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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




 

 

The SummerfolkSilver Lies: 04/30/07

Silver Lies is the second book I've recently read that takes place in Leadville Colorado at the close of the silver boom. Of the two, I preferred the slightly more melodramatic The Golden Fury by Marian Castle who grew up in Leadville.

Silver Lies from start to finish takes place in what would be the first third of The Golden Fury. It's the time when Leadville is still booming but the boom is slowing down. The lucky few will find the remaining veins of silver or find other metals (lead and zinc). Those who are close to the mines can see the bust coming and will move on to other mining towns and the other businesses will try to adapt.

In the middle of this time of turmoil, a man has gone missing and an another, assayer, has been murdered. Inez Stannert the wife of the missing man must work with a questionable cast of characters to solve the mystery of Joe Rose's death. While Leadville is described with full detail making it a believable depiction of a boom town, the mystery seemed both clunky and predictable.

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Sixteen Short NovelsTortilla Flat: 04/30/07

I picked up Sixteen Short Novels at the September BookCrossing meeting last year. Yes; I went a week postpartum and Harriet went too. My goal is to read and review each of these short novels but if I do it all at once I'll only get this one massive book read for quite some time. Instead, I'll concentrate on each novel separately and count each one as its own book just as I did for the four novellas in Four Past Midnight. At that rate I figure I can read about three of these short novels a month and I should have the book ready for release by Harriet's first birthday.

"Tortilla Flat" by John Steinbeck is the first novel in this collection that I've genuinely disliked. He's practically a local author and certainly a well renowned California author but his style of writing often rubs me the wrong way. "Tortilla Flat" is supposed to be a Depression era "knights of the round table" poke at modern conventions and society. Unfortunately it's so ham-fisted that I came away despising all of the main characters and not about any of their idiotic exploits.

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Eggs in a bowl$275 Later... 04/30/07

The electrician came today and rewired the connection to our dishwasher. He was impressed with the amount of damage to the wires, especially to the wire nuts that were burned in two pieces! While he couldn't guarantee that the dishwasher had escaped damage it works fine with the rewiring.

While Ian dealt with the electrician, Harriet and I napped. In fact I spent most of today sleeping after a weekend of being so sick. My fever broke sometime over knight and left me with a monstrous headache. At least I had already called in sick so I could take the time I needed to sleep.

Around three, my appetite returned (more or less). I also had enough of my wits about me to finish reading a book (not a very good one) but perfect for the amount of brain cells I had.

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The SummerfolkThe Summerfolk: 04/28/07

At the April BookCrossing meeting Sean and I were given a stack of children's books. The Summerfolk is one of those books.

The Summerfolk for its delightful illustrations and for its story reminds me a great deal of Gone-Away Lake and Return to Gone-Away by Elizabeth Enright. According to Wikipedia, the book was inspired by Burn's life on Waldron Island.

In this case a child goes out to adventure on the water after having heard the adults speak disparagingly about the hordes of "summerfolks" who would soon be descending upon their island. While out imagining all sorts of evil things the summerfolk's must be doing to ruin his favorite haunts, he meets up with a group of children. They take him on a wild boat adventure to a tree house he has never seen. It turns out that these kids are summerfolk. The lesson learned is that not all outsiders are bad.

What makes the book so magical are the illustrations, also done by Burn. They are what remind me most of the Enright books. Burn's detailed line drawings are reminiscent of the illustrative style of Beth and Joe Krush, the team that illustrated Enright's books (along with many of Mary Norton's).

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Dirty bowlYou Know that Burning Plastic Smell... 04/28/07

Every so often for the past year I would smell a strange plasticy smell. I think the first time was December 2005 right around the time my computer screen died. My favorite seat upstairs happen to be where the air currents all come together. As our upstairs isn't exactly air tight it's often difficult to tell where the strange smells come from. In the case of the plastic, I've always assumed it is either my ibook or something falling on the element in the dishwasher.

Now we know better. It was the wiring between the house and the dishwasher. Our house has aluminum wiring because it was built during the Vietnam War when copper prices were through the roof. The contractor who put in our dishwasher didn't know how to properly wire to it.We were very lucky to not have a house fire!

(Update on 4/29): You've probably noticed that I didn't update the blog last night. I've been sick with some sort of Viral gastroenteritis (having had it when Sean was little, I've been through this before). I'm sure Harriet got it from one of the kids at Sean's school. The child ran up to Harriet before her mother could pull her back. The mom warned me that her daughter was coming down with something. Since then Harriet's been vomiting (I thought it was just spitting up even though she so rarely does that) and then last night at about eight I started to feel ill.

The electrician was supposed to come at eight this morning to fix the wiring to the dishwasher but he too was up all night sick to his stomach. We've rescheduled for tomorrow.

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My YardMy Yard: 04/27/07

At the April BookCrossing meeting Sean and I were given a stack of children's books. My Yard is one of those books.

This copy of My Yard is in such good condition that I first thought I has a reprint of the book but looking at the copyright, it really is a board book that has survived since the late 1970s. The little girl on the cover is probably my age!

Sean likes the book because it shows all the different things he likes to do. Each page is a photograph of children doing something in a yard including picking flowers (a Sean favorite), sliding, playing in sand, running, swinging (I think I had that dress!), splashing, gardening (another Sean favorite), running through sprinklers, playing with trucks (my favorite back in 1978) and finally swinging on a tire swing.

The book also gave Sean and me the chance to talk about what my childhood was like. I pointed the girl on the cover and told Sean that she is my age. He shook his head and said she was his age. I explained how the book was made when I was a child and so now the little girl in the book has to be all grown up too. It took a little while for the concept to sink in. Now he's taking more interest in listening to my stories of my childhood.

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Return to Normal: 04/27/07

Two more weeks, on and off, of bleeding and by yesterday I was at my wit's end. The problem is, I don't remember it being this bad after Sean. While it certainly wasn't the most painful or heaviest I've ever experienced, it was the longest. I looked in all of my medical books or on any of the online medical sites information of what the duration for the first period from start to finish should be (or can be).

So I called my doctor. Rather, I called the advice nurse and she sent an email to my doctor who then called me back. Why am I putting this on my blog? I'm hoping to help a future confused woman who may end up going through this too.

Here's what I learned: ten days of bleed is typical but longer isn't necessarily a problem if the bleeding isn't heavy enough to soak a pad through (top to bottom) in an hour for four hours in a row.

Warning signs to look out for:

  • heavy bleeding (filling a pad in a hour)
  • lightheadedness or nausea (a sign of anemia)
  • excessive thirst (a sign of anemia)
  • intense abdominal pain

So what to do:

If you plan to "wait it out" as my doctor put it, take your prenatal pills (mostly for the iron), drink eight oz. of water an hour to stay hydrated and take an OTC painkiller for the cramping.

