Friday, December 16, 2016

Pager Basics / Fireman's Prayer

Just to clear this up; I DO NOT OWN THE PAGER! None of us guys do.
It's owned by Chester County, and issued to the Twin Valley Fire Department. Then it goes to me so long as I'm an active member.
If something happens to it WHILE RESPONDING TO AN EMERGENCY, I'm not held responsible. But if I screw up and spill coffee on it at home, that's something else entirely.

Here, I'll give you a basic run-through of how the pager works. It's pretty simple. When it needs charging you stick it into the console here (which works as a charger and speaker). The big knob to the left to the pager itself adjusts the volume.
- See that knob on the far right? That's both the on-off switch and the volume dial. Turn clockwise till it clicks, then it's on and from there you adjust the volume. Turn it backwards to lower the volume till it clicks again, and it's turned off.
- The other knob on the pager has four settings, lettered A through D. Here's what they're for;
  • A- This is the setting it's often best to have it on (unless you're at the movies or something). It'll be quiet up until you get a call/dispatch. Then it's gonna beep a few times and then give you the info on what the emergency is. Good thing I'll still get the text messages on my phone, 'cause then I can be 100% sure that I get the street names right and all.
  • B- This setting is where you just hear the dispatcher talking.
  • C- "'C' for 'Chatter'." That's how I remember it. When it's set on C, then I can hear "just about everything"; dispatchers, people using radios from the fire engines and squad trucks, etcetera. What my lieutenant tells me he usually does is have it on A till he gets the beep/call, then switch it to C so he'll get more information. That way he can hear someone else on their radio talking about whether or not it was a false alarm or if the emergency call just got recalled (for example).
  • D- Same function as the A setting, only it vibrates instead of beeping (much better for when you're at the movies lol)

Now when I tried turning it on to listen at home, over the next week after receiving this first pager me and the guys realized it wasn't working. It was shot, as they put it. So eventually I may end up getting a new pager, but till then I'll keep using my phone's emergency texts and see how often I'm even able to go help out.

(Now this is something that may come in handy if I wind up helping carry hoses... minus the "children and wife" part lol)

"When I am called to duty God, wherever flames may rage, give me strength to save some life, whatever its age. Help me embrace a little child before it is too late or save an older person from the horror of that fate. Enable me to be alert and hear the weakest shout and quickly and effectively to put the fire out. I want to fill my calling and give the best in me, to guard my every neighbor and protect his property and if according to your will, I have to lose my life, please bless with your protecting hand my children and my wife. Amen."

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Day in the life of the Twin Valley Fire Dept.

This is how Thursday nights usually go for me;
  • First, I leave home around 6:30 so I can make it to Station 69 at roughly 7pm. These days, now that I've got a "bug-out bag" prepared, I can gear up with a reflector vest, cold-weather layers and flashlights, if there happens to be an emergency call while I'm over there.
  • But since it's relatively quiet around the station at first with a few people hanging around, I'll automatically go into the lounge where we have a kitchen and living room setup. First thing I check is the coffeemaker and make sure there's a full, and HOT, pot. If not, I just make a fresh one. (Not sure why I get so much enjoyment out of making the new pot myself, but I just do).
  • With the living room setup is a pool table, and most of the time my friends Cody (11, not old enough to be a Junior) and Jack (he's about 16) will be hanging around and I'll invite one or both of them to a game of pool. That kind of laid back routine will usually go on until we're needed for helping with some chore or a review type of class; Fire Hydrant Basics was one such example, where a guy brought in a hydrant and explained to us all how it works.

A typical evening chore for us involves hosing down the engines and squad trucks, followed by using squeegees to get all the leftover water into the long grates that run across the floor. So whenever I go in, it's just about always safe to assume we'll be rinsing something down tonight. At least we're doing huge fire engines (which automatically makes it awesome, along with the fact you're doing it with talkative and interesting people). It's pretty fun climbing around on them to reach the tall areas with the sponges and rags.

