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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



 

 


Nightmares and Headaches: 06/30/05

Sean's had nightmares the last couple of nights and then has woken up with a headache. Last night he would only go back to bed if we left his door open. I guess we'll have to try that trick again tonight because he really needs his sleep. At least this morning he was up bright and early and apparently better rested than the night before.

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Steps: 4500


Heat Wave: 06/29/05

I think the summer heat is finally here. We've also hit our fire season. We've had a fire in San Jose, a grass fire in Byron and a warehouse fire in Berkeley. Now that's so hot and dry I'm constantly having to drink water. I just always seem thirsty.

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Steps: 6000


Well Child Check-Up Redux: 06/28/05

Sean is well. He's right in the middle of the growth chart for height. He's a little heavier than the doctor would like which is amusing and frustrating. Two years ago he was considered under weight. Now he's over weight. Argh!

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Steps: 6000


Well Child Check-Up: 06/27/05

Sean's Well Child Check-Up is in a couple of hours. He and Ian are currently in South City, riding BART down to San Bruno to pass the time and to get lunch. More later.

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Steps: 3000


Boxes Gone: 06/26/05

For most of the year that we've lived in our new place, our bedroom has been stacked with boxes. I thought I had someone coming to pick them up so I got them all emptied and folded up. Judy, Charlie and Ian helped me get them into our storage closet by the car. So now the monolith in our room is gone. Ian also finally hung the lamp in our room. Of course, though, the person who had promised to come didn't show!

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Steps: 4000


Sean Plays Tour Guide: 06/25/05

Ian's parents are visiting and Sean enjoyed taking them on two "train" (BART) rides. Last night we rode BART to the Pleasanton Chevy's. As always it was crowded with multiple loud birthday parties. We still managed to get a seat and we had a nice dinner.

Then today we did our usual ride down to Fremont. Sean was beside himself with joy to tell his grandparents all about how the trip to Fremont works. We had Indian food again and let Judy and Charlie order. They picked some delicious dishes! Now if only we could convince Sean to try something beyond na'an. I know he'd like the food if he tried it.

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Steps: 10000


"How Come New Building?": 06/24/05

On the way to and from Sean's day care we pass a new arts center that's being built. Sean likes to point it out, shouting, "Hey look; new building!" Last night when we got home he noticed all the recent work that the contractors have done on one of our neighboring buildings as the re-siding project has finally begun. He knows it's not a "new building" but it sure looks like one now with the siding off and the decks missing.

After a few quiet moments of staring at the building, he tugged on my sleeve and asked solemnly, "Mama, how come new building?" I explained to him that the wood was broken (dry rot, but broken was the best I could do to help him understand) and the construction crew needed to put new wood on the building to fix it. He seemed please if not still a little puzzled with the explanation.

Night Life:

Last night before turning in for the night, Ian and I sat in bed, with the lights off and watched the wild life on the hill between our building and the one down the hill. There was a racoon in the smaller of the two plum trees, happily gorging himself with the over-ripe fruit. Below we saw two does and three fawns eating the fruit that had fallen to the ground. There was an extra amount of fruit for the taking as the tree trimmers came yesterday to cut back the branches from the buildings for the construction crew.

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Steps: 12000


New Neighbors: 06/23/05

Last night while sorting out the trunk of my car (something I need to do every couple of months) I had the delight to meet two of our new neighbors, a mother and daughter. There is a second daughter. who is elementary school aged whom I have not met. The younger daughter is three and somewhat shy but the mother and I are hoping that she and Sean can play together on the weekends. Wouldn't that be nice?

We will also be having a new neighbor in the townhouse that has it's entrance on our front deck. So far it's been empty since we moved in last year but it's finally in the process of closing.

Meanwhile, with the summer fruit ripe, our wild neighbors have been active. We've been seeing deer eating the fallen plums and squirrels in the day and raccoons at night climbing the trees for the plums.

