2010-02-16

Shutter Island

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In keeping with my new year's resolution, and after having my interest piqued by the commercials for the new Martin Scorsese movie, I decided to go out on a limb and purchase the novel "Shutter Island" by Dennis Lehane (who also wrote "Mystic River") on the Kindle.

It's impossible to talk about this book in its entirety without giving too much away, so let me cut right to the chase:

Buy this book.


Also since this was also my first experience with the Kindle, I'll briefly add that I was not disappointed in the slightest. I realize that I'm late to the party here, but I have to say it was a more enjoyable experience than I imagined. It's very easy on the eyes, takes up virtually no space at all in a carry-on bag, and the Thesaurus feature which allows you to instantly lookup any word on the page is fantastic. I still think Amazon needs to improve their pricing plan ($299 is a bit steep), but I digress...

The story begins immediately with two US Marshals, Teddy Daniels, a decorated war hero still reeling from the loss of his wife, and his partner Chuck Aule, heading out to Ashecliffe Island, the home of a psychiatric hospital on a remote island in New England, to investigate the mysterious disappearance of a female patient named Rachel Solando. Rachel, we are told, is a highly dangerous patient sent to the hospital after killing her 3 children only to later be found by a neighbor having dinner with all three children propped up around the table.

Very little is known about the facility other than experimental "treatments" are being performed on the patients by the hospital's overseer, Dr. Cawley. A fact that, as we soon find out, is something that Teddy Daniels intends to get to the bottom of. The only problem is that no one on the island wants to answer Teddy's questions. And once the two Marshals find a mysterious code in Rachel's cell, which ends with the question:

Who is 67?

...good luck putting the book down. The answer to that question "kept me awake, deep into the night, as I began to grasp what the author has done to my innocent mind-and he will do it to yours, too, if you let him." That's a quote from the Washington Post's Book World summing up my thoughts exactly.

All in all Shutter Island is an extremely satisfying read that I would recommend to absolutely everyone (4 out of 5 stars). Now let's just hope that Scorsese manages to do it justice on the big screen.
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2010-02-01

10 Year Plans Are For Slackers

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Resolved 2007 - 046Image by Jacob & Kiki Hantla

Many of you who frequent this blog also know Kristi & Blake over at Sugar and Caffeine, so if you haven't done so already, take a second to read their recent post regarding one of our friend's new found fascination with Resolutions. It'll help explain why I would write this post one month into the new year (other than laziness).

To summarize, over the New Year's holiday the newly employed and occasional contributor to the OSS (Andrew Polk) informed us that we were about to conclude the "Decade of Learning" (who knew?). And that January 1, 2010 would officially kick-off "The Decade of Action." He then rattled off a list of accomplishments that would take him through the year 2020, so that we all could track his progress.

Pretty cool, right?

Unfortunately for me, I've recently been diagnosed as having adult onset ADD so 10 year plans sound about as appealing as... wait, what was I just talking about? Oh right, continuing on.

Thinking up a 10 year plan was a bit too close to having someone ask me in an interview where I wanted to be in 10 years (I mean no one ever says "on the beach in the Caribbean" which is exactly what we're thinking, so its a dumb question), therefore I decided to shrink the window of opportunity down to 12 months and name 2010 "The YEAR of Action."

Unfortunately for me, in order to stay focused I've learned that I need to a) somehow hold myself accountable and b) for someone to tell me that I can't do it. So it's with that theory in mind that I've posted my goals below. Expect an update or two as I make my way through the list, which is broken down into 3 easily digestible categories (mind, body, and soul) for you to review.

Enjoy!


Mike Will Fail to Accomplish the Following

Mind

1. Read 1 book per month and blog about it.

My beautiful wife bought me the "4-Hour Workweek "for Christmas after hearing me talk about Tim Ferriss incessantly for over a year now. I finished it in about 2 weeks (mission accomplished for January), and am now skimming back through it just in case I missed anything. I can't recommend the book highly enough, but its definitely not for everyone.

Expect a post about it soon.

2. Start my own company

I've learned that recessions have a funny way of teaching us things that we may or may not be ready for. For example, after losing ~40% of my savings in 2008, I learned that putting all of my savings in the market is silly and that risking a little bit of capital in something you both believe in and are passionate about is in fact barely a risk at all.

More on this in the very near future, but let's just say that the website is almost complete and I'm now officially the CEO and President of MGI Management, LLC.


Body

1. Bench Press 225

I realize that this may not sound like a lot to my more masculine readers out there and is without question a bit ridiculous. However due to a birth defect (pectus_excavatum) I'm actually missing a decent percentage of my right pec muscle, so its more of a personal challenge than anything else.

2. Hold breath for 3.5 minutes

The aforementioned defect also reduces my lung capacity, so I've always stunk at holding my breath. Thanks to the author of the 4HWW however, I recently learned of a method to accomplish this seemingly impossible feat. And you know what?

It worked. My record is currently 2:30, but this year I'm determined to hit the 3:30 mark.

3. Win Warrior Dash (<--Click the link. Enough said.)


4. Work out 3x's a week.


So far so good!

5. Complete P90X

P90X® is a revolutionary system of 12 sweat-inducing, muscle-pumping workouts, designed to transform your body from regular to ripped in just 90 days. You can't tell me that you haven't thought about it too!


Soul

1. Increase involvement at The Village

Last year we finally joined the church, went through marriage counseling, and even joined a home group led by our friends the Woods. This year, Andrea and I are hoping to continue on this path and grow closer with our home group and possibly even go on our first overseas mission trip!

I've learned that there are no handbooks on what it being a "spiritual leader" actually looks like in practice, so God willing this will be a decent start.

2. Cook more difficult dishes more often

This past year some of our friends decided that we needed to hone our cooking skills, and started a dinner group to accomplish this mission. No question some are better than others, but its become a great way for all of us to stay connected with each other during the week and forces us to go out of our way to prepare a meal for others.

Between Andrea's studying and my frequent work trips however, I've noticed that its all too easy to make something quick and simple when it's just the two of us. This year, I want that change.

3. Go on at least 1 date with Andrea per month (excluding dinner at the house)

Andrea and I decided that we needed to go on more "dates". That's not to say that we don't spend a lot time together, we do. In fact, one of the greatest joys of not having kids is that you're theoretically always on a date when you're together, because there's nothing to distract you (assuming she's not studying or I'm not working late).

It's just too easy to make the same old meal again, watch some TV, work out (for those of you who know Andrea you'll know this is a requirement), etc... In other words, fall into a routine.

This year we decided that once per month we'd alternate who would be in charge of planning a date that had to be something other than just dinner and couldn't be the same thing twice. I'm also hoping this will inspire her to write her very first blog post!

4. Care less about politics

I'll still occasionally post my political opinions, just because I honestly enjoy the subject matter, but if I've learned anything my recent forays into political blogging it's this: it's all meaningless.

I mean sure there are some factual inaccuracies that need to be pointed out from time to time, (including my own) but most of the people I know are smart, well informed, and decent. In other words, our differences of opinion really boil down to nothing more than a philosophical difference in how we see the world. In other words, its mostly just a lame attempt to exercise our egos.

Or as someone much smarter than I once said:

Life's but a walking shadow; a poor player,
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,
And then is heard no more: it is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing."

That guy should really write a book or something.

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