You can also discuss your symptoms with your gynecologist and have hormones prescribed to stop the bleeding. That's ultimately what I opted for. I've taken the first two doses today and I feel like a car that has gotten a new clutch and can finally get itself into gear. Plus the bleeding is finally slowing down. It looks like an end is in sight!

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Goodnight MoonGoodnight Moon: 04/26/07

At the April BookCrossing meeting Sean and I were given a stack of children's books. Goodnight Moon is one of those books.

Goodnight Moon is one of those books that's so ubiquitous that one starts to take it for granted. I realized I knew the story and yet hadn't ever read it myself. I don't even know if my mother read it to me. Nor did I know Margaret Wise Brown had written it. In retrospect I should have know she wrote the book, she seems to have written most of the classics.

I can see the appeal of Goodnight Moon to young children. The soothing rhyme first introduces the characters (the old woman, the two kittens, the young mouse and of course the young bunny) and sets the scene (the room, the toys, the pictures, and so forth). Then it is time to undo the set up by saying goodnight to everything. As a coda, some extra things beyond the initial scene are also wished a goodnight ending with a wistful: "goodnight noises everywhere."

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SeanBabies Aren't Dolls: 04/26/07

Having children is a huge but rewarding commitment. Most advice or comments I get about babies I ignore but there is one line of commentary that bugs me. It's along the lines of: "Oh the clothing for girl / boy babies are so much cuter than the clothing for boy / girl babies." I've heard the exact same comments for both my son and my daughter.

If I had wanted to play with tiny little clothing in cute color schemes, I would have gotten paper dolls! My son is not an action figure. Nor is my daughter a doll. I don't play dress up with them (unless they want to and need my help). Instead I dress them comfortably and appropriately for the weather and their activities.

Anyone who if foolish enough to think their cute little baby is going to be the living doll they want is in for a huge disappointment. Babies are messy. They are also people; small independently minded people. If they're like my two they don't like socks, don't like hats and prefer cotton, terry cloth and flannel over any of the stiffer and dressier materials.

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HarrietBreakfast Hijinks: 04/26/07

Today Ian needed to drive into Berkeley right after taking Sean to school. In order to get Ian out the door, I has get Sean to eat his breakfast quicker than he normally does. Unfortunately, Harriet had other plans.

Harriet discovered she can make Sean laugh by doing silly tricks with her baby spoon. She figured out the spoon on the nose trick back in January. Now she has added two more tricks that put Sean into laughing fits. Her first trick is to grab the bowl end of the spoon with her teeth (usually right after I've fed her a bite of something) and then twirl the handle end around. Her second trick is to beat out a rhythm of the handle while the bowl end is held between her teeth. This spoon-drum-solo had Sean and me laughing so hard this morning.

Sean ended up a little late to school because of the silliness at breakfast. Ian though got to Berkeley with plenty of time.

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Gingerbread BabyGingerbread Baby: 04/25/07

At the April BookCrossing meeting Sean and I were given a stack of children's books. Gingerbread Baby is one of those books.

Gingerbread Baby starts with the story of the gingerbread boy and is given the Jan Brett treatment.

The book follows the gingerbread baby as he runs amok through the village to escape the hungry mobs of people who all want to eat him. Pay attention to the illustrations at the edge of each page to see just how he will ultimately be caught.

While the illustrations are as delightful as in The Hat, I didn't enjoy the story as much. The Gingerbread Boy isn't one of my favorite fairy tales to begin with so it would have taken a lot to capture my attention.

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BookendsChicken Pie: 04/25/07

Chicken pie has been a big part of my life. When my mom was single she and I ate them almost every meal.

To me they were magical edible presents. I would try to make the smallest hole possible and scoop out the innards a little bit at a time until all that was left was the crust. The crust was then dessert.

My grandparents when baby sitting me knew I liked chicken pies and probably in order to keep me happy and still get out of the house from time to time would take me to Hillcrest for a chicken pie dinner at the Chicken Pie Shop (now closed, although the one in North Park is still open). The Chicken Pie Shop mostly brings in an older crowd (like my grandparents' age at the time) and I was always one of the youngest guests. But man, their pies were to die for.

With moving away for college and then getting married to a man who didn't grow up on a chicken pie diet, the chicken pie became a thing of my past. But then a few years ago I had an epiphany: I could make my own. Yes; I could also buy them frozen but I'm the only in the family who likes the frozen ones but everyone eats the chicken pie when I make it from scratch.

Usually I make chicken pot pie when we have left over chicken (sometimes turkey) and it needs gussying up. Toss in the old chicken, some frozen vegetables (or fresh if they're available), make a quick gravy and of course a pie crust from scratch. Bake at 375 for about 40 minutes and that's all there is to it. Since I usually make the pie from leftovers, the most difficult piece is the crust. But it's worth the effort.

We had chicken pie for dinner tonight. Even Harriet had some peas and carrots from it. There's only a small piece left, just enough for me to have tomorrow for lunch.

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Sammy's HillSammy's Hill: 04/24/07

Let me start by saying I've enjoyed Kristin Gore's writing on Futurama and find her stories both witty and funny. When Sammy's Hill showed up at our local BookCrossing meeting I snatched it up, eager to see how she would do with a novel, especially about a subject she probably knows well from her father's time in politics.

Here's the story in a nutshell: young up-and-coming political aid has to decide between love and career. If this were a screwball comedy, she would have ended up with both love and career but the book can't decide if it is chick lit or a thriller.

The other problem is the way Sam is written. To show how green around the gills she is, Gore has Sam question everything (and I do mean everything) that anyone says to her or that she does. While this sort of approach works for the Futurama characters, it backfires horribly for Sam. It doesn't make her seem smart and it makes every scene, even simple ones, take twice as long as they should.

Finally there is Sam's professional relationship with RG. She states throughout the novel her deep respect for her boss and yet she doesn't listen to him. At the very start of things when RG has to compromise with another congressman to get a bill passed, he warns Sam not trust any of this man's staff. So what does she immediately do? Of course; she hops into bed with her counterpart. And yet I'm supposed to think she's smarter than the average Futurama character?

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BookendsPainting Again: 04/24/07

After four years, I've started painting again. I'm not sure if painting will become a regular part of my creative endeavors like it was before I discovered digital art but it will certainly be for the next few weeks as I finish this portrait for a Bookcrossing friend of mine.

Tonight I set up the new lamp I bought. It does give a good clear white light as advertised but not a very wide circle of light. I think in the future I will still want to replace the lamp we use in the living room with a hanging one that will take a larger compact florescent bulb. For the moment though, the desk lamp will work fine.

