Monday, September 17, 2012

A Book-Lover's Dream

It is no secret, at least not to those who know me well, that I enjoy reading. I've said it before, but I also like free — certainly not at all costs*, but free does roll off one's tongue quite nicely. So, when those two thing, reading and free, coincide it becomes a rather pleasant day.

So, you can easily imagine the pleasant thoughts that ran through my head when I found out that there is a contest at the web site, Christian Fiction Book Reviews, in which the winner will receive a $300.00 Amazon gift card. Very nice.

What would you do with $300.00 to spend at Amazon? What would I do? I don't know at the moment, though certainly some of that would be spent on Kindle books. And, frankly, I won't spend the energy thinking about it unless and until I actually win.

To enter — and, of course, by telling you this I may, in fact, be lessening my chances of winning (but my chances were probably already quite slim) — go to the Christian Fiction Book Reviews web site (click on the web site name), and complete any or all of the How to Enter tasks (share on Facebook, Like on Facebook, Tweet on Twitter, and/or post on your blog).

I sincerely hope that whoever is selected for the card will enjoy the shopping spree.

Run well,
Bob

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Return Trip to Safari Snacks Doesn't Disappoint

Our daughter joined us in Burnaby for Labour Day weekend. Yesterday, she and I headed back to Safari Snacks House and Grill for some samosas and bhajias to go with the lentil curry and chicken curry that Linda was cooking for supper. And, the second time around didn't disappoint. Our only problem was that we had too much food. So, we had bhajias and samosas for lunch today. Linda put them on a tray lined with paper towels and heated them up in the oven and they heated and crisped up nicely.

The owners remembered me from the first trip. They also remembered my previous blog post and told us they had added a bit more dhania to the bhajia coating. While we were waiting, we sampled a weekend specialty of the house, muthiya. It was a mixture of various kinds of lentils, green beans, and chicken in a gravy. It was pleasantly spiced — not bland but not too hot either. While we sampled it, both of the owners came by to see what we thought. One of them said it was an acquired taste but Stacey and I thought it was really good. They only cook it on the weekends (maybe only on Saturday).

You won't find more friendly staff anywhere. Combine that with good food and it's a really nice experience — eat there, take it to the park around the corner for a picnic, or take it home.

Eat well,
Bob


Safari Snack House & Grill on Urbanspoon

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Safari Snacks (Burnaby, BC) — A Taste of Home

I've been in Burnaby, BC for about 2 weeks. This past week, a friend (someone we knew from Kenya who now lives in Burnaby) called and asked if we were free to join them for samosas and bhajias. We did and enjoyed them immensely — both the food and the fellowship. So, we asked where the food had come from. Today, we decided to head there, get lunch, and have a picnic at Deer Lake Park.

So, we hopped on bus #144, got off at Canada Way and Sperling Ave., and headed to Safari Snacks House & Grill just east of Sperling, across from the Masjid al-Salaam & Education Centre on Canada Way. Great choice — we were not disappointed. The staff were very friendly. The lady who first greeted us is from Uganda; the man who took our order is from Dar es Salaam, though he left there in 1974 and hasn't returned (he would be in for a shock as Dar has changed a lot in 38 years!).

We bought a dozen samosas (4 beef, 4 chicken, 4 vegetable), a plate of bhajias, and a couple of Diet Pepsis (yeah, Diet Pepsi when we're having samosas and bhajias — saved us a few calories). Then we headed across Sperling to Deer Lake and spread out our Kenya khanga for our picnic.

The samosas and bhajias were fresh and still hot when we opened them up. Our favourite were the beef samosas but all of them were good. The bhajias could have used a bit more of something in the coating, maybe dhania, but they were also quite good.

On the way back to the bus stop to go back to the apartment, we stopped in and picked up 2 sweet mango lassis. Lots of mango juice so they were wonderful! If the folks on the bus had known what we were drinking, I'm sure they would have forced the bus driver to stop and wait while they got their own.

