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Showing posts from March, 2010

Ignite Phoenix 6 - Fun!

The first time I heard about Ignite Phoenix, I thought it was an intriguing idea but didn't attend. I regretted that decision so when Ignite Phoenix 6 was announced, I was all over it. (Can't believe I didn't discover it until 5.) There were many reminders on Facebook and Twitter to get your tickets early and for good reason. I actually set a text alarm and got online a few minutes after they went on sale. I think they sold out within an hour so I was feeling fortunate I had my tickets.

The day before the event, I started following #ignitephx on Twitter. Lots of chatter about the event from the attendees, participants and staff. Also, lots of people looking for tickets. The satellite viewing party was at Dave's Electric Brew Pub and it seemed like a lot of people were going to be on hand for that.

My companion and I met up at the Mesa Arts Center a few minutes before the action started (damn 202 traffic) and we were both curious about the crowd. It was mostly wh…

Parenthood

I finally had some time to clear out the DVR. So, I decided to watch all of the episodes of Parenthood.

Oy vey. I cried, several times, over the first three episodes. Clearly, the show affected me.

I liked the various story lines, the family relationships and the cast. The only one of the actors I can't warm up to is Erika Christensen. She just doesn't seem like a lawyer/Mom type.

Book Marathon

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My 144 Books in 2010 Group on Goodreads had a reading marathon. It was 24 hours long and everyone who participated recorded their results.

Here's what I did in 24 hours:

- Number of books completed - 4
- Number of pages read - 1101
- Number of hours listened to - 0
- Number of hours spent reading - 12
- Longest reading stretch (5 hours?, 10 hours?, etc) - 4

Book Reviews - The Lost Books of The Odyssey

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The Lost Books of The Odyssey: A Novel by Zachary Mason


My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This one is on a lot of suggested reading lists so I thought, what the heck? It's been a long time since I read The Odyssey but the stories came back as I read.I really liked the varied tales and the prose was very well written. Added bonus, I get to feel a bit like a smarty pants for having read it. ;-)

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Book Review - Grave Secret

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Grave Secret by Charlaine Harris


My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This series features Harper Connelly who inherited an unusual talent when she was struck by lightning at age 15. She can sense the last moments of someone's death if she comes near their bones. A simple reading to find out what happened to a Texas millionaire turns into a scary story with Tolliver and a policeman being shot. The reappearance of Tolliver's Father adds to the drama.

Good addition to the series and I liked that it provided some closure on some ongoing story lines.

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Book Review - Mr. Monk is Miserable

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Mr. Monk is Miserable by Lee Goldberg


My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Natalie blackmails Monk into going to France where she hope murders don't follow. Unfortunately, several murders do. Adding to the story is Natalie reliving the time she and Mitch spent in Paris when they were first married. Randy and Leland end up in Paris as well with a funny Randy side story.

Monk seems sweeter and more (even a little is more) sensitive to Natalie in the books which I like. I also like having Natalie narrating.

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Book Review - Mr. Monk and the Dirty Cop

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Mr. Monk and the Dirty Cop by Lee Goldberg


My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Budget cuts in the department force Stottlemeyer to stop using Monk (at least that's what he says). Monk can't stand it so he tries to solve cases with anonymous tips until Natalie and he are hired by an ex-cop for his private security business. Things are going well until Stottlemeyer is arrested for murder and Monk has to clear his name. Good stuff and the Diaper Genie bit is very funny.

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Book Review - Mr. Monk in Outer Space

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Mr. Monk in Outer Space by Lee Goldberg


My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Another fun read that makes me miss the show even more.

This one finds Monk and Natalie investigating a murder at a Sci-Fi convention. Think of a combo of Trekies and BattleStar Galactica geeks and you get the idea. Monk is horrified to find his brother Ambrose is a fan of the show which leads to some funny lines and some sweet moments, too. I like getting more of Ambrose in the books.

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What's Next?

I'm thinking I should just run and hide for the next few days based on what's happened so far this week.

Sunday: health issues that kept me locked in the house.

Monday: insomnia starting at 3:30 in the AM that was made worse by the rain starting. The unusual noise kept me up.

Tuesday AM: stepped in a puddle on my floor. No, the skylight is still good. The new leak is from my A/C unit. Dammit.

Later Tuesday AM: got to work, reached for my laptop and realized it was home on the table (right next to where my purse had been). Not a big deal as the round trip is 30 minutes but I only had 20 until our bi-weekly staff meeting. I borrowed a machine to check email before the meeting but then had to hightail it home right after.