  • If we've gotten the chore done, especially the kind that requires teamwork (the kind that us kids help out with and not just leave to the grownups), then a lot of us may head back into the lounge or hang around in the big garage we were just swabbing. Of course I can hardly ever resist a good game of pool, so that's a given. Between 9 and 9:30 it's usually me and Jack at the pool table with maybe a few adults chatting in the kitchen area. Past 9:30 both of us boys usually just head out.
I do fondly remember December 1st when me, some of the juniors, and a few younger kids helped set up a Christmas tree in the lounge. We ended up decorating it with colored lights, red and silver ornaments, and a skinny fire hose in the place of garland (the garland that me and my six year old pal took the time to put up! Ah well, at least it looked cool with the hose). As a tree topper we got a black plastic fireman's helmet.
Also a couple weeks before that, me and my friend Jack made up a new game for the pool table called King of Clubs; you hit the white ball back and forth with the thick end of the pool queue, and use the Solitaire card sequence to keep score. Hit the corner pockets to gain a point/card, and you lose one if you land in the middle pockets. First to King wins.

It's a pretty diverse group of people; different age range and attitudes around the workplace.
(sorry ladies but those sexy/shirtless fireman calendars are lyin' to ya! lol)
It definitely keeps things interesting, I'll say that. For example the three boys who I typically play pool with are sixteen, eleven, and six. The Junior firefighters are between fourteen and eighteen (the younger kids usually have parents and/or siblings who work here, and hope to be Junior Firefighters when they're old enough). Then there's most of the adults being in their forties or fifties.
Plus how could I forget Mudge the dog???? I can never remember just who owns the dog, but still he's kinda like the mascot around here. Doesn't feel that long ago he was a small jumpy puppy. Now he's getting bigger, and he's barely any less active and/or attention-seeking.
I'm waiting for the day someone brings a Dalmatian...

I've only gotten the chance to respond and come to the scene of a fire once. But still  I keep my eyes peeled for the chance to help out. As a fire police officer I won't charging into burning buildings, but I'll be helping keep security around it and directing traffic; making sure people don't get too close to it, and helping watch the firefighters' backs while they're looking forward.
     I've considered taking the firefighting course(s) as well, but I figure I'll wait and see how this fire police stuff goes now that I've been recently sworn in and added as an official member. It'd be better to do the additional stuff at a time when I don't have a pile of homework anyway. I'll probably wait till May (after learning more) to try my hand at firefighting, if I'm still interested. Let's see how I like being out on the road first, then go from there.

   For me, this is how the routine works (especially since I'm still pretty new to the process and have to learn). I get a text message on my phone saying what the emergency is, and where it is. "Fire alarm," or "brush fire" or "car crash" etc. Then I have to call my captain and ask him if I can come learn the ropes and help out. If it gets cancelled 'cause it's just a false alarm or that it can get wrapped up in a couple minutes, I won't end up going. But if it's big enough where it'll take a while to put out and may need more team members' help, then I'll get a "yes." So from there I stick with him for guidance, and watch what he and the other guys are doing.
I just recently got a pager that I can listen to and get more information from, so I'm hoping it makes a difference with the way I'm able to respond and learn.
I may not be directing cars with a wand myself, but I'd be right there in the road with them and getting some hands-on experience. If there's one thing these guys put emphasis on, it's that they don't want you out on a scene unless you feel ready. They really want you to get comfortable with how things work before you dive in.

In the meantime I've prepared my "bug-out bag" for the purpose of a quick getaway; A small camo duffle bag with a few things that I can equip myself with, to come in handy on the road. Reflective vest, flashlight, whistle, gloves and so on (plus a deck of cards for freer evenings at the station). At some point I may yet decorate it with iron-on patches. Flag, eagle, some patriotic stuff. Guess I'll find out later.

Ok I should probably conclude this entry 'cause otherwise it'll be WAY too long. But I bet it won't be too long before I come up with more words and more pictures so... yeah. I'll be in touch!

Friday, October 21, 2016

Feeling "In The Right Field"

On the brink of graduation it is DEFINITELY too late to go back and change my major for my associate's degree at Montco. However, it feels like the perfect time to make a change as I transfer to the University of Valley Forge in the spring.

