bunrab: (me)

So when we last met, I had mentioned that I was going to attempt to read one of the volumes in Daniel Abraham's current series; two chapters of that disabused me of the notion. It's definitely complicated enough that one would have to start at the beginning. And given the size of each volume - fatter than the volumes of Game of Thrones, for comparison - it would be far more than I want to take on at this time. So back it went to the library, unfinished.

lengthy book stuff )

Now under way: another Patricia Briggs, but this time a series I haven't read before, or even noticed existed before, which appears to include dragons, maybe - at the moment, at the beginning of the book, the dragons appear to be extinct. So that will be the next one I report on.

Also read a graphic novel that sort of counts as fantasy: Beasts of Burden Volume: Animal Rites - cute, not terribly deep, but the dog characters and the cat are sort of cool.

Other things: took the euphonium to a Browningsville rehearsal and played it for about half the time, and there were moments when I didn't make a fool of myself. And saw "A Million Ways to Die in the West" with Larry, speaking of the West, and Seth MacFarlane's West is probably almost as fantastical as the books above, and from the first couple of measures of the score during the opening credits I was laughing, and I think I enjoyed it so much because so much of the humor was audio in one way or another, which is what I was paying attention to rather than the gross and tasteless poop jokes. From the snippets of Copland in the score, to "Mila Kunis" by way of "People die at the fair" and not forgetting the uncredited cameo by Bill Maher, I laughed a lot. I'll probably buy the soundtrack album.
bunrab: (me)
So I had the defibrillator replaced on the 29th, and it was so painless and easy compared to all the other surgeries I've had these last 10 years that I feel like there's another shoe that's gotta drop - something can't possibly go that well without anything going wrong! And yet that seems to be the way it worked. Went over to the hospital at 11, was home again before 4, even counting the extra time we had to wait while they rearranged the operating room because someone had forgotten to tell the setup people that my device is on the right side, not the left. It was, as expected, local anesthesia and a bit of sedation, with the sedation increased for a few minutes when they had to test the device after putting it in - the sedation caused some mild hallucinations which I recognized as such while they were happening: the blue woven-paper coverings and pads that they use to cover areas, block things off, rest tools on, turned into a vast rolling Avatar-like landscape. And of course I chatted all the way through the thing, uncontrollably - but the anesthesiologist says she enjoyed it, and that constant chatting is in fact quite reassuring to them.
Boring details of easy recovery )

In other news, I am now officially elected to the condo board, not just appointed, and have already started wielding my immense power - which consists of volunteering to do many, many hours of unpaid work on behalf of the 433 owners who /aren't/ on the board, while enduring complaints from them and hassles from the other new board member who is a nutcase, and an exciteable, shouting nutcase at that. Wonder how long he'll last???

We went to the state fair the weekend after the surgery - and I was fine, although, since this year the scooter rental people weren't there, we didn't get to see much of the fair. In general, I'd have to say that for most ag stuff, the Montgomery County fair was larger and better organized than the state fair - the only place where the state fair has it better, and the reason I wanted to go, was the Home Arts building - many more quilts, knitted things, and needlepoint things at the state fair than there were in Mty Cty. This coming weekend we are going to go to the Great Frederick Fair, which is the name for the Frederick County fair. I've never been to that one, but Frederick is  a big agricultural area, just as northern Montgomery county is, so I have high hopes for fancy goats, obscenely-shaped vegetables, and, since it is a month later than the Montgomery one, much, much larger pumpkins. I shall report!
bunrab: (me)
In 2012, the only resolution I made was to remember to call my friend Cindy at least once a week, instead of always waiting for her to call me - I'm really,  really bad about picking up the phone and calling people, but I managed to keep that resolution. Without any resolutions on the subject, I decided just after the first of the year that I really needed to get out from under the burdens of a largish single-family home, so repaired the home, sold the home, bought a condo, moved. So far so good, right? Also good, that I don't think I've mentioned, is that I've lost nearly 25 pounds in the past year, getting my BMI to just under 25 - that is, within normal instead of overweight! Without any resolutions about losing weight!

I whined here about the couple of tachycardia events that screwed up my summer, and then somehow never got around to getting back here. I think, mind you I'm not certain, but I think, that this new year I resolve to write a few more substantive posts here, rather than depending on 3-sentence Facebook updates to be the only way I keep up with friends or organize my thoughts.