Wednesday PM: had a co-worker flag me down and ask me if I knew that I had a tear in the seat of my pants. No, I wasn't aware. And, I had spent two hours off site touring Scottsdale Community College's IT dept. And, out to lunch with two co-work…

NCAA Men's Tourney - 2nd Round Report

Man, this has been one crazy tournament! Not only is my picked winner out but so are three of my final eight. Brutal.

The real craziness is I'm still mathematically alive to win if all of my remaining picks come through.

That's so not going to happen.

Book Review - The Paris Vendetta

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The Paris Vendetta: A Novel by Steve Berry


My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Another action packed mystery from Berry that I much enjoyed.

Cotton's friend Henrik discovers who was behind his son's murder and sets out to avenge. The historical tie in this time is to Napoleon as they seek his lost treasure and also try to prevent a cabal of rich people determined to get even richer by using terror to manipulate the economy.

Nice introduction to a new character, Sam Collins, whom I suspect will be around for a while.

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Book Review - The Interrogative Mood

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The Interrogative Mood: A Novel? by Padgett Powell


My rating: 5 of 5 stars

What would you think if I told you this book is 164 pages of questions? Would it make you want to read it? Would you think it's the silliest concept you've ever heard of? Would you try to answer every question or would your rush to finish it? Would you wonder at the symbolism of the repeated use of blue jays, feathers and lions as I did? If you read it, would you find it as compelling and clever as I did?

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Crossroads with Buffett and Zac Brown Band

Real time thoughts as I watch CMT Crossroads with Jimmy Buffett and Zac Brown Band:

Jimmy in jeans worried me that he would have shoes on, too. He didn't. Whew!

Not sure Jimmy knows all the words to Toes.

How jazzed was Zac to sit there while Jimmy sang Son of a Son of a Sailor next to him?

My hair could never get as big as Mac's. He looks like a muppet but I still adore him.

I think the Reefers need a fiddler. And ZBB needs some pans. Maybe that's just because I like the fiddle and the pans, though.

Wish I'd started counting the amount of lyric changes to reference Buffett lyrics or products.

At least they didn't turn PBR into Landshark.

Do you think Jimmy wishes he could play guitar like Zac?

I know some of the people in the audience but I didn't spot any.

How much would you have been willing to pay to see the taping? The rehearsal?

It looked like Jimmy wasn't sure about the lyrics on Free either.

I love the 3 girls under 3 being called a herd of raccoons.

I wis…

NCAA Men's Tourney - Day 2

Or, as I like to call it, the day I sucked.

Reality has sunk in. My first day's success at picking teams has been revealed to be nothing but blind luck and the second day has shown that my luck has run out.

I'm now 23 out of 32 and have lost one of my Elite Eight. That puts me tied for 7th in our club league. I'm afraid to even look at the work one.

Oh, well. There's still the squares game to keep me occupied.

Book Review - The Woods

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The Woods by Harlan Coben


My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Why did it take me so long to get into Harlan Coben?Another great book that had me guessing up to the end.Paul Copeland is a Prosecutor with a tragic past. His sister and three other kids were murdered at a summer camp where Paul was a Counselor In Training. Twenty years later, things start coming up about the incident while Copeland's trying two rich kids for the rape of an under aged stripper. Lots of hidden family history (among many families) and a not so perfectly happy ending. Kind of like life, sometimes.

I'm sad because I think I'm closing to having read all of Coben's books at this point. I want more!

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NCAA Men's Tourney - Day 1

Man, what a great day for college hoops!

So many close games, so many unforeseen (by some) upsets. It was just plain fun to watch!

The day started out with me going 4 for 4. That's right, I picked Old Dominion and Murray State. Woot!

I sent a text message in the afternoon to The Rocket Scientist to see if he wanted to meet up at the Vine. He replied, "Any occasion?" I wanted to reply, "Duh" but I'm too nice so I just said to watch NCAA.

We had a fun time. The games were hugely entertaining. I was watching over his head on regular TV and he was watching the Hi-Def behind me. I tried not to give anything away because I was 3 seconds ahead but I wasn't always successful.

I could hear a guy behind me cheering for the same teams as I was. He stopped by on the way to the bathroom to verify our picks. I told TRS, "See how fun this is? You get to talk to strangers!" Oddly, he didn't seem that excited about the prospect. ;-)

The most confusi…

Book Review - Just One Look

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Just One Look by Harlan Coben


My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I knew I read this because I could remember all the scenes with the nosy neighbor but not the rest of the story. It must have been a long time ago. Even the end was still a surprise. Guess that's why I liked it so much the second time around, I couldn't see what was coming.

