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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




 

Clothing: 01/31/05

Last weekend I noticed a place that takes clothes dontations. Yesterday I gathered up a whole bunch of clothing that I don't wear any longer and dropped it off. It felt good to be able to donate the clothing that is still in good shape. It also felt good to clean house a bit. Ian plans to put together a donation for me to drop off next week.

The Clever One:

I'm finishing up another Edgar Wallace mystery, The Clever One, which deals with forgery, murder and madness. Like the Door with Seven Locks, the chapters are short and always end on a cliff hanger. I am fifty pages from finishing and am looking forward to finding out who done it.

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Steps: 6000


Catwoman: 01/30/05

So Catwoman is up for a bunch of Razzies. Nonetheless, Ian and I thoroughly enjoyed the film last night. It's a fun combination of the 1942 Cat People and the Batman worlds (minus Batman). Coming to Catwoman as both a fan of Batman and the Cat People films, I was delighted by this funky hybrid. In the future I would seriously consider adding Catwoman to our collection of DVDs.

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Steps: 3000


Spinach and Lima Beans: 01/29/05

Sean is a very adventerous eater at day care but at home he's gotten rather set in his way and it doesn't include vegetables. We know he likes vegetables. He did as a baby and he still does at day care but at home he's decided he'd much rather live on dairy and carbohydrates only.

Last night we made spinach with dinner. Sean does actually love spinach. We've seen him wolf it down numerous times so we were hopeful. Sean however wasn't having any of it. Thus began a two hour back and forth argument between Sean and Ian over the spinach with Sean spending much of the time in his room pouting on his bed.

Eventually at eight o'clock at night I calmed Sean down enough to ask him nicely if he'd do me a favor and eat a bite of spinach. He did! And of course he then remembered that he actually does like spinach.

That brings us to tonight's dinner when the vegetables in question were lima beans. Tonight though I was cast as the "bad cop" and it was up to Ian to convince Sean to eat the lima beans. Thankfully tonight it didn't take two hours to accomplish this task!

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Steps: 3000


Ancient Venture Capital: 01/28/05

Last night I watched episode two of a three part PBS series called Secrets of the Pharaohs. This episode covered the recent discovery of the city at the base of the pyramids of Giza. Archeologists have found evidence of a complex, thriving city that was there for the fifty years it took to complete the three pyramids (twenty for Kufu and Kafre's and ten or so for Menkare's). As I was watching, the narrator kept asking, "why did Egyptians travel all this way for such hard labor" and the answer was clear to me: money, a consistant job, and a place in history.

The city near the pyramids reminds me of a mixture of the massive public works projects under FDR during the close of the Depression and the dot-com frenzy that hit the Bay Area in the late 1990s. The pyramids were a state sponsored project but the sorts of benefits and the size of the city that they built for the workers inspired around 20,000 workers per pyramid and their families to move to Giza.

A company with 20,000 employees is a HUGE operation, even by today's standards. To put things in perspective, the old World Trade Center complex had roughly 50,000 employees. While the rebuilding of the towers won't need the same number of employees thanks to modern technology, I'm sure that the rebuilding process will create a similar local boost in the New York City economy. I also won't be surprised if the project draws workers from around the country — workers who will cite patriotism, pride, and perhaps a well needed job. So, are the pyramids of Giza any different?

Venus

Interview in a Graphics Magazine:

I have an brief interview published as part of an article on 2D art in the online magazine by ROI Designs. It's in the February issue.

The image featured in my part of the article is Venus, an Illustrator drawing I did in March 2003.

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Steps: 3000


Upcoming Visit: 01/27/05

My in laws will be visiting in two weeks. We'll be having dinner on the peninsula on the Friday that they come up. I'm looking forward to seeing them again. Sean asks about them on a regular basis. He might be a little disappointed when Wally dog doesn't come along for the visit. They chose the peninsula to make it easier for Sean and me and I really appreciate that.

Iguana Shirt:

Sean has certain favorite shirts. One of them is his iguana shirt — a shirt he picked out for himself about a year and a half ago. It has a glow in the dark iguana on the front and lime green sleeves.