At any rate, small cafe, wonderfully friendly owners and staff, fresh food, good taste, reasonably priced. We'll go back. If you're near the east or northeast side of Deer Lake Park, stop in and try Safari Snack House & Grill.
Safari Snack House & Grill on Urbanspoon

Book Review: He Chose the Nails (Lucado)

Max Lucado has been a favourite writer of devotional material for Christians for decades. He Chose the Nails: What God Did to Win Your Heart will not disappoint long-time Lucado readers and would be an excellent starting book for those who have never read his writing.

I must admit that, though I have always enjoyed a bit of Max Lucado, I was a little hesitant to tackle the whole book. I just wasn't sure that I could take syrupy, tear-jerking stories. But, when I laughed out loud in the first chapter, that let me know I was going to enjoy this book. In the very first paragraph, Lucado describes a man trying to buy a Christmas present for his wife. Before the end of the first page, he passes on the sage advice that his father gave him about such a dilemma:
"There will come a time," he said solemnly, "when a salesperson will offer to help you. At that moment, take a deep breath and say this phrase, 'Es-tée Lau-der.'"
I'm reading this in the car and am almost rolling in the floor laughing so hard — I certainly would have except that I'm a bit large for rolling in the car floor. I'm hooked.

Lucado uses this story to introduce how lavishly God gives to us and how God's gifts shed light on God's heart, God's good and generous heart.

In He Chose the Nails, Lucado reminds us of what God did through Jesus to provide salvation for us. We certainly don't deserve God's love or His provision of salvation. Lucado provides abundant examples of how we have fallen short. However, God in Christ chose the cross and Lucado also provides abundant evidence of how hard a choice that was. Chapter two is subtitled, God's Promise in the Soldier's Spit. How can you resist that? Lucado talks about how the Roman soldiers treated Jesus once he was sentenced. The soldiers wanted blood.
So they scourged Jesus. The legionnaire's whip consisted of leather straps with lead balls on each end. His goal was singular: beat the accused within an inch of his death and then stop ... No doubt Jesus was near death when his hands were untied.
 Each subsequent chapter looks at a different aspect of Jesus' suffering, his crucifixion, and his resurrection and how God demonstrated His desire to save us. It is a powerful, provocative, piercing reminder of our need for and God's provision of salvation.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze book review bloggers' program . I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255.

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Book Review: The 13th Tribe, by Robert Lipuralo


The "immortals" are a group of Israelites who were knocked unconscious, but not killed, by the appearance of God's glory after the Israelites rebelled against God when they worshipped the golden calf at Mt. Sinai. Because of their sin, they are condemned to live forever on earth, never aging, never dying (unless their head is severed from their body). Through the "favors" that they have done for governments through the centuries, they have access to the highest places of power and to the most advanced weapons and technology systems in the world. They have determined that, like Phinehas in Numbers 25, their forgiveness and salvation lies in avenging evil. To that end, they have planned a massive attack on a place and people that they have determined are evil.

There is a certain appeal in vigilanteism when an obvious wrong has been committed and the authorities seem to do nothing. The problem, of course, is that vigilantes have set themselves up as jury, judge, and executioner without accountability for their decisions and actions — they have set themselves up as God. Thus, when I began reading the book, I rebelled against what appeared to be its premise — that the "immortals" were acting on God's behalf. Vigilanteism also almost always includes collateral damage that most find unacceptable. Both issues are dealt with in "The 13th Tribe."

Suspend any sense of reality and enjoy this book like any other action novel. Liparulo tosses in some real surprises. There is plenty of action; there is plenty to stir emotions. I'm not competent or confident enough to judge character or plot development, though Beth's forgiveness of Jagger is weak as she demonstrates no internal conflict in forgiving. The one glaring mistake is a biblical one — God did not, as Liparulo states, punish the Israelites to wander and die in the desert because of the golden calf incident but because of their refusal to trust God's ability to give them the Promised Land.

One interesting twist is how Liparulo deals with what might happen if a person were to be immortal. In the last part of the book, the immortals explain to Beth and Jagger that ... well, read the book.

