2016 and 2017 Book List

It’s been a while (two years) since I posted a reading list… and now’s as good a time as ever.

2016 and 2017 were fairly busy years – a lot of change happening – so the number of books read dipped slightly. Life is finally leveling out so 2018 should be a return to form.

Without further ado, here is the list of books read in 2016 and 2017. As always, recommended titles are marked with an asterisk.

Fear the Sky by Stephen Moss

Pirate Hunters by Robert Kurson

Natural Born Heroes by Christopher McDougall

The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August by Claire North *

Smarter Faster Better by Charles Duhigg

Star Wars Battlefront: Twilight Company by Alexander Freed

In the Heart of the Sea by Nathaniel Philbrick *

Hillary’s America by Dinesh D’Souza *

Mayflower by Nathaniel Philbrick

A Day in the Life of Ancient Rome by Alberto Angela *

Life, Animated by Ron Suskind

The Great Good Thing by Andrew Klavan

The Last Days of Night by Graham Moore *

No God but One: Allah or Jesus by Nabeel Qureshi

Seveneves by Neal Stephenson

Hillbilly Elegy by JD Vance

The Butterfly Effect by Jon Ronson

The Sherlockian by Graham Moore

Paradox Bound by Peter Clines

Leonardo da Vinci by Walter Isaacson


Characters at My Gym

I’ve been going to the gym for about four years now; which is just a local Anytime Fitness and not one of those LifeTimes (a gym so fancy they should call it a James).

In that time I’ve certainly run into a few “gym stereotypes” (the overly-sweaty guy, the grunter/screamer, the guy with the gallon of water); but nothing compares to the special assortment of personalities at my local gym. They’re not so much stereotypical as they are singular and eccentric.

There are plenty of average gym-goers; those who regularly (and inconspicuously) put in time. Naturally, this is the group to whom I count myself a member… however, maybe these people label me “the guy who’s been lifting for a while but hasn’t gained a single muscle”. Who knows?

Without further ado, I present: Characters at My Gym, starring (in no particular order):

  • A guy who works out while wearing sunglasses.
  • A guy who only uses 10 pound plates (even if he’s lifting 120 pounds… he’ll just use 12 ten pound weights).
  • A middle-aged woman who’s obviously there to meet men. [looks at you over the top of my glasses] Obviously.
  • Two guy/dude/bros who are super pumped to be lifting together and should probably just kiss.
  • A woman who sprints as hard as she can on the treadmill for about 30 seconds, jumps off, catches her breathe, then repeats.
  • An overweight guy who flexes in the mirrors after every lift.
  • Talkative Timmy.
  • Grunthos, the Flatulent (I don’t know his real name and am truly unable to get close enough to ask).
  • A guy who has convinced himself he’s America’s NEXT Ninja Warrior (spoiler: he’s not).
  • A guy who video tapes his workouts (brings a tripod and everything).
  • The couple I’m convinced works out together as a form of foreplay.

I’ve also come to the recent realization that, if I get to the gym before 8am on Saturday I can completely avoid the yoga pants with Ugg boots brigade. This group believes it’s very important to establish a routine; which is why they go every January.

Forgot Password – Help

Dear WordPress Support,

As the header implies I have forgotten my password.

Really, I never thought this could have happened – otherwise I would have written it down. As I’ve gotten older, and been required to provide a unique password every 90 days across multiple platforms, these things start to blur and eventually fade into the ether.

The sheer number of responsibilities of my personal life have recently abated, so I figured I should pick up blogging where I left off.

Alas, I am unable to log into my own blog.

Attempting to use the WordPress password reset feature doesn’t help because (and here’s where it get complicated) it’s sending an email to an address I haven’t used in three years.

I signed up with WordPress using shanesny@nsatel.net which is no longer an active email address. The reason why is suggested in this blog post from September 2016. Short version: we moved. My old ISP did not service the area we were moving to so I cancelled service with them.

WordPress kindly offers three ways to recover my free blog:

1). With a transaction ID (essentially a receipt for payment). Again, this is a free blog. I’ve never paid for anything; ergo I have no receipt.

2). With proof of activation; which would have been emailed to that account I haven’t used in three years …so, again… that’s a no. (Reminder: I dropped that email account more than three years ago. So, I have no access to those emails).

3). With proof of two-factor authentication.

I’ve highlighted what I believe is an important part of WordPress’ description above; the operative word being “if”. You would be safe in assuming I never set up two-factor authentication. I would now, though… if I could sign in to my blog.

With those three options exhausted I decided to reach out to you via Twitter.

Another form of verification”, you say?

Check it out. Here’s the picture of me from my blog’s “About” page side-by-side with a picture of me, taken this morning, in the exact same outfit I was wearing 7 years ago. C’mon, this is pretty impressive. Right?

Not impressive enough for your diligent Twitter team, apparently. They’ve made it abundantly clear that the do not take the matter of blog theft lightly; especially blogs as pathetically trafficked as mine (Sorry mom – I know you’re an ardent fan. Yes I’ll call you).

We now arrive at the reason for this letter. At the request of Mark Jaquith, I am reaching out to WordPress Support.

