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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




 

 


Scanning: 05/31/05

I've gotten the green light to submit one of my old books to Project Gutenberg, a 1902 novel called A Girl of California. I bought it from UCSB's library discard sale because it had a lovely purple cover with an orange California poppy. My immediate thought was, "well, hey, I'm a California girl!" Now all these years later, I'm scanning it and eventually OCRing it and sending it through the proofing rounds.

But for the moment, I'm just scanning it. There are 248 pages to scan. I can do two at a time but then I will have to split the pages into separate images. While I have some OCR software I'm not sure I can make it work with in Classic. It took two hours to make my scanner work with OS X (10.3.9) last night due to insanity on Image Capture's part. Who the hell thought Image Capture would be a good way to run a scanner? I came very close to uninstalling the entire program.

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Steps: 5000


Whistling for the ElephantsTwo Alone: 05/30/05

While Sean took his nap I took a couple hours to enjoy an easy read—Two Alone by Sandra Brown. The hook has been used many times before: beautiful woman and cynical man find themselves stranded and must work together to survive and in the process end up falling in love. The book has two things going for it, it's short and the bulk of the book is focused on how they survive, not on how they fall in love. It's only in the last fifty pages or so when they have been rescued that the book becomes a full fledged romance novel. It was the perfect quick read for a hot afternoon.

Z is for...

When we were at the park (the one with the dinosaur) Sean started collecting sticks that looked like letters to him. He found a Y, an I, an L, and a K. When we were on our way home he told me about his sticks: "Y is for Yarn, I is for Ice, L is for Lion, K is for Keys and finally... Z is for 'all gone letters.'" He puts the cutest emphasis on "and finally."

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Steps: 5000


Whistling for the ElephantsWhistling for the Elephants: 05/29/05

I'm currently reading Whistling for the Elephants by Sandi Toksvic and while I am enjoying it, there are a few glaring errors that have twice stopped me reading in mid sentence. First is the Pledge of Allegiance which is misquoted. The second is the mentioning of the Brady Bunch being on in early summer of 1968. It didn't start airing until September of the next year. There are also some instances of Britishisms being spoken by American characters. None of these things would bother me if the story wasn't priding itself on getting the details right.

Read other reviews at Spaanse Filosoof and Read 80 Books in 2008.

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Steps: 3500


On the Loo: 05/28/05

No, not really, but we've given up and bought a book on how to potty train. Next weekend after Ian's qual, we (Ian mostly) are going to start potty training Sean. We got the book in Fremont after another day of riding BART.

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Steps: 10000


Walking Like Monsters: 05/27/05

Sean wanted to walk to the park because that's what they do in Monsters Inc. Sean is currently completely enamored with the film. He completely relates to Boo.

So that's what we did. We walked to the park. Sean climbed, and swung, and slid and threw things. We even played catch together for a while. I also got a chance to read some of Angels and Demons by Dan Brown (which I later finished).

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Steps: 7000


A Very Long Train Ride: 05/26/05

Today Sean and I rode BART to Berkeley to meet Ian for lunch. I think by the Coliseum station Sean was ready to get off but he sat patiently. At each stop he would announce to whomever was listening that we were "still riding the train."

We met a nice grandmother of three who was on her way to visit them by way of her pharmacist. We discussed the joys of being August babies. Everyone in her family was born in August except for one grand-daughter who was born July 31st. She complimented Sean, calling him a "good man." I couldn't agree more.

When we got to the station, I had some trouble getting my ticket put back in my wallet. So while I was fighting with my wallet, I called to Sean to stay near me (I needed both hands). He climbed on my back and said, "stick to Mama like glue." I'm glad he listens when it's really important!

Once we surfaced we met Ian in the coffee shop as planned. Sean was thrilled. We walked around the block to a nearby Indian buffet. It took a while to convince Sean that the food was good but he did eventually eat some nan, some rice and some other dishes. Ian then rode back with us on BART.

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Steps: 7000


Riding the Bike: 05/25/05

When we picked up Sean from day care yesterday, he was happily riding around the courtyard on a red bicycle (with training wheels). The last few times he's "ridden" his bike at home, he's just let me push on it. I think on my vacation (starting tomorrow!) I will take the bike out and let Sean ride it around our complex. It will be good exercise for both of us.

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Steps: 4000


Summer's Here: 05/24/05

We've had a week now of sun and heat. From looking at the weather report for next week and from feeling the day long dry heat I think we're in our summer weather pattern. It's this time of the year that I miss living on the coast. We're only fifteen miles as the crow flies from the Pacific Ocean but the mountain range that is the peninsula keeps that lovely fog from us. On the plus side, the tomatoes are loving the heat.