While this isn't a Myron Bolitar book, some characters from there get a mention here.

An Assistant US Attorney finds out from a hit man that his sister's death 15 years ago was not an accident. A short time later, a suburban housewife finds an old photo with her college aged husband in it mixed in with some recent family pictures. That sets off a deadly chain of events until the mystery is solved.

I really enjoyed that the female characters, the wife, her friend and the neighbor, were strong and smart. No fainting damsels in distress here.

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Cool Music Night

A few of us went to Paradise Lounge near Paradise Valley Mall on Friday to check it out as a potential happy hour place. Tammy sent out the email and The Rocket Scientist must have done some research because he sent an email saying something like "chicks with picks are there that night".

OK, this is probably not a surprise with my group but one person read that as "chicks with pricks" which is a completely different meaning.

Anywhoooo, we showed up as women were coming in with their guitars. It soon became clear that is was an American Idol type of event. There were three judges who offered commentary after each girl performed. And, they were called girls which I actually liked.

Each performer did two or three songs and at least one was an original. It was clear that one of the judges was a Simon in that she was quite critical. The funniest part was when, after going on and on about the performance, she mentioned that the performance was too long. Ironic at the …

Awesome Training Experience!

A few months ago, Becky (our corporate trainer) asked if I wanted to go to an outside training class with her on employee coaching. Since my goal this year is to develop better relationships with my employees and provide them with opportunities to expand their skills, I jumped at the chance.

The program was done by InsideOut Development. The material is copyrighted so I won't go into any details that aren't on their website but we covered how to prepare for difficult conversations and how to coach employees.

I spent the whole day with Human Resource people which was a bit different for me. They're much more touchy feely and I'm much more "here's how you do it so go do it". It's the difference between HR and IT, I guess.

Despite that, I had a great day!

Both Becky and I came out of the program very jazzed about bringing it back to our company. I applied the methods to several conversations with a peer and my employees in short order and Becky lobbied…

Color In The Living Room

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The nesting instinct has not subsided. I actually followed through on painting one wall in the living room.

Picking the color was arduous. Deciding on a shade of green was easy because I have a green upholstered chair and a green in my area rug. However, trying to match to either shade just didn't happen.

I made an initial run to Lowe's for the cute little paint cards and brought home a half dozen. All of them were appealing but, once I got them home, I realized they were too lime or even too yellow (if that makes sense). My chair is more of a sage. So, I went back to Lowe's and collected another ten or so samples. I put them all on the chair and stared at them. I finally narrowed it down to two of the Olive shades.

However, The Rocket Scientist came over and offered some advice. He suggested taping all of the final samples on the wall and watching them as the light went in and out of the room.

Sigh.

I really just wanted to make a choice and be done. It nearly killed …

Pandora's Box - I Opened It

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I've been successful in keeping George from going out the front door but she got out the back patio door today while I was outside. I kept a careful eye on her as she wandered around but then I wanted her indoors with me as my work was done.

That wasn't so easy. After chasing her around a few times, I resorted to getting her treats out and she came running for the bribe.

However, those only kept her attention for a little while. She cried at the door then tried to bolt out when I opened it to go out side. I managed to pin her against the door frame with my leg to stop her but she really, really, really wanted to go out again. More crying ensued.

I hope she's over the urge now. She's perfectly safe if she stays on the patio as it's walled but I'm afraid she'll figure out she can get over the wall. Maybe I shouldn't have bought her the weight loss formula cat food. If I kept her fat enough, she wouldn't be able to jump that high.


Oh, maybe I can ju…

Book Review - Mr. Monk in Trouble

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Mr. Monk in Trouble by Lee Goldberg


My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was an impulse pick up at the library. I loved the series and miss it. This was a great way to alleviate that feeling.

Two stories are told, a current day one where Natalie and Monk visit an old mining town to investigate the murder of a retired San Francisco cop and a past one from the gold rush where Artemis Monk is the town assayer and solves crimes with the help of his female assistant. Throw in two train robberies, a potential romance for Natalie and Randy trying to be Dirty Harry and it adds up to a very fun book.

I'll definitely be reading the rest of the series.

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Book Review - Black Magic Sanction

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Black Magic Sanction by Kim Harrison


My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was a great addition to the series. Rachel gets in her usual messy situation when she's shunned by the coven for practicing black magic. Not only shunned, but they come after her with some pretty deadly white magic. Most of the regulars show up in the story: Ivy, Jenks, Trent, Ceri, etc. but her old bad-boy boyfriend Nick makes an appearance, too. That dude is more of a mess than Rachel.

