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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




 

Last Day of the Year: 12/31/04


Today is just a nice hang around day and party later in the afternoon. We spent the morning in Glendale. It was a chance to let Sean and Patrick (the son of a friend of my mother in law) play. Patrick is 40 days younger than Sean, so they are basically the same age. As with most kids their age, they parallel played.

For the rest of the day, the jigsaw puzzle is open and we're working on putting it together as quickly as we can. It appears to be missing a blue edge piece. Our best guess is that it was vacuumed up earlier today. Derrick will be coming over later tonight to celebrate the New Year as will a bunch of other folks.

Glenn and his Krys's father spent the day making homemade sushi. They are delicious!

Steps: 10000


GHI: 12/30/04


We're between rainstorms now but the skies are threatening again. Ian and I took a nice walk to the Book House while Sean napped. We picked up a volume of G,H, and I is for... by Sue Grafton so I will be BookCrossing the individual paperbacks we have of G is for Gumshoe, H is for Homicide and I is for Innocent.

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Steps: 10000


Still Raining: 12/29/04


Today is another stay indoors day as it hasn't stopped pouring since yesterday. Parts of Los Angeles have received five and a half inches of rain in a day's time, bringing rain totals for the season up from drought conditions to flood conditions.

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Steps: 4000


When it Rains, it Pours: 12/28/04


We're back in South Pasadena and it's raining cats and dogs. It's been pouring on and off since 3:30 last night. We almost thought about staying in San Diego an extra night but it cleared up enough to make the drive. So here we are.

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Steps: 3000


Phantom of the Birthday Party: 12/27/04


Ian and I left Sean with my mother for an adult's night out. It was my best friend's birthday. We had dinner with her, her sister and her parents at the Old Spaghetti Factory in the Gas Lamp District. The last time (and only time) I had been to an O.D.F. was in 1991. We had taken one last family summer vacation before I left for college. On our first night out we had stopped in Sacramento and eaten at the O.D.F. that was there (built in an old trolley roundhouse).

Anyway, last night we had a lovely meal with enough time to reminisce about things. Ian mostly talked with my friend's parents — a chance to talk shop. Meanwhile, my best friend, her sister and I caught up on a year's worth of news and we laughed over silly Christmases past.

Afterwards we walked to the Pacific Theaters to see Phantom of the Opera. Ian enjoyed the film but had numerous nits to pick with songs that were edited and the Phantom's performance. I found the pacing off and the style inconsistent. The film dragged from the point where the Phantom first takes Christine into the sewers. I prefer the 1925 silent film and the book to any of the musical versions.

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Steps: 7004


Boxing Day: 12/26/04


I hope all my friends who celebrate Boxing Day had a good one. We don't celebrate it here so it was a quiet day; one to spend at the park. Sean, Mom and I had a good hour or so at Stanley Park. Sean tried all the different equipment before settling on the tallest slide.

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Steps: 9000


Merry Christmas: 12/25/04


The day is almost over. We're watching Winchester '73 on AMC and are about to turn in for the night. Sean had a wonderful Christmas. It's the first year that we has an active participant. My parents smoked a ham and made the usual green Jello salad and the vegetable dish that Flora Mae always made. Mom also made yams with either brandy or sherry (I don't remember which).

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Steps: 3000


Merry Christmas Eve: 12/24/04


Merry Christmas to everyone who is celebrating it. We had a strange drive down to visit Ian's parents on route to my parents. While traffic was light, people were driving stupid. I have to include ourselves in the set of stupid drivers as Ian and I were up late last night (this morning) playing Wind Waker.

The Army of the Twelve Sock Monkeys:

On the 580/205 junction traffic slowed suddenly. We were in the fast lane and ahead of me I saw cars quickly jumping to the slow lane. Then I saw why; there was a man running towards on coming traffic, madly picking up socks and other clothing. His suitcase had come off the roof of his car. His wayward case was the first of four suitcases we saw scattered along our seven hour drive.

