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Showing posts from 2010

Bad Timing

Those daily coupon people really have my number. They send me the most tempting offers. I can't believe I've only taken them up on two so far.

The first was my second Brazilian Blowout. I got a good price break but I'm not convinced that the solution was the same, or as good as, the stuff the stylist used the first time. The straight effect was much stronger and longer lasting. I think I'll pony up some more money next time and go back to the original place.

The second was for a combo of three facial treatments that are valued at a total of $650. I got them at a bargain!

I had the first two treatments on my vacation day on Tuesday. The first was a facial peel. Basically, they brush on an acidic solution that's supposed to exfoliate your skin. Sounds good but what it actually does is make the top layer or two of your skin peel off like a sunburn does. The theory is that it brings the healthier skin layers to the top and gives you a glowing complexion and dec…

Only Myself To Blame

The Rocket Scientist and I were at the bar (I know, shocker) a while back when I said to him, "You know what I want?"

OK, I think he was truly afraid to ask so I don't think I even let him but just continued.

"I want to go somewhere for a weekend where there's nothing on the agenda. No Parrot Head events, not parties we have to go to. Just somewhere where we can go with the flow and do whatever. I'm thinking maybe Vegas."

Being the good sport that he is, and having some vacation time to take, he considered it. Although he won't play blackjack in Vegas for hours on end like I will (because he was the worst blackjack mojo I've ever seen) he is willing to go play some poker. I can get behind that idea.

There's just one little problem.

Despite saying (more than once) that I'm not going to over-schedule myself in 2011, I've already started doing so. And, I'm not even going to be President of the Arizona Parrot Head Club so I can'…

Oh, Terriers, To Know You Was To Love You!

If only more people had known you!

I watch a lot of TV but I will do my best to watch good stuff. I realize "good" is my definition but I look for well crafted and scripted shows that make me think, make me laugh and sometimes make me cry. That leaves out reality TV, game shows, local and national news and most network series.

At the beginning of every season (which there are now several seasons throughout the year), I scour entertainment blogs and entertainment columns to look for something new to view. Sometimes, I'll just start watching a new show because it has a favorite actor in it or writer or producer behind it but usually I do my homework to make sure someone whose opinion I respect thinks it's worthy.

My DVR saves time but it still doesn't let me watch everything so I need to avoid the crap.

So, long introduction to explain why I started watching Terriers. It got great advance press and it starred Donal Logue whose work I've enjoyed for years.

I real…

Fantasy Football Update - One Week To Go

The club league is done. Crash won (girl power!) over the Jello Shot Prince and I came in third with Scott in 4th. The latter scores are only for pride as we pay out on just first and second. It was a fun season!

Pick 'Em killed me this week. I've stated I'm only one bad week away from losing my standing and this was the week. I'm now in second in the club game. We have the same points but Dave picked more winners so that puts him in the lead. One week to go. Oy, no pressure.

I've somehow managed to stay in third in the work Pick 'Em game...by one point. Again, with the pressure for the last week's picks!

Book Review - The Emperor's Tomb

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The Emperor's Tomb by Steve Berry

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Cotton Malone heads into danger once again, this time to save his close friend, Cassiopeia Witt. The action takes place in Belgium, Vietnam and China. As with all of Berry's books, there's a lot of actual history woven into the story along with action, double crosses, triple crosses and crosses you stop counting. China is on my bucket list of places to go so I really liked the history lesson on the country. Solid entry in the series.



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144 Books in 2010 Update - Goal Achieved!

Happy Christmas to me!

My year long goal from a group on Goodreads.com has been met. I honestly thought it would be a challenge to read 144 books in one year but that I wouldn't sweat it too much. I was right and wrong. It was a big challenge and I wouldn't have met it if I hadn't done some seriously intense days of cramming when I got behind the 12 book a month pace.

There are 781 members in the group. I don't know how many have met their goal but it looks like a wide range of level of completion. Some people hit 144 in the first few months of the year, others are at less than 50 right now with less than a week to go.

Am I happy I did this? You bet. Not only do I feel like I accomplished something worthwhile, I discovered and enjoyed a lot of authors and series.

Sure, I read a lot of my favorite genre of vampires, werewolves, witches and other magical creatures. However, I would rank Harlan Coben as my favorite author for the year. I ripped through his Myron B…

Book Review - Role Models

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Role Models by John Waters

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I shouldn't have been surprised that John Waters (the creative genius behind Pink Flamingos and Hairspray) would have some, well, let's just say colorful, role models. Included are gay porn creators, a former Charles Manson follower, Johnny Mathis, Madalyn Murray O'Hair and several characters from his hometown of Baltimore.

Waters has a engaging style that makes even the oddest subject matter interesting and acceptable. You can tell he has a great deal of affection and admiration for the people he profiles despite how odd some of them are. I quite enjoyed this book and developed some affection of my own for Waters.



