I ♥ Fantasy

My brother has been showing me no mercy in the book department. This past August he gave me about ten more to read and he calls me every week to see how far I’ve gotten. Geesh! He’s a machine, I’m not. I have zero chance of matching his literary prowess, which means I will never be in his good graces. Oh well, I do what I can. The last book I read was Patrick Rothfuss’ first in his Kingkiller Chronicle series: The Name of the Wind. Clutch the pearls, this was a five-star read! Right up there with Robin Hobb’s Farseer series and any in Brandon Sanderson’s immaculate catalog. This is a mind-blowing feat when you take into account that this is Rothfuss’ first novel. He’s just getting warmed up! I can’t wait to read more from him. Click on the cover photo and it will take you to a reading sample so you can get hooked too.

For other book suggestions, visit these posts:

I ♥ Reading

I ♥ Fantasy

Travel, yellowstone national park

Yellowstone: June 29th, 2013

Yellowstone Lake (13)Yellowstone Lake (11)Yellowstone Lake (10)Yellowstone Lake (6)Yellowstone Lake (4)Yellowstone Lake (3)Yellowstone Lake (2)Yellowstone LakePlease be advised, this is going to be the most unexciting post to date. Put a pillow next to your head and tuck a towel into your shirt because you’re going to be nodding off and drooling in no time. I spent most of the day finishing Robin Hobb’s Farseer trilogy. It was getting waaaay too exciting to justifiably put down. I finally finished the book at about 3 pm. Then I decided to test out my new rod by ineptly fishing Yellowstone Lake. Oh, I’m so glad no one saw me. My new fishing pole blew up during maiden cast. I had fishing line all over myself and the surrounding rocks. It seems that I’d forgotten how to fish. Eventually, I got the hang of it. Fishing from the shore of Yellowstone Lake is lovely but not really advisable if you want to catch something other than rocks. I had to wade through the water several times because my lure got stuck on the bottom and required some tough love to free it. So after my unsuccessful fishing attempt, my wet butt went to the Lake Lodge to eat a really overpriced, yet delicious, dinner and use the internet until 12:30 am. Yup, that was a whole lotta internet. I paid $11.95 for 24 hours of internet so I intended to make good on every last second. I started my Holistic Life Coaching certification so I had to download of bunch of PDF’s for that; I made reservations for a cabin at the Lake Lodge and some campsites for the 4th of July weekend; I caught up on FB and email; and I began updating my blog. My pictures took forever to upload into WordPress because the connection speed was fairly slow and also because I’ve been taking high-resolution photos. I probably should dial back the resolution a bit but who knows, maybe I’ll want to make big ass posters out of a few of them someday. Who the heck knows? I finally found the car in the pitch-black parking lot and returned to a very dark and creepy dorm. I started reading the first few pages of Hart’s Hope by Orson Scott Card. I love his other books so I’m looking forward to this one. It’s relatively short so I should be through it in no time. I’m seriously eating books for breakfast out here in Yellowstone! I’m a reading machine!

Travel, yellowstone national park

Yellowstone: June 13th, 2013



DSCF2218Yellowstone Lake (5)DSCF2214

Training Day: 4

Today I woke up feeling very off due to the very vivid dream I had. Dreams here are so real, detailed, and colorful and they really stick with you. I’ve been trying to write them down, just for the heck of it. It seemed like a little fairy or greedy goblin was following me around and moving all of my stuff today. I lost pens, sunglasses, field equipment and just when it seemed like I was going to lose my temper everything lost would miraculously appear again. It felt like I was the butt of some unseen cosmic joke all day.

We navigated to some off-trail wetlands to do some practice amphibian surveys. Thankfully, the data collection process has been refined since 2006, when we were the guinea pigs for this entire amphibian monitoring program. Things have gotten more streamlined and the low quality or just plain dangerous sites have been dropped. It still doesn’t mean that any of this is going to be a breeze. Data collection is still a pain and young tadpoles are hard to differentiate sometimes–as Andrew and I learned today. We were stumped many times but luckily Deb, our crew leader, is here for a few days to help us. The last site we went to already had another herpetology crew there collecting chytrid fungus swabs from the bellies and legs of adult spotted frogs. They said that about 60 to 70% of the frogs they’ve swabbed in the Park have the fungus (which basically suffocates them by causing hyperkeratosis of their permeable skin). Thankfully, in Yellowstone, they haven’t been dying off in the numbers that researchers once feared they would; however, that doesn’t mean they’re out of the woods (no pun intended). The team was able to buy their own PCR machine and run DNA samples right from their field office which has increased efficiency and detection. (Just as an aside, the field crew consisted of three very handsome young men and one lovely young woman. It was nice to socialized with people around my age and not have it be awkward. I guess having something like frogs in common helps more than one would expect. Needless to say, I hope to run into them again.) They caught and released about 15 adult spotted frogs in this particular wetland and the frogs were so worn out from the whole ordeal that all 15 of them just floated, with their little legs splayed out, on the surface of the water. It was kinda cute.

