Friday, October 31, 2014

Photo Friday: It Ain't Sexy

Mummies. Vampires. Ghosts. Frankenstein. Ghouls. Zombies. Witches.

These are what I think of when I think of Hallowe'en. All Hallows Eve.

Superheroes and princesses, in a pinch, though they pander to stereotypes.

Sexy nurses, sexy firefighters, sexy nuns, sexy ebola doctors... WTF???

Sexy ANYTHING is not Hallowe'en.

My daughter knows. She does her own makeup.

Happy Hallowe'en!

Thursday, October 30, 2014

What Makes A Man?

It's like they're a different species. But, sadly, they aren't. And when I see these people, I find it hard to believe that I am the same gender.

They are the men who think that they have the right to get a woman, who they don't know, to do anything they want, just because they talk to her.

They are the men who think that just because they talk to a woman, who they don't know, that that woman must speak back, must engage them.

They are the men who think that every woman who walks down a street wants to hear, from this total stranger, that she's beautiful, that she needs to thank them for the compliment that she didn't solicit.

They are the men who think that exclaiming "Damn!" and "I just saw a thousand dollars!" would be an appropriate thing to say to another human being.

The video is alarming. I find it disturbing. If you haven't seen it, here is the video, by Hollaback!, "an international movement to end street harassment," as they describe themselves, which shows a woman walking the streets of New York and enduring more than 100 cat calls over a 10-hour period.

I watched it and I was shocked, disgusted, and ashamed. The behavior by these men is not only inappropriate, it's creepy and frightening. The men who walk along for blocks, as though they think that kind of stalking is deserving of her attention, are despicable.

The woman who participated in the experiment, actress Shoshana Roberts, must be given kudos for enduring what are clear-cut cases of harassment. At times, I feared for her; most of the time, I felt sorry for what she endured and what women are faced with on a daily basis.

When I read some of the comments on the YouTube page for the video, I was further disgusted by how some men thought that there was something wrong with Ms Roberts for not accepting the so-called compliments. Hollaback! even reported that Ms Roberts had received threats of rape.

I hung my head in shame, flabbergasted that such "men" existed.

From a purely biological perspective, I think we men can't help ourselves from noticing a woman that we find attractive (the same goes with women who see a man they like: it's how our population continues to grow). But from a sociological and evolutionary perspective, surely, we must be able to control ourselves and treat a woman with the respect that she deserves. To keep our mouths shut, our hands to ourselves, and to leave a person in peace.

Every woman deserves the right to walk down a street without being harassed. (I would say every person deserves that right, but how many men walk in dread of heading to bus, knowing that someone might shout out, "Hey, good looking? What's your name? Can I get your number?")*

I'm guilty of stopping to watch a woman that I find attractive as she walks by. But I would never gawk, never call out to her, never follow her. Because I don't have that right. Because that woman has the right to not be treated as an object.

We have to step up and put a stop to this sort of harassment. We must speak up and speak out when we see behaviour such as this**.

Real men don't treat others as objects.

* I understand that this issue doesn't simply come down to women being harassed. People from the GLBT community are also harassed. It all has to stop.

** I have since found another similar video: this one is shot in Brussels and seems more disturbing because the men are more aggressive and abusive.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Google is Watching

I remember hearing the CEO of Google once say of his company that in its quest for success, it had to remember its motto: don't be evil.

I like to think that this company, that started as a Web search engine, has been gathering information to make life better. I know that, since I purchased my Android phone, that many of the Google apps have made it easy for me to find places, to find information for work and for writing this blog, and for organizing my days.

Google, for the most part, I find, is good.

But Google is watching you: it knows where you go on the Internet. It knows where you go in your day-to-day life. It tracks your movement. It plots your daily course. And you can see it, through Google Location History.

Here is my movement from the day I left Ottawa for France to the day I returned.

Obviously, it tracks your movement based on WiFi or when your phone makes contact with a cell tower. It's not 100 percent accurate, but it's close enough.

