What WAS Gary Up To

Or: "Plausible deniability is a good thing"

Page Last updated: January 23, 2005

This is what I WAS up to in the Fall of 2004 all the way back to September 2001 and in previous years:

I finished reading Dan Simmons's Hyperion and Endymion novels -- good, good stuff. The only problem with these novels is the use of time-travel as a core plot device. It always seems like cheating when time-travel is involved, and it lessens the suspense. You're always thinking, oh, they'll just go back or forward in time to escape, etc. -- but they're still good novels.

Finished a two-week trip out West where we saw a bunch of national parks and Las Vegas. The trip included Grand Canyon, Lake Powell, Zion, Bryce Canyon, Grand Tetons, Snake River rafting, Shoshone River rafting, Salt Lake City, Idaho somewhere, Yellowstone, Mt. Rushmore, Custer Monument, and Crazy Horse Monument. Pictures to come...

Frank Herbert of Dune fame has a busy little bee of a son who just put out a new Dune book that I haven't picked up yet, The Butlerian Jihad. I'm all over that when it comes out in paperback.

Other books I've read recently include the D. F. Jones Colossus trilogy -- Awesome read! but I can't find the last out-of-print book in the series, Colossus and the Crab. Amazon auctions probably has it (better than eBay); C. S. Lewis's Out of the Silent Planet -- so-so, grinding through the first book; and I just finished Kevin J. Anderson's Assemblers of Infinity -- nanotech stuff; not bad. I'm trying to re-read Fred Emery's Watergate, but it's just a little dry and I can't get going with it.

I read some Iain Banks "Culture" sci-fi books, and they were great: Excession, Consider Phlebas, and Look to Windward. Yeah, Larry Niven and Asimov have paved the way for Mr. Banks, but, boy, he's really built a great universe to compete with those old veterans. Too bad he's not doing much more with it.

I read Gregory Beneford's Artifact last year, and it's not bad, and I'm also reading Orson Scott Card's latest additions to his Ender series of books: Ender's Shadow and Hegemon's Shadow (there's another one out now, but I can't remember it). I loved the first five books of the series, though the last couple of those books got a little hard-core Dune-ish/religious/preachy. However, he's definitely back and writing good stuff with these latest books about Ender's genius subordinate, Bean. Nicely done.

I saw the Red Sox spank the Yankees at Yankee Stadium on July 5, and I saw the Red Sox put up 25 runs or whatever it was against Florida in June at Fenway.

Be prepared -- my poor girlfriend and I start our second ballpark odyssey next month, this time on the West Coast...

Just got back from my brother's wedding. Little Joe is aaaall grown up. Good time.

I'm reading some John Varley sci-fi, Titan and Wizard. Not bad, but they advertise it as analagous to Dune, which is insane. It's an OK read, but not really recommended. I'll finish Wizard and move on.

I'm also reading Dune: House Corrino, the follow-up trilogy to Dune by Frank Herbert's son. Really excellent, and highly recommended.

I finished the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy series by Douglas Adams, and that is a lot of fun to read. The last two books are OK, but not really up to snuff. I guess I would call Hitchhiker a sci-fi series that Dave Barry would write if he ever wrote one.

I finished Frank Herbert's The White Plague. Not bad, not too much action, but a well-written story. A well-written looong story.

I saw Yankees Old-Timer's game in July (thanks, Bro!). They got clobbered, but it's always fun to go into New York.

I finished Harry Harrison's Wheelworld, the second book after Homeworld. Not bad, but no comparison to other sci-fi series, like Dune, or Foundation or even Deborah Chester's Alien trilogy. Anyway, I'll finish the last one, Starworld, if I can find it.

I was at the South Boston St. Patrick's Day parade that weekend, and it was fun. Lots of FDNY and NYPD, and we had lots of corned beef and cabbage.

New job is OK. I wrote a little keystroke automator to make my job easier, so it's a fun environment.

I'm also reading "What If?" edited by Robert Crowley. It's a bunch of essays for example on what if Alexander the Great had not died, what if the Mongols had not stopped outside of Vienna due to the death of their leader and continued on to crush the Europeans, etc. Not bad, though in the end this kind of speculation is irrelevant, since what has happened has happened. Still interesting, though.