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Steps: 4000



Confidentiality: 06/22/05

I got this on an email. It's a fairly standard confidentiality clause that goes on a lot of government and high tech emails but this one has been translated into Welsh. I am all for preserving languages and while I knew that Welsh is being used in conjunction with English just as Canada does everything official in both French and English, I somehow didn't expect to see it at the bottom of an email.

Here's the text:

"Mae'n bosibl bod gwybodaeth gyfrinachol yn y neges hon. Os na chyfeirir y neges atoch chi'n benodol (neu os nad ydych chi'n gyfrifol am drosglwyddo'r neges i'r person a enwir), yna ni chewch gopio na throsglwyddo'r neges. Mewn achos o'r fath, dylech ddinistrio'r neges a hysbysu'r anfonwr drwy e-bost ar unwaith. Rhowch wybod i'r anfonydd ar unwaith os nad ydych chi neu eich cyflogydd yn caniatau e-bost y Rhyngrwyd am negeseuon fel hon. Rhaid deall nad yw'r safbwyntiau, y casgliadau a'r wybodaeth arall yn y neges hon nad ydynt yn cyfeirio at fusnes swyddogol Cyngor Dinas a Sir Caerdydd yn cynrychioli barn y Cyngor Sir nad yn cael sel ei fendith. Caiff unrhyw negeseuon a anfonir at, neu o'r cyfeiriad e-bost hwn eu prosesu gan system E-bost Gorfforaethol Cyngor Sir Caerdydd a gallant gael eu harchwilio gan rywun heblaw'r person a enwir."

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Steps: 10000


The Silence in HeavenThe Silence in Heaven: 06/21/05

For a book that's more than 400 pages long, there's not much substance; I was able to read the entire thing in two hours. It's a weird combination of genres. Imagine if Robinson Crusoe, A Trio for Lute, Interview with a Vampire and The Da Vinci Code were thrown into a blender. The resulting smoothie would be something like The Silence in Heaven. Here's the gist of the plot: fallen angels create vampires and spent the rest of the plot torn between trying to clean up the mess they've created and get home.

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Steps: 6000


Officially No Longer a Baby: 06/20/05

Ian and I have been wondering why Sean hasn't been sent a post card for his well baby check. We were expecting it to come late May or early June. I went online today to make an appointment and found that he's already had all his well baby check ups. Ian will be calling later to see if he needs to come in for some sort of yearly check up.

Well-Child:

Just heard back from Ian and Sean is now scheduled for a "Well-Child" check-up next Monday. Ian will be taking him so I'm hoping he telephones afterwards to let me know all the details.

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Steps: 10000


New Socks: 06/19/05

Sean wanted to take another BART ride and since he needed new socks, I took him to the Bayview stop as there is a Target next door. There was a game in Oakland: the BART train was standing room only. Thank goodness we only had to go one stop!

When we got to Target, Sean picked out star socks for himself. They are white socks with red, blue, black or gray stripes at the top and stars near the ankle. We also found two 4T shirts for him. One sports a sea turtle and the other a dinosaur (AARGHHHH). Sean also picked out some purple sheep socks for me. They are very cute.

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Steps: 10000


Ralph's Party: 06/18/05

Ralph's PartyI finished reading Ralph's Party in the wee hours of the morning. I just wasn't sleepy so decided to finish the book. Ralph's Party was Lisa Jewel's first novel and it shows. The characters are a bit more derivative than in Thirty-Nothing and most of the characters just rubbed me the wrong way. But the book does have glimmers of Jewel's humorous writing style. There are some curry/chili eating challenges that pop up in the book that were especially funny, especially after our trip to the Marsala Grill.

Hot Indian Food:

On our usual train trip down to Fremont we stopped for lunch at the Marsala Grill rather than Burger King. Ian ordered na'an (of course), paneer tikka and ginger chicken. We'd never had paneer tikka before and it was wonderful but spicy. We're going to take Ian's parents to this place next Saturday. They know a lot more about Indian cuisine than we do so we're sure to have an incredible meal!