So, while Google maintains that it is not evil, it is watching you.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Music Monday: Knocked Up

I wish that the song Knocked Up by Kings of Leon had been around, when Lori was expecting our first child.

I sang all sorts of songs to her expanding belly, read it several of the Narnia books, and talked to the growth inside every chance I could get.

I would have sung this song, too.

But I also find it a great driving song, especially on a long stretch of highway, and at night. I don't know why, but when that song comes up through my smartphone rotation and those conditions are met, I crank the volume, settle back in my leather-wrapped, bucket seat, and perhaps press my foot a little firmer on the gas pedal.

Here's a live version:

Now, get in your car and drive!

Happy Monday!

Friday, October 24, 2014

Photo Friday: Cenotaph

The barricades have come down, the crime-scene tape has been pulled back. It all happened in the hours between when I first arrived downtown and when I headed home.

The investigators had gathered all of the evidence that they needed: there was no reason to keep the public at bay. After all, it was a spot that was typically open to the public, one for us to approach, remember, and reflect.

We now have another reason to do so. We will always remember.

But as Canadians, as citizens of this excellent, strong city, we will also move forward, will show that we can feel the loss but that we will not let it take us down.

And so the flowers and the candles have made their way from the perimeter of the War Memorial to the cenotaph and the very spot were Corporal Nathan Cirillo was felled my a troubled, misguided gunman.

A soldier, who died at the tomb of the unknown soldier, who will never be forgotten.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

No Longer Safe

As I write this post, on a late Wednesday afternoon, the warm sun setting the yellow fall leaves outside my window aglow, under a clear, blue sky, I know that the story is still ongoing, still unfolding, with many questions unanswered, and a city and country standing in awe.

With my city core still in a lockdown mode, with people who began this day like any other day, now a part of this story, I see that Ottawa is no longer the city it was. Just last night, after attending an event in the Byward Market, I drove home, passing the War Memorial and Parliament Hill, and I remarked, as I always do, on what a beautiful city we live in. On how lucky I am to live here.

This spot has always been a place to stop, reflect, and give thanks.
Now, this spot marks a senseless tragedy.
I have stood at the very bus stop where the attacker left his car. Never before have I ever thought that an extremist gunman could pull up, shoot a sentry, run across the vast lawn in front of our seat of government, enter the premises, and continue shooting.

While extremist groups have made threats against Canada in the past, I have always convinced myself that those radicals were far away, that the threats weren't real. And so I've never considered that any attack could really come home. Canada, and especially Ottawa, was safe, even though we are the capital and that if anyone was going to commit an attack on our country, they would most likely start here.

Ottawa is no longer safe. Today, it's a different world in which we live.

Throughout the day's events, I couldn't help but worry about all of my friends who work within the affected area. With reports of multiple armed assailants on the loose in the downtown core, I feared for my friends' safety: it's a big city but can be surprisingly small.

Fear has a knack for getting the better of us. And once it has us, it can be hard to shake.

But we shouldn't live in fear, we shouldn't cower under these attacks, nor under the threat of further assaults. We must continue to live our lives, to make Ottawa and Canada one of the best places in which to live.

This attack also makes me angry. I am angered that our peaceful city has been disrupted, that our safe community has been made less safe. But our mayor has said it well: we are angry over what has happened, but we should not let anger rule the day.

I cannot understand what would cause a person who has grown up in this country to want to take away the freedom and peace in which we generally live. Living in an open and democratic society, why would you want to perform any act that could change this society into one that is closed, that could become a police state?

Ottawa has changed today: it is no longer safe. But that doesn't mean that it cannot be safe again. It just means that to ensure we stay safe, we must be vigilant.

My thoughts on this event are fresh, and I realize I haven't had the chance to put my thoughts into perspective, that I haven't heard the full, accurate story (conflicting reports are still being sorted). Right now, we are a changed city. Only time will see how these changes stick.

