Showing posts from July, 2010

Book Review - This Year I Will...

This Year I Will...: How to Finally Change a Habit, Keep a Resolution, or Make a Dream Come True by M.J. Ryan

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Our department at work are reading this book together. We're 2/3 through in discussing it and everyone seems to be engaged in the conversation which is a good sign.

Ryan breaks the book into three sections. The first explains why goal setting often fails and offers tips on how to make a realistic, usable goal. The second offers up a myriad of techniques to implement goals. The final section discusses how to keep the momentum of goal keeping going forward.

This was a good compilation of material. I especially liked that Ryan doesn't force a "once size fits all" solution. She actually often states to try a technique and if it doesn't work, try another.

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Weather Hicks

Living in Arizona, you get used to convection oven heat. You also get very used to rubbing it in when your friends from other parts of the country are complaining about snow, sleet, tornadoes, etc. It's fun!

Eventually, even we desert dwellers need a break. It's supposed to happen during our monsoon season. Back in the day (I'm talking 30 years ago), monsoons rocked. Pretty much every night you could count on a big dust storm and rain. Lots of rain. Oh, and some of the most fantastic lightning.

Alas, climate change and the fact that Phoenix is a huge heat island have made those consistent storms a thing of the past. Today, we go for weeks at a time without any break in temps. There might be an occasional cloud that hints at rain but it's mostly clear but humid (for us which means anything in the double digits).

Until it's not. Then it's like the most fantastical event ever! Aliens making first contact would get less notice than rain's arrival.


He's Just Not That Nice!

So, Tracy, The Rocket Scientist and I were sitting in a family restaurant in Ogden, UT on a Saturday morning. Right in the middle of Familyville.

They had a turkey sandwich on the menu so I ordered it up since I don't really do breakfast foods. It was yummy! It came with a little side of cranberry sauce that I spread on the sandwich like butter. Awesome!

There was enough left over to eat with a spoon. I was so excited that I was getting a little dessert. In fact, you would probably say I was like a kid on Christmas morning about it. Yes, I was that excited.

That's when TRS said, "There's probably high fructose corn syrup in that."

Arghhhhhhh! Instant deflation. I felt devastated like he told me there was no Santa Claus. I looked at the cranberry then back up at his so proud of himself face and it just came out.

"Eff you!"

Only, I didn't say eff.

Of course, at the very moment I uttered those words, the young teenage boy who had been sitting in the…

It's Poison, I Tell You

I’m avoiding high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) like it’s the fictional devil. Let me tell you, it ain’t easy.

What got me started on this crusade? Michael Pollan. I read The Omnivore’s Dilemma and In Defense of Food and he showed how the increase in HFCS in the American diet can be tied to the increase in obesity in Americans. If you want to study the documentation, check out the multiple references in his books.

It wasn’t just Pollan, though. At the time I was reading Omnivore’s Dilemma, I came across a study where rats who were given HFCS gained more weight than the rats given regular corn syrup. That study has been refuted and defended with great ferocity. There’s a lot of money involved thanks to the subsidies provided to corn growers by the US government so it’s hard to weed through PR propaganda and true scientific results.

I also read about a study that says it can cause scarring in the liver. I’m already doing enough damage to my liver as it is. Again, I’m sure there’s a …

I Expect The Authorities At Any Moment

One of my favorite comic strips is Pearls Before Swine. It features a fluffy cat who sells to terrorists. If I knew the author, I would suspect he based the character on George because I was pretty sure she's on the computer in the middle of the night and when I'm at work selling secret plans to some sort of rebel groups.

However, I now think she's actually hacking into financial institutions and embezzling because she's a dirty little thief.

Her latest obsession is with plastic sandwich bags. She wants to eat them, in fact. I carry one in my purse to keep loose change in it and she gets in to my purse, takes the bag out and chews on it.

I had enough the other night of that so I put the bag back in to my purse, zipped it completely shut and verbally reprimanded her. I know...verbal reprimands mean nothing to her but it made me feel better.

The next morning, I got up to find the bag on the floor with six large holes in it and my purse completely unzipped.

I just hope sh…

Book Review - The Accidental Werewolf

The Accidental Werewolf by Dakota Cassidy

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A typical entry in the paranormal chick lit genre which isn't a bad thing. Heroine Marty accidentally gets bitten by a werewolf while trying to separate him from her attacking toy poodle. What follows is Marty trying to accept and fit in to her new lifestyle while avoiding being kidnapped by unknown parties. Lots of hot sex scenes, too, which is always good. I'll read the next book in this series.

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Book Review - Jane Bites Back

Jane Bites Back by Michael Thomas Ford

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Impulse pickup from the library and glad I indulged that impulse. Jane Austen is dead and well and a vampire running a bookstore. Her last manuscript has been rejected 116 times over the last 200 years and she finally gets it accepted and published on the 117th try.