I painting for an hour while listening to NCIS. Every so often I would pop my head up and watch some but mostly it was just background noise to the painting. It was just like old times when I would paint late at night as a teenager with TV on in the background (usually things like Northern Exposure or Twin Peaks).

As tonight was the first time setting paint onto the virgin surface I worked quickly to establish basic areas of colors. Since the cats are black and white, I laid out their shapes as well. I'll probably have to adjust where they are as I go but overall I'm pleased with what I have now. Sorry about the quality of the photograph; wet paint doesn't photograph well.

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ContrabandContraband: 04/23/07

Contraband takes place in a border town aptly named Gibeon in the early years of Prohibition. Carmel Lee, a typical Kelland heroine, comes to Gibeon having inherited the local newspaper. Motivated by the drive to see the floundering paper succeed, she uncovers a vast network of corruption.

As with most Kelland books, the emphasis is on the plucky outsider trying keep the promises made while maintaining a sense of personal integrity. The plot usually revolves around the taking on of a new job and often time far afield of the protagonist's skills. Ingenuity and common sense mixed with pig-headedness help to find unique solutions to long unsolved problems.

I found it striking that Carmel puts herself in danger by taking on the head of this locally brewed crime syndicate. In many of Kelland's books the emphasis is more on the challenge of learning something new than on self sacrifice for a greater good.

The one bit that disappointed me with the book was the lackluster attempt at romance. There is no reason for Carmel to suddenly decide she wants a lover nor any reason for her to pick the man she does except perhaps to redeem the character who up until then had been mostly a source of expository information.

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HarrietCheerios: 04/23/07

Ian brought home a box of Cheerios today. It's his favorite cereal and Harriet is at the age where she's interested in playing with finger foods, though so far, not actually eating them. He thought she might like the Cheerios enough to try eating some and therefore practice feeding herself.

She certainly enjoyed picking them up and holding them and showing them off to me and the cat. She ate two that I fed her but she had no desire to try feeding herself. At least though they were fun. She's gotten really good at picking up small items. She quickly had two fistfuls of Cheerios which she was proudly showing off.

I will give her a few more tomorrow at breakfast to see what happens.

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The Art of ReadingThe Art of Reading: 04/22/07

The Art of Reading is a charity book published by Reading is Fundamental to celebrate the foundations 40th anniversary. Forty children's illustrators were asked to write about their memories of reading and to include an illustration inspired by those memories. I read this book as a bookring, something I signed up for just before Harriet was born.

There are so many books for children published every year that I only recognized a couple names among the included artists. Among the books they listed as favorites, I saw many of mine: A Cricket in Times Square, Charlotte's Web, Freddy the Detective, and Millions of Cats.

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HarrietGetting Ready for School: 04/22/07

Ian and I have decided that Harriet needs some friends her own age. One of the things she's missing that Sean had at this age is peer pressure to encourage herself to try new things.

After her June doctor's appointment where we can get a copy of her immunizations, we plan to sign her up for part time day care. I really do enjoy her company so we'll start off with just two days a week. We hope that nine months to a year in part time day care will get her friends her age to play with and get her ready for preschool which she'll start somewhere between 18 months and two years old.

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The Grouchy LadybugThe Grouchy Ladybug: 04/21/07

I think it's fair to say that Eric Carle is one of Sean's favorite authors. Before Sean I wasn't all that enamored with Carle's books but Sean has been eagerly collecting them and has always enjoyed us reading them to him (and now he enjoys reading them to Harriet). The Grouchy Ladybug is Sean's latest addition to his collection.

The ladybug in question is having a very bad day and decides to take out his frustrations by picking pretend fights with various creatures, each one larger than the next. Rather than stay to fight he always claims that the creature he's accosted is too small even as the creatures get steadily larger than he is.

The passage of time is marked by a clock and by the inclusion of the time in the text. Sean who has been learning to tell time now for about a year and a half finds the clock bit very funny.

My favorite bit is the end in that the ladybug's temper tantrum runs its course, leaving him with nothing to show except a wasted day and a big appetite. Fortunately his friends forgive him for his bad behavior and the day ends on a happy note with meal shared among friends.

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Ian vacuumsColdy and Rainy: 04/21/07

Ian and the kids let me sleep in, knowing that I was wiped out by a head cold. When I got up nearly three hours later than I usually get up (oh bliss!) the weather was threatening to rain but hadn't yet started. We seemed to be in the eye of the storm and perhaps the only dry spot in the entire Bay Area from looking at the weather maps online.

As the weather looked grim and my head still felt underwater, we declared it a "rest-a-day" although Ian did pop out briefly to do a well needed grocery shop. Harriet, also suffering from this cold, spent most of the day napping and playing quietly in her crib. She's madly in love with an old frog mobile that my mom got for Sean when he was a baby.

For dinner Ian made his wonderful peppery chicken soup. As he uses an entire chicken it always take forever to cook down into soup but is well worth the wait. Tonight's soup was laden with spinach, carrots, onions, peppers and celery. It was so good!

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Sixteen Short NovelsThe Old Maid: 04/20/07

I picked up Sixteen Short Novels at the September BookCrossing meeting last year. Yes; I went a week postpartum and Harriet went too. My goal is to read and review each of these short novels but if I do it all at once I'll only get this one massive book read for quite some time. Instead, I'll concentrate on each novel separately and count each one as its own book just as I did for the four novellas in Four Past Midnight. At that rate I figure I can read about three of these short novels a month and I should have the book ready for release by Harriet's first birthday.

"The Old Maid" by Edith Wharton has been a play and a film. It takes a hard look at the skeletons in the closet of a powerful family. In this case, the skeleton is in the form of a "foundling" named Tina who is actually the daughter of a cousin. To save face but keep her daughter near, Tina's mother mustn't marry and has to play at being her daughter's "old maid aunt."

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Baby IslandBaby Island: 04/19/07

I picked this book up from the Dublin library discard shelf around the time that Harriet was a newborn. Feeling a little overwhelmed by how much attention and care she needed those first couple months, I picked up the book. It had an absurd title and was short enough to finish quickly. From the cover art, I was under the impression that Baby Island was written in the 1960s or early 1970s. Actually though it was first published in 1937.

Mary and Jean on a ship bound for Australia where their father has relocated for work. They have befriended the parents of the youngest passengers and have been the on-board baby sitters. In the middle of a huge storm, they end up on a lifeboat with four babies: the toddling twins Elijah (Blue) and Elisha (Pink), Ann Elizabeth (age 1) and Jonah (age 4 months).

The story is a classic desert island / shipwreck adventure akin to the first half of Robinson Crusoe or the horrible Swiss Family Robinson except from the perspective of a group of children. While the necessities of food and water are covered in the plot, along with the need for a safe and dry shelter away from the tide, nothing is mentioned about the infants numerous diaper changes. There is some hinting at the problem with the many times Mary and Jean are washing Pink and Blue's outfits but it's done in such a saccharine way that being stuck on an island with a handful of young children and limited supplies seems like such a magical adventure.

