calzephyr: (Default)
Death by Meeting is a surprisingly corny yet compelling book on how to run more effective meetings. It’s a business book couched in a terribly written narrative and yet I fell for one of the book’s premises - that an engaging story will keep readers hooked.

The TL;DR version of the book is basically - instead of having a long two hour weekly meeting, break it up into different meetings by type, such as a daily scrum, weekly tactical, monthly strategic and quarterly offsite meetings.

But, as you can imagine, doling out that piece of advice isn’t very profitable, so author Patrick Lencioni disguises it as the story of a fictional gaming software company that needs to shake up their meetings after they are acquired by a larger gaming software company. The villain of the story is one JT Harrison, who never says much but strikes fear into the heart of Casey, the founder of the smaller company. To the rescue is his good friend’s son Will. With Will’s guidance, the supporting cast of business unit managers change the corporate culture to impress JT Harrison and thwart any plans to fully absorb the company. If this sounds all incredibly dumb, it is. I read the short chapters (some are just two pages) right to the end, all to find out if Casey and Will can save the day. There’s a twist to the ending, which one might guess because...

Will’s educational and work background is in advertising, marketing and filmmaking. He happens to become employed at Casey’s company because he needs a break from school. Surprise! A maternity leave presents the perfect opportunity. Will uses his savvy to observe the terrible weekly meetings and institute change.

The corniness of this book made me roll my eyes so much that I thought they would fall out of my head! I used to work in web development and I don’t feel the portrayal of the software company to be very unrealistic. A company where everyone gets along so perfectly that they have to create conflict? Where they accept an outsider’s suggestions so easily? Haha, hahahaha! Truly, the fictional software company, Yip, is a figment of Hollywood imagination much like those perfectly beautiful homes in movies. But, I do have to give Patrick Leoncioni credit for creativity and trying to make a buck at it! The sticker on this book was $26.99 Canadian.

Oddly enough, the most offensive thing about the book is making light of Will's mental health issues - it seemed odd that it was included at all. For example, he goes off his medication and it's during that period that he can tell his boss that the company meetings suck, then he promises to go back on his medication. It really sounded like Will's criticism had to be justified somehow? I'm not really sure what the point of that was.

If you are looking for a practical book on leadership and organizational culture, this is not it. I imagine a fair number of readers would consider the book a complete waste of time for the little amount of information it contains.

x-posted to [community profile] book_love 
calzephyr: (procrastinating)
You can put it in the win column!

Originally posted by [ profile] ext_4017148 at Help to find book about Charlotte/Charlie YA *FOUND
I need help finding a book that I read a while ago, probably at least ten years ago. I borrowed it from my local library and loved it, but cannot remember the name for the life of me. It's a period setting, maybe later 1800's? The cover had a beautiful picture, half of a girl's face, half of a horse face, both reddish hair and blue eyes. The copy I read was hardcover, and it seemed a few years old.
The main character was named Charlotte, I think she lived in an orphanage, maybe her parents' home, but was getting too old be taken care of, and so was going to be handed over to the state or something. Before that happened, she climbed out her window and ran away. I remember clearly the description of her walking through ice cold water on her way. She disguised herself as a young teenage boy named Charlie, and eventually got a job in a barn. She described the painful process of binding her chest to look flat.
Somewhere along the way, she meets a specific horse, but I cant remember what the reasoning was, besides it being in the barn she was working for.
I feel like one of the other workers found out her identity, and maybe they fell in love?

Thanks for the help!

Thank you calzephyr77 for finding this book! Now I have to go get it and read it again!
calzephyr: (creative)
Every now and then I find this book on my book shelf and every time it feels like the moment I found it at the bookstore back in 2009. This sturdy, pocket sized manual is many things - how to book, pattern book and a peek into people's lives and hobbies from the pages of Popular Mechanics. In some ways it's not a proper "craft book" as the patterns are quite small, but the ideas are often sound. As with many vintage craft and recipe books, the materials may have been renamed or are not as readily available today. You might have guessed that there is a "boy edition" but I'd be willing to bet that it is as gender neutral as this book.