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Book Review - The Reversal

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The Reversal by Michael Connelly

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I love Connelly's Harry Bosch and Mickey Haller and this book had them both! Haller is persuaded to take a case for the prosecution and retry a man convicted of killing a 12 year old girl 24 years ago. He gets Bosch assigned as the investigator and the story alternates between the two of them. I liked that Haller's part was in first person and Bosch's was in third. It's indicative of their personalities and made following the story easier.

Good story, good suspense and a nice delve into both Bosch and Haller's psyches.



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Patagonia Video: Sonnie Trotter Climbs First Free Ascent...

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My buddy is totally into this crazy climbing stuff. I don't know if he's trying to get me interested but he keeps showing me pics and videos of these really buff young dudes climbing. I'll take the buff young dudes any day.

Great Job, Huskies!

Great column today by The Arizona Republic’s, Paola Boivin about UConn Women’s Basketball Coach, Geno Auriemma’s comments on the Huskies beating the longstanding UCLA Men’s team winning streak. I couldn’t agree with Boivin and Auriemma more.

I’ve thought for years (because it’s been years) that what UConn has done is amazing. They keep reeling off wins and Championships and yet no one seems to talk about them much. Just like no one talks much about the WNBA, even when our very own Mercury were the champs.

A friend of mine says he doesn’t like watching women’s basketball because they’re not as smooth as, and make more mistakes than, the male players. (I paraphrase because our conversation was a while ago and I don’t recall his exact words but I think I got the sentiment.)

To me, it’s not about skill levels so I won’t even debate that point. I actually prefer watching the women (professional and collegiate) play and also prefer men’s college ball over the pro games. The women and th…

Fantasy Football Update - Playoffs Week 2

For the first time all season, I joined some of the peeps in the club league to watch football on Sunday. What a debacle of a football day it turned out to be.

I went into the day down 41 points to my opponent, the erstwhile Jello Shot Prince. He started Vincent Jackson on Thursday night. Who would have known the dude would score 29 points? I sent JSP a text: Frak me. Vincent Jackson. Really? (Only I didn’t say frak.) I was unhappy.

It actually looked like I had a remote chance to win still on Sunday. Michael Vick’s poor start was just teasing me, though. JSP took way too much delight in updating me as Vick’s points went up and up and up in the latter part of the game.

Hey, Giants, how about some defense? Frakkers.

I ultimately lost by quite a few points and it’s now down to JSP and Crash for the Championship.

Oh, JSP also delighted in pointing out how many points Mario Manningham was racking up...while on my bench in my work league. What a bonehead move I made on that one and I…

Book Review - Wicked Appetite

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Wicked Appetite by Janet Evanovich

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

One would think that being a fan of both Evanovich and paranormal mystery/romance that I would love this book by her that's about a paranormal mystery. One would be wrong.

It was just OK. Typical fare in the genre - unsuspecting woman finds out she is magically gifted and has to deal with her mystical mission while working with a mysterious hunky guy. It had all the requisite goofiness of Evanovich's other books including a supporting cast who seemed way too willing to accept the magic. And, there's a monkey. Really, a monkey named Carl needed to be part of this story?



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Book Review - Discord's Apple

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Discord's Apple by Carrie Vaughn

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I'm a fan of Vaughn's Kitty Norville books so it was a no-brainer to pick this book up.

Very interesting blend of history, magic, ancient gods and a modern time that's not so different than ours. The latter is unfortunate since Homeland Security has evolved into stand alone militias, food and gas are rationed and the major world powers are at war with terrorists and each other.

Evie Walker is a great main character. She writes the story for a patriotic best selling comic book but comes home to West Texas to care for her ailing Father. Once there, she immediately encounters strange characters, magical events and discovers a long-time family secret involving magical stewardship.



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Book Review - Liar, Liar

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Liar, Liar: A Cat DeLuca Mystery by K.J. Larsen

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Fun first novel co-written by three sisters and published by our very own Poisoned Pen Press.

Cat DeLuca is a PI specializing in cheating spouses when she gets dragged into a mystery involving the FBI, stolen diamonds, gun running and multiple murders. She's helped and hindered along the way by her big, Italian, Chicago cop filled family and flirts with some hunks.

Very Evanovich in style and a nice, escapist read.



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Book Review - Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk

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Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk: A Modest Bestiary by David Sedaris

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I suspect this book is an acquired taste. It's a series of animal stories that are often violent and disturbing. The illustrations that accompany them are disturbing as well.

However, Sedaris uses the short tales to exemplify the less desirable human traits of selfishness, bigotry, narcissism and closed mindedness. Very cleverly done.



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Bad Timing

I came home to a blinking message light on my answering machine. I usually ignore those for a while because everyone I want to talk to has my cell phone number. Something made me say, what the hell, go check it.

Good thing.

It was from Wells Fargo reporting that my Visa was suspected as being compromised. I called back and, sure enough, there was a small charge that wasn't mine and a much larger charge to some company that I never heard of attempted. The latter was somehow rejected but it was over $300.