After the initial at sea disaster where the children were genuinely scared and aware of how much danger they were in, the book began to bore me. Mary and Jean are so busy having fun that they never stop to think of the ramifications of their situation. Nor do they seem to care for the children beyond seeing them as cute (and hungry) play things.

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Harriet and an elephantElephants on Mars: 04/19/07

Tonight at dinner our conversation went on another silly tangent. The topic for consideration was this: if elephants lived on the moon, what would they need to be comfortable?

Here's what we came up with:

  • duvets
  • electric blankets for very cold nights
  • hot chocolate with special cups and straws
  • ear muffs
  • wool slippers
  • hot tubs
  • hot totties for the older elephants
  • bananas

Actually it was the banana the sparked this silly conversation. Sean and I were sharing a banana and he asked why we don't eat the skins. I replied that the skins taste yucky to people. He asked if any creatures eat the skins. I replied that elephants do. He said then that if we had a pet elephant, he'd share his peel with it. Things then went askew from there.

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CoffeeIn Search of a Wii: 04/19/07

After work today we tried to run an errand to the post office, thinking it would be an easy errand now that tax season is over for the year. I guess there must have been a lot of folks who were filing late because the line of cars to get into the parking lot was stretched half a block away from the post office. I will try again tomorrow. I have a load of books to mail and a pair of postcards. By tomorrow I'll also have bills and some letters to mail.

Since the post office run was obviously not going to happen in the time we had, we headed over to Coffee Cup Cafe, the little place next door to Sean's preschool. There we had blended coffees while Harriet flirted with everyone. We're regular enough customers that they know us by name. Of course it's Harriet who gets the most attention. When we arrive, it's "hello Harriet!" and when we leave, it's "goodbye Harriet!"

The coffee stop took less time than we hoped so we decided we'd try to track down a Wii. We drove across town to Toys R Us knowing that the local places didn't any. Ian had checked them earlier in the day.

While we didn't find a Wii, we did find a wallet in the parking lot. We turned it in at the Customer Service booth at the front of the store. On our way back to the car, one of the employees stopped us and thanked us. We had found his wallet.

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Wild Parrots of Telepgraph HillWild Parrots of Telegraph Hill: 04/18/07

I heard about the documentary about the wild parrots on NPR and when they mentioned the book I wanted to read it. My reasons were two fold: experience with another flock of parrots (in South Pasadena) and because I live so near San Francisco. A generous BookCrosser RABCKed me a copy last year and I've just finished reading the book to RABCK the book on to another BookCrosser.

While the book had some interesting chapters, over all it was a bit of a disappointment. I was hoping for another memoir of a layman's learning of a subject as in Cats Are Not Peas but Bittner's book is more about his own inertia than about his process to learn about the parrots.

My favorite chapter is "The Science of It" where Bittner gives a brief rundown of the biology of the parrots, what they are, where they are from, and their history in the city. Unfortunately he never fully pursues any of these threads. I would have loved to read more about the history of the parrot flocks in San Francisco.

Instead, the book is padded with the names for the various birds, how they are fed, and so forth. After the second or so chapter introducing yet another parrot and his or her daily activities, I just started skimming hoping for a few more nuggets of interesting information.

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Games to Play with BabiesGames to Play with Babies: 04/17/07

Since I have the youngest child in our local BookCrossing group I've been handed down a bunch of parenting books. One of those books was Games to Play with Babies. While the book seems to be well meaning, it rubbed me the wrong way.

For parents or caregivers who lack empathy or are intimidated by an infant's needs, Games to Play with Babies would be a good primer. It has the different games broken up by age and by what the activity purports to teach.

The educational value of each of these games is what bothers me the most. Infants are like little exchange students thrust into a foreign culture. They're under total immersion around the clock. Everything is a learning experience for them. To try to mark out what each of these entertaining little games will teach is just silly.

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Owl at School: 04/17/07

Sean felt well enough to go to school today and I'm glad he was. Today Sulphur Creek brought some animals by for show and tell. They took an owl, a snake, a toad, a frog and a rabbit. The animal visitors were the hot topic of discussion at dinner. Sean was so thrilled to see them and he paid attention to all the details. I'm so glad he had the opportunity to see these animal visitors today.

Sulphur Creek was one of our favorite spots to visit when we first moved in 2004. We haven't been since Harriet was born but we plan to go soon. I think she will enjoy seeing the animals and will learn about the creatures we share the hill with.

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Buffalo GrassBuffalo Grass: 04/16/07

Buffalo Grass is one of about 100 books I was given by a man who was moving from San Jose and didn't want to take his collection of old books to his new home. I am still reading through them as time permits but this book I had offered it on the now defunct book relay site so I had to read it now. I wish I had read it sooner because I loved it.

Buffalo Grass is a historical novel about the founding of Pawnee City (currently in Nebraska, but part of the Kansas territory at the time of the book). The book published in 1956 was later made into a film, The Big Land, in 1957. The town is built on blood money, 25 thousand in gold coin from a Confederate war chest. The war is over and two Union soldiers figure no one will miss the money.

For twenty dollars and two bottles of whisky, they buy the land and begin to build. The stresses of building a city and seeing it take on a life of its own splits friendships and forges new ones. If the character dynamics were just between Joe and Chad, the book would have been interesting. The inclusion of two strong female characters as well who are equal to their male counterparts makes this book a page turner.

Helen, the bookkeeper (and sister of Joe) and Cass (the rancher from Texas) both have stakes in the success of Pawnee City. Helen wants the city to succeed as a business venture; Cass sees it as a vibrant town where struggling families such as hers can reinvent themselves in the boomtown economy.

Buffalo Grass is no simple western of good guys in white hats and bad guys in black hats. It is place grounded in the messy post Civil War politics. Characters are well rounded and three-dimensional with conflicting goals and desires. They can make mistakes. At the end of the book, there is no real winner, expect perhaps Pawnee City which has survived its infancy.

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Don't 'Lurp Your 'Oup: 04/16/07

Sean woke up this morning completely congested. Rather than send him to school and risk him getting worse or him getting his friends or teachers sick, we kept him home. It's days like this that I love working from home; I love being able to make last minute decisions and still be able to do my job.

Anyway, by the time dinner rolled around at the end of the day, Sean wanted chicken noodle soup. While Ian makes a wonderful homemade soup, Sean wanted Campbell's. Since he's the one with the cold, he got to choose. The lower sodium soups are a big improvement over their regular lot of chicken noodle soups.

