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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 Post: 12/23/05

This will be my last post for the year. We will be spending our holiday with our families in southern California and I won't be taking my computer with me.

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Steps: 3000


Cat Camp: 12/22/05

Ian and Sean are taking Caligula to Shamrock Ranch for "cat camp" while we're away on our holiday trip. She'll hate the ride over there but she'll be happy once she's settled and can watch the horses from her split level cat condo.

After dropping the cat off, Sean and Ian should be heading down the peninsula to have lunch with me. I'm looking forward to seeing them. It's one of the rare times I can sneak away from my desk for lunch.

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Steps: 4500


SerenitySerenity: 12/21/05

Ian and I watched Serenity last night and I think Ian liked the film more than I did. I liked learning the back story of how the solar system was colonized and the tragedy on Miranda but the film seemed rushed in its story telling. There wasn't much time for either the story to unfold or for the characters to just be. I suppose Whedon was afraid this film would be his last chance to tell the rest of the story that's been rattling around in his head but I don't think he did it justice by trying to cram it all into one film. His usual quirky dialogue (his main way of developing character) is tossed aside for action scenes, chase scenes and fight scenes leaving all of his characters who have been developed in the short run Firefly series to act slightly out of character. Granted time has passed since the end of the series and the time of the film but do people really change that much in a matter of months?

Happy Solstice:

Here in the northern hemisphere today is the winter solstice. It meant the darkest commute across the bridge this morning that I'll have for a year. The sun didn't rise until I was already in Foster City. The sky was just starting to pink up at the foot of the high rise on the bridge and sea gulls were looking sleepy and grim. I've done a drawing to capture the commute as it was both surreal and beautiful.

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Steps: 4500


Berkeley: 12/20/05

Sean spent the day with Ian at Berkeley yesterday. Though it meant missing his nap (save for the time it took to drive home) he came home exhilarated. He spent the next half an hour telling me all the details of the day from parking in the Parking Garage, to having muffins, to playing with Betsy, to having lunch, to drawing with chalk, to playing Fussball, etc.

Mix Master Sean:

Recently Ian downloaded a midi demo and he and Sean like to play with it together. Last night since I was watching TV, Ian was wearing headphones while playing. Sean decided he wanted / needed to wear the headphones. He looked so cute -- like a future composer or mixer with his headphones on and him staring intently at the midi program.

"I Have a Headache in my Foot!"

Sean woke up last night whimpering. I went in to see what was up and what he needed. He sat up and asked for "chew-chew" (chewable painkiller). I asked him to point to what was hurting. He pointed to his right foot. "I have a headache in my foot. It's broken or something." His pajama leg had gotten twisted up and I could see that his leg was probably asleep. I straightened out his clothing and gently rubbed his leg. "Feel better?" I asked. He nodded and went back to bed.

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Steps: 4000


Monday Again: 12/19/05

I'm at work again. This is my last week of work this year. Ian and Sean are home together. Sean's on vacation from day care until January 2nd.

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Steps: 4500


More Than Three Inches: 12/18/05

It continued to rain all of last night and all of today. Ian managed to sneak off to Berkeley during a brief letting up of the rain. Sean and I stayed home and watched Lady and the Tramp. I heard later on the news that today alone we received three inches of rain throughout most of the Bay Area! It doesn't surprise me given how hard and consistently the rain had fallen throughout the day.

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Steps: 3000


Feels Like Snow: 12/17/05

We woke up to a cold house and a low white fog hovering over the streets. The temperature inside was 55° F and outside we would later learn it was 39 ° F. The air had that deathly still silence too—the sort that hurts the ears. It reminded me of winter along the Strawberry creek in Idyllwild. I commented to Ian that if we were higher up, farther north or farther east it would be getting ready to snow. Ian laughed and the three of us set out to Pleasanton for some last minute Christmas shopping and some pre-spring garden shopping (seeds and bulbs).

When we were in the garden section of Home Depot it started to rain. By the time we had dashed back into the main area of the tore it had started to pour. It let up long enough for us to dash to our car after paying and again for us to dash into Bay Books (where Sean got two books and Ian one). Then it poured again and continued to pour the rest of the day.

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Steps: 6000


Sean and Caligula: 12/16/05

Ian got annoyed at the cat last night for chewing on plastic and he shut her out of our room. As it was another cold night she opted for door number two—Sean's. He has been sleeping with his door cracked open and she took full advantage of the situation and curled up on his feet. Fortunately Sean enjoyed sharing his bed with the cat.

Reading in Bed:

Sean is still favoring the counting book I picked up at the last BookCrossing meeting. Sean calls it his "numbers book that our friends gave us" and he's probably read it a few dozen times so far. Last night he wanted to read the book before bed (meaning that we would leave the light on for him to read the book to himself). We said no and he tried his best to read it by moonlight before tucking the book under his bed for this morning. When Sean heard me get up this morning and the cat woke him up by coming to see what I was doing, Sean asked, "Now can I read my book?!"

