Friday, April 27, 2012

The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest by Stieg Larsson

In 22 days, I ready 655 pages - about 30 pages a day.  But in reality, when I did read it, I would read 40 or 50 pages at a time, so I read this book over about two actual weeks.

The first two books were suspenseful and enthralling.  This one had all the suspense and thrill too.  But as I was reading it, I wondered if it really was going to be predictable or not.  I had this feeling about how I knew the book was going to end, but at the same time, I wondered if that is what the author intended and therefore was going to throw a major curve-ball at the end of the book.  It was that way for about the first 3/4ths of the book.

But by the time Blomkvist is rescued from the Yugoslav hit-men, I knew how the book was going to end.  Up the that point, I was teetering between "predictable ending" vs. "curve-ball".  After Blomkvist survived and the trial started, I wasn't in suspense as much.  The best way I can describe it is how I feel playing a long chess game.  Who is going to win remains in doubt for about the first 20 to 30 moves.  But then one player begins to gain small advantages and then reaches a tipping point when you know what the outcome is going to be.  From that point on, it's just a matter of finishing the game.  That's how this book read for me.

Now, the last part of the book was a bit unexpected.  I had completely forgotten about Niedermann until he entered the scene again at the very end of the book.  The last 30 or so pages were like the last big firework in a 4th of July fireworks display.

I'm selling all three books to Half Price Books tonight - I don't really want these books sitting around collecting dust and I don't think my wife will want to read them.  Also, I found all three movies (Swedish versions) on Netflix.  Not sure I'll watch them, but I'm tempted.

If I can find them at HPB tonight, I plan on getting Tipping Point, Outliers & Blink - all three by Malcolm Gladwell.  I keep running into articles citing one of these books - it must be a sign.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

New Shoes!

The soles of my old Brooks Adrenaline GTS 10 shoe were wearing extremely thin.  I've been suffering the last few weeks and months with this 'ol boys.  But they have served faithfully the last few years.

I think I got them back in 2009 or maybe early 2010 - can't quite remember.  But they have a lot of miles on them.  Go ahead and click on the picture and take a look at that sole ... its worn out.

My new Brooks GTX arrived.  These are the trail version of the Adrenaline GTS shoes.  The GTS shoes are up to version 12 now.  So I guess that means I probably bought my GTS 10's back in 2010.  Anyway, the GTX is a trail show - more durable, the sole is beefier, the shoe is made of Gore-tex and is more resistant to water.

I'm really looking forward to my 4 mile walk today.

Just a quick update on the diet ...  I had tried intermittent fasting several months ago after reading fitnessblackbook and eat-stop-eat.  I came across a new blog - leangains - this week.  He talks extensively about the good things of fasting.  He also mentioned that LISS - low intensity steady state - while fasting might be better at burning more fat than HIIT.  So this week, I've been eating once a day; waiting 18-24 hours, walking 4 miles between meals and then having a dinner of mostly protein.  I've never felt better!

My mind is clear; I LOVE my 4 mile, hour-long walks with my dog Fritz every day.  And when I finally break my fast, I feel full really quickly and therefore eat less.  Now when I fast, I still drink lots of water.  And when I eat, I try to have mostly protein.  This week started off at above 217.  I last weighed in on Thursday and was at 213.2.  My wife's birthday was Thursday - we went out to eat.  And then we went on a date last night - out to eat again.  And I've not weighed in the last two days.  But today I'm fasting again until 6pm, and then having a light protein dinner.  Tomorrow morning will give me a good indication of how this week went.

Also, I have this goal of walking 4 miles every day for 1 year.  So far, I've walked 4 every day this week; I started Sunday night.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

The Soul of Battle Part 3

I finally finished the 416 pages of The Soul of Battle: From Ancient Times to the Present Day, How Three Great Liberators Vanquished Tyranny by Victor Davis Hanson.

The third part was about George S. Patton.

Let me first start off with noting some pages that I earmarked ... these quotes really struck a chord with me.

A quote from the Iliad: "Fate is the same for the man who holds back, the same if he fights hard.  We are all held in a single honor, the brave with the weaklings.  A man dies still if he has done nothing, as one who had done much." - Homer

This next quote shocked me.  Hanson had been discussing extensively the short-falls of Eisenhower and Bradley and the other generals - how they would not listen to Patton, but that history has since proved Patton was spot on with his assessments, strategic plans and tactics, time and time again.  He should have been the supreme allied commander in Europe.  And just what did it cost the world for not listening to Patton?  This is the shocking thought Hanson describes, "we should keep the issue of urgency in mind.  Patton's entrance into Germany meant - whether or not his infantrymen knew the full extent of Nazi atrocity to the east - not merely 'the end of the war' and a cessation of killing between Germans and Americans, but rather a halt to the entire Nazi industrial plan of killing innocents.  When he stopped, thousands died; when he advanced, the day of salvation was nearer."

Just how much life could have been saved had Patton been allowed to continue into Germany in August 1944? Hanson continues, "more Jews would be gassed from the time Patton closed in on the German border in late summer 1944 until the May 1945 surrender than had been killed during the entire first four years of the war."

That quote has spooked me ever since I read it.

They called him Blood n Guts because of his bombastic way of speaking, but in fact, had he been allowed his way, blood and guts of millions would have been spared.  Along those same lines ... I don't know if this analysis has been performed, but Hanson seems to make the point that if Patton had his way, the European war would have been over in the fall or winter of 1944 instead of May 1945.  If that is the case - had we won the war in 1944 and then turned our full attention to Japan - would the war in Japan had ended before August 1945?  Before the atom-bombs were dropped?

Anyway - the book was amazing - I could read Hanson all day.  The amount of knowledge in that guy's head is mind-boggling.  Sometimes I wish I could have discovered him in high school - I would have probably considered a different major in college after reading his books.

His epilogue summarizes the point of the book well.  In all the history of the world, three armies rapidly assembled; were convinced that what they were going was morally right and then they went out and accomplished the mission - destroying tyranny.  Each army was perhaps the most deadliest army in the world at that time - frightening many.  But when the mission was accomplished; they laid down their weapons and went home just as quickly as they took them up.

The next book in the list is the last of the Millennium Trilogy: The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest.  We'll be spending the day at the beach on Saturday - I might be able to get a lot of reading in then.