Archive for the ‘Neal Stephenson’ Category

New Zealand, Part 3   1 comment

I haven’t run out of photos yet on the New Zealand trip.  Here are a few more things I saw and did.

I didn't always get New Zealand exotic food. Once we stopped for cheese burgers at McDonald's. However, they had cooler playground for kids which included this old McDonald aircraft from the 1950s. Inside the cabin there's one seat on each side of the aisle and each seat has a small table. Compare that to the cramped flying quarters we suffer through today.

Because I got sick while traveling around the country, we cut the touring part short and returned to Mark's farm. I had a racking cough and a terrible sore throat. I still have a vestige of the cough.

Farmer Mark has chickens. His roosters woke me up every morning before dawn, and one of them paid for it by being Sunday dinner. The day before I took off for the South Island some chicks hatched. I had to get down on the ground to take this picture of them.

Every farm has a few bad eggs. These were left over from Easter a week earlier. They have been brought out to the boonies for execution by firing squad.

Gunner Charley could mow those eggs down from a distance. So could Mark. I did my egg termination execution style--walked up, put the muzzle of the gun on the egg and pow! Messy!

Then I flew off to the South Island where I was met at the airport by Kevin and Chris Bracey.  He took me off to see more tunnels and evidence of New Zealand’s gold mining history.

New Zealand miners had a quick way of getting through high rocky ridges. They just hacked tunnels straight through them. The reason for doing so was because gold had been found in the stream on the other side.

The South Island West Coast canopy rain forest is rugged country. Just imagine trying to get through this on foot if you didn't have a nice paved and well-maintained park hiking trail to walk on. After seeing these places I have much more appreciation for roads and trails than I ever had before.

I found a New Zealand troll lurking under a bridge on my hike through Mirkwood.

After the hike it was time for lunch. Chris Bracey treated me to a New Zealand fish sandwich--her own special recipe. I'd fly 7000 miles for another whitebait sandwich.

On my last afternoon in the South Island I got to see some of the local scenery. This is Camelback Mountain--what are the odds that I would find a mountain with that name in South Island--there is a Camelback Mountain in Phoenix.

Hokitika River Gorge where it comes out of the Southern Alps. Beautiful rugged country. I nearly fell into it while showing off on a log beside the trail.

A fine example of Dwarven stone work. You see this kind of thing all over the country.

My hosts invited me to take a shower here. I declined.

The road goes ever on. And usually, I'm bringing up the rear on these hikes. Wheeze! Pant! Gasp!

If you like the pictures, leave a comment.  You can find more of them in albums posted on my (Ken St. Andre) Facebook page. The tour will continue with pictures that my host took in part 4. end

Posted April 28, 2012 by atroll in Neal Stephenson, New Zealand--Travel

REAMDE   1 comment

Boring cover, but an exciting book

I’ll admit that I was fooled by the Science Fiction label on the spine.  I read Snow Crash by Stephenson and really enjoyed it.  But, Reamde isn’t science fiction–it’s a thriller, and only a couple of years in the future.  There isn’t much happening in the book that couldn’t really happen in our own hyperfrenetic 21st century.
Reamde, which Stephenson pronounced as Reem Dee, but which I pronounce as reamed–which gives the whole title new meanings–has a special attraction for me because one of the main characters is a troll.  He calls himself Troll–he’s an internet troll and a hacker, and my general feeling about such people, especially if a virus they created has victimized my computer lately, is that they should all be hunted down and slain, or at least lobotomized so they can’t do it again, but the truth is that Marlon the Troll is a pretty good guy, and one hell of a computer whiz.
This is a thriller about an abducted girl, named Zula, who gets involved, as hostage, with first the Russian mafia and then Islamic jihadists.  She shows a lot of courage and brains, and makes some good friends along the way.  A large part of the plot deals with a futuristic MMORPG set up as an even better version of World of Warcraft–that’s where the Troll comes in.  It’s a super pk-er type of environment.  I wouldn’t last a minute there, but it’s fun to read about the characters that thrive in such a virtual world.
There’s a lot of plot, a lot of characters, a lot of action.  The book is 1042 pages long, and took me a week to read.  I’m not going into too much detail about it–better if you look it up for  yourself.
Back in the Day before the computer ruled every other waking moment, I read a lot–usually more than 100 books a year.  Alas, there is only so much time, and that is no longer true.  Now I finish maybe 10 books a year.  I’m not keeping a book log any more, so I’m not sure how many real books I finish–more than five, less than twenty.  There are also more comics than ever, especially since I can get graphic novel versions of stuff I didn’t buy.
If you re-arrange the letters in Reamde, you’ll get Read Me.  Good advice in this case . . .
If you’ve read Reamde or anything else by Stephenson, I’d love to see your comments.