Saturday, July 08, 2006

No More Reviews

I know, some of you are going to fall down in shock that I'm posting again so soon, but I made an announcement when I started this idea, and so thought I should comment once again.

I've decided not to review every book I read. I can't keep up and still have time to read all the wonderful books I have on hand. Though reviewing the books helped me look at them in a different light, it also made me antsy when I neared the end, knowing homework awaited me. Sometimes I'd find myself composing the review as I went along, distracting me from the text in front of me. And mostly, I created this blog to air the strange, stray thoughts that cross my mind or are founded on experiences that happen to me. Book reviews don't fall into that criteria at all and had started to take it over. I may still periodically post a list of those books I've enjoyed recently, or write about one that just blew me away, but really, it's not fair to myself to keep the requirement of reviewing each one, or fair to the books to pick and choose based on my mood or whether I've got too many other tasks before me. None of the books I've read had no value and many of them were downright grand and yet some have lingered on the "to be reviewed" pile to the point that now I'd have to read them a second time to give them justice.

So there you go. Cop out? Maybe. Realistic? Definitely. I'm not saying things couldn't change, I'm just saying not right now :).

And that just increases the guilt on those that ended up abandoned.

Bitten and Smitten by Michelle Rowen was an amazing cross between a romance, vampire novel, and pure chick lit. I read quotes to my sons that had them in stitches and Jacob still mentions the high heels :). It's a worthwhile read even if you've never felt inclined to venture into the chick lit world and I'm planning to pick up her next one as soon as I get a free moment.

Midnight Rain by Holly Lisle was a novel outside of my comfort zone in romances, but at the same time, it drew me in and was very evocative. Even more so, she created a plausible situation where either answer could have been true or a red herring. Very few authors can string me along with enough valid seeds so I'm fascinated rather than annoyed. Holly did it.

Neither of these books should have been on the abandoned list. Circumstances beyond their control, and mine, put them there and even though the bright spots remain, there isn't enough to give them adequate analysis. Life isn't fair, I suppose, and I thought this would be useful and interesting for me, those readers I do have, and even the authors by giving them a slightly higher profile. It's a commitment I can't maintain and I'm going to stop kidding myself (and hiding the three to four other books I've read but not even put on the list out of fear).

I hope you've found the other reviews useful and interesting, but for now, I think that aspect is waning if not faded all together.

Oh, and any thoughts on whether I should keep writing up the list of books I do read in the sidebar? Is that of any interest without the hope of a review to back it up? Maybe I'll change the title to "Books I've Enjoyed" and then still end up with at least 95% of my reading material going up there. I'm a slow enough reader that I'm very selective in my reading and rarely end up with something that doesn't charm me.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

How to learn...

I'm a self-taught type of person. I have a bachelor's degree that I constructed out of the classes that amused me, I learned coding because my mother taught me "if you do it more than once, code it," and I'm a whiz at legacy systems. Piecing together answers with little training or documentation is my thing.

So why is it that I still believe the answers should be out there, findable and usable without the mess that is divination from scraps left buried in the sands of time?

I have a home network. In a house with approximately 6-7 computers (though not all working at the same time), it's a necessity. We just moved and decided that our new house would not have cables stapled along the walls in this modern time period of wireless and wired houses. All we wanted was that all the computers could talk to each other.

That should have been simple, right? We had the right equipment and everything... I even found step-by-step directions (though not for our equipment). Two days later, we had a semi-functioning system cobbled together with the use of the hosts file, a remnant of archaic networking prior to DNS servers and the like.

At this point, you're wondering what on earth this has to do with learning patterns and the like.

So I'm frustrated, stumped, and tearing my hair out. My oldest son is trying to help but I'd have to explain everything to him. So that's what I did. Explained, walked through, and then said, "The problem is that the hub can't see the gateway."

New search terms. Knowledge is out there, but just like the Oracles at Delphi, you have to ask the right question. This time, I found instructions for our equipment. We put it in that configuration and off we go, everything's working perfectly.

I grew up with a firm belief in education/training as supreme. But we cannot get trained in everything we're going to face. At some point, I need to remember to go back to my strengths, go back to the analysis that brought me into databases, programming, and my general approach to life. Sure, the education is out there, the information is available to anyone who is willing to look. But you've got to do the legwork and understand just what you need to know. Very few people are out there making this easy, and those that are do so as an extension of their own questions. What do you want to bet they had to do something first to discover the right questions?

I guess the bottom line is whether self-taught, a good researcher, schooled, or whatever, no one can give you the knowledge you need. You have to go out and earn it, sometimes with hard work, sometimes with frustration, but whatever the way, the only true failure is to give up.

And if that's not a stray thought-random segue I don't know what is :p.

To continue the learning, how about dropping a note about how you learn the right question to ask. Is it hands-on, talking through something, washing dishes, taking a class, or what?