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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



 


Another Month Comes to a Close: 02/28/06

February is drawing to a close today. It marks my third lunar month of pregnancy. Today as well as the rest of the week we are expecting rain. We've had rain consistently (save for a few odd breaks) since Sunday.

Bragging Rights:

Sean is getting excited about being a big brother this September. He's started bragging at school that he will be a big brother just like his friend Spencer. I'm glad he's adjusting so well to the news of the baby and of having to share his room.

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Microwave Oven Safety: 02/27/06

Since Sean can now use the microwave oven with supervision, I decided it was time to teach him some basic safety rules. I told him not to ever put forks, knives, spoons or metal bowls into the microwave. He agreed that doing that would be a "bad idea." Then he added that one shouldn't put: "trees, plants, flowers or toys" in the microwave. He should only put "little bowls" in there and only for 45 seconds. By "little bowls" he means the soup bowls we usually use for melting things like butter.

More Rain:

I am back to work and it is still pouring. Fortunately my commute in was relatively easy. In some regards it was easier because none of us were blinded by the sun rise. The walk to get lunch will be a slog through the somewhat flooded alley but that's to be expected. I've come prepared with heavy shoes and lots of layers to wear in the weather.

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Owls, Snakes and Books on a Rainy Day: 02/26/06

As it was threatening to rain today (and later did), Sean and I planned to go to Sulphur Creek since we wouldn't be able to go to the playground. It started to rain just before we left our home and it alternated between pouring and drizzling while we were there. We spent most of our time inside the museum so we weren't caught up in the downpours.

Besides us, there was also a birthday party for a group of five or six year olds, the parents and the younger sibblings (most of whom were ages two to three). The older kids were all boys and were very hopped up. They spent most of their time running, screaming and jumping. Sulphur Creek is very tollerant of energetic children but this group was roudy enough to receive numerous scoldings. I'm pleased to say that Sean was mature enough not to get caught up in their antics and was the best behaved child there.

Since it was raining, Sean decided it would be best to stay in the museum for most of the time we were there and read about a half dozen of the books they have on hand. Sean enjoyed it so much that he wants to go back next Sunday and read some more books.

When we got home and Sean went down for a nap after lunch the rain really picked up. It came in with the wind. Our windows rattled and the wind howled through the trees. I think the rain and wind were loud enough to wake Sean up, so he only stayed in his room for a couple hours (or about half the time of his typical weekend nap). Of course it was a day that I really wanted some time to nap myself as I was feeling rather queesy. Fortunately Sean didn't mind playing on my computer while I had a little lie down on the couch.

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Our Garden is Thriving: 02/25/06

Our patio garden is doing very well and I expect we'll have a bumper crop later this year. My Valentine's day rose bush has its first bud and lots of new growth. It seems to like its spot on our patio. All of the berry plants have now sprouted in at least one spot. The aloe vera plants will need to be replanted soon as they have nearly outgrown their current containers. Next month when things are a little warmer at night I will start planting my seeds and perhaps a couple tomato plants. That will do us for this year!

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Camera: 02/24/06

After taking a couple photographs last night (of Sean playing video games and of our new wall), Sean became interested in the digital camera. He pointed to all the different parts and wanted to know how they work. I showed him where the batteries go, where the memory card is and how it can come out, where the lens is, where the view finder is and where the video monitor in the back is. Then he wanted to know how all the parts work together so I explained to him how light goes in, how the processor records it to the card, and how I can then use my card reader to put the images onto my computer. It took a good ten minutes of explaining and then he was able to boil it down to: "push the button to make pictures but only if there are batteries inside."

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Baseball: 02/23/06

Ian rented Mario Superstar Baseball last night and all three of us enjoyed playing it. First Sean and Ian played after dinner and it was hard to get Sean to stop for his bath. After Sean went to bed it was my turn to have a go at playing with Ian. We mostly did the minigames though we did play four innings of an exhibition game. At first my team was ahead by four runs but as bedtime approached, my hands became clumsy and slow and Ian scored five runs. He's much better at performing while tired than I am.

Toxoplasmosis and Schizophrenia

I heard a fascinating health report on Radio 4 this afternoon regarding a possible link between the parasite that causes toxoplasmosis in humans (Toxoplasma gondii, a relative of parasite that causes malaria) and schizophrenia. The possible connection came to light when scientists realized that rats infected with T. gondii lose their fear of cats and actually seek them out so that the parasite is able to finish its reproductive cycle inside the perfered host (the cat). Antipsychotic drugs given to infected rats helps to control these death wishes. The rat behavoir led some to wonder if aural haulicinations in humans may also be caused by the parasite. Likewise, some medicine prescribed to treat schizophrenia have been shown to kill the T. gondii parasite. Scientists are not claiming a one to one correspondence between exposure to T. gondii and schizophrenia as there are far more people who have had and recovered from toxoplasmosis than there are people with schizophrenia.