I was surprised to see that the text invited girls to saw and craft with their parents help. The variety of crafts, toys and games is pretty astounding and I wish my parents had been more the maker type to build a few things from this book like the basement golf course or weaving loom. From braiding to mold casting, doll houses to a full size backyard merry go round, I can only imagine how many hours of fun these plans provided.

x-posted to [ profile] craftgrrl, [ profile] books and [ profile] bookish
calzephyr: (books)
Wow, I have not read a book in ages! I just couldn't get started on any books I already had, so I downloaded some Mary Roberts Rinehart titles from Project Gutenberg.

The Case of Jennie Brice was quick to read, but I sense that it was also quickly written. It felt like it wasn't a cohesive story but more like a collection of events with a few pieces forgotten :) But, I also suspect that Rinehart took "write what you know" to heart and just added a murder or two. In this case , busybody landlady Mrs. Pittman suddenly finds herself intrigued with the possible murder of one of her tenants during Pittsburgh's flood season. I had no idea flooding was so bad back then.

Rinehart launches into great detail about life when your main floor is flooded, including tying up a boat to your banister! Suspicion is cast everywhere but mainly on Jennie's husband. While the police search for Jennie, who might be still alive, a subplot involving Mrs. Pittman's niece and her beau unfolds.

x-posted to [ profile] books and [ profile] bookish
calzephyr: (books)
Is it weird to review a book series you didn't get around to reading? Years ago (like, 2003!) I felt burned by finding the first book of The Firebringer Trilogy in a second hand bookstore. I found out online that there were two other books in the series. Just as I had gnashed my teeth to nothing, the entire series was republished and I could rest easy. So when I went to the local gaming store and saw this unicorn series by John Lee on the shelf, I bought all four volumes on the shelf. Not going to be burned again!

But alas, it turns out the FIRST book in the series was missing. After so long, I have no interest in reading about the unicorns and whatever war, quest, peace, dilemma and solution they came up with. I'm freeing up some space on the Billy bookshelf for something new!
calzephyr: (birds)
I decided to clear some books out and try my luck at the second hand store for a buck or two - and decided to let go of a little square book by Annette Blaugrund, The Essential John James Audubon. Like many pre-Internet book purchases, this one was a must have for all the colour pictures. The amount of text is very small and is about Wikipedia article sized in length. Audubon's famous pictures are definitely what this book is about! I'm hoping I didn't pay the suggested $18.95 for this book, but I'm sure it can find a new home with another bird lover.
calzephyr: (books)
This sounds like an awesome book. I was able to discover that the title is most likely Alternate Outlaws edited by Mike Resnick.

Originally posted by [ profile] bugeyedmonster at Unusual villians short story collection book
I did NOT buy the book when I saw it, and now I'm kicking myself for not having noted down the title of the book, and the editor. It was an anthology of short stories, where the authors had been prompted to take someone and turn that individual into a villain. It was possibly from the 90s.

There was Sherlock Holmes as a vampire (he still loved his Watson and would never hurt Watson, even though Watson was afraid of him.)

And there was Helen Keller as a safecracker.

That's all I remember. Here's hoping it sounds familiar to someone.
calzephyr: (scholarly)
The TL;DR version is, if you have the right set of search critera, WorldCat can help you find your book!

Originally posted by [ profile] kruoshime at Found! Children's Book With Owl Protagonist
Edit: It was a series of books about an owl named Squib by Larry Shles. The one I remember is called Hoots and Toots and Harry Brutes. Thank you to everyone for their help.

I'm trying to remember a series of children's books that had a boy owl as a protagonist. I remember the books were hardback and the drawings in the books were black and white. I'm not sure when it was published, but sometime in the 60's, 70's or 80's. The church I went to as a kid used to have them in the library. I think the plots were usually of the moral nature, and I think the protagonist may have worn glasses. Any help would be appreciated. Thank you!
calzephyr: (books)
Originally posted by [ profile] ab_02 at FOUND :) -I am looking for a book, I cannot remember the title or author - title has 'tower' in it.
Hi all! :)

I read this book about four years ago. The book was published in about 1989-90s so it quite an old book.
The title is someone's name and the word 'tower.' (The name is similar to Tintin - i am sure it is NOT Tintin)
E.g. Tinfin's Tower, Tintil's Tower, Tinmin's Tower.

The cover is blue with a tower on it, surrounded by a lake and a boy and girl on a row boat, with the boy pointing to the tower.