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Steps: 5000


Reading by Moonlight: 05/23/05

I went downstairs to get something I had printed and heard Sean reading to himself. Like his father, he tends to do his thinking and reading aloud. He was reading by the light of the full moon. Now that I've turned off the hall light and closed his curtains a little better he's complaining that "it's too dark!"

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Steps: 4000


Advice from Sean: 05/22/05

Sean's at the age that he likes to give advice. His most recent pearl of wisdom is: "Don't eat the fish shaped cat food because it will give you warts."

Sean's current passions are: his garden which is growing: tomatoes, a potato, garlic, rosemary, parsley, sage, carrots and a fern. His other passion is Monsters Inc. which we have rented from the local video store. We need to return it soon and will probably have to save up for a copy for Sean.

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Steps: 4500


Train Again: 05/21/05

Today being Saturday Sean insisted on riding the "train" again. So we rode again to Fremont. We stopped again at the bookstore and came home with three books: The Palace of Eternity by Bob Shaw, Homeland by R. A. Salvatore, and Mr. Sneeze by Roger Hargreaves.

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Steps: 3500


Under Construction: 05/20/05

Our HOA board has voted on a contractor to fix our decks, porches and siding. Work begins June 6th. I'm glad it happens after Ian's qual. exam. We'll need to get the crib out of the crawl space (we'll put it in the upstairs closet or in Sean's closet), and the stuff off the deck (trellises, plants, seat, and barbecue). As the contractors are starting on the top of the hill and working their way down the hill, we should be one of the first homes they work on. Hopefully that means we won't be inconvenienced for too long.

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Steps: 3500


Dry Clothes: 05/19/05

We now have a new dryer installed but it took some doing. When the townhouse was built, the wrong type of outlet was installed. So Ian had to go to the hardware store and get the correct one and install it before he could plug in the new appliance. He just called to say that he successfully switched out the outlets and the new dryer works beautifully.

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Steps: 4600


Waiting for the Tow Truck: 05/18/05

As of this update, Ian and Sean are still waiting for AAA to show up to jump start Ian's car. He must have left the lights on last night. His car doesn't beep when the lights are on and the engine is off like mine does. Sean has missed his breakfast at daycare so they will be stopping at Baker's Square for breakfast before Sean finally goes to school (whenever that is). Meanwhile, I'm at work, twenty miles away so it isn't feasible for me to go home and take Sean to school.

National Treasure:

We watched National Treasure last night and it was fun up until they got to New York City. The choice of where to hide the treasure just burst my suspension of disbelief. First of all, the location they picked has four subway tubes (discounting any discontinued lines) running underneath there. Then there is New York's HUGE sewer and power pipes running below the subways. My point is, I find it extremely hard to believe that the treasure had remained a secret for two hundred years given the last hundred years of rapid construction on Manhattan island. My husband though, between fits of laughter, replied that the "Masons must have built around the vault."

Update:

Just heard back from my husband. Sean finally got to daycare at 10:30 after getting the car jumped and having a late breakfast at Baker's Square. We also will have a new dryer tomorrow sometime. It is the companion piece to our washer and it has rack for drying shoes (very important for a family that likes to splash in puddles!).

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Steps: 4000


Wet Clothes: 05/17/05

Last night I started the dryer, heard the scream of doom and smelled the burning rubber of death. Our dryer which is probably old enough to attend college has given up the ghost. If it were newer and EnergyStar compliant we would get it fixed but we think in the long run it will be more cost effective and better for the environment if we replace it with a new and fuel efficient model. In the meantime, we either have to take our clothes to the laundromat for drying or hang them up to dry. Of course it should be sunny and dry on any other May in California but it's started to rain again!

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Steps: 3000


My Green Bubbles: 05/16/05

Ian restocked our bathroom with aloe vera bubble bath and milk bubble bath. All of a sudden Sean wants to take baths every night again (we had been on an every other day schedule for a while). Apparently he doesn't like the bubble bath we had been using. When he saw the new bottles of bubbles he joyously exclaimed: "My green bubbles! My white bubbles!"

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Steps: 3500


It's Not Dirty, It's Just Water: 05/15/05

Saturday it was very hot but last night it rained. Our weather is starting to remind me of Hawaii. Nonetheless, Sean and I walked to the park. For two hours we had the place to ourselves as it was rather wet and most people wanted to wait for the equipment to dry out. Sean wasn't too sure about the slides but I told him it was just water. As he was sliding, he would repeat: "It's not dirty; it's just water." He did end up thoroughly soaked from the waist down and needed a change of trousers when we got home but he had fun.

On the way home he found a giant pine tree branch with pine cones still attached. The thing is 2/3 his height and he insisted on dragging it home. He carried it all the way except for when we had to cross the street (I carried it then). The branch is now sitting by our front door under the mail box.