Frosty Fog

For most of our drive we had fog. The fog started in Livermore and stopped in Gorman. It was a cold fog. It must have been in the high thirties or low forties when I was pumping gas just south of Los Banos. Later around Harris Ranch I saw frost on the hills and it was three in the afternoon! I know that's nothing compared to the ice storms back east but it was still unusual.

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Sad News: 12/23/04


The body discovered last week has been identified as that of BookCrossing programmer Danny Clune. For more information, please visit the official website.

Cat to Camp:

Ian and Sean are taking Caligula to camp at Shamrock Ranch. While there are closer cat kennels to our new home, we've had such good luck at Shamrock that we decided to just keep taking Caligula there.

Newspaper to Camp:

Ian has had our newspaper deliver stopped, beginning today, for the remainder of our holiday. While we could have been credited for the amount of papers not delivered we opted to have that money credited instead to our local school so that they can get a few days of newspaper delivery on us. What a great way to use all those random days when people are on vacation and have their paper delivery stopped. With newspapers costing 50¢ a delivery, it really isn't much of a credit but to a school if they are getting say the credit of ten homes on vacation for a week, that adds up.

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Steps: 3000


Lunch: 12/22/04

Sean requested "lunch with Mommy" today so Ian and he joined me for lunch at Carl's Jr at 12:30. As a star is the logo for Carl's Jr, the restaurant is themed with stars including red, yellow and purple stars on a black carpet. Sean having recently learned "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star," was inspired by the decor to sing numerous rounds of "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star." It made for a delightful lunch — just the break I needed during a busy week.

Death of the Montage in Film?

Last night Ian and I came to an observation about recent films (films made after 2000), namely the lack of montage. Montage is the cutting together of similar scenes, usually to create a sense of time passing. We could come up with only three examples of montage in use:

  1. Dore remembering her adventures with Marlin in Finding Nemo
  2. Likewise, Jason Borne remembering what happened on the yacht in the Bourne Identity.
  3. Peter Parker coming to terms with his new abilities or enjoying life without them in Spider-Man and Spider-Man 2.

Montages used to show up in almost every film made now it seems that the montage is reserved as a tool only for those who are trying for an older style of filmmaking. The Harry Potter films, for example, could have done well by the montage, using it to show the passage of the school year while at the same time giving the audience a breather from the rapid fire reiteration of all the scenes in the book.

Montage Alive and Well in Television:


Whereas feature films seem to be avoiding the montage, it is still a common tool in television production, especially amongst the crime dramas. CSI in all its forms uses montage during most of the evidence gathering and analysis scenes. If they didn't the episodes would either take for ever or be so disjointed as to be difficult (or impossible) to follow.

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Steps: 5000


I Miss my Commuter Buddy: 12/21/04

With Sean home on vacation my commutes, while faster are sadly quiet. I miss his singing and chatting. I miss hearing him point out all the things he recognizes: water, sun, moon, various letters and numbers, trucks, churches, castles (any tall building), dogs, reindeer, horses, etc. I miss seeing his tawny head in the lower corner of my rear view mirror.

Harry Potter

For those of you interested in reading book six, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, the release date has been announced for July 16, 2005. I know my husband will want to read the book. I suppose one of these days I should finish book five. I've left Mr. Weasely in hospital since June of 2003. My bookcrossing book rings and rays have just been more interesting to read.

Last night we rented Prisoner of Azkaban and enjoyed it. We especially enjoyed the incidental music. It fit the school and the location better. The special effects were quite good and while the plot was highly abridged, the key points were there. The film though suffers from what all the Harry Potter films do (as do many adaptations from books) and that is the pacing. Everything seems so rushed. There are so few moments (save for maybe the establishing shots of the Whomping Willow) of just reflection. The Harry Potter films desperately need some pillow shots to give the audience a breather between scenes.

Bourne Identity:

Another book to film adaptation that we finished watching last night was the Bourne Identity. While I have not read the book (I'm on the book ring but it hasn't arrived yet), I could see the same pacing problems as the Harry Potter films though not as much. As the catch to this story is Bourne's amnesia and shock at his assassins skills, there are plenty of moments where the film lets Bourne wander through his world to absorb information or seek hidden memories.