Playing catch-up )
More stupid heart stuff )

More than you wanted to know about my finances )

I have slightly less of too much stuff )

A visit to Texas )

OK, that's well enough of a ramble and a catch-up. New Year's resolution: keep up with LJ better, keep up with my friends' lives better. It's not all always me, and when it is me, sometimes it's good to share.
bunrab: (Default)
When last seen, we were headed toward San Diego. We drove down CA-78, through a great deal of sand, some of which seems to be used by a great many dune buggies out in the middle of nowhere. Sand, sand, and more sand. Glamis, CA, appears to consist entirely of an RV lot and a place to start one's dune buggy/ATV off into the sand from. Finally we got down to I-8, to zoom into San Diego. We arrived early enough in the day to get in a couple hours at the Reuben Fleet Science Museum, before checking into our RV park down in Chula Vista. That museum is one of the other places we had visited in San Diego on our previous trip. We ate supper at a really good Thai place in Chula Vista. The RV park was quite nice, and quite large. Good laundry facilities, extensive, well-stocked store. Then Monday morning, the point of going to San Deigo: the zoo! Got there a little after 11; on a weekday, had no trouble at all finding 2 parking spaces for the RV. My scooter worked just fine. Weather was perfect - sunny, but never quite hit 70 degrees F. So, we started with the 40-minute bus tour, just to get a quick overview of where things were and what looked best. Capybaras, giraffes, lions, the big stuff, were easily visible from the bus. When we got back to the beginning and retrieved the scooter, we had to decide which way to go. We didn't so much decide as drift, and we wound up at the meerkats fairly quickly. Although the bus tour had mentioned juvenile meerkats, they hadn't mentioned what we found most interesting: a mother meerkat carrying an infant by the scruff of his neck, finally putting him down in a spot where she and another meerkat - dad? - could sunbathe. Steve got several good pictures of the baby, and I'll get them posted when we get home. We probably spent half an hour with the meerkats; this is why we almost never get to see a whole zoo; we tend to keep watching the animals being themselves. Anyway, there were koalas, doing the absolutely nothing that koalas do so well. And there was young panda - 9 months old, not exactly a baby any more, but sort of a panda toddler. Eating carrots and apples and climbing into a hammock and nibbling on his toes. And then there were the warthogs. The baby warthogs were actually just nursing on mom and occasionally wiggling around. Dad warthog had the most peculiar hair/mane cut. But it was the juvenile warthogs that kept us amused for quite a while. They were climbing all over a large stack of tree trunks, much as you'd picture goats would do. The young warthogs are pretty sleek, a reddish color with white stripes and spots, like baby deer and baby tapirs (we had fun watching a very large tapir wade through a pool, too!). And the juveniles were endlessly playful, playing tag, dashing over to annoy mom and then dart out of her way, back around the entire compound in one zoom, back up the logs and then a leap off of them... it's a pity the gift shop didn't have much in the way of warthog gifts. I nonetheless managed to find stuff to buy; the younger Schoenlebers will find themselves stuck with panda souvenirs.

Tuesday was our drive up to Sunnyvale and Oakland. Somewhere along the way we passed a car dealership called Mossy Toyota; we managed to make more jokes about that than we should have. Cindy, you should be quite glad you're not with us; our conversation would drive you *completely* around the bend. The less said about I-5, the better. It's a giant reminder that most of CA is desert or mountains or both, and should never have been densely settled, and *certainly* we shouldn't have tried to irrigate all of it and then have the farmers get upset when the water starts running out. Because Los Angeles apparently always has traffic jams, no matter what, and because the RV isn't very good at reaching the speed limit when doing serious climbing uphill, we got to Sunnyvale very late, and had a nice but hurried visit with Kartik and Usha. Thank you for the cupcakes, Usha! And then we drove up to Oakland, managed to find Jeremy's in the dark, managed to park the RV on their winding street, staggered in, ate a banana, and went to sleep.

We spent Wednesday hanging out and eating food, and playing with Jeremy and Brenda's new dog, a totally sweet Papillon named Yukon, who DOES NOT YAP. Seriously, Not one single yap the whole time we were there. An adorable dog. Emily and Anika were adorable, too, of course. It was great to get the chance to relax and talk. Family stuff, not really anything the rest of y'all need me to post about. Thursday morning, B packed us a whole bunch of tamales and rice for the road, which we have just finished eating here at the RV park in Elko, NV.

Nevada should never have been settled by anybody for any reason. It is completely ridiculous that places like Elko are here. I was ready to do a whole rant about that, but it wore off some. Really, though, there is no point to humans attempting to settle the area between the Sierra Nevada and Salt Lake City, and the fact that these towns are here and have casinos is proof that humans do not have enough common sense to continue to support the species for very long.

Tomorrow: more I-80! Contain your glee!
bunrab: (bunearsword)
Saturday night when we landed in Blythe after some 550 miles of I-10, I was too tired to do a lot in the way of writing.

So where were we? Last time you saw us in any detail, we were in Van Horne. We had to turn on the heat overnight there - altitude sure makes a difference in temperature! We left Van Horn pretty much on time, stopped in El Paso for lunch - Luby's! I do miss Luby's cafeteria. And infinite refills of good unsweetened iced tea before one has to ask. And a huge bin of sliced limes for the iced tea... When we stopped for gas off of I-10 at Rt. TX-178, there were signs for the Santa Teresa Port of Entry. I-10 does run close to the border! We topped off again in Lordsburg, NM, in an attempt to not have to buy gas in AZ - you know I like lots of people who live in AZ, a Denizen or so here, a musician there, but I'm still really peeved at your state for the "Ihre Papieren, bitte!" law. Anyway, we also bought iced tea in Lordsburg, traded places in driving...

New Mexico at that latitude is not very wide, only 150 miles or so. We did note when we crossed the Continental Divide. Whee! (Look it up, people, look it up.) We weren't really going downhill much after that, though - it was still uphill, regardless of drainage basins. And that continuing uphill really started screwing with our gas mileage.

If I hadn't already mentioned this, once one is west of Fredericksburg, TX, the predominant color is tan. Sometimes it's a reddish tan, sometimes as pale as beige, sometimes distinctly taupe, but it's all shades of tan. It got steadily tanner as we went further west, too. More about that later.

Middle of nowhere: pecan orchard. A couple of *miles* of pecan orchard (we knew that was what kind of tree it was by the sign advertising "Pecans, walnuts, wine" at the side of the highway.) Desert, desert, desert, then all of a sudden this huge chunk of green trees in orderly rows. A few blocks of saplings, but quite a few blocks of trees that were a good height - not as mature as, say, Sam's trees, but probably somewhere between 10 and 20 years old, which means someone had successfully been irrigating a huge area for a long time. Then we happened to try the radio and up popped some Dixieland jazz - it turned out to be A Prairie Home Companion, from a station in Tucson, even though we were still more than an hour east of Tucson. That station stayed good reception for quite a ways west - we listened to all of PHC, then it went to classical music, and when that finally started getting fuzzy, we scanned and found a classical station in Phoenix that lasted us for another 100 miles. We also saw lots of saguaro from the highway. I <3 saguaro. (On our previous road trip almost 25 years ago, we had stopped in and taken a tour at Saguaro National Monument on our way back from San Diego to Austin.)

Some of how we amuse ourselves on long drives is making fun of signs. Certainly the signs in New Mexico warning us "Caution! Dust storms may exist." weren't terribly helpful. I mean, we already know dust storms exist; there's a lot of scientific evidence for them, almost as much as for gravity. It would be a lot more helpful to have signs that warned us where and when to expect to meet up with said storms, yes? Other signs we made fun of: AZ has something weird going on, as long after we were past any city, out in the middle of nowhere and its dog, were exits for "339th Ave" and then "411th Ave" - those numbers seem rather high for avenues, even if one were naming streets uniformly across a whole county never mind a city...

We did have to get a couple of gallons of gas in Tempe, AZ - we clearly weren't going to make it all the way across 400 miles of AZ on one tank, given the awful gas mileage we were getting due to heat and a terrific headwind. At the time, we noted that from Tempe to the CA border is about 150 miles, and then on the map, Blythe is a tiny fraction of an inch past that.

We pulled into the KOA in Blythe, CA around 10 pm Pacific, and the guy was still at the desk. Lots of oleander! We ate Connie's tamale pie for supper. Let us note that in fact, the KOA *is* a fraction of an inch past the border - one enters the CA stop-and-deny-having-fruit customs booth right on the border; the exit for the KOA is immediately past the inspection booths, and then the road curves under the highway - so that the campground itself is maybe a bit east of the customs booth, and north of it, hovering directly at the border. The GPS units - all our various phone thingies - all did not seem to sense that anything past the first few feet of Riviera Dr. existed; it took some effort to find that turn going under the highway and spot the sign for the campground!