He wore it to preschool yesterday, quite proudly. Last night I changed him into his pajamas early because he had gotten his pants wet from jumping in rain puddles. He was furious at me for taking off his iguana shirt an hour early! When we put him to bed he insisted on sleeping with his iguana shirt to make up for that lost time.

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Steps: 8000


No Poncho! No: 01/26/05

What's with the return of the butt ugly poncho? The back page of today's San Francisco Chronicle has a full color Macy's add for a metallic threaded poncho. It's got to be one of the ugliest things I've ever seen (save for bell bottoms)!

Oh yes, that's right, we're supposed to be nostalgic for the 1970s. While I'm grateful for being born and well aware that the 1970s certainly had their influence on me, I'm feeling a huge case of ennui for this groovy retro revival. Ok. I've been there, done that. Let's move on.

It's really frightening how much the first decade of this century is starting to emulate the 1970s. Besides the hideous fashions, there's the war in Iraq which is doing its best to emulate the Viet Nam war (which we had actually given up on in the early 1970s). There's the tanking economy now. So far there hasn't been any WIN pins yet but who knows, maybe they're next. Then there is a president that makes the skin crawl of at least half this country. Hey, could we have an impeachment and forced resignment like we did in the 1970s? That would be cool! Then there's the general bottom of the barrel of popular culture forced on us by a few yahoos in the religious right.

On the plus side, that means that 2010 will herald in the revival of the 1980s. That at least will mean better music.

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Steps: 3000


Babysitting an Owl: 01/25/05

This morning Sean wanted to take one of his three owls along for the ride to preschool. As personal toys are not allowed at the school, he had to leave the flip-flop owl in the car. I've brought it upstairs to my desk here at work because he made me promise to "take good care of [his] owl."

Rain Again:

It's raining again and the weather report warns that it will get worse tonight. We might have thunder and lightning along with the strong rains. I just hope it waits until after Sean and I get home before the worst of it starts.

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Steps: 3500


Rain: 01/24/05

After a week of thick morning fog and cold and clear nights (with a moon bright enough to read by), we are expecting rain. The fog is sticking around longer today and it feels thick with water. I actually thought briefly this morning that it was raining when I was getting dressed.

Golden Stag:

Yesterday I finished reading The Golden Stag by Lydia Bennett. Bennett's prose reminds me of Daphne du Maurier in the protagonist's chit chatty voice, the underlying sinisterness of past crimes and the mysterious male protagonist's heartfelt desire to redeem himself. The numerous scenes of acting reminded me of Susan Cooper's King of Shadows, minus the time travel aspect. If you happen across this book, I highly recommend it. It would make a good beach blanket read.

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Steps: 8700


The Mystery of the Missing Owl: 01/23/05

A week ago I very carefully washed Sean's owl shirt with the thought he'd wear it on Monday when he was home with Ian. When I came home he was wearing his Big Bug shirt. No problem, I thought, the shirt was still in the clean laundry and Sean could wear it on Tuesday. Except when I went to look for it on Tuesday it wasn't there. I've been looking all week to find the shirt. Every morning Sean would ask if he could wear his owl shirt and I'd have to tell him no. Finally last night after staying up until one in the morning I found it, carefully folded up with the sheets that I had also washed last week!

So a week later Sean was able to wear his owl shirt once again. He wore it to Sulphur Creek to see the owls and the eagle, the snakes, the newts, fish and spiders.

Warm Morning:

The new thermostat worked perfectly, coming on at six this morning and bringing the house up to a livable but not too hot temperature. It also kept us from turning the heat on when we didn't need it. Our last thermostat didn't really tell the temperature very well and had a plus or minus three degree range for setting the temperature when we turned the heater on. The new one is far more accurate.

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Steps: 3500


Thermostat: 01/22/05

We bought our thermostat today from the local O.S.H. and Ian has installed it after many turns at dropping screws down the couch. The new one is programmable which means no more having to get up to a cold house in the morning or forgetting to turn it off when we leave or when we go to bed.

Bourne Supremacy:

We rented part two in the trilogy this week and watched it in two parts. Ian preferred this film to the first in the series citing the fact that Bourne is vulnerable in this film whereas in the last one he comes off a as super human in all his skills. I preferred the first one but I expect that the final film will have the same energy as the first as the two films together do seem to be working as part of a greater narrative arc. I also want to read the book some day.

