were centered around girls. This girl, that girl, the next girl, some random girl, a previous girl. I could practically smell the hormones wafting off the pages. But in between my tortured musings on Being Alone Forevah! it was quite the little time capsule.

September 1997 through August 1998 was a wonderful time to be alive if you liked tech. I had a quad speed cdrom and let me tell you, it was 100% better than those measly 2speed ones! What other things popped up? Oh yeah, you didn’t need a passport to go into or come back from Canada. I was a total drama queen and reading about some stuff now makes me realize how out of proportion I would blow things up in my mind. Funnily enough, that STILL happens a lot to me, hahahahaa 😀 Despite being 20, I still fought with my little brother and littler sister like I was 10.

But what stood out to me, in the 400 pages, was my reaction to my first spam email. Do you remember your first? There are a lot of firsts in life but in the late 90’s, spam email wasn’t quite what it is today. I wrote this down in my journal. So cringe along with me as we go back 25 years to a more innocent time when email was only used for good, sigh :-/

2/8/98 – 11pm Saturday
Got a weird e-mail, supposedly from Bill Gates. It is testing some new e-mail tracking software. Once the list reaches 1,000 people, we will all get $1,000 & a free Window98 package. I hope it is real!
If it is bogus, Microsoft will be angry as anything & I bet there will be lawsuits flying.
But I’m hoping & praying it is real. I could really use $1000 & W98. Specially now with my new computer.

Now is that just adorable or what? Makes me want to pinch my younger self’s cheeks and go “ohhh, you cute little thing”. Of course, back then I didn’t have cheeks because I was so skinny, I was skin and bones, poor guy.

But it took me over 6 weeks to read the whole thing because there were times I just had to put it down and give myself a break from myself. Man, I was an intense young man and it really carried over into my words in my journal. At the same time, it has whetted my appetite to read more (but I’m totally not a Narcissist, really!). I am giving myself a 2 month break before diving into my Junior year, as I remember life got super intense for that year and I’m not sure how I’m going to handle it even now.

What is interesting to me is that certain things I wrote I can picture with absolute crystal clarity. I read the words, the situation I describe and I can SEE it perfectly in my mind all over again. Isn’t the mind a wonderful thing? Truly the Psalmist spoke true when he wrote “I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.

Well, I think I’ve talked about myself enough. For today anyway 😉