Craig's Blog of Destiny
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    One of the great achievements of science has been, if not to make it impossible for intelligent people to be religious, then at least to make it possible for them not to be religious. We should not retreat from this accomplishment.
    - Steven Weinberg

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    Ready Player One

    I have a younger brother who makes a living as an English Professor. Whenever I see him I ask for book recommendations and he always has some for me. Unfortunately, he often recommends material that he’s reading and what he reads is often a little over my head. But the last time I talked with him he said that he had just finished a book that he thought I would enjoy and that I should check it out for the nostalgic factor he was sure I would experience. It may be the best recommendation he’s given me.

    Ready Player One is a simple, nostalgic story set in the year 2045. A tale set thirty years in the future, but a future that has become obsessed with 1980’s culture. It’s the first novel from Ernest Cline, who’s most known for writing the screenplay for the movie Fanboys.

    This book is packed with geek culture from the 80’s, and consequently a great deal of fun to read. Even though the 80’s were just a little after my time (my time was really the early 70’s) I’m just geek enough to be familiar with most of the references: I’ve seen many of the movies, listened to most of the music and played a number of the video games, including the Tempest game that figures prominently into the conclusion of the game. And while I enjoyed it a great deal, I believe my younger geek friends will get a kick out of it as well – particularly all the references to Japanese anime and game characters: most of those references eluded me altogether but I’m sure are ingrained in the minds of those younger than myself.
     
    There is quite a bit of discussion on the internet about this book being made into a movie; Warner Brothers has purchased the rights (even before the book was published) and recently hired someone other than Ernest to work on the screenplay. While there is some concern about the ability to make the movie and make it well, while reading the book I often found myself thinking “this will make a great movie” so I’m in the camp that is looking forward to it. It may be a little expensive (all those licensing fees) but would be fun, a lot like Scott Pilgrim, but with even more geek-dom.
     
    So, my recommendation: read this book! You’ll enjoy all the 80’s references, even if you’ve never spent time in an arcade. And if you have spent time in an arcade you’ll really enjoy it.


    One of the real pleasures of our household is the playing and singing that we often get from J’Neil.  So last night I got the recording gear out and had her play a couple of things, so that perhaps some of you outside of our house could enjoy it as well.  

    So here they are:

    Better Days

    Love Remains the Same

     

    She sounds pretty good, eh?

    Tour de Whatcom

     

    Yesterday I rode the Tour de Whatcom, a 105 mile bicycle ride around Whatcom County, WA.  You can check out my route on the route map here.   It was a great day for riding; here’s some of the good and the not so good:

    Of course, I expected there to be great views, and there were.  Some of the best views are during the second half of the ride when we’re on the western part of the county and can look back to the east to Mt Baker. It is a great sight!


    One of the unexpected pleasures came in the north eastern part of the ride, between Nooksack and Lyndon, when we passed several raspberry fields.  I love raspberries! It’s roughly harvest time and the smell of fresh raspberry was wonderful!

    Staying with the smells theme:  we also passed a number of dairy farms. That was a not so good smell.  Whenever my dad and I came across that smell he would comment that “it smells like money!”  Smells like something else to me.

    It may seem like a small thing – but getting a dry shirt from my wife at the 55 mile mark was very nice.  Nothing like a towel to dry off with, a dry bandanna for my head and a nice clean shirt.

    I had never been down around the south end of Lake Whatcom, until riding it yesterday; it’s very nice.  Would love to have a cabin down there, or perhaps we’ll have to visit the Bed and Breakfast there.


    This was the first long ride I’ve done with the “clip-less” pedals (oddly enough, these are the ones that clip onto your shoes – there is some logic to why they’re called clip-less but I won’t go into it here).  They were a good and not so good thing:  because I was using them I had no pain in my knees at all; however, my feet haven’t quite acclimated yet, so I did have some pain after the ride in the balls of my feet.

    My time was a little slow, averaging right around 12.oo miles an hour, however, for the first long ride in a number of years, and on a new bike, I’m going to take it as a positive.

    The start line, that’s me in the upper center, blue t-shirt – NOT a cycling shirt!

    All in all, a good day of riding (a long day of riding!) and I’m already looking forward to next year’s ride!

     

    Stella, 1976-2011

     

    Stella, beloved bicycle and companion, passed away July 20, 2011.  She was born in the spring of 1976 in Loveland, Colorado.  She is survived by her owner, Craig Cottle, and her younger brother, Bike E.  She will be greatly missed.
    Stella began life as a missionary bike, doing lots of miles in Loveland and Arvada, Colorado as well as Hastings, Nebraska.  She put on some miles in Alberta, Canada, as well as the Salt Lake Valley in Utah.  In 1996, at the age of 20, she logged many miles in and around Las Vegas, Henderson and Boulder City, Nevada in preparation for the STP (Seattle to Portland ride – just over 200 miles) which she completed in June of that year.  In her later life, she spent partial time doing a few miles around the Columbia River in Kennewick, WA, relinquishing most of the miles of that time to her younger brother, Bike E.  She recently retired to Bellingham, WA, where she made trips to the Canadian border on a limited basis.  Her last sanctioned ride was the Tour de Whatcom in July, 2010.
    After a period of mourning, her usable parts will be donated to good causes, allowing her to potentially live on in High School projects in the Bellingham area.

    Two for One Book Review

    The last two books I’ve read are considerably different, but share a common bond: both were written from unusual and what I found to be very interesting perspectives.

    Room, by Emma Donoghue is the story of a victim of abduction and her five year old son.   They live their lives in an 11X11 foot room; never leaving the ‘prison’ that is their world.  The entire story is told from the perspective and in the voice of the five year old.  While that means the language is realitively simple and straight forward, the author effectively portrays and says a great deal about the human condition and the emotions and feelings that make us human.  The story is pretty good, the story telling very well done.  Even though the premise may seem disturbing, there is a great deal of beauty and hope, and an overwhelming determination to live.  I would recommend it with four of five stars.

    I’m also going to recommend The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein with a four out of five rating, though if I had to put them in order, this one would be first.  The story of aspiring race car driver Denny Swift is completely narrated by his dog, Enzo.  Even though Enzo is frustrated by his inability to speak (I often shared his frustration and wished the characters could hear what Enzo had to say!) and not having opposable thumbs, he is a wise and loving companion to Denny and his family.  Through Enzo we learn much about the human traits of love, humility, loyalty, despair, compassion, hope and joy in the relationship between souls.  As one reviewer put it, “this old soul of a dog has much to teach us about being human.”  I found myself hoping I can be as good a companion to my family as Enzo is to his.

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