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Shoveling of the Snow

North Carolina got hit with a major snowstorm last night and here at the home front in Chapel Hill, we got about 6 inches of snow. I know there are many of you that scoff at such a paltry amount. But in North Carolina that’s serious business.

It was enough to knock out the power at our house, which took internet access with it. Not only that, the cell phone towers were either affected or overwhelmed. I was not able to get a cell phone signal after about 6:30am today and then my phone batteries ran out.

So I was forced off the grid for most of the day today. “Forced” to take a snow day from work and denied all my usual internet-based pass times. I decided that I’d throw myself into a different kind of pass time: Shoveling snow!

Check out the beauty of my now bone-dry driveway!

snow shoveling 1

Pat and I live on an end-unit town house which is an advantage 99.999% of the time, but on snow days, not so much…..

snow shoveling 1

And of course, the front steps

snow shoveling 3

After all that shoveling I was pooped. Done in for the day. And while it may not be as much snow shoveling as a lot of you do, I think I have enough experience at doing this that I can state, with some certainty, that you people up North are crazy.

In true southern fashion, the snow is leaving as fast as it came. Reports from friends and neighbors are that all the main roads are clear and dry already. So Pat and I are actually going to go visit some friends tonight.

Thankfully, the power did come back on and I was able to take a hot shower before going out!

 

Review: The Court Of The Air by Stephen Hunt

The Court of the Air (Jackelian, #1)The Court of the Air by Stephen Hunt

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Whew, Been a while since I’ve read a novel this complex. This is a “steam punk” novel in the sense that there is advanced technology in a society well before there is electricity. The setting is vaguely reminiscent of London and the UK. But not in the sense that you think it’s really London an the UK. It’s just that there are references to places, concepts and things that are common in the UK, which serve as shorthand to help you understand how the Jackelian world works.

Stephen Hunt does a remarkable job unfolding the world for us so you grow to learn it a little bit at a time. And a good thing, because the Jackelian world could easily be overwhelming, The political system is vaguely parliamentarian, but in this world there additional power structures that coexist with the monarchy and the parliament, each with their own habits, norms, and tools. There Within the government, there are ate least two major political factions vying for power. There are multiple social classes. There are at least two other races of sentient beings in the world, and I think more. One of the races of sentient beings are sentient, sovereign machines/robots, which is way cool. There is magic in I believe multipl flavors, and there are by my count at least three different kinds of beings that are more or less supernatural. Like I said, it’s an amazingly complex world that unfolds as you read the book.

But the purpose of the book is not to marvel at the world building. That’s just the _setting_ of the book. The book centers around two young kids from very different parts of the world. One is an orphan, eeking out an existence as a ward of one of the work houses. The other is a an orphaned boy who lives on his uncle’s estate and for some reason he’s under some sort of government requirement that prevents him from ever leaving his town. Each of them survives murder attempts and that’s the launching point for a run-for your life plot and all these different characters keep coming into the plot trying to influence them.

What makes this book entertaining for me is that you’re never quite sure who the good guys are and who the bad guys are. Everyone has their own agenda an is trying to influence the course of action these kids take. Even the characters that are closest to them are vague about their intentions. There is one character in particular who is helping the boy escape and survive. And it seems like ever other character in the book has an opinion about him. Some people like him, some people hate him and it makes you worry for the boy. I also really enjoy books where there is a lot of political intrigue. I love it when you see characters make baldfaced lies and you know they are lying through their teeth but you can’t warn the protagonist!

In the end, it’s a political pot-boiler. It’s full of revolution. Full of winners and losers. Full of walls crumbling down. Full of careers/lives being ruined. Full of people being liberated. And I enjoyed every bit of it.

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Review: Launch by Jeff Walker

Launch: An Internet Millionaire's Secret Formula to Sell Almost Anything Online, Build a Business You Love, and Live the Life of Your DreamsLaunch: An Internet Millionaire’s Secret Formula to Sell Almost Anything Online, Build a Business You Love, and Live the Life of Your Dreams by Jeff Walker

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I feel like this book could have been about 20% of it’s current length. The Product Launch Formula is fairly straight forward. It’s a combination of email list building, good old fashioned direct-mail style copy writing, and a little bit about the psychology of how people surf the web.
I’m not at all an expert at internet marketing, that’s why I wanted to read the book. But I’ll say that the nuts and bolts, as presented, rang true. There weren’t any brilliant insights, but I didn’t feel like calling “B.S.” on it either.
The rest of the book seems to be half filled with stories of people making gazillions of dollars using his formula and half filled with Jeff Walker telling you over and over that the Product Launch Formula is not a “get rich quick” scheme.
The book has its merits. It will help you think about how you should launch your internet business. But I felt like I could have condensed the meat of this book into about a dozen power point slides.

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