While we were eating dinner, we started joking around. Somehow we got in a jag of dropping the letter S from all our words. Pretty soon we were laughing and snorting soup (err 'norting 'oup) out our noses.

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The GryphonThe Gryphon: 04/15/07

The Gryphon takes the story of Griffin and Sabine on a tangent by introducing two new characters: Dr. Mattheson and his fiancée. Most of the correspondence is between these two long distance lovers with Griffin and Sabine (mostly Sabine) interrupting with their own cryptic messages.

Before I read The Gryphon, I went back and reread Griffin and Sabine, the first in the series. I was amazed to see how simplistic the original illustrations are in comparison to those in The Gryphon. These postcards and letters are luscious and worth spending minutes on just admiring each one as a separate art piece.

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Where Have All the Books Gone? 04/15/07

I have to admit that we spent most of the weekend lazing around the house. Today we decided to get out and do something. We decided to head into Dublin for lunch and then to Pleasanton to go to a book store.

Lunch went well. We went to Burger King and afterwards while Sean was playing on the equipment, Harriet and I ducked out to Michael's to purchase the art lamp I need to paint at night. They were having a sale and I found a perfectly sized one that will work in our dining room.

Then it was time to pop over to a book store. Unfortunately it had closed. We looked it up later on line and they had closed their Pleasanton branch because the rent was raised beyond what they could pay. It's always so sad when a bookstore is forced out.

So we thought we'd just take the 680 down to Fremont to Half Price Books. Unfortunately they've moved to a larger site! I knew a new location had opened but I hadn't realized it was a replacement to the old site. Also, I had no idea where the new location is (it happens to be near Fry's).

Defeated in our desire to go to a used book store, Ian took us to Borders. At least it was where we expected it to be and it was open. Sean got a Teen Titans coloring book; Ian got a Terry Ratchet book (Nanny Ogg's Cookbook) and I got the latest in the Amelia Peabody series.

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Valley of the DollsValley of the Dolls: 04/14/07

Valley of the Dolls is one of those books I heard of as a child as it was one I think every adult I knew had read. I even remember one adult telling me in the voice one uses to talk about impolite things, "Oh they're not those sorts of dolls." That much I had figured out already. Why else would adults be reading it?

It was also one of those books that I figured I'd never read. Flash forward to last year. Before I was telecommuting, I used to listen to Radio 4 at work. They did a radio play version of the novel and I was surprised to find myself entertained by the story. As with so many of the books I've heard Radio 4 adapt, I wanted to read to read the novel.

The book covers two decades in the lives and careers of three women: Anne, Neeley and Jennifer. All of them are thrust too quickly into fame and fortune and are not emotionally equipped to deal with the stress of such high profile lives. One by one they turn to the dolls to help them sleep or stay awake or just plain cope.

The film version has a happy ending and one that frankly I find more in character for Anne. Neeley and Jennifer start the book rather broken and more willing to succeed by any means possible. Anne who starts the book with such high standards falls just as hard as her friends even though she is the most resourceful and smart of the three.

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Period: 04/14/07

On Harriet's seventh month birthday my first period since her birth started. It's been a plaguing me now for almost 10 days. One the one hand, I'm feeling like my old self but it's also taking a lot of out of me. The one thing no one tells mothers about is what the first period will be like. It's longer, harder and messier than the usual one. While I'm thankfully not having cramps with it, I'm still more than ready for it to end!

I should have known it was coming. I had been feeling bloated and not quite myself. Since the period started, I've lost ten pounds (about five pounds of bloat and an extra five founds). I'm now 30 pounds lighter than I was a year ago.

Today after breakfast I was just feeling run down. When Harriet went down for her morning nap, I also went to bed. She and I slept for three hours while Ian and Sean played video games upstairs. They're currently addicted to the two Katamari games we own (so much so that Harriet has learned how to hum the theme music). Ian woke me up for lunch and I felt really out of sorts. Fortunately lunch (soup, cheese and kippers) helped me reboot my brain.

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A House DividedA House Divided: 04/13/07

Back in seventh grade we were given a list of books to read from and we had to read a minimum number (I don't remember how many as I read nearly the entire list before the school year ended). Among the lot was The Good Earth which I remember being a tough but enjoyable read. At the time I knew next to nothing about China and the book fascinated me.

The Good Earth was the first in a trilogy and A House Divided is the end. I haven't read Sons, the middle book, but A House Divided stands well enough alone without knowing what happens in Sons. I was hoping to revisit that sense of the world opening up to me as it had with The Good Earth. Instead, I found stilted language and dull, unlikable characters.

The plot is almost a complete reversal of Cat's-Paw (1934) in that a Chinese man is sent to the United States for education only to return home to China a changed man. I read A House Divided but didn't enjoy it like I had The Good Earth.

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Sixteen Short NovelsAndrea: 04/12/07

I picked up Sixteen Short Novels at the September BookCrossing meeting last year. Yes; I went a week postpartum and Harriet went too. My goal is to read and review each of these short novels but if I do it all at once I'll only get this one massive book read for quite some time. Instead, I'll concentrate on each novel separately and count each one as its own book just as I did for the four novellas in Four Past Midnight. At that rate I figure I can read about three of these short novels a month and I should have the book ready for release by Harriet's first birthday.

The first story in the collection is "Andrea" by John O'Hara. Told from the point of view of Andrea's first lover and perhaps longest lover over the course of a couple decades. Neither has an especially happy life but they go about the motions, meeting up as their paths cross.

"Andrea" is a story of events and what-ifs. Every chance they get to make a decision they make the wrong the one and go farther down a path of loneliness and unhappiness.

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Little Cricket's SongLittle Cricket's Song: 04/11/07

When we first moved to the East Bay, Sean was newly enamored with trains. A cheap and easy way to entertain him on Saturdays was to take him for a ride on BART. We spent a five week period in 2005 riding BART down to Fremont (end of the line) and walking to Half Price Books. At the bookstore we'd pick up a book or two and then we'd stop at Burger King for lunch before our return trip.

Little Cricket's Song was one of our Half Price Books purchases. It has two little cricket clickers (a mother and child) that can be clicked on each page as the story progresses. Just as the kitten must learn how to purr in Have You Got My Purr? the little cricket must learn how to sing.

The story, told in a simple rhyme, covers the course of a night while the mama cricket teaches her child how to sing. They sing to frogs and owls and other night time creatures. At long last the cricket child feels confident in his ability to sing and he and his mother serenade the sun rise.

It's a short but sturdy book that has kept with Sean from his toddler years through his preschool years. Although he's getting old enough to read it himself, he still enjoys having us read it to him while he clicks the crickets. Now that Harriet is getting old enough to enjoy books, she sometimes like to help click the crickets too.

