Field of Science

Daily routine

7:00 am coffeeeeeeeeeee
8:00 am more coffeeeeee
9:00 am more coffee maybe shower, maybe already showered. Regardless let's assume already showered

10:00 get to work/lab If I car pool this means getting dropped off at the St. Paul campus and taking the shuttle bus to near where I work, if I don't car pool this means parking next to my building and kicking the fuck out of the card reader until it decides I can get into my building.

10:05 open some doors and walk up several flights of stairs. Go to my office and unlock the door and drop my shit off.

10:10 go back through all the doors and down the stairs to get some more coffee. This requires going through key carded doors that don't require kicking the shit out of. In fact if I get near them with my card they work (Fuck you one outside door that is a total fuckstain!).

10:15 drop off coffee in the office and go to bathroom to wash hands. Yes I'm thinking about the shuttle bus handles and chairs as well as the door knobs I've touched getting to and from my office as well as getting my third coffee. Yes I use soap and get the paper towels ready ahead of time. Yes I use soap and use the paper towels to turn off the water. Yes I get more paper towels, which is ok my hands are still wet, to finish drying my hands and open the door. I use my foot to prop the door while I took the paper towels and exit the bathroom.

12:00 I don't know if this is the correct time, but I wash my hands because I've been in the lab doing science. (If I haven't been doing science in the lab, I wash my hands anyway because its time, and I want lunch.)

1:00 Go into the bathroom and wash my hands, I might use the facilities too as I've had 3+ cups of coffee.

3:00 Leave lab or office and wash hands, because its time and whether I realize it or not I've almost certainly done some things regrind door handles, stairs, countertops, or something lots of hands have touched.

5:00 At gym, use sanitizer. After running laps on track use sanitizer. Do some weight lifting with pulleys. Mucho sanitizer.

5:45 Don't touch face, you don't know what you've been in contact with.

7:00 Arrive home and wash hands well with soap and water. Make dinner, assume I'm safe. Wash hands and dishes, partner will appreciate (at least the dishes part) and I'll feel good about a full day, complete with active knowledge of where my hands have been.

9:00 get ready for bed, wash hands anyway, because as confident as you are, you're probably off by a bunch.


How the Coronavirus and Flu Are Not the Same

There has been much attention, too much in my opinion, comparing SARS-CoV-2 with Influenza B. SARS-CoV-2 and Influenza B are the specific names for the viruses in question when we generally short hand Coronavirus and Flu, there are many types of coronaviruses, including SARS, MERS, and some versions of the common cold (although most colds are caused by rhinoviruses). There are also multiple types of flu, including influenza type A, B, and C, although A and B are the most common. From here on out, I'll use Coronavirus and Flu as this is how most people and the media discuss them, but realize this is short-hand. (COVID-19 is the disease caused by Sara-CoV-2 and is not a pseudonym, much like AIDS is a disease caused by HIV.)

Both viruses are RNA viruses, their genetic material is RNA and this is converted into DNA after infection into a host cell. These viruses force the host cell to use this DNA copy to make all the proteins required to make new virus and to make complete RNA copies which will then be packaged into new viral particles before killing the host cell and infecting other cells and/or hosts.

Both Coronavirus and Flu cause significant respiratory illness. Indeed, SARS is an acronym for Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome. These infections make breathing more difficult, in large part due to immune responses trying to keep you alive, but they also make a patient more prone to getting pneumonia, which can also kill you. These aspects of infection help explain why the elderly, immunosuppressed, and young are high risk groups (It appears that Coronavirus is not particularly lethal in the young, however data is still limited in my opinion.)

At first glance it looks like Coronavirus and Flu are similar. This could lead some, like an orange baboon, to directly compare them. If we do compare them directly, its easy to conclude that Flu is much much worse and its a plot by the universe to be concerned about Coronavirus. In the US, Flu infects 10s of millions, leading to hundreds of thousands of hospitalizations, and 10s of thousand deaths! Every year!!! To date world-wide, Coronavirus has infected over 100,000 people and caused about 4000 deaths. For non-viral comparison sake, car crashes kill about 40 thousand people in the US, comparable to the flu virus. Gin deaths are similar in the US.
Your basic Orange Baboon. From here, although I realize the image on the left is an infant orangutang and the image on the right is an actual orange baboon.
Since we don't shut down schools, concerts, etc for the flu and don't seem to care that much about vehicular deaths and definitely aren't willing to do anything about gun deaths, what is the concern about Coronavirus all about?

