Tom Clancy’s Dead or Alive

dead_or_aliveWell, after several late nights of reading I finished Tom Clancy’s Dead or Alive. I’d say that I give the novel 3 out of 5 stars – primary reason being that while it’s a great read and in typical Clancy fashion has nearly a dozen story lines criss-crossing before culminating in the core of the store, there are still lose ends left open. Further the climax of the story seems to sputter out near the end.

The story itself seems somewhat akin to follow the present day hunt for terrorists around the world, but cast in a fictional world where the key person that everyone is after is “the Emir” and the URC.

I definitely was happy to have John Clark and Ding Chavez rejoining the crew introduced in Teeth of the Tiger – the Caruso Brothers and Jack Ryan, Jr. I will say that I was a little disappointed however with the last 90 pages of the book where there seemed to be a feeling of rushing to get to the finish. Not quite certain if Tom Clancy and Grand Blackwood were being forced to have a 900 page page count, or if the editors felt that they needed to wrap things up in a Hollywood’esque ending such that they would leave several streams of thought wide open for another book to pick up and run with shortly.

On the flip side, I’m not certain if it’s Clancy’s way of poking at political figures and pundits, but I have to say that some of the comments made by the main characters definitely seem to be reminiscent of current politics. Interesting way of voicing your opinion Smile

All in all, I’d give it 3 stars – great book that’s crack for the eyes.

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Snow Daemon Process Started…

IMG_0599-1Similar to last year, we had a light dusting of snow prior to Christmas. By light dusting of course I mean several inches that caused the area to freak out and was blamed for Holiday sales not hitting the level of margins expected since everyone was snowed in during a weekend prior to the Christmas holiday.

Well, it happened again, though with not quite as much glamour with a light snow storm wreaking havoc on Northern Virginia. As you can see though there’s still fun to be had, even by the little people Smile

Fortunately the snow storm lasted all of twelve hours and left behind 1-3” depending on where you were at. Granted, with the cold temperatures that have hampered the region for the last few days, it hasn’t really melted off of everything just yet as can be seen in the photo taken earlier today.

For those looking forward to more snow, fear not, the snow daemon process is primed and started. Ready your shovels and snow blowers!

Beware the Christmas Gnomes…

It’s 11 days til Christmas and I have to say that I’m not really looking forward to Christmas this year. It’s not so much that I feel like I don’t have anyone to spend it with – I’m sure that my brother and his wife and kids would love to have Uncle Dan around, or perhaps to spend time with my extended family in Georgia or South Carolina… but oddly I just guess I’m not really in the spirit of things.

In the past I always remember there being something special about Christmas, whether it be decorating a Christmas tree with family or there being a specific toy or gadget or book that I was really interested in and hoping that someone would get me I feel almost like I’ve hit that Ecclesiastes state of feeling of vanity and commercialism.

Perhaps if I was actively attending Immanuel Bible Church I would be more in the spirit, and yet my heart still aches every time that I drive by, expecting to see either a Honda Accord or Acura MDX there.  Maybe if I was going to Reston Bible Church or McLean Bible Church on a more regular basis I’d be more in the spirit of giving and spreading the Word of Christ.  But I’m not… something to work on in 2011.

Heart-Felt-Aust-031I do realize that I’m blessed incredibly by each and everyone of you that are reading this in addition to knowing that my family does in fact care deeply for me.  I guess it’s more just that the sense of loss still blows me away at times.  They say that the second year after having lost someone is more painful than the first – mostly because those friends that were close but not considered family have forgotten and moved on. There’s definitely a special group of folks that around every holiday or memorial date turn back toward the family and remind us of the good times and the things that our Mom had done to touch the lives of others – thank you each and everyone of you.

For me, I classify this feeling that I have at the moment as an instance of the invasion of the Christmas Gnomes getting the better of me. Funny enough, Mom had some little gnomes that looked similar to the one pictured to the right. Though they weren’t festively decorated in red felt with green branches, rather just red felt cloaks and fuzzy white beards.

So how to avoid the Christmas Gnomes you ask? Easy, surround yourself with friends and family. It’s time to rejoice in the Lord. It’s easy to let the post modern world that we live within try to focus on ourselves, but in reality this is the time that we should tune in all the more to God and remember what this season is meant for.

So while little kids are super excited about crawling around in boxes and big kids are excited to be playing games on a new arcade system, I’m starting to see why my parents were just excited to have family with them – definitely the best gift that you can ever have.

Grace and Blessing to you all and look out for those gnomes creeping in from the sides!

Shortened Links and Viruses

Dear Public… wake up.

Shortened links have always posed a threat in the world of cyber security.  It saddens me that I see an article entitled “New Virus: Watch Out for Goo.gl Links on Twitter” posted to LifeHacker.com regarding goo.gl, Google’s link shortening system that is leverage for Google Maps and as an extension to shorten links through the Chrome browser, or you can just go to the web browser.

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Such short links are used all the time in Twitter, Facebook and other means so as to allow users to paste a link that is not obnoxiously long or that might run over a carriage break causing the link to break.

While the former may seem like something that is understandable so as to not overtake an e-mail message or a tweet, some individuals might wonder about the latter.  For individuals that don’t quite understand how to concatenate a URL it might seem daunting when the link is clicked and IE/Firefox/Chrome/Safari/Opera is opened and nothing renders except for a Page Not Found error.

Further, why is it that everyone is suddenly in a tizzy that goo.gl may be spawning viruses. I think I’ve seen this story for TinyURL, Bit.ly, and a half dozen other link shorteners.

Bottom line, practice responsible use of the Internet. I remember several years ago an employer stating that they had an acceptable use policy that employees needed to follow. How is that suddenly got skipped for home users? Do we need a certification to use the Internet these days?

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