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Steps: 4000


Lamps: 01/21/05

Our hanging lamps arrived yesterday. Tomorrow we will go to a hardware store to get switches and plugs for them so that we can get them hung. I think they're going to be perfect for our bedrooms. They are lightweight and not to big.

Cold Fog:

For the last couple of days we've had a cold fog on the peninsula for most of the day. The fog is clearly an onshore fog because it smells like fish and seaweed. It lasts until the afternoon and keeps the air cold enough that one can one's breath when walking outside. I think this weather pattern is predicted to stay for at least a week.

The Front Door:

On Friday mornings since most of the children don't come to the preschool, I have to take Sean up to the house's front door. Recently Sean ha been crying when I do this. Today he explained that he was afraid I'd get into trouble for taking him to the wrong door. Once I explained to him that this was the rule for Friday he was okay with going to the front door.

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Steps: 5500


Gratuitous Mommy Bragging: 01/20/05

Sean is one month shy of 2 ½ and I've been having fun reading up on those "milestones" again. The advice for parents of kids Sean's age is hilarious in it's obviousness and in the ways it so often seems to under estimate two year olds.

Parents should treat their children as they themselves want to be treated. Um duh. That's true of any encounter with anyone. So we're nice and loving to Sean, he in turn is nice and loving to us.

Parents should start introducing the concept of numbers and letters to their children. No problem there. Sean can nearly count to one hundred and has the alphabet memorized. In fact, Sean has started to ask us how reading works!

Parents should start giving their children simple chores like feeding a pet. Sean has been feeding the cat for four of five months now. He volunteered to do the chore himself.

Children should by this age know at least one color. Over Christmas Sean learned the colors of the rainbow.

Children should be able to name one friend. Sean knows all of his preschool buddies by name which is better than I can do. I'm always having to ask him who is who!

Children should be able to name one picture. Sean knows about thirty animals by their picture (and what sounds they make). To list out all the things he can name by their picture would take too long. He has a vocabulary of hundreds of words. I stopped counting ages ago.

But this long post isn't just to brag about my son. He doesn't seem any more advanced that most of the kids his age that I've met. Parents and teachers seem to underestimate how much toddlers are capable of learning or understanding or doing. Sean and his friends show me this daily. And in helping him pursue his interests I have learned things too but that will be a different post.

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Steps: 9000


The Seal Wife: 01/19/05

I'm currently finishing up reading The Seal Wife by Kathryn Harrison and it is captivating me in the same way that Einstein's Dreams did last year. It's a rather minimalist book with short chapters and minimal dialogue. It uses vignettes to pull the story along. As the book is mostly from inside Bigelow's mind, a self defined loner who is in Anchorage to forecast and study the weather, the book's minimalism beautifully captures the experience of being alone among others, an observer given time to absorb the surroundings and think about things. A yet the short chapters keep these introspections from getting carried away into lengthy passages of stream of consciousness.

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Steps: 4500


Good Job Mama! 01/18/05

That's what Sean told me this morning on our drive to San Carlos. I had just finished singing the Alphabet song and must have done it the way he's learned it. It was really cute and heart warming to here him giving me kudos in the same enthusiastic voice that I use to compliment him.

A Good Time Travel Movie:

While ranting yesterday about Full Throttle, I forgot to mention a much better film we recently watched — Tenchi Muyo! In Love. While it has the usual silliness of the Tenchi series, there's also a solid time travel story woven into the film. I wasn't expecting to enjoy the film as much as I did since I find the Tenchi series fairly hit or miss. In this case I was presently surprised. All the pieces fit together and the story demonstrates nicely how and why Tenchi's parents fell in love.

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Steps: 4200


Where are my Keys? 01/17/05

The last time I remember having my keys was in the car in the Penny's parking lot while Ian picked up our curtains and I read Sorcery & Cecilia while Sean napped in the backseat. I had them in the pocket of my orange fuzzy cardigan but today the keys are not there, nor are they in my purse. I am currently borrowing Ian's key to my car and he and Sean promise to be home when I get home.