So, now I get to report a new card number to everyone who has it stored for payment purposes. And, I can't do that for 7 to 10 days because that's how long it will take my new card to arrive. They could have expedited it but I would have to be home during business hours to sign for it. Not possible since I have someone on vacation starting tomorrow through next week so I have to cover the Help Desk.

Right before Christmas...ugh. I'm trying to do a cash Christmas but …

Book Review - Devil Bones

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Devil Bones by Kathy Reichs

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Kind of refreshing to have a story in Brennan's home base of Charlotte. Voodoo/Santeria/etc plays a part in this mystery and Ryan's back in the picture. Or, is he? Good mystery and a sad farewell to a recurring character. Only two more books to get current then I'll be stuck waiting for the next one. :-(



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Fantasy Football Update - Playoffs Week 1

There’s good news and bad news...

The good news is that I won my playoff game in the club league so I’m on to the final four. I wish I hadn’t needed to take The Rocket Scientist out to do so but, them’s the breaks. I actually left a lot of points on my bench but my inspired starting of Tim Hightower carried the day. That and the crappy performance of Carson Palmer for TRS.

Next game is against The Jello Shot Prince. That’s not going to be easy. He scored the most points all season (by far) and, this year, had the best record as well. He scored the most points last season, too, but had the worst luck of running into hot opponents and didn’t even make the playoffs.

The bad news is that I got absolutely annihilated in my work league. I knew I was in deep trouble when Chris Johnson scored 26 against me on Thursday night. I knew it was nearly hopeless when Aaron Rodgers went out with a concussion but I didn’t think it would be a 144-67 massacre. Ouch. I had a few injuries on my team…

Book Review - Bones To Ashes

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Bones to Ashes by Kathy Reichs

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Lots going on in this one. Brennan and Ryan investigate a possible serial killer who targets young girls. There's also an unofficial investigation into an old skeleton that a cop had as a souvenir that leads Brennan to explore a missing childhood friend. More personal angst for Brennan in her love life occurs as well which brings her sister Harry up to visit and get involved with the investigations. Solid read filled with lots of history.


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Book Review - Break No Bones

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Break No Bones by Kathy Reichs

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Brennan spends time in South Carolina in this book where she's asked to fill in for an archeologist colleague and oversee a dig on some soon to be developed land. The dig finds a more recent body than expected and soon we're off on to a complex multiple murder case.

We also get some more personal material as Brennan is joined in SC by her estranged hubby and hot lover Ryan.

A good solid entry in to the series.



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LOL, Indeed!

Book Review - The Prostitute's Ball

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The Prostitute's Ball by Stephen J. Cannell

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I was very sad reading this book as Cannell just passed away. What an amazing talent he was and he will be missed.

This was a very different Shane Scully story than what I'm used to. More light-hearted and funny. I really liked it.

Scully catches a triple homicide case involving a high profile Hollywood dude and some high class escorts a la Heidi Fleiss' ladies. He also gets a new partner, Sumner Hitchens, whom he reluctantly accepts. The new guy is Mr. Hollywood and already made a fortune from selling the rights to a previous case for a movie that ultimately starred Jamie Foxx.

What appears to be a quickly solved case turns into an investigation of an old case with lots of intrigue and highly placed players involved. Hitch seems more intent on making it his next movie deal while Scully is committed to solving the case.

Cannell did a nice job on jabbing at the movie and TV industry and life in the LA fast…

Fantasy Football Update - Week 13

Holy crap, I somehow lucked out in the club league and made the playoffs!

I thought I was a goner even if I won (which I did) but I ended up the 5th seed (6 teams made the playoffs) and I am playing against The Rocket Scientist this week. That could have engendered a fun bet but he's already in the "I don't care what happens because I don't have that much invested" mode. Sigh. I didn't even try to make a bet because he doesn't understand...

It's about the winning!

OK, he doesn't get it but I do. Chalk it up to another one of our differences in temperament.

Steven didn't make the playoffs which makes me a bit sad but I think him not making it allowed me to do so. Oh well, better me than you, son. I'm sure you'll get over it with a good therapist's help somewhere down the road.

I ended up third in my work league for the regular season. Only four teams make the playoffs and I'm guaranteed to get at least $70 (from a buy-in o…

Book Review - Even Vampires Get the Blues

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Even Vampires Get the Blues by Katie MacAlister

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

An elf, a fairy, demons, sexy male vampires and hot sex scenes. What's not to like in this fun literary romp?



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Book Review - How To Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe

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How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe by Charles Yu

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

My first impression of this book was that it was going to be a "look how clever" type. You know the type; an author takes a strange idea (time traveler mechanic in sci-fi universes) and adds extra-lyrical and pseudo-philosophical prose. And, all the critics applaud.

However, the more I got into it, I realized it was really about the basic themes of love, family, friendship and living up to one's potential. It was quite sweet and even moving. I quite enjoyed it.