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Steps: 6800

 

Bill Paying Confusion: 06/17/05

This morning I was writing the checks to pay our bills. When I came to paying our HOA fees, I found last month's voucher still in the book. My inner voice was screaming: "But I remember paying that!" Briefly I gave into my inner panic and wrote out a check for two month's pay plus the late fee for last month. Finally though inner voice strangled inner panic and I stopped to looked at the carbon copies of last month's checks. Sure enough, I had paid the fee but I had forgotten to mail in the voucher with the check. Of course I should have also remembered that Ian is on the board and would have seen at last night's meeting if I had neglected to pay our fees last month.

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Steps: 3000


Construction Happening Soon: 06/16/05

As promised, the guest spots have been taped up with yellow caution tape, presumably for the contractor's equipment. They should be starting on Monday. We'll find out more tonight when Ian attends another board meeting. I'll be home with Sean and we'll be making another plum pie.

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Steps: 3000


Rugged Water: 06/15/05

Rugged WaterLast night I was in Dublin for the monthly BookCrossing meeting. This meeting ran longer than the previous two as we took a while getting started. I released a half dozen books and came home with four. I'm hoping to read through the books I've brought home from previous meetings.

Speaking of reading, I like to have a selection of books going at one time, though I usually concentrate most of my efforts on one of the books. My current main book is Rugged Water by Joseph C. Lincoln. In it, a close knit community of lighthouse workers try to figure out what went wrong in a rescue mission of a stranded boat during a storm. The captain of the on duty crew's hesitation lost precious time and now the others need to figure out why he hesitated and if it was for criminal reasons.

Lincoln's books always take me a while to get into them, usually the first eighty to a hundred pages. I'm now just past the halfway point and the plot has really picked up. I'll probably be finished with the book by the weekend.

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Steps: 4200


Dragon in the SeaThe Dragon in the Sea: 06/14/05

Last night I finished reading Dragon in the Sea by Frank Herbert (1956). Dragon in the Sea is quite a departure from Dune. It's more akin to The Santaroga Barrier (my favorite Herbert book) in Herbert starts with a few ordinary events and then turns them into psychological dramas. For this book, he goes one step further and leaves off the chapter divisions to create a literary claustrophobia to match the claustrophobic conditions of the submarine. Some of the psychobabble to explain the captain's behavior was a bit silly but I'll forgive it for the otherwise enjoyable thriller with science fiction trappings.

Read other reviews at Genre Go Round Reviews, Science Fiction at Dark Roasted Blend and SciFi Cool.

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The Grand Tour: 06/13/05

Grand TourI finally finished reading The Grand Tour (the sequel to Sorcery and Cecilia) and I enjoyed it thoroughly. As the four main characters are together in their adventure this time the story is far more coherent. The characters are allowed to interact from the get go rather than waiting for the details to slowly filter through the back and forth letters. This time the story is told in diary form (again from Cecy and Kate's POV's) and all I can say is that Cecy and Kate are far better diary writers than letter writers! I also found the plot stronger. I'm glad I made it through the first book so I could appreciate the second book. Readers who haven't read Sorcery and Cecilia, will be able to enjoy The Grand Tour.

On Time:

This morning I was happily asleep when Ian shook me awake telling me I had over-slept by 23 minutes! The alarm had been turned down and neither of us had heard it. Then as I was getting dressed the radio told us that it was actually by 33 minutes! We had reset the time wrong after the middle of the night black out a couple nights ago. Yikes!

Somehow though (and I don't know how) I managed to make it work on time. The commute gods were with me, I guess.

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Steps: 4500


Walk Times Two: 06/12/05

After breakfast Ian and I suggested to Sean that we walk to San Felipe Park (aka Castle Swing-Slide) but he said he didn't want to go. Since Ian could afford the time to spend with Sean I said I would go by myself because I wanted a walk. Rather than go to the park I decided to head up hill to go somewhere different. I didn't get more than half a block before I heard our screen door slam and Sean screaming that he was "going to the park too!"

