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Tokyo, Year Zero

I’ve got a new review up at bookgeeks on David Peace’s Tokyo Year Zero. It was a difficult review to write. The first time I read the book, I found myself distracted (and occasionally confused) by Peace’s oblique writing style. The second time around, I had an easier time of it, but the book still seemed to fall apart in my hands.
I don’t want to repeat the review…(bookgeeks is a cool site to visit!), but I think it’s interesting how books are labelled. When I originally picked Tokyo up, it was at least partially because it had been labelled as crime fiction, and, although there is a crime at the heart of it, that really has little to do with the experience of reading the book. It’s almost like calling Huckleberry Finn crime fiction–sure there’s a few crimes, but that’s not the point…Still enjoyable, though. (Both of them)


The beginning of something new. And, as we look back and we remember what it was like to watch *that guy* become the President-Elect of the United States, there is a sense that tomorrow, tomorrow, when he takes the oath of office, it will be a moment unlike any other. With his eloquence, his passion for justice, his determination to create change, and the very fact that he made Americans feel as if they had a chance to fix their country, Obama inspired tears of joy and great bellows of relief when he won the election. What he will do with the presidency, no one can really say. I’m sure he will make mistakes, disappoint us, not be the *magic* that we all think we need. But, he has already given the nation a great gift, a renewed sense of our own power for good and decency. Whatever he does next? The people of America need to take ownership of as well because it was the groundswell of support that put him in office, but it will be the hard work and strenuous labour of the entire country that will make America feel better about itself and its future. We cannot rely on one man, however powerful, to lead in isolation. If this election has taught America anything, it is that taking responsibility for your future can create great change and a powerful sense of self–something that we had lost during the past years. Tomorrow, there will be a new beginning.

And, for the first time in a long while, I cannot wait to see what will happen next.


So I have now, officially, gone horseback riding in the U.K. Well, where in the world shall I start? I think I will start with the weather.
After TWO DAYS of sun (a record! in a row!), I woke up this morning to a downpour that was going sideways so fast it was making the windows vibrate. After deciding that the prospect of changing in a bathroom at the stables in the freezing cold was…lame…I made the bold decision to wear my black full-seats riding breeches to the barn. On the bus. Ha. Nobody even looked at me. There are people in Manchester who wear FAR weirder clothing than I do, apparently.
The next moment of panic came when the bus driver had no idea where the stop that I wanted was. Luckily, England is filled with helpful little old ladies and one of them got off a stop early to make sure that I knew where I was going. As we tottered down the lane at, like, -5 miles an hour (little old ladies are nice, but not speedy), it started to SNOW. Thank god it appears that my bag is magic and water-resistant because, really, this was getting silly.
I made it wayyyyy early (see earlier problem with bus driver who also convinced me it would take forever), so I had a chance to watch two girls exercising horses. They looked like they were having fun, and it was good to have a chance to sit there and relax into the place. And take two ibuprofen to ward off the sore muscles I am sure are in my future.
This is one of those places where they bring the horse to you all tacked up. It felt as if I had joined some exclusive club where people brought your horses to you and then…watched you ride. Or, in my case, try to ride while attempting, with great difficulty, to remember what the hell I was doing.

The horse was a sweetheart: a six year old TB who was a little green. Complete with head straight up and neck flexed against my hand. So…I rode around. After we got the canter going (and I gave him an impromptu, “no you don’t run in the trot on your way to the canter” lesson), he was much better. We jumped a tiny bit, the trainer said I looked fine except for my heels (which I’m sure were sticking straight up in an effort to squeeze the crap out of this horse), and he was being nice and said he loved my jumping position.

And that was the first lesson. We’ll see how this shapes up; I had already sent out an email to two random eventers I’d heard of saying “I know I have no right to ride with you, who would you recommend near me…”. (One of them was the woman who went UNDER the Trakahener at Burghley like a million years ago and made them change the rule to require everyone to jump over the log.) Hopefully, they will have something to say as well. The barn looked nice, and I think they do a good job, but I really like the three-discipline aspect of eventing.
But, yay, I got to ride! And I’m not sore! well, yet. Although I have made a vow to run more now. Even if it rains and snows again….
Also, I have no idea what exactly happened to the picture at the top of the post. My fingers were numb when I took it with my iPhone, so that apparently gives you a *wavy* shot. Cool, though.

My husband, a physicist at Manchester University, passed his viva today. So, now the job he had is official, and the stress level of the household is much lowered.
yay.

