This is the website of Abulsme Noibatno Itramne (also known as Sam Minter). Comments here or emails to me at abulsme@abulsme.com are encouraged... or follow me on Twitter as @abulsme.

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May 2007
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Book: Narn i chîn Húrin: the tale of the children of Húrin

Author: J. R. R. Tolkien
Started: 7 May 2007
Finished: 20 May 2007
313 p / 14 d
22 p/d

The title listed in the subject is the real title, used on the title page of the book and in the Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data section. The “friendlier” title “The Children of Húrin” is used on the cover and other places you see it mentioned… but it is not the real title. So I am using the real title above.

Regardless, this is the “new” Tolkien book… the story itself has been published in several forms in the past, including as a chapter in The Silmarillion. But that was in a more abbreviated “summary” sort of form. This instead is Christopher Tolkien‘s attempt to piece together dozens of drafts of portions of this tale that has father left behind into a single coherent novel form.

As a not all that critical reader and a Tolkien fan, I think he did just fine. This book is much darker than the Lord of the Rings and definitely isn’t quite as accessible and fun as a story. And of course the main character just makes mistake after mistake, leading inexorably to the unhappy ending. But it gives another glimpse into another bit of Middle Earth history.

If you are into Tolkien… especially if you are into him enough that you have read the Silmarillion and not just the Hobbit or The Lord of the Rings, then you NEED to read this book too. If you never were able to get into the Silmarillion, this might be a bit more interesting to you than that was… this really is a novel, which the Silmarillion wasn’t really… so maybe.

But if when reading TLOTR you just never were very interested in the background history of that world and weren’t reading the Appendices at the end of the Return of the King wishing there was even more to read… then you can probably skip this.

Having said that, since I was one of those soaking up every last drop… well, OK, I never got past Book 2 of the 12 volume History of Middle Earth… but soaking up a lot of drops anyway… I did enjoy the Children of Húrin.

Animal Globe

Last weekend we went to the zoo. This weekend is Music weekend. A performance by Amy’s bass teacher, a performance by the youth orchestra Amy is in, and finally a performance by Amy’s chorus. Right now we’re at two down, one to go.

But last week, we went to the zoo.

Coffee Smile

Reorg #4

Announced a few hours ago, a reorganization at work. Here is my history so far:

Jeff -> Kal -> Mark -> Llew -> Sam (36 days)
Jeff -> Kal -> Scott -> Llew -> Sam (74 days)
Jeff -> Kal -> Colin -> Llew -> Sam (145 days)
Jeff -> Brian -> Colin -> Llew -> Sam (237 days)
Jeff -> Brian -> Colin -> Llew -> Dan -> Sam -> {People}

My average is now a reorg every 123 days. But they have been getting further apart.

Now, this is actually the first change since I have been here that will have a direct effect on my day to day role.

My old boss (who reads this blog, hi!) just got a whole lot of new responsibilities and his organization just about doubled in size. He needed to no longer have direct reports. So I needed to move. (Well at least that was one of the options.)

For now, I drop down a level in terms of depth in the org chart, but at the same time my role shifts and for the first time in a few years I will have direct reports of my own and be an actual people manager again rather than a program or product manager. At the moment I have 4 people reporting to me. Plans are already in place so that by the end of June I should have 6 after one person returns from family leave and another transfers in from another group.

In terms of actual job titles and such it is considered a horizontal move, but I am hoping it is a move that will give me new opportunities to expand and grow in the future that will more than balance being one more level removed from the CEO. And I work with and get along with Dan (my new manager) very well. And I’ll still interact extensively with Llew. So all should be good.

I will have a lot to do to really step up into the new role though. So I’m sure over the next few months I’ll have my hands quite full and will be being challenged. But that is not a bad thing at all. Not at all.

Pepsi Summer Mix

I didn’t get a post in last night, so a quicky for lunch time… Tried Pepsi “Summer Mix” flavor at lucnh because it was new and all, but if you haven’t tried it yet, no need to bother. Really. That’s all. More tomorrow maybe.

Book: Dreams from My Father

Author: Barack Obama
Started: 15 Apr 2007
Finished: 7 May 2007
457p / 23d
20 p/d

On the plane on the way home from Ohio, I finished the first of Obama’s two books. Both were given to me by the DC branch of my family for Christmas. This is *not* the book where he talks about his political beliefs and politics and such. That is the next one. This one instead is about Barack Obama’s search for his own identity and roots.

In any case, I really enjoyed the book. Barack tells a good story. From the confused youth through to trying to find the right ways to make a difference to his search for knowledge of the father he barely knew. It gives you a portrait of Barack as a person. And he seems like someone you might well want to know. Well… at least later in the book. The teenage and college years Obama I’m not so sure of. :-)

But it was all basically an introspective search for self. I am not sure however that by the end Obama had actually quite figured out who he was yet. He was still patching together clues. The book ends still years before Obama was in the state legislature in Illinois, let alone the more recent experiences in the US Senate and now running for President. There is a lot more to who Obama is and to his biography than can be found in this first book.

But what is in this first book is appealing. There are a lot of warts and imperfections. This is not a glossy idealized Obama. But it still gives an interesting picture that makes you think this is exactly the kind of biography that COULD end up producing a good president. And the wide ranging background and experiences that formed his early years would give a perspective dramatically different from that of any previous president or anyone else running. But in a good way, not a bad way.

