Monthly Archives: March 2015

WARM DAYS

Warm days

floating on breezes.

The swift sway

of daffodils on the slopes.

 

Sunlight dazzling

in vivid white and yellow.

It illuminates daylight stars

dancing on the water,

sparkling the ripples

in spite of the stilled surface.

 

Drifting to sleep

are lazy dogs,

comforted by

the soft, cool dirt beneath them.

 

Birds are many,

flitting about,

chirping and tapping,

singing beautiful sounds.

 

The lumbering pines

soak the world in their deep scent

as the aspens let their leaves unroll,

priding a glossy green tint.

 

Clouds are absent

from the deep blue that

paints the sky above.

 

In an awed stupor we stand.

Just watching the amazing life

revealed before us.

 

To the mountain’s cratered edge

we’ve climbed.

Looking for only peace,

it is nature’s purity that we find.

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JUST FINISHED: The Martian

Author: Andy Weir

Genre: Science Fiction

Rating: 1 out of 5 stars

So I’m just going to come right out with it—I hated this book. I actually hated it. There was no part I enjoyed. No part that fancied my imagination. I hated all of it.

Harsh, right? Well, let’s discover the why.

Reason one: numbers. There are way too many numbers and equations in this book. ‘I have x amount of water. At X liters per day, it will last X many days. I need to find more water for X additional days if I don’t want to die.’ This is too much information that I don’t care about. I could care less about the exactness of the situation. I only need to know that he doesn’t have enough water and needs more. And it’s not just the water, it’s about the soil, the growth rate of plants, and on and on and on.

Reason two: the mechanics. This book strives to be a non-fiction manual on how to survive Mars. Yes, a manual. You know like your car manual, that thick-paged book you shoved to the back of your glove box never to be opened? Every system gets described in depth in this novel. From the research center (HAB) to a rover to batteries and more. More information that is not needed!

Reason three: the main character. The character of Mark Watney is obnoxious and self-absorbed. Maybe he was supposed to be that way, but it’s comes off as really annoying to a reader. He is unrealistic and sarcastic to the point that I often just closed the book. For someone who may be doomed to death on Mars, he doesn’t actual seem to really care in the long run. It’s more of a big joke for him. And that loses all of the plot suspense (if there ever was any).

Reason four: unrealistic dialogue. First correspondence back to NASA from Watney: “…Really looking forward to not dying. I want to make it clear it wasn’t the crew’s fault. Side question: What did they say when they found out I was alive? Also, “Hi, Mom!”.” Then there is extreme overuse of the word “Yay!” and things like “Look! A pair of boobs!-> (.Y.)”. Enough said.

Reason five: unrealistic situations. Getting stranded on Mars, possible. Finding a way out of every bad thing that happens in good time, not possible. Come on Weir, everybody fails at something. There are many difficulties presented in the book but for one individual to miraculous solve every problem and it all go to plan is ridiculous. Also, boring and predictable. I didn’t even have to make it to the last chapter to know how this one would end.

Reason six: zero character development. Watney is the exact same person you met on page one of the book as you will know by the end. The other characters introduced just fade to the background. They are stereotypical people: shy computer programmer, remorseful captain, feisty PR woman, resourceful/strong-willed leader.  There is little more to them. Even their choice of words and thought patterns are stereotypes.

I will give credit to Weir for an outstanding amount of research to produce this book to the nth degree of accuracy. Apparently he started work as a “programmer at a national laboratory at age fifteen” with hobbies in “relativistic physics, orbital mechanics, and the history of manned space flight.” That explains a good deal of why this book turned out the way it did.

I wanted a nice space thriller with some intensity and what I got was a bland book filled with endless clichés and numbers (and I’m an engineer!). I’ve read other comments on this book where people took it more as a comedy, and perhaps that’s a better light to see it in. But even then, I didn’t find it funny. This book contains way too many meaningless situations and empty relationships void of development. Just a little bit of imagination, that’s all I ask for.

Would I recommend it to you? Only if you are infatuated with astronauts and space.  Otherwise, I would just wait for the movie because you might actually enjoy it more than the book.

