Tag Archives: Kindle

This Treadmill is Made for Walking

22 Mar

When people see my treadmill, they always ask if it is used for hanging laundry or for exercising. Well, I don’t do laundry, so that only leaves one option. However, I must admit that I didn’t use it effectively for a long time. I ignored it; pretended like it wasn’t there; and left it sitting in its space like it was broken down or something. Then, something strange happened. I got a physical and was told that I needed some kind of exercise, and I figured that I couldn’t ignore the treadmill any longer. In fact, I just got off of it.

This is not an accurate depiction of me. I would never wear a sweat band.

This is not an accurate depiction of me. I would never wear a sweat band.

Treadmills have been compared to hamster wheels, and that comparison is understandable. You go and go and go and don’t end up anywhere. But, isn’t that a metaphor for some times in our lives. No matter what we do something seems to be holding us in place. I think about stuff like that when I am on the treadmill. Am I a hamster on a wheel with no true destination? If that’s true, then at least I am not just sitting there eating hamster food.

I'll get on that wheel tomorrow.

I’ll get on that wheel tomorrow.

A lot of people think treadmills are boring because of that “stuck in one spot” mentality, but there are ways to keep things interesting. The aforementioned thinking is a good example. It’s a good place to let your mind roam without being interrupted by television, Twitter or the other gadgets that we have grown attached to.

Another way to prevent boredom and improve health is to vary the speeds that you are not traveling. My regimen starts with a 5 minute warm up at a speed of 2.5. Then, I hit 3.0 for 8 minutes and follow that with 2 minutes of 3.5. I kick it back down to 3.2 for another 8 minutes before revving up to 3.7 for 2 minutes more. Then, it’s back down to 3.3 for 8 minutes and back up to 3.8 for 2 more minutes. All that is concluded with a 5 minute cool down at 2.5. Before I know it, 40 minutes of exercised has passed me by. I’m not moving, so it had to be going by me.

Most of the time, I keep boredom further away by reading the Kindle, and it’s funny how some books make the exercise go faster than other ones. I just finished Cobb, a biography of Ty Cobb.

The Georgia Peach

The Georgia Peach

He is considered by many to be the greatest baseball player of all time and definitely one of the meanest. His is a fascinating life, but it isn’t conducive to the treadmill. I thought I was never going to get through it or the 40 minute sessions of walking in one spot.

The current book, The Blood Gospel, is flying by along with the walking. It is about the role of vampires in the beginnings of Christianity. It’s fiction – I think.

Fact or Fiction?

Fact or Fiction?

Here’s the thing though. I can only read the Kindle on the treadmill. I can’t read real books. People tell me that they can’t read on the treadmill, but I am convinced that they have never tried a Kindle. There are no pages to turn. There is no fighting to keep it on the rack. You just stick it up there and touch the screen. The trick is picking the right book. Unfortunately, once I start a book I have to finish it. Good or bad, I am stuck with it.

It looks like I am stuck with the treadmill, too. I may sound as crazy as Ty Cobb, but I actually like the thing.

Kindling – Part 2

21 Jan

Yesterday, I decided to filter through my Kindle archive and blog about the works I found in there. You can skim that posting to discover my motivation behind this action and to read about some of the books hibernating in the archive. Unfortunately, the post took me too close to the morning hours, and I had to set my computer aside. This post covers the rest of the stories (to paraphrase Paul Harvey).

1. “End Game: Bobby Fischer’s Remarkable Rise and Fall – from America’s Brightest Prodigy to the Edge of Madness” by Frank Brady – When I was a kid, I was fascinated by Bobby Fischer. However, it wasn’t the chess. It was the fact that he disappeared. For some reason, I liked the people who fell off the face of the earth, such as Fischer and Howard Hughes. I started this book hoping that it would shed some light on that part of his life. To my dismay, it skimmed over the “mystery” because there was none. People knew where he was. He didn’t disappear. He just stopped playing chess. Despite that disappointment, this is an interesting journey into a mind that is slowly going mad. At the end, I thought I was crazy.