It's because because these comparisons are, at best, inadequate but more likely abysmal.

First, we need to consider what happens when someone gets sick with either virus. Maybe nothing both viruses cause symptomatic infections, although these patients can readily pass the viruses on to others who may not be so lucky. Next possibility is you get sick but not so severely that you go to the hospital. Hopefully you stay home and recover, but this being America, many people will have to go to work or are otherwise unable to rest because social safety nets are for commies, you know like every other developed country on the planet. More severe cases lead to hospitalization and of those a subset will leave the hospital in a casket. Here's one of the first places where Coronavirus and Flu differ. Roughly 2-3% of infected individuals will die of Coronavirus, aka leave in a casket, this number will likely change as more information is obtained (in other areas of the world because the US is wasting time and energy NOT testing even likely infected patients). However, the Flu leads to death in roughly 0.1% of patients.

Second, lets consider some other critical differences.

1. There's a Flu vaccine! That's right there's a vaccine against influenza, but somewhere between jack and shit for SARS-CoV-2, to be fair it's closer to shit than jack shit. Regardless of what orange baboons say, it will be a long time, at the earliest before, there's a vaccine. In fact, it may take many years before there's a vaccine. We still do not have anything close to a vaccine to HIV and we've been working on it since the 80s. The flu vaccine isn't perfect because it has to be developed before flu season begins so some years its more effective than others (if it were developed afterwards, it would be too late to be useful....hmmmm). To be clear, even when the vaccine doesn't match well, it still provides some protection and reduces mortality and severity, shortens length of illness, and reduces chance of infection. Also evolution matters and flu, much like other RNA viruses, I'm looking at you SARS-CoV-2, evolves quickly. This is why you should get a flu vaccine every year. By the time a Coronavirus vaccine is developed, in the best case scenario, most of the planet will already have been exposed.

Ok, the savvy among you are already thinking, if there's a vaccine but still a shit ton of people die from Flu, why should I care about Coronavirus? Well, most people are not vaccinated for the Flu, maybe 50%, which is well below what is needed for 'herd immunity'. However, health care workers, doctors, nurses, EMTs, etc. are almost uniformly vaccinated against flu. Thus, they are much less likely to miss work because they have the flu, which means they are available to care for those who do get sick and require hospitalization.

2. We know the flu is coming! Look there's a reason you need a vaccine every year. As above its due to evolution. But here's the thing, for well over a hundred years we've known this is coming. Every single year. And as our medical personnel are kind of smart and know this is coming, they are prepared. Besides being vaccinated, hospitals and clinics generally have the resources available to handle the influx of respiratory illnesses that will show up during flu season. We know thousands of patients are coming in, so its factored into the medical care equation. Don't believe me, think this is some kind of plot conceived by the MSM? Ask yourself why do insurance companies, the epitome of capitalism in the US, prepare for these expenses every year? In the US, hospitals are generally revenue generating, at least for the wealthy, so why aren't they prepared for this change in hospital cases every year? The short answer is: they are prepared. They are prepared for flu, they are also prepared for other cases, like heart attacks and broken bones. However, they are NOT prepared for dealing with fundamental changes in the status quo.

Coronavirus is a change in the status quo.

3. Here's the problem if hospitals plan for X number of beds being occupied, even during flu season, what happens if more than X number of beds are occupied due to Coronavirus? What happens to any potential extra patients, like Grandpa with a heart attack? In the US, we live in a firm capitalistic society, if someone isn't making money then why bother. So hospitals don't have a bunch of excess beds for, just in case. Hospitals don't have extra doctors, nurses, or other staff sitting on the bench for, just in case.

TV medical dramas give a false sense of time frames in regards to infectious disease testing. One thing they do give reasonable service to is bed availability. If two school buses crash into each other, the local hospital cannot compensate with the increased patient load. This becomes the plot focus for episode this week. In these scenarios, patients are triaged and sent to other hospitals or patients left to wait for a team to be available to treat them. This is the drama of the episode. So what does this mean in the real world in the face of a pandemic?