My thoughts and condolences go out to the families of the victims and to all of the people who have been affected by these events. I am grateful to those first responders and all of those who have kept this city's citizens safe and informed while the situation continued to unfold.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Making Memories

Some of them, I hadn't seen in 25 years. Maybe longer.

Our profession had been making memories: taking spent film from people, newly returned from vacations, celebrating a birthday, or wedding, or new life. Photographs captured, made into prints, there for those people to view again, to relive that time.

We made memories.

We sold the equipment to capture those moments: all the accessories to help make capturing those moments as optimal as possible. We provided instruction on how to best use the cameras, how to compose a frame to make the best impact, how to adjust for light conditions. We sold the film—and it was only film, back then—for the best lighting, or the fastest speed. Some film was better for capturing blues and greens; others, for reds and yellows.

We formed bonds with our customers, knew what they wanted. We were entrusted with taking their film and getting the best-quality photo that we could, in the time frame that worked best for them. We earned their trust, and when we did so we guaranteed that they would return, would tell their friends and family to come, so that we could make their memories, too.

But we also formed bonds with our co-workers, made our colleagues friends. We wouldn't only get along at work, but we would also socialize after hours.

Some of them, I hadn't seen in a very long time. Some faces had changed, but names were remembered. Some names were, sadly, forgotten. Some people hadn't changed at all.

Some of the people, I didn't know directly but had seen at Christmas parties, had spoken with, over the phone. A few, I knew only by name.

I attended a reunion of Black's Camera employees this weekend, and it was a step back in time. It was great to see my old manager, my old regional manager, and other colleagues from the various stores in the Ottawa region. It was great to reconnect, and the memories came with the gathering.

I remembered when, as a young assistant manager, how I had gone on vacation to Florida and had returned with a pierced ear. How, when my manager saw it, he asked me to remove it, said it looked unprofessional, stood out from my shirt, slacks, and tie.

This was in the late 80s, when not many men had ears pierced.

The next day, our regional manager arrived for his regular visit to our store. He was a kind, soft-spoken man known for compromises and building positive work environments. I approached him, making sure my pierced ear was out of view, making sure to approach him from an angle, the left side of my face turned slightly away.

"So, what are your thoughts on pierced ears?" I asked.

He gave it some thought before speaking. He always put thought ahead of action. "I don't know," he said, "I don't personally like them but I could never stop anyone from getting one." He paused. "You got an ear pierced, did you?"

I turned to face him straight on. He looked at the gold stud, smiled softly.

"It doesn't look that bad."

I told him about how my manager wanted me to remove it.

"He can't force you to. If he gives you trouble, let me know."

Nothing more was said. And my manager never spoke about my earring again, which made me think that our regional manager had had some words after we finished our talk, when he when into the back room to meet with the manager.

It was good to see this regional manager again at the reunion. I always had the highest respect for him. I like to think that when I try to be fair with the people I encounter, to try to do good by others, that he had some influence on me.

One of the managers that I spent the most time with (not the anti-piercing manager), also imparted good values upon me. He not only taught me valuable photographic tips, but he also taught me to be a good sales person. He gave me confidence and showed me that you can forgive people for mistakes—I once quit, with no notice, with few people available to cover for me, for another job, but when that job fell through, this man took me back, made me his assistant manager, and still encouraged me to follow my dreams.

I was so happy to see him at the reunion, with his wonderful wife, when we could catch up. We promised to keep in touch, and I will keep that promise.

When I worked at Black's Cameras, we made memories for customers. But we took memories for ourselves, too. And this weekend, I was privileged to relive those memories.

Some 25 years later, I see how they have made me who I am today.

I'd like to give a special thanks to Andrea for making the reunion possible. Thanks for helping bring back the memories, Andrea!

Monday, October 20, 2014

Music Monday: Little Talks

I first heard Of Monsters and Men on Saturday Night Live, when they performed the song Little Talks. I liked the song so much that I looked them up on iTunes and had their album downloaded before the song on the television was over.