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BookCrossing booksBookCrossing Misadventures: 04/11/07

Yesterday was my second anniversary of attending the TriValley BookCrossing meetings. Getting there last night was quite an adventure but well worth all the effort and running around.

Everything was going to plan when I left Ian at home to start dinner (barbecued hot dogs) to get Sean from school. The plan at that time was I'd get Sean with Harriet's help (she loves seeing the preschoolers). We would then get home to freshly cooked dogs. I would feed Harriet, have dinner myself and be out the door by six-thirty.

Except... we didn't have any hot dogs. Ian didn't realize this until after I was half way to Sean's school. He called me on my phone and I told him we'd come home with dogs. As I was running late to pick up Sean, I stopped to get him first.

Then the three of us dashed to PW Markets as it is the closest to the school. Sean was a huge help with finding the hot dogs and helping me pick out baby food (something else we really did need). We had made great time but were stopped dead by a huge line up front to pay.

By the time we got home it was already six o'clock and the charcoal was running out of oomph. So Ian dashes the hot dogs off the fire and onto the frying pan. I get Harriet settled into her highchair to feed her dinner and just for giggles, I check the blog of herebedragons.

Sure enough, she and Connor were coming to the meeting even though they had sworn up and down in February that February was their last meeting (and hadn't attended last month). Given that they had been on the road and should be moving back east soon, I really didn't expect them to be at the meeting. But just in case, I had to check.

Since Connor would be there, Sean had to go. So no on top of having to feed Harriet, eat my own dinner, I also had to pack a bag of entertainment for Sean. I usually pack up a drawing pad, some pens, a box juice (or two) and some cookies.

By quarter to seven we were finally flying out the door. Thankfully the traffic gods were in our favor and we were able to make up some time on the freeway and find a parking spot in the Starbuck's lot rather than around the corner at the bowling alley.

At just past seven, we were at the meeting. Sean and Connor immediately paired up and I was able to find a good seat at the table rather than having to hunt for an extra chair. Yay!

We had a lovely meeting. Sean and Connor were great except for a couple instances of playing hide and seek which just isn't appropriate for a crowded coffee house. I found homes for all my books without having to wild release any of them (a first time for me) and I managed to release Dirt in the Well to the new CEO of BookCrossing.

On the downside, I came home with more books than I took to release so I didn't keep with the two books out for every book in plan. In all fairness, half of the books I brought home were children's books for Sean's school and I took them over today. I also made up some of the difference by wild releasing three books today. So things aren't as bad as they appeared to be last night.

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Leopard HatThe Leopard Hat: 04/10/07

I picked up The Leopard Hat right after Harriet was born at a local BookCrossing meeting. I'd recently enjoyed some other memoirs and I liked the leopard spotted cover.

The Leopard Hat is Valerie Steiker's memories of her mother, Gisèle who died unexpectedly of breast cancer when the author was in college. The loss of a loved one, especially one as close as a dearly loved parent is difficult and sad. Writing this memoir was part of the healing process for Steiker but I wish I had spent my time reading a different memoir instead.

Steiker grew up in the sort of families that the New York Times is always covering — the ones who stress over au pairs, private preschools and all sorts of other luxuries that leave the rest of us scratching our heads over. So when Steiker, as an adult is looking back on her childhood and bemoaning how hard it is to do things for herself now that her mother is gone, I find myself thinking of Lenina Crowne from Brave New World who has been so programmed by society to be infantile in her needs and desires.

I realize I'm being overly harsh but I didn't have much to relate to while reading this book beyond my own love of my mother. Readers who are familiar with New York, have traveled in Europe and lived the single life into their thirties will probably come away with more from the is book than I did.

Read the reviews at Rhinoa's Ramblings, Useless Posts from Tigard, Oregon, Joe Felso, Massively.

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Caligula curled up with a bookHow I Read: 04/10/07

I've been asked many times where I read and I how I keep track of all the different books I have going at once but never how I actually read a book. This year I'm on track to read 365 books. If I do, that will be the most books I've ever read in a single year. The other half of that goal is to write a book review every day I update my blog. Right now I'm finding the reading half of the process taking less time than the reviewing half. I have about a two week backlog of books to review!

So onto the how. When I first pick up a book, I speed read enough of it learn a few things. I want to know in a nut shell what is happening and in what style it is written. Next I want to be able to decide if the book is worth finishing. I've gotten to a stage in my life where I no longer feel compelled to finish every book I start. Once I have the book read through quickly, I set it aside for the rest of the day.

Before I review in on the site, I go back and read the book a second time, at a more leisurely pace. I let myself get more involved in the story and characters. I might do some online research about the book or the subjects covered in it.

Then once the book is finished a second time, I write a quick review on BookCrossing to capture my initial thoughts and I will often-times make release notes for the book. If the book is for the "Keep them Moving Challenge" I will also post that I've finished the book and how I plan to release it. At long last, I write the review for the book that I post here on the blog.

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Brave New WorldDirt in the Well: 04/09/07

BookCrossing in its six years has inspired a half a million members to register nearly four million books. It has also inspired a handful of members to write books. One of those books is Dirt in the Well by Linda Lyon.

The book is a mystery/thriller disguised as an Aga saga. I struggled through the domestic soap opera introduction, waiting for the mystery to kick into full gear. For such a short book, a large percentage of it is wasted on Fiona's dysfunctional family: her husband's affair, her mother's constant neediness, her previous marriage, her weight problems, and so forth.

The story takes off once Fiona pokes her nose into the account of one of her pharmacy clients. There's money to be made if she lets the client continue to take his "special" discount and danger for herself and her family if she doesn't. The ending while tight feels both rushed and forced. It seems unlikely that a man who has managed to commit the perfect crime will put that all at risk but it does provide the opportunity for Fiona to prove herself.

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<No Sleep and Six Teeth: 04/09/07

Harriet is days away from having six teeth. I'm hours away from being up for more than a day (minus a couple hours of poor sleep here and there). At two this morning Harriet woke up. She kept us up until four. She was cranky, hungry and in no mood to sleep. Ian rocked her. I nursed her. We gave her Tylenol for her teeth. She ate a bowl of rice cereal. She drank a bottle. At long last she finally fell asleep.

This morning was one of those days I was grateful for being able to telecommute. If I'd had to get to work by 7:30 by driving, I would have had to call in sick. Thankfully when work is just in my kitchen and coffee is on hand, work is still do-able on only two hours of sleep.

Harriet's late night shenanigans also kept Sean up. We let him sleep in until 8 and he dragged himself to school a little late. Thankfully the preschool still has naptime so he was able to have a little time to catch up on lost sleep. Even with the nap he was ready for bath and bed by eight, an hour early for him.

