Friday, May 29, 2009

Word Association on May 29th

Time for this week's word association.

  1. Lisa :: Lutz
  2. Hope :: and Change
  3. Irene :: Great Aunt
  4. Tony :: Hillerman
  5. Anna :: Trixie friend
  6. Dolly :: Parton
  7. Laura :: Bush
  8. Debbie :: Wonderful friend
  9. Wilson :: Vollyball
  10. Paula :: Abdul

So we've got a few friends, two singers, two authors, and a former first lady in the mix. Interesting.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Mini Review: Resort to Murder

Moving on today to Resort to Murder, the 6th Henrie O Mystery by Carolyn Hart.

This book finds Henrie traveling to Bermuda to attend the wedding of her ex son-in-law. She's there more as a support for her grandkids than anything else. But as the week progresses, rumors of a ghost at the resort seem to be all too real. The ghost ties back to events that happened when most of the wedding party was on the island the year before. A very modern corpse makes Henrie start taking things very seriously. What's going on?

After the last couple of books in the series, I was thrilled to see this one was much better. The characters were unique. While there were plenty of them, I didn't have a hard time keeping them all straight.

The plot moved along at a fairly steady pace as well. There was one plot point that got dropped, but it was fairly easy to guess what really happened there.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Slow Weekend

I find this highly ironic. After my last life blog post where I talked about how busy I was, things seem to have really slowed down.

This weekend was actually nothing out of the ordinary. I had Bible study Friday night, which was nice. Playing the guitar went well, too.

Saturday, I went out to see Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian (which I loved), then went out to play ultimate Frisbee. Came back and started my High School Musical marathon.

Sunday was church in the morning followed by the second and third High School Musical movies. I finished up with them in time to go to Joe's for our Babylon 5 night.

Monday, I left the condo long enough to pick up a pizza. Honestly, that was it. I watched random stuff on TV and finished a book. Yep, very exciting stuff.

Things haven't even been as busy here at work this week as I expected. See, my co-worker had her baby on Sunday a couple weeks before her due date. It has the potential to make things busier here at work, but so far it hasn't. I'm trying to take on more responsibility, but it hasn't happened yet.

I found out what team I'm on for Summer League today - Aqua Blue. First game is Tuesday, so we'll see how my team look then. Unfortunately, both of my Friday games are on back to back Bible Study nights, and the one Monday I didn't really want a game, I've got a game, too. I can make it to all of them, but it's not my first choice of schedules.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

What's on my Nightstand - May 2009 Edition

That time of the month again. But this month I am going to approach 5 Minutes for Books' carnaval a little different. Since I am already doing mini-reviews, I thought it would be a good time to talk about some books I've read this month I won't be doing reviews for.

A couple weeks ago, we had Nation Children's Book Week. Over at Jix, a bunch of us decided to read a minimum of one chapter (or one book) per day all week.

I read two kids' books as a result. The first was Click Clack Moo by Doreen Cronin. Poor Farmer Brown discovers he has a labor problem when his cows get a typewriter and demand blankets for the cold winter nights before they will produce any more milk. It's a funny picture book that will have you and your kid laughing.

Then I read Encyclopedia Brown and the Case of the Jumping Frogs by Donald Sobol. Turns out that the original author is still writing books starting the smartest fifth grader ever. Unfortunately, I've found that I am still no match for Encyclopedia's vast knowledge. But I have fun trying to get more than two right.

This weekend, I also indulged in a couple books not on my Spring Reading list. First up was The Authoritative Calvin and Hobbes, the second treasury of this classic comic strip. It's been years since I read it, and I loved it.

That was yesterday.

Today, I am working my way through The Middle Man: The Collected Series Indispensability. It's a comic book. I watched a TV show based on it last summer and loved it. Unfortunately, not enough of us did watch it, but if you missed it, be sure to check out the TV on DVD release coming out in a couple of months. The series is part comic book super hero part comedy. The comics aren't quite as good as the TV series, but it is still lots of fun.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Mini Review: 3rd Degree

Yep, it's about time I got back to these, so let's look at 3rd Degree by James Patterson.

