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Rating System

5 stars: Completely enjoyable or compelling
4 stars: Good but flawed
3 stars: Average
2 stars: OK
1 star: Did not finish

Reading Challenges

My Kind of Mystery Reading Challenge 2017 February - January 2017-8



 

Wash-Wash: 5/31/04

Sean is on the verge of another language explosion. Tonight he actually nagged to have his bath. I was in the middle of doing something else but had to stop because Sean was repeating: "Mama. Mama! Go-go. Wash-wash. Let's go. Time to wash. Mama!!!" Over and over and over and over and over…

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Sunday Joy Ride: 5/30/04

In the afternoon we took Sean to Coyote Point to play on the jungle gym. The park was completely crowded because of the holiday weekend but we found a parking spot. Unfortunately, Sean had fallen asleep on the way so we just rolled down the windows and read the books we had brought along. He napped for about forty minutes.

Anyway, we finally got out to play and Sean wandered around in a post nap stupor for a while. He eventually had fun going up and down the slide and watching air planes.

On the way home I chose to take Airport Blvd rather than hopping onto the freeway. We eventually wandered into San Bruno via Oyster Point road. I got a little turned around in San Bruno. Roads that used to go through no longer do because of the BART extension. Finally we ended up coming around by the BART station near Kaiser.

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Shrek 1 1/4: 5/29/04

Act 1:

Ian's folks are visiting so we were able to leave Sean with them while we dashed to Castro Valley to put an offer on the townhouse we had seen last week. Chances are good that we may actually have our offer accepted.

Act 2:

We had planned to see Shrek in Redwood City but Ian always gets confused on the 580 and once again we ended up crossing the Bay Bridge rather than the San Mateo. So we decided to try out the new Daly City Century multiplex. We got in and had to take second row seats. The theater was packed!

Then just as the movie was getting going a water main broke which set off the fire alarm. The entire theater had to exacuate. While Ian went to get a refund (which he got), I went back for the car. It took us both about forty minutes. At least everyone involved was civil and things were orderly.

Act 3:

So I still haven't seen most of Shrek 2 but I did get to see the first thirty minutes or so for free. I didn't get to see Puss in Boots and I really wanted to. Wah!

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May Rain Brings June Flowers? 5/28/04

We woke up at seven in the morning to the sound of rain. It hasn't rained for about two months so it came as a bit of a surprise. I can say that Thursday afternoon I noted that it was unusually humid but by the time we were home it was clear and dry.

Fortunately with the holiday, traffic was light. They had all left on Thursday night meaning that even with accidents I made it to work on time.

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Caterpillar one two three buttergo-go: 5/27/04

Sean likes to "read" The Very Hungry Caterpillar outloud to himself. The story goes something like:

"There's a caterpillar. Hungry caterpillar. Eat eat. One, two, three. Go Go. Caterpillar eat eat. Ohhhh. Caterpillar uh-oh. Buttergogo. The end!"

Buttergogo is his word for butterfly. Pretty good for not yet two!

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Sisyphus and the Push Broom: 5/26/04

Yesterday the Real Estate Agent that took over Joe's Ristorante's site, held a classic car show. Apparently Joe's used to have a car show there every year so the new owner of the building wanted to keep the tradition going.

The show was held in the afternoon starting around two. All morning long, a man with a push broom swept the alley to clean it up for the old cars. While I appreciate that the car owners wouldn't want their cars dinged with the rocks in the alley (chipped up from what was the asphault at one time) and certainly wouldn't want their cars covered in dust, it's an alley!

All I could do is smile and think of Sisyphus. Though the man with the broom did manage to sweep up huge mounds of dust and rocks, the alley still looked as dusty and rocky as ever. I'm not sure what he accomplished in six hours of hard labor.

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Gesundheit: 5/25/04

Yesterday on our drive home I sneezed. Normally I would sneeze and that would be it but last night Sean said, "Bless you" in his quiet voice. I sneezed a few more times on the way home and each time, "bless you" from the back seat.

When Ian got home from his night class I told him about Sean's new phrase. Ian pretended to sneeze. Sean didn't buy it one bit. Rather than saying "bless you," he said, "ah-choo!" in his loud voice.