JUST FINISHED: Flight Behavior

Author: Barbara Kingsolver

Genre: Fiction

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

So I was in the mood for a decent good book and couldn’t resist picking up one by my favorite author, Barbara Kingsolver. Flight Behavior deals with a young woman, Dellarobia, going through a trying period in her life.

The novel begins with Dellarobia on her way to ending her marriage by means of an affair. To not expel crucial details, Dellarobia’s life is one that leaves a rushed, trapped feeling. Living in a small town infatuated with the show of religion, the main character was forced to marry her husband in high school after realizing she was pregnant. Like a true gunshot wedding, her in-laws immediately tied them together and even built them their own house on their land.

Fast forward some time and now they have two children and are living the average low-income life in small-town America. She has a husband who cares because it’s what he’s supposed to do, a mother-in-law that can never be pleased, and one friend who is the only person she is able to relate to.

Dellarobia’s life takes a major turn when she discovers a community of monarchs residing on a small mountain that is on their land. Seeing something so amazing and full of life makes her reconsider her own situation and what she can do about it.

Being from a small town myself, Kingsolver’s depiction of the people and their line of thought was spot on. When you live in a community that small, everybody’s business is everybody’s business. Gossip is like wildfire, being different is frowned on, and the only immediate concern of the future is the high school football team’s possible winning status. Most people live day to day in terms of income and life beyond the town limits is just a dream.  It’s a tired cycle that needs to be broken and, as Kingsolver and I would agree, education is the key to breaking it.

Kingsolver even takes on the heavy topic of climate change in this novel. She puts a forthright opinion on the severity that we have dealt to the planet through carbon monoxide to logging. She goes on to explain how these items are causing fundamental changes in the Earth’s ecosystems, causing strange weather patterns and natural disasters previously unheard of.

She twists the knife even further on this issue by blatantly stating that the damage is done. The changes are already in process and what we do now can’t help. We can only study it and try to predict the outcome. And the outcome may be a bad one.

This novel also tenderly delves on the issues of a broken marriage. Kingsolver does a spectacular job portraying the wave of feelings and erratic thoughts that a person can experience when trying to consider if this is how they want their life to continue on. There are very substantial questions that an individual has to deal with when really examining themselves spiritually and mentally. Kingsolver takes these questions head on in this book, giving Dellarobia realistic character growth and making her very human.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. If you’re in the mood for a well written personal and internal drama, you will too.

COLLISION

I saw her again.

This time I was driving, clocking well over eighty and that feeling–god that feeling–it passed over me like a shadow. This tremble goes up my spine and I put all my effort towards focusing on the road. My hands start to hurt from the grip on the wheel.

Like always, I couldn’t stop it. I start looking around at the cars around me.

To my right an older gentleman, his head full of gray and face speckled by the sun. He was hunched over, peering at the road rather than actually seeing it. He looked lonely.

In front of me, the soccer mom’s staple mini-van. A liquorish red with stickers of her children dotting the back window. Pride shines through the dust laden paint.

And on my left was her. It’s always her.

She was there, all blonde and beautiful in that little, blue car. Her windows were down and she was singing. Some new pop song, most likely.  She wore that slim lime green tank top; her nails painted to match. A miniature teddy bear dangled from the rearview mirror, ever so often colliding with a newly added tassel from her graduation. ’05 is what it said.

She was so carefree, so young. A new glowing light, dancing to the rhythmic traffic of a city.

The fleeting feeling of peace fades with me when I remember what happens. I had seen this too many times before. Over and over it plays in my head.

I motion to her. I scream at her. I plead with her. But she can’t hear me. She never does.

The pretty blonde smiles for an instant. And at the end of that moment she barrels into the back end of the stopped car in front of her.

Time speeds up then as that little blue car is crunched with her in it. A shockwave of forces spreads through the cars in line, totaling more than her. But she’s all that matters.

Dead instantly. From the bloody carnage of her that was left tangled in that metal jungle, I wanted to desperately believe it. I could never live knowing if she went through worse pain. If she thought about me in her last breathe. If she called for me and I wasn’t there.

An officer handed me the only pieces left intact the day after. I cried when I saw that bear and tassel. They were gifts from her mother and I. Gifts that we had given her just two days before.

My beautiful daughter was gone. Her life lost to a congested, unforgiving world. And a future robbed from me.