I did a search online and found a few articles that cover the information I heard on Radio 4. The most concise article is at Medical News Today.

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Jury Duty Part Two: 02/22/06

I wasn't needed for this morning but I might be needed at one this afternoon. For the meantime, I'm at work. I will eat an early lunch to make sure I'm fed in time to leave early if I have to.

The one o'clock deadline came and went and I was not called for jury duty. I'm good for another year. Of course next year at this time I'll be nursing child number two, so I'm actually good for another two years. Woohoo!

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Jury Duty: 02/21/06

I'm back to work and hopefully Sean is back to school. I haven't heard from Ian yet so I'm assuming that means we're back to a normal schedule. Tonight I have to call to see if I have jury duty tomorrow. I really hope I don't because I can imagine being stuck in a stuffy court room will just make my morning sickness worse. Yuck.

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A Braided Cord, Hoot and The House of Caine: 02/20/06

Today was a nice day off. Save for grocery shopping with Sean, we stayed home. Sean is still a little under the weather and he wanted a long nap. I also endulged myself in an afternoon nap. I'm looking forward to the first trimester ending in two weeks so I can have a few months of feeling like myself again.

Over this weekend I finished a bunch of books: A Braided Cord, Hoot, and The House of Caine. The first is the memoir of a school librarian, the second is a Newberry Honor book about some teenagers who save a colony of burrowing owls, and the final one is a vampire horror that takes place in 1966 in Massachusetts.

Of the three books, Hoot is my favorite. When Sean is older I will get a copy for him. In the meantime, we will go see the movie. The previews seem to be straight from the book except that the "running boy" maybe toned down a bit as a character.

My second favorite was The House of Caine as it was an easy read for a day off. Even though it is five hundred pages long, I was able to read it in about four hours. The vampires in the book act more like those in Bram Stoker's Dracula in a New England small town that reads like a modernized H.P. Lovecraft story.

A Braided Cord, while a bit dry as memoirs go, demonstrates the importance of a well stocked school library and on staff librarian to a child's educational success. I think the book should be required reading to those in charge of cutting library funds from schools.

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The Wall, Part Two: 02/19/06

Ian's plan worked perfectly and he was the first one to rent the truck this morning. Charlie and he worked all day cutting and hanging the wall board. They stopped briefly for lunch and were finished by three when it was time for Judy and Charlie to head home.

Meanwhile Judy and I kept Sean out of the construction zone and entertained. We played with Play-Doh and read books. Sean was really patient and well behaved.

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The Wall, Part One: 02/18/06

Judy and Charlie arrived last night and today Ian and Charlie went to Home Depot to get what is needed to finish the wall between our living room and laundry room. Unfortunately the store only has one truck and it was checked out until at least two in the afternoon. Rather than waste a whole day waiting for a truck, they bought what they could fit in Charlie's car and came home. So today they have framed in the wall. Tomorrow Ian will get up with the alarm to get to Home Depot when they open at seven.

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Submarine Shirt is Done: 02/17/06

Last night I put the finishing touches on Sean's submarine shirt. After a week of sewing, my fingers have proto-blisters on them but it was worth the pain and effort. This morning Sean was thrilled with the shirt. He told me that I did "a really good job" putting it all together. He was all grins.

Raining Cats and Dogs:

I know we were expecting rain but this morning it looked like it wouldn't arrive on schedule. Then right at lunch time the heavens opened up. The once dry alley way is now covered with one to two inches or rain water and it is still pouring. I hope things calm down for Judy and Charlie when they start their drive around three this afternoon.

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Home Sick: 02/16/06

Sean still has his cold so we spent the day at home. He mostly slept, taking a five hour nap. I used some of the time to clean house, read some of A Tree Grows in Brooklyn and to work on his submarine shirt but I have to admit to taking advantage of the situation and grabbing a nap myself.

Meanwhile Ian was at Berkeley until nine, first helping to proctor a midterm and then helping to grade the midterm. His busy day was the main reason why I had to be the one to stay home with Sean.

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BookCrossing: 02/15/06

We had a fun meeting last night and got to see Lizzy again, albeit briefly. It's hard to believe she's already six months old. She can sit up and she was smiling at everyone. I also got to share my good news with everyone and have bowed out of the September BookCrossing meeting. Can you believe the baby is due on that day? Is it a sign of another book lover to come?

Another Cold:

Sean is sick with a cold and school wouldn't take him today so he's hanging out with Ian at Berkeley. I suspect I'll have to stay home with him tomorrow as Ian will be busy grading the first midterm of the semester for one of the classes he teaches a section of. Ian and I are so far without the cold and I hope to continue staying well just because it's no fun being pregnant and coldy at the same time.