Fun look at the vampire, chick lit, romance and classic literary worlds as Jane encounters some famous lit figures who are also undead, promotes her book and tries to date an unknowing mortal.

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I wore denim capris last Saturday to the backyard house concert/picnic. I ended up crawling around on the grass quite a bit. Now, don't think nasty thoughts. It was because I was taking pictures so I moved around a lot. By the end of the day, I had grass stains on my knees but forgot about them and just threw the capris into the wash when I got home then threw them on this morning.As I was driving in to work, I looked down and realized that the stains are still there on one knee. I only hope they're not also on my ass.

Book Review - Naming Nature

Naming Nature: The Clash Between Instinct and Science by Carol K. Yoon

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

From Wikipedia - a discussion of the word "umwelt":

Each functional component of an umwelt has a meaning and so represents the organism's model of the world. It is also the semiotic world of the organism, including all the meaningful aspects of the world for any particular organism, i.e. it can be water, food, shelter, potential threats, or points of reference for navigation. An organism creates and reshapes its own umwelt when it interacts with the world. This is termed a 'functional circle'. The umwelt theory states that the mind and the world are inseparable, because it is the mind that interprets the world for the organism. Consequently, the umwelten of different organisms differ, which follows from the individuality and uniqueness of the history of every single organism. When two umwelten interact, this creates a semiosphere.

As a term, umwelt also unites all the semi…

Book Review - Food Rules

Food Rules: An Eater's Manual by Michael Pollan

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is a very quick summary of the much denser material from In Defense of Food and The Omnivore's Dilemma. I gave it to my Dad because he's trying to lose weight but he's not doing it by eating healthy. I'm hoping the simple rules will help him to more easily change his habits.If you're looking for a nice summary of easily remembered rules, this is your book.

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My friend Scott and I jinxed our drive home from Utah on Sunday. In a big way, too.

We were at the Slowest McDonald’s In The World (located just off the highway in Flagstaff, AZ) and talked about what time we would get home. Our estimate was about 8 PM. Not bad considering we were coming all the way from Park City in one day.

After getting dinner to go, we continued down I-17 and I noticed that the A/C was blowing warmer. The Rocket Scientist was driving Tracy’s car and I thought he had turned it down since he gets colder more than the rest of us. Then, it got a little warmer and I saw him adjust it so I really thought he was doing it.

Until he said, “Uh oh, I’m at full temperature.” (Disclosure before TRS busts me on inaccurate reporting - all quotes are paraphrased.) Tracy said, “If it were Goat’s car, he’d turn the heat on to cool the engine.” TRS did just that but it didn’t help.

He was thinking we were very close to Sunset Point and that maybe we could get that …

Book Review - Hard Rain

Hard Rain by Barry Eisler

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

John Rain has gone underground after the events of the first book in the series. Of course, there wouldn't be much of a story. He's soon sucked back in to the assassin business, this time against the Yakuza. I enjoy the mystery and the descriptions of Japan. You can tell Eisler spent a lot of time there.

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It Was Actually Worth The Pain

There has been construction on the 202 Freeway near my house for...I don't know, two years? It's been a really long time, regardless. I've had to deal with lanes shutting down on nights and weekends, exits closed both to and from work and some miserable commutes because the speed limit was lowered to 55 and we didn't always have all of the lanes available. They're nearly finished except for some paving and it is frakking awesome! Lots of lanes and the speed limit is now 65. My drive is 8.3 miles and I can get to work in the morning in 11 minutes. That's the best I could do in mid-day and speeding before then.Even more amazing, I left my office parking lot at 5 PM and pulled into my parking spot at home at 5:14 PM. Fourteen minutes in rush hour! Yahoo!The only bummer is that people (myself included) have been so conditioned to drive 55 that they're doing that speed even with no traffic.Thank you, ADOT, for actually making my life easier. Finally.

Hello, My Name is Kathy and I am an Addict

I think I may be a bit too attached to my MacBook Pro. Unnaturally so, in fact.I left it at work overnight for the first time because it was rendering a video for our Corporate Trainer and that needed a few hours more to finish. It felt so strange to walk out with only my purse. It felt even stranger leaving my house without it and then walking across the work parking lot without it tucked under my arm the next morning.It was sitting on my desk waiting for me when I got in. Whew! Not that we have a theft problem at work at all but I was still worried about it just sitting there. It had turned off which I assumed was because it powered itself down so I pressed the on button.Nothing happened.I pressed it again. I tried doing it quickly. I tried holding it down for 20 seconds. No dice. It wasn't turning back on. The anxiety I felt without my computer was nothing compared to how I felt then. Panic was more of an accurate description. What was I going to do without it?!?!?…