All I ask is for the password reset notification be sent to one of my current email addresses. I will gladly update my contact info and fill out the two-factor authentication. Heck, I’ll even provide you with further personally identifying pictures if need be (how about a picture of me in the outfit above, with my older glasses, a clean shaven face, holding the dog mentioned in this blog entry?).

Interestingly, I am able to post new entries to my blog via email publishing. I was smart enough to set that up. Please note that email address has been CC’d on this letter to you; thus publishing this letter to my blog.

I appreciate your help and look forward to resolving this matter soon.

Parker Monroe (aka Shane)

2014 Book List

A little later than usual, but here it is: the list of books I read in 2014.

There are fewer books this last year, and the blog entry is much later than normal, due to a number of exciting events that took place in 2014. Namely, we bought a new house and moved more than 30 miles south from our previous location. Moving is normally a stressful and busy event. Ours was more so and a blog entry detailing our adventure is forthcoming.

Until then, please peruse this list. As usual, recommended titles are marked with an asterisk.

The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown *
The Cricket on the Hearth by Charles Dickens
Star Wars: The Last Command by Timothy Zahn
Last of the Blue and Gray: Old Men, Stolen Glory, and the Mystery That Outlived the Civil War by Richard A. Serrano
The Atlantis Gene by A.G. Riddle *
Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell *
Life of Pi by Yann Martel*
The Atlantis Plague by A.G. Riddle *
Console Wars by Blake J. Harris
Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain
Joyland by Stephen King
A Spy Among Friends: Kim Philby and the Great Betrayal by Ben Macintyre
Bonhoeffer by Eric Metaxas
The Atlantis World by A.G. Riddle
Dream It! Do It! by Marty Sklar
The Martian by Andy Weir *
Christmas Eve, 1914 by Charles Oliver

Endurance: Shackleton’s Incredible Voyage by Alfred Lansing

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
With the Old Breed: At Peleliu and Okinawa by E.B. Sledge
Under the Dome by Stephen King

Florida Project: Then and Now

A recent Facebook comment inspired me to write this blog post.

One of my friends had commented on how much larger Disney World is when compared to Disneyland. This person went on to detail the often repeated rumor that someone could fit three Disneyland parks inside the Magic Kingdom’s parking lot and still park 300 cars – which, of course, is not true.

Compare these two pictures of Disneyland and the Magic Kingdom’s parking lot (both taken at identical scales) and decide for yourself.

compareBy no means do I intend to imply that the Walt Disney World Resort property isn’t impressively large – because it is! It’s just not nearly as big as some of the urban legends (perpetuated by Disney bus drivers, no doubt) make it out to be.

The property is also not anywhere near as impressive at is once was.

Many people are probably familiar with the image above – Walt Disney, in October of 1966, showing off all the Floridian property he and his team had acquired.

Through “The Florida Project” (previously known as “Project X”) Walt’s team had come up with a way to make full use of the Florida property. EPCOT, the city, would be Disney World’s central attraction.

Arriving at the Disney World Airport (slated for the portion of property currently occupied by the town of Celebration) guests would be shuttled by monorail to the Disney World Welcome Center (shown just above-right of Walt’s pointer).

This Welcome Center, located on the acreage currently used by the All-Star Resorts and the World Wide Sports complex, likely would have resembles something closer to our current version of Epcot, the theme park. Here guests would be welcomed by a Disney host – fluent in the guests’ own language – who would then aid in planning every detail of the guest’s stay.

The next stop on the monorail route would be EPCOT’s Industrial Park. While your local city’s Industrial Park may not seem at all interesting or welcoming it was here that The Florida Project’s core concepts would be made real. It was Walt’s mission that many major American corporations would use these facilities to develop brand new technology for use in EPCOT, the city. Guests who chose to visit the Industrial Park would be allowed to go on guided tours of the facilities and given hands-on opportunities to see how many never-before-seen technologies worked. In much the same way Pinterest works, this facility aimed to jump-start the imagination of the visitors. Call it Walt Disney’s own version of crowd sourcing: inspire today’s tourists to create the technology we’ll all use in the near future.

Shown below, in the central green shaded area, is the current outline of the entire Walt Disney World entertainment complex. This area covers 25,000 acres (39 square miles) and resides in two different counties (Orange and Osceola).

Now, let’s compare that same property to a rough approximation of the original property lines Walt was showing off in 1966.

This considerably larger red property line occupies nearly 30,000 acres (47 square miles)… or, about twice the size of Manhattan Island.

It’s truly striking how much land was sold off during Michael Eisner’s time at the helm. The Magic Kingdom was never intended to be the main focus of The Florida Project – it was just Walt’s way of funding it. Walt knew that building EPCOT the city, plus all of the other things mentioned above, was going to require a LOT of capital. Therefore, the theme park was only a vehicle necessary to pay for all the really cool things he wanted to do.

Don’t misunderstand: the current property is pretty amazing. I’ve even written a blog entry detailing one of the amazing aspects of the property’s construction. However, I can’t help but wonder how much more awesome it could have been had Disney management carried on with Walt’s original plan.