Body Still Not Identified:

The body found in the Pend Oreille River hasn't been identified yet. Dental records from the families of the various missing men in the area are being examined.

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Steps: 6000


Home Sick: 12/20/04

Not me this time; this time it's Ian. His first day of vacation and he's home sick with a stomach bug. Sean is home too on vacation from day care. Sean seems to be doing fine and Ian is doing a little better. He slept on the couch last night. The couch really is the most comfortable place when one is ill.

Where's the Fog Horn?

Today's we've had pea soup weather. While it was cold, crisp and frosty at home, by the time I was halfway over the bridge the fog was a thick, gray wall of dank smelling air. The fog smelled like the mist that would rise up off the embarcadero water in San Diego when my grandparents would take me to watch the fishing trawlers come to port after a day at sea — fishy, thick and salty. As of noon, it's still socked in here in San Carlos.

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Steps: 4000


Wake Up Call: 12/19/04

Ian and Sean got up this morning and let me sleep in for a little while. As Ian often does on Sunday, he made waffles. When they were ready he sent Sean downstairs to wake me up. Sean did a perfect job. I guess he's had lots of practice with me waking him up every week day for day care. He gently rubbed my shoulder. Once I was awake he said, "Time to get up, Mama. Daddy waffles and watching Nemo."

Body Found

A body was found floating in the river near where the second of Dan Clune's shoes was found. Whether or not the person found is Dan Clune, it's still a sad discovery. That was someone's loved one and will make the holidays bittersweet. If it is Dan, then perhaps there is some comfort in knowing what happened but there is still the sadness of, well, knowing what happened.

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Steps: 3000


Ready to Go Mobile: 12/18/04


Hello world from my ibook! Of course I could have been making updates via the terminal but let's face it, I'm lazy. I now have a happy copy of BBEdit installed on this machine. This means I'll be able to update my blog while on my Christmas and New Year's holiday — er — vacation. I've been spending a lot of time emailing with a pal in Wales so my California English has gone a bit Queen's English. Anyway, I'm pleased to have a copy of something that can FTP directly for me. Eventually I'd like to get Dreamweaver installed just for the added WYSIWYG goodness but this will do for now.

Scolding...

If you're a relative of mine, you've heard this one before but it's still funny and I've had three requests to put it on my blog. So here it is.
Last night as we were putting Sean to bed and he was doing his nightly reorganization of his stuffed animals (he has quite a zoo now), he saw that cow was not where he should be. Cow sort of had his head looking over the front edge of the bed. Sean said in a wonderful scolding tone of voice: "Cow! What are you doing?" Ian and I are still laughing about it.

The California Grizzly Pig

One of the local banks has a grizzly bear as its logo but to Sean it looks like a pig. Every time he sees the logo he starts oinking. So now Ian and I are imagining a new species of animal, the great California grizzly pig and its cousin to the north, the Alaskan brown pig. Oink.

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Steps: 3000


Birthday Again: 12/17/04


No — not mine. It's my step-father's birthday today. He's spending a leisurely day home decorating the Christmas tree. He is the "Mr. Christmas" of our family. It's appropriate for his birthday to come a week before Christmas Eve (and makes both easy to remember).

"Hurricane" in France Kills Five:

I heard on BBC4 that a freak storm is rampaging through France, having killed five people in Paris. The newly opened ice rink a top the Eiffel Tower is currently closed. I'm doing my best to not imagine people being blown off the tower like seeds from a dandelion.

Dodgy Real Player:

I love listening to BBC4 and KQED online. Both use real player. OK, for KQED I have two other options but real player, when it works, has the best audio quality of the three streams. What pisses me off is Real Player's titchiness. It seems to be overly sensitive to internet traffic. Any little excuse, hiccup, what have you and the damn thing will stop playing and throw up an error message with of course the ubiquitous "OK" button which I then have to click before I can get the stream to load again. I'm sick to death of that stupid "OK" button. Grrr!

