WIJFR: American Gods

Shadow is a man with a past. But now he wants nothing more than to live a quiet life with his wife and stay out of trouble. Until he learns that she’s been killed in a terrible accident. Flying home for the funeral, as a violent storm rocks the plane, a strange man in the seat next to him introduces himself. The man calls himself Mr. Wednesday, and he knows more about Shadow than is possible. He warns Shadow that a far bigger storm is coming. And from that moment on, nothing will ever be the same…

I just finished “American Gods” by Neil Gaiman, a story about Shadow, an ex-con recently released from prison and a brewing battle between the “old gods” that came to America with immigrants (like Odin, Loki, or other mythology we’re familiar with) and the new “gods of credit card and freeway, of Internet and telephone, of radio and hospital and television, gods of plastic and of beeper and of neon.”

It’s also a road trip novel, with all sorts of Americana in it, like The House on the Rock and Ruby Falls. I love road trips and quirky roadside attractions so I really enjoyed those parts of the book. We’ll be going on a west coast road trip this summer, so keep an eye out for those posts! 😉  America … “They said it was a good place for men, but a bad place for gods.”

 

Note: this will be last my last regular WIJFR post. I just don’t always have the time or the incliniation to write up and review every book after I finish it. This started out as a way to just keep track of what books I’ve read and when, but now (7 years and 84 posts later!) I use GoodReads so duplicating that effort here seems like a waste. If I do have something to say about a book in the future, though, and feel inspired to do so, I’m sure I’ll write something up.

Disney Springs construction and tech

Disney magic even extends to such mundane things like parking your car …

Downtown Disney is currently under massive construction as it undergoes the transformation into Disney Springs. On a recent trip over there (fighting through the increased construction traffic) we got to park in the new parking garage that has finally opened (a much needed addition to the area, Disney is finally taking a cue from Universal Studios). Like most new parking garages you may have seen, this one has the digital readouts showing the number of open spots on each level. What the new Disney garage also has is (sonic?) sensors over every parking spot providing real-time updates to those counters. Not only does every row have a sign showing the number of empty spots in it, you can easily find it by looking for the green light on the sensor. Pretty slick!

Disney MagicBands and FastPass+

It’s been over a year since we were last Disney passholders (we spent the last 12 months as LegoLand passholders). Back then, the new FastPass+ and MagicBand systems were still being beta tested (and we were never chosen for the test). Our first (and only) experience with FastPass+ didn’t go very well back in late 2013 but nontheless now that the MagicBands were in wide use we were looking forward to trying them out.

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Spring Training 2015: Recap

4:30am … time to get to the airport. Ugh.

Today was just a travel day home, with the time zone change working against us. We left our hotel in Avondale by 5am and about 30 minutes later dropped off my brother at Terminal 4 at Sky Harbor Airport for his early flight home. Then my sister and I returned the rental car and took the shuttle back to the airport and eventually parted ways to our individual flights.

morning at Sky Harbor

The flight back to Florida was uneventful (I did manage to get an exit row seat) and I landed back in the sunshine state shortly past 3:30pm. I was home with plenty of time to unpack before watching the Dayton/Oklahoma basketball game. It was a great close game until the final moments, and the Flyers lost to the Sooners 72-66. So no magical run like last year’s to the Elite 8, but it was still fun to watch.

Once again, I had a great time at spring training in the Cactus League. Opening Day is still a few weeks away, and the Indians don’t play the Rays here until July, so for now I’ll be watching the Lightning hopefully make a strong push in the playoffs and maybe make a run for the Stanley Cup.

Go Indians! Go Rays! Go Bolts! 😀

Spring Training 2015: Day 3

Our last full day in Arizona. :-(

We woke up at a more normal time this morning, intending to go to breakfast at the Black Bear Diner before heading over to batting practice in Goodyear. We got a later start than expected, though, so we ended up dropping my brother off at the training facility and then going to pick up a “to go” breakfast instead. We ended up with Express Donuts (next door to Nothing Bundt Cakes) which were pretty yummy (and only $4 for half a dozen!) and ate while waiting for the Indians to come out to practice. It turned out that we could have gone to Black Bear because practice started late due to the night game yesterday. Doh!

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Spring Training 2015: Day 2

Day/night double header!

It was a long day yesterday for all of us, but the late (early) night and even climbing Camelback Mountain didn’t stop my brother from getting up early and going for a 14-mile run (marathon training!) while my sister and I slept in. By the time we were all up and showered and ready for breakfast, it was past 11am. We ended up at a Paradise Cafe down the street from our hotel, and were surprised to learn it was actually owned by Panera! Pretty funny since I had always described it as “Panera, but with waffles” since our first trip to Arizona in 2009 but never made the connection.

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Spring Training 2015: Day 1

St. Patrick’s Day has passed, March Madness is in full swing, so it’s time for my annual Spring Training trip to the Cactus League with my little brother (and little sister, this year!). Spring has already arrived in Florida, but I’m sure my siblings are ready to get out to warmer climes for a few days.

This year’s tech is similar to last year’s, with some upgrades: new are my Surface Pro 3 and iPhone 6 Plus, and no stranger to the trip are my aging-but-still-functional Canon PowerShot digital camera (with EyeFi card), and Garmin nüvi GPS. I left the nüvi at home last year, in favor of Waze on my iPhone, but realized that with all the heavy use my phone gets on these trips, Waze was a big contributor to sucking the battery dry. So I’m back to a dedicated device for nagivation around the valley so I can save my phone’s battery for the important stuff: photos, social media, e-mail, etc. 😉

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Microsoft Surface Pro 3

Surface Pro 3We’ve decided to give the Microsoft Surface another shot as our next “standard issue laptop” at work so I now have a Surface Pro 3 tablet. The SP3 is replacing my Samsung Ativ Book9 ultrabook, which I got in April 2014, in turn replacing my original Surface Pro. I’ve been using it now for two weeks as my main machine at work, so how does it stack up against the ultrabook and the original Surface? Some things change, some things stay the same …

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WIJFR: Heinlein time travel (and “Predestination”)

The other week I saw “Predestination,” a recommendation from Steve Gibson on episode #492 of his Security Now! podcast. The movie is a pretty good brain-twisting time travel romp starring Ethan Hawke and was based on a short story witten by Robert A. Heinlein in 1958. I’ve read Heinlein in the past (i.e., “Stranger in a Strange Land“), although the last time was before I started my WIJFR posts on this blog.

I started with “By His Bootstraps,” an earlier (1941) time travel story by Heinlein and then read “All You Zombies” (which is significantly shorter and the basis of the movie). Both are packed with time loops, paradoxes, and multiple occurences of the same character, but lack the humor and pop culture of, say, the “Back to the Future” series. I recommend them both and have added some more Heinlein to my “to read” list.