Thursday, June 9, 2016

Best Books of 2015

*The links to amazon are affiliate links and if you purchase something via them I will earn a small advertising fee. 

   This was a fun nerdy book, that completely preys on nostalgia. Even though I was am a little young for the 80's nerd culture references I still really liked this book. 
I first read the Fitz and Fool series back in high school and college and it has been one of my all time favorite series'. So when Hobb decided to bring the story back to Fitz as an old man I was very excited. The bummer is having to wait for the next book.
This book was awesome. Apollo 13 is one of my favorite movies, and book is a comparable fictional story. Just saw the movie, and it is good too, but the book is way better.
Sanderson is an amazing. I have never been into the superhero stories, but I really love this series.
This was a new series I started based on a friends recommendation. It is light reading and has werewolves, vampires, and shape changers, and takes place in Eastern WA. 
This is an amazing and unbelievable biography.  I was afraid it was going to be depressing since part of it takes place during WWII, but I think the author's point-of-view was far enough away that it didn't completely overwhelm emotionally.  The movie was good too.
Of course I have to add a Katy Bowman book. This is the book I had been waiting for, as it is the subject that pointed me in the direction of Katy's work. I have been reading and listening for the past two years, to all the content Katy has created, and even did her 52-week Everybody Biomechanics course in 2015, but still this book had a few tidbits of new info, and some new exercises to do. I have been doing better on the everyday moving through life aspects, but I do want to be more diligent on working on the correctives outlined in this book.  

Summary of 2015

I failed at blogging last year. Not sure if I will do much better this year as I have been working part time doing custom software development / consulting work for my dad's consulting company. It has been fantastic in that I'm bringing in extra money, and I have a flexible schedule, and can work from home, and I get to make stuff that makes people's jobs easier, but it also makes it so I don't want to spend much more time at the computer blogging, making apps, or writing, and it kind of uses up all my creative energy.

I really wanted to publish a storybook app last year, and I joined 12x12, an online picture book writing group. I wrote some drafts for a handful of stories, got one polished fairly nice. Recruited a friend who was also interested in publishing some stories. Worked on illustration work through some online art classes, and then ran out of steam towards the end of the year. 

I have an update for my Open Face Chinese poker app that has been close to being done for almost the all of last year, and I really need to get that released before getting serious on a new app, but testing is really low on my things I like to do, and it seems that when I am just about ready, some new API comes out and I have to go change my code to be compatible with that and have to do more testing. I am really full of excuses. 

The girls are now in 1st and 3rd grade, meaning they are in school full time which has been lovely as I have great swaths of time to work uninterrupted, but its a bummer because it is hard to do all the fun stuff we did when they were little like playing outside, going to the zoo, etc. They still want to do activities like rock climbing, gymnastics, soccer, swimming, girl scouts, and wrestling, but at the same time get worn out not having enough down time. It has been especially tough for Allie this year. She says she needs a time machine so she can go back to kindergarten when it was half day, and she got to have play-dates.

Both kids did rock climbing in the spring and loved it and hope to start up again soon. They both played soccer in the fall. I helped coach Selena's team which was a lot of fun. They were undefeated for the season. Allie also played and was a goal scoring machine often racking up 3 - 5 goals a game, while also hustling back on defense and making great plays. Selena did wrestling this winter and learned a lot, and was amazingly tough out on the mat and ended up winning two matches for the season.

The girls are still at the cooperative public school and I have required volunteering time weekly. I have been teaching computer programming weekly in 15 minute rotations of 6 - 8 kids. I did it in Selena's 2nd grade class last school year, and then in both the 1st and 3rd grade classes this school year. It's fun because I am a favorite, and the kids get super excited when I come in. I'm hoping they have some real skills by the time they get out of elementary school.

We did our annual extended family vacation this year in Monteray, CA and I want to move there. The weather warmer than it is here, but not super hot. I think I require big tall trees to feel at home, and they have the redwoods. It is so beautiful, and there were dolphins and sea lions jumping in the surf every day while I ran barefoot on the sand. My sister and I went whale watching and saw about 30 humpback whales and tons of sea lions feeding. The whales were fluking and lifting their flippers in the air. It was amazing. Body boarding in the surf with my sister, sister-in-law and mom was one of my favorite memories of the year.