I turned around and met Ian and Sean (who was now running up the driveway) and we walked to the park together.

The walk to the park though wasn't really enough so during Sean's nap I took my up hill walk also. I ended up at what might be Sean's first real school if we stay until he's five and then I took some of the side streets before coming home. I was gone a little more than an hour. I didn't stay out longer than that because it's very hot today.

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Steps: 10000


Music: 06/11/05

Tonight rather than watch a video that we had rented we listened to some of the albums in our wee collection. We first listened to the Beatles and then to Moby. It was nice to have some background music while Ian read and I scanned some pages of A California Girl for the Distributed Proofreaders. I still have about seventy pages to scan. Then I'll have to find someone to OCR it as I don't think the two programs I have are up to the task and I just can't afford to fork over a lot of money for a professional grade program just for a hobby.

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Steps: 7000

 

Calendar: 06/10/05

Sean heard our clock alarm go off this morning and decided to get up when I did at 6:30. It was nice to see him and get a hug from him. I think Ian would have preferred another hour of sleep.

The first thing Sean wanted to do was put a sticker on the calendar to mark the day. Last night he had decided a purple butterfly sticker would be just the thing for today. Today I got to watch him carefully peel the sticker off the sheet, line it up in the box on the calendar, stick it down and then smooth the wrinkles with his palm. As I watched I felt this strange bubbling of maternal pride at seeing him accomplish this morning ritual that he and Ian have developed. I wonder which sticker he'll pick for tomorrow?

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Steps: 3000


Gender Does Not Equal Genre: 06/09/05

On three different sites I frequent I have recently seen discussions about author gender and author genre. The hypothesis is this: men write books that men will enjoy and women write books that women will enjoy and never the twain shall meet. But this supposition ignores the fact that many readers have a wide range of interests and that authors have the habit of using pseudonyms. Men publish as women and women publish as men. Men and women read all sorts of genres. To be honest, I rarely pay attention to the gender of the author I'm reading. I've read romances by men (Sidney Sheldon), chick-lit by men (I count Christopher Moore in this category) and science fiction by women (McCaffrey, Norton, etc).

Author Christopher Moore has a page on his website asking for recommendations for books by women that he'd actually enjoy. Given the general goofiness of his books, I suspect that he's posted the page just to stir up trouble and be somewhat silly in the process. Lots of folks seem to be taking the pages very seriously. If Moore is being serious, I wonder what sort of genre he thinks he's writing? Since all of the books I've read have had pastel colors and cute little line drawing illustrations on their covers, I've always thought of them as chick lit. I've even seen them in the book stores among the other chick lit.

I'm by no means proposing a boycott of Moore's books (they are quite fun to read). In fact, here are three that I've read and highly recommend: Practical Demonkeeping, Lust Lizard of Meloncholy Cove and Island of the Sequined Love Nun. Just don't take him very seriously. In fact, don't take anyone very seriously who states that men and women are as different as night and day.

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Steps: 4500

 

Rain? 06/08/05

Ian asked me at five in the morning what the strange gurgling sound was. I had just come back from the bathroom to take something for an unexpected migraine. With my ear plugs in I couldn't hear any gurgling. I took them out and had a listen. It sounded exactly like rain coming down our gutter. I peered outside and sure enough it was raining. The change in pressure explained my headache and the strange noise.

When I left for work at 6:50, it was still raining quite hard. I had to find Sean's rain coat in my car and transfer it to Ian's car. With the recent pre-summer heat we had forgotten to bring the coat inside. None of us were expecting rain in June.

Upgrading Woes:

Yesterday I spent nearly three hours of work getting my new computer at work up and running. For the first hour the machine worked beautifully but then the keyboard started to act weird. Finally I had to give up on the serial to USB converter and find a USB keyboard and mouse. But the process of elimination that lead to this realization took two hours.

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Steps: 5500


Running the Torch: 06/07/05

While sitting outside Carl's Jr. restaurant near where I work desperately trying to get my phone to give me access to a recently left voice mail, I saw the running of the torch for Special Olympics. I had no idea that it was scheduled for today or that it would be coming up Camino Real, but there it was. It didn't draw any of the crowds like the torch running for the Olympics does but it is no less exciting an event to see.

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Steps: 4000

 

Rhubarb Plum Apple Pie: 06/06/05

The plum tree's fruit is ripe and we've been picking as much of it as we can before the contractors come to trim it back so that our place can be painted. To use up some of the fruit I made a pie last night. Here's the recipe:

Rhubarb Plum Apple Pie
Oil double crust:

2 1/4 cups flour
2/3 cup oil
1/3 cold milk

Fruit filling:

1 cup finely chopped rhubarb
3 cups Japanese dwarf plum (pitted)
1 Granny Smith apple
1/2 cup sugar
2 Tbs flour

Bake at 375 degrees F. for 20 minutes. Enjoy!

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Steps: 4000


Sunday Train Ride: 06/05/05

With Ian done with his qual, our weekend was a little topsy turvy. We spent Saturday buying shoes for Sean. He's up to a size 8 1/2 in toddler shoes. They no longer have Blue Clue's shoes so we had to find something else for him. He was hysterical. Mostly I think it was because he was tired. It was almost nap time for him. When he later woke up from his nap, he decided he liked his new shoes.

Anyway, Sunday is usually my day with Sean to go to the park while Ian goes somewhere to study. Today he stayed home with us and we rode BART down to Fremont. Sean was so happy to be riding the train twice in a weekend.

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Steps: 10600


A Wind Named Amnesia: 06/04/05

Ian rented a pair of animated films but the turkey of the pair was A Wind Named Amnesia. Like The Forgotten, aliens come to earth to test the importance of memory on mankind. Whereas in The Forgotten the test was done on a very small scale (16 families), A Wind Named Amnesia proposes the same scenario but on a global scale and it is a total amnesia that includes loss of language, loss of tool use, etc. Of course though, there is one person (Waturu — which means "wanderer" in Japanese) who knows what has happened (more or less), knows how to drive a car and how to speak. Of course he meets up with the alien in charge of the experiment and they travel across the United States from San Francisco to New York for now particular reason beyond the alien meeting up with her ride home to where ever it is she comes from.

Ian and I feel the opposite on these films. He preferred Amnesia and I Forgotten. I found Amnesia too unbelievable to give a damn about any of the characters. It doesn't seem possible that entire cities would be so thoroughly destroyed after only two years or that people would so completely forget everything. I've seen enough ghost towns to know how well things last when people forget about them. Plus people just don't forget everything. Even patients with "total" amnesia will have some sort of remaining skills.

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Steps: 5500


PhD Candidate: 06/03/05

Ian passed his qual exam today and it only took him 1 1/2 hours of his allotted three. He passed on two hours of sleep (due to stress). He's been studying all year though most of the studying been concentrated in the last five weeks. Sean and I are taking out to dinner tonight to celebrate. Of course Sean will be most excited not by Ian's good news but by the chance to ride the train (BART).

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Steps: 7000


So That's How it Works: 06/02/05

At work I've been upgraded to a new computer. The caveat is that I have to get it set up to run the programs I need to do my job. It's just that we have no IT department. The trickiest bit was getting Lotus Notes to let me see my email. I knew I had to change the "location file" but neither of knew what that meant. After an hour or so of fiddling around I finally figured it out and I'll get to use my new faster and less quirky computer tomorrow. Woohoo!

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Steps: 3500


Withdrawal Symptoms: 06/01/05

The Distributed Proof Reading site for Project Gutenberg is going through a software upgrade to move from a two pass proof reading process to a four pass proof reading (two for typos / scannos and two for formatting) before a text goes for post processing. The site went down last night at 10:00 P.M. and it is still down. I'm having withdrawal symptoms!

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Steps: 3000