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Friday, 29 March 2013

Easter Friday 2013

This prayer card was given to me by a stranger years ago. Often at Mass I ended up behind the same family. I asked one day where the card came from and they gave it to me. Every time I came across the card I prayed for them. I do not know their names or where they are. This Easter I did two different 40 day prayer challenges, Draw the Circle by Mark Batterson and the 40 Day Spiritual Workout for Catholic by Bob Rice. Both were great. Who do you pray for, how often do you pray what do you prayer about?

Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Apostle of the Exiled St. Damien of Molokai - Margaret Bunson & Matthew Bunson

Apostle of the Exiled 
St. Damien of Molokai
Margaret Bunson & Matthew Bunson
Our Sunday Visitor
ISBN 9781592766109


Father Damien, or Saint Damien of Molokai, was born Jozef De Veuster on January 3rd 1840. He died April 15th 1889 a long way from home on Molokai in Hawaii. He served as a priest in the leper colony for 16 years before he succumbed to the disease. Damien has been canonized in both the Eastern and Latin rites. His feast day is celebrated May 10th. The process of his canonization took from 1977 until 2009.

But you might wonder why, and for me the pursuit of Damien his taken place over the last number of years. A few years back I was on retreat and the speaker was Michael W Higgins. During the retreat we watched the film adaptation of Fr. Damien's life Molokai directed by Paul Cox. Something in the portrayal of Damien in that film captured my attention. Since then I have kept an icon of Damien on my desk (it is an older image and calls him Blessed Damien not saint Damien) and I followed his canonization process. Since that time I have read or started to read a number of stories, biographies, and books about Molokai, Damien, Dutton and Mother Marianne. I have a feeling it will be a lifelong obsession. To steal from Higgins' book's title, it is Stalking the Holy. And in this case Stalking Father Damien.

Of everything that I have read and watched about Father Damien, I must state this is the best. It is an amazing biography of a man not easily understood. We can look back upon Damien's times, and his conflicts with authorities within and outside the church and it is easy to judge or be harsh. For Damien is a saint. But as this book details, saints are not always easy people, and often their plight is a very difficult path. St. Damien is no different. This book not only chronicles Damien's time on the Hawaiian Islands, but his life leading up to that mission, and his lasting, and to some extent ever growing, impact.

This book is researched and footnoted like an academic paper, but reads like an adventure novel. The writing is fast-paced and often entertaining, considering the subject matter. With an extensive series of appendices and a great index, the book can be used for research and it gives an exhaustive suggested reading list. I dare anyone to read this book and not be challenged. They will find that their prayer life is altered. Damien is held up as an example and with great cause. So spend some time learning more about the man and dive into this incredible read.

Reviews of Books and Movies about Saint Damien:
Apostle of the Exiled St. Damien of Molokai - Margaret Bunson & Matthew Bunson
Pilgrimage and Exile: Mother Marianne of Molokai by: Sister Mary Laurence Hanley, O.S.F.
Molokai: The Story of Father Damien by: Paul Cox
Molokai: The Story of Father Damien

Saint Damien of Molokai - Virginia Helen Richards and D. Thomas Halpin

Prayer of the Day - Saint Damien Prayer


Monday, 25 March 2013

Why I Certify?

I was recently asked why I keep my certifications up to date. I work for a company I love; I enjoy my job and my boss and up through the chain. I get to play with all sorts of technology and since 2007 I have written 39 certification exams. The breakdown is as follows:

31 Microsoft Exams
 6 CompTIA Exams
 3 Apple Exams

Across those exams I now hold over 30 designations. So when a former professor, a few friends and someone on the Microsoft forums asked why I continue to update my credentials it got me thinking. Why do I write certification exams? And the more I thought about it the more I realized there is no easy answer, but there are a number of different reasons:

1.    I love to learn.
2.    To stay current.
3.    Because of new responsibilities at work.
4.    Because of new technologies I manage.
5.    Because if I do not plan on writing the exam I won't get around to it.
6.    For fun.

I am going to expand upon each of those points and hope it will provide some insight into why I certify and why you should consider doing so also. I spent almost 20 years in university and college both full and part time. In fact, if I won the lottery I would go back to school full time. I love learning, reading and studying; in fact it is one of my favorite things to do.

