Showing posts from March, 2012

Flight Wish

A friend of mine posted on Facebook, "Just got my new passport, and I have a tremendous urge to flee the country.

I can completely relate. It's probably not a good thing that I always have my passport with me because Mexico is a quick drive away and I know I can always find a friend down there to crash with.

It was so beautiful today when I left for work. A perfect day for a road trip. As I was driving to the office, I looked down at my control panel to see that my full tank of gas was projected to take me 370 miles. That's city driving, I could get even further on the highway.

Do you know how hard it was to not turn around and head for the border?
Damn hard.
Oh, yeah, the alternative title to this post could have been, "Work Still Sucks", in case you didn't get the subtext.

Book Review - The Man Who Loved Books Too Much

The Man Who Loved Books Too Much: The True Story of a Thief, a Detective, and a World of Literary Obsession by Allison Hoover Bartlett
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

It's a bit ironic that I have so much disinterest in true crime books and I read two non-fiction books about criminals in one week. This one was by choice, the other was a book club selection.

Bartlett develops a keen interest in to the life of rare-book thief, John Gilkey as well as the foibles of collectors and booksellers. Through a series of in and out of prison interviews with Gilkey and his family and many booksellers, especially Ken Sanders who's determined to capture book thieves, Bartlett develops her story. Its a tale of compulsive behavior by most of the characters, include Bartlett herself.

Gilkey is an interesting cat. Clearly sociopathic, he thinks building a vast library of rare books will establish his reputation as a learned man of means. The fact that he gets books through credit card fraud and outrig…

Book Review - The Other Wes Moore

The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates by Wes Moore
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was our book club selection this month and it generated a lot of discussion.

Author Wes Moore is a Rhodes Scholar with a lot of accomplishments. He hears about another Wes Moore who is around his age who is wanted in connection for a robbery/murder. About the same age, both were born in Baltimore. Author Wes is obsessed with Jail Wes (that's how we defined them for our discussion) and how he ended up down such a different life path despite their common attributes.

Author Wes mails Jail Wes in prison and the two begin a series of visits and Author Wes goes on to interview many of the people in Jail Wes' life. Told in four sections, the story touches on both of their lives at certain points in time.

Author Wes says, “The chilling truth is that his life could have been mine. The tragedy is that my story could have been his.”

I somewhat agree but I think there were significant differences betw…

Another Day Living The Dream

Yeah, things are still really crappy at work. My attempt to lighten the mood today was this picture from Lolcats:

One of our co-workers decided to try some additional cheer and went shopping. He came back with these:

Having an ice cream treat (or, in the case of some of my co-workers, two) did make the day better. I had the mint chocolate chip and it was dee-licious! As an added bonus, we made the Healthy Choice eaters really jealous and, dare I say, bitter.
It was still one of THOSE days, though.

Genetics Will Win Out

My Uncle came out from Wisconsin for a long weekend. Shorty asked me to give him a ride to the airport this morning. As we were chatting post-dinner last night, I asked my Uncle what time he wanted me to pick him up. He said 7 AM. I asked what time his flight left and he said 8:55 AM. My parents' house is 10 minutes from the airport.

I did the math and then added "ish" to every time he said 7 after that. Seriously, on a Tuesday morning the airport is not going to be so busy that you need to get there an hour and 45 minutes before a domestic flight.

He can't help the early thing. It's a Pfister trait. They'd rather be an hour early than five minutes late and they know this about each other. My Uncle's flight in landed 40 minutes early. Shorty was already at the airport waiting for him just as my Uncle expected him to be.

I used to be just as bad. But, with as much air travel as I do now, I've adjusted to being comfortable with allowing less time. No, I…

Geek Chat

We had a pizza party today in honor of an employee who's leaving. It's an IT tradition going back to even before my time. IT people love to eat and we get Red Devil which is awesome pizza. We are so committed to it that we once had someone leave abruptly after giving notice and we still had the party after he was actually gone.