So apparently on real sneeze are deserving of a "bless you." All other types will be loudly mocked.

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Geek Rating Just Went Up: 5/24/04

At work I have a been in a catch-22 where I can either be connected to my client through their VPN or I can be connected to my coworkers via our LAN. But not any more. I now have two machines switch-boxed together. Bwahahahaha! Okay, I know, I'm over reacting but it's still fun to switch between them. Click click.

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Are You My House? 5/23/04

Today we looked at two homes. We had planned on looking at three but one is sale pending. The first home, a townhouse, while large with a two car garage and three stories, barely has a kitchen and the current family doesn't have a dining area set up. We'd have to use the living room area on the entry level as a dining area and turn the downstairs into our living room if we bid on that place. We actually did consider bidding on it and as a back up, we may still.

Then we went to a SFR (single family residence) — a house-house! It was built in 1940 and only owned by one family. I don't think they ever modernized anything except for the electrical and window. Original sinks, original flooring, original door knobs (where there are knobs), original closets and built ins. It's quirky and wonderful. I think our realtor was confused by our excitement but hey! We ended up rushing back to her office to put together an offer. We might know as early as Tuesday or Wednesday.

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No Water Take Two: 5/22/04

Most Saturdays the three of us venture out for breakfast at a local restaurant called Kerri's. We tried to go there today but ended up going to Denny's instead because most of the strip mall had no water. I think only Denny's, Safeway, Rite Aid and Ross had water. We probably should have just gone home for breakfast. Denny's was overwhelmed by the double load of breakfasters with their usual crowd and the Kerri's crowd.

On our way back to our car we passed one of the delicatessens in the waterless part of the mall. A man was delivering jugs of water to the stores as a "start" while the water problem was worked on. The deli owner lamented, "You want me to cook with this? I have a lot of work to do. How long do you think a little jug like this will last?"

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Marketing Madness: 5/21/04

Every month for the last two decades of my life I've had to purchase feminine hygiene supplies. For most of that time I've been buying the same product and every month at least for the last decade, the packaging has been different even though the product has stayed the same. It makes finding the darn thing difficult. It's also highly amusing. I can't think of another product that changes its packaging as much as this one product does!

Another amusing detail is that in the last five years, the packaging has started to come in both English and French. My guess is that we're getting the ones made also for Canada but as this is California, having packaging in French is rather silly. Spanish, Chinese, Japanese, Hindi or Tagalog, I'd see the point. But French? We're not exactly a francophone state.

But it's not just the hygiene supplies that are coming in Canadian packaging. My car, although a Japanese model, was actually built in Canada so its owners manual is in English and French. The detergent we use in our dishwasher is also in French.

Peut-être un matin je constaterai que mon site Web a été traduit dedans au Français.

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No Longer Grunting Like a Caveman: 5/20/04


When Sean wants something and he doesn't know the word for it he grunts like a caveman on a Saturday matinee movie. "Ugh ugh ugh ugh ugh" with his finger pointing in the general direction of what he wants.

Last night at dinner I decided to test his language sponginess. First I showed him raisins and had him repeat the word raisin to me. He did and was very pleased with learning the new word. He did his usual happy feet dance. Then I pointed to his bowl of macaroni and cheese. Although "mac and cheese" seemed beyond him last night, he did take a liking to noodle.

Later during dinner he started to grunt. As I've been doing for the last month or so, I said, "Don't grunt. Talk. Please tell me what you want."

Quietly he said, "Raisin?"

Yay! From then on he has been asking for raisins by name, rather than with caveman pantomime.

Near the end of dinner he started to whimper so I knew something was bothering him. I asked him what the problem was. He pointed down his shirt and said sadly, "Noodle."

He had dropped some noodles down his shirt and couldn't fish them out himself because he was strapped into his highchair at the shoulders. So I fished them out for him and he gave me another happy feet drum solo.

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One World—Many Views: 5/19/04

On Earth

I'm finding myself becoming addicted to Photoblogs. There's directory of them at Photoblogs.org, a wonderful resource and fully searchable. There's something far more engaging about seeing pictures from one's world rather than just reading one's rant for the day. Perhaps one of these days I'll follow my own advice and add pictures to my blog.