Read more... )
calzephyr: (books)
Book I want to read

Originally posted by [ profile] kayelledub at YA novel from the 80s (I think)
I'm looking for a book I read as a child in the 90s, but that I think was published in the 80s. It had a castle and a unicorn on the cover. I don't remember much of the synopsis but I know it was about siblings who had to go stay with their aunt and cousins (whom they did not like) for a summer and who found a portal into another world thru a shrub in the yard. The other world had unicorns and knights and the kids had to go on a quest.
calzephyr: (Uh Oh)
The recent theme of vintage ads with recipes reminded me of the useful tome that is The Christian Home Cook Book, a vintage cookbook that I picked up from the Mennonite restaurant in Linden, Alberta. As I noted before, the recipes don't have pictures and after so many years, the recipes are merely suggestions. What's a family sized tea bag? How large is a large can? Where do I get young chickens?

Unfortunately I accidentally made myself lunch for the week with this failed recipe. It sounded good (click for larger):

I substituted frozen meatballs for the chicken, used a can of condensed chicken noodle soup instead of Lipton's and added a cup of sautéed celery and onion to fill it up. Unfortunately the casserole came out humble, if not bland to me. I should have also stopped at one cup of breadcrumbs as two turned it into a strange interplanetary landscape. My husband said that the spices in the meatballs overpowered everything. Some spaghetti sauce rescued it, but after two lunches in a row I don't think I can finish the pan. I hate to throw food out, but you know, sometimes you just have to.

Oh, one more little insult to injury - the casserole pan wasn't big enough and during cooking, a large dollop of soupy cream sauce escaped, making for a nice burning smell to go along with tonight's dinner. Sorry Mrs. Orval Johnson of Walnut Hill, Florida, I gave it a shot!
calzephyr: (birds)

Marie Kondo's popular book landed on our messy coffee table over a month ago. My husband had ordered it and I ribbed him that the first step to being a tidy person was opening the package. Once that was done, the book went unread until I had a chance to read it on Sunday. It is a very quick read although I ended up skimming parts.

Like most self-help books, you can pick the advice that suits you and discard the rest, but I wasn't finding advice very easily. Kondo is a windy, self-absorbed author and I felt misled as a reader. It's not really a how-to guide but more of an autobiography of her obsession with organization. Perhaps some of my resistance is due to the fact that she likes cleaning, much like how people who like exercising find going to the gym a breeze.

Or perhaps it's just my frowny face at another person promising happiness if you just buy their book. There is really little in this book that is new if you are a student of material culture, have been on the downsizing journey for some time  or follow great blogs like Declutterer.

Some of the advice is terrible for cohabitating couples, like designating a space for everything. For example, I have designated spaces for everything in the kitchen, but when my husband goes to use something, the object isn't in the space he would designate :D Then I wonder why the measuring cups are in a place I can't reach ;)

This book is not written for people like me who just want the straight goods and don't need the cultural or ritualistic appreciation of what an object is doing half the time. If you like fluffy anecdotes and want to have an intimate relationship with your stuff - so far as to thank your socks for working hard - you will get much more out of Kondo's book than I have :D

calzephyr: (star trek)
I joined [ profile] nacramamo as a fun way of getting some things done. It really reminds me of all the fun challenge communities that used to be on LJ. It also reminds me of how onerous it was to get a picture on the web back in the day, even when I did Thing A Day back in 2008. 2008!

I also finally joined [ profile] whatwasthatone because my fondness for question and answer communities never ends. It all goes back to my dashed dreams of being a reference librarian ;-) By the way, I found a lost title recently.

Also welcome [ profile] storm777, fellow nature lover and photographer :-)
calzephyr: (procrastinating)
The "C" part I was missing from making something in Rhino was...necessity. In my class, we dutifully made (or, struggled to make, heh) containers, tori, cups, jewellery, pipes, etc. I don't have a need for any of those things, and I recently found my WIIFM (What's in it for me) in a big way. I was making some spiral drawings for a future artist trading card night with the Klutz Spiral Draw book. It comes with four wheels and it seemed like four wheels was just not enough. Why weren't there circles, an arrow, a keyhole, just like...wait a minute, oh poo!

