Tag Archives: bill bryson

15 Books in 15 Minutes

A good eFriend of mine posted a Facebook question which I have blatantly stolen for a blog entry…. but at least I paid credit where credit is due!!

I’m looking for some of your lists or comments to people!

Don’t take too long to think about it: fifteen books you’ve read that will always stick with you. Make sure it’s the first fifteen you can recall in no more than 15 minutes…

For me, and in no particular order apart from the first three…

In no particular order (apart from the top 3)

1. Good Omens – Neil Gaimen
Funny from start to finish. Witty take on the end of the world… and a boy named Adam… and his dog.
The only book that I have actually picked up and read in one sitting!

2. Aircrash – Fred Jones
The book my Dad wrote… but it’s not the only reason I love it. It’s well written and informative – and gives a good insight into the real world of air crashes – and not just the TV/Movie version.

2. Papillon – Henri Charriere
One of the greatest true stories written – This is one real tough man, a survivor – and way before the SAS wriiters turned up!

4. Sniper on the Eastern Front – Albrecht Wacker
The biography of a German sniper in WW2. It highlights to me that on each side there are just men doing there job – on each side there were bad guys and good guys – and that War is a pure Hell that polarises and highlights traits in people.

5. Bone Collector – Jeffery Deaver
My first insight into Deaver – The guy puts so many twists in a book that you are really left wondering until the last page… and then you can read it again and see the clues – but never enough to actually suss the plot on a first read.
A true genius of suspense – and still a well written tale when read a second time. Well paced stories that don’t talk to you like an idiot!

6. Flight of the Old Dog – Dale Brown
My introduction to Dan Brown – I love all of his techno-thrillers, but this started for me. An old B-52 that has been “treated” with some upgrades…. Oddly enough a loot of his ideas appear out of this world and so very made up, but ask the right people the right questions and you soon find out that his ideas aren’t so futuristic after all.. some are even in use in the modern military!

7. Without Remorse – Tom Clancy
A fast paced story that sets the trend for the future of Rainbow Six and the Jack Ryan novels. Not such a techno-thriller as the rest of the Clancy novels, but a grittier tale about the history of the John Kelly/Clark character.

8. Rainbow Six – Tom Clancy
The ultimate John Clark based story – If you like your Special Forces served Techno-thriller style, then I highly rate this book.

9. The Vanished Man – Jeffery Deaver
Another twist from Deaver… with a magical bent to it. Not Lord of the Rings magic, but stage magic and murder… and very well plotted.

10. Christine – Stephen King
Every time I read this book I see a Plymouth Fury in the books colours within one week! It has to be the ultimate killer ghost car book…. and one of Kings best.

11. Complete Edgar Allan Poe – Edgar Allan Poe
The owner of Gothic writing – Name a horror movie and you can pretty much a taste of E.A.P has gone into it. If you have never read any, then go and read “The Raven” or “Tell Tale Heart” – True classics.

12. Sniper One – Sgt Dan Mills
The true tale of a UK Sniper in modern warfare. These guys have a lot to deal with – and this book holds no punches.

13. Vulcan 607 – Roland White
Heroes of the Falklands Conflict – The amazing true story of the Vulcan bomber raid on Stanley Airfield… the longest bombing raid, and swan song for the great Vulcan Bomber.

14. Life & Times of the Thunderbolt Kid – Bill Bryson
Bill Bryson tells about his early years – Although he is a different era to me… and on a different size of the Atlantic, I can still appreciate his boyhood tales of growing up. You can change the year and location, but you can’t change the things that boys do! A great fun book, and one that helps me reminisce.

15. A Short History of Nearly Everything – Bill Bryson
Stephen Hawkins a bit much for you – or you just fancy a lighter read? Bryson’s magic touch tells the history of, well… nearly everything. It’s done in a lightly humorous way, but still full of facts at an easy to take in level. You want to know about the suicidal planet we are on? You want to know how close to destruction the Earth is EVERY day? Well then, read this and chuckle… and panic… and chuckle…. It’ll open your eyes. Continue reading

She’s late – and that could be trouble for all of us

The Yellowstone National Park Caldera (super volcano) goes boom every 600,000 years or so…. and she’s a few thousand years over due… For your information, here is a link to the Yellowstone Volcano Observatory that has constant updates on activity in the area.

I’m not going to get technical – there is plenty of information available on the net – but I will try to give a simple blog entry on a very potent source for the end of life on Earth. The following is pretty accurate, although I haven’t re-read my old research, so I may have messed up a few parts, BUT the general gist of this blog entry is correct (I am open to corrections though).

Very basically: Yellowstone sits on a huge volcano (about 2o miles side to side). It wasn’t discovered for a while, simply because it was so big…. so much bigger than anything like it before.

So what is the big concern? Well, Archaeologists found thick layers of ash from thousands of years ago whilst on various dinosaur hunting digs around the world. The odd thing is, this layer was made up of the same ash, from the same place – and has been found in thick layers world wide.