The second reason is to stay current; I have been privileged to have been offered Beta exams from more than one organization. What I loved about those opportunities I have accepted is that you need to work hard from just the list of exam objectives and figure out the new generation of technology. Also outside of the beta exam option, the upgrade paths are always easier than waiting and starting over again. I know people who still proudly state that they are MCS but what they do not say is that it was Windows NT or Windows 2000. What happens if for some reason their career path changes? Their designations are so out of date they cannot upgrade even if they want to. So it is always in your best interest to keep your credentials current.

The third and fourth reasons I pursue certification is new responsibilities at work. A good example is SQL Server, for both the 2005 and 2008 version of this technology.  I wrote the first exam and then because I did not directly manage any SQL servers, never went further. It was always on my 'to do list' to go back and finish my SQL certification but I never got around to it. Then after a change in roles last year I was all of a sudden managing 12 SQL servers across different tiers for staging, development and production for different technologies. I really wish I had stuck with the plan and spent more time on SQL before I was primary for supporting it!

For the fifth reason: ties back to the two above. I find that if I buy the voucher and have 1 year to write the exam or exams if a pack is bought, then it forces me to spend the time. If I do not use the voucher and it expires, it is wasted money. Spending the money will kick-start the studying and push the commitment.

Finally, I find studying fun. I like being in learning mode. I like playing with new technology. This past year I have loved playing with Windows 8 and Server 2012 and learning both. On a side note, one of my professors, Jason Eckert, wrote a sheet for Certification Exam Preparation. With his permission I posted it a few years back but I still post it near my desk when in Certification mode.

Now I am also blessed in that my last few employers have compensated for exams once passed. So staying up to date does not have a big out of pocket cost to me. It was the commitment to time and effort. And for the last few years, part of my annual performance review goals has been at least 1 certification exam relevant to my role and responsibilities.

So now you know why I study and certify. And hopefully it will spur your own thinking as to why you do also, or if you do not, why not? Would love your feedback either way!

In case you're interested the designations I currently hold are:

Microsoft

Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate
    Windows Server 2012
    Windows 8
    Windows 7
    Windows Server 2008
Microsoft Certified IT Professional (MCITP)
    Enterprise Desktop Administrator Windows 7
Server Administrator Windows Server 2008
Enterprise Administrator Windows Server 2008
Enterprise Desktop Support Technician Windows 7
Consumer Support Technician Windows Vista
Enterprise Support Technician Windows Vista
Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist (MCTS)
    Windows 7 Configuration
    System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2008 Configuration
    SQL Server 2005
Windows Server 2008 Active Directory Configuration
    Windows Server 2008 Application Infrastructure Configuration
    Windows Server 2008 Network Infrastructure Configuration
    Business Desktop Deployment
    Microsoft Windows Vista Configuration
Microsoft Certified System Administrator: Security
    Windows Server 2003
Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer: Security
Windows Server 2003
Microsoft Certified System Administrator: Messaging
    Windows Server 2003
Microsoft Certified System Engineer
    Windows Server 2003
Microsoft Certified Systems Administrator
    Windows Server 2003
Microsoft Certified Professional (Legacy)

Microsoft Office Certified Specialist
    Word 2002
    Excel 2002
    PowerPoint 2002
    Access 2002
    Outlook 2002

 
CompTIA

A+ IT Technician
A+ Depot Technical
A+ Remote Support Technician
Network+
Security+

Apple

Apple Certified Technical Coordinator 10.6
Apple Certified Support Professional 10.6
Apple Certified Associate Mac Integration 10.6

And if all goes well I will be adding 3 or 4 more before the end of the year. But you can read more about that in my last certification update - Inner Geek - Updated December 2012.

Peace and Strength!
Yours, learning to be
Steven R. McEvoy


http://mcevoysmusings.ca   My Homepage
http://bookreviewsandmore.ca  My Blog
http://www.linkedin.com/in/srmcevoy LinkedIN
http://twitter.com/SRMcEvoy Twitter

CompTIA IT PRO, A+ ITT, A+ DT, A+ RST, Network+, Security+
Microsoft MCSE, MCSA, MCP, MCTS, MCITP, MOS
Apple ACTC, ACSP, ACA

"Now we can travel with more books stored in our telephones than the ancient Egyptians kept in their vast library at Alexandria."
           Mike Aquilina

"No tea cup is big enough nor book long enough for me to be satisfied."
           C.S. Lewis