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Steps: 7200


More Trains and a Book: 05/14/05

We took Sean on BART again, this time to Fremont which gave him three stops to ride through. Of course, he was thrilled and let everyone else in our train car know. Besides riding the train we also got to ride an elevator and an escalator.

Two blocks west of the Fremont station there is a small strip mall. At the northern end of the mall there is a wonderful bookstore called Half Price Books. They seem to specialize in reselling books from publishers at discounted prices. I saw a bunch of titles from the few local publishing houses (including Scholastic which has a warehouse in Hayward). I didn't see any book that cost more than $5.

We found for Sean a lovely book about a mother cricket who teachers her son to sing cricket songs. In the book the crickets meet a variety of creatures: butterflies, dragonflies, a nightingale, an owl (big plus as far as Sean is concerned), spiders, and frogs. Even though I've now read the book to Sean about a dozen times I can't for the life of me remember what the book is called. I'll have to look the next time Sean and I read it.

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Steps: 10000


Proof-Reading Redux: 05/13/05

I've gotten Ian into proof reading for Project Gutenberg. I didn't mean too. But he said I seemed to be having so much fun that he'd give it a go too. Unfortunately for him his first set of pages were dull catalogues of other published books at the front of an otherwise potentially interesting math book.

Batman!

Sean has learned the 1960s theme to Batman at daycare. Now he sings it as he climbs things which makes me laugh.

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Steps: 6300


Football by Any Other Name: 05/12/05

Both sides of the pond are reeling over the news of Malcolm Glazer's take-over bid for Manchester United. In England the reaction is shock and indignity of an American buying the best known football club. In America there is the fear that Glazer will be too busy with his new team to properly run the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. I think both reactions are equally valid. Even world renowned sports teams are still ultimately local affairs with local fan bases and and an understanding of that local culture.

While ownership of two different sports teams won't be the same thing as a merger of two companies, there will still be a culture clash between both teams and both fan bases. While both teams are football teams in name anyone who has heard of either will know that they play two different games. Football (American aka grid iron) and football (soccer aka footie) are two very different things. To put this take over bid in perspective, it would be like the owner of a cricket team purchasing a majority stake of New York Yankees. Shudder.

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Steps: 3500


Proof-Reading: 05/11/05

I'm sure this post will be amusing to anyone who frequents this site and has probably noticed my many typos. I have to admit to often not stopping to spell check this site, especially my blog entries. I tend to log in, type my ideas, post them and be on my way.

That doesn't mean I'm incapable of proof reading nor that I don't enjoy it (I actually do). I'm currently filling up some of my free time that for one reason or another I can't fill with reading a good book with proof reading books for Project Gutenberg. It takes a while to get the hang of the proof reading conventions that they use and of course each book has its own quirks but volunteering my time sure has turned out to be fun.

Today I'm proof reading a text book of German poetry (for English students). Some of the poetry is entertaining and some of it is rather corny.

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Steps: 3500


Another Meeting: 05/10/05

Tonight I'm attending my second Book Crossing meeting in Dublin. I have another small pile of books to give away at the meeting. Any that aren't taken I will leave in the coffee shop.

Playing House:

When we picked up Sean yesterday from school (day care) he and one of the girls were happily playing with some dolls and a doll house. She had the daddy doll and was busy having him do chores in the house. Meanwhile, Sean had the mommy doll and had her driving the kids around in the car. It was so cute watching him actually play with other kids. He's finally old enough to play with others rather than doing the toddler "parallel playing."

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Steps: 5000


Monday Again: 05/09/05

Given last nights gale force winds and pounding rain, I expected a tough commute this morning. It ended up being quiet on the highways and the weather was mostly clear. I did get some rain on the peninsula but nothing like I was expecting.

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Steps: 3500


Wet Mother's Day: 05/08/05

We woke up to rain today and it's been wet and blustery all day long. Ian is out working on his take home final and Sean and I are home. Sean's been reading his favorite books aloud to me. I think he's still at the "memorization" phase where he's mostly reciting the books and not actually reading them but it's still fun to have him read the book to me!

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Steps: 3000


Train Ride: 05/07/05

Sean's been asking to take a train ride for the last few weeks so today we took him on BART. We rode one stop to Dublin/Pleasanton. We also had to ride the various escalators at the two stations. Sean was thrilled with the ride. Once at the end of the line we got out and took a walk for about an hour, stopping for lunch, before returning to the station.

Unfortunately once we were home Sean wanted to "go again" on BART. It was however his nap time and Ian needed to go study. He has a take home final that he's working on.