Tried To Be A Good World Citizen - FML

I wanted to pack drinking water for our trip to Pinetop/Lakeside a few weeks ago since I'm not drinking pop anymore. Trying to minimize my carbon footprint, I bought a 2 ½ gallon jug (the kind you put in your fridge). I didn't know if there were going to be recycling opportunities so I didn't want to have to throw away a dozen bottles.The plan was for me to leave directly from work to Leslie's house so I packed the trunk in the morning. Suitcase, water, cardboard box with Ginger Beer and Vodka in it and my camp chair. I bailed out of work a little late but made it to Leslie's at a reasonable time.Since she was driving, I needed to unload my stuff in to her car. The first thing I pulled out was my suitcase and I noticed something odd. It took me a moment to realize that it was wet. Quite wet.See, what happened was that the spigot on the water got twisted open and ¾ of 2 ½ gallons of water had spilled all over my trunk. The cardboard box was a soggy mess that…

Make It Stop!

In the immortal words of Kahn, “He tasks me.”

The Rocket Scientist and I went to dinner with Steven and then to a bar last night for some brew. The ESPYs were on but with the sound off at both locations.

Jiminy Christmas, ESPN! How many times did you need to show The Quarterback Who Is Dead To Me?

I swear it felt like every other time I looked up, there was his traitorous greying mug on the screen. Or a replay of him in that stupid Purple 4 on the football field. To top it off, they actually gave him an award.

Ugh. It was enough to make me have another beer.

Book Review - Under Currents

Undercurrents by Ridley Pearson

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I got this book in a bag of hand me downs. It was delightful. Lou Boldt is a Seattle homicide cop who fingered a guy for serial killings. The guy is killed by the father of one of the victims. But, the crimes don't stop. In fact, there may be two killers out there. Lots of guilt hanging on Lou now.

Very good cop mystery. I pegged the bad guy(s) (but not what you think) early on but it was nice to see the outcome. And, a nice view of the dynamics of Lou's personal life as he gives nearly all to the case.

Written in the late 80s, some of the cop stuff is outdated but the story could have existed today except for the lack of cell phones.

I had no idea there were more to this series so I'll be sure to check them out.

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I loved the sandals I bought at the beginning of last summer. Really loved. I wore them almost every day until it got too cold out. I had tan lines from them. When spring came around, I started wearing them again. Despite the fact that the soles were getting thinner and thinner.

Today was the breaking point. I finally burned through the final layer. And burned is probably the right word as I was walking in a parking lot and my foot felt like it was on fire.

I'm so sad. I went to Famous Footwear tonight to see if they had the same style. No such luck. I found two new pairs of sandals (hey, it was buy one, get half off the second) but I'm not in love with them. It's more of a like situation.

That's My Name, Don't Wear It Out

My parents have a water leak in their shower. It's been there forever and my Dad finally decided to get it taken care of. I told him to call Goat because I knew Goat would do a good job on the repair and would tell him if it was out of his realm.

So, Shorty called Goat at home and got the answering machine. He left a message that went something like this, "Hello, this is Shorty, Kathleen Pfister's Father...." Tammy and Goat came home and checked their messages and, apparently, both of them had to stop and think about who this "Kathleen" person was.

Goat was so tickled by it all that he had to call me while I was at work. Me, "Hello?" Goat, "Well, hello, KATHLEEN. How is KATHLEEN today?" He decided that our relationship should all be prim and proper now since he's using my formal name. Whateva.

It didn't stop there, though. He's been lobbying everyone else to call me Kathleen, too. So, I'm getting Facebook comments…

Is It Gender?

My Tuesday lunch buddy and I often stop by Home Depot on our way back to the office to buy stuff for his various home projects. He's always fixing things. Ick. I would prefer Lowe's, of course, but there isn't one near work and I think he would veto it anyway. Just to rile me with a Jimmie rejection.

Today's item was an anti-syphon valve. I had no clue and assumed it was for your car's gas tank so people couldn't steal your fuel. That was an incorrect assumption. He told me it was something you put on your outdoor water line so it doesn't back up. He also vaguely described it to me. I heard something like "it's a valve with doohickeys on it".

He had only the vaguest idea of where it would be found. As we moved towards plumbing, an employee asked if we needed any help. He said "No." OK, I would have asked the nice lady where the anti-syphon valves were and saved us some time. When I suggested that might have been a wise ide…

Book Review - Rain Fall

Rain Fall by Barry Eisler

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I must confess, the main reason I picked this series to start reading was that I saw a recent pic of the author and he's hot.

