LBS 803 Assignment – Popular Books

As part of my K-12 literature class, I have to do a quick write-up about books that address that week’€™s theme. The theme this week is books that would be good in a classroom.

The Giver, by Lois Lowry

  • In a future of infinite sameness, Jonas is special, and is given a gift that turns into a curse.
  • I’ve read the book and we have it in our library.
  • Kids love it. They loved it before the movie came out, and they love it now.

The Fault in Our Stars, by John Green

  • A pair of star-crossed lovers battle the uncertainty of life and death in this adorable romance.
  • We have the book in the library, my daughter owns it, and I’ve listened to it and watched the movie.
  • It’s a great story! Really well-written book.

The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins

  • In the wreckage of post-collapse America, a cruel capital makes teens fight to the death to remind everyone else about the results of rebellion.
  • We own the book and it’s always out of the library.
  • Another fantastic story that’s better than the movie (*gasp*).

Sugar, by Deirdre Riordan Hall

  • A very heavy teen from an even heavier family struggles with self confidence, until a boy takes an interest in her.
  • I saw it on Amazon and thought it looked appealing.
  • I think heavy young people would identify with Sugar.

This is what we need to post each week:

  • Title
  • Author
  • One sentence plot summary
  • Where you found the book
  • Why you chose it to be highlighted

LBS 803 Assignment – Books for a classroom

As part of my K-12 literature class, I have to do a quick write-up about books that address that week’€™s theme. The theme this week is books that would be good in a classroom.

Slaughterhouse Five, by Kurt Vonnegut

  • Billy Pilgrim has come unstuck in time and finds himself bouncing between a horrific past, a distressing present, and bizarre future.
  • I own this book and have read it many times, although not in the last decade or so … that has to change.
  • I chose to highlight this book because there was a period of my life where I LOVED Vonnegut.

The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald

  • Jazz era New York, and its uber-wealthy Long Island suburbs, set the backdrop for a story of unfulfilled desires.
  • I own this book and re-read it last year, marveling at Fitzgerald’s dense-but-accessible writing.
  • This is a book that kids may or may not enjoy, but it’s definitely worth reading for any potential writer.

Brave New World, by Aldus Huxley

  • Government control through pleasure, brainwashing, and rigid social classes leads to a flip-side of the 1984 coin.
  • I loved this book as a teen, along with 1984 and Farenheight 451, as the dystopians of the day. I own it.
  • A different take on dystopia, one that could make a nice comparison with 1984 or any of the multitude of current novels.

Night, by Elie Wiesel

  • The true story of a teenager’s survival in a Nazi concentration camp.
  • I have placed this book on the shelves of our library many times.
  • I picked this book because it’s supposed to be great. To my shame, I have not read it.

Jurassic Park, by Michael Creighton

  • Humans learn the futility of trying to control nature when they bring dinosaurs back to life.
  • This exists in my school library.
  • I have not read the book, but know Creighton is the master of the page turner.

This is what we need to post each week:

  • Title
  • Author
  • One sentence plot summary
  • Where you found the book
  • Why you chose it to be highlighted

LBS 803 Assignment – Scary Books

As part of my K-12 literature class, I have to do a quick write-up about books that address that week’s theme. The theme this week is scary books.

Frankenstein – Mary Shelley

  • A dark exploration of the nature of man and what it means to be alive and what it means to be human.
  • I own this book and have read it.
  • Much better than the “Fire baaaad” distortion we usually see in modern media. It’d be eye-opening for those who only know the Frankenstein monster from movies.

Full Tilt – Neal Shusterman

  • Brothers Quinn and Blake are unprepared for what awaits them in a phantom carnival, where Blake is forced to survive seven rides that exploit his worst fears.
  • I don’t own or have touched the book, but I  want to read it because it sounds interesting and gets enthusiastic reviews
  • I chose to highlight it because it sounds like a teen horror book that’s actually interesting and doesn’t involve vampires, zombies, or dystopia.

Prom Dates from hell – Rosemary Clement-Moore

  • When Maggie Quinn’s high school ruling clique starts to act, well, possessed, it’s up to Maggie and her friends to figure out what’s up and ultimately have to attend the *gulp* prom to stop all Hell from breaking loose.
  • Ditto. The book seems well-written and interesting.
  • Again, this is another horror book that sounds like it’s interesting, funny, and different than the typical YA horror.

Carrie – Stephen King

  • Adults must return to their hometown to face a demon that has haunted them since childhood.
  • This book is in the library, and I read it as a teen.
  • A serious page turner, not only did I love it, but students at my school who have read it on my recommendation are all enthusiastic about it.

Skeleton Man – Joseph Bruchac

  • Molly’s parents have disappeared and a strange, skinny man has taken her in … into seeming custody of a locked room and this creepy dude.
  • I read this book when it was a summer reading book for incoming freshmen at my school.
  • I enjoyed the book. It’s creepy and strange.

This is what we need to post each week:

  • Title
  • Author
  • One sentence plot summary
  • Where you found the book
  • Why you chose it to be highlighted

LBS 803 Assignment – Geeky Books

As part of my K-12 literature class, I have to do a quick write-up about books that address that week’s theme. The theme this week is  geeky books.

Galapagos
, by Kurt Vonnegut

  • A million years in the future, all that remains of humanity is an outpost of post-human evolved seaborne mammals who are glad to be rid of the “big brains” that ruined the pre-collapse world.
  • I own this book.
  • I chose to highlight it because I loved Kurt Vonnegut when I was a teen, and because it’s ultimately an optimistic post-apocalypse sci-fi book (in contrast to most modern dystopian novels).

The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins

  • In post-collapse America, an oppressive capital ensures obedience of the rest of the country through oppression and intimidation until one teen hero dares stand up against the capital.
  • I own this book, and everyone in my family has read all the books and watched all the movies.
  • This is only the franchise that began the current YA obsession with dystopia. Thanks Suzanne, kinda.

Ender’s Game, by Orson Scott Card

  • In a world of perpetual war with a sinister alien race, teenaged strategic wunderkind Ender leads the ultimate battle to save humanity.
  • I loved this book as a teen and bought it to share with my son.
  • A thrill ride of sci-fi geekery, this book was one of my favorite novels as a teen.

Life As We Knew It, by Susan Beth Pfeffer

  • Everything falls apart when the moon suddenly gets forced closer to Earth, wreaking havoc upon mankind.
  • We own this book.
  • My daughter turned me on to this book and we all loved reading it together as one of the last read-aloud books we shared.

The Eye of Minds, by James Dashner

  • In a near future where much of humanity spends days in a virtual reality, super hacker Michael is enlisted to try to track down a cyber terrorist.
  • I borrowed this book from my school library on the recommendation of an English teacher.
  • It’s new, fresh, and interesting. Any kids who are gamers would probably love the book (if they could be torn away from their video games).

This is what we need to post each week:

  • Title
  • Author
  • One sentence plot summary
  • Where you found the book
  • Why you chose it to be highlighted

LBS 803 Assignment – LGBTQ

As part of my K-12 literature class, I have to do a quick write-up about books that address that week’s theme. The theme this week is LGBTQ literature.

Boy Meets Boy,
by David Levithan

  • Paul lives in the most gay-friendly town ever, but that doesn’t make it any easier when he loses the boy he loves and has to figure out how to win him back.
  • This book is in my school’s library.
  • I chose this book because the students enjoy it and it gets strong reviews.

Openly Straight, by Bill Kongsberg

  • When Rafe heads to an elite boarding school in Massachusetts, he seizes the opportunity to shed the label “gay” and just be Rafe, but shedding labels proves to be more problematic than he anticipated.
  • I read this book for class, and it’s in my library.
  • Openly Straight was picked because is a truly fantastic book.

M or F?: A Novel, by Lisa Papademetriou and Chris Tebbetts

  • Frannie, being way too anxious to act on a crush, enlists her gay best friend Marcus to chat online with Jeffrey, who, of course, falls for Marcus’ impression of Frannie.
  • This is another book from my school’s library that has been fairly popular.
  • The book was picked for its strong reviews and popularity.

It’s Our Prom (So Deal With It), by Julie Anne Peters

  • Life gets complicated for three friends as they try to plan an inclusive prom while two of them fall for the third.
  • The book is in my library (again).
  • I picked this book because it seems interesting, unlike this sentence.

Kiss the Morning Star, by Elissa Hoole

  • Two best friends go on a road trip in search of adventure and a better understanding of themselves, and end up with a better understanding of themselves in this coming-of-age book.
  • Yet another book from my library.
  • I wanted to get a lesbian book into the list, hence, Kiss the Morning Star’s inclusion.