     Originally I've been majoring in Digital Broadcasting; film, media, business in TV and movies, and so on.
     Still, during the last year or so, the more I've thought about my media degree (and continuing with Photography at Valley Forge) the more my mindset has become "why am I here?" meaning "my plans have changed in the last year, I want to become a security officer, so why am I planning to finish with photography? Just to get a four-year degree faster with the hands-on stuff?"
     Sure, more of my credits would transfer and I'd be out of school sooner/easier, but it would also mean a MUCH harder transition into the work force since I don't have plans to be a photographer. Too competitive a field, too much of a gamble for a career choice. I've realized these last few years of growing up that I need a solid foundation to build upon, not a job that relies solely on luck and avoiding creative blocks.
    Our God knows very well that I've had PLENTY of those.
    More times than I can count I've looked at myself and wondered why I'm still working on a media degree when my career plan has really taken a sharp turn. You go to college to build a career don't you? Well with me right now it feels kind of like being singled out as someone who gets a degree for a hobby instead of a future.

     So, despite it being a tougher-to-study subject, I decided it would be better for me to start working toward a Criminal Justice degree when I transfer. I don't care if it keeps me at Valley Forge longer, because this can give me the know-how and experience I'd need for homeland security (as opposed to the hands-on photography stuff that wouldn't offer me anything related except MAYBE the technology behind security works).
     In fact I hope it does keep me there longer. The more time I spend at a Christian college, the closer to God and stronger in faith I'll become.
     I remember that particular day of my decision to change my major; I'd been flipping through the New Testament, Jesus preaching on the mountain, among other stories, highlighting verses and trying to draw closer to His Word. Anyway, when the already-developing "why am I here?" mindset became clear as crystal that day, I took it as a sign from Him. And I've since felt more at peace and "in the right field of study" knowing I have the means to prepare for whatever security field I find myself in.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Simple Wood-Carver

What’s a good thing to do when you’re getting anxious or worked up? Or just in general? Pick a simple-to-do relaxing hobby to redirect your focus. I’ve had quite a few of those but there’s an interesting one that I’ve only delved so far into in the past; woodcarving.
My dad has taught me a lot about tools. Clamps, saws, razors, the list goes on. I’ve cut boomerangs and necklaces out of thin sheets of wood, but I’ve never tried whittling before.

I’ve gotten pretty good with a mallet and chisel, which is a fun pair of tools to use. Still, it’s nice when you don’t have to keep using the hammer. Especially when you’re up past midnight carving (to the point of littering my rug with wood shavings) and trying not to wake anyone up. It’s a lot quieter and more controllable to use a set of carving knives. The set I bought last week has twelve different blades you can swap, a few of which I’ve referred to as “manly spoons.” The shape of the blade you use can really effect the angles you can hold and carve with.

It’s always great to have ideas of your own, but still it never hurts to learn from crafting books. I got this beginners’ book that has a bunch of different designs and knickknacks that you can try whittling, some from little blocks of basswood.

Neither of these two carvings are from the book. These are ideas I got from some google images, to start me off simpler. The wolf is pretty much done, but still I like to touch it up a little and see if I can make it a little better. And I’m currently working on the bear (not using the mallet and chisel for this one). Making a lot of progress! Maybe, lord willing, in a few months I’ll be able to start making little statues for my desk or bookshelves.

May have to start posting more pictures/details as I go along!

Sunday, July 10, 2016

"Working my way up, see what God wants..."

All righty. It's in the middle of summer, I've got no summer classes available, and I still have to wait till spring to graduate (I can only take two classes this fall and one in the spring). But anyway, during that time I've been working out what to do, praying for guidance now and again, getting ideas and starting to fit some puzzle pieces together.

I recently visited the Twin Valley Fire Dept. and was given an application. Because of this being a volunteer job, it's much less expensive than taking full-semester courses at Montco. I still have to wait till next month before they decide to take me in, and then I've got to learn more about the training that I need to start off. It shouldn't be an issue since they allow kids 14 and up to join, and they most certainly would have thicker schedules than I currently do.

So through the fire department I'm hoping to really get some real experience/know-how through Fire Police training, work with them part-time while in school, and after I graduate college Lord willing I'll be able to make Security Services. All in God's timing. But still, it can be hard to resist getting anxious about some of this stuff.

On top of all this I've got a couple years at the University of Valley Forge ahead. Two, maybe three years, starting in January. Not sure how long it'll take, but hopefully most of my credits from Montco will transfer just fine. I'm getting pretty excited to go there, getting curious about the campus life, the people, wider persepctive gained through it all...

