Just went to Hawaii with my wife for our anniversary, which is why I've been silent for so long. Boy, but it's a long trip getting there from the east coast. On the other hand, all that time sitting in airports and on airplanes gives me time to read some novels, something I get to do too little of under normal circumstances.
Read John Varley's "Mammoth" on the way out. It was described as "H.G. Wells meets Jurassic Park" and despite the terrific reviews pasted all over the back cover of the book, I thought the vast majority of it was slow and predictable. I enjoyed his book "The Ophiuchi Hotline" (the only other of his books that I've read before), but I couldn't recommend "Mammoth" to anyone. I tired to get my wife to read it just to see if she had the same opinion I did, but I think she heard me complain about it too much to take the risk.
Also (finally) read John Scalzi's "Old Man's War." That I enjoyed very much. Good writing, impressive world-building. I didn't think it got particularly compelling until he introduced the character of Jane Sagan and the Ghost Brigade (which didn't happen until about 2/3 of the way through the book), but it was interesting enough before then that I was happy to go along for the ride. I've bought the sequel, which is entitled "Ghost Brigade," so I guess a few other people thought that was one of the more intruiging parts of "OMW," too. I'm looking forward to it, but now that I'm home again I'm not sure when I'll have time to tackle the thing. I have to admit, one of the things I liked about "Old Man's War" was that it was only about 300 pages long. I grew up a big fan of authors like Clifford Simak and Roger Zelazny, who also wrote at about that length and it's nice to see someone sell a novel that's not 125K to 150K words long.
In between those two books I also managed to do a little sight-seeing, a lot of snorkeling (something I love), and spent a lot of time with someone I love but all too often take for granted. It was a pleasure to be Ed and Terry for a while instead of mom and dad (and God bless grandma and grandpa who stayed with the kids while we were away. The picture here are from my first snorkeling outing, which included swimming with a large pod of dolphins, a giant sea turtle, and me holding an octopus in my hands. The pictures were taken by a professional photographer who happened to be along on the boat (Chuck Harvey: www.chuckharvey.com). The turtle is the actual one I swam with, and though it's hard to tell, the picture of me next to the boat is the one where I'm holding the octopus. He's the little brown lump you can barely make out, but he was making himself small and trying to hide. It's amazing how much they can compress themselves. The other octopus picture is the same creature right after he was released.
I left my favorite pair of cycling sunglasses on a beach on the west side of the island (I also left my favorite pair of cycling gloves in a small chapel on top of a mountain in southern Italy last year, so I either need to stop taking my cycling gear on these trips or I need to accept the fact that some part of my subconscious enjoys leaving my favorite stuff in cool places around the world).
Coming home was a challenge; it was 63 degrees, windy, and rainy, and there was a mountain of work waiting for me. And snorkeling for 2 to 3 hours every day for three straight days left my back really sunburned (despite repeated applications of sunblock (spf 50) to my pasty white flesh), so sleeping is a bit of a challenge right now. But it was worth it. Oh, was it ever worth it...