I am on a reading binge.

books towerI have been devouring books as of late. Not literally, because although that would be some great fiber for my diet, it would also be expensive and a perfect waste of a good book. No, I’ve just been reading a lot of books.

In fact, I’m having trouble keeping up with my book reviews. I just get excited about reading the next book before I write about the book I just read. It probably doesn’t help that some of the books I’ve been reading have been graphic novels, which pack the essence of a full story into an afternoon-sized reading time.

All that to say that I’ve read some really good books lately, and I would be remiss if I did not share the fact that they are all worthy of reading. So I’ll see what I can do this week about catching up on these reviews.

But if I fall short in that goal, understand that while my intentions are good, I may just have succumbed to the lure of another excellent book.

I’m only human.

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Friday 5 | Click-worthy Links

Wireless Computer Mouse with Wheel

Here are 5 more places online worth checking out:

  1. Summer may be half over, but that’s okay. It’s never too late to trick your kids into reading.
  2. Animals that you didn’t know existed. I only knew a few of them. The world is stranger than any of us think.
  3. If you haven’t heard, J. K. Rowling has written something new in the Harry Potter universe. It’s short, insightful, and it brings us up to speed on our favorite characters since the series stopped twenty years in the past (in book years). Read it here.
  4. I may have posted this before, but it’s still pretty great. Ever wonder what your state looks like as a Lego creation? Wonder no longer.
  5. Reading a good book is now as easy as pointing, even for the blind. Behold what science hath wrought!

Enjoy!

Happy Birthday, Nikola Tesla!

447px-Tesla_circa_1890Today is Nikola Tesla’s birthday. He would have been 158 years old today. But he died in 1943 (or so he would have us believe).

If you don’t know who Tesla is, he’s the handsome chap in the photo and he was an inventor. In fact, there’s an 99% chance that you have interacted with one of his inventions within the last three minutes. And even though I just pulled that figure out of my posterior, it’s probably true.

Best known for his work with Alternating Current (as opposed to Direct Current), Tesla also made breakthroughs in x-rays, radio, and even a death ray weapon. Seriously.

Given his contributions to science and his understanding of technology decades in advance of its realization, I think it is entirely likely that Tesla is out there somewhere right now and that his “death” was a ruse.

But honestly, I could never do as good of a job of telling you who Tesla was as this comic created by The Oatmeal. For those sensitive to foul language, browse with care.

Book Review | The Maze Runner by James Dashner

9780385737951Some people might think that The Maze Runner is a Hunger Games wannabe, but since it was published only one month after Hunger Games, the people who think that obviously don’t know how long it takes to write a book. That said, it’s definitely going to appeal to the same audience.

If you are thinking about reading this book, here’s what you need to know:

The plot is compelling. The main character, Thomas, wakes up in an elevator without any memory of his life before now. He gets off the elevator to discover a society made up of teenage guys who also can’t remember their former lives. Hemmed in by a gargantuan maze, Thomas and the others must find their way through in order to figure out why they are there in the first place. However, no one’s ever made it through the maze alive. And then, just one day after Thomas shows up, something happens that has never happened before. A girl arrives on the elevator with a warning. Everything is going to change.

The characters are less compelling. In fact, at times, they are downright tiresome. If I had more time, I would go back and count how many times Thomas says something like, “I can’t understand why, but I know that I want to be a Maze Runner.” Anyway, if I had a nickel for every instance, I’d be a dollar or so richer. Also, none of the characters undergo any dynamic shifts, but since this is only the first book in a series, perhaps I need to keep reading in order to see some change.

This book will soon be a film. So if you are the type of person who likes reading a book before seeing the film, you’ll want to pick it up. Here’s the film’s trailer:

Basically, if you like young adult post-apocalyptic thrillers where teens have to battle monsters (without and within) and the elements in order to fight the oppressive regime that controls their lives, you’ll probably like The Maze Runner. I’d give it a 7/10. It was worth reading, but I don’t know if I’d read it twice. Who knows? Maybe when I finish the series, my tune will change (yeah, I plan on finishing the series).

On the Origin of Down the Pike

highway

I’m not going to lie to you. For the longest time, I wasn’t sure whether the correct phrase was “Down the pike” or “Down the pipe”.