Maybe that should be my new indicator for books because I really enjoyed this one. It was published in 1985 so a little dated but still good.

The main character, John Rain, grew up in Japan and the US but felt out of place in both as his Father was Japanese and his Mother was American. Apparently, back in the 50s, 60s and 70s, people in both countries were pretty racist. He finally finds his place serving in Vietnam but the atrocities he experiences there leave him, well, let's say morally adrift. He now makes his living as a highly paid assassin. But, one with a good heart(?) as he won't off women or children. OK, whatever.

Rain's elimination of a Japanese Government official leads to betrayal, more murder, intrigue and romance. The story also finds him facing and coming to terms with some of …

Fierce Kitty

There were fireworks at Tempe Town Lake last night and I wondered how George would react to them. I live close enough to both hear and see them so I knew she would be interested, at least.

The first few explosive pops went off and she tensed up and started growling. Her usual, very low, "please don't notice that I'm growling" growl but a growl, nonetheless.

I opened the front door and lifted her up so she could see over the trees. I think she was less interested in the lights and more interested in the neighbors who were out by the pool next to my condo. She kept up a steady growl and made it known she wanted me to put her down.

I did and closed the door so she sat at the front window and growled and growled and growled until the fireworks were over. I'm sure that in her pea sized kitty brain, they stopped because of fear of her. In reality, her growling was so quiet, I couldn't hear it from more than 10 feet away.

Book Review - The Alchemist

The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

My rating: 2 of 5 stars
This was a book club selection or I wouldn't have read it. I actually missed the session because I couldn't get the book from the library in time. A testament to its popularity that there's a waiting list.

It's the usual New Agey/God stuff. Trust in yourself and the higher power and good things will happen. Yep, that's about it. The lesson is told in the tale of Santiago, a Spanish shepherd who's told to seek his fortune at the Pyramids. Lots of mystical and religious claptrap later, he finds it. The end.

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Book Review - The Magicians

The Magicians by Lev Grossman

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I discovered Grossman from his writing for Time magazine. Very funny dude. I've also followed his stories of promoting this book via Twitter. I'm pretty sure I would enjoy hanging out with him. I know we'd have lots of books to talk about because it looks like we grew up reading the same stuff.The Magicians weaves elements from Fantasy and Fairy Tale to tell the story of Quentin, a very smart kid obsessed with books about one family's children who enjoy adventures in a magical land. Quentin gets sidetracked on his way to his verbal interview at Princeton and finds himself attending a college for Magicians instead.

This is not your childhood's Chronicles of Narnia nor your child's Harry Potter, exactly. There's the typical excess sex, drugs and alcohol of college life, the hubris of young adults and the conviction that the young have that nothing bad can ever happen to them. In this story, the student…

Book Review - Beatrice and Virgil

Beatrice and Virgil by Yann Martel

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I read Life of Pi with my book club and it engendered views that ranged from "this is total crap" to "I couldn't put it down". I expect Beatrice and Virgil would have the same results. Judging by the reviews on Goodreads, that assumption is correct. Lots of 0 and 1 stars and lots of 4 and 5 stars.

I liked B&V a lot and read all but the first 20 pages in one sitting. It's the story of Henry who wrote a very successful novel but has his next book about the Holocaust rejected by the publishers after he takes five years to write it. He and his wife move to a new city, put down roots in the arts community and enjoy their lives. Until, one day a letter comes with a story by Flaubert and a partial script for a play.

That leads Henry into a disturbing, mysterious, sad and always reminding of Waiting for Godot world filled with taxidermy, pets and imagery that I felt I might be too dumb to fully unders…

Book Review - Things My Girlfriend and I Have Argued About

Things My Girlfriend and I Have Argued About: A Novel by Mil Millington

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Very funny book about the misadventures of a British slacker who works in the library at a University, his perpetually angry German girlfriend and their two hyper sons. Some of the description literally made me laugh out loud.

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144 Books in 2010 Update

I forsook lots of TV time this past week to cram on reading. I'm at 70 books through June so 4 books off the pace of 12 a month. Fortunately, we have a long weekend coming and I currently only have plans for Saturday so I hope to spend some more quality time with prose.

I still believe 144 is doable but I feel I need to build a cushion up because I have lots of travel and activities on the calendar.

Book Review - Stephen Fry in America

Stephen Fry in America by Stephen Fry

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I believe Stephen Fry has one of the greatest wits of our time. I follow him on Twitter and he is fab.

This collection of essays on every state in the US (he visited them all) is a great example of that wit. His slagging of the ugly and the ridiculous (Trump's Taj Mahal, Sasquatch hunters) and his self deprecation made this a very enjoyable read. His love for our country also came through. I wish I could follow in his footsteps and enjoy the US as he was able to.

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