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144 Books in 2010 Update

I forsook house cleaning, social engagements, sleeping and Facebook (gasp!) but I got back on pace. Through November, I've read 132 books.

Twelve to go!

I have six from the library waiting for me to plow through them. I'm finding it hard to believe that the end is this close.

Book Review - The Philosopher's Dog

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The Philosopher's Dog by Raimond Gaita

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Wow, this was heavy. Too heavy for me. I was expecting some nice stories of people and their relationships with their pets. While there is some of that, it's really more a deep philosophy treatise. Not exactly a quick, pleasant read. Perhaps I would have enjoyed it more if I'd know what I was getting into.



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Fantasy Football Update - Week 12

I blame the New England Patriots for my loss in the club league this week. My opponent had three Detroit players going against me. That would seem like a good thing except NE apparently forgot how to play defense. I'm now tied for second with two other players and Crash (Crash!) is in first place one game ahead of us. I'm too fatigued to even figure out if I have a chance of making the playoffs. I actually don't think that I can. Sigh.

The report on my work league is much cheerier. I won both my games this week and have a firm hold on second place so I'm going to make the playoffs regardless of how I do this week. Sweet!

My strategy for Pick 'Em didn't play out very well this week but I'm still in first place by 13 points in the club game but I've fallen into a three way tie for third place in my work game. We only pay out to three spots so I need to have some stellar picks this week.

Book Review - Eiger Dreams

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Eiger Dreams: Ventures Among Men and Mountains by Jon Krakauer

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

An outdoorsy buddy of mine at work loaned me this collection of stories by Krakauer. I still admit I don't get the whole mountain climbing thing but I found all of the tales interesting and some of the characters fascinating. There's a lot of history and geography, some of it even close to home in Arizona.



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Book Review - Cross Bones

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Cross Bones by Kathy Reichs

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Shades of the Da Vinci Code and its like, Cross Bones finds Tempe investigating ancient remains that could have a major impact on organized religion. Do they belong to Jesus Christ? Ryan and Brennan end up in Israel to find out. Reichs does a great job of providing a history of the area while developing the story.



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Book Review - Monday Mourning

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Monday Mourning by Kathy Reichs

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Brennan is called in to examine three sets of bones found in the basement of a pizza parlor. Her detective nemesis, Claudel, thinks the bones are ancient and not fitting for an actual investigation. While trying to prove him wrong with the assistance of Ryan and her friend Anne, Tempe finds herself in over her head in a very creepy case. Trust me, it's icky.

While Tempe still rushes in to danger more than I'd like to see, at least she's now getting herself out of the situations without (mostly) the "fade to black then an exposition of what exposition" that Reichs has been using.



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Book Review - Holy Smokes

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Holy Smokes by Katie MacAlister

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Nice addition to the series. Aisling's in her usual mass pickle situations and manages to come through with a combination of ingenuity and sometimes good luck. A few new characters are brought in to the mix with some nice added drama. The whole series is a fun set of reads.



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The TV Binge Continues

Tonight's viewing:

2 episodes of Lie To Me
2 episodes of The Good Guys (please don't let this get canceled)
1 episode of Chuck (Richard Chamberlain is a great bad guy and even I want to do Sarah)

I also went to the library so I'm loaded for reading for the long weekend. That's perhaps not as mind numbing as watching the tube.

Rock On

I often say (only somewhat tongue in cheek) that technology is evil. It is when it doesn’t work, that’s for sure. However, I am currently in love with a certain piece of technology. No, not my Mac nor my Elph nor my Droid. It’s my DVR.

Between traveling and trying to read an insane number of books this month, I’d fallen way behind on my TV shows. Thanks to my DVR and fast forward, I was able to watch oodles of shows last night and still get to bed on time.

The list:
1 episode of Castle (Lyle Lovett!)
2 episodes of Bones (yay, no Hannah to speak of)
1 episode of Raising Hope (great show that everyone should be watching)
1 episode of Fringe (OMG, it is getting soooo good. Too bad they’re going to kill it by moving it to Friday nights)
1 episode of The Big Bang Theory (the kiss was frakking hilarious!)

That’s five hours of programming and I chunked through it in closer to four. Sweet.

Tonight will be more of the same. I’m hoping to get caught up on Lie To Me, Chuck and Terriers (another g…

Fantasy Football Update - Week 11

Good news in the club league. I won my game and moved back in to a tie for first place with Steven and Crash. Crash! That's the last time I loan her my draft notes.

I went one and one in my work league. I made a mistake and let a guy who works for me talk me out of starting Mike Goodson for Carolina. He said Carolina's so bad that he won't get very many points. Yeah, he was wrong. Goodson racked up 18 points and I would have won both games if I'd started him. That dude is so fired. I'm still in second place but third and fourth are creeping up on me. I need two wins this week to maybe get a little breathing room. We have two more weeks before the playoffs start.

My Pick 'Em results weren't so great this week but I'm still in first place in the club competition and tied for third in the work one. The leader in the latter is untouchable, he's been amazing.