This book starts with Homicide Inspector Lindsay Boxer on a Sunday morning run. But she just happens to end her run right by a building that literally explodes. When another death occurs, news reporter Cindy starts getting messages from the villains. Can this quartet of ladies find them before they kill again? And what will happen when it become personal?

Yes, I've actually started reading James Patterson this year, or at least this series. I consider them junk food. Yes, even more so than what I normally read. Engrossing books when you are reading them, but forgetable the instant you stop. This was no exception. The plot moved forward quickly, keeping me glued to the page. And the extremely short chapters made it easy to justify reading just a bit more. Of course, they also make things much choppier than they need to be.

And that also reflects on the characters. Something truly tragic happens in this book, and I felt very little. They are merely props to be pushed around by the plot and not living people.

Even so, I enjoyed the book. Don't expect anything substantial from it, and you will too.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Crazy Busy Life

Okay, so that pretty much just applies to the weekends. But still.

My parents have been through town twice in the last week. They were heading down to San Diego to attend some family friends' daughter's college graduation. We had dinner on Thursday and hung out for a few hours on Sunday. It was a good visit.

But that's not all.

I have a new roommate, a senior businiess major, so you know he's a good guy. His name is Daniel, which was also my college roommate's name. Yep, I have had so many roommates I am starting to recycle names.

And Saturday was busy but fun. Okay, so the day didn't start out fun. I helped a couple friends from church move. They had enough people show up that we were done in three hours flat. That's nice because it was over 100 degrees both days this weekend.

From there, I dropped by the employee picnic here at work. Sat around and talked to friends for an hour or so.

At that point, I actually went home and soaked up blessed air conditioning for a couple hours. Then I went out again for my friend Kenny's birthday. We started with dinner at BJ's, then hung out for a while. 4 babies under six months there.

Normally on my lunch hour, I sit around and read. But this week I've gone out to lunch twice. Monday was with my friend Joe and today was with Chris. Both were nice times.

And I think my shoulder is just about healed! I can actually raise it above my head and feel just the tiniest twinge of pain. Hopefully if I give it another week or two, I can get back to working out. I guess I'll use the work outs from Cross Fits main page since Ryan and Charis are putting FitQuest on indefinite hiatus. Yes, I understand. But I'm bummed, too.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Word Association for May 20th

I've got a couple minutes. Let's get this out of the way.

  1. Vex :: Anger
  2. Relapse :: Alcohol
  3. Twinkle :: Little Star
  4. Crawls :: Baby
  5. Optimistic moment :: Winning
  6. Cage :: Match
  7. Superwoman :: Flying
  8. Personal :: Problem
  9. Vapor :: Fainting
  10. Grocery store :: Food

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Government Protecting You From Yourself

So, the government has stepped into our free market once again. Now it is passing credit card reform legislation to help out the consumers.

WASHINGTON – The Senate voted overwhelmingly on Tuesday to rein in credit card rate increases and excessive fees, hoping to give voters some breathing room amid a recession that has left hundreds of thousands of Americans jobless or facing foreclosure.

The House was on track to pass the measure as early as Wednesday, paving the way for President Barack Obama to see the bill on his desk by week's end.

"This is a victory for every American consumer who has ever suffered at the hands of a credit card company," said Sen. Christopher Dodd, D-Conn., chairman of the Banking Committee. The bill passed the Senate 90-5.

If enacted into law as expected, the bill woul give the credit card industry nine months to change the way it does business: Lenders would have to post their credit card agreements on the Internet and let customers pay their bills online or by phone without an added fee. They'd also have to give consumers a chance to spare themselves from over-the-limit fees and provide 45 days notice and an explanation before interest rates are increased.