It goes back about 600,000 years since the last explosion (and about 600,000 before that) – and it caused a volcanic winter. If I remember from my readings (books by proper scientists… not Wikipedia…), it is the possible cause of the lack of diversity in horses and humans. There are many types of birds, fish etc… but only one type of human, and very few horse variations. This is because the world wide darkening of the skies due to ash after the last eruption pretty much wiped out the species.

Is it any concern now though? Yes… more so in the last few days if you watch the news. The swarm earthquakes that surround the Yellowstone Caldera have picked up in intensity – a lot. Now this could just die down, or it could be the prologue to a bigger eruption. Maybe not a full blown eruption – maybe nothing – but also maybe the cease of existence as we know it – much as it was 60,000 years ago.

What would happen? Well, America would go pretty quickly, and then the volcanic ashen cloud would plunge the World into a volcanic winter – which is a bit colder than you’d want it to be… a deathly cold. The earth, in a worse case scenario, would not recover for many, many thousands of years. No life at all.

The knock on effects of a huge volcanic eruption could cause the already fractured  island of La Palma (in the Canaries) to collapse into the sea. The scientists believe that this would cause a huge tidal wave unlike any we have seen before. Let’s face it, dropping an island into the sea is going to cause a bit of a splash – but the Islands are a bit special. When they fracture, the huge land mass will slide, rather than fall.

Imagine making a flat hand, then pushing it down and forward into a bath of water. The result is a push of water and huge displacement causing a wave. La Palma will cause a wave that would reach all the way over to, and wipe out the East coast of America (and a few hundred miles in shore).

Regardless of the Yellowstone Volcano, La Palma is a worry anyway and already being monitored. The fracture is being recorded all the time, but even as it grows bigger there will be no defence against a wave that will hit multiple continents and that would make the Phuket Tsunami seem like a light April shower.

Should we worry? “Is there much point in worrying?” is the real question. These events are out of our hands any way and there is nothing we can do to stop or defend against them.

Food for thought on top of this is another thing I read (A Bill Bryson book about a brief history of time for the layman)…. It talked about the possible causes for the end of the World – including the Yellowstone volcano, the La Palma tidal wave and finally, a meteorite strike….

Surely a meteor strike is the least of our worries with the volcanic winter and giant floods? Apparently not! Earth has been likened to a blind man crossing a hundred lane motorway at rush hour over and over again. Earth is the blind man, the motorway is the meteorite storms we are currently missing at the moment….

We really are lucky to have evolved this far!!! You’ve been surfing on this huge globe, through deadly space rocks, fractured ground masses, and an environment on the brink of killing us all….and you never knew it – AND you have survived it – so why worry now!?

Here’s to tomorrow and life on this time bomb.

This could very much be a reason to embrace stupidity though.

I’m a little concerned as to the future as I have read the facts on these things – and verified them against other sources. In this case my knowledge makes me worried – so maybe blissful ignorance would be a better option – and if that is the case, I recommend that you don’t read what I have just written!!!

If this did interest you, then I recommend you take a look around and do some reading yourself.

A good start is this Bill Bryson book. Easy to read and take in – not too heavy going, but very informative.

Speedway Squad revisited

Okay, so as I wrote about Tweetering and Twittering, I realised I had not told you about another amazing thing that happened to me the other day (look, you have to take pleasure in all the good things, no matter how great or small, because there is to much crap around that will get you down other wise).

I mentioned Speedway Squad before – but since then I have actually written to the guys involved. I just like the way they talk and joke about stuff in a way that only a close group of friends can really talk – They just “get” each other, and you can feel the camaraderie in their discussions. It’s not really one for kids, as some of the subjects are more “post watershed”, but I love it.

It is very much like the feeling I get from Bill Bryson’s “Thunderbolt Kid” – Although I didn’t grow up with these people (the Squad or Bryson), the tales they tell just ring true to events that have either happened to me and my friends – or are similar to those events. Although the Squad and Bryson are very different, they both bring me good and bad memories of things I have done, or of things that are going on – and that is what makes them great: A connection is made.

I wrote to Speedway Squad to thank them for such a great broadcast series of podcasts, and to let them know that the way thay talk and interact makes me feel like I could be sitting around the table with them, discussing these things – as although we are oceans apart, the events ring true and I laugh with them – not at them.

Well… once more, laying in bed staring at the ceiling and listening to the iPhone’s iPod… I have a Speedway Squad podcast on and I’m chuckling to myself over this issues subjects…a bit more risquét than the other podcasts, but still making links and appealing to one side of my sense of humour… and then they give me a “Hello” in the podcast. That just put a massive grin on my face – and if you guys drop in here, then thanks for that!!! I really appreciated it, as my back problem has had me feeling pretty low (horizontal mostly) recently.

The moral to all this – as I said at the start: Enjoy the little things – no matter how insignificant they may seem to others, because life throws a lot of crap our way and every moment that can brighten that up should be enjoyed…to the max!

Speedway Squad can be found at their web pages: www.speedwaysquad.com (if they’ve paid the bills) – which also link to their podcasts on iTunes.

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