Book Review - Super: A Novel

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Super: A Novel by Jim Lehrer

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

OK, I'm ignorant. I had no idea Jim Lehrer was an author. I just picked this up from the New Books section of the library. Turns out, it's his 20th book. What a bad former bookseller I am!

The action takes place on a train called the Super Chief which traveled across the US and was known as "The Train of the Stars". Characters include Clark Gable, Harry Truman, a mysterious stowaway, a Santa Fe airlines detective, an ill millionaire and several more Hollywood types. Two murders later, the story concludes in a surprising manner.

Lehrer's epilogue states that the characters were all real but I couldn't find reference to a few of them so who knows? It was a good story, regardless.



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LOL

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This is a cartoon by my friend, Bob Karwin. It's funny yet sad - when are we going to stop giving up our rights?

Book Review - Fly Away Home

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Fly Away Home by Jennifer Weiner

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Very engrossing tale focused on the wife and two adult daughters of a politician who gets caught in an affair with a young woman. All three women go through life changing events and experience personal growth and maturity.

I loved the wife, Sylvie, the most. After devoting all of her adult life to helping her husband with his political career, she's adrift when she leaves him. But, she doesn't stay aimlessly morose and instead develops new interests, repairs her relationships and becomes comfortable in her own skin.

Of the two daughters, I liked Lizzie, the youngest, the best. Probably because she readily owns up to her insecurities where Diana, the oldest, comes across as more judgmental of others even while she's making some poor life choices.

Great fiction with a real life feel.



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Perfect Day

I’ve been looking forward to yesterday for so long. The last race of the NASCAR season with an incredibly close race was a big part of the excitement. Going to Tucson to see Jim Hoehn in a house concert was a big part of the excitement. It wasn’t until a few days ago that I realized those two events were actually on the same day (even though I knew they were both “on Sunday”) and even crossed the same timeline.

Ugh.

The race started at 11 AM and the show was at 2 PM. I had the latter in my calendar at noon but that was because that’s the latest time I needed to leave the house. Took me a while to figure that out, too. Man, that two week cold I had really killed some brain cells.

I turned on my TV at 11 to catch the start of the race. Only to find my TV flashing a “no signal found” message. WTF? 11 AM on Sunday when football is starting as well as my race and the cable is out! I called into Cox and got a reset on my cable box and, after turning everything on and off a few times,…

Book Review - Light My Fire

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Light My Fire by Katie MacAlister

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I'd give it 3 1/2 if I could. This was a fun read.

Aisling continues to get in over her head as someone's trying to kill her, imps are after her, she's pulled into a battle for supremacy in hell and her Guardian mentor is issued a cease and desist order from the Guild on training her. Oh, and the magic group in France still wants her to take over.

The adventures are all well and good but what I liked the most was that Aisling is actually maturing and trying to deal with the issues in a more professional, thoughtful manner than in the prior books where she just went off on everyone and somehow ended up successfully coming out of her adventures.



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Book Review - Let My People Go Surfing

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Let My People Go Surfing by Yvon Chouinard

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

One of my co-workers suggested that our Management group read this book and I concur! It's the story of Patagonia, a company that started with the owner making and selling climbing gear out of his car and is now a premier seller of outdoor gear and clothing.

This is a wonderful tale of a company's creating and evolvement into a great corporate citizen. From providing one of the first on-site day cares to changing over to organic cotton because it's less harmful to the environment, Chouinard and Patagonia are practicing what they preach. Chouinard is very passionate about the environment and doesn't shy from giving some strong opinions on globalization, the political climate, marketing, customer service and the shortsightedness of human behavior among other subjects.

In addition to the story, there are some wonderful photos.



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Book Panic

I'm really starting to worry about making my 144 books in 2010 goal. I'm at 123 books and I need to be at 132 by the end of this month to be on pace. That's a lot of reading in two weeks. Especially, when I'll be traveling for part of it.

It's off to the library tonight to stock up again.

Book Review - The Double Comfort Safari Club

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The Double Comfort Safari Club by Alexander McCall Smith

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

It's funny that the title of this book has the word comfort in it because that's how I think of this series, it's comfortable. You know you're going to get a couple of mysteries, some mild interpersonal conflict and more of a history and description of Botswana.

This entry finds Mma Makutsi's fiancee suffering a severe injury after which his No. 1 Auntie decides to separate the pair for good as well as a cheating spouse, a search for someone to give a legacy to and a visit to a safari camp. An enjoyable read.



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Book Review - How We Decide

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How We Decide by Jonah Lehrer

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

If I could give 3 1/2 stars, I would.

Lehrer's book explores how we make decisions based on what part of our brains we're using and what outside factors are affecting the process. Because I've read a lot of material on this subject, some of the studies were already known to me. However, he made it interesting with several interviews including NFL QB Tom Brady and professional poker player Michael Binger. There are a lot of examples, studies and interviews in here which is surprising considering it's not that long of a book.



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Fantasy Football Update - Week 10

Mixed results this week.

