Sunday, July 29, 2012

The Water Thief

The Water ThiefThe Water Thief by Nicholas Lamar Soutter

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I really wanted to love this book.  I first got into dystopian novels in high school in the '60s with George Orwell's 1984, and Animal Farm.  I even wrote a term paper on the works of Orwell, after I also read some of his earlier work including Keep the Aspidistra Flying and Coming Up for Air.  I was the first person to check both of those out from the public library.

I love the concept of fighting against a society where capitalism rules.  Everything is for sale.  Parents sell futures on their children as soon as they are born, and even rainwater isn't free.  I had hopes that the protagonist, Charles Thatcher, would win out against a world maybe Ayn Rand would love.  But like Orwell's Winston Smith, he is brought down by a relationship with a woman.

I did enjoy reading how today's technology is used by the corporation to track Charlie's every move by GPS, and his electronic purchasing, via Ackerman, the corporate version of Big Brother.  That part held my attention.  I started to zone out on the philosophical meanderings.  Heck, I even started counting how many times Charlie said, "Heck."  I probably wouldn't have noticed if he had said, "Damn" fourteen times, or if Andy Griffith hadn't died while I was reading it.  (Gawleee, Sheriff Taylor)

I didn't like the ending.  I was spoiled by Katniss Everdeen.

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Saturday, July 7, 2012

Two broken toes, two busted suitcases, and the recurring dog dream

It's been two weeks since we returned from our Alaska adventure, a land tour followed by a cruise of the inside passage.  It was more fun ten years ago when we did the same trip for our honeymoon.

I broke my toes a month before the trip, and we had booked the trip last year, so we couldn't cancel.  The doctor OK'ed me to go and advised me to keep my foot elevated as much as possible.  I expected the biggest challenge would be making our flight changes on the three legs of the trip to get from Raleigh to Anchorage.  So Tinker arranged for wheelchair assists for me for the three airports.  The concourse change in Seattle was convoluted enough that we might have missed our flight if I had had two good feet walking without the assist.

By the time we reached our hotel in Anchorage, my foot had started to swell but I was prepared with an ice pack which we filled from the ice machine in every hotel stop for the whole land tour.  We traveled as a group on three motorcoaches and by glass-domed traincar on the Wilderness Express® to Talkeetna, Denali, and back to Alyeska and Seward. In Denali National Park we had an all-day Tundra Wilderness Tour deep into the park where we expected to see wildlife.  We had seen bears and moose from the train, but all the sightings in the park required binoculars.  We had enough space on the train for me to prop my foot up, but the days on the bus ended with a swollen foot.  I was happy to finally reach Seward where we boarded the cruise ship.

Since we had done a similar cruise before, we did not plan any excursions this time.  We had seen salmon hatcheries, and plenty bald eagle sightings, and there were enough whale sightings from the ship that a side trip wasn't necessary.  By the third day, my foot was down enough that I could wear sneakers on both feet, and walk a few blocks in our port stops.  Tinker did more exploring without me along with our friends who came on the trip with us.  I was content to be back in the cabin, catching up on my reading.  Our cabin steward kept the ice bucket filled so I could ice my foot.  We had several at-sea days which included getting closeup to the Hubbard Glacier and a separate day in the Inside Passage.

The trip home was two long flights, Vancouver to Toronto, Toronto to Raleigh.  I assessed my foot and Tinker assessed the luggage when we got home.  I didn't want to think about deep vein thrombosis, but my foot and leg were swollen up to my knee.  I massaged both feet and legs and packed the right one with ice when I finally went to bed.

The luggage fared worse than I did.  We do travel a lot, maybe three cruises and two other trips per year.  Our luggage was handled a lot more this trip than any I remember.  One large wheelie had a gash in the bottom, a second large wheelie had a busted wheel and the handle refused to slide out.  We had to decommission them both.

Now for the recurring dog dream.  It all started about six years ago, when number one son and his first wife came to visit from New York with a dog.  Tinker and I love dogs, but we don't currently own one.  We always say we'll get one when we finish traveling so much.  Son asked if they could bring the dog.  I said no, but his wife brought him anyway...a rather large puppy "Denzel" who was used to living in a small NY apartment, and going outside on a leash.  When they let him outside in the backyard, he went wild, found a space to escape under the fence and took off down the street.  They were able to chase him down in a few minutes and brought him back inside, where he continued to be rambunctious.  By the time they all went back to New York, Denzel had made a big impression.

For two nights after they left, I dreamed about the dog, and woke up thinking I had to drive him back home.  The dream was so vivid as to fill my half-waking moments with an urgency to get up and get the dog ready to go, I was in the bathroom starting my shower before I realized it was a dream.

Since that first episode, every time we return from a trip and I am overtired, as I was when we returned from Alaska I have that dog dream.  I still wake up thinking I have to take the dog back, but now I come to my senses before I get out of bed.