Would I vote for this man for President? Well now, that is an entirely different question. I’ll reserve judgement on that for quite a while. At least until I’ve read the second book, most likely even longer. I suspect that while I like him as a person, and think his perspective and background would be useful, and of all the candidates having him rise to the presidency would certainly be the most dramatic and inspiring narrative… I am guessing that when I dive into it many of his actual positions and policies will make it very difficult for me to consider actually voting for him even if he made it to the general election. (Out of principle I refuse to register a party and participate in any primaries.)

Of course, that will also depend who else ends up on the general election ballot, and I’m not talking just about the Republicans. Hopefully this time there will be at least one third party candidate whose views I like and who isn’t a complete nutjob. I can almost never stomach either of the major party candidates. Oh well, we shall see.

Also, I must say I am definitely liking having divided government again. It should always be that way. I’ll probably end up judging the house and senate races individually, but I must say I certainly hope that if the Democrats take the Presidency that the Republicans manage to take back the congress, and if the Republicans keep the White House the Dems keep the congress. It is always trouble when both are in the same hands… regardless of which hands.

Oh, back to the book… Dreams from My Father is very engaging. It kept me interested and turning the pages. Not just from wanting to know more about this guy running for president, but just in wanting to follow the narrative to the next step. It is emotional and a bit melodramatic, but that is OK, I like that kind of thing.

I also like the idea of a Presidential Candidate that is able to do that kind of introspection, of trying to understand his own soul. And being able to openly express it that way. And to speak about it in a compelling manner. You definitely can see the link to his convention speech in 2004. My blog was not up and running that month as I was in the process of moving my stuff from Pennsylvania to Florida and I hadn’t set everything up again, but the next day (28 Jul 2004 at 14:43:38 UTC) I made my first ever mention of Obama in an email to a couple of friends. This is what I said:

Missed it last night, but just watched Obama’s convention speech off the C-Span website. He hit it out of the park. Came off VERY well. I liked him a lot. I’ll go out on a limb and say that he WILL be on a presidential ticket (not saying top or bottom) in 2008 or 2012.

Yup. I’ll stick by that. As I said, not sure if I would vote for him, but if he doesn’t at least make it on a ticket, then I will be very disappointed.

He just generates such excitement in a way I have not seen from a candidate since… um… I was going to say since I’ve been paying attention to politics… but that is not true… there was a similar level of energy and excitement about Ross Perot at the time. Just because he was so different and broke the mold. That is the same sort of feeling around Obama.

Hopefully he doesn’t flame out like Perot did. However many years later I’m still mad at Perot for pulling out just long enough to destroy his chances in 1992 before jumping back in. If he hadn’t done that we might have actually had three candidates with electoral votes and an election thrown into the house. Damn him for spoiling the fun. At least we made up for it somewhat with the fun of the recounts in 2000.

Anyway… I got excited by this book. The Obama candidacy will be really fun to watch. And an Obama presidency would be fun to watch as well if it happened. And he *is* appealing… While I can’t say I’d vote for him… I’m not ready to rule it out yet, and that is saying quite a bit.

Sam N Mom N Sara

The last picture from my Ohio trip. My mom, Sara and me right before I headed back to the West Coast.

Sara N Sam

Another big part of the trip besides the things already mentioned was that I got to see Serendipity for the first time since December 2003. In dog years that is a long time! Sara did seem glad to see me and wanted to spend as much time with me as she could, so I’ll choose to think that she remembered me. I have missed seeing her, as although my mother has managed to squeeze in a visit to me about once a year, me visiting in the other direction just hasn’t been in the cards, so it has been forever since I saw Sara!

For those who may not remember, in the summer of 2001, I rescued Sara when I found her running loose in the middle of Interstate 95 in Pennsylvania. I saw her almost hit by a couple cars as I approached. I pulled over to the side of the road and managed to get her out of traffic and into my car. I tried every way I knew to try to find her original owners but failed. The vet said that she was probably about 3 months old and judging by the ticks she had when I found her she had probably been “on her own” for around 3 weeks. She also had a broken and healed rib, indicating at least one unpleasant incident in her past.

I took her in, but because at the time I was in an apartment, and was not yet on medications that controlled my allergies well enough to live with a dog, I could not keep her. But I was not about to give her up to a stranger. So I introduced her to my mother, and a couple months after I had found her, she traveled to my mom’s house and they have been together ever since.

Anyway, I miss Sara. It was very good seeing her again.

Installation

A bit more on my trip to Ohio. This was the main point of the trip there.

My mother was being officially installed as the “Association Minister of the Southwest Ohio Northern Kentucky Association of the Ohio Conference of the United Church of Christ”. She has been at the job for almost a year now, but this was the time for the official service installing her in the position. It was a nice service with a lot of music that was definitely a match for who my mother is. And then there was the religious equivalent of a swearing in. I was glad I could be there.

Chad N Friends

On the second evening I was in Ohio, I got together for dinner with Chad and some of his friends from work. We spend a few hours talking and such. It was interesting to catch up a bit and to get a peek into the current life of Chad. Of course, I’m still not sure I understand exactly what they do, but that is OK. They were an interesting bunch.