I felt pretty good going into the club league game last night because I had two players going and my opponent only had one. Unfortunately, that one was Keliand Williams who scored 31 points. Steven is now solely in first place in our division and I'm tied for second with a .500 record. That's how much parity we have there.

My work league went much better, mostly due to the stellar performance of my backup QB, Matt Cassel, who scored 44 points this week. I won both of my games, including one against the dude in first place so I picked up a game on him. I'm 13-7 and he's 16-4. Third place is 2 games behind me.

I moved solely into first place in the club Pick 'Em league and am third in the work one. Unfortunately, I missed first place for the week by 3 points. We do weekly payouts on that and I need another to get close to breaking even on my buy-in.

Book Review - Blockade Billy

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Blockade Billy by Stephen King

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I haven't read Stephen King since, gosh, a long, long time ago. I thought this book would be a good chance to revisit his work since it's short (no reading 600 pages to find the story fully explained in the last 20 with an explanation out of nowhere which is why I stopped reading him) and about baseball which I love.

This was a nice, quick read (very nice since I'm behind in my pace to hit 144 books this year) set up as a narration to King from an old baseball coach about a star player that came out of nowhere in the 1957 season. He seems like a boom to the team but signs point to something dark in his nature that ultimately prove true.



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Book Review - I'm With Fatty

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I'm With Fatty by Edward Ugel

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

After being convinced that if he doesn't lose weight, he's going to die soon, Ugel decides to try to lose 50 pounds in 50 weeks. This is the often painfully honest of his account of that task. He covers a lot of ground, much of it familiar to those who are extremely overweight. From the embarrassment of having to wear a CPAP device to control his sleep apnea (he was literally turning blue every night) to feeling unattractive to his wife to being a social hermit to avoid others seeing him to food binging and, the biggie, feelings of shame for getting to the state he was in, Ugel covered it all.

There are successes and failures and a lot of self destructive behavior that he makes no attempt to hide but tries to understand why he sabotages his own efforts. There's a particularly painful section on a huge food bender that he goes on when his family is out of town. Bender is a good term for it because it reads just lik…

Yes, I am a Pariah

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I came back from Florida on Monday with a cold. A pretty bad one, actually. I somehow made it through work on Tuesday but said I would work from home on Wednesday if I wasn't feeling better. I wasn't so I stayed home and managed to get in five hours before I had to go nap for 2 1/2 hours. Man, my bed never felt so good.

After an early bedtime last night, I felt pretty good this morning. So, loaded up on Dayquil, I came in to work. Apparently, I overestimated my health level because I was sneezing, coughing and blowing my nose constantly once I got in to my office.

One of my co-workers gave me some blended oils on a tissue to breathe in. He said it helps kill viruses and would stop my coughing. He was right on the coughing. I did much better after just a few minutes.

When I came back from a meeting, I noticed this sign by my office door:



The bio-hazard symbol. Nice.

The only meeting I had today, I held in a really big room and I'm going to keep my door mostly shut an…

Book Review - Supreme Justice

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Supreme Justice: A Novel of Suspense by Phillip Margolin

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Margolin bring backs some characters from Executive Privilege in this character laden story that alternates going back in time then into the future. Brad Miller is engaged to Ginny and clerking for a Supreme Court justice and Dana Cutler has settled into her career as a PI and into a healthy, romantic relationship.

A death row appeal comes to the court and the violence comes fast and furiously. The body count in this book is pretty high and the level of conspiracies even higher. I found it far-fetched but entertaining.



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Fantasy Football Update - Week 8 and 9

I know it's not very timely but I was in Florida for both weeks of these games.

Week 8

I won in the club league and moved into a 3-way tie for first place in our division. In my work league, I went 1-1. I think that was enough to move me into second place.

Week 9

Fun! I played against The Rocket Scientist in the club league. I asked one of our friends whom he thought wanted to win more (TRS and I are both battling to take control of our respective divisions). Of course, the answer was me! Steven was playing against the guy tied with TRS for first place and was also tied with me for first in our division. I was hoping for a Pfister win for me and a Pfister loss for him while TRS wanted just the opposite.

We were both half happy with the results. I beat TRS (in a game that ended up much closer than he thought it would based on my early lead) and Steven won as well. That leaves Steven and me tied for first as the third player lost. TRS is tied with two other players for first s…

Book Review - The Reckoning

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The Reckoning by Kelley Armstrong

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Nice conclusion to the trilogy that leaves it open for more books. I'll read them.

There was a surprising amount (to me) of death and violence in this for a Young Adult book. The kids think they've found sanctuary with an old friend of Derek's and Simon's Dad but all is not as it seems. I liked their displays of resourcefulness and the maturing of Chloe as she moves from little girl who just wants to get along to confident young woman.



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144 Books in 2010 Update

Ugh, I've fallen behind pace. I've finished 117 books and should be at 120. Traveling is interfering with my reading.