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Brave New WorldBrave New World: 04/08/07

There is no way in this short amount of space I can do Brave New World justice. It was written in the 1920s as a rebuttal to an unpleasant trip to the United States. Huxley was put off by the excesses of the "Roaring Twenties": jazz, chewing gum, youth culture, skyscrapers and Henry Ford.

He tosses all these annoyances together to create a world where Ford is the new god (shudder), classes of workers are mass produced, families don't exist (except among the savages on reservations) and people are conditioned for how they should think and feel for every condition.

As with the other books of its era, it is more social commentary than actual story. The first third is not much more than world building, the setting up of the grand "what-if". The second third looks at a few of the privileged lot to see if they are as happy as they've been programmed to be. It also shows the other side of the coin, life among the "savages". It ends when the savage world collides with the civilized world. As this is a dystopian look at the future, the "savage" loses.

The book covers themes that will surface again in Philip K. Dick's novels: consumerism, advertising, sex, and drugs.

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Easter: 04/08/07

Sean had fun this morning hunting for eggs although it did take some coaxing to get him started. He had taken the "ten only" rule from school to heart and I had hidden twenty-three. Once I'd convinced him that it was okay to find all twenty-three, he quickly dashed around the living room finding eggs while Harriet watched.

Afterwards we gave the kids their gifts: a magnetic fishing pole toy and a miniature Ex-a-sketch for Sean and pop-beads and a jiggling caterpillar toy for Harriet.

We spent most of the day playing video games although we did pop out for lunch and for a stop at a book store. It was nice to take it easy today.

Before Harriet's dinner and bedtime we dyed a dozen eggs. Harriet supervised while the three of us did four eggs each. Sean went for the dump-the-egg-in-every-color technique, while Ian did the dip-and-hold-different-sides to make tie dye eggs and I used tape to cover up different pieces of the egg to make oddly shaped polka dots.

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GingerGinger: 04/07/07

Just as Harriet was given a book at her last well baby appointment, so was Sean for his pre-kindergarten check. Sean's book is called Ginger and it is a much better read than Baby Angels.

Ginger as the cover art implies, is a ginger colored tom. He lives happily in the home of a little girl and has a comfortable basket-bed in the kitchen. Unfortunately his life is turned upside down when the little girl brings home a kitten.

On the kitten's first day the little girl doesn't think of Ginger's feelings and things don't go well. The kitten takes his bed, eats his food, and generally makes a nuisance of himself.

The story is one of sibling rivalry and the responsibility of becoming a big brother. It's also a reminder to parents to include the oldest child when having to take care of the needs of the baby. Show love to both and both children will grow to love each other.

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Harriet at dinnerA Lazy Day: 04/07/07

The cold that Ian and I have had now for a week is wearing us down. Ian had a couple days of laryngitis but his voice is nearly back. We've both had fits of coughing and sleeplessness. Today we just couldn't face doing much of anything, although Ian did step out briefly to mail off our taxes and to get some milk and eggs.

Just before lunch I finally got the nap I've needed for days. Meanwhile Ian and the kids played upstairs. Harriet had her lunch and was napping by the time I got up. The three of us had Campbell's soup.

Outside the weather kept threatening to rain. The air smelled of ozone. There were isolated thunder showers nearby but not here.

While at home I did a lot of reading, catching up on books I'd all but finished but had a few pages left. I also worked on my BTC database. I'm going through the end of 2004 where I registered most of our books with BookCrossing.

Now that the kids are in bed, I'll be getting the eggs filled with M&Ms and hidden about the upstairs. I have 23 eggs to hide.

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The Golden MeanThe Golden Mean: 04/06/07

At the end of February I received a RABCK in the form of The Gryphon which is the 4th book in the Griffin and Sabine series by Nick Bantock. As I hadn't yet read The Golden Mean, I treated myself to a copy.

The Golden Mean finds Griffin at home again in London and Sabine disappeared back to her island home. The feeling of unease left at the end of the previous continues on in the form of artists block for Griffin and an unsavory interloper named Victor Frolotti.

Frolotti's letters to Griffin begin to work their way into the narrative and are presented as well as colorful postcards and letters (albeit with sinister designs). Tales of his snooping into their lives also come in Sabine's letters. In fact, this book is mostly about Frolotti. Is his threat real or imagined?

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Hunting Eggs: 04/06/07

Today was the egg hunt at Sean's school. We got there a couple minutes late and the egg hunt was already going on. Sean and a friend had gotten distracted by something in the tan bark but he eagerly finished hunting eggs once he saw us. As each child had been instructed to bring ten eggs, there were enough for each child to find ten eggs. Thankfully the kids were good about abiding by the rule to stop at ten, although they did later stop to trade eggs to get the best goodies.

I had a lot of fun tagging along with Sean as he hunted eggs. Ian and Harriet hung out with the other parents while Sean and I dashed around the play ground. Harriet had fun watching all the kids and talking to them when they came by to say "hi baby!" She also got a chance to play on some of the equipment with Ian providing her some extra help for balance.

I'm sorry I didn't remember my camera. Every family had managed to bring unique eggs and baskets. Some came predecorated and some had obviously been hand painted to make the plastic colors a little more interesting. Some had toys and some had chocolates.

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After the FuneralAfter the Funeral: 04/05/07

After the Funeral: The Posthumous Adventures of Famous Corpses has been making the rounds at our local BookCrossing meetings. After having read and enjoyed similar books like Stiff, Spook and Teasing Secrets from the Dead I had to take this book the last time it showed up at one of our meetings.

After the Funeral is a rather lighthearted look at death and the bizarre things that people do to the dead (or parts of the dead). The book as the title promises, focuses on the misadventures of famous dead people. It's divided up into themes: heads, hearts, bodies and miscellaneous. Each section has a lot of repetition (same style of burial or adventure but different celebrity) so I found it more fun to read out of order. I read the book by picking out the names that most interested me and then going back and reading one from each section until I had read all of the stories.

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Demons Don't DreamDemons Don't Dream: 04/04/07

Ten years ago when I was freelancing I read most of the Xanth series in order. Usually I don't binge on a book series like that but I somehow had most of these books and they were easy to read while I was riding the train to and from San Diego to work with my main client. Although I think I've had Demons Don't Dream for a decade I somehow missed reading it.

So ten years in, my tastes have changed and matured. I read up chapter four and had to put the book aside. The puns were forced. The plot was forced. Then there's the whole demons using a video game to trick humans into fighting their duel for them. Of course there is a Companions of Xanth game but I've no desire to play it having now suffered through four chapters describing it in painful (punful) detail.

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Bitter HerbBitter Herbs: 04/04/07

Passover began over the weekend but today we had our seder, inviting our friend Derrick over. Ian spent most of the day cooking so the house has smelled of brisket since lunch time.

