# Monday, 20 November 2017
Monday, 20 November 2017 09:43:00 (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
# Thursday, 16 November 2017
 #
 

Callie in 1998Callie's childhood was tougher than most. She was abandoned by her parents at a young age and raised by her aunt and uncle, which is when I met her. They lived next door to us and befriended my boys, who were a few years younger than her and her brother.

As an adult, she tried to help her younger brother, who was in and out of trouble much of his life and died young. She was a single mother. She was as a teacher and social worker. She had a beautiful smile.

She died last week of a brain aneurism.

She was 32 years old.

She will be buried on Saturday.

Callie in 2017

Thursday, 16 November 2017 13:43:53 (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
# Monday, 13 November 2017
Monday, 13 November 2017 16:40:00 (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
# Thursday, 09 November 2017

Borders of Infinity by Lois McMaster Bujold is a collection of 3 previously published novellas: Mountains of Mourning, Labyrinth, and The Borders of Infinity. All 3 feature Bujold's hero Miles Vorkosigan, the handicapped royal soldier from the planet Barayar.

In Mountains of Mourning, Miles travels to the back country of Barayar to investigate the murder of a baby, who was killed because she was born with a cleft pallet.

In Labyrinth, Miles attempts to recruit a geneticist to the Barayaran cause, but ends up bonding with a genetically-engineered female super soldier.

In The Borders of Infinity, Miles is taken prisoner by the Cetagandans. He hopes to rescue a prisoner, but ends up planning a massive prison break.

When I read the first 2 stories, I was optimistic that they would be joined by a common theme - Miles's protection of others who were punished for being handicapped at birth. But the third story did not continue this theme. So, the 3 stories are tied together only by a brief narration in which Miles relates his activity to a superior officer.

As a result, this is little more than an omnibus of loosely related stories, each of which is good, but not great.

Thursday, 09 November 2017 11:01:00 (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
# Wednesday, 08 November 2017

TheLasrtUnicorn

At first, the unicorn was happy, living alone in a magical wood. Her magic kept her eternally young and kept the wood eternally in spring.

But one day, she overheard 2 hunters saying that all unicorns had gone from this world. Fearing she might be the last, the unicorn set out on a journey to find others of her kind.

Along the way, she is captured by a witch for display in her circus; then, rescued by a third-rate wizard, who accompanies her on her journey.

Ultimately, she makes her way to a kingdom guarded by the mystical Red Bull, that is rumoured to have captured all the other unicorns.

With The Last Unicorn, Peter S. Beagle weaves a wonderful fairy tale about the adventures of a unicorn on a quest to find others and to find herself. It is a story of adventure and it is a story of companionship and loyalty.

But mostly, it is the telling of the story that sets it apart. Beagle's prose is almost like poetry. The beauty of the unicorn is reflected in the beauty of his words.

This book was a joy to read - from start to finish.

Wednesday, 08 November 2017 10:00:00 (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
# Tuesday, 07 November 2017

PerdidoStreetStationPerdido Street Station is an enormous train station in the city of New Crobuzon in the world of Bas-Lag. It is also the title of China Miéville's novel about the the station, the city, and the world.

The problems of industrialized societies in our world are magnified a hundred times in the city state of New Crobuzon: Pollution, Poverty, Political corruption, an Inequitable distribution of wealth and power, and Racial division make this place a miserable home for nearly all who dwell in it.

The races of Bas-Lag are not simply people of different skin tones and nose shapes; they are a bizarre assortment of creatures - mostly humanoid, but some not. We see bird-men (Garuda), intelligent plants (Cactacae), aquatic humanoids (Grindylow), parasites shaped like disembodied hands that grasp the throats of their victims (Handlingers), humans with the head of a beetle (Khepri), and sentient machines (Constructs), among others.

A common form of punishment in New Crobuzon is to surgically alter people by attaching mechanical or organic body parts to their bodies, creating a separate race of "Remades" and further increasing the collection of creatures found in this world.

Creatures from other dimensions also sometimes visit Bas-Lag, such as The Weaver a giant spider-like creature, who seeks to add his own version of order to the world. In this novel, Hell is a tangible place that sends an official Ambassador to New Crobuzon.

Isaac is a scientist living and working in New Crobuzon. He is in love with the Lin - a Khepri artist who is estranged from her own people. One day the Garuda Yagharek approaches Isaac asking him to restore to him the power of flight. Yagharek's wings were removed by his tribe as punishment for an unidentified crime. Isaac accepts and begins by studying the biology of hundreds of flying creatures. His studies inadvertently unleash the Slake-Moths - deadly, interdimensional creatures with the power to hypnotize their prey before devouring their consciousness.