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Steps: 5500


Rainbow Connection: 12/16/04

Sean and I had a wonderful morning commute, jiving across the San Mateo Bridge to a funky cover of "The Rainbow Connection" by a band called the Dead Hensons. I wish they had an album for sale as they specialize in covers of muppet tunes. In the meantime, I'll just put the Muppet Movie on my wish list.

Sing Along:

Last night Sean and Ian had fun singing Christmas Carols together. I had no idea how many of them he now knows. It was so fun listening to the two of them sing together.

Mojo 3.0 Pro:

My copy of MojoWorld Pro arrived last night and I've installed it on my lap top. I'll later install it on my cube for larger renders but I just had to try it out last night. The folks at Pandromeda have outdone themselves. While I haven't even scratched the surface of all the new features, I have seen marked improvement in performance in onscreen OpenGL rendering and final image rendering. Even on my little iBook laptop MojoWorld 3.0 flies!

There are some known OpenGL related bugs with MojoTree which I think I stumbled upon last night. Pandromeda is aware of the problem. They have a great track record of bug fixing and releasing patches so I'm not concerned by the bugs.

I'm looking forward to Christmas break to both catch up on my reading and to wrap my head around MojoWorld 3 Pro.

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Steps: 5500


Chickens at Midnight: 12/15/04

Sean last night had a series of bad dreams. Ian eventually took Sean upstairs to the living room to see if he could get him calmed down enough for bed. This was at midnight. Sean woke up when upstairs and in a sleepy voice asked: "Chickens?" which was his way of asking to watch Chicken Run. He watched the opening credits and then was ready for bed. Thankfully he slept through the rest of the night.

Music Sponge:

Sean is adding to his list of songs. Last night I heard him trying to sing some songs from Gay Purr-ee which he's only heard a half dozen times. As with all his attempts, the melody is very recognizable and the words are not quite there. I think that's mostly a lack of vocabulary on his part. I'm really impressed. He has his father's talent for music.

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Steps: 4000 s


At Work: 12/14/04

I'm at work again after yesterday's sick day. I'm not all here yet but I am feeling much better than I did yesterday. I have actually managed to eat breakfast but I haven't decided if I want to eat lunch yet.

Strange Dream:

A slow ship from earth landed on a planet apparently like earth with things obviously like earth. The ship had landed in what appeared to be the athletic field of an abandoned high school. The slowship was running out of supplies and people were dying but the people who ran the ship were afraid to let people out to explore the planet until they had decided it was safe.

Eventually some brave and rebellious folks decided to ignore the warnings and went to the surface. They saw school buses and abandoned school buildings. These things looked like something out of any typical American small town but they saw no people.

They got inside a building, clearly a library. There they found books. Some they could read -- they appeared to be written in a dialect of English and subtitled in a different language, one that one one recognized. The book explained in simplistic terms how this society was conquered by alien insectoids and how human children would have to learn to play with their alien neighbors. Apparently that didn't happen as there was no sign of any humans. They did eventually find some odd looking ants but couldn't determine if those ants were the alien invaders. They seemed too small.

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Steps: 3300


Home Sick: 12/13/04

If you were wondering why there wasn't an update on the home page, it's because I was home sick today with food poisoning. I've spent most of the day asleep on the couch. I did manage to eat some gold fish crackers but that's it. Oh, that and drink water, of course. Ian picked up Sean from day care and took care of the usual nightly chores while I lay on the couch.

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Steps: 2000


Giving Tree: 12/12/04

Sulphur Creek has a giving tree for their animal hospital and learning center. Sean and I got some envelopes and unflavored Similac for the giving tree and dropped it off today. Since they wanted a name on the back of the ornaments, I put Sean's name. If it weren't for him we wouldn't go as often to Sulphur Creek.

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Steps: 5000


Countdown to Vacation: 12/11/04

Ian's classes are done except for his finals. This week will be very busy for him. He started it off today by going in briefly to do homework. He normally spends Saturday with Sean and me save for these end of the semester times. Next weekend should be more fun unless Ian gets any extensions on his projects or finals as sometimes happens.

Visiting Sulphur Creek

It's been a while since we've visited the animals at Sulphur Creek. We got a chance to see everyone briefly including the snakes, before a birthday party took over the museum.