I was reading a sci-fi novel called The Coming of the Quantum Cats by Frederick Poul, but it has really bogged down. It has an interesting premise, but it gets so confusing that I ended up not caring about any of the characters, so that's a wrap. I'll probably get the new Dune book House Corrino. The previous two by Herbert's son were great.

My girlfriend and I went into Boston to an open house of Symphony Hall. The event was commemorating Seiji Ozawa's last year as conductor. We had seen him also a couple of years ago on Boston Common when the symphony did a live show, which included Beethoven's Ninth -- good stuff.

Wow. Cool new word: Anticrepuscular. It refers to sunlight passing through clouds that arcs across the sky. Check out this link for more: Beautiful Sky

I bought the latest Dune book Dune: House Harkonnen by Herbert's son, and I noticed the next book -- Dune: House Corrino -- is already out in hardcover. The son is really making up for lost time.

I just bought Planet of the Apes Revisited by Joe Russo and Larry Landsman. I'm a serious Apes fan, so this story of the behind-the-scenes of the movies and TV series is a lot of fun so far.

I also just bought Frank Herbert's White PLague which is about a virus planted by a madman that kills only women. Really twisted.

I finished all of the earlier Dune books, which include Heretics of Dune, Chapterhouse: Dune, and the new one by his son called Dune: House Atriedes.

They are all really excellent, and the last one by his son is a lot of fun as we see how things evolved in the 40-50 years before the real Dune events take place.

I bought The Dune Encyclopedia on ebay, so I now have all of the Dune books. I used to own the stupid thing in the 80's, but I lost it, and I ended up paying about 50 bucks for it on ebay. Oh, well, it's good to get it.

I just got back from a trip which entailed a tour of midwestern baseball parks, consisting of Kansas City, St. Louis, Minnesota, Milwaukee, Chicago, Detroit, and Cleveland. It was fun, and the home page has pictures

I ran the hometown 8K on July 4, and did a 35:10 or something, which is still kind of weak. Next year...

I ran a race in Dedham, MA in April and a race in South Boston in June. I did about 44:30 for the Dedham 10K and about 43:30 in South Boston. Not bad, but not where I used to be.

I finished the first six "Dune" books including Heretics of Dune and Chapterhouse: Dune.

They were actually pretty good. Once you get past the first 50-100 pages of "Heretics," both books become a real easy read.

"Heretics" basically details the inner workings of the Bene Gesserit and the Tleilaxu, which is very interesting. Some of the actions and paths characters take are a little bizarre -- like when the Tleilaxu Master tries to clumsily kill a Bene Gesserit Reverend Mother (pretty stupid, actually. I think Herbert was tired) -- but the action is good and it actually is more readable than most of the other books.

Some books I'm reading: Star-Spangled Men -- America's Ten Worst Ten Presidents by Nathan Miller and 2201 Fascinating Facts by David Louis.

Some other books I finished recently:

The Handy History Answer Book by Rebecca Nelson.

Not bad; good bathroom book.

The World's Greatest Spies and Spymasters by Roger Boar and Nigel Blundell.

Real good read. It's a wonder that the Brits are not speaking Russian by now.

The Last Days of Patton by Ladislas Farago.

Pretty good; poor bastard.

Not much else happening, just working.

Oh, went to the Boston College-Connecticut football game in October, and UConn got spanked, but it was fun. UConn is in Division 1 for the first time this year, and they lost by 50 points.

UConn men's soccer beat Dartmouth this Sunday in Storrs in the first round of the NCAA tourney. Go Huskies!

Went to Alaska in July. Check out some cool pictures: Alaska Pictures

I've finished reading the last three Foundation-series books approved by the Isaac Asimov estate. The books were pretty good, though the last Foundation's Triumph really packed a lot into it, maybe too much, but it was still fun to look behind the covers of Asimov's universe.

On June 25 I ran a 10K in South Boston. I did it in 44:30, which kind of s**ks, but what are you gonna do. Check it out here: Cool Running site

I ran Bethel's John Demille 8K on July 4th. I did it in 35:01 or so, which is a little weak, but whatever.

I'm also re-reading Stanley Karnow's Vietnam epic. Great stuff.

I saw the The Perfect Storm, and it was OK. If you read the book, then you probably don't have to see the movie; the movie doesn't add much.

Check out the REAL Crow's Nest in Gloucester, MA: Crow's Nest