More later about the last westward leg.
bunrab: (Default)
We got started almost on time this morning, and finished the day almost exactly where we planned to be!

Driving south from Statesville, NC, we went of course through SC and then into Georgia, and then from a loop around Atlanta turned west onto I-20. Tomorrow's drive will be 100% I-20 except for getting in and out of RV Parks and visiting friend.

Some observations along the way: there sure are an awful lot of Jesus billboards in the southern states. I rather don't like having a highway billboard threatening me with hell, you know? There are also an awful lot of flea markets - the billboards for those outnumber even the religious ones.

One of the things we passed in SC was the BMW assembly plant in Spartanburg; we did not stop for the tour - no time!

When we crossed into Georgia, there was a big sign saying that "This highway project is part of the [long official name for stimulus bill]" and we said "Yay!" because the highway in SC had been in bad shape, as bumpy as if it were an old log road. The GA highway was nice and freshly repaved. Good use of stimulus funds. Apparently they also went to sign makers, as there were many, many traffic signs about every possible change in lanes, add'l road work, tourist sites, etc.

Entering into Alabama, the NASCAR presence becomes even larger - we are not far right now from Talladega SuperSpeedway. We drove through a small bit of Talladega National Forest, too. Earlier, we had driven past a sign for the Kings Mountain National Military Park, and I had wondered, what the heck is a military park? National historic battleground, it turns out. Not exactly a park. I think the National Monuments rather than National Parks would be where I'd put it - after all, Fort McHenry in Balto. is a National Monument. (And so is the Saguaro area in the Southwest. And there's a sailing ship in the harbor in San Francisco that is a National Park, complete with Park Rangers giving tours. I have no idea how they decide which category to put these things in!)

We had dinner in Oxford, AL with [livejournal.com profile] avanta7 and her husband. The last time we saw them was 5 years ago, when we were in an RV moving from Texas to Maryland. They must think we are like cicadas, emerging from our RV cocoons on a periodic basis. They were in Little Rock then, which was our first-night stop during the move; shortly thereafter, they moved to CA. Well, just a month or so ago they moved to Alabama, so voila! We were able to meet up. And she had a lovely afghan she made for me - it's exactly what I need, and it will make a decent pillow tonight, too. I haven't finished her bookmarks yet. I hope to finish them by the end of this trip - I brought my cross-stitch projects as well as knitting and crocheting with me.

Our RV park is owned and run by a couple of guys who are very talky - I had fair warning when I called ahead on the phone to see about making a reservation; his directions on how to reach the park included a lot of things that "used to be there" and a lot of the history of motels and RV parks in the region. When we got here, we chatted some more - we now have a great many tips on what to look for if we decide to buy instead of rent an RV, and we know more about US Route 78. Luckily, we finished chatting and getting the water and electric hooked up hjust in time. It started raining as we were closing the curtains. The sound of rain on the roof is nice.

Tomorrow: I-20 all the way to Shreveport!
bunrab: (Default)
Not that I've been daily posting anyway, but just so you know. My friend Sallythehoarder was here visiting for 4 days, and while talking, I discovered that her place has filled up again, so I'm going to NY to help her throw out at least enough stuff that a new bed can be delivered. More details about that provided on request. Will have my cell phone with me, so if you know my phone # you can call or text me; if you don't know my # but need to reach me, DM me through my Twitter account, bunrab - well, of COURSE it's bunrab; what else would it be? My next check of email, LJ, and FB will be Saturday 8/29.

Hope everyone else is enjoying the last of summer!
bunrab: (spottedray)

Rivers are both male and female.
Lakes are female (everything concave...)
Oceans are male; all the great whales and little fishes
Are sperm. Life came to land from the sea.
Ice? Some say the world shall end in ice,
So ice, like war, is male and wears a black robe.
Snow is female:
Gently, gently covers you with a blanket.
Gently, gently, smothers you.
Rain? Ah, rain is puddles, and puddles are children
At just the age where it does not matter; they are
Like the earthworms that share the puddles, both or neither.

Rivers and rain:
Do laundry.
Grind grain.
Grow crops.
Go fishing.
Whether it is Mother Earth or Great Sky Father,
Motherland or Fatherland,
Rivers and rain are mother and father,
However you conceive of those.

It is said: you never step in the same river twice.
Lesson: your mother/father is/are always changing.
It is also true: you never see the same cloud twice.
Lesson: you must constantly renew your reach for the sky.