Now let's stop there for a moment. You want to know the only time I had an interest rate jump without notice before hand? The one time I was late with a payment. Yes, it was my fault. And, they even tell you when you sign up that if you are late with one payment, you will be hit with a higher interest rate. Yes, you really do need to read all that fine print before signing your life away.

Quoting from a little further down the article:

Bankers warned the measure would restrict credit at a time when Americans need it most. They defended their existing interest rates and fees on grounds that their business — lending money to consumers with no collateral and little more than a promise to pay it back — is very risky.

"What has been a short-term revolving unsecured loan will now become a medium-term unsecured loan, which is significantly more risky," said Edward Yingling, president and CEO of the American Bankers Association.

"It is a fundamental rule of lending that an increase in risk means that less credit will be available and that the credit that is available will often have a higher interest rate," Yingling added.

Wait, so the government helping is actually hurting? There's a surprise.

But it gets better. Look at this article from the New York Times.

Credit cards have long been a very good deal for people who pay their bills on time and in full. Even as card companies imposed punitive fees and penalties on those late with their payments, the best customers racked up cash-back rewards, frequent-flier miles and other perks in recent years.

Now Congress is moving to limit the penalties on riskier borrowers, who have become a prime source of billions of dollars in fee revenue for the industry. And to make up for lost income, the card companies are going after those people with sterling credit.

Banks are expected to look at reviving annual fees, curtailing cash-back and other rewards programs and charging interest immediately on a purchase instead of allowing a grace period of weeks, according to bank officials and trade groups.

“It will be a different business,” said Edward L. Yingling, the chief executive of the American Bankers Association, which has been lobbying Congress for more lenient legislation on behalf of the nation’s biggest banks. “Those that manage their credit well will in some degree subsidize those that have credit problems.”

As they thin their ranks of risky cardholders to deal with an economic downturn, major banks including American Express, Citigroup, Bank of America and a long list of others have already begun to raise interest rates, and some have set their sights on consumers who pay their bills on time. The legislation scheduled for a Senate vote on Tuesday does not cap interest rates, so banks can continue to lift them, albeit at a slower pace and with greater disclosure.

“There will be one-size-fits-all pricing, and as a result, you’ll see the industry will be more egalitarian in terms of its revenue base,” said David Robertson, publisher of the Nilson Report, which tracks the credit card business.

People who routinely pay off their credit card balances have been enjoying the equivalent of a free ride, he said, because many have not had to pay an annual fee even as they collect points for air travel and other perks.

“Despite all the terrible things that have been said, you’re making out like a bandit,” he said. “That’s a third of credit card customers, 50 million people who have gotten a great deal.”

Robert Hammer, an industry consultant, said the legislation might have the broad effect of encouraging card issuers to become ever more reliant on fees from marginal customers as well as creditworthy cardholders — “deadbeats” in industry parlance, because they generate scant fee revenue.

So those of us who do pay on time can say good bye to the free perks we've been getting all these years. Why? So the government can help out the rest of the country. Once again punishing the good to help the irresponsible.

As you may or may not know, I am an advisor in Personal Finance at Epinions. Basically, that means I read lots of reviews about finance stuff. You would not believe the number of people who sign up to complain about a service. And usually, the negative credit card reviews are the person whining because they weren't paying attention and got charged for it. I know that I can't over spend my limit and have to pay the bill on time or there will be huge consequences in the form of fees and increased interest. So I make sure I followed the rules.

And above all, I don't carry a balance. Yes, I am very fortunate to have a job and roommates to help with that. But you know what else? If I didn't have those things, you can bet I wouldn't be buying the DVD's and books I do.

See, once again this comes down to personal responsibility. People don't want to take responsibility for their actions. And the government seems to think they are right and it should protect people from consequences. And once again, those of us who do the right thing and are responsible are the ones who suffer.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Mini Review: Murder in Grub Street

Time for another review. This time on Murder in Grub Street by Bruce Alexander.

