Sunday, September 30, 2012

What I Read in September

I just knew if I didn't get this out today, it wouldn't happen for at least a week, so here we go.

All ratings are on a scale from 1 (bad) to 5 (great).

THE OTHER WOMAN by Hank Phillippi Ryan - 4
Disgraced Boston TV Reporter Jane Ryland is trying to rebuild your life with a job on a newspaper.  Her first assignment is to get an interview with a Senate candidate's wife.  But Jane begins to suspect there is more going on than meets the eye - like the Senator is having an affair.  Meanwhile, several dead bodies are showing up.  Is there a serial killer on the loose?  There are so many plot threads and characters that it took forever for me to get into the book.  Once I did, it was a fun ride and I couldn't put down.  Worth the effort, but it took about 100 pages to really start to click.

Jaine usually gets along well with her neighbors, but no one gets along well with Cryptessa Muldoon the star of an old one season sitcom.  But when someone kills Cryptessa during a Halloween party while wearing Jaine's costume, she leaps to the top of the suspect list.  Can she clear her name?  As always, this is a fun and funny mystery.  I was laughing at some of the sub-plots while wondering what secret and twist Jaine would uncover next.

NERDS: THE VILLAIN VIRUS by Michael Buckley - 5
Flinch takes center stage in this fourth book in a middle grade series.  Part James Bond spoof part adventure, it's another fun ride as everyone on earth starts trying to take it over.  And the team survive a new school and figure out why everyone is turning evil and how to stop it?  I've loved all of these books so far and can't wait for next year's entry already.

FROZEN HEAT by Richard Castle - 4
When Nikki arrives at her newest case, she's puzzled by how the woman wound up in a freezer truck.  But then she finds a clue that links this woman with the cold case of her mother's murder.  Will she finally solve that mystery as well as solving this current one?  As a fan of the show, I was surprised they went here before they resolved the parallel plot on the show.  But fans don't need to worry because this book goes off in a completely different direction.  There are lots of twists to keep you entertained.  Sadly, the writing is still poor, but you can still get through it.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Weekly TV Recap for September 29th

Dancing with the Stars - Yes, I'm watching again.  How can I not with this line up?  And I'll admit I'm a little surprised at the scores right off the bat.  Either the judges are being pickier or the stars have lost some of their touch or both.  There was certainly one who didn't belong in the pack, but Pamela Anderson is gone already.  Now that the easy elimination is out of the way, the rest is going to be hard.

Partners - There is something about this show I liked even though two of the main characters are gay.  I maybe give it another chance.  One of the characters is annoying enough I might not keep it up if he doesn't improve soon.

Castle - I am so happy this show is back!  Okay, so this wasn't that much of a typical episode, but I did enjoy the bits of humor near the beginning.  And it is nice to finally have Beckett's mother's murder solved.  Now, if we can figure out how to get him convicted, all will be great.  Not that I want it to happen quickly since Jack Coleman makes a great villain.

Survivor - Another easy choice, although the other chick will be right behind.  Why do I feel like the contestants have never seen this show before?  They are acting like newbies.

Big Bang Theory - I might be a little hard on season premiers just because it's been so long since a new episode that I expect greatness from them.  Also the USA network shows usually hit them out of the park.  Having said that, I did enjoy this episode, although it wasn't one of the best.  Still, so great lines, and it's nice to see them continuing stories they started last season and not resolving everything right away.

Last Resort - Yeah, I gave into the hype and watched it.  Frankly, I was underwhelmed.  Too much hype?  It felt by the books and completely predictable.  I'm debating about giving it until next week or just cutting ties with it now.

Elementary - The first show I planned to start for sure this year, and it was enjoyable.  I feel like I'm the only one who thinks so, so it probably won't last long.  Starting this show now with the popular BBC version on the air is probably actually fairly stupid for that reason.  I know enough to know it isn't a traditional portrayal, but I kind of like it.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Marking the End of an Era

Last Sunday was my last day at my church.  I don’t think I’ve talked much about what has been happening there over the past year, but it’s been bad.  I was going to leave about the time I lost my job, but decided to stick around and not make so many changes at the same time.  Four months later, it is beyond time to move on.