©2009 R. Kelly Wagner. Permission to reprint granted provided this copyright notice is included.

(There, was that pretentious enough? Now I'm going back to sleep, whatever pretentious dream inspired this.)

ETA, in the light of day: I certainly hit every cliche in the book. I think I meant grandiose dream, though - can dreams even be pretentious? When I'm asleep my grasp of the language may be impaired just a bit. My grasp of cliche, though, not at all!
bunrab: (alien reading)
Firstly, Gray Apocalypse by James Murdoch - see my Amazon.com review of Gray Apocalypse. I didn't actually like the book, but it was surprisingly well written for a self-published first novel, and I can tell that people who like thrillers would like it better than I did (I was expecting science fiction). Disclosure: the author sent me a free review copy. If you read my review, please leave a comment with it, about whether I adequately expressed my ambivalence. Thanks!

Books I didn't even finish:
Zombies: A Field Guide to the Walking Dead by Dr. Bob Curran. I was hoping for a sort of humorous species guide and some references to literature and genre novels. Instead, it's a dead-serious (pun intended) discussion of practically all of the historical beliefs in various sorts of risen-from-the-grave beings in cultures from thousands of years ago to now. And the illustrations are pretty but don't match the tone of the text at all. It's difficult to make zombies boring, but this academic treatise does it. I mean, a serious discussion of whether the Witch of Endor's calling up Samuel (from the bible) counts as a zombie? Ew.

One Bite With A Stranger by Christine Warren - one of the recent crop of vampire romances, this one has an emphasis on the romance aspect of it, for values of romance that equal sexual activity and not much else. Completely chick-lit stuff, with too much discussion of getting drunk on good wine and going shopping. Not my cup of tea, or of blood either. I don't know why I keep trying these things - oh, wait, I keep trying them because vampire romance genre fiction was how I first discovered Chelsea Quinn Yarbro some thirty-odd years ago, and I keep hoping that I'll run into something surprising like that again. But this book wasn't it.
bunrab: (Default)
Stalking the Vampire by Mike Resnick - second in his series about PI John Justin Mallory; I liked it better than the first (Stalking the Unicorn) - it made more sense as a mystery, if one can say that about farcical fantasy. Anyway, John Justin, aided by ex-military Winifred Carruthers and 90-pound cat-girl Felina, have to determine why Winifred's nephew seems to be turning into a vampire. This winds up involving several funeral homes with odd names not to mention the Vampire State Building. This is definitely the other Manhattan.

The Anteater of Death by Betty Webb. Who could resist a title like that? Not I, certainly. I hadn't enjoyed what little I'd read of Webb's "Desert" series, but this is a new series, taking place in a small zoo in California. It's still not a great book, or a great murder mystery, but it's OK, and the details about the animals and their care are interesting enough and funny enough to make up for the stereotypical nasty rich people who populate the surrounding town. Among other things, we get a giraffe giving birth, as well as the banana-obsessed anteater giving birth. Spoiler: neither the anteater nor the butler did it.

The Handicap Principle by Amotz and Avishag Zahavi. Probably the most boring pop-science book I've read in a while, partly because very little has been done to turn it from academese to pop. Excessively long to convey a fairly simple idea, the authors insist on dragging EVERY possible feature of an animal into play as a handicap for mating competitions, including, for pete's sake, why men have beards and women don't. The authors claim, you see, that it's because men fight a lot, and having a beard makes it easier for other men to grab them, so by displaying one, a man is claiming that he can win any fistfight, even with the handicap, thereby making him a more attractive mate. Women don't have beards because they don't get into fistfights. Honest, the authors say this!! Also, besides dragging their premise to absurd lengths, the book has crappy illustrations that do nothing for it. Would be much improved by editing out the more outrageous half of their claims, and filling the space with photos of the animals and some side-by-side comparison illustrations. Also including more rodents, perhaps overlooked here because so many of them aren't flashy and aren't terribly dimorphic in size and therefore would be difficult to stretch into the authors' thesis.

Animals Make Us Human by Temple Grandin. Known for her work with livestock animals, Grandin here adds pet animals to the mix, discussing how improving our pets' lives by considering their evolutionary environment can also improve our own lives. Some of it is redundant stuff from her other books. The chapter on cats is interesting - a good explanation of why, although cats and dogs are both "domesticated" animals, a cat is a lot less domesticated than a dog.