I really like the sound of this Icelandic band, with their call-and-answer-styled lyrics, sung by Nanna Bryndís Hilmarsdóttir and Ragnar Þórhallsson (I have no idea how to pronounce their names). Little Talks is a fun song with an equally fun video that Terry Gilliam would be proud of.

Have a watch and listen.

Over the past year, my friends and I have gathered downtown on certain Saturday nights for an evening of karaoke. When Lori and I decided to sing a duet, this was the song we sang. It's been a while since that night, so perhaps at the next karaoke evening, we'll sing it again.

Happy Monday!

Friday, October 17, 2014

Photo Friday: Autumn Smoke

The colours have really popped this season. Red, yellow, and orange leaves of the maples and birches have contrasted with the evergreens in the Gatineau woods. And though the weather has been agreeable, the rain at a minimum and temperatures well above normal values, some still cannot resist the urge to put a log on the fire and cozy up.

It's autumn, after all.

If you have a chance, get out this weekend and see the leaves before the wind takes them from their treetops.

Happy Friday!

Thursday, October 16, 2014


The other week, as I was cleaning the house, I found myself rummaging through a spare dresser drawer that I use to store items that I come across but neither have a dedicated place to put them nor wish to throw them out.

It's my odds-and-ends drawer. In it, I am currently keeping a candy tin filled with pennies, a red rubber duck with horns (don't ask), a Star Trek:TNG communicator badge, my dad's old pocket watch, empty money belts, a Ziploc bag containing paraphernalia and cash from my last trip to Scotland, two other Ziploc bags that each contain my kids' teeth (tooth-fairy collections), and various business cards.

I know: I keep a lot of crap in that drawer.

But what caught my attention, particularly because I'm writing about Jeonju University in the sequel to my novel, was this card.

This is my old ID card from the university where I taught English language in 1998. I was 33 at the time.

I can still read Korean—that is to say, I can sound out written Korean but I may not necessarily comprehend the words. I recognize the name of the university in Hangul, at the top of the card—Jeonju Dae Hak-gyo. The second Hangul line, while I can sound it out, I only understand the second-half of the line: it says Gaek-won gyeo-soogyeo-soo meaning professor.

Gyeosunim, the title of my sequel, also means professor.

 But it's the third line of Hangul on my university ID card that always gets me. It's my first name—not the name that I use. Not the name that people call me by.


The photo is passport-quality: no smile, eyes forward. My haircut was fresh from the barber shop in the student-commons building. I looked like any male student who had his hair cut at that establishment.

I've looked worse.

Since I found this card in my dresser drawer, I've been wondering what to do with it. I've taken it out of the drawer and put it by my night stand, where I have various odds and ends that I've found from my years in Korea, items that I'm using for research. But I don't know what to do with it, now that I've taken a photo of it. Do I keep the digitized copy and dispose of the original or do I keep it?

Perhaps, for now, I'll throw it back in the drawer where I found it.

Here's to Throwback Thursday.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Cooking for the Radio

I could never cut it on Masterchef.

To prepare a restaurant-quality dish in one hour is way beyond my culinary skill level. I'm not saying I can't cook: I just can't plan a dish, gather the ingredients, and organize my time in order to get  something from scratch onto the table in a short period of time.

And yet, I did manage to join two other parents and prepare a lunch for a contest on CBC Radio One's afternoon show, All In A Day.

Earlier last week, listeners were asked to submit menus for school lunches that would be child-friendly: that is, allergy-free and healthy. When the top-three menus were selected, the folks at CBC wanted to know how easy these menus were to prepare, how readily available the ingredients were, and most importantly, how these food items tasted.

So host Alan Neal put out the call to parents to make these meals and present them on the show. The judges would be those parents' children. Based on feedback from the parents—the ease at which the meals were put together and the practicality of making them—and the kids—whether they would actually eat this food if they found it in their lunch bags—a winner was found.