This is Christian fiction and the theme of works-based versus faith-based salvation is woven throughout the whole story. It seems that Liparulo's goal is to make the reader think rather than to provide a pat answer.

This book is unlikely to become a classic but it was fun to read and it did make me think. Definitely worth reading. I read the Kindle edition of the book and it was formatted very nicely and easy to read. The book is set to be released on 3 April 2012.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze book review bloggers program . I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Book Review: December 1941: 31 Days that Changed America and Saved the World, by Craig Shirley


In "December 1941," Mr. Shirley set out to describe America's entry into World War II by putting the decisions to enter the war in the context of all of the things, military and otherwise, that were going on in December 1941. He did that day by day, refering to and quoting from various media accounts about things that were happening.

By and large, Mr. Shirley accomplished his purpose:

  • He includes interesting anecdotes about the daily life of the average American that give great insight into the culture of the US at the end of the Great Depression.
  • He clearly demonstrates the divisions in the country about getting involved in a European war that many felt had little impact on Americans.
  • He alludes to but does not settle the question of whether or not President Roosevelt and his advisors suspected that an attack on Pearl Harbor was imminent but did nothing in order to force America into the war. Most of America was blind-sided.
  • He also talked about the changes in American life that occurred as a result of America's entry into the war.
  • Most surprising to me were the draconian measures implemented by the Roosevelt administration.

I really wanted to like this book — the premise and the method were intriguing. Many reviewers had given the book high marks. Overall, I'm really glad that I read the book because Mr. Shirley did accomplish his goal of putting American entry into WWII in the context of America in December 1941. In the end, I did like the book, but...

...I had a really difficult time getting past major deficiencies in the book. Each of the 31 chapters was titled by the date — i.e., "The Twenty-Eighth of December." However, citations were from newspapers from multiple days — in chapter 1, there are quotes from December 1 (which would have been about the previous day), December 4, December 8, December 9.

Second, there was little cohesiveness in the writing, particularly in the sections that quoted newspaper or radio accounts of events. Many times it was like reading a random compilation of sentences from newspapers.

Finally, I felt like the editing of this book was poor. Some sentences required multiple readings to understand what was being said (and I have a Master's degree). Others continue to baffle me. I wondered if publication of the book was rushed to get it on the market before the anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor?

It's very possible that the medium that I used contributed to the difficulty of reading this book. I read the iBook version on an iPhone 3G — small form factor, aging technology, etc. Reading was fine but looking at footnotes (endnotes) was slow and most unpleasant. It's likely that reading this on a Kindle or Nook would have been much more pleasant.

I definitely recommend "December 1941." In spite of its many shortcomings, it does give one a unique and interesting perspective on America's entry into the war and on the enduring changes in American society that resulted. I just wish there had not been so many shortcomings.

More information about the book, including a video with the author, is available at this link.

Links to purchase various versions of the book from Amazon (I get no remuneration).

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Monday, February 13, 2012

Millennials and Returning to High Altitude Running (unrelated)

Recently, I finished reading The Millennials, by Thom Rainer and Jess Rainer. The book seeks to interpret research done among a group of 1200 people born between 1980 and 1991. It was an interesting and generally positive look at this generation. Today, I came across this graphic that summarizes the generation.


Created by: Online Graduate Programs

  • Do you think this accurately summarizes (generalizes) this generation?
Running — I was in Saly, Senegal, for almost the last 2 weeks. Saly is 57' above sea level. Because of its location, it doesn't start getting light there until 7AM. Because I was in a meeting, I had to be out by 6AM. Fortunately, the roads where we met were pretty good. So, a headlamp and reflective vest were good things to have along. I did run 2 days on sand roads in the dark. That made for interesting runs. Our flight back from Senegal to Nairobi was an overnight flight and I didn't sleep very much. But, Sunday morning, having flown all night with little sleep, in a time zone that was 3 hours ahead of my body, and now back at 5700' above sea level, I ran a short run to try to shake out the cobwebs. It was really hard. Looking forward to getting my altitude lungs and legs back!

Run well, y'all,
Bob
Nairobi, Kenya