Oops Again:

I was playing around with htaccess again and accidentally blocked everyone from my Bryce 5 freebies. I've undone my goof and the pages are available again.

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Steps: 22000


But the Sun Isn't Up: 12/15/05

Yesterday Sean woke up at six and Ian helped him turn on his bedroom lamp so he could read in the morning before it was time to get up. At a quarter to seven just before I left for work I popped in to say hello since I don't usually see him until when I pick him up after work. He was tucked into bed with the book propped up on his chest, half under the covers. He looked very much like a young Ian.

I said hello and told him I had to go to work. He popped up enough to glance out his bedroom window and replied, "But the sun isn't up. You can't go to work when the sun isn't up!" How I wish that were true some mornings!

The Moon:

Radio 4 reported (9:54 PST) that the moon will be at its highest in 18 years which combined with the low sun (due to the upcoming solstice) that the moon's shadows will be the shortest they've been in nearly two decades. This happens every 18.6 years. The thing that is thrilling me about this report is that I just watched the moon set not 2 1/2 hours ago. It set beautifully over the north western bit of the San Francisco Bay and inspired me to do a quick Photoshop sketch.

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Steps: 14000


Sean the BookCrosser: 12/14/05

Ian was late home last night so I took Sean with me to my monthly BookCrossing meeting. He only stayed a few minutes before Ian picked him up but he had fun. He sat on my lap and read a counting book to all the other members as they were arriving. He would read the page (what number and what animal—ten butterflies—for example) and then would turn the book around to show the page to everyone. The comments from the group were along the lines of: "Wow, he's only three?" and "Boy, someone reads a lot to him! He knows how to read to groups!"

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Steps: 4000


Sipping Hot Chocolate: 12/13/05

Last night Ian made hot chocolate for us again and Sean and I had loads of fun sipping hot chocolate with mini marshmallows from our blue Wedgwood inspired pattered tea cups. We also ate freshly popped popcorn so imagine us with our tea cups, our pinkies up, daintily drinking hot chocolate and eating popcorn, one kernel at a time.

Stress Dream:

During Sean's nap on Sunday he had a nightmare about his friend who is sick with strep. When I first woke him up for dinner he said in a muddled way: "I need to make pancakes for Alex because he's very sick and it's his birthday but I can't make pancakes because my nose is running. Daddy won't let me make pancakes because my nose is running. Who will make pancakes for Alex?" On Saturday Ian hadn't let Sean help make pancakes because he was still very coldy and I guess that stuck with Sean. I think it's really sweet that he was dreaming about wanting to make pancakes for his sick friend.

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Steps: 4500


Still Coldy: 12/12/05

Sean is still home sick with a cold. He seemed so much better last night after his all day nap but Ian felt he should stay home one more day. If I can't get off early today Sean will be going to Berkeley with Ian to meet with his professor again.

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Steps: 3000


Breakfast with Judy and Charlie: 12/11/05

We had a lovely breakfast at Baker's Square with Judy and Charlie who were visiting because of AGU. It was nice to get out of the house and Sean ate a hearty breakfast having missed dinner last night. Then in two more weeks we'll be spending Christmas Eve with Judy and Charlie. I think that's also the first night of Hanukkah this year too.

Riding the Bike

Ian did get me set up downstairs and after testing both machines: the cube and the ibook, the ibook is still the most reliable machine. I've been joking that the machine is now blind as that seems to be it's only problem. Anyway, to use my ibook with an external monitor I had to clear off my desk downstairs. That mean also cleaning up the area in front of my desk (and around the exercise bike). While I did a MojoWorld render to test my ibook (first I tested my cube and it failed the render test and now refuses to reboot) I rode the exercise bike. It felt great to finally ride it after more than a year!

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Steps: 14000


Sean to the Doctor: 12/10/05

Sean has had a cold since Thursday and today when we were just about to put him down for a well needed nap his day care providers called saying that their son has strep throat. We were asked to take Sean to the doctor to get tested for strep. Of course we did even though over the phone the advice nurse could tell that he doesn't have strep. In the process he missed his nap and ended up going to bed early and without dinner or a bath because he was so exhausted.

Computer to the Doctor?

My ibook has now suffered a backlighting failure. My cube is working only when it wants to but Ian thinks he can set me up downstairs with a video cable so I can still use my ibook while we figure out how much it will cost to fix it and if it is actually safe to use in its current condition.

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Steps: 3200


The Typist: 12/09/05

Sean can type his name. He doesn't have the coordination yet in his hands to write it (though he does try) but he can type it. He showed me yesterday that he could spell his name. It brought back memories of my grandmother setting me up at one of her many typewriters and letting me type to my heart's content from about age three until my parents got a computer in the late 1980s.