This is what we need to post each week:

  • Title
  • Author
  • One sentence plot summary
  • Where you found the book
  • Why you chose it to be highlighted

LBS 803 Assignment – Humor

As part of my K-12 literature class, I have to do a quick write-up about books that address that week’s theme. The theme this week is humor.

Dead End in Norvelt, by Jack Gantos

  • A young man is grounded for the summer, but wacky adventures begin after he starts helping the old lady next door.
  • This book was discovered in my LBS 803 class, and taken out from my high school library.
  • The book was highlighted because it’s genuinely funny, especially early on. It loses some steam, but stays clever and insightful throughout.

Openly Straight, by Bill Konigsberg

  • Tired of being “The gay kid” in his high school, Rafe seizes the opportunity to try on a new identity when he transfers to an elite private high school on the other side of the country.
  • This book was discovered in my LBS 803 class, and taken out from my high school library.
  • I highlighted Openly Straight because Rafe, his friends, his parents, and some of the situations in the book are hilarious. The humor is sharp, witty, and insightful.

Beware the Fish, by Gordon Korman

  • When Macdonald Hall falls into financial trouble, Bruno and Boots pull out all the stops to raise money and attention for the school.
  • This book has been in my collection for decades and is still as funny as it was when I first read it a lifetime ago.
  • Beware the Fish was picked because it’s brought great fun and hilarity to both myself and my kids. The madcap adventures and mischief of Bruno and Boots and the gang will bring one to tears.

An Abundance of Katherines, by John Green

  • Colin has been dumped by so many girls named Katherine that he decides to go on a road trip to prove his “Theorem of Underlying Katherine Predictability,” and hilarity ensues.
  • I know about this book because it’s John Green. I’ve placed it on the bookshelf at my library numerous times, and my daughter owns it.
  • John Green is a fantastically sharp-witted author. I can’t wait to read it when I have time to read again.

Angus, Thongs, and Full-Frontal Snogging, by Louise Rennison

  • Life as a 14-year old girl in England is pretty crazy, and gets hilarious when written in journal format by that teen.
  • I took this book out of the Diman library for my daughter last year.
  • I picked it because all I heard from her were giggles and outright guffaws while reading it.

This is what we need to post each week:

  • Title
  • Author
  • One sentence plot summary
  • Where you found the book
  • Why you chose it to be highlighted

Solar power update

Our 5kW solar array has been a big success so far. Installed in November of 2009 and started in January of 2010, we’ve seen a marked decrease in our electricity use. We’ve only been below SunRun estimates twice (graph below) – March and June, both by marginal levels. Most months have been a bit above the estimate, with April and May way above by nearly 100kW each.

Solar power generated from January to October

In addition, we’ve seen significant reductions in our electricity bill (below). We went from consistently above the average to consistently lower than our most efficient neighbors. The only blip was October, when my wife rediscovered her joy of baking in our electric oven. The report is generated by the very cool Energy Insider that National Grid shows to customers.

Energy use from October 2009 to October 2010

Energy use from October 2009 to October 2010 (large version)

Exercise keeps your CELLS young!

Chev Wilkinson/Getty Images

Or so this new study seems to indicate. Essentially, the article details a study done by German scientists that seems to say that consistent, long-term exercise makes a significant difference in how much one’s cells age. As someone who’s now closer to 50 than 25 (*shudder*) and has been exercising fairly regularly for almost a year now, this is of some importance to me. I’d like to be able to enjoy my later years as much as possible, and it seems that regular exercise is an important step towards that goal.

Another nifty side effect of regular exercise (not really measurable) is that the older study subjects who exercised LOOKED younger. From the article:

It ‘‘was striking,’’ recalls Dr. Christian Werner, an internal-medicine resident at Saarland University Clinic in Homburg, ‘‘to see in our study that many of the middle-aged athletes looked much younger than sedentary control subjects of the same age.’’

I have noticed a real difference in how I FEEL since I’ve started exercising. I’m just more energetic, more optimistic, and, oddly, my normally sieve-like memory has seemed to be better of late. Who knows if there’s a correlation between exercise and memory, but there are proven correlations with cholesterol, weight, blood pressure, heart disease, Type-2 diabetes, etc. Now we know that your body’s cells, it’s building blocks of existence benefit from exercise.

Site Design Work

Here’s a list of some of the sites I’m responsible for:

New site

Hi all. I have moved to a new host and will be repurposing this site. In the meantime, if you need to contact me, you can do so at nate@natescape.com.

Thanks!