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Steps: 3000


Home Again: 12/10/04

My father in law came home from the hospital yesterday, a day early. The walking around really helped to get him strong enough to come home. I'm very happy that I was able to help him both with blood and advice.

Another Song:

Sean serenaded our drive home last night with another song he's learned at day care -- This Old Man. It took me a couple goes at it to recognize what he was singing because as with his other songs the lyrics aren't all there. He did manage the tune quite well but since I wasn't expecting something other than Jingle Bells or Old MacDonald it took me a while to recognize the melody.

Lain:

Ian and I have been rewatching Serial Experiment Lain on DVD. I've seen the series twice and Ian has seen bits and pieces of it a couple years ago. This is the first time we've watched it in the original Japanese. I've been enjoying it tremendously. So much of the dialogue is so slowly spoken or so minimalist that I can actually understand a good deal of what is said. Now if only I could start learning to read Japanese.

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Steps: 10100


Singing in the Car: 12/09/04

Sean has been providing the commute time entertainment with singing. His current two favorites are Old MacDonald and Jingle Bells. He doesn't quite have the lyrics down but the tune is there. Old MacDonald comes out something like "Old man had home" and Jingle Bells as "Jingbells."

Baking Supplies for Christmas:

Today I got the basics for baking for Sean: three wooden spoons (for "mix-mix"), a set of measuring cups, and a set of measuring spoons. I think he'll be thrilled. He loves to help us cook. He already knows how to make biscuits (except for the baking bit because I won't let him near the oven).

Prairie Biscuits:
Preheat oven to 450° F

2 cups flour
2 TB sugar
1/8 tsp cream of tartar
pinch of salt
2 TB baking powder
1/2 cup saltless butter (1 stick)
2/3 cup milk

Mix all the dry items thoroughly before cutting in the butter until the mixture is pea sized lumps. Remix the mixture with a wooden spoon making sure to get any remaining flour into the butter. Then slowly add the milk, mixing vigorously. Smash the largest sized butter bits with the spoon. Then with floured hands, mold dough into balls. Divide balls into smaller balls (about the size of your palm) and flatten balls. Put on ungreased baking sheet.

Bake at 450° F for 12 minutes. Makes 15. Serve with jam.

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Steps: 3000


Life Blood: 12/08/04

My father in law had his surgery yesterday. It was a four hour operation but he came out of it well. Because of the extra hour needed, they needed an extra pint of blood so my pint was used. While I have donated blood many times before this is the first time I've actually known the recipient. With the mad cow restrictions (due to living in England) neither of his sons nor my mother in law could donate. Since I haven't been to England, that left me. I'm glad I could help. Why am I feeling so weird?

Calming the Morning Grump:


I've found a way to avoid Sean crying in the morning now when I get him ready for the daily commute. I get him dressed in bed. The changing table is just too cold in the morning. The bed gives him the opportunity to slowly wake up while I get him dressed without that initial shocking cold.

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Steps: 3000


Stowaway: 12/07/04

Last night we found Sean's duckling (from the Make Way for Ducklings book) in the back seat of my car. Sean took a serious look at it and then noted, "This duck is a stowaway like Paddington Bear!" He then spent much of the rest of the trip home chastising the duck for stowing away in the car.

Gross Out Noises are Funny:

Sean's current idea of a funny bath time game is to first blow bubbles in a cup of bath water (while I say yuck and try to convince him to stop) and then to make pretend retching noises in a bucket until he giggles himself breathless. Eeew. Meanwhile I do my best to ignore him (as ignoring does lead to him stopping sooner) and quietly read my book. I'm currently reading Vanish with the Rose but during an especially dramatic scene with doorways and hidden passageways I just couldn't take Sean's gross out noises any more. He found my reacting even funnier.

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Steps: 5000


I Rocked Doc! 12/06/04

Red Moons

I found out yesterday that my Red Moons entry won the "Let's Rock Doc" MojoWorld contest at the 3DCommune. I'm so thrilled! I have won a copy of MojoWorld 3.0 which I can't wait to get my hands on. The comment that tickled me most on my winning entry was that I won for "being me."