So anyway, that's the game plan for now. Can't wait to see how it all plays out.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

When I FINALLY got to see "The Jungle Book"!

I know it's not like me to go all the way to Blue Bell campus on Friday, you know, one of my days OFF. Still I had some real editing to do with my video project for class, and needed to get there early so I could get a good portion of it done and catch the 1pm shuttle back to Pottstown. From there my plan was to go to the Pottsgrove Carmike Cinemas, straight from West Campus, in time for my mom and I to see the 2:15 showing of The Jungle Book. (convenient too 'cause I was editing my own two-minute adaptation of one of the old Kipling stories)

It's almost one o' clock, I wait and I wait and I wait, and so do the half dozen other students sitting around outside.
For some reason that shuttle didn't arrive at Blue Bell campus till about 1:18, and I was getting antsy and worried about how bad traffic might be. While waiting for it to come I kept running through just about every scenario I could think of; "if we make it late [such-and-such a time] then we can see the 4pm show. If we make it to the theatre before 2:30, the trailers will still be playing..." all that kind of stuff. it was pretty nerve-wracking. I kept praying we'd make it in time so I wouldn't have to miss anything.
Hey, I'd been looking forward to this Jungle Book movie for I-lost-count-of-how-many months, and was NOT planning on skipping it today. If I did then I'd probably have to wait another week.
The shuttle arrived at West Campus at about 2:15, and no sooner did the doors open than I sprinted off the shuttle to the car. I'd already bought candy at the school bookstore, so there didn't have to be any more delays.
We went right in, got our tickets with no line, and got two seats in the Big-D theatre with ten minutes to spare.

All right, now onto the movie itself; no secret to say I just LOVED it!
So many references to the old animated film through the music (beginning, Kaa's theme, Bare Necessities, some like that), a few character's lines were just like the old film, and still throughout this one I noticed so much stuff from the original book; the song of the wolf pack, the Water Truce, Shere Khan confronting the wolves to get to Mowgli... and a few other things that I probably shouldn't say 'cause that would mean giving away HUGE spoilers for those who haven't see the movie yet or read the book.

- Baloo's hilarious!
"Baloo" Clip - Disney's The Jungle Book
He has the best laid-back attitude "you're doing great!" while Mowgli's getting him honey and getting stung by bees in the process ("You said they didn't sting." -Mowgli)

"King Louie" Clip - Disney's The Jungle Book
- The newer version of "I Wanna Be Like You" was better than I expected it to be, frankly. King Louie as a Gigantopithecus is pretty cool, definitely intimidating when he first introduces himself and when he's chasing Mowgli through the ruined city (aka The Cold Lairs as they're called in the book).
(this soundtrack version plays in the credits but it's not as long in the movie scene) Christopher Walken - I Wanna Be Like You (2016) (From "The Jungle Book"

- Shere Khan the tiger... oh my god!
"Intro to Shere Khan" clip
Let's just say there were several moments throughout the film where my mindset was just "Ok I'm actually getting scared right now..."

- The credits in this movie are fun to watch 'cause it has a big book opening with animals moving around and interacting with it in some comedic ways. Good thing I was curious and felt like sticking around for that.

I definitely recommend The Jungle Book for those who love the old Disney classics as well as the new stuff (and the original text) 'cause it has just the right combination of both. It's very funny, also intense, suspenseful, emotional, enjoyable, and overall a fun movie to see.
Before you start asking the age-old question, YES it WAS worth the wait. And I do plan on seeing it again soon. Very soon.

Friday, March 25, 2016

2nd Degree PART 2- The Ceremony

Thursday March 24th.
This was the day of the ceremony, and it was at the Pottstown ATA school at 7pm.
That, of course, meant I had to miss my 3:55 class at Mont Co. If I waited till afterwards to leave, I'd be late for sure. That was a risk I was NOT willing to take. I hadn't missed a single class this semester, so I could just use this as one of my free absences.
I couldn't miss my early morning class though, which was ok since the digital photography class is more enjoyable. Plus my girlfriend Jenny wanted to come to the ceremony by taking the 3pm shuttle from main campus, so this way I could meet up early and take the shuttle to west campus (closer to home) together.

