Mar. 8th, 2017

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Updating a little later today, because I am officially certified in adult and pediatric CPR, AED use, and first aid! Which is to say, I spent six hours today at the local Red Cross headquarters watching videos and listening to an instructor, with occasional breaks to practice on the mannequins and my classmates. A lot of the information was stuff I'd picked up piecemeal over the years; I remember learning to do chest compressions at some point in school, and a combination of reading, life experience, and common sense had taught me treatment of stuff like heat exhaustion, nosebleeds, diabetic shock, bleeding, etc. But it was helpful to go through the motions of an actual incident, as well as get clear information on where the boundaries of responsibility (and liability) are for a first responder. Plus I got to learn how an AED works, which was surprisingly cool. I wouldn't have thought you could make defibrillation idiot-proof, but AEDs are pretty darn close; they even check for a heartbeat before administering the shock. So cool! Suffice it to say, my confidence level is bolstered enough that I'm much more likely to offer help in case of an emergency. Which is basically the whole point of such courses, so I'm going to call that a success.

What I've just finished reading

Penric's Demon, by Lois McMaster Bujold. Speaking of first responders - poor Penric; he meant well. The henpecked younger scion of an impoverished noble family, Pen is on his way to his betrothal when he encounters a Divine of the Bastard who appears to be in distress, and stops to offer help. As so often happens when one attracts the notice of a trickster deity, his entire life is turned rapidly upside down as he finds himself sharing his body with a demon - a symbiotic consciousness possessed of many lives, and one that generally identifies as female, to boot. Having named her Desdemona, he proceeds to navigate the tricky physical and political questions brought on by his new status, as well as gaining some fairly immediate lessons in spycraft and intelligence-gathering.

Although I've yet to read the rest of the series, I suspect that this is the weakest link in it; Penric's quiet nature and overbearing upbringing have made him a follower by nature, liable to obey authority without many questions. Needless to say, his passivity doesn't make him particularly compelling; the first part of his story basically consists of him doing what he's told - either by outside sources, or by the demon - without question and despite any personal reservations. Nonetheless, there are moments of interest, especially where his burgeoning relationship with Desdemona (who, unsurprisingly, has a pretty proactive personality) is concerned, and in places where he begins to question what he's been taught. I'm looking forward to seeing how things go in the next novella, once Penric's had some training and hopefully feels a little less at the mercy of the world.

What I'm reading now

The Black Count: Glory, Revolution, Betrayal, and the Real Count of Monte Cristo, by Tom Reiss. I don't usually seek out biographies, but I picked this up on a Kindle deal a while back, and after enjoying the Hamilton biography as much as I did I opened this one almost on a whim...and was immediately sucked into the tall tales told of its subject, Alex Dumas (father to the author of The Count of Monte Cristo and The Three Musketeers). The son of a marquis and a slave, possessed of a fearsome physique and an even more fearsome intelligence, Dumas was lucky enough to be born into a time and place well-suited to his outsize talents - in this case, the French Revolution - and unlucky enough to be a man of idealism and integrity in the sociopolitical environment that followed. I suspect this will be an interesting companion piece to Hamilton, although from the tone so far I expect it'll be less concerned with political and interpersonal minutiae and more with swashbuckling tales of heroism. Still, it won a Pulitzer, so it can't be all fluff.

What I plan to read next

Nothing immediately on the docket that I haven't already talked about. I still haven't picked up All About Love, in part because it's a paper book and I've mostly been reading on my Kindle or listening to my audiobooks on the go. I will get to it, though!


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