Book Review - The Good Son

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The Good Son by Russel D. McLean

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Interesting character study. Our hero is a Scottish, former cop who's now doing PI work. He's suffering from depression and post-traumatic stress after the car crash that killed his fiancee. Into his life comes a client looking for the history of his estranged brother's life and extreme, ugly violence ensues. Twists and turns and lots of man's inhumanity to man that I found disturbing but compelling.

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Book Review - Kitty and the Dead Man's Hand

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Kitty and the Dead Man's Hand by Carrie Vaughn

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Kitty and Ben are getting married and decide to do the deed in Las Vegas. They stumble upon some very strange lycanthropes, meet up with the local vampires and Ben reunites with some of his old bounty hunters. Chaos ensues. I hope to see some of the new characters in later books.

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Halloween Hijinks

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Traditional Holiday Cheek Tattoo

Some people have the idea that my work is all fun and games. Probably because I do a lot of updates like this one. ;-)

The employees on the second floor of our building were all invited to participate in Halloween activities today and I think most of them are. It’s pretty darn festive around here!

Of course, we’re decorated to the gills. Flashing skulls, graveyard scenes, screaming and howling devices, old movies playing on the wall, cobwebs, etc. abound. Most of the front area of our department and the training room are done up.

First activity this morning was a food contest. People were pretty creative and there’s some really good stuff in there for our potluck. I think some people are running around now to do the costume judging contest. I’ve seen a zombie, a witch, a guy in drag, a garden gnome, a hippie and Billy Idol wandering the halls. They guy in drag bought brand new high heels that he’s giving away...they were just “that” much too big f…

Another Blowout

I'm ignoring all the talk about how I'll die from the alleged formaldehyde that's in the Brazilian Blowout formula.

Why?

Because not only was I told I have the perfect hair for the treatment tonight, another woman in the salon asked me to show her my bangs and then asked to touch my hair after I got my second Blowout. She then told her stylist she wanted her bangs cut like mine because they look so great. NO ONE has ever wanted to mimic my hair in my lifetime.

Oh, and she said that my hair felt fantastic.

It was a great social and financial night at the salon, too. I got the Blowout on a Living Social deal for $140. That's a steal. When I got there, they offered me a beverage, "Iced tea, lemonade, water, wine..." Wine, please! I had only one glass but it was nice. My stylist and I talked about celebrity gossip (have you heard the latest Charlie Sheen story!?!?) then chatted about our travels to our respective homelands and Florida. Oh, and we talked about…

Time To Vote

I just filled out my early ballot for this year's election. I have to admit, I'm not very excited about my options. I don't think many voters are, actually. Well, the ones that aren't sheep who just vote for the party or for the candidates whose commercials they see the most aren't excited. The sheep don't think about it.

For the first time, there are more Independent voters registered in Pinal County, AZ than there are either Republicans or Democrats. Who can blame them? So many candidates pander to the extremes of their party because those extremists are really, really good at raising money and they're not afraid to use against anyone who doesn't completely follow their "suggestions". It's a total turnoff.

It's a career limiting move to be a Moderate anymore. Especially, a Republican Moderate. One would think that I, as a Democrat, would love to see the Republicans tear themselves up. I don't love it. I think it's…

Fantasy Football Update - Week 7

Much better week than last.

I won both games in my work league so I'm 8-6 which is not stellar but it does tie me for 2nd place. The leader is 12-2 so that's a long climb to surpass him.

Our club league, well, ugh. I've lost 4 in a row and sit at a 3-4 record. My starting QB (Peyton) was on a bye but I still had a chance of winning this week. Unfortunately for me, my opponent started Kenny Britt who had an unbelievable 40 points. The most he scored in a week was 14 before that.

In very happy news, Green Bay won and that's all I'm going to say about that. ;-)

Time To Change It Up

I admit I've been neglecting my blog. Facebook is just so easy for posting pictures and quick little notes that it's easier to do things there. However, I need to get back on it and decided that it was time to pretty it up and put in a new template. It worked OK but somehow I lost my commenting service. I'm just going to go back to Blogger commenting.

Book Review - The Atlantis Complex

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The Atlantis Complex by Eoin Colfer

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Crisis abounds in this Artemis Fowl book. Artemis is suffering from a mental psychosis, a dangerous villain plans his escape from prison, Butler and Juliet are attacked in Mexico and Holly and Foaly come under fire as well. So, pretty much all is usual. ;-) It was an enjoyable read with some funny stuff as well as dangerous situations. A nice touch is Artemis' Mother trying to make him more like a "real boy".

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More Fun At Work

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Another holiday, another reason to decorate the office and have a potluck. The potluck is set for next Friday. The decorating started but it's nowhere near complete.


Rosie in her Halloween Outfit


Oh, scary!

I saw this skull at Pier One last night and my first thought was, "Please don't let that cost a gazillion dollars because we have to have it!" Fortunately, it did not.

The ultimate look will be a graveyard. I expect it will be fully developed by end of business on Friday.