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Dull Prenatal Trip: 02/14/06

Ian and I spent a mind numbing hour and half in a mandatory prenatal class where we had to relearn all the stuff we learned with Sean and of course fill out paperwork. That wasn't the end. Afterwards we had to take the bridge across the street to the hospital so I could get blood drawn.

Submarine Shirt Nearly Done:

Last night I finished putting on all the patches of material and now I am doing the black outline to hide my messier stitches. I'm about a third of the way done with the black outline. My goal is to finish the shirt by Thursday night so Sean can wear the shirt on Friday when Judy and Charlie come to visit.

Berry Vines Planted:

Last night Sean and I found the peat moss and a planter for the remaining vines. We got them planted and around sunset (a gorgeous time to garden). The ones we planted on Sunday have already visibly grown by an inch or two. I hope we have yummy berries come summer time.

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Rain Coming: 02/13/06

The weather report in our local paper predicts rain twice this week, Wednesday and Friday. The timing will be perfect for the newly planted berry bushes. Sean and I will be planting the remaining ones that have been soaking since yesterday.

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I Thought I Was in the Clear: 02/12/06

I'm two or three weeks away from the end of the first trimester and I thought I would make it without barfing. That was until this morning when a single glass of water sent me running to the bathroom. I can eat garlic, onions and other spicey food to have breath bad enough to bring down an elephant without problems but water first thing in the morning is a bad idea apparently.

Lots of Berries:

Yesterday before going to the movie theater we stopped at Home Depot to check out the garden center. We had originally planned just to look to see what they had in stock and come back later but they were having a good deal on just what we wanted — berry vines. We bought five varieties of berries. The heartier ones are now planted and the other root stocks are now soaking for planting tomorrow after work.

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Curious GeorgeCurious George: 02/11/06

We took Sean to see Curious George today and all three of us loved the film. It was a delight to see 2D animation (with some 3D animation assist) done in the style of the original book. Will Ferrell did a good job as Ted (aka "The Man in the Yellow Hat") but Frank Welker stole the show as the voice of George. The animation style is in keeping with the original H. A. Rey books and has enough nods to the books to keep fans happy. There are enough kind hearted gags to keep kids Sean's age entertained while the story is strong enough to keep the parents entertained. I'm sure we will be adding this film to our DVD collection.

One of the previews was for the film adaptation of Hoot by Carl Hiaasen. As the story is about burrowing owls, Sean wants to see the film when it comes out. Ian's not too interested in seeing it, so I think it will be a Sunday date for Sean and me someday. The book is currently two down on my to be read pile so it will be one of those rare times when I will have read a book before seeing the film on which it is based.

Submarine Shirt:

Sean was thrilled with the progress I had made last night. Today while he and Ian played Mario Golf (Toadstool Tour) I added a few more patches of material to the submarine. I now have the aft section done with some light blue and dark blue and half of the hatch on top done as well. That leaves a dark blue piece on the hatch and the three porthole windows to do (also in dark blue) before I start covering my stitches with a decorative outline of embroidery thread.

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Steps: 7000


Sewing the Submarine Shirt: 02/10/06

Tonight I transfered the pattern to Sean's shirt with the chalk pencil and did the initial sewing. I have the base "color" now applied (the plaid) and the nose area done with some of the light blue material. I can't wait to show Sean what I've done tomorrow morning when he wakes up.

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Submarine Shirt Material: 02/09/06

I now have three sets of cloth set aside for Sean's shirt. I have a red, white, and blue plaid, a light blue and a dark blue for the three "colors" I'll need. Tonight I will scan my pattern, print out duplicates and start transfering the pattern to the shirt.

Fetal Cells:

Yesterday on the drive to work I heard a fascinating story about fetal cells and women's health. Apparently fetal stem cells filter through the placenta and get into the mother's blood stream where they stay for decades. Current research suggests that these cells can actually boost a woman's ability to heal. It doesn't matter if the pregnancy resulted in a live birth; cells from all pregnancies stick around. As someone who had two miscarriages before the birth of my first child, I find that news oddly comforting.

On a sillier note, the fetal cells news corresponds to a joke Ian and I have been sharing about the current pregnancy. Given that it took 2 years (with the two miscarriages) to finally get pregnant with Sean, and with this one having only taken five months of trying, we've been joking that Sean left instructions behind for his sibling. Now we have science backing us up!

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Submarine Shirt: 02/08/06

Last night I drew the pattern for Sean's submarine shirt and got his approval. He suggested I add some numbers or letters to it, so I added "1 2 3" to it. Tonight I will go through my material and pull out the ones that will work for the shirt. I'm aiming for blues and greens mostly.