MojoWorld:

I've also been diving feet first again in MojoWorld Generator. I have two planets in the works. One is called Horatio and it's a reddish planet. The other is Goodday and it's a mixture of cold tundra, watery Mars, and lilacy shale. As I've worked mostly on Goodday, it's the one I'm currently most pleased with.

I'm posting my best test renders in the art gallery.

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I'd Reject That Too: 5/18/04

In March I received my first rejection of a story I had written. I still have three (or is it four?) stories out there being reviewed. Last night I finally sat down to reread, re-edit and rewrite the rejected story. Reading it with fresh eyes was a laughable experience. I could see right away why it had been rejected. My initial two edits stunk. I sent in a completely unprofessional draft.

At least in the process I got a second chance to fix and improve the piece. I know the story has potential. It's actually one of my favorites that I've written so far. I think I was so excited by it before that I completely missed the obvious and STUPID errors.

I rewrote it last night. In the process I also took out some loose strings, tightened the plot, improved characterization and came up with a better title.

For more on my writing...

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Vulture Winner: 5/17/04

As it turns out, my Vulture render from NewMarsia was the challenge winner for week 131. I'm surprised and delighted, especially in light of the on-going debate at the 3D Commune about whether or not the challenge render participants should be allowed to do post production work. Back in October before I lost my job and basically stopped participating in the weekly challenge, there weren't winners selected from the week's renders so it was pretty much anything goes with the render. The only rule was: don't use MojoWorld Generator to change the planet in any way that Transporter can't change a planet. Sometime during my hiatus, the forum decided to have a weekly winner which has brought forward the Mojo purist camp again.

Personally I think the best challenges (in any medium or program) are the ones that are themed only and don't have extra rules like: don't have comments turned on, don't do post work, etc. Challenges, unlike contests, should be just a way to spark the creative juices. If the event is going to have a lot of strict rules, then call it for what it really is: a contest!

Anyway, thanks again Calyxa for selecting The Vulture.

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Stubborn: 5/16/04

My husband loves to tell a story about how he refused to take a nap at preschool. His teacher kept lengthening the time of the nap as punishment but he refused to close his eyes. That was Sean today. I know he was tired enough for a nap. He was falling down tired but he refused to take a nap. At three I gave up. He'll be sent to bed early tonight.

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Language Sponge: 5/15/04

Sean seems to be learning about a half dozen words a day. Yesterday after breakfast he took an interest in a trash can that had a cement sides encrusted with decorative pebbles. In telling him about what they were he learned the words: pebble, texture and rock. At home he learned the word cracker and lobster. We have a red oven mitt which he loves to wear. It goes up to his arm pit and we call him lobster boy. So now he says: "Uh oh, lobster..." It's really cute.

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Can't Wait to Move! 5/14/04

First of course we have to find a home but...

Last night when I got home, my husband told me that the water to our building was off but should be back on by 7:00 PM. It was 6:30 at the time. Apparently our apartment building shares the water source with the apartment building perpendicular to ours. I had thought that all the buildings were separate water/power/cable but I guess not. Either the tenants on their way out had maliciously destroyed some piece of plumbing to flood their apartment (which would explain the recent drop in water pressure) or our maintenance person had broken some major to flood the apartment.

Anyway, at 7:00, we checked the water and it wasn't on yet. In fact, both the hot and cold were now off. We had been told that it was just the hot that was off (leading to my belief that the drop in hot water pressure relates directly to this flooded apartment).

My husband calls the manager and is told that things will be back at 9:30 which is half an hour past Sean's bed time. We grumble and decide to keep him up just in case the water does come on and he can have his bath and brush his teeth before bed.

By 9:40 the water still wasn't on and the manager had given up on giving estimates. We put a very angry, disappointed, tired and otherwise cranky Sean to bed and waited to see if the water would come on.

It hadn't by midnight when we gave up and went to bed, having brushed our teeth with water in the kettle. I went to bed thirsty. I drink a lot of water and we didn't have any bottled water on hand. We will stock up this weekend!

Thankfully the water was turned back on sometimes this morning before 5:30. I will have to shower tonight to test the hot water pressure.