4. If a small percentage of health service professionals, EMTs, nurses, doctors, get sick then everything fails. There are a finite number of nurses available to serve at a given hospital, there are only so many goalies available on game day (2 in fact). If the goalies get injured you are basically fucked. Yes there was this one game this one year that the team won, just saying. However, the reason this is notable is that most third string goalies never get in and when they do they fail.

If fewer medical professionals are available more people fail to receive adequate care, so these people get worse results. Furthermore, new cases get pushed to the back burner making the problem last longer. Also Grandpa who shows up with a heart attack is part of this queue.

5. This leads to the St Louis vs Philadelphia conundrum. (Not fair to either city.) During the flu of 1918, problematically called the Spanish Flu, Philadelphia took a Trump MAGA approach, not doing shit, and St. Louis took a more draconian approach of closing dance halls (clubs), schools, and other gathering areas. This this led to the 'flattening the curve' idea that is all over the nets.
From here
The gif is better in my opinion: Flatten the Curve

Basically the idea is that if exposure and infections are delayed, severe cases do not overwhelm the health care infrastructure. The bad part of this is infections occur over a longer period of time. The good part is that fewer people die! To be clear without flattening the curve, there's a much greater chance of people dying from Coronaviruse, but also Grandpa dying of a heart attack, because the health care system is overwhelmed. If doctors, nurses, and other staff are home sick they are not helping Grandpa out and there are not people on the zamboni who can come into the game successfuly.

We, in the US and most other places, are not prepared for pandemics. It's not our business model. However, by taking steps to mitigate the potential, and almost certain problems, we can respond adequately. To be clear people will die, people will get sick, there's no denying that. However, we can significantly reduce the number who die and get profoundly sick.

As an academic, a skeptic, and a realist I doubt we will succeed. Overall I think we are Philadelphia, not St. Louis.

Prove me wrong.

What I read 2019

A      The Shining by Stephen King. Excellent book! Saw the great movie of the same name. They're different, I'll leave it at that.

C-      Sherlock Holmes vs Cthulhu: The Adventures of the Deadly Dimensions by Lois H. Gresh. If you want to combine two distinct universe into one and spend a few hours on the beach reading about it, this one's for you. If you're looking for depth, look elsewhere.

A      The Institute by Stephen King. Great story, probably my favorite of King's recent works. Maybe a prequel/sequel to Firestarter, never read it, but saw the movie many years ago. Deals with many themes, not the least of which are reminiscent of locking kids in cages for political purposes.

D      Origin by Dan Brown. Pretty much every other Dan Brown book, except in Spain. Fast paced easy entertaining read, but I already read this story when it was called The DaVinci Code.

C      The Dread Wyrm by Miles Cameron. A good book to pass some time but meh. Good prose regarding troop movements and ideas of warfare, but I could use more, much more, on character development.

C+   Except the Dying by Maureen Jennings. Only read this book because I started binge watching Murdoch Mysteries on Hulu, which are based on the characters in the books this one starts. The characters in the book are profoundly different from those in the TV series, but its a fun read. I am looking forward to reading the next one by the fire this winter at Lake Itasca.

A     The Rage of Dragons by Evan Winter. A great world built by Winter. Definitely ephansizes the difference between the 'haves' and the 'have nots'. In this day and age, it is good to see the unaccountable powerful get knocked down a peg or two. Reminds me of Pierce Brown's Red Rising books in this way. 

B-    Nest by Terry Goodkind. Not sure how to define this book. Kind of suspense/thriller, but kind of sci-fi, if you count psionic powers (I do). Interesting premise, but as is Goodkind's want, it becomes a heavy handed political hammer in the latter portion.

B+   Empire of Grass by Tad Williams. Really did not like some of characters in the first book, which I expect was part of Williams story arc. Maybe I'll like root for them by the end of the trilogy. Could also be having a teenager, makes reading about teenage angst hit too close to home rather than being a fun escape.

B     The Stiehl Assassin by Terry Brooks. Been reading Brooks since I was a teenager, it's weird knowing this world is coming to end with the next book. Regardless, this quadrilogy is some of the best Shannara work since Elfstones and Wishsong.