Bad Film:

Last night Ian and I did something we almost never do. We shut off a film we had rented. In this case it was Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle. Where we had completely enjoyed the first installment this one seemed completely split brained. It had some funny moments, like the CSI parody but there were too many gratuitous and poorly executed CGI and blue screen scenes.

When it came to the dirt bike race, we stopped. There were so many things wrong with it. First of all, it completely stopped the plot just for a long, noisy, and stupid looking dirt bike race. The worst part, besides it being to long, was the obvious use of blue screens for the close ups of the three stars. The blue screen shots backgrounds were shot at clearly a different time of day. So whenever the film cut to a close up the sky changed color and the shadows moved!

We shut the film off in the middle of the dirt bike race and cleansed our pallets with the lightcycle race from Tron.

An Update on my Keys:

Ian just called to remind me that I had used my keys to open the fire safe on Saturday night. He's absolutely right. So my keys have to be on the dining room table! And they were!

I am a Little Tea Pot:

A man is moving from one of the apartments on my walking route. He had a teapot out by the dumpster but he clearly didn't want to throw it away because it's not broken. He saw me eyeing it — I have a fondness of teapots — and he offered for me. I said yes. So now I have a little brown tea pot glazed with an orange flower sitting on my desk at work. The tea pot appears to be circa late 1960s or early 1970s but doesn't contain any obvious marks from whomever made it.

My Phone Has Out Lasted my Provider:

I've had the same cell phone since 2000. Back then the provider was CellularOne and my phone reminds me of that every time I turn it on. Then for a few years it was AT&T Wireless. Now my phone's service is finally reflecting the recent merger with Cingular. I wonder how many more changes of provider my little phone will see?

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Steps: 4200


A Walk to the Park: 01/16/05

As this is Ian's last Sunday before the Spring semester begins, he stayed home with us rather than going out to study or do homework. After breakfast the three of us walked down to the San Felipe Park to "swing-slide" as Sean puts it. There were lots of other kids there of a variety of age ranges. Sean had fun sliding down all the various slides and sometimes climbing back up them backwards.

Later he got into a swinging contest with another two year old. Actually it was more of a pushing contest between the two fathers but the two kids really seemed to enjoy their time in the swings. Sean shouted repeated orders to go higher. He has enjoyed swinging since he was four months old.

Sean has also mastered the arched ladder. He used to get stuck at the top of the curve but today he remembered to stand up rather than climb up with his hands on the rungs in front. He first practiced on the one designed for children his age (the curve is inversed and the rungs are closer together) and then went on to tackle the bigger version. It's so thrilling to watch him learn new things like this!

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Steps: 4600


Curtains: 01/15/05

Our new curtains arrived today. Though simple, they are gorgeous. We hung Sean's first so he can have a warmer night's sleep. His are a dark gold color to go with his yellow walls. Once his hanging lamp comes his room will be the first completed room in the house. For decorations I've decided to hang my two dragon paintings in his room which means I need to figure out how to reframe them but that should be easy.

Our curtains are of the same style and material as Sean's but are a dark green (hunter or forest) to go with our bright green walls. We haven't hung our yet. I think we'll do them tomorrow morning rather than bumble around before going to bed. We need to move my BookCrossing bookshelf (the physical one where I keep my rings, rays and relays that I'm reading) and bring in the step ladder to reach over the top of the window.

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Steps: 3000


Alphabet Master: 01/14/05

Sean knows the alphabet song now. He sang it to me on our drive home last night. He prefers to sing "now I've sung my ABCs" rather than "now I know my ABCs" and will correct others if he hears the "know" ending. He also insists on calling the alphabet just that — alphabet — and not "ABCs."

The Village:

Last night we watched the Village. It was like watching an extended Twilight Zone episode in color. There's the threat of the unknown, the suspicion that those in power know more than they are letting on, and the thrill of the journey with a wonderful payoff at the end. At the same time, the film is concise in how it ties up all its loose plot threads. Tonight we plan to watch the bonus features.

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Steps: 4100


Brrrr: 01/13/05

The sun is a fuzzy gray circle behind thick gray clouds. If we were a few thousand feet higher above sea level I'd be expecting snow. It air has that weird pre-snow silence to it. Many chimneys of the nearby homes have smoke plumes, giving the air a woodsy smell. If I were to close my eyes I could easily imagine myself in Idyllwild rather than San Carlos.