The Van Rijn Method by Poul Anderson, edited by Hank Davis - a collection of some of the Van Rijn and Falkayn stories, nothing one hasn't read before, but with introductions to each explaining a little more of the big picture of Anderson's future history. Also, at the end, a very good timeline showing how the Polesotechnic League develops and dissolves and the eventual development of the Empire period of Ensign Flandry.

The Fourth Time is Murder by Steven Havill - grabbed at random off library shelves, looking for more to read, this turns out to be a recent volume in a long-established series. It takes place in the Southwest - New Mexico, near the Mexican border - but is NOT, thank goodness, another attempt to be a Hillerman clone. (I get tired of those - all the Hillerman wannabes who toss in a Navajo and a mention of Navajo religion, and then expect that we'll all enjoy their books just because of that, regardless of how superficial or unrealistic it otherwise is.) Main protagonist is a woman under-sheriff. Plot is based around a financial scam we only slowly find out about; side plots include illegal immigrants, perhaps unavoidable given the location.

The Golden Age of Novelty Songs by Steve Otfinoski. Although it hits most of the high points, I can't entirely agree with a book that devotes almost an entire chapter to Alvin and the Chipmunks and only a couple of sentences to "Camp Grenada." And in the chapter about Christmas novelty songs, he doesn't even MENTION "I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas" - hmph! Includes photos, and does include things you might not instantly think of in the novelty song genre - Cheech and Chong, and William Fries (better known as C.W. McColl), along with the ones you would instantly think of - Napoleon XIV, Homer & Jethro, The Chad Mitchell Trio (my favorites! for their song "Lizzie Borden.")

There, now I'm only a couple weeks behind on the news.


Dec. 19th, 2008 11:57 pm
bunrab: (bathtub warning)
So here's what I've been doing the last couple weeks: two weeks ago, caught a cold. Hasn't completely gone away yet. Tried taking pseudoephedrine to stop the snot, and got zapped by my ICD for my trouble. The day after that (last Friday) drove up to Philadelphia to see niece in high school play - she is a freshman, but got one of the front parts usually reserved only for seniors; the family habit of singing loudly in public at the drop of a hat has some uses. Came back Saturday afternoon; played holiday concert at CCBC-Essex with the BSB on Saturday night. Sunday afternoon, I played a holiday concert with the Montgomery Village Community Band, while [livejournal.com profile] squirrel_magnet played one with the Bel Air Community Band, each 40 miles in opposite directions from C'ville. And at that, we missed two other performance opportunities we had for the same afternoon; since Thanksgiving was so late this year, the number of weekends available for holiday performances is scrunched down, so a lot of things were happening at the same time.

Monday, I slept. Well, woke up for meals, but otherwise slept. Tuesday I also slept, though I woke up for taking Chippy-chin to the vet for a follow-up; he is almost all healed up from Darwin's attack. Wednesday, let's see, I believe I actually woke up for a few hours Wednesday, and worked on the many homemade holiday presents I have not yet finished. Thursday we went to the library, and I finished buying the last few little things I needed to buy for assorted nieces and nephews. Then Thursday evening, Cindythelibrarian took us to see a show, as part of her Christmas present to us. The show was "Every Christmas Story Ever Told" presented by the Baltimore Shakespeare Festival, and it was great. A three-man show doing them all - Charlie Brown, The Grinch, Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, and (due to copyright issues) Gustav the Green-Nosed Reingoat. If you're in the area, it's playing through Sunday. My favorite part was the first act closer, The Nutcracker ballet. If you're on my flist, chances are you are familiar with Anna Russell's version of The Ring Cycle; imagine the Nutcracker condensed that way and you about have it. Complete with actual ballet dancing, done very well and very funnily. (Funnier for women my age than for men, because women of my generation, if we were anywhere above poverty level and even some below, we took ballet lessons when we were six years old or so; it was just one of those things. Ten years older and you probably didn't; ten years younger and you probably didn't, but all of us who are fifty-mumble took those lessons, whether at a dance school, or cheap group public school stuff on Saturdays in the gym, we all learned the five positions, and plies, and so on. Bit of cultural literacy there.) The second act was a merger of Dickens' A Christmas Carol and "It's a Wonderful Life" and then ended by singing every Christmas song ever written in about three minutes. We really enjoyed it.