2. “Holy Blood, Holy Grail” by Michael Baigent, Richard Leigh and Henry Lincoln – Who doesn’t like a good conspiracy? And this is the king daddy of them all. Get that – king daddy…Jesus had a kid. Yeah, kinda corny I suppose. Anyway, this is the book that inspired “The Da Vinci Code”. The writers delve into all sorts of history to come up with the theory of a holy bloodline that continues to flow. It is terribly written and terribly researched. But, that isn’t the point. If you don’t believe man landed on the moon and believe the world is going to end on December 21, 2012, then this is the book for you. I love conspiracies, so I loved the read.

3. “The Hunger Games” and “Mockingjay” by Suzanne Collins – I read the physical version of the other book. I reckon that grown men shouldn’t be reading YA novels about young girls. However, this young girl kicks ass. Almost everybody knows about this series, so I won’t go into a big explanation. It’s super cool, and I hope the movies are super cooler.

4. “Robopocalypse” by Daniel Wilson – It’s been done more than once. “I, Robot”. “Maximum Overdrive”. Machines come to life and take over the world. We seem to fear a takeover by the things that we believe we control. Machines and animals in particular. However, this is a great book that takes us around the world as survivors try to fight back. Despite their struggle, I can’t help but like the machine that is controlling the entire process. It accomplished where numerous humans have failed. It conquered the world.

5. “World War Z” by Max Brooks – Zombies are misunderstood. When did voodoo get taken out of the zombie story and disease take its place? Of all the zombie books, this one is my favorite because it reads like a real history. Interviews such as this have been done by real researchers talking to real veterans, and the stories are similar to reality. Well, except for the enemy that just won’t die. I can’t say enough about this book. It spans the globe and traces the history of a war that seemed impossible to win. It is becoming a movie, but I can’t see how they can fit this into a two-hour time slot. It will be interesting to watch, but I think the movie in my mind will have to suffice.

6. “When Pride Still Mattered: A Life of Vince Lombardi” by David Maraniss – In history, we tend to view the participants as two-dimensional beings. Good or bad. Hero or villain. Strong or weak. As the years pass, their humanity turns into statues of stone or metal. Vince Lombardi provides the perfect example. He is a winner – the greatest football coach ever. The Super Bowl trophy is named after him. This biography goes past the images and words of NFL Films to show a man who had fears, doubts and problems at home. He was a great coach but a terrible father. He was a saint but a tyrant. In short, he was human.

There you have it. That cleans out my digital archive. As it turns out, this was a lot easier than loading boxes with hundreds of pounds of books. Now, I just have to start reading the long list of books that I haven’t gotten to yet.

Kindling

20 Jan

A couple of Christmas’ ago, I was surprised to be given an iPad. It had never been something that I talked about, and I didn’t realize that the person who gave it like me that much. I don’t use the iPad very much to serve the internet because I find a laptop much easier to type on a read. However, I use the iPad to play games and read on the Kindle. This Kindle thing was a surprise to me as well. I was always one of those people who talked about how I was never going to give in to the technology. I like holding a book and turning the pages. I like spending hours in bookstores. However, it wasn’t long before those opinions started to change. Of course, I still like bookstores. Who doesn’t? But, I have now become one of those people who is killing the bookstores. Instead of buying books, I get titles and download them later. It’s terrible, I know. It feels like cheating.

I was thinking about this change of opinion while sitting in my office this afternoon. Bunches of books were taking up space, and I began thinking about how I needed to clean out my shelves. My office is nothing like my house. There are books on shelves, crammed in drawers, and places anywhere they might be considered out-of-the-way. Some of them were memorable. Some of them have were forgotten as soon as the last word was read. but, most are waiting in the queue to be opened before they are lost in the Land of Closed Drawers.