This is a good time to do it since the one ministry I am most heavily involved with only had a schedule through the end of the quarter.  Ironically, I did get roped into helping with the 2’s and 3’s this last Sunday.  And wouldn’t you know it, I came down with a cold thanks to them.  But that was a one time thing, and I have made that very clear to the person who recruited me.

It’s sad.  When I switched churches 4 years ago, I thought I was going to a solid church with Godly men leading it.  But over the last year, I have watched a division on the elder board tear things apart.  And since I disagree with everything the winning elders have done, I can’t stay any more.

And I said I wasn’t going to get into it.

It was a very strange day for me overall, because it marked the end of an era in my life.  The end of a seventeen year era – what I consider my entire adult life.  The church I’ve been attending is right next door to the place I worked, my old college.  I have been in that canyon 5 to 6 days a week for the last fifteen years and every day for the two years before that.  As I drove out of the canyon, I knew it was the last time for who knows how long.  That’s a crazy feeling, and a definite end to a chapter in my life.  Heck, even when I moved down to So Cal permanently, I have gone home several times a year.  That’s still a huge part of my life, but the book isn’t quite closed on it.  This is final in so many ways.

Yes, I know which church I am planning to visit next.  And temp jobs seem to be keeping me pretty busy.  God is still definitely at work in my life.  But man, it’s weird to see that part of my life close with such finality.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Survivor Mud Run - 2012

After two and a half months, I finally got back in the mud.  And I’m actually surprised at how much I was missing it.  Let me tell you, this winter is going to be very long.

Josh joined me for the Survivor Mud Run this last Saturday, and we made a day of it since we did a late morning (pretty much noon) wave.  It was nice since it gave us a couple hours to just hang out each way in the car.  Since I’ve done a couple by myself for the first time this year, it was nice to have someone to do this one with.  Looks like my last one of the year is going to be solo as well.  Sigh.

The course was similar but not identical to last year’s.  My favorite part, the inflatable slide into the lake was still there.  The mud was still fairly thick as well.  They thickened up the final mud pit, so we were pretty dirty at the end this go around.

Plus they’d added more mud and sooner, which meant the mud was spaced out quite a bit.

Checking in was much easier this year since they had bibs separate from shirts.  That’s something I’m very thankful for since we got there a little later than I had planned.  On the other hand, bag check was more crowded when we were trying to drop off.  Since we finished around the time of the last leg starting, it was a breeze to get our stuff at the end.

It was definitely hot by the time we left.  It made the mud and water that much more enjoyable since they were a chance to cool off.

But all that is really minor in the grand scheme of things.  We had fun, and that’s what was truly important.  Well, that are we got filthy dirty before it was all over.  What else do you want at a mud run?

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Word Association for September 25th

Time to get to this week's word association.

  1. Familiar :: Similar
  2. Style :: Substance
  3. More than :: Less than
  4. Glistening :: Sweat
  5. Obstruction :: of Justice
  6. Orifice :: Huge
  7. Hugely :: Overrated
  8. Tempest :: Storm
  9. Sauce :: Cooking
  10. Herbs :: Flavor

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Weekly TV Recap

The last of my summer shows ended this week.  And my first fall show premiered this week.  There's some symmetry there.  Or something like that.

White Collar - I knew it!  Granted, it was the previews that gave it away, but I called that "Sam" was really Neal's dad.  That will give the second half of the season an interesting twist.  I am glad to see Peter and Neal have worked things out again.  Not surprised, but it is nice to see.

Covert Affairs - Pretty much what I expected.  The cliffhanger sure makes me want the new episodes to start up sooner rather than later.

Royal Pains - Seriously, can we stop with the last few minutes in the ads for the next episode?  It spoils so much.  I would have been more surprised by the cliffhanger if I hadn't seen it coming a week ago.  Overall, I liked the episode.  My heart broke for Paige and Divya.  And how cool was it that Divya was calling Jill?  I'm glad to see they are still working references to her in even if they've written her out.  And Paige and Evan are still the best couple ever.  It's a shame this is the end of the season, but at least we have the wedding movie in December to look forward to.