And Friday, today (or yesterday, depending on how you feel about nights and stuff), I went to the doctor and got some stuff that's supposed to stop the nose drip without causing hypertension or arrhythmia; we'll see how that works. Also stopped at Jo-Ann's and got some yarn for one last teddy bear xmas present, and at Trader Joe's for freeze-dried strawberries; the chinchillas get VERY peeved if we run short on strawberries, and one really doesn't wish to risk the wrath of a peeved chinchilla. And now I am back to working on those presents - gotta finish place mats for Steph, potholders for Jen, teddy bear for Luke...

I have not had time or energy, outside of concerts and colds, to do any xmas shopping for anybody not part of my immediate family. If some of you normally get a Solstice/Chanukah/xmas present from me, well, this year, expect a New Year's present, or an Epiphany present, or maybe even a Martin Luther King Jr. Day present... There are a couple small things going out in the mail tomorrow to Texas, and a couple more small things on Monday, that might get there before New Year's.

One of the things we haven't done, either, is get up to NYC, which I wanted to do. Since the Museum of Natural History keeps their tree up through the end of the month, I am thinking we might go the week after Christmas; even though it'll be a little more crowded 'cause kids have off from school, a weekday should still be tolerable. Possibly Monday the 29th. (T, I'll call you about possible lunch!)

Now back to work.


Sep. 15th, 2008 11:53 pm
bunrab: (Default)
Okay, so after the flu in the middle of August and then a week at Sally's inhaling dust, I couldn't stop coughing and I felt even more fatigued than usual; eventually I started thinking maybe there's fluid in my lungs, so I went to the doc. Apparently not fluid, just inflamation, so using steroid inhaler (as of this past Wed) to reduce inflamation; it's working a bit, I guess - still coughing and stuff, but nearly back to only tired all the time instead of exhausted to the point of not getting out of bed.

I got a couple of RL projects done - finally finished a couple of bedside rugs I've been working on for me and [livejournal.com profile] squirrel_magnet, since cooler weather is coming and we may not want to step onto cold floors. I'll try to get pictures of them sometime soon. Started work on wedding gift for my cousin Jesse who got married last September - goal is to finish the stuff (quilted table runner and 4 placemats) and mail them off by the end of this month, a year after the wedding. Still cleaning up bits and pieces at old house; we buried Lamarck chinchilla who passed away this past spring and had been in the freezer, and I put a stepping stone on his grave - I'll take a picture of that, too, when I get a chance.

And there has been reading, as usual:

Book I did not finish: Roger Zelazny's Lord of Light. Forty years ago I didn't make it ten pages in before giving up out of total lack of interest in figuring out who these characters were; twenty years ago I made it about twenty pages in; this time, all the way to page 27 before closing it again. I do not care enough about Hindu mythology and other mythology to follow who these characters are, who is an avatar of who else, who is on which side... I just don't care.

Book I didn't like: White Oleander by Janet Fitch. This was apparently a big bestseller and very popular with book clubs, and it reads exactly as if it were written to be a book club discussion subject, and I don't mean that kindly. Where some reviewer sees a "surprising journey of self-discovery" I see a protagonist who stays stupid the whole way through - she doesn't make the same mistake twice, but she makes new and dumber ones all the time, and never seems to wise up and stop approaching life as a manipulating but clueless slut. We're supposed to care about what she learns from each of her foster mothers, and compare them, but she doesn't ever seem to learn any rational kind of lesson. Even when her own mother gets out of jail, she isn't really happy. This book doesn't really have much of a plot; the character grows older but doesn't grow up; her mother gets out of jail but that's just a small paragraph amidst the general whining and indecisiveness. Bleah. I know thousands of people disagree with this evaluation of the book; clearly, many people are looking more for "emotionally gripping" than for "fast-moving plot and rational characters."

And for stuff I did enjoy: Watchers by Dean Koontz - not great literature, but a fast-moving plot and nice characters! This is the first Koontz I've ever read - somehow managed to not get around to any till now. This one features a golden retriever named Einstein, genetically modified to near-human intelligence, able to read and even converse in writing. Plot also includes a nastier genetically modified character, the Outsider, and along the way we are supposed to compare the Outsider and Vince the mob hit-man, and notice which of them is really less human and kills more people. That part is a bit obvious. But hey, it's a good story, and most of the characters are likeable, and there's a more-or-less happy ending.

