Books I’ve Read Recently

  • The Road by Cormac McCarthy 9 out of 10 stars (9/10)
    Yes, this is an Oprah pick, but I read that it had a science-fiction element to it, and it was cheap (at Costco). It’s a depressing novel about a father and son wandering America after civilization has been destroyed. It’s violent, touching, and memorable. The author doesn’t follow the rules of grammar for the most part, helping to set the somber tone and chaos that the characters live in. I recommend it as a horror story – not something to read to the kids at bedtime, although there’s some tenderness there, too.
  • Lullabies For Little Criminals by Heather O’Neill 7 out of 10 stars (7/10)
    This won the 2007 CBC Radio Canada Reads contest, which means little since the books are selected from five Canadian celebrities; however, the books they pick from ARE often good, including this one. It’s about a 13 year old girl growing up in a city with a dad who’s a drug addict. The story isn’t as depressing as The Road (above), but it’s close. The girl is smart, having quirks and observations that make her see happiness in awful situations. It’s an interesting portrayal of poverty and street life in a big city, with some hope in the end that things can work out well. Nicely written with lots of well-phrased passages. I would recommend it if you don’t mind reading about the gritty life of prostitution, poverty, and addicts.
  • The Kings of New York: A Year Among the Geeks, Oddballs, and Genuises Who Make Up America’s Top High School Chess Team by Micheal Weinreb 7 out of 10 stars (7/10)
    I think this non-fiction has a selective audience: those who participated in chess tournaments and were in a school chess club, which is why it piqued my interest (my Dad gave it to me). This is a well-written account of people who live chess and who just play the game as a hobby in school. You get to know the players. It chronicles a year of a famous high school chess club based in New York city; how the school recruits top players; who the players are outside of chess and why they play; and the unique world of chess tournaments. Recommended only if you were in a school chess club.

Visiting the Dentist

I have a dentist appointment in 30 minutes. I haven’t been to a dentist in about 10 years, maybe longer. I have no cavities and have never had any problems with my teeth. But I have a wisdom tooth that seems to get infected around the gums every couple years. I end up eating on one side of my mouth for a week. Then it goes away. That’s the only thing I’m concerned about.TOOTH

The doctor I had when I was kid, Dr. Fung, didn’t use needles. He used acupuncture instead. Whenever he had to do something that might cause discomfort, he’d press beneath my ear on some pressure point, and I wouldn’t feel a thing. He even removed a tooth when I was 10 without giving me a needle, and I didn’t feel anything.

He’s retired now. I don’t want to get a needle in my gums.

UPDATE (a few hours later): It was only a cleaning, but it was unpleasant. Having gone about 10 years without a professional cleaning, there was some build-up on my teeth, which I assume has all been cleaned away now. Great news: They’re going to tear out my wisdom teeth — all of them. I have to go back on Thursday for a more thorough x-ray and then a decision will be made. But by the looks of it, I’d say all four of my wisdom teeth will be gone by the end of the summer. One of them is severely impacted and the others aren’t in the greatest shape. Oh, blessed joy. After this, screw it, I’m never going back to the dentist.

NASA TV (June 2007)

NASA TVI’ve posted about this before and will probably do so in the future: NASA TV.

They have cameras all over the space shuttle, interior and exterior. You can watch the astronauts work, you can see views of the earth — all kinds of cool stuff. The live view from the space shuttle as it was taking off was kind of thrilling, for those of us who are easily thrilled by these kinds of things.

This time around they’re working on the international space station.