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Steps: 5000


Trading Recipes: 01/12/05

There's a fascinating article in the San Francisco Chronicle today called "Kids in the Kitchen" which describes how more and more kids are cooking as a hobby. This story comes right on the heels of a story I read from Scotland (Children Who Can't Cook) lamenting on how modern children don't have any basic skills. Yesterday on the BookCrossing forum I posted my response to the "Can't Cook" article discussion, telling about Sean who at age two and a bit all ready has a few recipes memorized and knows how to do the laundry, feed the cat and do the dishes.

Now there's an article about how popular cooking has become with children from Sean's age up through jr. high school. The new popularity in the States with cooking apparently comes from two fronts: cooking shows on television (which Sean enjoys) and anti-obesity nutrition classes aimed at children. The kids learn how to cook and take those skills home to their parents. So I'm now imagining Sean at school in the not to distant future and he's trading recipe cards with his friends like I used to swap stickers with my friends. Perhaps Ninendo will come out with a recipe trading deck.

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Steps: 4000


A Break in the Rain: 01/11/05

It started to rain as I left last night to pick up Sean from preschool. It continued to pour until this morning. Right now there is blue sky and bright sun but the rain gutters are still dripping giving the false impression that it is still raining unless one looks out the window in the office kitchen.

Hello Again World:
Ian found my MX CDs, so I've been finally able to install Dreamweaver on my laptop. I'd gotten used to doing my updates with BBedit. I'll probably still be making some updates via BBedit. There's something refreshing about hand coding.

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Steps: 4000


Back to Work and School: 01/10/05

It's Monday again. I'm back at work and Sean is back at school. Apparently all the preschool kids got sick on Thursday night / Friday morning. The menu today at school is for bland food. So far none of the parents have gotten sick. Ian wonders if the kids hadn't eaten mud or something or maybe the parents are just that much better at hand washing.

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Steps: 7000


Peanut Butter Cookies: 01/09/05

It was raining most of the day so we stayed home. Plus Ian and I hadn't slept well and Sean wasn't exactly interested in going out. It felt really strange to be at home with Ian on a Sunday. His vacation is almost over so this was probably the only Sunday until summer.

To break some of the monotony of all the rain, Sean and I made peanut butter cookies. He was very excited to have his own mixing spoon. He was very helpful up to the point where we had to roll the dough into balls. He didn't want to get his fingers sticky so he left he job to me and supervised. While I rolled the balls, he counted my progress.

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Steps: 3000


Books and DVDs: 01/08/05

Sean was feeling well enough to get out of the house today. As we had a gift card to Borders, we went on a book and DVD shopping spree.

Ian got:

Sean got:

I got:

We also ran our usual Saturday errands and had lunch out. Sean was very polite at lunch, saying thank you when the meal arrived, surprising the waitress. Then we came home for Sean to take his usual marathon nap and to avoid the rain.

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Steps: 5000


Sean is Ill: 01/07/05

Sean woke up at 4:20 in the morning vomiting. As Ian is on vacation, he stayed up with Sean. They went upstairs to cuddle on the couch and watch Chicken Run. This morning he finally felt well enough to drink some Pedialite and to eat some gold fish crackers. I'll be picking up more Pedialite and some ginger ale on the way home in case Ian and I come down with the stomach bug too. I'm holding out hope that he and I already had it in December.

Shaun of the Dead:

We watched it last night on DVD. Ian loved the film and I know my best friend loves the film too. I enjoyed the beginning and ending but found most of the zombie chase and final show down in the Winchester to be rather boring. Perhaps I was just too tired when we started watching it as we had watched the newest episode of CSI first. I do though have to give Shaun of the Dead credit for showing life going on after the initial zombie attack, a detail that most zombie flicks overlook.

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Steps: 3000


Damn I Want Some Udon: 01/06/05

Ian showed me Tampopo last night and after two hours of watching endless meals of ramen (mostly the udon variety), he and I went to bed craving udon soup.

Expecting More Rain:

Starting tonight we're expecting more rain with gales of 50 mph. The rain should last through the weekend. I'm just hoping the rain doesn't get going until after Sean and I cross the bridge to night. For some reason the lights on the San Mateo bridge have been out this week. It is no fun driving across a seven mile long bridge in a driving rain with no street lights.