If only... )

Anyway, thank goodness the future is here because I can make my own wheels for the toy, which I am going to figure out how to send out to Ponoko today (a local laser cutter didn't have the right material). It looks great, but let me tell you, it took a long time to get to great :-D

calzephyr: (Default)
The last three science fiction books I read were all by Philip K. Dick, and I think I have read enough of his work to be considered a Dickhead :D I finished The Man in the High Castle (1962) yesterday, and before that, The Zap Gun (1967) and The Penultimate Truth (1964). The Man in the High Castle was my favourite of the three.

All three have a lot in common - alternate post-WW2 outcomes are explored in each. The world has been divided up into various factions, each with its own mechanics for manipulating reality. Often times events are presented simultaneously where the characters don't realize that they are responsible, much like an artist doesn't realize how they can affect a viewer or a politician makes a decision that affects the outcome for citizens. I actually thought The Zap Gun and The Penultimate Truth were in the same universe, but a quick check proved that to not be true. The books were written co-currently and are very similar to each other. The Penultimate Truth was my least favourite, mostly because the last five or six chapters explain the plot and I found it too long and wordy. It shows signs of overwriting and once the plot twist comes, loses all momentum, and then ends on a cliffhanger.

Truth is based on some earlier short stories (especially "The Defenders") and feels cobbled together. What spoils a perfectly decent plot about a government conspiracy is the clunkiness of the way everything is named. Dick uses the same words across his works in a genius stroke of continuity, but they come across as not having been read out loud:

Artiforg (artificial organ)
Aud (short for audio)
Pac-Peop (Pack-Peep? Pee-op?)

The most aggravating word is the form of transportation called a flapple. I even noted the use of disemflappled, which sounds like what happens when an iPhone user switches to Android. I actually kept reading artiforg as artifrog, which started to make more sense. The technology in the book is also painfully clunky - predicting a far off future where robots and cable TV exist. It's hard to remember that the concept of cable was pretty futuristic at the time.

In comparison, The Zap Gun was much better, but the relationship between the main character, Lars, and a Russian love interest, Ms. Topchev, disappears shortly before the end of the book. This leaves the story feeling unresolved. Same with Truth and Castle - both just stop. Apparently there was going to be a sequel to Castle, but it never happened.

Back to Castle, the use of the I Ching as a plot device was really interesting and added a fortune telling quality that's usually filled by a piece of magical technology (an oracle appears in The Zap Gun as well, but it's a piece of technology). I liked the modes of deception in Castle (most of the characters have multiple realities as well). One of the characters, Frank Frink, has changed his name in order to escape persecution for being Jewish. His estranged wife, Juliana, experiences a transformation after giving a mysterious truck driver a ride, and even objects have multiple lives. Perhaps one of the reasons I liked Castle so much was the loving attention paid to material culture - the piece of paper that makes an object "authentic", the way clothing and gifts are used, interior design. If I had read Castle earlier, all this would have flown over my head.

Not so much with the other two books, but the world of Castle is an incredibly racially divided one (Germans and Japanese control the world, and each takes about a third of the US). Some characters spout some racial slurs that were popular, although probably still not socially acceptable back in the day. I don't believe it reflects on the attitude of the author though.
calzephyr: (Awesome)
This was actually kind of difficult to identify...

Originally posted by [ profile] secretcowz at Squirrel book, I'm not crazy

I was hoping someone could PLEASE help me find this book and prove to my roommates that I'm not crazy. When I was in sixth grade (2001-2002) there was this green book in the classroom library that I decided to read one day, the plot was as such:

Girl moves to town, is a lonely loner who has no friends so she watching squirrels all day and figures out that the squirrels seem to have actual strategic movements. Every other chapter is from the squirrels' POV specifically the prince (I think he was a red squirrel) and the general (a flying squirrel?). The prince squirrel is out exploring and gets injured so the girl takes him to heal him. The other squirrels go crazy thinking the humans have kidnapped their prince start attacking by cutting power lines and stuff. The girl eventually releases the prince squirrel before the squirrels do major damage by pretending to understand the squirrels speech and stopping the war.

After this the book disappeared from the classroom and no one else ever read it. Please help me prove I'm not crazy.
calzephyr: (books)
Whenever I go down to Another Dimension comics, I never know what to get. I have most of the popular graphic novels and lots of stuff by Drawn and Quarterly. I really have to work hard to find something I want that's new. It also seems whenever I'm in there, a particular superfan of Red Sonja is too, so I was half smiling to myself as his assessment of the new Red Sonja movie floated over the stacks. But I finally found something - Shortcomings by Adrian Tomine. To mine reached a peak back in 2007 or 2008 with New York Drawings and I always meant to check it out. But it wasn't really a graphic novel per se, but a collection of drawings. I picked Shortcomings instead.