We also took a trip to Los Angeles to visit my brother for spring break last year. We got to meet my brand new niece, who is the cutest baby ever, but is already over a year now, and is walking and jabbering like crazy. And of course we did Disneyland.   

The summer was amazing and wonderful. We spent a lot of time with friends from school doing hikes almost weekly, a mud run, and trips to the beaches and parks. My sister and I also got away a handful of times and did some longer tough hikes -- Lake Blanca being the best in that we got to jump into the glacier fed lake on a 90 degree day.  

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Favorite Books of 2014

2014 was a good year for reading books.  I read 55 books for the year (or here is the librarything version which I like better because it lets you give half stars) and was part of two book clubs, one of which was a new one and I have met some really awesome ladies and I really love it.

So here are my best books of the year (*all links are affiliate links to Amazon)

These were the life changing books of the year, so much so that I have became a bit obsessed with learning all I can about Katy's work and paradigm. Her work is  nuanced, but at the same time extremely simple and I have had such significant improvements in my health that it is mind-boggling.
I really love Brandon Sanderson, but was a little bit disappointed with the first book in this series (it didn't have a very satisfying end), but this book completely made up for it. Typically I am a fast, impatient reader, but even though this book is over 1000 pages I found myself slowing down and not wanting it to end.
This was a book I read for both my book clubs. It takes place in Seattle and I loved being taken back to what the Pacific Northwest was like in the 1930's. The sports parts of story are excellent. Even though you know the outcome of most of the races, they are still suspenseful. Finally the discussion of Hitler's propaganda is interesting and adds an interesting third layer to the story.
This is a plug for a friend's book. It also takes place in Seattle. It is a murder mystery about a woman with a stalker, with a fantasy twist.
This was another book club book about a mysterious fictional author. While I was reading the book I was expecting some sort of surprising plot twist, and I was not disappointed.
I spent a lot of time re-reading books this year. Dave Duncan is my favorite author and this is the first book of one his best series. The neat thing about the Blade books is that each book is a standalone novel, but the first three all tie into each other for a larger plot. Thus you should not read the first two books without reading the third. I think I actually read this particular book in 2013, but finished the other books in the series in 2014.  (Lord of the Fire Lands, Sky of Swords)
This was another set of series re-reads. Robin Hobb has 4 finished trilogies that take place in this world, and then released the first book of a 5th series. I reread the two series starring Fitz.  I had put off re-reading these two series which are favorites because I remember how much I cried the first time I read them. The second time wasn't different. Robin Hobb is kind of a brutal author in that she really puts her characters through the wringer. The newest book is intriguing, but she has hinted that it is going to involve even more tears. :(

Honarable Mentions

Past book lists

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

2014 In Review

2014 was a good year.  It started off with the Seahawks winning the Super Bowl, which was amazing. :)  

We went to California over spring break and stayed with my brother and his family.  The cousins had an awesome time playing, and we got to do Disneyland as well.  On the way back we stopped in Monterey and stayed with a college friend, and all the kids had fun.

Floyd did his annual trip to Vegas, and played in various poker tournaments including the WSOP Main Event and made it to day 2. Unfortunately Vegas was not lucrative this year. I joined him for a few days and enjoyed relaxing by the pool and eating delicious food (I highly recommend the Bellagio Buffet).  

We had nice weather this year with a unusually warm and dry spring, and a long summer.  We did lots of hikes,visits to the park, and played a bit of golf.  The girls are developing an entrepreneurial spirit and did lemonade stands, face painting stands, a garage sale and even had a booth selling bean bags at the farmer's market.  

In August we went to Cannon Beach with my parents, sister, grandmother, and my brother's family.  

In the fall the girls went to a new school.  This was probably the biggest change/event of the year. Selena transferred schools, and Allie started kindergarten at a public co-op school in the district. I knew before we started that I was going to dislike the drive (we walked to the old school), and I do. I had wanted to send my kids to this school since before Selena started, but Floyd wasn't interested. Then Selena had tested into the highly capable program and we considered that, but I thought we should reconsider the co-op. I was concerned that the highly capable program would be too much homework and the co-op seemed to offer more variety of classroom activities due to the parental involvement, so we decided to do that.

The activities have been great -- in Selena's class I am teaching computer programming. They also do chess, cooking, maps, economics, sign language, etc.  They have small group exploration projects five times a year, as well as numerous field trips.  The community has been wonderful, and welcoming. Making friends has happened faster because we see everyone more often, and have everyone's contact information. The people we have met are all very cool, not pretentious, and tend to be like minded. It is very nice.

But besides the driving (12 - 15 min drive there and back 3 times a day when not carpooling), the downside has been that the new school has a more punitive school wide "citizenship program" (ie discipline policy) than our old school, and even though my kids do not get into trouble, they speak negatively about their classmates and/or teacher almost daily, which tends to get me down, and negate some of the good feelings towards the new school. 

And because it is still a public school in the same district it has the same recess/lunch schedules as the rest of the schools, which really get me upset.  No recess for half day kindergartners, and a 20 minute lunch and 2 recesses for a total of 30 minutes for the rest of the kids and unfortunately significant portions of the lunch and recess time are spent standing in line.  My entire educational/parenting philosophy since they were born has been centered around physical activity and child directed learning. Thus it really bothers me to know that I am sending them to a place I know to be physically and psychologically unhealthy because they are sedentary for 92 percent of the day, and have virtually no autonomy. But the sad truth is even if I were to home-school I am not confident that I could live up to my own expectations. In the summer it is easier, but when it is cold and rainy and playmates are harder to round up I'm not sure if I could do it.

As for other news for the year. I continued to update my OFC app, and released an iPhone/iPad version of my Learn to Read app, but didn't manage to release any new apps, partly because I was also doing contract work for my dad's consulting business. This year I will be working almost part time for him, which will be great for our bank account, but will make it very difficult for being able to do anything for my apps. Which is probably for the best, because developing apps was only marginally lucrative before, but seems to become even less so, as the novelty of smart phones is wearing off. Though I really want to create some picture book apps, not because I think they will make money, but just because I want to. We will see if I am able to pull it off.

I continue to run, but not race.  I also have been playing a bit of indoor soccer which I alternate between enjoying and not enjoying (tendency for injury and mean opponents).  Haven't got to sew much, especially for myself. I think this year I made a soft structured baby carrier for my cousin, a Halloween costume for Selena, a tank top for myself (that was too small), a pair of fleece pants for Allie, and helped Selena make herself a sleeping bag.  

Selena and Allie did gymnastics, swimming, art classes, and soccer this year. It was a lot of fun to see them learn new skills. Swimming was the most amazing. They went from being unwilling to put their heads underwater to little fish. Allie was a goal scoring machine in soccer, and Selena is the toughest kid I know. She gets hit and just brushes it off and gets right up.  

Floyd continues playing poker, and running off and on throughout the year.  

That is about it!  Looking forward to 2015. :)

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Hour Of Code

This last week has been Computer Science Education week and a lot of kids have been doing some computer programming at school, and a lot of my friends have been asking me for resources.

I have been intermittently working on an Introduction to Computer Programming series of videos and have posted on my business website the first four of those videos as well as a list of some resources that I like and have been using.  Please share and if you have any feedback that would be welcome too. :)

Friday, November 28, 2014

Learn to Read App Ported to iPhone/iPad

A couple years ago I released my first app, a simple interactive early reader book. I released it on Android devices and it has had some success. The free, lite version has over 200,000 downloads and I have made some money from it. I wasn't sure if it was worth porting it to iOS, but at some point I did 75% of the work, but then switched gears to due the Open Face Chinese Poker app. But I had a potential customer email me the other day, telling me that a friend had recommended the app to her, but she only had Apple devices. That motivated me to finish the port and I released the Apple version a few weeks ago. So if anyone is looking for an early reader app for their iPad please take a look at it. If you do download it, a rating and/or review would be extremely appreciated. Ratings and reviews drive rankings, which increase visibility, and make it so that I actually get paid at least something for the work I did. For more info you can check out my business website. Thank you!