Myanmar, Not Burma...

Geography came up during an online conversation, especially the naming of countries. Myanmar, nee Burma, brought up memories of the exploding penguin sketch from episode 22 of Monty Python for those of us who are either old enough to have seen the episode when it first aired (not me) or grew up on the reruns (me). Of course now I also have the They Might Be Giants song stuck in my head...

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Steps: 5600


Tutankhamen Gets a CT Scan: 01/05/05

For the first time in eighty-two years, Tutankhamen has been removed from his tomb so that researchers could give him a CT Scan. Imagining technology has improved over the years and they hope to get a better idea of how he died and how old he was when he died. Read more >>

The Perfect Shower:

Last night I tried out the new hot water heater. It was the best shower I've ever had. It was five minutes of perfect temperature and water pressure. The new machine is quiet and efficient and not likely to blow up leaving our upstairs flooded with hot rusty water. Bonus!

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Steps: 3000


The Ring: 01/04/05

Ian and I watched the Ring last night (the 2002 U.S. remake) and we thoroughly enjoyed it. We will be renting (or buying) the original to watch ASAP. The film scared Ian more than it did me. I absolutely love this type of horror / ghost story. It has all the elements: something that can kill anyone (yet allows survivors), rotting creepy architecture, voyeurism, film recording things that can't (or shouldn't) be seen, creepy dolls, creepy horses, forgotten (and best forgotten) places, and of course the deadly coda!

It's Raining Again:

I had wanted to take another quick walk this afternoon but it's currently pouring rain. I did walk earlier today. I took my usual walk down to Britain street by way of the Walgreen's. The weather was threatening then and by the time I was back to the office I had felt more than a couple cold drops of drizzle on my nose.

We Have Hot Water:

It was obvious that our water heater was on the way out. Our gas bills were astronomical, water temperature was touch and go and the thing was noisy. We gave up and had a new one installed today. It's a highly efficient 40 gallon 238 therms per year water heater. When it was installed and the old one taken out, there was apparently a huge rust stain on the old one — further proof that the old one would have given up the ghost soon. I can't wait to try it out with a hot shower tonight. Tomorrow Ian will see if we can get a rebate from PGE.

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Steps: 5600


Back to Work: 01/03/05

I'm back to work today and Sean is back to preschool/day care. He actually seemed excited to go even though it meant waking him up on a cold and dark morning. He proudly wore his owl shirt to school.

I had the best night's sleep I've had in days. It was good to be home in my own bed. I wasn't too keen to get up when the alarm went off. Perhaps I will go to bed early tonight.

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Steps: 8707


Home Again, Home Again, Jigidy, Jig: 01/02/05

While we had rain on the Grapevine and again starting at Santa Nella, the drive was relatively easy. We're now safely home and curled up in the living room watching Gay Purr-ee (or "Mama's Cats" as Sean calls it). The rain continues to fall but we are cozy and warm in our home. We had a lovely holiday spent with our family but it is good to be home.

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Steps: 3000


Happy New Year: 01/01/05

New Year is here and I'm exhausted. I didn't get to bed until almost two this morning and by then I was too tired to sleep. I'm sort of a walking zombie. Sean, however, got thirteen hours of sleep. He went to bed at six thirty last night, having not napped well yesterday after playing with Patrick. At five thirty in the morning I woke up in a panic (so I guess I got some sleep), realizing that if I didn't change Sean's diaper soon he'd wake up wet and angry. So I snuck into his room and changed his diaper as he slept (no easy task). He managed to sleep until seven fifteen this morning.

Rose Parade

The Tournament of Roses continues to keep the rain at bay. Although it has been pouring all week it was only partially cloudy during the parade. So whatever voodoo they do-do, seems to be working. While most of the parade was only ho-hum (and how much did Disney bribe Pasadena to get Mickey Mouse as the Grand Marshal?) compared to some years. There were four floats Sean and I especially liked: there was a raccoon float, the Glendale owl babies inspired float, the South Pasadena dragon flight lessons float, and the usual Lion's Club float.

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Steps: 3000