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Dreamweaver, VPN and the Slow Connection: 5/13/04

One of the websites I manage requires a connection via a VPN and has its Dreamweaver site defined to use a remote server as its local server. Connecting to the remote "local" server would often crash Dreamweaver. After months of frustration and basically not using Dreamweaver's get and put functionality for this site, I found a couple of solutions to speed things up from so slow that it crashes Dreamweaver to sluggish but manageable.

  • Turn off caching and automatic site refreshes
  • Turn off SSI rendering
  • Exclude Dreamweaver from any on the fly virus scanning.

The excluding Dreamweaver from the virus scan was the biggest bump in performance. Dreamweaver MX uses a lot of javascript to run and the virus scan will stop each Dreamweaver process to scan for potential problem. Over a remote connection with a VPN, this scan can significantly slow down the program.

Source: Builder.com

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My Dinner with Andrea: 5/12/04

My friend and ex-coworker Andrea is visiting tonight and tomorrow for work related stuff. Sean and I are taking her out to dinner. It's been a year since we last saw her. She's going to see a huge change in Sean who wasn't even walking the last time she saw him.

Wednesday is a perfect night to go out too as my husband teaches night school tonight. He won't be home until 9:30 so he won't miss us while we're out.

I'm looking forward tonight. I think we'll have fun.

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Monsters: 5/11/04

I didn't sleep well last night. Between frequently waking up I had some intense nightmares. Except for the last one, these nightmares were real enough to be plausible which is what made them so frightening. They were along the lines of everything being as it is normally except that now one of us has a life threatening disease. I've had dreams like this before except that they've been a little more fantastic. Before instead of it being a disease, it will be something like vampirism. Typically what will happen is my husband will come home but will have been vamped since the last time I've seen him.

The last dream of the night involved plane crashes which I can't blame on the terrorist attacks because this has been a recurring theme of mine long before 2001.

So today I'm a little out of sorts and really not as focused as I should be on the day's tasks at hand.

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We Need More Heat Man!: 5/10/04

Our dryer is on the blink again. We're lucky to have one in our apartment rather than needing to use the laundry room but it's not as heavy duty as a standard dryer. Every 18 months it burns out the heat regulator which means either no heat or being unable to start the machine. Luckily my husband is just about to start his summer vacation so he can take care of the laundry while the management gets the dryer fixed.

I am looking forward when we have our own place and have greater control over our washer and dryer. We'll get a heavier duty one, not one of these staking kinds.

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Ladybugs: 5/9/04

Today I took my son to the Crystal Springs county park at the top of San Bruno. We spent an hour there running around on the grassy field, picking flowers, kicking a soccer ball around and looking at the various wild life. The field has become pockmarked with the handiwork of various mole rats. We even saw on today stick his nose up for air a few times as he dug a new entrance. We also saw some robins courting in the far corner of the field. The most interesting creature we met today was a ladybug who landed on Sean's shirt. After staring at the bug for awhile, he handed it to me and I let the bug ride on my arm. It eventually decided to take off for somewhere else but it was nice to share a few moments with the ladybug.

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Mothers and Daughters: 5/8/04

PBS had a one hour documentary on today called Mother's and Daughters that had to be one of the creepiest and most disturbing takes on mother daughter relationships. Most of the film focuses on the broken relationships or the odd ones. Ideas expressed included: my daughter and I used to act as one person but now that she's five (or some other age) I'm frightened by this new individual; my mother never loved me as a child but now she's much nicer person now that she has Alzheimer's (or some other disease). This film starts with an introduction lauding how inspirational the film will be for any woman. Bletch.

So for all you mothers out there (Hi Mom!) happy Mother's day tomorrow. I love you Mom!

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Cars and Trucks and Things that Cook: 5/7/04

At day care now that the kids are getting older cliques are starting to form. The girls are starting to prefer to play together and the boys are sticking to their corner of the play room. It's really cute to watch the two groups play. Usually when I pick my son up at the end of the day, the girls are in the center of the room pushing cars around or rolling balls back and forth to each other. The boys are in the corner playing with the kitchen set, fighting over who will cook the next meal.