They also mentioned that the guy we’ll be working with next week, Andy, is developing a DNA test that can detect the presence of amphibians in a wetland–down to each individual species. So all you would have to do is collect a water sample or swab and it would tell you what amphibians are there, their abundance, and even what species had recently visited the wetland. This sounds cool but it may eventually put us out of a job. Andrew made a good point though: it may not account for wading animals traveling from one wetland to another carrying DNA on their feet and such.  We shall see.

Later that night we went to the rustic employee pub which offers $2.95 microbrews, delicious pizza, hard rock/heavy metal music, billiards and best yet, no shutter-bug tourists. It’s heaven. We spent a few hours there voraciously eating, drinking, and catching up. Deb made the mistake of asking me how a biologist becomes a soap maker for a living and that opened up a whole can of worms that she wasn’t expecting. There is no simple, quick way for me to explain that. I highly value conciseness but I just can’t seem to do my story justice by making it short and sweet. Seemingly a lifetime later, after I was done giving them an overview of my life from 2006 to today, it was obvious from the looks on their faces that I had tired them out. So it was back to the dorm to read my addicting book. I’m blowing through the second book in Robin Hobb’s Farseer trilogy like it’s nobody’s business! I can’t put it down!


I ♥ Reading

Assassin's Apprentice (The Farseer Trilogy, Book 1) I recently finished book 1 in The Farseer trilogy: Assassin’s Apprentice by Robin Hobb. It was a fantastic read. My brother is sending me the next two and I can’t wait to dig in. He says that they are right up there with the Mistborn trilogy by Brandon Sanderson–which I think is pure perfection. Needless to say, I’m in for a treat. If you haven’t read the Farseer or Mistborn trilogies, get on it! My best gal, Emily, read the Mistborn excerpt I included in my I ♥ Fantasy post and she was instantly hooked. Not being able to put the books down, she ended up reading the entire trilogy in 1.5 weeks. So don’t just take my word for it. Emily is way more rational and has much better taste than I and she even loved it (hugs and kisses Em!). I will keep you posted on how the Farseer trilogy compares.

I’m almost finished with The Shadow of the Torturer by Gene Wolfe and let me just say that I really enjoy his writing style. My bro (who read about 60 books last year) gave one of his books a perfect 10 on his scale and I’m not surprised. Gene can spin a yarn. Here are a few excerpts from the book that have resonated with me thus far:

From page 8 of The Shadow of the Torturer by Gene Wolfe:The Shadow of the Torturer (Book of the New Sun, Vol. 1)

We believe that we invent symbols. The truth is that they invent us; we are their creatures, shaped by their hard, defining edges. When soldiers take their oath they are given a coin… Their acceptance of that coin is their acceptance of the special duties and burdens of military life–they are soldiers from that moment, though they may know nothing of the management of arms. I did not know that then, but it is a profound mistake to believe that we must know of such things to be influenced by them, and in fact to believe so is to believe in the most debased and superstitious kind of magic. The would-be sorcerer alone has faith in the efficacy of pure knowledge; rational people know that things act of themselves or not at all.

From pages 132 & 133 of The Shadow of the Torturer by Gene Wolfe:

I have said that I cannot explain my desire for her, and it is true. I loved her with a love thirsty and desperate. I felt that we two might commit some act so atrocious that the world, seeing us, would find it irresistible.

From page 133 of The Shadow of the Torturer by Gene Wolfe:

No intellect is needed to see those figures who wait beyond the void of death–every child is aware of them, blazing with glories dark or bright, wrapped in authority older than the universe. They are the stuff of our earliest dreams, as of our dying visions. Rightly we feel our lives guided by them, and rightly too we feel how little we matter to them, the builders of the unimaginable, the fighters of wars beyond the totality of existence.

The difficulty lies in learning that we ourselves encompass forces equally great. We say, “I will,” and “I will not,” and imagine ourselves (though we obey the orders of some prosaic person every day) our own masters, when the truth is that our masters are sleeping. One wakes within us and we are ridden like beasts, though the rider is but some hitherto unguessed part of ourselves.