I hate getting rid of books. It takes a lot of effort, both physical and mental. Figuring out which ones go and which ones stay. Picking up a totally overloaded box. coming up with a place to take the overloaded box. Hoping that the books find good, caring homes. Thinking about all of that trouble made me appreciate the Kindle in another way. When a book is finished, I just place my finger on it until it shakes and “x” it into the archives. No shelves. No drawers. No boxes. Just a button.

With that in mind, I decided to look through the Kindle archives and see what I have filled my mind with.

1. “The American West” by Dee Brown – This semester I am teaching the Expansion of the United States and read this work to brush up on the history of that time and place. Brown is a famous writer of the American West, but he is not a true historian. He  falls into the category of popular historian that academic historians love to complain about. The latter does the research while the former gets the fame. Actually, there are a lot of good “popular” writers. Unfortunately, Brown is not one of them. The book is badly arranged and needs an editor badly. He knows a lot of good information and tells great stories. However, it took an effort to get through it, and I love this stuff.

2. “The Big Scrum” by John J. Miller – This book chronicles the early days of college football and how it was saved by Theodore Roosevelt. At the turn of the 18th/19th Centuries, academic leaders were outraged at the sport taking over their campuses. Violence. Horrible injuries. Cheating. Paying players. Recruiting issues. It seemed that the game was going to drag universities into the gutter of professional sports. Before they could take action, TR and other leaders stepped up to claim that the game was good for America and the development of manhood. I am not sure about that, but I like college football. So, I’m glad they saved it.

3. “Blood of the Reich” by William Dietrich – Dietrich has written a series of novels about Ethan Gage, adventurer extraordinaire. His hero outwitted Napoleon; defeated Barbary pirates; and survived adventures in the unexplored American West. In this book, new heroes fight Nazis, both old and new, to find a great power in Tibet. I didn’t like this as much as the Gage adventures. However, I don’t think it was the fault of Dietrich. Before this book, I read “Sleepwalkers” by a writer that I won’t name to save him from the embarrassment. It was about a Jewish detective looking into a horrible crime before Nazis took power in Germany. It was terrible. No character development. Telegraphing of plot. Jumped from scene to scene without any connection. The only good part was the prostitute that he spent a lot of time describing. Unfortunately, she disappeared without any explanation with what happened.

4. “The Devil Colony” by James Rollins – I really like the adventures of Grayson Pierce and the Sigma Force team. In this one, they head into the American West to stop a mysterious force from destroying the globe. They hit some places that I have been, so it was easy to visualize the action. Plus, they ended up in Yellowstone. How can you beat that?

5. “The Devil’s Gold” by Steve Berry – This is a Kindle-only short story used to st up the action in an upcoming novel. In short, an operative is looking for lost Nazi gold in South America. In the process, he finds the offspring of Adolf Hitler. Short story equal short description.

6. “The Jefferson Key” by Steve Berry – This is the novel set up by the previously mentioned short story. Cotton Malone goes after a secret cabal of pirates whose families have been protected by the United States government since its inception. It starts out with Andrew Jackson being himself and sticking to the pirate ancestors. Those of us in Tennessee know how Jackson was. He didn’t take any shit. Well, the pirate descendants are figuring out a way to get out of the situation Old Hickory put them in. Malone has to stop them.

7. “Evel: The High-Flying Life of Evel Knievel: American Showman, Daredevil, and Legend” by Leigh Montville – As a kid, I was fascinated by Evel Knievel. I watched the jumps; had the toys; and wanted to be just like him. This is an all-encompassing biography that follows Evel from his youth in Butte, Montana to his death as broken, both physically and financially, old man. In between were adventures that you would assume the world’s most famous daredevil would have. Women. Alcohol. Parties. All the trappings of decadence and fame. The surprise comes when it’s revealed that Evel was afraid of dying the entire time. He created a persona that he couldn’t escape. His job was facing death with the world watching and death was looking back.

That gets us halfway through the archives, and I have discovered that typing about the finished books is almost as tiresome as putting them in boxes. We will explore the next half in the next post.