Thank you to the judges at the 3DCommune and to the folks at Pandromeda. You've made my day!

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Steps: 6700


Back to the Park: 12/05/04

Rather than go see the animals at Sulphur Creek, Sean wanted to go back to the park. We spent another hour there today. Again the playground was crowded with kids and families. Sean learned how to climb the red cylinder ladder, got better at climbing the blue mountain structure and had his first go at swinging on the big kid swings.

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Steps: 3900


The Park is Open: 12/04/04

The redesigned and rebuilt park next door to us is open. After running our errands we took Sean there to play. We stayed more than an hour while he tried nearly every piece of equipment. There are some things that are too tall for him but by his next birthday he'll probably be trying them as well. The new playground equipment has brought out lots of families. I've never seen the park so busy with kids playing.

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Steps: 7000


Spider-Man 2: 12/03/04

Rather than watch reruns last night we watched Spider-Man 2. Having seen both installments now I am seriously wishing that the Raimi's had be given a crack at Batman. They understand the delicate balance between comic camp and rounded character far better than most directors who set to adapting comic book characters into film characters.

Tutankhamen's Treasures Coming to United States:

I think it was 1975 or 1976 the last time the collection made the trip from Egypt to the United States. At the time I was a toddler and not at all interested in ancient treasures. This time I am an Egyptology nut and will be doing everything in my power to get down to Los Angeles to see the collection.

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Steps: 3900


Haunting of Hill House: 12/02/04

Another book I'm currently reading is The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson. Her short stories were required reading in junior and senior high and until recently I didn't know she had written longer pieces.

I came to the Haunting of Hill House by way of the most recent version of the film (not the 1963 version which I hear is better). I enjoyed the film thoroughly, having a certain soft spot for the haunted house subgenre of horror. When I read the credits at the end of the film and saw that Jackson was credited, I had to read the book. Serendipity took over and I sound found a Book Crossing ring to join.

Jackson has a wonderful way of taking the mundane and turning it on it's side. With Hill House, the concept is straight forward: Doctor of Psychology invites people with apparent paranormal abilities to spend a summer at an equally apparent haunted house except that he doesn't tell them that it's haunted. So far the house is behaving itself but the characters themselves are just on the edge of cracking under normal circumstances that the psychological and emotional kettle is getting ready to boil over.

Other horror / gothic / psychological dramas (call them what you will) that I have enjoyed are:

I'm Here — Go Away!

That was Sean's exclamation when we arrived at Day Care / Preschool. If I had let him have his way, he would have left me at the car and gone into the school all by himself. Of course he's only two, so there's no way that I'm going to just drop him off at the curb. I followed behind him at a respectable distance instead.

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Steps: 4407


Cryptonomicon: 12/01/04

I'm currently reading Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephenson. It's a very long and complex book at more than 800 pages and about a half dozen main characters. The narrative jumps between characters and times in history. My favorite characters so far are the Waterhouses, especially Waterhouse Sr -- the engineer cum math geek. His train of thought and conversations with the other math geeks are howling funny to any one who knows (or is married to) a math geek.

My least favorite part of the book is the following of Bobby Shaftoe. His in the trenches view of WWII (sort of an alternate history version) is distracting and frankly sometimes boring. It's also confusing at times how Stephenson uses Nippon and Japan. I don't know if this will be explained as an alternate ending to the war or if he's just being pedantic.

Sniff Sniff:

It's official. Ian and I have Sean's cold. Sean's still snuffling around too. The three of us had a fitful night's sleep. Ian and Sean were both up at 1:00 AM for a combination of stuffy noses and the cold air from it being 0 degrees F outside (-17 Celsius). I had taken NyQuil and slept through most of the night until the cat came and wedged herself between Ian and me.

Singing:

Sean is clearly learning from his music lessons. Today on the drive in he was singing a medley of Jingle Bells, Old McDonald and Twinkle Twinkle Little Star. While he doesn't get most of the lyrics right the tunes are there.

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Steps: 3306