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Steps: 10000


The Secret of Chimneys: 05/06/05

The Secret of the ChimneysThe political upheavals of WWI seemed to have inspired a great many popular fiction books in the years before WWII started to gear up. Many of these books take a rather humorous and satirical approach to the machinations of one country to control the flow of events of another country. The Secret of Chimneys is Agatha Christie's contribution to this "genre."

Ignoring the romantic ending, The Secret of Chimneys is a political satire that pokes fun at the British Empires history of putting in puppet governments with in countries that would benefit British interests. In this case, it's a post Great War eastern European country that needs a new king. Somehow the Chimneys estate cum hotel holds the secret to who the new king will be. Some of the political parody reminded me of the Marx Brother's film Duck Soup but without the dance numbers.

Another book I'd recommend in this "genre" of political intrigue / comedy, is Alias Jane Smith by Clarence Budington Kelland. Like the other Kelland books I've read, it is the story of a person who has been thrust into an unusual situation and a hostile environment and must use his or her own wits and industry to succeed and survive. In this case, the character is a duchess exiled and penniless in New York during WWII. To survive she must become an interior decorator. In the process she stumbles into a blackmailing ring.

Read reviews at: Nourishing Obscurity, My Utopia, An Unfinished Person (In This Unfinished Universe), Mysteries in Paradise, Be a Love Cat and A Library is a Hospital for the Mind.

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Steps: 5500


Planet Pluto: 05/05/05

One of the most popular searches that brings people to my site is for images of Planet Pluto. About five years ago I did a Bryce image of a cold planet with a huge asteroid or comet impact crater. In no place did I call it "Pluto" or otherwise refer to it as "Pluto." In fact, it's called "Planet X" but it brings a lot of visitors looking for pictures of the real Planet Pluto. For all of you looking for Pluto, I recommend this book.

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Steps: 6500


The Sleepy Owl: 05/04/05

Sleepy OwlSean's current favorite book is The Sleepy Owl. It's the story of an owl who over sleeps each night and misses playing with her owl buddies. She tries to befriend a young boy who gives her an alarm clock to help her wake up when he's awake. Of course this works out disastrously for her and her friends so the alarm clock has to be returned. In the process though, the little owl does learn how to wake up on time and the little boy learns something about owls.

It's the perfect story for Sean, a little boy who loves owls and has a pair he likes to visit on the weekends. Besides having loads of adorable owl drawings in it, it also has a clock and an owl painted kite. Sean also has a clock and an owl kite so he sees a lot of himself in this book. Last night we even had to tuck in The Sleepy Owl book when we tucked Sean in for bed.

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Steps: 5500


Bleak House: 05/03/05

Bleak HouseI just finished reading Charles Dickens's Bleak House. It's a heavy volume of 1034 pages (that includes the intro and many appendices).

What is the Bleak House? It is an old mansion, home of John Jarndyce and his three wards: Ester, Ada and Richard. It is also the squalid conditions of Tom's-All-Alone. It is the bleak out come of Jarndyce vs. Jarndyce. It is the Victorian shame of an illegimate child. There are many bleak houses in this book.

Bleak House carries a warning against the excesses of nuisance suits and the danger of a laissez-faire government which it wraps up in a delightful albeit complex and dense comedic romance of a young woman supposedly orphaned and sent to live with her guardian who is stuck in a generations long lawsuit over an estate. Interestingly, I recently read an American story that obviously borrowed heavily from Bleak House. To anyone who enjoys Bleak House, I recommend The Big Mogul by Joseph C. Lincoln.

Read the review at Book-a-rama and The Blogmatic Zone.

Apple Pie:

We had some Granny Smith apples left over from the seder so last night Sean and I made apple pie for dessert. He helped with the crust and supervised me while I sliced up the apples. He then helped with seasoning the apples. He loves to cook! The apple pie was delicious and we have lots left over.

I'm jokingly calling it "Mediterranean Apple Pie" because I had to use virgin olive oil in the crust. Actually olive oil makes for a very nice crust texture and taste. It's more interesting than corn oil. As it was a dessert pie, I tossed in a pinch of sugar to the crust mixture to sweeten it a bit. Yummy against the tartness of the apple filling!

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Steps: 6500


Bing Bang Boom: 05/02/05

Three times I woke up last night to imagined loud noises. The first time I thought I heard the fire alarm starting to sound but it hadn't. The second time I thought I heard someone exploding a paperback. The third and final time it was someone popping a balloon.

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Steps: 5500


Day at the Park: 05/01/05

Sean and I had a lovely walk to the park. We talked about flowers, trees and fences on the way there. It's so nice being able to converse with him now. On the way back he told me that he wants orange and purple balloons for his birthday party (when he will turn three). Yes, he knew that he's turning three soon! He sure is growing up.

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Steps: 7200