Jenny had brought her camera, so before leaving home in the evening we took family-of-four pictures with me in my uniform. I'm still not the most patient when it comes to posing for photos, but at least there weren't very many.

We arrived at the ATA school plenty early, so the four of them could get decent seats in the small lobby. The place was decorated with the big flags hanging from the ceiling, a small table with a decorative cloth (and incense burner) on it, and spread out neatly on the floor were everybody's new black belts; each with a small plate and candle sitting behind it. My Second Degree Black Belt, with my name sewn in red letters, was in the second row. The first row was solely my friend Riley. It was all in alphabetical order so we sat right where we were supposed to.

Since we'd gotten there early and the other kids (I was the second-oldest seated there in front of the instructors) were all sitting with our neatly folded belts, I passed the last ten minutes or so by talking to a couple of them.

Finally, it all got started just before seven. There was some tranquil music/sounds playing, most of the lights were out, and the other instructors took turns lighting the candles in front of them from Mr. Morgan's candle. After that, Riley lit his. Then my row of three went up to light our candles from the instructors' directly in front of us.
While that was going on, the sounds playing went into a narration of Eternal Grandmaster Haeng Un Lee reading the Scrolls of Songahm (here's the link so you can read what it said). We sat there listening to him speak, practically still as statues. Sometimes I'd look straightforward, later shift my eyes to the floor or to the now-lit candle in front of me.

The Songahm Scroll thing lasted maybe five minutes. We blew out our candles, and Mr. Morgan gave us a really good pep talk before calling each of us to come forward. One by one, starting with my friend Riley, we each grabbed our new belts from where they sat in front of us, walked up to Mr. Morgan, and he tied the new belts on us as the old ones lay across our shoulders. After that, we shook hands with the instructors and cheered on the other students who received their new belts; first and second-degrees alike.
One of my classmates from the adult class, I remembered (in fact a LOT of us remembered) had tested on Saturday with a broken foot. She was called out positively for that, and applauded louder than others for that black belt attitude and motivation. She also received a bouquet of flowers from her parents right then and there when she got her First Degree Black Belt tied on.

 When we were all seated again, there was another thing Mr. Morgan gave us with our candles; A ROCK. Very symbolic, it was. We would feel the rock and he'd ask us about how it felt. Rough, and smooth. Just like the taekwondo journey, and life even. Some smooth easy spots here and there but also a lot of rough ones.
Just some food for thought there...

PICTURE TIME! After the ceremony (it was less than a half hour, I was pretty surprised) we all got into group pictures, making poses, smiles, fighting stances, GRRR faces and so forth. Didn't go on long though and nobody was picky. Later I took some family pictures, took a couple with Jenny and with Mr. Morgan too.

All in all, successful and feeling-accomplished evening :) took FOREVER, but I've made it another belt rank up.

Monday, March 21, 2016

2nd Degree PART 1- The Tests

Well, first off, on March 19th I had to get up at 7am just to have breakfast and make it to the elementary school early enough.
We were having our taekwondo tests in the gym that morning. It was for both the ATA students testing for full belt rank (like me) and those who were mid-terming. As a result we got quite a few, a couple dozen I think. Most of them were kids younger than twelve years old, though me and a few of my adult class friends were also there to test. I practiced my 81-move form once before it all started, making sure I knew which direction to turn in when doing the kicks, blocks and so forth. It helped me to sort of visualize (or half-visualize) the ATA school that I was so used to practicing in; like "ok so the waiting room would be over there, the flag wall over there..." that sort of thing so I didn't get disoriented. God knows that's happened plenty of times in midterms, to my slight embarrassment.
Getting there roughly a half hour early gives you time to warm up and practice, which we all needed.

Ok, SO... after the instructors got us all warmed up and ready, the rest of us who were full rank testing went from the gym down the hall to the cafeteria. That was where we took the written knowledge test, and I was afraid I wasn't going to get them all right. My best guess was I got an 80 or 70 or something, since a few of those questions were the in-depth kind I was pretty unprepared for. I was told not to worry about spelling, but still. I wished all the questions were multiple choice instead of having a bunch of them open-ended.
On the upside, this woman who was rank testing for First Degree Black had brought along packs of Smarties, and me and some of the kids had some. Mr. Morgan had said in class the other day it's a good trick to have candy so you can have sugar rush when you spar together. Smart guy. I wasn't gonna say "no way" to that idea! I'm not usually one to turn down free candy if it's the kind I like.