A-    The Colorado Kid by Stephen King. I enjoy King's forays into different genres and styles, like the installments of The Green Mile and this pulp mystery short story. Really the mystery is a mechanism to describe how an outsider becomes accepted into a small community.
A     The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon. Did not see this coming! Sometimes its great to have a Barnes & Noble 20% coupon to take a chance on a book. Another new world, but this seems to be inspired, at least in part, by East Asian mythos.

B+   Pet Sematary by Stephen King. Book is so much better than the first movie or the more recent version. Particularly the ending.

C     The Dark Forest by Cixin Lui. The Three Body Problem did not need a sequel, it was a great read in and of itself. Regardless, The Dark Forest takes us into dealing with the future arrival of an alien fleet and how to survive. Seemed a little clunkier than The Three Body Problem, but that could be an issue of translation from the original Chinese. 

A     She Has Her Mother's Laugh by Carl Zimmer. This is probably the best science book I have read over the last decade. Should be required reading for anyone into the biological sciences. This is my book of the year!

B     The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson. A great horror story/decent into madness story. Leans more towards the horror side. Reminded a little of Stephen King's Rose Red miniseries, where a group of strangers are brought to an ostensibly haunted house. Just googled it, and Rose Red is a degree of separation from Jackson's work.

B+   Sand by Hugh Howey. A different world built by Howey, from the Wool trilogy. A post-apocalyptic story where the world, at least what we see of it, is basically buried in desert. Looking forward to the next follow up, if there is one, to see where this goes.

A     The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood. Horrific book that captures what I think many male Evangelicals would like the country to look like. Albeit they would miss out on the fact they would not be the elite with wives and broodmares.

B+   Outsider by Stephen King. A continuation of the Mr. Mercedes universe, but since (spoiler alert) Hodges is dead how does it continue? This story focuses on a new police officer and Holly, the introverted colleague of Hodges from the early stories. Like the earlier books, its a mystery crossed with sic-fi horror.

C     Echo Burning by Lee Child. Jack Reacher being Jack Reacher. To be read at the beach with a beer or two.

B     An Echo of Things to Come by James Islington. A solid second novel in the Licanius Series. After establishing a strong world in the first book, absent much historical information, we begin to fill in those gaps. This makes the second book more than simply a lever to help get us to the third book. 

D     Night flyers and Other Stories by George R.R. Martin. A collection of good short stories by GRRM. All, if I recall correctly, are sci-fi and not fantasy which is distinct from his more popular Game of Thrones books.

22 books read this year. Slightly better than last year. Of these, 21 were fiction, 10 were sci-fi/fantasy, 5 were by Stephen King, and 1 was a classic. Only 1 non-fiction book and it was biology.

I am Lazarus

Image result for wash me
So dusty

Look I haven't blogged in ~forever but now is as good a time as any to post something. As a PI trying to run a lab, teach effectively, raise a young adult, be a partner, have my own time not necessarily in this order, this has been a stressful few years. (#thankgodfortenure).

Regardless, its time to reset and recharge while in the midst of my heavy teaching load and just receiving news that not 1, but 2, fucking grants were 'not discussed'. But first I'll enjoy a couple of tasty malt beverages and then get back into the thick of it.

My goal now is to use this space for brief updates to ensure I keep writing.

What I Read (2018)

B High Deryni by Katherine Kurtz. Final of the trilogy. I like the antagonism between some leaders of the major religion (Christianity) and Deryni magic (I read as a proxy for science). Ending was abrupt, I didn't have a good reason to believe the war would actually be averted that easily.

F War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy. Basically the Kardashians for the media and audience of the late 1800s. Most of the book is essentially a 'lifestyles of the rich and famous' expose. I care little about the turmoil of the extremely well-to-do, which all stories from this period seem to revolve around. Battles were well described and the conditions of war better dealt with than many other attempts. The ending and a couple of chapters in the latter has were philosophical reflections on history, which were interesting albeit wordy.

C Red Dragon by Thomas Harris. Much like Lee Childs Jack Reacher stories, this was an easy fast read, good for relaxing.

B- Deryni Checkmate by Katherine Kurtz. Decent follow up to Deryni Rising although this is not a stand alone story rather a part I of II.