At this age so much of their play is imitation based. I think the girls are into cars and trucks because their mothers bring them to work. In other words: Mom (and only Mom) drives cars, therefore I should like cars to be like Mom. The boys see their dads cooking dinner most nights (which is true for most of the dads, including the man who helps his wife run the daycare) do the majority of the cooking. Therefore to be like Dad, they pretend to cook.

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Dead Letters: 5/6/04

Post Script: Yesterday I posted my observations about local commercial real estate. After posting, I happened to see the front of the old Joe's Ristorante. It's being turned into a real estate agency! I'm disappointed that our chance at getting another option for lunch (there aren't many right here) is being taken away in the interest of selling more property.

Onto Today's Post:

Yesterday I finished a short story I've been working on (meaning mostly ignoring) since March. I keep a "writing turtle" of my ideas (an Excel spreadsheet) sorted by date and the next on the list centers around the dead letter office (aka the Mail Recovery Center) of which there are three in the United States. One of them is in San Francisco and is the vague inspiration for this piece.

Return to Sender:

Here are some interesting links I came across in my initial research...

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Commercial Real Estate: 5/5/04

Commercial real estate is the only truly affordable and sensibly priced real property in the Bay Area. My meager (!) down payment on a house (most likely town house) I could use to pay cash for some of the businesses around me but I don't know anything about doughnut making, dry cleaning or automobile repairing so in that sense it would be a bad investment.

It's nice to have things in walking distance. So many of my jobs have been rather isolated for quick walking errands. On my way to get diapers at the nearby Wallgreens, I passed the now almost completely redone restaurant (was Joe's, don't know what it will be), another bar & grill that has a sale pending sign in the window, and a construction site of an up and coming Trader Joe's. It's nice to see two abandoned buildings on their way to being revamped and reopened. The Trader Joe's will be useful for those nights when we have nothing planned for dinner.

Also at Wallgreens I found a pile of the tchotckies that we had been given when I first started at Oracle. As I already have the rhino, the raccoon (now named Baboo) and the toucan, I opted for the calico cat, who is now sitting on my monitor at work.

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Have You Seen My Cat: 5/4/04

One of my son's favorite books is Have You Seen My Cat? by Eric Carle. Last night we had one of our marathon reading sessions of the book. It's quite a simple text with lots of repetition. Having grown bored with reading the same text over and over, I did an on the fly translation into Spanish. After lots of "¿Lo visto mi gato?" and "Este no es mi gato," my son started pointing angrily at the words insisting I read them in English. At least he's figured out that the words might actually mean something. Maybe he'll be an early reader.

Writing by Wrought:

After another dry spell I'm finally about a page away from finishing another short story. The problem with being employed again is that I don't have the same amount of time to write during the day as I did during my brief unemployment. Then when I was all jazzed up to finish the story I didn't have the current version with me which also set me back a couple of days. I also have some previous stories that need rewriting and editing before I send them off to potential publishers.

Books by Eric Carle reviewed here: (Click on a title to read reviews).

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The Geese Are Back: 5/3/04

Every Spring the Canada geese return to Redwood Shores to nest and raise their chicks over the summer months. This morning on the way to dropping my son at day care, we spotted a large flock of the geese standing on the grass near the lake. We saw at least three families and each family appeared to have half dozen fuzzy goslings. They're so cute. Of course this means a long summer of driving slowly down Marine World Parkway while these long lines of geese cross the street.

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Look Ma — No Hands: 5/2/04

With Mother's Day coming this Sunday, one of the most popular searches bringing folks to this site is for "mother's day background."

Both of these were created in 2000 using Photoshop. The California poppy piece was for my mother as it is her favorite flower. The canada goose was for my grandmother. It was her favorite bird. What I didn't know at the time was that this would be my last time to make a Mother's day gift for her.

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Jellyfish at the Beach: 5/1/04

We took Sean to the state beach in Half Moon Bay today and saw lots of blue and white washed up jellyfish on the shore. I've never seen this type of jellyfish before so I had to look them up when I got home. Isn't Google great?

Anyway, they're called By-the-wind Sailor (scientific name Velella velella) and they tend to get blown ashore during strong onshore wind days like we've been having the last couple of days.

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