Survivor - What is it with Russells on this show and me not liking them?  I was almost rooting for them to vote him off because he's already getting on my nerves.  But in the end, they did vote the one person off.  Not only would he be a huge liability in future challenges, but he's also such a stupid schemer.  I mean, really, you make an alliance with everyone, and then you go crowing about it?  Guy's just asking to be sent packing.

Wipeout - History and Math jokes.  I loved it.

Fall Into Reading 2012

Well, today is the first day of fall, which means it is time for Callapidder Day's 2012 Fall Into Reading.  Follow the link to read all about it and sign up yourself.

My list is very short, at least right now.  There are only 11 books on it, and that includes several books that are mostly pictures.  I guess I'll be adding to the list as I go along.  But for now, here is what I am starting with.

Current Read:
Frozen Heat by Richard Castle (just over a third of the way through this one)

Books held over from 2012 Spring Reading Thing:
None!!!! I love this, and I am hoping to repeat it, although I am probably going to have no problems if I keep my list this short.

Books on my Original to be read list:
Running Ransom Road by Caleb Daniloff
Skating Around the Law by Joelle Charbonneau
Poster Art of the Disney Parks by Daniel Handke and Vanessa Hunt
Disneyland Through the Decades by Jeff Kurtti
Kingdom Keepers V by Ridley Pearson
Peter and the Sword of Mercy by Ridley Pearson and Dave Barry
The Chocolate Moose Motive by JoAnna Carl
The Twelve Clues of Christmas by Rhys Bowen
Keeper of the Lost Cities by Shannon Messenger
The Mark of Athena by Rick Riordan

Books Added to my Original List:

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Life Update

I've been a bad blogger.  BAD!  So how about a general life update.

Well, that was exciting, wasn't it?

Seriously, there isn't much to report in my life right now.  I've been working at a part time job for a couple of weeks, but that appears to have ended last Wednesday.  It was a mess of a job, and I'm glad to be out of there.  I'm started a new job at a new company tomorrow.  It'll be full time, so with traffic that will cut into a lot of my free time.  And let me tell you I've gotten used to that.  And it will be a lot of tax work, which I hate.  But the pay is wonderful.

And I've been running still.  I've got three more races this year, and I know what they are.  Two are mud runs (and one is this Saturday!).  But the other is a 10K here in town.  You'd better believe I am aiming as hard as I can for that under one hour 10K time.

Because of that, I've been running 9 miles once a week.  Last week was hard, but today wasn't so bad.  One big difference was I went first thing in the morning when it was still relatively cool instead of when it was hot late in the day.  Still got hot weather wise by the end, but not as bad.  Ran it in 1:41 and an 11 minute mile average, so that sub hour 10K is going to be a hard task in a week and a half.  But both times I've come close, I was running long and training for something.  I can do it.  I know I can.  And if not, I'll just keep running and working on lowering my time and try again.

I think that's about all going on here right now.  As I said, nothing really super exciting.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Word Association for September 19th

Here's this week's word association.

  1. Social :: Media
  2. Fairy tale :: Once Upon a Time
  3. 0 :: 1
  4. Football :: Fall
  5. Action :: Movie
  6. Setting :: Story
  7. Boomers :: Mics
  8. Rough :: Day
  9. Words :: Phrases
  10. Account :: Story

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Weekly TV Recap for September 15th

White Collar - I have always loved the relationship between Peter and Neal, so to see Neal so mad at Peter at the end was hard.  And yet I agree with him.  Based on what we've seen so far, Peter is in the wrong and really needs to stop what he is doing.  Neal was on to something.  Their boxing match was funny and sad at the same time.  And the final scene was just brilliant.

Covert Affairs - A bit of a let down after last week.  Pretty much along the lines of what I expected.  The only really good dream sequence was with Danielle, and that includes the kiss for this Annie/Auggie shipper.  I like seeing how Auggie pieced things together.  But the recreation of the scene at the diner was the worst.  I know it was supposed to be a dream, but it just looked like a green screen (or in this case blue screen) where the CGI just never got done.