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Steps: 4000


Sean to Work: 12/08/05

Sean has a bit of a cold and a little bit of a fever. Normally he could have stayed home with Ian on a Thursday but Ian had to teach a class for his advisor who is en route to Hong Kong. So Sean came to work with me for half a day.

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Steps: 4000


Good for Another Year: 12/07/05

My boss and I had to make the yearly trip down to our client to get ourselves rebadged. It's a good sign that my job is good for another year. We also have a new person starting today so I'll probably have to pop down to introduce him to everyone once he's more settled here. I'm working on the assumption that we'll all have to go down to introduce him.

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Steps: 10000


More Frost: 12/06/05

This morning we had even more frost than yesterday. All the roves were white with it and some of the cars not parked under carport were also white with it. I layered up with two sweaters for the drive in.

Thirty Turkey Vultures:

On Sunday while Sean and I were outside tending our garden we saw a flock of thirty turkey vultures flying up the mountain from Castro Valley in the direction of the university. I can't remember ever seeing so many of them in one place at one time. They flew together like a flock of pigeons.

Deer:

Yesterday morning I had to yield to a doe and her calf who were crossing D street. They had come up the hill and crossed through San Felipe Park. They headed in the direction of Sulphur Creek.

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Steps: 4000


Frost: 12/05/05

When I left for work at 6:50 this morning, I saw that we had frost on our roves. It was probably the coldest night we've had this fall so far last night. I was surprised that Caligula didn't try to come to bed with us last night. We left the door open for her.

Blood of OthersBlood of Others:

Over the weekend I finished two entertaining mysteries: Blood of Others by Rick Mofina and Shade of Pale by Greg Kihn.

Shade of PaleBlood of Others takes place for the most part in San Francisco after the death of a bachelor girl who finally was trying to break free of her dependence on internet chat rooms and message boards. It is the depiction of San Francisco and the Bay Area that captured my attention. It's far more realistically done than many books I've read and shares much of the tongue in cheek details as Armistead Maupin's Tales of the City and the San Francisco bits of Kerouac's On the Road.

Shade of Pale:

Shade of Pale, written by a San Jose D.J. (whom I've never heard on the radio) takes place in New York but starts with the thesis: the banshee is real. It then carefully melds modern horror (a la Ringu or The Grudge) with a New York City based detective story. It has a few distractions in the form of an IRA subplot that can be skipped without losing anything from the overall flow of the story.

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Steps: 4000


Soda Bread: 12/04/05

Today I introduced Sean to a new and easy recipe: Irish soda bread. We whipped up a loaf this afternoon while Ian was at Berkeley and then we had it at dinner with the left over tri-tip and moussaka. It made for a wonderful meal.

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Steps: 4000


Wreath: 12/03/05

Sean and I built our wreath. It's a little lopsided but we had fun putting it together. I have updated my website to include pictures of the wreath and our newly painted exterior.

Christmas Cards:

The cards arrived today from the printer so I should be mailing out my first cards late next week. I just need to write and print the letter that goes with them.

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Steps: 10000


A Poem: 12/02/05

By Sean as transcribed by Ian...

The ballad of the hair wars

Dempsey pulled my Hair
        She got a Time Out
                       (And a Cracker)
Daniel pulled Alex's Hair
         He got a Time Out

by Sean Sammis

Slow Morning at Work:

The weather knocked out our phone service, starting yesterday at work. It was on and off yesterday and today when I got in, there was no dial tone and no internet service. SBC has come and.gone and after two hours of work have fixed the problem. The squirrels who live in the oak tree had eaten off the insulation. Water had gotten into the wires and corroded them until they finally snapped in two some time last night. At least now I'm having the cleanest connection I've had in months.

Hot Chocolate and a Movie:

Last night Ian made hot chocolate from scratch for us. It was Sean's first time having hot chocolate and we gave him some in the blue tea cup and saucer that go with the Japanese themed plates he so likes. We put marshmallows in his cup and gave him a spoon. He had loads of fun slurping up his hot chocolate and marshmallows (and even gave me some pointers on technique) while we watched the end of Lady and the Tramp. It was the perfect close to an evening.

Sorry for the Outage!

If you were trying to visit my site earlier today and got a 403 error for the entire thing, that was me. I am trying to learn more about .htaccess files and I missed a line of code and basically made the entire site restricted access. Sorry!

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Steps: 4000


There's an Owl in my Bed: 12/01/05

When I came to bed last night, I found Owl (Sean's snowy owl toy) carefully tucked into bed next to Rusty in my bed, both their heads resting on my pillow. It was so cute! I carefully returned Owl to Sean's room, tucking him in next to Sean who was sound asleep.

A Good Night's Sleep:

Last night was one of those rare nights where I turned off the sleep and slept soundly until the alarm went off this morning. I had lots of good (meaning strange) dreams and I woke up feeling refreshed.

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Steps: 4000