Wednesday, January 21

Yes We Can DID

... let it be said by our children's children that when we were tested, we refused to let this journey end, that we did not turn back nor did we falter; and with eyes fixed on the horizon and God's grace upon us, we carried forth that great gift of freedom and delivered it safely to future generations.

President Barack Obama, January 20, 2009.

There were many great moments during the inauguration of President Barack Obama yesterday. But more than anything else he said, what struck me was the way he reminded us that while our cultural, religious and ethnic backgrounds are varied, we as Americans have one common responsibility. The future.

It was an historic day for a lot of reasons, and it's not my intention to diminish any of them. But the truth is that every inauguration is historic, because every time someone takes that oath of office, someone else relinquishes that power. We've done this 43 times now. Barack Obama is the 44th President to take that oath of office, which means that 43 men before him have stepped aside. Over 200 years ago when our founding fathers started this experiment in government, it may not have seemed like much. But yesterday the eyes and ears of the world were upon us as responsibility for leading the most powerful nation on the planet was transferred from one man to another.


That in itself is a gift we give to the future. Let us never take it for granted.

Wednesday, January 14

Book Review

So I picked up a few new books the other weekend. The new JAK, Running Hot, and the new Kay Hooper, Blood Sins. I also picked up the new Andrew Greely, The Archbishop in Andalusia. What with one thing and another, I haven't gotten around to reading the last one yet. I'm hoping to get to that one over the upcoming long weekend.

As for the first two, I liked them. A lot. They are two of my favorite authors and fairly dependable. That said, I didn't love them. Why? Well ...

The new JAK is part of her Arcane Society series about a secret group of people with extrasensory abilities. JAK gave us the usual banter between the hero and heroine and in general lived up to her earlier books. My main problem with this book, and the Arcane Society series in general, is the idea of this secret society. See, it's not very secret, as far as I can tell. You've got the hero and the heroine, the guy who sends the H&H into the Dangerous Situation, the folks the hero normally works for, the heroine's previous employer, the new head of the Arcane Society and, so far, at least 3 Bad Guys each getting their own henchman, and a few peripheral characters. That's, uh, about a dozen characters who are either members of this Secret Society or member of the equally Secret Evil Rival Society. And this is just one book of a series. And this Arcane Society has been around for a few hundred years. I'm thinking, ya know, it's not such a secret anymore.

But that's just me. The banter is fun, the bad guys are appropriately twisted, and once I let go of my hang up about the secretiveness of this society I did still enjoy the book.

The new Kay Hooper is also part of a series, an offshoot of the FBI run by a guy named Bishop who has, and also employs people with, paranormal powers (notice a trend here?) in the pursuit of justice against Big Bad Guys with paranormal powers. Once again, there are an awful lot of people running around with this extra ability. And because, like JAK, Hooper writes romance, you get a new H&H with every book. So it's not just the folks within this secret (there's that word again) arm of the FBI; its all these other people who get recruited into saving the world, or their love interests who usually turn out to have their own something extra. Okay, I could deal with all of that. And in fact I really enjoyed the Bishop series initially. What's getting to me is a tendency for the characters to spontaneously sprout a new psychic ability in the nick of time. I just don't see that as playing fair with the reader; it's a violation of some kind of rule of fiction. Okay, there needs to be a big climatic scene where it appears that the hero and/or heroine just might not make it. That goes with. It's part of the suspense even when you know that good will ultimately triumph. But the new powers thing? That's like giving Batman x-ray vision just because he's in a tough spot. I don't think the author should change the rules just to accommodate the good guys. As I said recently to someone else who had read the book, Hooper should just dispense with the romance angle and write paranormal suspense using Bishop and Co. as her ongoing cast of characters. Like a Justice League kind of thing.

I'm not throwing either of these books against the wall in disgust; in fact, I think both writers are very good. Just not writing up to their potential. But that's just me. You should form your own opinion.

Wednesday, January 7

I'm In Love

Okay, I did finish the wrap thing except I have to find some matching thread to sew on the pockets with. Probably I could have tried harder this past weekend, but I was pretty much looking for an excuse to dive into my new yarn.

This is it. And I'm already fighting the temptation to buy more, to horde the stuff against some blah, bleary day when I need a yarn fix. This stuff is WONDERFUL. Really, all caps and italics, too. I feel like crying out "where have you been all my life?!" It's like the dark chocolate of yarn, the good 75% organic cocoa content stuff, the beans harvested by Juan Valdez's distant cousin and hand carried to a delightfully wizened, old-school confection genius in the Swiss Alps who created the world's first truffle. Get it?

It's not just that it's soft. I've handled softer. It's not just that it's pretty, although it is. It's the entire experience of the yarn. The folks at Simply Shetland have created a fiber blend that is the best of both the silk and wool worlds. I know it doesn't look like much to the naked eye; but trust me, this stuff is good. I'm spoiled for all other yarns. I'm giddy. Maybe it's the honeymoon phase, but I'm into the second skein now so I'm feeling pretty confident.

I'm savouring here.