By the end of the tale, Rachel's learned more about her background and potential (although it looks like several people/demons/elves know more about that and aren't willing to share their information with her yet). She also comes to an understanding with some old enemies which feels like a maturation of her character.

Well done book - only downside is I now have to wait for the next one.

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Two Princesses In The House Is One Too Many

When I first brought George home as a wee kitten, I bought her a water dish. A pretty nice one, actually. It had a water bottle on top and the base was anti-bacterial or anti-some sort of bad thing for you. Since it was gravity based, in theory, she would only get fresh water. And, it wouldn't be icky.

I wash it all out every time I refill the bottle but, apparently, something is now making it icky. So icky that she won't drink out of it.

I know that because she is crazy mean and pounces on me as soon as I open a water bottle in the house. She demands that I pour water in to the cap of the bottle many, many times before her thirst is quenched. Once her thirst is slaked, she's as lovable as always (lovable to me, anyways).

I've told her that cats in Rocky Point are lucky to find any water at all but that seems to be like a Mom back in the day telling her kid to clean the plate because of starving children in India. No attention is paid whatsoever.

So, I am now putti…

Book Review - In Defense of Food

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In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto by Michael Pollan


My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was our monthly book club selection which made me happy because I've been meaning to read it for a while.

The summary: Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.

Quite fascinating history of the Western Diet and its affects on our health, the food industry's creation of "food" items and the results of many diet studies that show that Nutritionism is less science and more art. (Fat's bad for you, no, wait, carbs are bad for you, no, it's really meat that's bad for you...)

As someone who keeps thinking about changing her diet, this book was a great reminder that it's time stop thinking and start doing.

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Not Sure What I Was Thinking

I am a Diet Pepsi addict. The first thing I do in the morning is pop open a soda and I steadily drink it all day and night long. I tried to quit soda years ago and got a severe migraine so I decided to live with my addiction. I really like soda and I find water incredibly boring so it was an easy choice.

However, I've been reading all the diet literature and it seems to be consistent in saying that even diet soda is bad for your weight loss attempts. Besides the chemicals, it makes you crave sweets more. For that reason alone, I should give it up.

I've also found since I restarted my organic veggie delivery that my grocery store trips are generally for one reason - I'm out of soda. I end up buying crap I don't need just because I'm at the store.

So, Saturday morning found me without soda in the house and I decided I might as well quit cold turkey. I really didn't want to go to the grocery store as I had plenty of other errands to run.

About lunch time, I rea…

Bathroom Redo

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It doesn't usually rain much here in Arizona. So, when I first moved in to my condo it took quite a while for me to find out that the skylight in the bathroom leaked. I exchanged calls back and forth with the property management company (throughout the turnover between representatives) only to finally be told that my skylight was not "approved" so they had no responsibility in fixing it.

Uh, who would have thunk it - I was a renegade.

So, the Pirate Captain came over to check it out. He said it needed to be reset in some "mud"and he duct taped around it until I got someone to fix it. Well, the duct tape worked pretty well so I didn't get someone.

Until this year, when it started raining like we were in a tropical forest, not a desert. Oh, it rained and leaked some before. Enough to soak through the paint and make it look yucky. I just chose to ignore it.

I'm not a good home owner.

The Rocket Scientist looked at it at some point and told me it would nee…

144 Books in 2010 - Update

Counting the days in January and February (59), I am .6 behind my pace of one book every 2.5 days. I've read 23 and the math says I should be at 23.6.

I really need to get ahead of the pace at some point because I know I'm going to get busy (busier!) and will fall behind.

Still think it's doable but still think I'm a little crazy for trying.

Book Review - Promise Me

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Promise Me by Harlan Coben


My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Six years passed in the story line and in real time between this book and the last. Since I'm cranking through the whole series, it was more like six hours for me. I wish it had been a little longer just so I had more time to reset.

Things are very different for Myron in this one. His partner has a baby and gets married, his parents moved to Florida and are getting visibly older, he's living back in the family home (most of the time), he has a relationship with his son, his business is not just athletes and he's dating a 9/11 widow with two children. Win is still mostly Win, though.

The biggest difference is that he hasn't been involved in any intrigue. No missing persons, no deaths, no kidnappings. Of course, that can't last or it wouldn't be much a mystery.

The story hinges on a set of promises. The first is one he cajoles from two high school girls: call me if you ever get yourself into an uncomfortable s…