Doing my form was simple enough, 'cause I kept in mind which direction I'd be facing if I was doing this in the ATA school. I didn't bother taking my time with it (you're not really supposed to go slow anyway, long as you're doing the techniques right), since going slow would just make me overthink it and slow me down. Once that was done, the same thought ran through my mind as it always did after finishing my form; "Hard part's over."
I'm always ready to get that part out of the way since it's the  more complicated.

Looking at my sparring gear, I knew I would need to get new hand gear and a new chest guard soon since they were ripping in places. In fact I got the sleeve of my dobaq/uniform caught in the rip in my chest guard when I was trying to get it over my head.
Sparring takes a lot of energy out of you because you're constantly moving and trying to do more than just a simple punch and a kick. I mean, it's instinct to do the simpler stuff, but you get more points (thus a higher chance of passing the test) if you do more advanced moves, combinations, things like that. I tried doing more of those, and it turned out ok, but the thing that annoyed me was the fact that my feet kept slipping and sliding around on the polished wood floor.
At least it was only two rounds. But nonetheless it was tiring and I was relieved to take off my gear. Well, the chest guard and helmet anyway...

I needed to keep the hand gear and foot gear on for the board-break portion of the test.
Now THAT may have been my favorite part of the test. Why? 'Cause unlike my midterms and first Black Belt test, I managed to break BOTH BOARDS on the first try!
In the past, it's always taken me two tries to break one of them. But this time I got both of them. One kick, one hammer fist. That hammer fist especially felt good. I put so much power and energy into it that I just let out this loud karate yell--- not even a karate yell (we call them "ki-haps"), more of a  ROAR like some vicious animal. I'm not gonna lie, it feels awesome to do that.

Then came the real gut-check; The FIT TEST!
There were five big pads set up, like five stations, and each one had a student volunteer to hold or sit by it while the testing Black Belts did their stuff. At each pad there would be two students who, one at a time, would do the exercises they had to (each lasting a minute). Good thing we got to take turns that way, 'cause it was rigorous and God knows each of us needed a rest.
1) First, a minute of pushups. Now a minute doesn't seem like much at first. But when you start pumping these pushups out, and your arms and core ache like crazy, you realize "oh wait, it's a full minute" and it feels like forever! Quite a few times I needed to drop a knee for a few seconds before continuing. It probably wasn't as many times as I thought, but it was enough to annoy me and make me feel weaker than I really am.
There was this quote I remembered from Navy SEAL Morgan Luttrell leading people in pushups, saying "I'm not gonna stop 'cause it hurts, I'll stop when I'm done!" My minute wasn't up yet, so I wasn't going to stop. Take a couple-second breather, sure, but no way was I gonna drop and not get up again.

2) Then, after the kid behind me did his pushups and I got my minute to rest, came the mountain climbers (no sit-ups on a hardwood floor). Those were pretty killer too, really working my core as well as the legs. Again I let my leg, or legs, down a few times before continuing on. Still powered through it best I could, though.

3) Third, it was a jab and reverse punch on the pad. So the kid in front of me who was sitting behind the pad from the beginning had to hold it for me. I didn't bother counting how many I did. I just kept the pace and rhythm going best I could, and doing them quickly. Your goal is to get as many as possible, in each field of this test. At least she was motivating me along with the instructors cheering us on.

4) After that, you do a round kick. I did this portion with just my right leg 'cause I knew I'd be doing more kicks later. That was still super tiring.

5) The last portion of the test was a combination of the last two; jab, reverse punch, round kick. This time I did the kicks with my left leg and led the punches with my right fist instead of the left. That gave each limb a precious second in between to rest, but still I had to just pound these things out!
For each of these exercises the instructors were going around giving us a "let's go, let's go" kind of motivation. It was positive, not harsh or anything. Just tough to follow when you're getting more tired with each kick or punch. After my minute was up, each time I'd be standing with my hands on my knees behind the other kid taking his turn. It was SUCH a relief to have that brief rest.