For the bitter herb bit, we harvested the best of my cilantro. I'm glad Passover is now and not later because the cilantro is going to seed. While Ian was cleaning it and chopping it up the kitchen smelled sweet and spicy.

This year as Sean's first year of sitting through the seder. He helped ask the questions but he was feeling shy with Derrick here. Rather than make him sound out the questions, we just had them repeat them.

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Four Past MidnightSun Dog: 04/03/07

Four Past Midnight contains four novellas by Stephen King. For the purpose of my book count, I'm counting each novella as a separate "book" and I'll be posting a separate review for each one.

"Sun Dog " is the final novella. Kevin receives a Sun 600 Polaroid camera for his birthday but there's something wrong with it. It only takes pictures of a dog — a vicious, blood thirsty, mouth full of teeth.

As with the best of King's stories, no one can explain why the camera only takes the photos of the "sun dog" or why he's so angry. He just is and everyone knows he is coming and that's he's bad news. Interestingly, the sun dog exists in the same universe as Cujo.

Had Kevin followed his instincts and smashed the camera after the first few photographs, the story would have been over before it started. It is when the camera comes into Pop Merrill's custody that the horror elements come to the surface. Pop reminded me throughout as an evil version of Morgan from Morgan's Passing.

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HarrietHarriet's Teeth: 04/03/07

For the last week I've been suffering from a cold. Ian has it now too. So last night all we wanted to do was sleep. Our colds made it difficult. Harriet then made it impossible until two-thirty this morning. She woke up from teething and from hunger.

Ian had been up trying to clear his nose with a hot bath. He tried waiting in the tub for her to go to sleep but she knew he was awake. He stumbled out of the tub to take care of Harriet and turned on a bunch of lights in the process. The sudden brightness of everything woke me up from a fitful sleep.

Realizing it was two in the morning and Ian wasn't in bed made me get up to figure out what had happened to him. I found the bathroom light on, the tub empty and big wet footprints on the floor. I followed the trail to the kids' room and found him changing a giggling Harriet.

It's never a good thing when she's giggling in the middle of the night. She's nearly impossible to get back to sleep when she's giggling. So upstairs we go. I nurse her. She starts chomping. We make a bottle. I feed her half. Ian feeds her the other half.

She finally starts rubbing her eyes. We hope this means she'll sleep. We put her back to bed. I find Sean awake and whimpering. He is awake from all the commotion and has kicked off all his blankets. He's too tired to figure out how to get his blankets back in bed. I tuck him back in. Ian tucks in Harriet.

We collapse into bed for a few more hours of sleep. When the alarm goes off we both feel like road kill and it was downhill from there all day. Blergh.

On the plus side, Harriet now has five teeth. Sadly for our sleeping pattern, she's working on number six now.

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Marianne DreamsMarianne Dreams: 04/02/07

When Ian and I were first dating, he raved about a film he had just seen, Paperhouse (1988). When Marianne Dreams was offered as a book ring via BookCrossing, I jumped at the chance to read the book that inspired the film (I still haven't seen the film).

Marianne, the protagonist of the book, falls ill over the summer with an unnamed disease and is confined to bed for a number of weeks. During this time she meets a boy Mark, confined to a mysterious building and unable to walk. The only catch, Marianne only meets him through her dreams. Is Mark real? Does Marianne have control over Mark's environment?

As a children's book it's a great introduction to the horror genre. It is also beautifully (and eerily) illustrated by Marjorie-Ann Watts. The book held my attention and I managed to read it in one sitting (staying up past my bedtime by an hour or so in the process).

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Magenta: 04/02/07

Three years ago we treated ourselves to a color laser printer. As I do a lot of artwork and Ian prints out a lot of papers, we had a use for a color printer. The printer has been a work horse. Nearly three years to the day that we bought it, it finally ran out of its first cartridge of toner. The first color to go: magenta.

Why magenta when pink is probably my least favorite color? Well, it's 2/3 of the color used in making the orange I use for artwork related to this site. The way I use magenta most is on making address labels that feature a sketch of Caligula.

We figured the printer would just color shift towards yellow and cyan but our printer had other ideas. It stopped mid print job and stayed there until we returned with a new magenta cartridge. Our errand took us to Pleasanton. While Ian found the cartridge, Harriet and I took a quick walk around the store and she made friends with some other shoppers; she's always stopping traffic.

Tomorrow then I'll drop the old cartridge off at the UPS store to get recycled. I love how the toner comes with its own prepaid label. It makes disposal and recycling so much easier.

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100 Words Per Minute100 Words Per Minute: 04/01/07

I don't remember where I heard about 100 Words Per Minute but as Adina Sara is a local author, I can guess that it was for a review in one of two papers I regularly read. Anyway, it sounded like an interesting read and I know that the book will probably spark the interest of the other local Bookcrossers. I know that I wanted to read it in part because I almost landed in that line of work (and have been clocked at between 80 and 100 words per minute when typing).

100 Words Per Minute covers almost three decades of Adina Sara's work as a legal secretary (and later as a staff manager in a law office). It starts in the era of typewriters, heralds the coming of the FAX machine, and ends with computers, keyboards, mice and email.

Each chapter is a vignette of maybe ten pages. One of Sara's poems introduces the characters before the chapter and serve to set the tone. Over all it's an interesting and quick read. Without interruptions, one could read it in a matter of hours. I recommend it to anyone who has worked in a high stress, high workload environment (especially if one has worked as a temp or needed to hire a temp).

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At the Dublin Civic Center ParkAt the Park: 04/01/07

Ian's new macbook has always had problems with its power management. A firmware update helped for a while but recently it would only stay powered up if the power cord was plugged in. As the machine is still under warranty, Ian took it in to be looked at.

Sean, feeling a little cooped up really wanted to go to the park (any park). So Sean, Harriet and I dropped Ian off at the Apple Store and then spent a lovely (and windy) hour at the Dublin Civic Center Park. This is the same park we went to a week ago while Ian was getting his hair cut.

While Sean played, Harriet and I spent our time sitting the shade of a tree on the grass. Harriet practiced standing and even tried to do some crawling. It was clear that she wanted to be out on the "tan bark" chasing after Sean.

Also at the park was a little boy who had just turned one but was running around and playing with a small ball. Sean had brought along his half-sized soccer ball and the little boy wanted to play with it. I told Sean it was okay for him to share and so he and the boy spent most of the hour kicking the throwing the ball around together (with the boy's parents keeping him out of trouble).

Sometimes the boy would see Harriet and rush over to say hi. Harriet loved all the attention he was giving her and clearly thought that if someone her size could be running around, so could she. He really encouraged her to practice her standing and crawling.

After an hour, Ian phoned and said he computer was fixed. All it needed was a new battery. So we picked him up and went home for a very late lunch. The kids were wiped out from their fun at the park.

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