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Steps: 4500


Feeling Better: 02/07/06

Maybe it's from the relief of seeing the heart beat or maybe it's because the end of the first trimester is only a fortnight away but I'm actually starting to feel better. I actually felt well enough last night to ride the exercise bike.

A Load of DVDs:

A friend of ours hired me to design an icon for a program he had written. As payment he gave me a large Amazon.com gift certificate. Since we have too many books, I chose to get DVDs instead. The first set of them arrived last night: I Was a Male War Bride, The Caveman's Valentine, Die Another Day, and Big Fish.

Last night we watched I Was a Male War Bride, a film I've seen a dozen times but it was Ian's first time to see it all the way through. He roared with laughter throughout much of the film. If you haven't seen it, I highly recommend it.

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We're Having Another Baby: 02/06/06

It's official. We're having another baby. I'm 9 weeks pregnant and we had our first ultrasound scan today. The baby appeared to be sleeping (not a morning person like Sean, then) but has a good strong heart beat and is right on schedule in terms of size and shape for his or her gestational age. We have another appointment, a group meeting with other second time parents, on Valentine's day at ten in the morning.

My family knows I've been permanently queasy since mid January. I'm hoping that will start to peter off soon but so far it hasn't. I've also been having to run to the bathroom every hour and half during the day and every three hours at night like clockwork. Oh well, it is all for a good cause.

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Fish Buttons: 02/05/06

Today Sean and I got the last few things we need for Sean's submarine shirt. We found the embroidery thread for highlighting the edges, a chalk pencil for marking the pattern, the thicker needles I'll need for the thread and layers of material and some marine animal shaped decorative buttons. The buttons consist of a two different fish, a dolphin, an octopus, and a sea horse.

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Steps: 4500


Val's Burgers Part 2: 02/04/06

We had a wonderful time at Val's Burgers last night. They've been a favorite in the Hayward Hills since 1958 and except for a few items from each of the decades, the place looks like it hasn't changed since then. Of course prices have gone up but they aren't anything like similar local restaurants. It's the first time in about ten years that I've seen a menu with a selection of two dollar sandwiches. They also offer classic diner food like cottage cheese stuffed tomatoes!

We got there just before the dinner crowd arrived so we were seated in the back as soon as we got there. Sean ended up opting for an "old cheese" sandwich (grilled cheese) and Ian and I had tuna melts. We shared a huge plate of wedge cut fries. Sean decided to sit next to me and gave me a dinner long hug because we had let him make the plan.

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Val's Burgers: 02/03/06

Sean's been wanting to go to the "barbecue place" that's on the way home from school. It's just opposite us in the Hayward Hills and is called Val's Place. Sean suggested earlier this week that we go on Friday for dinner so that's what we're going to try tonight. Sean and I will meet Ian at home and then all pop back into my car and go to the restaurant.


Sean's Shirts:

Sean's shirt have arrived! The colors are bright and cheerful. I got the following colors: royal blue, lime green, golden rod yellow, pumpkin orange, apple red. They are all Sean's favorites. I know the yellow one will be the submarine shirt so I should start designing the pattern this weekend.

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AAA: 02/02/06

It has been raining since my drive home yesterday afternoon. The inclement weather made for slow commutes for both Ian and me. Ian was further hindered by a dead car battery. He had left his lights on and his car doesn't have a warning sound like mine does when the lights are on. He has decided this weekend to get a portable charger to keep in his car because AAA has been less than helpful the last couple of times he has had to call them for his car. Last night the driver didn't bother to look for him at Berkeley and just phoned in to AAA that Ian was a no show, further delaying his trip home. Fortunately he was able to find someone on campus to help him.

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Custard: 02/01/06

Last night Ian warmed up some custard he had gotten at P.W.'s and we all enjoyed it. It was Sean's first taste and he quickly finished his bowl. For Ian and me, it brought back a flood of memories. Ian recalled his year in England and I recalled a buffet in Kearny Mesa.

The problem was I couldn't quite remember the place. I could picture the outside and I could picture the inside. I knew that a fire had closed it about 20 years ago so my memories went back to when I wasn't much older than Sean. After a couple hours of Googling, hoping something would jog my memory and not getting anywhere beyond seeing that the building still stands thanks to the satelite view available on Google maps, I finally found it. It was Sir George's Royal Buffet and it had the best custard and chocolate mousse desserts I've ever had. Of course in retrospect, I realize I'm being sentimental over a long since dwindling chain. It would be like Sean being sentimental over Denny's or Baker's Square in another twenty or thirty years.

In the process of remembering the place with its wonderfully goofy medieval interior and the shields all around the roof on the outside, we found that there are still a couple of these buffets and smorgasbords around. There's one in Arizona, one in Chula Vista, and one in Arcadia. We might swing by the one in Arcadia the next time we visit Judy and Charlie just to see if the desserts are still as good.

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Steps: 4000