"When I get a little money I buy books; and if any is left over I buy food and clothes!"
           Erasmus

Friday, 22 March 2013

The Not So Simple Life - Stephen Shea aka Arthur Slade


The Not So Simple Life
Stephen Shea
aka Arthur Slade
Dava Enterprises
AISN B007PJ19EA


Every now and again an author surprises me. Sometimes it is good, and my opinion of them goes up. Sometimes it is bad. This time it was amazing. I have been a fan of Arthur Slade's writings for many years. Recently I found out he has been publishing books under the name of Stephen Shea and they are amazing! To date there are two novels and a short story published under the name Stephen Shea and I devoured all three in under a week.

Casey Stewart is an advertising copy writer. His Volvo is named Odin and his missing finger is named Frodo. And after a blind date with a woman named Violet, his life is turned upside down. Casey has some idiosyncrasies and a very intriguing back story.

The writing is witty and humorous at its best. Join Casey on a road trip that leads many place and most of them unforeseen. It was an amazing read and I have recommended it to dozens of people. The story is quirky but once you begin the journey you will not want to get off the ride. And you might just want to find out what happens to Casey next! A great read!

Books as Stephen Shea:
The Not So Simple Life
Damage
Viper - Short Story


Books by Arthur Slade:
The Dragonfly's Journey (1996)

John Diefenbaker: an Appointment with Destiny (2000)
Dust (2001)
Tribes (2002)
Monsterology (2005)
Villainology (2005)
Megiddo's Shadow (2006)
Jolted (2008)
Shades: 17 Startling Stories (2011)

Flickers (2016)

Hunchback Assignments Series:
The Hunchback Assignments (2009)
The Dark Deeps (2010)
Empire of Ruins (2011)
Island of Doom (2012)

Modo Embers End - Graphic Novel (2014)

The Northern Frights Series
Draugr (1997)
The Haunting of Drang Island (1998)
The Loki Wolf (2000)

The Canadian Chills Series
Return of the Grudstone Ghosts (2002)
Ghost Hotel (2004)
Invasion of the IQ Snatchers (2007)


Librarian. Assassin. Vampire Series:
Amber Fang: The Hunted 

Books as Stephen Shea:
The Not So Simple Life
Damage
Viper - Short Story


Visual Bibliography for Arthur Slade
Author profile interview with Arthur Slade.

Author profile interview with Stephen Shea. 

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Damage - Stephen Shea aka Arthur Slade


Damage
Stephen Shea
aka Arthur Slade
Dava Enterprises
AISN B008O7ZV9G
 


This book is gripping. It was incredibly powerful and a wonderful read. It is an amazing mix of Icelandic and Canadiana. It is like a continuation of his Northern Frights trilogy for an older audience. Or if you read and love this book then those will entertain as well. I could not put this book down.

Things in Kinniwaw are as they were. The summer has been too hot and too long and it is continuing into the fall. But there is a darkness spreading. Something old is waking up and it is stirring; it is bringing darkness and destruction. Forces are being called together and it is bringing a wave of destruction. Can Rand, his longtime girlfriend Kari, and his grandpa save themselves and their town?

The story will trigger something in all readers. We have all encountered darkness in some form. Most of us have struggled to determine who we are and who we want to be. We will all deal with tragedy and loss. This book wraps all of those and more elements together in an amazing mix.

I have been a fan of Arthur Slade's writings for many years. I found out recently that he has been publishing books aimed for adults under the name of Stephen Shea and they are amazing! To date there are two novels and a short story published under the name Stephen Shea and I devoured all three in under a week. Another amazing book by an incredible writer! Give it a try - you will not be disappointed.

Books as Stephen Shea:
 
The Not So Simple Life
Damage
Viper - Short Story


Books by Arthur Slade:
The Dragonfly's Journey (1996)

John Diefenbaker: an Appointment with Destiny (2000)
Dust (2001)
Tribes (2002)
Monsterology (2005)
Villainology (2005)
Megiddo's Shadow (2006)
Jolted (2008)
Shades: 17 Startling Stories (2011)

Flickers (2016)

Hunchback Assignments Series:
The Hunchback Assignments (2009)
The Dark Deeps (2010)
Empire of Ruins (2011)
Island of Doom (2012)

Modo Embers End - Graphic Novel (2014)

The Northern Frights Series
Draugr (1997)
The Haunting of Drang Island (1998)
The Loki Wolf (2000)

The Canadian Chills Series
Return of the Grudstone Ghosts (2002)
Ghost Hotel (2004)
Invasion of the IQ Snatchers (2007)


Librarian. Assassin. Vampire Series:
Amber Fang: The Hunted 

Books as Stephen Shea:
The Not So Simple Life
Damage
Viper - Short Story


Visual Bibliography for Arthur Slade
Author profile interview with Arthur Slade.