So, This Is What George Does All Day!

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Fantasy Football Update - Week 6

Fantasy Football sucks.

The end.

Concert Review - Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers

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Today is Chuck Barry's 84th birthday which reminded me that I haven't written about this show yet. Read on...

I should call this "The Show That Was Never Going To Happen." I saw a notice for Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers with opener Joe Cocker early this year. Really early. I think the show itself was set for May. I can't really remember because it got postponed until September because the new album wasn't ready for release.

So, we opted out of getting a refund and waiting until September. Neither of us had seen either act live and I'm learning that these old rock dudes may keel over at any time so it's best to check them off the musical bucket list when you get the chance.

By the time the show date came around, Joe Cocker was out and ZZ Top was in. I thought about it and decided that was an OK trade since I've never seen them live before and, well, see paragraph above.

However, the day of the show, TRS was looking into our transportation pla…

Book Review - The Awakening

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The Awakening by Kelley Armstrong

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


This second book in the series takes up right where the first one left off. Neophyte Necromancer Chloe is held captive by a group of scientists who are using supernaturals more like science experiments than peers. She's soon on the run again, unintentionally raises some dead things and, with help from her friends, tries to figure out the whole puzzle.

Armstrong's done a good job of preserving the supernatural style of her adult books while combining it with the lives of teenagers. Some of the kids are annoyingly reckless but it fits with their ages and experience.

I'm off to reserve the next book at the library.



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Book Review - The Atlantis Code

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The Atlantis Code by Charles Brokaw

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


Some day, we'll all stop using a comparison to The Da Vinci Code when we talk about this style of book. That day won't be any time soon, though, as Dan Brown really captured the world on that one.

This book's hero is a world renowned linguist/professor who gets involved with the search for five ancient instruments that could, when used together, bring about another Biblical destruction. Yep, from the hand of God.

Joining him in his quest is a TV crew and a Russian police officer on a mission of revenge. Going against him is a secret group funded by the Vatican. There's lots of violence and tearing around the globe and even some sex as the professor is quite the hottie.

I think what I liked the most about this book was that the male professor, while capable in his own world, didn't turn into some superhero action figure. That was left up to the female police officer and she's more than capable.



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Book Review - The Summoning

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The Summoning by Kelley Armstrong

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Armstrong moves in to young adult fiction but it's not a kiddie book at all. I plowed through this in just a few hours and I can't wait to hit the next ones in the series.

Chloe is a somewhat typical rich girl. She attends arts school, has a Father who is more tied up in his business than in his family and is trying to find her way in life. Oh, and she sees ghosts.

After a breakdown of sorts at school, she's sent to a care facility where she's told she has a mental illness as do the other teenagers staying there. All is not as it seems and, being an Armstrong novel, it turns supernatural.

Good stuff.



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Book Review - Bearers of the Black Staff

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Bearers of the Black Staff by Terry Brooks

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


This is set 500 years after Hawk led men and elves to the valley and locked them in with protective magic. The magic is failing and there are invaders waiting to move in. It's left to the last Black Staff carrier, a pair of human trackers and an elvish princess and her cousins to sound the alarm.

This is a typical Brooks storyline. Young people forced in to accepting responsibility for the protection of their people while those passing on the responsibility fall. That's not a knock because Brooks manages to make the world and the characters interesting. I just wish it wasn't quite so predictable.



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Fantasy Football Update - Week 5

Dang, I missed an opportunity to knock off the only undefeated team in our Parrot Head league. It looked promising going in to Sunday's afternoon games but I only had a 2 point lead on Monday and he had Adrian Peterson and the Jets D so that lead evaporated quickly.

The good news is that the wins and losses in my division worked out perfectly. I still have a one game lead in first place with a poor 3-2 record. Steven's one game behind me and I found myself in the position of having to root for him to lose so I can hold on to my lead. Family matters less than fantasy football. ;-)

I rocked it in my work league, though. I won both two games by a bunch of points. My record is now 6-4 (we play two head to head games each week) and I'm tied for third place. The leader is 8-2 so first place is in reach if I can pull out a few more good weeks.

My New Camera is Here!

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Oh, man, I was so excited tracking my new camera today. I saw that UPS delivered it at 1:39 PM. Wouldn't you know it? I ended up with an 11 hour work day so I didn't get home until 7 PM. It was killing me, I tell you!

I busted in to the box within a minute of walking in the door. George helped me open it up, too. Apparently, there were interesting smells in the box along with the camera.

Disappointingly, the battery for the SD1400 is different than the one for the SD1200. I was hoping I could have a spare battery for long trips but that is not to be. It also meant I had to wait for the new battery to charge before I could play. Fortunately, that didn't take too long.

Here are the first pics on the new camera - I need to play with outside and daylight views and learn the new settings so all of these were automatic.


View of the hi-def TV screen. No flash.


The Baby in one of her usual lounging spots.


Close up of George on the kitchen counter.


Slightly pulled back view of G…