As is often the case, the conversation turned to geek and nerd stuff. Today's topic was TV Sci-Fi. A group of us started debating our favorite Star Trek series. The majority went with The Next Generation.  I'll always go with TNG because Jean Luc Picard kicks ass and I have a permanent crush on Patrick Stewart. Surprisingly, considering our nerd level, many of us bailed on several of the other series before they were over.

We also talked about Babylon 5. That was a groundbreaking sci-fi series with its five year story arc. No one had really done it like that before. I don't think I got past season two but I wouldn't mind watching it agai…

Screw High Heels

I went on a retail therapy binge last Friday. It was awesome! I made whirlwind trips to Dress Barn, Lane Bryant and BevMo! and picked up clothes, jewelry and wine. Three of my favorite things. Man, I felt better afterwards.

One of my purchases was a dark denim skirt and I decided to wear it to work yesterday since we had our managers group meeting that I facilitate. I try to dress a little nicer for those. It was damn cold out so I also wore tights and decided at the last minute to wear some dress shoes.

The heels were a mistake.

They were only 2 1/2 inches but by lunchtime, the balls of my feet were killing me and I had a knot in my left calf. I took them off at every chance and stretched and flexed my legs and feet but by the end of the day, I couldn't wait to get back to flats. I was surprised because I've worn these heels many times without the pain induced side effects.

At some point in the afternoon, I noticed that the trim was coming off my left shoe. I checked it out a…

Living The Dream

You know how when you see people in the hallway or the washroom at work and they ask, "How's it going?" Are you honest when you answer? I'm not so much.

Sure, most of the time I can give a sincere "Great!" or "Good." But, if it's not so good or great, I resort to "Swell." Because with swell, you can add tone to indicate the true level of suckiness you want to express but it doesn't make the other person feel compelled to come back with "Oh, what's wrong?" Because, mostly they're just being polite and they don't care and mostly I don't really want to get into the details. So, a "Swell." can just be responded to with a little laugh and you both move on.

The past few, oy vey I think it's been five, weeks at work have been hellish. We had a lot of problems with our production system that are now (knock on wood, throw salt over your shoulder, sacrifice a virgin) in check. But, right on the heels…

Book Review - The Damage Done

The Damage Done by Hilary Davidson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Lily Moore is a travel writer living in Barcelona when she's called back to NYC because her sister, Claudia, has died. The mystery begins when Lily sees the body at the morgue and it's not her sister's. Her sister goes from victim to posible suspect and Lily works with the police and her friends to trace her sister's activities. Since her sister was a heroin addict, the people and places aren't always the nicest. Lily revisits her childhood traumas and deals with guilt over abandoning Claudia while alternating between hoping to find Claudia and fear that her sister is involved in an expanding list of unnatural deaths.

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Book Review - The Rook

The Rook by Daniel O'Malley
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Wow, this was a great book!

A young woman wakes up in the middle of a London park surrounded by dead bodies wearing latex gloves and with no memories of who she is. A letter in her coat pocket from the woman who used to inhabit her body, Myfanwy Thomas, sends her into a strange hidden world of a supernatural organization.

Myfanwy makes allies and enemies while impersonating her former self who was a leader in the organization and trying to unravel the mystery of how she came to be. O'Malley builds a great story with intrigue, magic/supernatural talents, humor, creepiness and violence.

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Book Review - Some Girls Bite

Some Girls Bite by Chloe Neill
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Vampires recently have come out in the open when Merit is attacked by a rogue and turned by the head of one of the Vampire Houses. While there's the stereotypical stuff (the Master is incredibly hot, Merit turns out to have powers beyond the normal vamps), the story was still interesting. Merit's journey from University of Chicago grad student to inner sanctum of the House and an introduction to the supernatural world and its politics was an enjoyable tale. I will continue to read the series.