The title refers to a dick joke in the first act of the book, but also comes to represent one of the characters. Ben Tanaka is never quite the person he wants to be. He's self-absorbed and defensive, constantly feeling others are attacking his opinions. Ben, his girlfriend Miko and his best lesbian friend Alice, are the three main characters and all unlikeable in some way. Ben neglects Miko emotionally, is constantly angry and extremely negative. Miko is less than honest with Ben about her feelings in their relationship. Disappointingly, Alice is shown as a gay stereotype, almost predatory, in her constant search of sex.

I can see where this book would be challenging for readers because the characters are so unlikeable, and they argue constantly. I wish I had read it when the book first came out because now it reads like Twitter drama. In some ways, Shortcomings is a clever book because it's basically one big info dump on issues facing Asian Americans - multiracial relationships, self-hatred, identity, Asiaphiles and navigating representation in media. One favourite part of the book is when Ben poses as Alice's boyfriend at a wedding for the sake of her parents. Alice is Korean American and Ben is Japanese American - Ben wonders why he can't pass as Korean, but Alice assures him that her grandmother hasn't forgiven his "people" for WW2 atrocities and would not be fooled. Tomine never casts judgement on any of the above themes, he simply lets them be.

Unfortunately a huge shortcoming of Shortcomings is that the story is not fully resolved in a satisfying way for me. Does Ben get over his anger issues or overcome any other personal flaws? Miko and Alice get endings, but not Ben. It's disappointing after committing to 108 pages of conflict and angst. But I can forgive Tomine because I love the simplicity of his style and talent for nuance and gesture. He really is a master with faces and knows when to let a panel speak for itself. I just wish he could have penned a few more pages for a more satisfying ending - and it certainly wouldn't have to be a happy one either.
calzephyr: (birds)
Originally posted by [ profile] calzephyr77 at Jim Henson's Tale of Sand
Tale of Sand is a "long lost" screenplay written by Jim Henson and Jerry Juhl that was never realized into a film. But, in 2012, it was synthesized into an almost wordless graphic novel by Ramon Perez that won several awards. It's a gorgeous book, no doubt about it. I noticed it right away on the shelf because of its bright yellow cover that was starting to fade in the sun. Maybe I felt compelled to buy it for just that reason. It is a lovely tome, with a good heft and almost like a sketchbook. The illustrations by Ramon Perez are top notch and he makes expert use of a limited palette (mostly yellow, blue, pink and purple). A history at the end of the tale that describes the history of Tale of Sand and how it languished in development hell.

Unfortunately, the book falls very, very flat. One reason is that most of Henson's work is very visual and aural, and no doubt this film would have been very innovative like his short films. But a lot of the gags just aren't as funny as they could be. A cartoon boom just isn't as awesome as the real thing, and although Perez replicates the frenzied pace people associate with Muppets, putting a 3D medium into 2D didn't really work. There's some caricatures of non-Caucasian people that seem out of place in this day and age (although the screenplay was written in the 60s and 70s). That's the trouble - would the actual Henson produced project go with those caricatures or...? Lastly, there isn't really a narrative - a man arrives in a small town, is sent on a journey, and finds himself pursued by a man with an eyepatch until he reaches his destination. It's a shame because there are enough motifs and themes - the devil, cigarettes, time, lizards - to create an interesting story here, but nope.

After reading the book, I just wanted to read the actual screenplay to get a better sense of the whole product. Others must have wanted to see it tok, because a "box set" edition is coming in July 2014. I really do hope that it will make Tale of Sand seem more complete.
calzephyr: (Awesome)
Originally posted by [ profile] julierockhead at Science fiction trilogy 1980's
The only few things I remember about this series is that the main character was a girl found on earth by her family, and taken off earth. One of her brothers was named Charon or Chaeron. Her family was important and rich and that's it! It wasn't an obscure series, it was in bookstores for most do a decade...but the only cover I can remember, vaguely, is the cover of the first book, which showed a woman floating/ flying in space, she may have had red hair...oh please help, I have been looking for this series for a couple years now...


calzephyr: (Default)

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