I knew that getting a job in the U.K. would be different and difficult. I knew that trying to leave teaching and try something new when the economy seems to be in free-fall was….problematic. Plus, trying to get a new job, any job, for which you have few contacts (and all of your references are a continent away) is always more difficult. I knew all these things. But, I don’t think I had realized what that would mean emotionally. It’s almost like playing a game without knowing the rules. Or even being sure of where the field is.

Right now, I’m definitely also trying to find a life here, somewhere to ride, figure out where to grocery shop. I’m lucky enough to have found somewhere that will let me write as many book reviews as I would like–which helps, because reading is my go-to anxiety assuaging activity. But, eventually, I’d also like to contribute to the house in a non-dishwashing capacity!


So, I’ve just spent two fun days pretending that I owned an e-reader. I converted some books I owned to a file that my little XO (the OLPC laptop) could handle and cheerfully sat on the couch reading away. I can tell you that the four hours I spent reading two books far exceeded my tries at the Kindle and at the Sony E-Reader in both length and pleasure. It’s not that I have anything, at all, against the idea of e-books, although I would always be leery of dragging anything electronic to the beach, but there are a few…advances…that I need to see before I embrace to e-book as something that will serve as a real replacement for my physical library.
First, I need the e-book catalogues to have more depth to them. Some of the books I own, I own because I cannot depend on finding another copy. They are not necessarily rare (as in expensive), but they are difficult to find. If I’m going to adopt an e-book reader, I want to be able to find all of those wonderful books as well.
Second? Well, I’ve played with the Kindle and the Sony E-Reader. I was impressed with the e-ink technology. But, as someone who reads quickly, I really struggled with how often I had to refresh/change the page and how long it took for a new page to load. The e-reader also had a strange response to being set in portrait mode–it skipped back a section so that the last sentence you *had* been reading was suddenly in the middle of the new page. Needless to say, that drove me nuts. And, it didn’t solve my problem of having to load new pages every thirty seconds.
And last? for now? I’m not sure how I feel about DRM. I am all for artists, writers, creators, and those who bring their works to the public, getting paid. I would, however, be very, very, very annoyed if a book I had bought suddenly stopped *working* because of an argument between a publisher and a distributor. Or, simply because my e-reader died for some reason.

I did love reading my books on my XO. It was great to trot from room to room in the house with both the books and somewhere to type notes on them. The XO is light and has a great battery life, and, because it loaded the entire book at once, I didn’t need to wait for it load–I just scrolled down.

I’m all for e-books. I would love for entire libraries to be so portable that they are available for everyone, everywhere. It just hasn’t happened yet.


So, I’ve just spent two fun days pretending that I owned an e-reader. I converted some books I owned to a file that my little XO (the OLPC laptop) could handle and cheerfully sat on the couch reading away. I can tell you that the four hours I spent reading two books far exceeded my tries at the Kindle and at the Sony E-Reader in both length and pleasure. It’s not that I have anything, at all, against the idea of e-books, although I would always be leery of dragging anything electronic to the beach, but there are a few…advances…that I need to see before I embrace to e-book as something that will serve as a real replacement for my physical library.
First, I need the e-book catalogues to have more depth to them. Some of the books I own, I own because I cannot depend on finding another copy. They are not necessarily rare (as in expensive), but they are difficult to find. If I’m going to adopt an e-book reader, I want to be able to find all of those wonderful books as well.
Second? Well, I’ve played with the Kindle and the Sony E-Reader. I was impressed with the e-ink technology. But, as someone who reads quickly, I really struggled with how often I had to refresh/change the page and how long it took for a new page to load. The e-reader also had a strange response to being set in portrait mode–it skipped back a section so that the last sentence you *had* been reading was suddenly in the middle of the new page. Needless to say, that drove me nuts. And, it didn’t solve my problem of having to load new pages every thirty seconds.
And last? for now? I’m not sure how I feel about DRM. I am all for artists, writers, creators, and those who bring their works to the public, getting paid. I would, however, be very, very, very annoyed if a book I had bought suddenly stopped *working* because of an argument between a publisher and a distributor. Or, simply because my e-reader died for some reason.

I did love reading my books on my XO. It was great to trot from room to room in the house with both the books and somewhere to type notes on them. The XO is light and has a great battery life, and, because it loaded the entire book at once, I didn’t need to wait for it load–I just scrolled down.

I’m all for e-books. I would love for entire libraries to be so portable that they are available for everyone, everywhere. It just hasn’t happened yet.