The slake-moths terrorize the city, leaving behind mindless shells of people wherever they attack. The government and numerous vigilante groups are unable to stop the slake-moths, so Isaac - feeling responsible - organizes a group of warriors to hunt them down and destroy them.

This world is powered by magic and by technology. But it's an old technology. Blimps are the most common form of air transportation and computers are programmed via punch cards. These punch-card-programs are powerful enough to make some computers self-aware.

I loved the moral ambiguity of this story. Our heroes often must make difficult choices - such as sacrificing the lives of innocent bystanders - in an effort to stop the monsters terrorizing the city.

I loved the complexity of the plot. Most storylines are not resolved until the very end and many are not happy resolutions.

I loved Miéville's attention to detail. We can see the massive bulk of the weaver as he fades into our dimension; we feel the terror inspired by the slake-moths.

The reader experiences the feeling of dread that hangs over the protagonists. Miéville gives us a real sense of the despair felt by so many in this awful world he created. Citizens live in a police state, controlled by a secret militia, controlled by the mayor and a few powerful businessmen.

Perdido Street Station is a fantasy story, a steampunk story, a horror story, a monster story, an adventure story, a detective story, a cyberpunk story, and a love story. Some have described it as Weird Fantasy in the tradition of H.P. Lovecraft and some of the pulp writers of the 1930s.

However, you choose to classify it, Perdido Street Station is one of the most imaginative stories I've read in years.

Tuesday, 07 November 2017 11:02:00 (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
# Monday, 06 November 2017
# Sunday, 05 November 2017

11/5
Today I am grateful to see my nephew Dylan play ice hockey in Glenview, IL yesterday.

11/4
Today I am grateful that so many people traveled so far to come to the Community Connections event yesterday.

11/3
Today I am grateful to visit the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry yesterday with Ondrej and Gaines.

11/2
Today I am grateful that I accomplished everything I wanted to accomplish yesterday.

11/1
Today I am grateful that I actually lost weight while in Uruguay, despite all the beef that I ate.

10/31
Today I am grateful for my first visit to South America, to Fabian for inviting me, and to Rachel for recommending me.

10/30
Today I am grateful for my first visit to Buenos Aires.

10/29
Today I am grateful for a private tour around Montevideo by the #NETConfUY organizers.

10/28
Today I am grateful to attend and speak at .NET Conf UY for the first time.

10/27
Today I am grateful for the speaker dinner last night, featuring carne asada.

10/26
Today I am grateful for a late-night walk along the Rio de la Plata last night.

10/25
Today I am grateful for a walk around downtown Montevideo last night.

10/24
Today I am grateful to arrive safely in Uruguay.

10/23
Today I am grateful for a good day at the gym yesterday.

10/22
Today I am grateful to attend my first Chicago Wolves hockey game last night.

10/21
Today I am grateful I was able to consolidate my Azure web apps and delete a bunch of costly resources yesterday.

10/20
Today I am grateful for good news from the doctor yesterday.

10/19
Today I am grateful to hang out in downtown St. Louis yesterday with Ondrej, Brian, Gaines, and Mary.

10/18
Today I am grateful to speak again at the #DevUp conference.

10/17
Today I am grateful to attend the Red Shirt Tour in Chicago yesterday and learn more about Azure.

10/16
Today I am grateful
-to see an exciting Falcons-Dolphins game yesterday at my first visit to Mercedes Benz Stadium;
-to Tim for picking me up at the airport last night.

10/15
Today I am grateful to help Jason and Claire celebrate their wedding yesterday.

10/14
Today I am grateful for 4 years at Microsoft and all that I have learned here and all the people I've met and all the places I've gone because of this job.

10/13
Today I am grateful to David for a ticket to see Paul Weller in concert last night at the House of Blues.

10/12
Today I am grateful I was able to recover data from my laptop after it died yesterday.

10/11
Today I am grateful for a chance to teach at DePaul last night.

10/10
Today I am grateful for dinner last night with my new teammate Christine while she was in Chicago.

10/9
Today I am grateful for dinner with Emilija and Larissa last night.

10/8
Today I am grateful for
-spending the day with my son, helping him move;
-the 8th football victory over um in the last 10 years.

10/7
Today I am grateful for:
-A chance to work with Julie for the first time since our days on the INETA board.
-Seeing The Church in concert last night at Park West.

10/6
Today I am grateful to hang out with J. yesterday.

10/5
Today I am grateful to stream music online.

10/4
Today I am grateful to the Building Maintenance staff for fixing a bunch of stuff in my apartment yesterday.

10/3
Today I am grateful to those who find what I do useful and tell me so.

10/2
Today I am grateful for:
-the company of Tim these past few months
-the opportunity to try 2 new cuisines for the first time yesterday.

Sunday, 05 November 2017 12:08:12 (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)