Royal Pains - Did I miss something, or did they not tell us where Hank and Boris went.  And I wonder where they are going with the story of Boris and his friend.  I'm also wondering if that is Paige's mom, and if so what they is going to mean.  And poor Jeremiah.  I agree with Divya that he makes a great addition to the team.  Of course, he wants more from her, which I don't see her being willing to give, but it's a sweet story line.  I like Hank with his new girlfriend.  But is next week really the season finale?  As in nothing coming in January?  I don't think I can live that long without my HankMed!

Wipeout - Yes, I watched it, but I've got to admit I saw a few wipeouts but that was pretty much it.  Not too much to comment on.

Revolution - I know, it doesn't premier until Monday, but it was on my On Demand, so I watched it last night.  It was…a pilot.  It's not as bad as everyone is making it out to be.  After all, actors are going to have make up on and wear good looking clothes no matter what the premise of the show is.  I can see some potential in it, but it really needed to grab me right from the start, and it didn't do that.  It's on opposite Castle, so it's not going to get a full season pick up from me.

New TV on DVD Reviews:

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Word Association for September 13th

Here's this week's word association.

  1. Middle :: Earth (And I hate Lord of the Rings, too.)
  2. Runner :: Me
  3. Umbrella :: Rain
  4. She :: He
  5. Album :: CD
  6. Speak :: Words
  7. Completely :: Unraveled
  8. Underestimated :: That good
  9. Self-esteem :: Proud
  10. Compartment :: Hidden (Mystery reader in me coming out)

Monday, September 10, 2012

My August Reads

I really thought I'd get this up last week.  Oh well.

All ratings are on a scale from 1 (bad) to 5 (great).  Links take you to my review at Epinions.

GOING TO THE BAD by Nora McFarland - 5
Lilly Hawkins I manning the news desk as KJAY when she learns there's been a shooting at her house.  She rushes there to find her uncle is the victim.  While he fights for his life, she tries to figure out who shot him.  What secret from his past has resurfaced?  I love the characters, and I felt them grow even more here.  And the story kept me turning pages to see what the next twist would be.

SOME LIKE IT HAWK by Donna Andrews - 4
When a bank repossessed all the buildings in Caerphilly, the town clerk boarded himself in the town hall basement.  Now Meg, her family, and the rest of the town are smuggling supplies to him.  But when a body turns up just outside his barricade, the jig may be up.  Can Meg find the killer without giving away the secret?  I love these characters, and I will never complaint about spending time with them.  However, I felt the plot could have used more twists or something.  And these books have lost some of their humor.  Still, fans of the series will enjoy this one.

HIDE AND SNOOP by Sue Ann Jaffarian - 5
After a merger at her law firm, Odelia finds herself with a new boss who seems to have it in for her.  While trying to get her job from rival paralegal Mark Baker, Odelia gets saddled with her new boss' niece.  But searching for the little girl's parents start turning up dead bodies, and Odelia suddenly finds herself in way over her head.  I love this series (hence the reason I got my name in this book), and this was another great mix of humor, strong characters, and fast moving plot.  If you don't read this series, fix that today.

Greg Rich and his parents are still stuck in 17th century France, and Spanish assassins have just targeted Greg and his friends, the Musketeers.  This leads them to think that their old nemesis is plotting to overthrow the French government, so they take off to learn what kind of army is on the way.  However, dissention in the group is making the trip hard.  Can they keep it together to save the day?  This is a fun mix of fantasy and historical fiction for kids.  And adults.  I certainly enjoyed it.  It was another can't put down for me.

ISLAND OF THIEVES by Josh Lacey - 4
Tom Trelawney's parents have just dumped him with an uncle he hardly knows.  But Uncle Harvey is planning a trip to Peru to follow a treasure map he's just uncovered.  Tom talks his way into the trip, but they have hardly landed when they run afoul of the most notorious crook in the country.  Can they stay one step ahead of him and find the treasure.  Another young adult novel, and another fun, wild ride.  I did feel the characters could use a bit more development, but the target audience will love it.