I was one of the parents chosen to prepare a menu and I selected my youngest daughter as the judge.

Here's what I had to make:
  • Butternut squash and lentil soup, served with rice crackers.
  • Sunny oat & honey bites.
  • Sweet-potato hummus with baby carrots and cucumber slices.
 The recipes were fairly simple and straightforward, but some of the ingredients had me running around. For example, the oat and honey bites called for gluten-free rolled oats and brown-rice syrup. While oats are gluten-free, they may actually be processed where glutenous grains are also processed. In most stores, I could find organic oats, but I had difficulty finding a package of rolled oats that were specifically "gluten-free." In the end, I found out that the kids who would be judging the food had no allergy issues, and so I went for regular rolled oats.

The brown-rice syrup was also a challenge. I finally found it at Rainbow Foods, but it wasn't cheap. However, the label said I could use it in place of honey, so I figured it wouldn't take long to go through. Not with my sweet-toothed young'uns.

For prep time, I found that the butternut squash took the longest to prepare, and if I were to do it again, I would prep it differently. The recipe called for you to peel and cube the squash, but because it was going to cook in vegetable stock before being whizzed in a blender, I would have roasted the squash in the oven before scooping it out of its skin and adding it to the broth. The squash could have been cooking in the oven while I was working on the hummus. Or the oat bites.

I started working on the menu items at 10:00. By 1:30, I was pouring a serving of the soup into thermoses to take to the studio. For me, while the items I made were tasty (my wife, eldest daughter, and I loved the soup), I would never prepare them together again. I would make up a batch of the soup on a weekend and warm up enough for a lunch during the week. The hummus didn't take too long, but it did take more time than I would have to prepare a lunch, so again, it would have to be made in advance.

The bites were good, but they are a sticky proposition, and I don't think I would make them again.

But the ultimate judges of the meals were the kids, who didn't get to taste any of the three meals until we went live, on air.

The folks at CBC Radio are uber-organized, and the dishes were laid out, warm, and ready for the kids. The parents sat around the table with our host, while the kids stood at another table. The producer, Susan Burgess, lined up the correct foods for each menu, and held out a microphone to get each child's opinion of the meal.

The kids were great, giving their honest opinion about each meal, though, knowing my daughter, I suspected they were a bit nervous. While my daughter ate the rice from one meal, she indicated to me (by mouthing the words) that it was too spicy, yet she didn't tell that to the listeners when the microphone was placed in front of her. She merely said that she would give that meal a 1 out of 10.

Alan Neal is a true professional, and also a very kind person. He was sure to address the children as well as the adults when he arrived to start the show, he was fully engaged, and he came out of the studio after the segment, during the news break, to thank us again for coming onto the show.

While it was a lot of fun to be on the show, I don't think I would do it again if given the opportunity. That is, I wouldn't cook for a radio show. I wouldn't cook for a contest. Because I'm a slow chef. I do much better with smaller meals. My wife could have probably prepared the items in half the time.

But I would go on the show again. Definitely to talk about my book. Maybe to be a judge in a contest.

If you're interested, here are the recipes for the meal items I made:

Butternut squash and lentil soup

  • 4-6 cups peeled and cubed butternut squash 
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1/2 cup sprouted red lentils
  • 1 tsp ground cumin seeds
  • 2 tsp ground coriander seeds
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 2-3 cups veggie stock
  • 1 cup coconut milk

  1. Heat coconut oil and add onions and spices and sauté until golden
  2. Add the stock and butternut squash
  3. Bring to a boil and reduce heat. Simmer for 15-20 minutes.
  4. Add sprouted lentils and simmer for 10-15 minutes until lentils are tender but not overcooked
  5. Add salt and optional coconut milk. Mash with hand held blender or potato masher.