Spoiler Alert! It’s “down the pike”.

This phrase, which means that something is on its way (as in a project in development), hails from just over a century ago when roads and highways began to proliferate. Back then, the common term for a highway was a turnpike. And while this term is rarely used any more, the phrase “down the pike” refers to a vehicle coming down the turnpike.

Now, the word pike exists almost exclusively in the phrase, so it isn’t surprising that people are confusing it with the word “pipe”. After all, everyone knows what a pipe is and things do in fact come down pipes as well.

But if you are a word nerd and care about using the right word, use pike.

In fact, let’s all start using pike and turnpike again when referring to the highway. That way, future generations won’t have to stumble or cough when finishing the phrase “down the pike/pipe”, as I did until recently.

I am the man with the plan (and sometimes that gets me into trouble).

Wild-Chef1A few weeks ago, my wife and I went on a BioLife date. First, we were going to have a nice lunch at Wild Chef, followed by a moneymaking visit to BioLife (plasma donation). It was all going swimmingly until we got to the restaurant and it was closed. Like, shut down completely.

We had a coupon and everything! And they had the audacity to no longer be in business! Inconsiderate punks!

Now we had appointments for specific times at BioLife, empty bellies, and no Plan B for lunch.

I went into survival mode. I just started driving and pointing out restaurants left and right. But nothing sounded as good as the awesome hibachi experience that was Wild Chef (RIP). After much debating, my wife and I agreed to go to Panera Bread so we could still make our appointments.

And then I saw it! Just past the Panera Bread was a sign for the Hibachi Grill & Supreme Buffet. I could still salvage our date! After all, this place had hibachi right in the title! I was already envisioning my wife kissing me and saying how smart and handsome I was for finding such a marvelous restaurant after we had been so rudely let down by Wild Chef.

So I drove past Panera Bread.

“What are you doing?” asked my wife.

“I just noticed a sign,” I said. “Trust me.”

And we walked in to what was clearly not a hibachi place but was entirely an all you can eat buffet. We were seated and told that we could go up to the buffet. So we got up, but instead of heading off to pile our plates high with low-quality, mass-produced, Asian-inspired foodstuffs, we left.

What followed was a good discussion in the car about how I was trying to fix things without actually listening to what my wife needed. I was making a big deal over where we were going to eat instead of focusing on my wife and the time that we had together. I was formulating plans on my own to save our original date idea, but what I needed to do was abandon my plans and communicate with my wife.

So after we talked, we went to Panera Bread, had a lovely lunch, and finished in plenty of time to donate plasma.

Fast forward to last night. My wife’s sister, a teacher/photographer who is home from North Carolina for a few weeks, was doing some family pictures for us. Since my wife and I were already dressed up, we decided to leave our kids with their aunt after the photo shoot and go off to a nice dinner at Johnny Carino’s.

Somehow, we are the kiss of death for restaurants as of late, because when we pulled into the parking lot for Carino’s, we discovered Fajita Republic Cantina instead of the Italian place we had in mind.

But I’m learning. Because rather than just driving off to some all-you-can-eat Italian food buffet, I stopped to talk to my wife. Together, we decided on a nearby place (Twisted Rooster) and we had a great time.

Have you ever made a Plan B without talking it over? Am I the only one? What’s your story?

Friday 5 | Click-worthy Links

Wireless Computer Mouse with Wheel

Here are 5 more places online worth checking out:

  1. Here are some authors dressed up as their favorite characters from all of fiction. Who would you be? I think I’d like to be Death from Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series.
  2. Want to make your own book from scratch? Here’s how.
  3. We’ve all heard about illegal music downloads, but what about illegal book downloads? Have an info-graphic that talks about who’s stealing eBooks.
  4. Speaking of eBooks, for the first time the sales of eBooks have slightly exceeded the sales of traditional books sold by brick and mortar stores like Baker Book House. Am I worried? Not yet. I’m more worried about frighteningly realistic robots.
  5. Hey, speak of the devil. Here are some frighteningly realistic robots, available now.

Enjoy! And Happy Independence Day, USA!