Author profile interview with Stephen Shea. 


Monday, 18 March 2013

Game - Barry Lyga - I Hunt Killers Book 2

Game
I Hunt Killers Book 2
Barry Lyga
Hachette Book Group Canada
LB Teens
ISBN 9780316125871


Last year I read 176 books and I Hunt Killers was my number one pick. Game is even better! A quick comparison: when I finished IHK it felt like base jumping.  I was falling but excited about where things were going. The end of Game was like being thrown off a mountain, while screaming on the way down, no idea where or how we're going to stop. An amazing book! Barry Lyga has a skill and craft in his writing that gets better with each offering. And Game is a thriller that races from start to finish. It some ways it reminded me of Tom Clancy’s Clear and Present Danger because there are so many different story lines and so many different tangents that you wonder how it will all come together. But as we discover each new piece of the puzzle, we find that new pieces are being put on the board and played with skill. But we should have known that once he escaped from jail, Billy Dent, aka The Artist, Green Jack, Gentle Killer, Hand-in-Glove or the world’s most notorious serial killer was going to play and this time the stakes are higher.

Jasper 'Jazz' Francis Dent is the son of serial killer Billy Dent. He is fresh off the case of the Impressionist and helped catch the serial killer who was imitating his father. But now dad is out of jail. There is a serial killer in New York and Jazz gets called in to consult, at first unofficially but later directly requested.  The pieces just do not add up and Jazz is trying hard to help solve the case. There are so many pieces in play, how could we expect Jazz to pull it all together and can he in time. But the biggest problem Jazz has is people he loves. Connie and Howie are being pulled into the game and they are trying to protect him and soon they may all be caught up in a game only one person really understands.

This was an incredible read! I could not put the book down. I raced through the 500 plus pages in two sittings, and literally screamed at the end because I want the next chapter in the story of Billy and Jasper Dent. I have recommended I Hunt Killers to dozens of people and all have loved it. I really cannot state how much better this one is.  You will need to read it and see.



Books by Barry Lyga:
I Hunt Killers:
I Hunt Killers (2012)
Game - I Hunt Killers #2 (2013)

Blood of My Blood - I Hunt Killers # 3 (2014)

I Hunt Killers Short Stories:
Lucky Day (2014)
Career Day (2012)
Neutral Mask (2013)
Blood Boy (2014)

Brookdale High:
The Astonishing Adventures of Fanboy and Goth Girl (2006)
Boy Toy (2007)
Hero Type (2008)
Goth Girl Rising (2009)

Bang (2017)

Archvillian:
Archvillain #1 (2010)
The Mad Mask - Archvillian #2 (2011)
Yesterday Again - Archvillian #3 (2013)

Other Books By Barry Lyga:
Graphic Novels in Your Media Center: A definitive Guide (with Alison A.W. Lyga - 2004)
Wolverine: Worst Day Ever (2009)
MangaMan (with Colleen Dorren 2011)

Unsoul'd (2013)
After The Red Rain (2015)
The Secret Sea (2016)

Short Story Project 2017
The Ghosts at 95
Loving The University
The Ideas of March
Four Minutes
Pulse vs. the Killing Fiend
Her Decade
The Life Cycle of Stars (Ignition)
Bobby
Trading Worlds
...

Contributed to:
Geektastic (2009)
Who Done It? (2013)

Author Profile and Interview with Barry Lyga

Author Profile and Interview with Randall Banner


























































 

Friday, 15 March 2013

Firehouse - Mark Teague

Firehouse
Mark Teague
Orchard Books an imprint of
Scholastic
ISBN 97804399150007


This was the first book both written and illustrated by mark Teague that we have read as a family. It is always interesting approaching a book written by an illustrator that you know from other books and series. You cannot help but have some preconceived ideas. Mark is part of the duo that has created the very popular 'How do dinosaurs …" series. This was a fun read. The illustrations are wonderful and the story is entertaining. Children love the book and will ask for it to be read many times. In this book we join Edward and his cousin Judy as they spend the day at the fire station. They want to learn to be firefighters. Their adventure includes a fire drill and a real emergency. A great read for the family or in the classroom.




Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Buddy to the Rescue - BOB Books - Lynn Maslen Kertell and Sue Hendra

Buddy to the Rescue
BOB Books
Lynn Maslen Kertell (Author)
Sue Hendra (Illustrator)
Scholastic
ISBN 9780545382731


This is another of the Level 1 readers in the BOB Books series. My children love these books. The illustrations are consistently fun and done with a very bright pallet. In this particular story a fair has come to town. Anna and Jack and their parents go. But buddy the dog keeps wanting to go to the hot dog stand. Little do they know Buddy has detected a problem and soon he alerts them all and is the hero of the day. Another great book in an amazing series of readers for young children.

About the Level Readers
The Leveled readers from Scholastic are a great way to introduce your child to reading. The levels are:

Pre1: ABC's & First Words
Level 1: Sight words, words to sound out and simple sentences.
Level 2: New vocabulary and longer sentences.
Level 3: Reading for inspiration and information.
Each book has a level rating, a grade level, a reading level, a lexile level and a word count on the back.




Monday, 11 March 2013

Gus Makes A Friend - Frank Remkiewicz

Gus Makes A Friend
Frank Remkiewicz
Cartwheel Books an imprint of
Scholastic
ISBN 9780545244701


This pre-Level 1 reader is a great read for beginning readers. The story is wonderful. The sentences are short, and many repeat words for reinforcement. Gus wants to play but no one has time. So he decides to make a friend; while working on his snow friend Ned sees him and they work together. The story is fun and entertaining. The illustrations are awesome. This is the first book by Frank Remkiewicz we have read but we will definitely be tracking down more.

Friday, 8 March 2013

A Friend for Noodles - Noodles - Hans Wilhelm


A Friend for Noodles
Noodles
Hans Wilhelm
Cartwheel Books an imprint of
Scholastic
ISBN 9780545344982
 


This is the second of the Noodles book we have read and is very different from the other. In this story, 6 words are replaced throughout the story with pictures. It makes it fun to read and young readers love it. The 6 pictographs appear again and again throughout the story. They are Noodles, leaves, bear, Fox, pumpkin and apples. Children will love the story and following Noodles and his adventures to find his lost bear, playing hide and seek and spending time roaming around the outdoors. A great leveled reader geared for young children. 


Wednesday, 6 March 2013

I Hate Bullies! - Noodles - Hans Wilhelm

I Hate Bullies!
Noodles
Hans Wilhelm
Cartwheel Books an imprint of
Scholastic
ISBN 9780439701396


 This book is a fun story, but in today's zero tolerance age, defending himself might not be appreciated. Noodles has his bone taken by a bully and he wants it back. The book is towards the lower end of the level 1 reader's simple words and short sentences. There is also a work list of words that end the same at the end of the book. I loved the story and the book, but many parents might not appreciate it.

Monday, 4 March 2013

Jillian Jiggs and the Great Big Snow - Phoebe Gilman


Jillian Jiggs and the Great Big Snow
Phoebe Gilman
North Wind Press an imprint of
Scholastic
ISBN 9781443119498
 


Jillian is a child with a zest for life; unfortunately she is known to lose a thing a or two. And do you know what her mother will say?

"Jillian, Jillian say it's not true!
How do you lose all the things that you do?"

But in this story it goes very far, such as how many things can she lose in one day at the park? While playing in the snow with her friends and making a series of Martian snow creatures, she loses item after item of clothing but just keeps playing.

The illustrations in this story were great fun. Children will love them and the rhyming story. It is an awesome book and we will be looking to read more Jillian Jiggs adventures soon.


Friday, 1 March 2013

Spiral Doodle - Klutz

Spiral Doodle
Klutz
ISBN 9780545459921
 


When I saw this book it brought back childhood memories of spiral-doodle. It includes the drawing frame, 4 see-through colour shape wheels, a 6-color pen, and a 48-page booklet of ideas. The possible designs are nearly endless, and will be entertaining to children and parents alike. I could spend hours doing designs with this; not sure how much time my kids will get to play with it. But when they do they love it!