Sunny Oat and Honey Bites

  • 2 cups gluten free rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup raw pumpkin seeds
  • 1/2 cup shredded coconut
  • 1/2 cup raisins or dried cranberries
  • 2 tbsp raw sunflower seeds
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup sunflower seed butter
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 2 tbsp brown rice syrup
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

  1. Grind 1/2 cup coconut and 1/4 cup pumpkin seeds in food processor until powdery. Transfer to a medium bowl, set aside.
  2. Combine remaining 2 cups oats, remaining 1/4 cup pumpkin seeds, raisins, sunflower seeds and cinnamon in a large bowl.
  3. Stir in almond butter, honey, brown rice syrup and vanilla until soft dough forms.
  4. Moisten hands, and roll dough into 1-inch balls. Coat balls in coconut-pumpkin seed powder. Place in freezer 20 minutes to set, then serve or store in the fridge. Enjoy!

Oh-So-Sweet Potato Hummus

  • 1 cup chickpeas, cooked and drained
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup cooked sweet potato
  • 2 tbsp tahini
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp garlic, minced (optional)
  • 1 tsp cumin (optional)
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt

  1. Blend all ingredients, except sweet potato
  2. Add the sweet potato and blend until smooth
  3. Serve on crackers, bread or with vegetables.
A link to Friday's show is here.

Monday, October 13, 2014

The Nepean Bell

Back at the end of the 19th century, when Nepean was a town on the western outskirts of Ottawa, its town hall was situated in what is today known as the neighbourhood of Westboro. In fact, the old town hall was one of the previous locations for Where In Ottawa.

When the municipal offices for Nepean moved further into rural Ottawa, all the way west, into Bells Corners (which was named after Hugh Bell, who owned a tavern in that area from 1834–63), the original bell was taken from the Westboro city hall and erected on a three-legged stand outside the new offices. Each leg represented a family component: father, mother, and child. Nepean was seen as a community in which a family could prosper.

This statue was eventually recognized as the symbol for Nepean and from 1978 was used as a logo on street signs and other city property and stationery.

In 1988, when Nepean City Hall was relocated to Centrepointe, the bell came with it, and that's where it sits today. But this is not the bell that I shot for this month's Where In Ottawa challenge.

Come on, folks! That would be too easy.

While the bell I shot is a good likeness, it isn't the genuine article. No, another statue of the Nepean bell sits at the intersection of Woodroffe Avenue and Fallowfield Road, in front of the PetroCan gas station. It is right beside a sign that tells you that you're in the Longfields neighbourhood.

Here are the clues:
  1. Rural crossroads—like I said, the bell is where county roads 15 and 12 intersect. Back in the day, there was nothing to see for miles except farm fields.
  2. Out standing in FFFIIIEEELLLDDDSSS—that's my way of saying Longfields.
  3. The solution is a gas—or, rather, it's near a gas station.
  4. A barrbell—you may think I made a spelling mistake, but Longfields lies in the greater neighbourhood of Barrhaven. We're just a couple of minutes from my house.
Congratulations to our winner, Sarah Blank, who correctly left her guess on the blog post. Your copy of my novel has been sent your way, Sarah!

I would also like to give a shout out to Emily Bracewell, with Shared Museum Resources, who provided me with information about the history of the Nepean bell. Even she thought the bell that I shot was at Centrepointe. Thanks again for your help, Emily!

Where In Ottawa returns November 3.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Photo Friday: Spheres

My smartphone has a built-in feature for the camera that I remember every once and a while, usually when I'm somewhere that doesn't warrant that type of shot.

It's called Photo Sphere, and it allows me to pan 360 degrees, plus up and down. The screen directs me where to move: I line up a ball in a circle, and then the camera automatically snaps the shot and tells me where to point to next.

When it's done, it automatically balances out the light and stitches everything together.

On my camera, I can view the photo and scroll anywhere, and see the photo as though I was still standing where I shot the images.

I know there are a lot of apps that do this, but how many of you have used them?