B+ Deryni Rising by Katherine Kurtz. I first read this book several decades ago, probably late middle school/early high school, and remember enjoying it a lot. Spent a fair bit of time trying to remember the titles or the author recently with no success, I knew they were written by a woman and happened to the three original books (of which Dernyi Rising is the first) on a shelf at a used book store. I snapped them up no question. A short novel introducing the world and main characters and telling a good story. One aspect I forgot is that the story basically occurs over a couple of days, reminding me that a good fantasy story does not have to be an epic quest covering months to years.

B+ The Rise and Fall of D.O.D.O. by Neil Stephenson and Nicole Galland. I tried reading Quicksilver but got bogged down, it wasn't 'quick', and gave up. This story kept me engrossed. A solid story, encompassing reality (as I understand it), magic, and time travel. Reminiscent of Stoker's Dracula in that the narrative is driven by letters, journal entries, emails, etc. Took a long time to embrace the plot, but the world building was compelling and worth it. Ending wide open, which I enjoy, but not saying I need a sequel (would likely read if there is one).

A Fascism: A Warning by Madeleine Albright. Excellent part-biography part warning call. While you can fell the presence of Trump throughout the book, he doesn't really make an appearance until the last chapter. Makes an important point that Trump is a symptom not the actual disease. Might be my book of the year, but The Three Body Problem still wins.

C+ Alice by Christina Henry. Alice and an asylum, what's not to like. Much of this book actually. An interesting take on a classic story. It builds a new universe, but there isn't enough there there to really understand the rules in my opinion. Doesn't quite reach American McGee in its craziness but seems to try. The ending was a surprise.

B The Shadow of What Was Lost by James Islington. I enjoyed this book when I read it, but much of it didn't stick with me. The ending was a whirlwind of action and gripping. The world building dragged a bit for me, but I say this in hindsight at the time I was right there. I have the second volume of the series but when I got it, I had to refresh my mind on the previous volume. Could be a personal issue, regardless I enjoyed this at the time and when I reminded myself what is was about.

B+ The Skaar Invasion by Terry Brooks. Good book, dialing up the Empire Strike Back vibe to 11. Pretty much the standard second installment of a Terry Brooks trilogy. However, there were enough differences and surprises (no spoilers) to bump this up. Brooks is one of my favorite fantasy writers and I admit much of this might be nostalgia, but I enjoyed this iteration of book 2 of 3 much more than probably any in the past two decades.

A Persepolis Rising by James S.A. Corey. Another enjoyable ride through the solar system and 'proximity' via stable 'worm holes'. The story is wrapping up with this and the next two books making Persepolis Rising the first in a classic trilogy. This book is distinct from the other books, which is something the duo writing under James S.A. Corey have done exceedingly well in previous iterations of the series. Raises the stakes and tension to eleven (Realize that this is the same series that basically destroyed the Earth a couple of books ago so that's saying something!).

D John Constantine, Hellblazer Vol 2: The Devil You Know by Jamie Delano and David Lloyd. Kind of a mix of stories with an overarching narrative in the latter part.

C  Giant of the Senate by Al Franken. Always solid in political satire or more aptly sarcasm, Franken does a solid job with this book. It is a pity he stepped down, but several chapters in the early middle, did not do much to help his case and were by no means humorous to read in light of his behavior.

A+  The Three Body Problem by Liu Cixin. This is one of the best science fiction books I've read in forever. At the time I read it, it was my choice for must read book of the year. Great narrative through time. The fact that it is written by an author from a different culture, Chinese, and translated into English and it's brilliant! Leaves an open ending that I think is the perfect way to end the book. Bought the sequel, but deep down I  wish there wasn't one.

C  Drawn Blades by Kelly McCullough. I like this series a lot, but this installment lacked some of the world and character building I enjoyed. Seemed more as an action adventure place holder in the ongoing story of Aral.

C  The Sandman, vol 8. Worlds' End by Neil Gaiman. I like the Sandman stories overall. This is a collection of short stories based on characters trapped/stuck in an otherworldly inn to wait out a storm. The characters tell stories to each other to pass the time. Sadly, I recall little of the actual stories at the time of this writing even though I enjoyed them when I read them, which means something....hence the C.

B+  How Not to Be Wrong: The Power of Mathematical Thinking by Jordan Ellenberg. Highly recommend this book to get a sense of mathematics with some history and personalities thrown in. Many parts are readily approachable, but there are numerous places where some solid math foundations are needed to follow the arguments.

C    Running Blind by Lee Child. If you have a few hours to kill and nothing better to do, this will get you through it. Extremely fast paced, which is good because you don't want to have a moment to think about the characters or logic.

B    The Sandman vol 7, Brief Lives by Neil Gaiman. A good story overall touching on aspects of life and death (although Death herself only makes minor appearances).

C+  On Writing Well by William Zinger. The first part was great, lots to incorporate into my writing and my classes. The second part was meh overall. The third part was a mix of the first and second parts.

A-   The Witchwood Crown by Tad Williams. Happy for a new installment of this series. Think the length of time between writing this book compared to the original series makes the writing fresh. Characters are wonderful, though I dislike the grandchildren and wonder if this is intentional on Williams part. There are suggestions throughout the book that something is afoot regarding the children.

21 books read this year. Worst number since my seizures knocked me down for a few months. Of these 21 11 were sci-fi/fantasy 2 were other fiction 3 were graphic novels 1 was a classics 4 were non-fiction.

Manifestation of Prof Stress

The Spring semester has ended, which means something from a teaching perspective but not from a research perspective. At least that's true for me. I know others can vary in their teaching/research mileage. For me, teaching is basically a fall/spring semester concern. I do teach a couple of weeks during the summer, but this requires little prep work so I don't count it. Research is a year long venture, but does suffer during the fall/spring, especially the fall, because of my teaching duties. A couple of weeks ago on consecutive nights, I woke up around 2 am from bad dreams. These dreams, I won't say nightmares because they were stress inducing but not terrifying, related to these two big areas of my professional life.

The first night it was a research related dream and the focus was on grants, big surprise to people in the field I expect. The dream actually started out on a good note as I was just awarded an R21 grant from NIH! The happiness and relief of having some money to conduct the research I want to do, quickly transitioned to stress as I began thinking about how quickly I could get someone hired and trained to do the research successfully. I became increasingly stressed because the R21 is only a two year grant. If it takes 6 months to hire and get someone well trained (a stretch in my opinion), I basically have 6 more months before we need to be generating most of the data in order to write a larger grant. For those not in the know, it takes a few months to write a proposal (for me at least) and then ~ 9 months before funding decisions are made. Thus, in order to maintain constant funding from the onset of the R21, I basically have 12 months to get most of the work done with an untrained person. I woke up a mix of happiness combined with a whirlwind of stress. I was up about 2 hours before going back to sleep.

The second night it was a teaching related dream. In real life I had just completed final grades for my Spring semester course and was breathing a sigh of relief to have ~3 months to focus on experiments and writing (papers and grants). In my dream, I felt like I was in the same place and at work setting up experiments when I realized my Fall semester classes were starting in a couple hours and I hadn't set up the course website, planned any lectures, etc. I was running around trying to get together some slides for the introduction and to print off some worksheets for the students but couldn't find a printer. To make things worse I couldn't find out where my class was meeting and time was ticking down to the point where I was figuring out how late I would be. Basically this was my adult version of the 'just realizing you have a final in a class you didn't know you were enrolled in all semester' nightmare. Again up for a couple of hours without being able to sleep.

Haven't had anymore repeats of the stressmares™, but apparently my sleep schedule basically requires waking up at 2 am. I do get some reading done I guess, but would rather get a straight 7-8 hours of sleep. Stupid brain.

What I Read (2017)

(Grade A-F, no E's) Title-Author Additional thoughts

C+     The Man in the High Castle by Philip K. Dick. An alternate history where the axis wins WWII and life in the US under oppression. Many story lines that were linked, but he connections seemed weak. Still not sure about the importance of the man in the high castle (although he moved) other than to imply the strange twist at the end. I guess that keeps the story in the sci-fi genre.
      Lost Gods by Gerald Brom. Didn't know what to expect, but I liked the cover. Fun story merging horror and fantasy. 
C       Island in the Sea of Time by S.M. Stirling. I enjoyed the premise of this story and it got better in the final two acts. There were many clunky technical details in the beginning that did not fit in with the narrative well. Seemed like the Stirling learned a lot about schooner ships for research and tried to jam it in.
C       Wytches vol 1 by Scott Snyder. Meh, but not as Meh as God Country.
B       And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie. Ok this was fun. Glad Christie included an epilogue how the hell everything happened.
D      God Country by Donny Cates & Geoff Shaw. Meh. American Gods is a great book and would make a great graphic novel. This was not American Gods.
B+    The Stone Sky by N.K. Jemisin. I did not enjoy the second story in this series, by the final entry is a winner. The story came to a solid conclusion tying up many loose ends.
B       The Walking Dead Compendium Two by Robert Kirkman et. al. A good follow up to the first one. The survivors discover a idyllic community only to have everything go the shit. People suck.
B      Breakfast of Champions by Kurt Vonnegut. I understood this book better than Slaughterhouse V and thus enjoyed it more. Satirical book touches on many aspects of life in the US. Author drawings throughout the book is interesting.
B      The Black Elfstone by Terry Brooks. The first Shannara story I read was Elfstones, shortly after it came out. I've had a fondness for this world for decades and while some stories have felt repetitive, this one is starting out on familiar territory but is introducing some new complexities and territory. A solid beginning for a new quadrilogy (and a change from the trilogy form Brooks has generally used).
C      Grave Peril by Jim Butcher. See Fool Moon below.
A      It Can't Happen Here by Sinclair Lewis. A timely book, incredibly timely. How a populist can come to power in the US and quickly devolve into fascism. Although written in 1935 the populist plank could be written (and much of it has) by today's tea party. This is my required reading book choice for the year.
C      Fool Moon by Jim Butcher. Another easy read to pass some time. Didn't add much to the Harry Dresden's character which was something I was looking for.
B      Storm Front by Jim Butcher. Recommended to me by a prince of assholes, a fun read before bed. Look forward to reading more about Harry Dresden. Wish there was more character development in the book, but a good first story.
A     To Green Angel Tower part 2 by Tad Williams. Rereading this series in preparation for the Witchwood Crown, originally read this series during graduate school when I took some time off to mentally relax after writing the initial draft of my thesis.
B+   To Green Angel Tower part 1 by Tad Williams. Rereading this series in preparation for the Witchwood Crown, originally read this series during graduate school when I took some time off to mentally relax after writing the initial draft of my thesis.
A        Coraline by Neil Gaiman. A story of a not very nice mother, the other mother. Not really a children's book although I would have read this to my son when he was younger anyway. The world's not all kittens and puppies.
B+     The Stone of Farewell by Tad Williams. Rereading this series in preparation for the Witchwood Crown, originally read this series during graduate school when I took some time off to mentally relax after writing the initial draft of my thesis.
A       The Dragonbone Chair by Tad Williams. Rereading this series in preparation for the Witchwood Crown, originally read this series during graduate school when I took some time off to mentally relax after writing the initial draft of my thesis.
A       End of Watch by Stephen King. A great ending to the series. Intertwines with the first story well, but each of the trilogy is a stand alone story.
B       Weaponized Lies by Daniel J. Levity. Good book, but covers some ground I'm quite familiar with.
C       Blade Reforged by Kelly McCullough. I enjoy this series and the flawed protagonist but this story was entertaining yet fleeting. It provided more backstory for Aral and the war amongst the gods in this world.
 B      Tripwire by Lee Child. An easy fun read. f the three books I've read so far, the villain in this story is the most developed and interesting and all around evil.
B-     Injustice: Gods Among Us Year 2 The Complete Collection by Tom Baylor, Bruno Redondo, and Mike S. Miller. A decent follow up on the initial story. Lags because the first collection established the world and key problem of Superman becoming an authoritarian. This is developed further and the two sides more fleshed out.
B      Paycheck and Other Classic Stories by Philip K. Dick. Has any short story sci-fi author had as many movies made out of their work? I doubt it. Some of the stories in this anthology I enjoyed, others were just so-so, but thats to be expected.
A      The Walking Dead: Compendium One by Robert Kirkman et. al. Great first compilation of the graphic novels. It's hard to read these stories and not give up on humanity. Basically a reasonable analysis of the human condition.

26 books read this year. Below average by a few books, not going to count the 4 rereads against myself since it was a good 20 years since I read before. 
Of the 26 books: 5 were graphic novels, 1 was philosophy, 4 were older books.