The fit test was the last thing. Mr. Morgan gave a speech, handed a certificate and some platinum medal to one of the younger students, then he and the other instructors bowed us out and we were dismissed.
When dad gave me a big clap on the back my mindset was (pretty comically looking back at it now) "ah, don't do that, I'm gonna fall over!" Thankfully on the way home, me, mom and dad made a stop at Dunkin Donuts. This was one of those times where I'd earned that cup of hot soothing coffee. Hear me? EARNED IT!

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Book Lists

It's no secret to say I'm a bookworm (I was one of the people voted Biggest Bookworm in high school). Seems like there's always a book on my list to read, so there's hardly ever been a big gap in my reading time. Well, except when I have some school textbook to go over, which doesn't really count 'cause it takes away a good amount of pleasure reading time.
These are some books I've been reading and some I plan to delve into sometime soon.

I just got it for Christmas, a hardcover copy containing both The Jungle Book and The Second Jungle Book. In middle school I'd read the Mowgli stories from the first book online once and had been meaning to read them again because...
(1) they were interesting, and
(2) there's two movie adaptations coming out over the next couple years;
A Disney film coming out in April 2016,
and a Warner Bros. one in 2017 titled Jungle Book: Origins directed by (and starring) Andy Serkis. Now THAT is the one I'm even more excited for, knowing that they're gonna make it even closer to the original text. Still, the I'm sure the new Disney one coming out will be closer in some ways than the 1960s animation, so I guess we'll see what happens.
I finished reading recently, and they are pretty fascinating. I admit some of the stories do drag a bit, but there are a few not-Mowgli-centered stories that are still pretty cool. Rikki-Tikki-Tavi is a good one, about a mongoose going against a pair of cobras to protect the family that's taken him in.
There are quite a few movie-worthy details in The Jungle Books, some of which I guess would be too dark/gritty for a kids' movie (which explains me not knowing some of this stuff).
For example Bagheera the panther has a backstory of his own;

"Yes, I too was born among men. I had never seen the jungle. They fed me behind bars from an iron pan till one night I felt that I was Bagheera - the panther - and no man's plaything, and I broke the silly lock with one blow of my paw and came away; and because I had learned the ways of men, I became more terrible in the jungle than Shere Khan."

I wonder if that will be touched on in the Disney movie this spring. We do see him fighting with Shere Khan in the trailer... The Jungle Book 2016 trailer (4K 2160p HD) Well, if not this one I'm sure the Origins movie will delve into more of those backstories and details. I'm really excited for both, especially now that I'm all caught up.

Ok, the City of Bones movie didn't do well, so the Mortal Instruments book series is a tv show called "Shadowhunters" now (which my sister and I have been excited about for a while).
With the first book City of Bones I'm caught up for at least a month, depending on how the show's pacing is; how many chapters generally add up to one episode per week, etc.
After finishing the first book, with the time to spare before picking up the second one, I'm planning on picking up a certain book that I was going to reread but didn't get to because of other texts...

I gave Eragon a try when I was in 7th grade. I remember seeing the movie for the second time with my dad and wanting to read it. But I guess there were too many differences between the book and the film or something, 'cause the book confused me and I didn't finish it (see back then I didn't know filmmakers could change so much stuff in adaptations).
I was going to reread it when I started tenth grade but didn't get the chance, so here I am now.
Since I've gotten better at reading high fantasy books and am getting more curious about the book series itself, I think I'll try it again. Plus Eragon is no bigger than City of Bones, so it shouldn't take very long to read. That's why I figure I'll give this one book a try right away and see if I also want to continue the series.

Now Wereworld... is something else... the lords, kings, barons and so forth are shapeshifters (or "therianthropes" as they're called in this world). Picture an eight-foot-tall lion standing on two legs wearing armor and wielding a sword! Wolves, bears, hawks, foxes, panthers, even sharks... the list of different shapeshifter types goes on.
Definitely a complex high fantasy, one that have planned to reread for a while but didn't know when. I was going to reread it after the Mortal Instruments books, but things have changed...
Anyway, that is one important goal of mine to finish at some point. I've got the six-book series on my list here so I'm not just gonna forget about it.

So yeah. These are my current goals in books to read. I'm excited to see where it goes, and glad my winter break isn't over yet so I have more time :)