Flattened out, the photo can look quite bizarre.

I took the following photo in Sarlat-la-Canéda, in the Dordogne region, while we were looking for a place in which to dine.

Unfortunately, people wouldn't stand still for me, and so they would be cut off.

A few weeks ago, my family and I hiked to the Willson Carbide Mill, in Gatineau Park. Remembering this feature, I took another shot.

As soon as I figure how to make the photos work as intended on the blog, I'll update this post.

Happy Friday!

Thursday, October 9, 2014

When to Call it Quits

I love to read, and the types of books I read vary.

I love a good story, so be it contemporary fiction, historical fiction, science fiction, fantasy, or humour, I will read it all.

But just because I pick up a novel or download one on my e-reader, it doesn't mean that I will read it to the very end. Because life is too short to read a book that gives you no pleasure.

I've never read my own book
end to end.
There are times when I will read a novel and get to the end of the first chapter, when I realize that it is a good story, but I may not be in the mood to read that type of story at the time. For example, if I read a story about strife and woe when I'm personally stressed or depressed, I realize that, while the story is well-written, I may be more receptive to an uplifting or humourous tale.

And so I'll put that book back on the shelf and wait for a better time to read it.

If I am in the mood to read that book, I will read it with the full intention of finishing it. (In fact, I start most books I read by reading the last sentence before starting it.) However, as with anything, not all books deserve to be finished. It's a completely subjective matter, but sometimes I find that after a few chapters, I find that I don't like the book: I don't like the story, I don't like the writing, or I don't like the author's style.

I have a rule for reading a book, once I've deemed that it agrees with my mood and I don't put it on the shelf to read later. The rule is simple: read the first 100 pages or half of the book, whichever is shorter. If, by 100 pages, I find that I'm not enjoying the book, I can put it down and never read it again, having deemed that the author has taken up enough of my time.

There aren't many books that have come to such an end for me, but a couple bear mentioning:
  • The Ground Beneath Her Feet, by Salman Rushdie—pretentious. Never before had I read a book that gave me the impression that the author was writing a simple story in a way to show that he had an inflated vocabulary. I would finish reading a paragraph, and all I could think was that Rushdie was saying, "See how clever I am: watch me describe a cactus."
    I actually tried to read this book twice, thinking that perhaps I really wasn't in the mood for this story the first time I picked it up. After almost 200 pages, I thought, no, I really dislike this book.
  • The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, by Stieg Larsson—boring. The writing, granted, was translated, but it was flat, awkward, and seemed to take forever to get anywhere. My wife, who loved the trilogy, assured me that it would get better, that the character development took the majority of the first book. I gave it 250 pages, but by then I not only wanted to put the book down, I wanted to toss it in the recycle bin. I'm not even interested in watching the films.
There have been other books that I have left unfinished, but they are so far gone that I don't even remember what they were.

Now that I'm also using an e-reader, a new question comes to mind: when do I get far enough in a book that I'm not enjoying to feel that it is fair to remove it from my digital library? Depending on the format and the size of the font, it's sometimes difficult to gage how many standard pages have been read. Some e-novels do not provide you with an idea of how many pages it is composed of, or what percentage of the book you have written.

I have yet to read a book on my iPad, through Kobo or Kindle, that I haven't enjoyed (except for Jenny Lawson's Let's Pretend This Never Happened—I love her blog and I was amused for a while, but then I got to a point where I felt, enough. Reading her blog is fine; reading a whole book of similar fluff got to be too much). But the chances are good that eventually, I will. Especially, since I've downloaded novels by people I know through LinkedIn and Twitter, whose works were available for free or for only 99 cents, and I thought, why not?

Eventually, I will read one that will stink. And when that happens, when do I call it quits?

Do you have any rules about reading a novel? Do you read it from beginning to end, no matter what? Let me know.

(You can try it on my novel*.)

* I have paperback copies of my book, for sale. Contact me at if you want an autographed copy.