The book is set in London during the 1760's. The main character is Sir John Fielding, a real life magistrate of the time.

In this book Jeremy Proctor, 13 year old ward of Sir John (and our narrator) is about to start an apprentiship with a printer in nearby Grub Street. But the night before it begins, the printer, his family, and two apprentices are brutally murdered. The sole survivor is found with an axe in his hand, but Sir John feels that this makes things too easy. Will he find the killer?

I read the first book in the series two years ago, and have wanted to get back to this one ever sense. I must admit it was disappointing. The characters were still rich and the writing a great way to travel to another time and place.

The problem lay with the plot. It was sidetracked for much of the book by other going ons in the area. Unfortunately, that doesn't mean I was surprised by the end. In fact, I had the entire thing figured out about half way through, killer, motive, the works.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Word Association for May 14th

Gotta get this in this week.

  1. Again :: Repeat
  2. Shower :: Rain
  3. Flirting :: Dating
  4. Moving on :: Break Up
  5. Rachel :: Friends
  6. Chips :: Salsa
  7. Texting :: Phone
  8. Feel better :: Get Well
  9. Cashmere :: Sweater
  10. Sucked :: all the fun out of it

Well, not new insites into my psychie this week. At least not for me.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

No, Not My Typical Weekend

This last weekend wasn't my typical weekend. And that was nice for a change of pace.

Friday night did start out with Bible study. And I brought my guitar and lead a couple of worship songs. It was so nice to be playing that again.

Saturday, I met up with Angelique at Glendale Centre Theatre. They were doing Here Lies Jeremy Troy, a very funny comedy. We both laughed pretty hard at it. I wish one part, the only remotely objectionable part, had been shorter. But it was all handled with double meanings and confusion. And as I said, we laughed so hard.

Sunday afternoon I called Mom for Mother's Day, then met up with Joe and Josh for Star Trek. We all really enjoyed it. Actually, I met up with Joe before that and we hung out and had dinner. I even managed to finish my book before I left. And I've read another since then. I'm getting behind on the mini-reviews again, aren't I?

And one of my roommates moved out early Monday morning. I've had a couple guys come by to look at the place this week. I think either of them would make good roommates, so hopefully one will move in.

Meanwhile, the roommate I still have and I hung out all night last night. It just kinda happened, and it was a good time. I beat him at Settlers, and we just hung out talking.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Mini Review: The End Game

Today's book is The End Game, the second Burn Notice tie in novel by Tod Goldberg.

Michael is just trying to survive Mother's Day when Sam calls. He's found another client for them. Gennaro Stefania is in Miami to pilot the family yacht in the Hurricane Cup. But he's been told his wife and daughter are kidnapped and unless he looses the race, they will be killed. Michael starts poking around and finds a hornetts nest. Can he rescue the women before he gets stung?

For fans of the TV show, this is a treat. The characters are spot on and the humor and action of the show are perfectly capture. My only complaint was a plot that occasionally took jumps I had to think long and hard about before they made sense. I'm not sure if I was just being dense or if the book needed one or two more things ironed out for us. Eventually, it did all make sense, however.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Word Association For May 7th

Time for my weekly word association post.

  1. Avoid :: Work
  2. Castle :: Mystery (thanks to the fun show on ABC)
  3. Episode :: TV
  4. Limited :: Edition
  5. Nail polish :: Red
  6. Dip :: in Road
  7. Share :: and Share Alike
  8. Damage :: Accident
  9. Improper :: Behavior
  10. Handle :: with Care

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Mini Review: Killer Cruise

Today's mini review finds us talking about Killer Cruise by Laura Levine. (My, don't we sound pretension referring to ourselves in the first person plural.) This is the eighth novel about freelance writer Jaine Austen.

In this book, Jaine has landed herself a free vacation ona cruise ship. All she has to do is teach three one hour classes on "Writing Your Life Story." Her parents are flying to LA to house and cat sit. Jaine is looking forward to a week of fun and relaxation.

Of course, those plans go south before she even gets on board the ship when she finds that her cat, Prozac, has stowed away. Now she has to keep the cat a secret. But things go from bad to worse when someone on board is stabbed and one of Jaine's new friends is accused of the crime. Can she find the killer.

It's no secret I love this series, and the latest book is no exception. This is a comedic series, and the laughs are plentiful once again. There are several sub-plots that are more prominent in the first half, but once the murder takes place, there are some nice clues and red herrings before the ending.

My favorite part of this book, however, was the exchanges between Jaine and her parents (mostly from her parents) about the havoc they were causing in her life back in Los Angeles.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

This and That

Wow, my blog has turned into a book blog yet again. That seems to happen during the Spring and Fall reading challenges. I can think of worse things for it to turn into, can't you?

But let's see if I can find something else to talk about.

We'll start with the 23rd. I took the day off work and joined a friend at Magic Mountain. The crowds were small, so we literally got on everything. The only long wait we had all day was for X first thing in the morning. We got everything in, but I was feeling a little sick by the end of the day. Either I'm getting old, or the human body was only made to experience so many G's in the course of one day. By the time I was home for an hour or two, I was feeling better, however.

This last weekend was my normal "down weekend" schedule of ultimate Frisbee Saturday afternoon, church Sunday morning, and Babylon 5 Sunday night. I love hanging out with Joe and Josh during the show and afterward. But it means I get to bed rather late Sunday night. Or should I say early Monday morning.

Speaking of TV, things are winding down again on that front for the year. I'd say I'm looking forward to a quiet summer with my TV on DVD, but I think I'll still have 5 or 6 shows a week I am watching. Granted, that's down from my way too many this year.

Next fall, I am going to start no new shows. And I will not complain about any shows I watch that are canceled. Except Chuck. I reserve the right to complain bitterly about that one being canceled. Save my Chuck!

I had one of my reviews plagarized and posted on another site a couple weeks back. Fortunately, a member of that site was a good enough detective to figure it out and the site removed the offender very quickly. I wanted it taken down, but I must admit a small part of me was flattered.

The weather seems to be warming up to stay. 80's and low 90's. Ah!

Work is quiet at the moment. I know that will be changing soon, so I am trying to enjoy it while I can. Now, if I can only get ahead on work so when it gets crazy I am not too far behind.

Monday, May 04, 2009

Mini Review: Shark Island

Shark Island is the second book by Joan Druett about Wiki Coffin. The book is set during late 1838 aboard the US Explatory Expedition. Never heard of it? Neither had I until I started reading the series. It was a real expedition sent by the US government to chart the South Pacific, officially discover Antartica, and map the West Coast. Of course, the characters involved in the murder are fiction, but it makes for a fun setting.

Wiki is on the ships as a translator since he is half American and half New Zealander.

This book finds Wiki are part of an off shoot scouting ahead to find out if pirates lay ahead. Instead, they sail into a cove in an island to find a ship that is floudering after scraping bottom. The captain happens to be someone Wiki knows, which gives him a personal stake in the outcome when the captain dies not too long after making contact.

I love the characters in this book. After two books, they are starting to feel like friends. The only exception is a character who swears every time he speaks. That gets old in a hurry.

The plot was uneven at times, but for the most part, I really enjoyed it as well. The end certainly took me by surprise.

Friday, May 01, 2009

Word Association for May 1st

Had a few minutes, so I thought I'd knock this week's word association out.

  1. Soul :: Food
  2. Fold :: Laundry
  3. Breakup :: Relationship
  4. Will :: & Grace (and I never even watched the show)
  5. Fond :: Glance (Trixie Belden at work again)
  6. Powers :: Super
  7. Ho-hum :: Boring
  8. Hustle :: Dance
  9. Avenue :: Street
  10. Tower :: Treasure (this time Hardy Boys)