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Book Review - Explosive Eighteen

Explosive Eighteen by Janet Evanovich
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The last few books in this series have left me, well, if not exactly enraged, close to it because of the incessant Morelli or Ranger decision that Stephanie never makes. This book, and I don't think it's a spoiler to say it's still unresolved because I don't think it ever will be, didn't leave me angered. Mostly, because I enjoyed the story and there was some hot sex. If I were Stephanie, I'd do them both and every chance I got to.

The book opens with Stephanie coming home from an apparently drama filled trip that she doesn't want to talk about. The guy who sat next to her on the plane turns up dead and everyone from the FBI, fake-FBI and a psychotic pirate are after something they think he gave to Stephanie. While resolving that issue, there's the usual ineptness of Stephanie and Lula on apprehending skips, a car change for Stephanie, a funeral viewing and the return of Joyce Bernhardt, Step…

Resolution Revolution or One Time Experiment?

Our company and health insurance provider are starting another “healthy” program at work this month. I don’t blame them for encouraging us to be healthier but I think some people may have plateaued on their interest in following programs or participating in contests.

The new plan is called Resolution Revolution (because all programs have to have a catchy title). I think it’s supposed to help you create some new, good, habits.

The gist of the idea is to accumulate 100 points in a month with a possible 4 points a day. You get a daily point for each of the following:

Eating at least five servings of fruits and vegetablesExercising at least 15 minutesGetting at least seven hours of sleepTaking at least 10 minutes for relaxationI think most of our team is actually going to participate but the consensus was that there was one point that was going to be really difficult to get. Surprisingly, not the exercise even though more than a few of use are pretty sedentary. No, it was the sleep point.


Running On Empty

So much for my goal of blog posting an average of once a day. February killed me and March isn't being much kinder.

My Dad is always asking me, "How do you do it?" By "it", he means work, play, club stuff and travel for  all three of the previous items. I usually say it's just what I do and he thinks it's exhausting. Usually, I don't agree with him but I'm beginning to see his point of view.

My internal battery has been running low and it actually ran out of juice yesterday. Despite going to bed early on both Saturday and Sunday nights, I was wiped when I got up yesterday morning. I took a sick day and a four hour nap and I was still pretty tired last night but I survived the work day and actually feel OK though I suspect I'll retire early tonight. It wasn't all from lack of sleep, it was also a case of nearly overwhelming stress.

Stress from what? Well, I have a list.

We're in month 802 of the project that won't end at work. OK, …

Book Review - Trail of the Spellmans

Trail of the Spellmans by Lisa Lutz
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I really get into these books. In fact, I came back to work late from lunch because I felt compelled to finish this one today. The characters are so effing crazy that I don't think I'd want to know them in real life but they sure are entertaining in a novel.

Izzy and the Spellmans are involved in their usual entertaining PI jobs while also busy investigating each other. Izzy's Mom has taken up a bunch of hobbies. Rae is slacking off from the family business. David has become a slobby stay at home Dad who's obsessed with his daughter. And, poor Henry is waiting for Izzy to respond to his marriage proposal. Add in Grammy Spellman and Harry's Mom and the return of Bernie and there are a lot of colorful characters in this book.

I like to see character and story progression in series (which I mention a lot as a hint to Janet Evanovich) and Lutz manages to do so. While I wish Izzy would "grow up" even …

Book Review - The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I found this book while trying to find a non-fiction selection for book club but wasn't too sure it would provide enough discussion material. I was wrong. There are a lot of issues brought up in this book from Jim Crow laws, patient privacy, tissue and genetic testing, scientific research and racism.

Lacks was a relatively poor, undereducated Black woman who was treated at John Hopkins for a cervical tumor. Tissue samples were taken from her before (and after) she died and her live cancerous cells were found to be able to persist and grow in a lab setting. Her cells (called HeLa) became the basis for an enormous amount of research and directly helped to test Salk's polio vaccine. It's an amazing scientific story.

What's also amazing was Skloot's efforts to research Lack and her family. She wanted to include them to make it a complete story. They didn't even know about Lack's cell…