The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova. This is a novel about a historian who is researching Vlad Tepes, who turns out to be an immortal vampire after all, sort of, only not. It's a very long book, and some of it was longer than need be - in almost a deliberate imitation of Victorian style, there is much more exposition, and jumping back from generation to generation, and words upon words, than is really necessary. Sometimes one can lose track of which generation is taking place - is it our female protagonist as a teenager listening to her father tell about his research, or the father listening to his mentor from a generation earlier, or is it 30 years later? We run through all sorts of minute historical detail from the 1470's onward. I admit to skimming in spots.

Smoke-Filled Rooms by Kris Nelscott - a murder mystery set during the 1968 Chicago convention, featuring a black, male, PI - written in the first person by Nelscott, which is one of Kristen Kathryn Rusch's pen names. So, quite a feat of characterization. Anyway, a decent mystery, though a bit of gory torture of the sort I really don't think could go unnoticed for so long. Much of the plot is timely enough given this election year. I'll probably look for the rest of the series.

The Apostate's Tale by Margaret Frazer - most recent in her Dame Frevisse series, and this one returns more to the priory (convent) after the last couple of very political volumes. The last two were almost entirely about English political uprisings and Frevisse's cousin Alice, and I was not crazy about them; I was glad to see this one get back to the day to day details of everyday life in the fifteenth century. Unfortunately, it's probably the last one, since it ends with Frevisse becoming Prioress, and also it's set in 1452, so any ten minutes now the printing press is going to come along and destroy the priory's book-copying business and only source of income.

Warning: I am going to attempt Twittering. No telling what may show up.

Now to go see if I can catch up on a couple of weeks of unread flist. Speaking of, Chas, your bday present will be in the mail tomorrow. [livejournal.com profile] richspk, speaking of addresses, I need your snail mail address. Email me, plz.
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New House: We finally got the contract negotiated, so we are buying the house with the garage! Settlement (closing) should be the last week in April. Whee!

Old House: Finished with the bathroom remodel! The contractors did it in less than a week! The bathroom no longer has dark brown indoor-outdoor carpeting, grey-and-white plastic wall tile, a mustard yellow tub enclosure, blue swan-shaped nonskid stickies on the tub floor, and pink ceramic towel bars. It now has white tile floor, new tub, white tile around the tub with an accent row of narrow tiles in a brown and tan design, which matches the brown and tan wallpaper. New low-flow toilet that works properly, new sink which is a pedestal sink rather than a vanity, so that one doesn't walk into the corner of the vanity cabinet every time one walks into the room, plus there's room on the floor for the scale. It's never going to be a luxury bathroom, not at 5 feet by 8 feet, but it's now reasonably attractive and efficient.

Music: Went to hear the Austin Lounge Lizards at Wolf Trap last Thursday. They're still good, still funny.

Rebecca York's werewolf series:
Killing Moon
Edge of the Moon
Witching Moon
Crimson Moon

A certain sameness to all of them - acceptable mystery plots, but the villains are pretty much all the same sort of serial sex pervert murderer who is trying to use kidnapped or controlled women to build up magical powers, and our werewolf hero who has trouble coming to terms with his werewolfness, plus the woman scientist-of-some-sort (medical researcher, botanist, etc.) who is in love with him, must defeat said villain, during the which it is revealed to the woman that the man she loves is a werewolf. They're not all identical, but similar. Edge of the Moon actually involves two non-werewolf peripheral characters from the first book.
Also on a Marion Nestle binge - she's the nutritionist/economist from whom Michael Pollan gets a lot of his stuff. Food Politics: How the Food Industry Influences Nutrition, and Health is mostly a rant about how industrial agriculture and its lobbyists diluted the Food Pyramid to the point of uselessness - a good rant, but a rant. There are also bits about food terrorism and food fearmongering in there; I had a bunch of notes scribbled down of things to mention, but now I can't find the notes. What to Eat is interesting, but waaaay too long. The average grocery shopper is not going to wade through all of that, even though it's got some very useful information - for example, for people who complain that they don't buy fresh produce because it's too expensive, Nestle shows how you can eat seven servings of fruit and vegetables per day for less than a dollar per person, which puts it within the budget of most families. (The current recommended amount is 9 servings, but most people don't even get seven, so that would already be an improvement.)
The most recent two in J.D. Robb's (Nora Roberts) Eve Dallas series, Creation in Death and Strangers in Death. As usual, they're good, though not great literature. The usual mix of Rourke-owns-everything, Eve's-cars-fall-apart, hot sex scenes, and unlikely but fascinating villains.
Hitman, lastest in Parnell Hall's Stanley Hastings series. Hastings is confused, as usual, and there turns out to be more than one hitman.


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