Saturday, September 08, 2012

Weekly TV Recap for September 8th

Yes, I was lazy and typed this today.  One reason it's so late.  And with so few shows on, too.  We're definitely in the wind down between summer ending and fall not quite beginning yet.

Stars Earn Stripes - Again, it's hard to root against anyway.  I was hoping Todd Palin or Dean Cain would win it all, so I was disappointed.  But it was truly hard to root against anyone.  It did seem like the teams who came later on did better, so I'd say getting to watch was a distinct advantage.

White Collar - Alex was back.  If they want to build a romance between those two, I would be all for it.  And I loved Neal being arrest twice and Peter's comment about it.  Very funny.

Covert Affairs - I'm still trying to decide if I was shocked by the ending or not.  I had heard it was coming, so I knew to expect it, yet my jaw dropped.  Still, what did I say when they cast Nina Myers on a spy show?  Never trust her.  The episode was packed, certainly felt more like a summer finale than a regular episode, so I'm thrilled we get two more episodes.

Royal Pains - I'm sure you're tired of hearing me say this, but how cute are Evan and Paige together?  How he wanted to fix things but trusted Hank and just let them be.  And the General coming to him.  But it was obvious the main plot of the week was just a set up for Paige to reunite with her parents.  And when the woman showed up and the end, I knew who she was.  Next week will be interesting for sure.  One last thing, I liked Paige being involved in the medical part.  She has such a great bedside manner.

Wipeout - Yes, I watched.  I think that's about all I have to say right now.

New TV on DVD Reviews:

Thursday, September 06, 2012

Disneyland Weekend

No, I didn't just run down to Disneyland for the run.  I spent all weekend there.  And boy does that not help your legs or energy level after running a half marathon.

Since I didn't have work on Friday, I headed down in the early afternoon to pick up my packet for the race. That went smoothly, and I even caught a preview of Reba's new show.  I wasn't super impressed, but I'll still give it a chance when it premiers in November.  Then I met up with Chris and his friend Keith.  Marsha got into town that night, and I spent a little time with her before meeting up with my family at their trailer.

Saturday started bright and early.  I met up with Marsha and other Trixie friends Angelique and Julie for a day of fun.  We had brunch with Sue Ann Jaffarian and Shirley and Doug, which was fun.  Then we spent all day in both parks.  We met up with my family in the afternoon for a little while as well.

Sunday started even earlier with the race.  After cleaning up, it was time to hit the parks again.  This time, it was just Marsha, Angelique, and myself.  We hung out in Disneyland most of the day, and then I met up with my family for about an hour or so in the evening.  I would have liked to hang out with them more, but I was dead on my feet most of the day.  Ironically, I got a second wind about 6 and felt wonderful.

Monday was just me and my family in the park, and it was a fun day.  This was my niece's first trip to Disneyland, and it was lots of fun seeing it from her point of view.  Some stuff scared her, but she really enjoyed much of it.  And seeing her meet Mickey for the second time was a complete joy.  They were so cute together.

Yes, I did pop in for an hour or so on Tuesday on my way north.  But it was hot and I was tired and I wanted to get home, so I didn't stay for long.  I left in time to beat the worst of the traffic, which was nice.

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Running a Half Marathon

As I mentioned yesterday, I did it.  I ran the Disneyland half marathon on Sunday.  This has been in my sights for 8 or 9 months, so I am quite happy to have accomplished it.

The race started at 5:45.  Yes, that is in the morning.  And yes, I signed up for that knowing when it would start.  Even as I type that, it's a little hard to believe.  But I got up and I was there in plenty of time.  I would have liked to have gotten there a bit earlier, but the parking was a problem.  Then I had to fight to get to my corral.  But I made it.

You'd think there were 15,000 or so people running it.  I mean, it was a zoo at the starting line.  I was in the fourth group to start, and I was surrounded by people the entire time.  Yes, we spread out enough eventually that I had some room to maneuver, but I was never lonely.

We started out running around the outside of the parks before heading into CA Adventure and Disneyland.  The course took us through just about every way we could go through the parks without hitting a dead end, including back stage a couple of times.  We did get to run through Cars Land, which made me really happy.

After that, we hits the streets of Anaheim.  And we were only about 3 miles into the race by that point.  The next stretch was fairly unexciting.  But then again, my training runs are on city streets around here, so they aren't exactly exciting either.  I did like one store we passed along the way.  They had changed their marquee out front to read "Finish lines are just dreams with deadlines."

Around mile 9, he reached the Honda Center, where the Ducks play ice hockey.  And we got to run through the parking lot.  Thrilling again, right?  Then we hit a bike trail by a creek/drainage ditch before we reach Angel Stadium.

Now that was actually fun because we got to run around the outside of the field itself.  They even filmed us and put us on the big screen, but I missed seeing myself up there because I realized it too late.

From there, it was a run back to the finish line outside the Disneyland hotel.  And by this point, I was so ready to be done.  I knew I could finish, but it took all my willpower to get me through the last 3 miles.

But I finished.  My official time was 2:35:27.  I finished in the upper half overall, but in the lower half of the men.  What's funny is that almost twice as many women as men run this race.

Unfortunately, my family, who had driven down especially to see me finish, got some bad information and then were stuck in traffic and got there after I had finished.  However, I did meet up with them and talk to them afterward.  Since they couldn't have seen the finish line anyway, I'm more upset for them that they didn't make it than I am for them not actually being there.  The fact that they made the effort means the world to me.

I had two friends who ran it as well.  Marsha, from my Trixie boards, and Chris, who I've run several races with this year.  Chris was finished long before I was (started in first coral and finished 45 minutes faster than I did), and I never did connect with him.  But Marsha finished in about the same time I did, and we chatted some at the finish area before hashing and rehashing parts of the race over the rest of the day in Disneyland.

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

Word Association for September 4th

Yes, I ran a half marathon this weekend.  But you're going to have to wait to hear about that because tonight all I'm going to do is the word association.

  1. Tenure :: College Professor
  2. Baptism :: by Fire
  3. Holders :: Cup
  4. Irritation :: Allergies
  5. Academics :: Schooling
  6. Mug :: Shot
  7. Charge :: Battery
  8. Percent :: 100%
  9. Clears :: Storm
  10. Selfless :: Generous

Saturday, September 01, 2012

Weekly TV Recap by September 1st

Stars Earn Stripes - My TV/DVR were acting strange, and the sound and picture were messed up.  Turns out I could have waited and it would have fixed itself, but I didn't know that until I had erased it.  I really couldn't follow the mission, but I did see we lost our first woman.

White Collar - Once again, it was a scene that would never happen in real life, but the scene with Peter and Sara "making out" while Elizabeth and Neal coached was an absolute riot.  The plot seemed a little complicated, even for this show.

Covert Affairs - Annie has a problem.  Her mark has fallen for her, and I think she's beginning to fall for him.  How they resolve all of that is going to be very interesting.

Royal Pains - Paige is really struggling with the revelation that she was adopted.  Not that I expected anything less.  The singer in the episode was completely stereotypical, but I did like her, especially her down to earth attitude and the fact that she wasn't wild and crazy.

Necessary Roughness - Wow.  Was there anything they didn't throw into that episode?  I mean seriously, it was packed from wall to wall.  Rayjay in trouble with the cop.  TK escaping and going back to rehab.  Matt getting the receiver they needed.  And Pitman dying.  Of course, I called that one early on thanks to the previews.  At first, I thought they might be talking about TK, but as soon as the plane went down, I knew who they really meant.  (Stop with the spoiler teasers, guys).

Melissa and Joey - I was actually expecting them to end with a cliffhanger of some kind, so the fact that they ended the marriage when and how they did surprised me.  On to season three.

Wipeout - I loved the pessimist.  That was the funniest part of the episode by far.

New TV on DVD Reviews: