Friday, December 21, 2007

Fall Into Reading 2007 Wrap Up

So, it's about that time. Time to wrap up the Fall Into Reading challenge hosted over at Callapidder Days. Taken from the list I made in September, here's how I did. (All links are to my review at Epinions.)

Books I Read From My List:

The Spellman Files by Lisa Lutz
Candy Cane Murder by Joanne Fluke, Laura Levine, & Leslie Meier
Some Like it Hot-Buttered by Jeffrey Cohen
The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
Last Light by Terri Blackstock
Green Water Ghost by Glynn Marsh Alam
Staying Home is a Killer by Sara Rosett
Mr. Monk in Outer Space by Lee Goldberg
Beware False Profits by Emilie Richards
The Crafty Teddy by John J. Lamb
On the Wrong Track by Steve Hockensmith
Face Time by Hank Phillippi Ryan
Death in Lovers' Lane by Carolyn Hart
A Threat to Justice by Chuck Norris, Aaron Norris, Tim Grayem, and Ken Abraham
Peppermint Twisted by Sammi Carter

Books I Read Not on My List:

Elmer and the Dragon by Ruth Stiles Gannett
The Dragons of Blueland by Ruth Stiles Gannett
Mistletoe Murder by Leslie Meier
Caught in the Middle by Gayle Roper

Books Listed Not Read:

Blood Matters by Taffy Cannon
Hell for the Holidays by Chris Grabenstein
Faint of Art by Hailey Lind

My thoughts:

Once again, I'm surprised at how close I got to my goal. If I had stuck to my list, I would have gotten through it. Or at least very close to it. The two dragon books are early kid's chapter books that only took me an hour to read, so they don't really translate to a complete book. But it is close. Turned out there were issues with getting Hell for the Holidays published on time, so I just got my copy yesterday. Even if I had stuck to my list, I wouldn't have read that one.

There were quite a few authors on the list I already knew I liked, and their latest certainly didn't change my mind. I tried a couple new authors and one again for a second time. I'm definitely going to read Lisa Lutz's second Spellman novel. I don't think I will read more by Sara Rosett or Leslie Meier. And even if it is free, I doubt I will read more in the Chuck Norris series.

Caught in the Middle was actually a reread, and I loved it again.

I don't know if I could name one favorite, but the list would have to include Crafty Teddy, Beware False Profits, Last Light, and Death in Lovers' Lane.

That's all for now. But if this happens again in the spring, I'll be back.

Mini Review: Peppermint Twisted

Looks like this will be the last one of these for the Fall Reading Challenge for me. The other books I read weren't on my posted list from September.

Anyway, it's time to discuss Peppermint Twisted by Sammi Carter.

Abby Shaw owns a candy store in the resort town of Paradise, Colorado. She's also co-chairing the arts festival committee. A few weeks before the event, Felicity Asbury worms her way into the chair position. Felicity is hated by all in town, and her presence causes an uproar with the artists. But when Abby finds Felicity in her parking lot the next morning murdered, Abby finds herself under scrutiny. Can she find who did it?

It was nice to get back to this series. I like Abby and it was nice to visit her again. The plot had several twists and kept me confused until the end. Unfortunately, the ending was underdeveloped and rush, a flaw with the first two in the series as well. Still, I am glad I read the book.

If you'd like to read my full review of Peppermint Twisted, follow the link.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Thursday Threesome for December 20th

This week's edition is brought to us by carolers and The Back Porch.

Onesome: Angels-- as tree topppers? ...or spires? Stars? Bears? What do you like to use to set off that tree?
I actually don't have a tree topper. Which works well because I don't think the top of my artificial tree would support one. I'd love one like my parents have that is basically a star but includes some scenes from the Biblical story in the middle.

Twosome: we have-- heard you're getting something special this year! Do you have any idea what any of your Christmas presents are going to be?
No clue. It probably helps that I haven't actually seen any of my family since they started shopping. But at least I know exactly what everyone is getting from me. And I have them all, too.

Threesome: ...heard-- the worst Christmas song ever this year? Which one is it for you? I mean that one that even if Aunt Martha is playing it on Christmas Eve puts you out on the porch!
Actually, I haven't heard any bad songs this year. No bad version of "O Holy Night." And I haven't come close to hearing Steven Curtis Chapman's horrid "Going Home for Christmas," either. And that makes me very happy.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Is it Friday Yet?

The next two days are going to be so long! I am already ready for it to be Friday and the start of my Christmas vacation. I'm antsy and not focused on anything. I just want to sit back, relax, and goof off.

And it didn't help that we officially got word that we can leave at noon on Friday. Of course, for me that always depends on how much work we've gotten done. But we are talking about closing the year for payroll, including W-2's, tomorrow. Which would mean I'd have nothing I have to do on Friday. Talk about torture! All I have to say is we'd better really be able to leave at noon because I am so ready.

In other news, I have finally officially finished Christmas shopping. Now I just need to wrap it all.

And I am only three reviews away from writing 50 reviews for the 10 4 10 at Epinions this month. Plan to knock two of them out tonight.

Speaking of Epinions, I had a great month earnings wise this month. My digital camera review earned me $30, and my review of an out of print Christmas CD earned me $12. In fact, I actually claimed a spot on the top earning reviews for the month in the music category. That's a first for me, and I'm rather proud of that.

And they've just updated their stats, so I'm off to see how I'm doing.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Mini Review: A Threat to Justice

Threat to Justice by Chuck Norris and three other men is, well, bad.

This is the second book about a successful and elite group of soldiers during the Civil War. It picks up after the war has ended. All six of the men intend to go their separate ways. When they do, they find prejudice no matter where they are.

But none is worse then Ezra Justice and his friend, former slave Nate York. They return to their plantation in Tennessee to find a stronghold of the KKK taking over the nearby town. Can they survive?

The book is not a complete failure. There are some interesting scenes. However, they are buried in a book that wanders all over the place with hardly any plot. To make matters worse, the characters are rather thin. And this is a Christian novel. It makes it obvious by preaching several times over the course of the book.

Personally, I recommend you stay away from this one. But if you'd like more info, check out my full review of A Threat to Justice.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Word Association for December 16th

Found here.

  1. Interview :: Job
  2. Army :: Navy
  3. Unwrap :: Gift
  4. Evolve :: Better
  5. Bus :: Stop
  6. The real thing :: True
  7. Streak :: Winning
  8. Gorge :: Beautiful (I've seen some beautiful gorges on trips.)
  9. Spicy :: Hot
  10. Course :: Golf

Friday, December 14, 2007

Mini Review: Death in Lovers' Lane

Mystery author Carolyn Hart has two mystery series. She is best known for the best selling Death on Demand series. So far, I've only read her lesser known series about retired reporter Henrie O. Henrie teaches journalism at a college in Missouri, and that school provides the setting for Death in Lovers' Lane, the third entry in the series.

Henrie is teaching a directed study this semester on investigative journalism. Maggie, the student, wants to do her final project on three famous unsolved cases in the town, two of them directly related to the college. Henrie agrees, but only if Maggie digs up new facts. And she must have because two days later she turns up dead in lovers' lane, one of the locations for one of the murders. In order to relive her conscience, Henrie O starts investigating the three old cases and poking into Maggie's life trying to find out if her assignment is what got her killed.

With four mysteries to solve, the action never lagged in this book. There were lots of characters, but I was able to keep them straight very easily. And the writing just pulled you in and made you care about the outcome.

If you'd like to read my full review of Death in Lovers' Lane, just follow the link.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Thursday Threesome for December 13th

That time again. Brought to us this week by decked halls and The Back Porch.

Onesome: 'Tis-- Hmmm... More or less an older contraction? Do you have any semi-archaic words you use regularly? (Yes, Laurie, "allegro" would qualify...)
I'll throw "'tis" around every so often myself. That's the only one that springs to mind.

Twosome: the-- heck you say? Okay, how about a 'regional' saying you're known to be fond of? You know, the one the relatives just don't get when you say it on the phone... Sure, slang will work !
I'm afraid I just can't think of any. I'm not sure if "My bad" was just a California thing or not, but I really tried to avoid that one, anyway.

Threesome: Season--ings for the season? Mulled cider? Peppermint bark? Apple pie? What do you look forward to in the Winter months?
Peppermint in just about any variety. Though I haven't tried peppermint bark before. Which reminds me. I should look for Peppermint ice cream before it is gone for the year.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

More Seasonal

So the last time I walked about life, I mentioned the warm weather. I miss it. About the time I made that post, it grew very cold. Okay, it probably hit 60 today. But yesterday I'd be shocked to learn it got above 50. And there was a cold wind blowing making it very dry and much colder. And we all know how much I like cold and wind. Plus the super dryness bothers my skin.

Other then that, not much has been happening. I'm on track to write 50 reviews at Epinions this month. Next year, I slow down. Reviewing writing isn't as fun as it once was. And this is supposed to be a hobby.

I've finished almost all of my Christmas shopping. Just have one more small gift to get. Of course, I did accidentally order two of one item. I'll probably spend half of what it is worth returning it to Amazon, but such is life.

The big news is we got new windows in my building at work. You know, windows that actually fit in the hole. There were some people who had giant cracks around their windows. Personally, mine didn't latch and I had to use a clamp to hold it closed. They also seem more energy efficent, so it should be nice for holding in heat in the winter and cool in the summer. Not that we need help with the second one. My feet are always frozen by the end of the day.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Does No One Believe in Consequences Anymore?

I never thought this would be the case, but I am furious with Hilary Clinton and President Bush right now for the exact same reason. (Granted, I've been mad at them at the same time before, but always for different things.)

What's the issue? The whole sub-prime loan mess.

Now I'll be the first to admit it is a mess. And the idea of anyone losing their homes doesn't make me happy. But let's break this down.

For the unitiated, the sub-prime loans offered loans to individuals for less then the prime interest rate. In essence, the banks were paying customers to take out loans. Now, there were several varieties. Some only required you to pay a small amount each month, adding the difference in what you should have paid to principal. But all of these loans called for the interest rate to rise substancially in a few years.

And guess what. The interest rates are rising. And the people who got those loans suddenly can't pay for them.

Now, I'll be the first to admit that these offers look appealing. After I bought my condo, I got plenty of offers with 2% interest or promising me payments of $200 a month.

But if it looks to good to be true, it probably is. It's the fine print that comes back to haunt you, and that's what it is doing here, too.

But people didn't read the fine print. They used these sub-prime loans to buy houses they normally wouldn't be able to afford. They figured they could afford it now, and they'd figure out how to pay for it later. Or they didn't bother to read the fine print. But now that their interest rate is rising, they can no longer make the payments.

I do blame the banks equally for this mess. After all, who loaned them the money? I'm sorry, but banks are supposed to make smart loans, and these were smart on either end.

And what was the result? House prices skyrocketed as too many people tried to buy houses. And it got to the point that people couldn't afford anything any more.

Now we are faced with lots of foreclosures from people defaulting on their loans. And that means that house prices are plummetting. Heck, my condo has lost most of the gain since I bought it in one year. If prices keep like this, I'll be upside down a year from now.

So, why am I upset with Bush and Clinton? Because they feel it is the government's job to bail these people out. They are asking banks to keep the sub-prime rate where it is for years. And they are suggesting that the government needs to pay off some of these mortgages.

I'm sorry, but that is just plain wrong. That means that I and other responsible people will have money taken from us via taxes and given to people who made poor choices. Sorry, but it isn't the government's job to bale anyone out of their problems.

And to make things worse, our national debt is completely out of control. With plans like this, I wonder why.

Yes, loosing a home is a horrid thing. But it does happen. It happens to people who make wise choices. And it happens to people who make poor choices. But the government shouldn't be bailing any of those people out of their messes. The government's job is to govern, not take care of us.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Mini Review: Face Time

On the surface, Face Time by Hank Phillippi Ryan appears to be a romance novel, or at least romantic suspense. But that couldn't be further from the truth. It's a mystery, and a good one, too.

TV reporter Charlotte "Charlie" McNally has just been handed the scoop of a lifetime. A woman is in jail for a murder she didn't committ. Granted, it was an easy conviction after she confessed. But Charlie has been handed a tape giving the woman an air tight alibi.

But is it that simple? The tape could have been faked and the woman still claims she did it. Meanwhile, Charlie's station is getting preasure from the Attorney General's office to drop the story. What is really happening?

This book has great characters that I really identified with. The mystery was pretty good, too, but the pacing seemed uneven to me.

That complaint aside, I really did enjoy Face Time.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Word Association for December 9th

Taken from here.

  1. Master :: Slave
  2. Tour :: Travel
  3. Input :: Output
  4. Downtown :: Mall
  5. Pricey :: Expensive
  6. Acceptable :: Good Enough
  7. Terrace :: Apartments
  8. Sunday :: Church
  9. Payoff :: Criminal
  10. Jack and Jill :: Up a Hill

Friday, December 07, 2007

Mini Review: On the Wrong Track

On the Wrong Track by Steve Hockensmith is the second book about cowboy brothers Old Red and Big Red. Old Red has become hooked on the adventures of Sherlock Holmes and fancies himself a detective just like his literary hero. And he does a good job of proving it.

In this book, the brothers take jobs as security agents for the Southern Pacific Railroad. They board a train in Utah to travel to head quarters in Oakland to be trained. But along the way, the boy in charge of the baggage is killed and thrown under the train. But things get weirder when a notorius gang stops the train, gets on, but doesn't rob anyone. What's going on?

The mystery is great and the action moved fast. I literally could not put the book down once I reached the climax. Granted, it helped that I was on an airplane at the time. But if I could, I wouldn't have wanted to.

My only complaint about the book is the language. There were quite a few four letter words, more then I thought necessary in fact.

If you are interested in reading more about the book, check out my full review of On the Wrong Track.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Thursday Threesome for December 6th

This week's edition is brought to us by your local grocery store and The Back Porch.

Onesome: Chocolate-- The joy of the Christmas season? Boxes of See's and Godiva and other "Food Pron" showing up at the office? How do you feel about chocolate at the holidays? Yeah, really!
Actually, nothing has started showing up yet. We tend to get it right before Christmas. You know, when the office is closed for two weeks. Of course, I don't mind since I am trying to cut back on sweets right now. Which is hard because I do love chocolate, just in small doses.

Twosome: Pop--ping into your mind as the next thing that you only find this time of year? What are you looking forward to/forgot to go by to check on/oh, heck, it's time for? Pick one and go for it!
Candy canes. I must get myself some candy canes.

Threesome: Tarts-- ...and is it also "candle time" around the place (work or home)? ...and do you use those 'tarts' to make the place smell nice? (Google it if you aren't familiar with them .)
Those scented products bother my allergies, so I avoid them at all costs.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Man, My Thumbs Hurt

This weekend, I decorated for Christmas. And, naturally, that means fighting with Christmas lights.

Actually, it's been a couple years since I had to do that. I started storing them in grocery bags instead of trying to put them back in the box. Not only is it easier taking them out and putting them away, but I don't have to worry about lose connections. And this year started out no different. I plugged in all four strings I put on the Christmas tree, and they lit right up. I carefully put them on the tree. And the last one I put on stopped working.

So I took it off the tree and tried taking each bulb out and putting it back in. That didn't work. So I tried replacing each bulb with a new one. That didn't work either. Clint fooled with them for a while, too, but we just couldn't get them to light up.

And pulling out each bulb really did a number on my thumbs on both hands. They are still a little soar today, but not nearly as bad as they were Saturday night.

I did get the rest of the decorations up, and the living room looks great as always. I love having my Christmas stuff out.

Of course, that night some of my outside lights decided not to work. Just one third of a string. Unfortunately, it's in the middle of my balcony, so it's really noticable. What's weird is, I was looking right at it when it went out. I had hoped it would come back on, but it hasn't yet. And I just don't have the gumption to deal with it. Guess I'll wait until next year and replace some lights.

In other news, Epinions is running their 10 for 10 promotion again. So I will be trying to post reviews in groups of 10, because for each group I earn $10. I am hoping to hit 40 or 50, but we'll see how the month progresses.

And I've gotten a new badge at Epinions. I am now an Advisor in the Personal Finance category. I can't tell you how rediculously happy that makes me.

The weather has been unbelievable here. Monday night, it was cold with a cold wind blowing. It started warming up Tuesday, and it's hit 80 the last two days. Still really cools off at night, but so nice when I go out at lunch time.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Mini Review - The Crafty Teddy

The Crafty Teddy is the third in the Teddy Bear Collector's Mysteries by John J. Lamb.

When Brad and Ashleigh's home is robbed in the middle of the night, they are upset. To make matters worse, one of their collectible bears vanishes. Depsite police efforts, no trace of it shows up.

A couple weeks later, Brad spots some Japanese mobsters in the area. They ask directions to the local museum. Driving by an hour later, Brad find the museum director dead. But things really get interesting when Ashleigh identifies the antique bears as counterfeit. What's going on?

I love this series. The plot is extremely entertaining. Brad and Ashleigh have a wonderful marriage. And Brad's sense of humor, or should I say sarcasm, makes me laugh the entire way through.

For more information, check out my full review of The Crafty Teddy.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Word Association for December 2nd

Borrowed from here.

  1. Music :: Theme
  2. Insanity :: Crazy
  3. Curtain :: Call
  4. Nickname :: Fun
  5. Container :: Box
  6. Roast :: Turkey
  7. Thong :: Beach
  8. Purple :: Crayon
  9. Holidays :: December
  10. Christmas tree :: Decorated

Friday, November 30, 2007

Mini Review: Beware False Profits

Beware False Profits by Emilie Richards is the third book about minister's wife Aggie Sloan-Wilcox. As this book opens, Aggie and her husband Ed are in New York City. But their weekend away hits a detour when a member of their congregation goes missing. They track down the last place he was seen, a bar where he performs once a month as a cross-dresser.

With that trail having turned cold, they return to their small Ohio town just in time for the mayor's wife to be murdered. She had just joined the board of the charity the missing man runs. Are the two events connected? Aggie can't rest until she finds out.

I am so glad I gave this series a chance. I almost passed it by because I figured I would disagree with the main character's theology. And do I ever! But that doesn't form the basis for any of the story. It's just part of who the characters are.

And the characters are rich. I especially love watching Aggie try to raise her two daughters. And the plot is good with plenty of twists and turns.

This is a good series for anyone who enjoys cozies.

If you want more information, read my full review of Beware False Profits.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Thursday Threesome Times Two

Since last week was Thanksgiving (and I didn't do the Threesome), I've got a double dose of fun from The Back Porch.

Last week's was brought to us by time.

Onesome: Over-- and under. Above and below. Up and down. How's about at least a pair (three would be ideal ) of matching phrases?
Open and close. In and out. Happy and sad.

Twosome: the-- next day? Black Friday! Are you going shopping? Decorating? Working? Hiding in the closet?
I hung out with family during that Friday. And went to a play that night.

Threesome: Years-- of research have proven that more years of research are needed! What would you like to see researched? ...and don't go high; this is 'just us folks' here; I'm thinking: whether there's enough cheese in mac and cheese!
How about if there are too many studies going on?

And this week's edition is brought to us by Neutragenia.

Onesome: Therapeutic-- household addons: Do you use candles or aroma therapy or bath soaps or salts around your place?
Those things usually bother my allergies, so I don't use them. I like to comfortable at home instead of miserable. :)

Twosome: Moisturizing?-- How's the weather been? It's the rainy season in the US; what's happening where you live?
Actually, it's been warm and dry. Definitely cooling off, but still very dry. There's a chance of rain tomorrow, and I really hope it does rain. We sure could use it.

Threesome: Lotion-- Since it's Winter in the Northern Hemisphere, it's dry skin time (yes, you too, Mark!). Do you have any hand lotion suggestions for the gang?
My skin is pretty dry year round. But yes, winter makes it worse. My suggestion? Neutragenia. I love the stuff.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

And We're Back!

Yes, we have returned from our Thanksgiving in Texas. And we have started referring to ourself in the first person plural.

Okay, not really. :)

I had a wonderful time with my family.

But I almost didn't make it. I missed my flight out on Wednesday. The Flyaway broke down, so I left a half hour later then I intended. And the traffic was horrid. Fortunately, I was able to take the next flight, which left an hour later. And it only cost me $25, which wasn't bad at all. It was too bad because I was supposed to get in 15 minutes before my parents, but considering the alternative, it wasn't bad at all.

Some good friends of my brother and sister-in-law came to Thanksgiving dinner. I've been hearing about them since they moved to Texas, so it was great to finally get to meet them.

Friday night we went to see A Christmas Carol at Dallas Theater Center again. I think the kids liked it more this year, while Mom and Dad liked it less. Figure that one out.

Saturday, I met up with Lori from my Trixie boards for lunch. We had a great time just chatting. And it was my first experience driving in Dallas. My brother gave me great directions, so it wasn't a problem at all.

Sunday was church in the morning and a youth game night in the evening.

Monday we went for a walk in the White Rock Lake area.

You'll notice what is missing. I didn't make it to Half Price Books. :( Next year for sure.

But we played lots of games. Mostly Mexican Train Dominos and Settlers of Catan. I had never played that second one before. It's fun, although I don't think I'm as addicted as most everyone else seems to be by that game. I was feeling good that I was getting close to winning by the end of the weekend.

It was really cold, however. Apparently, the cold front moved in with us on Wednesday. It actually snowed Thanksgiving day. Not enough to stick, but I could definitely see it in the air. It had warmed up by the end of the trip, but it was much warmer here when I got back last night. But the ironic thing is we've had bitter cold Santa Anna winds all day today. Yep, I think we're fast approaching winter. Considering it is almost December, I guess I can't complain too loudly.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Reason #932 Why I Love Southern California Weather

This last weekend, the weather was absolutely gorgeous! It was a little cooler Saturday, but Sunday things warmed up again. We had the condo opened all day, and I loved having the fresh air in the place.

And Sunday I also put up my Christmas lights. It's wonderful being able to do that when the weather is nice. I'm going to have to keep an eye on my lights, however. They don't all seem to want to stay lit this year. I've got some that are burned out and I need more replacement bulbs. But I've also got some that seem to be loose and not connecting, and that is what is making the whole string go out. But if I jingle them, they come back together.

Let's see, what else have I been up to? Not much. I did get to go see Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium Saturday afternoon. I really thought I'd like it, but it turned out to be more serious then I was expecting.

But the big news came yesterday. I am tied for number 76 at Amazon. Considering the guy I am tied with hasn't written for a couple years, I will pass him eventually. More exciting, yesterday was the once a month stats update at Epinions. And I have made the top 1000!!!!! That was two years of work and over 600 reviews. It might help if I wrote more often in the higher hit getting categories. Books especially isn't where the people are. But I enjoy it. We'll just have to see how high I can get considering those who have been there longer have such a head start.

As soon as I post this, I'm on my way to the airport. I'm heading to Dallas for Thanksgiving with my family again this year. So I will see you all when I get back.

Mini Review: Mr. Monk in Outer Space

Mr. Monk in Outer Space is the fifth tie to the TV show Monk.

In this entry in the series, Monk is asked to find the killer of the creator of a cult science fiction TV show. Since the killer was dressed as a character from the show and the murder happened right outside a fan convention, the police assume they will need his attention to detail to make find the needle in a box of needles. But the costumes and culture of the fans makes Monk uncomfortable. Can he over come that to find the killer? And how will he react when he learns that his brother Ambrose is also a fan?

Like the show, this book provides a good puzzle and plenty of laughs. I made a few of the connections before Monk appeared to, but that was minor. My bigger complaint was that the characters occasionally slipped into caraciture, something I feel the show does upon occasion, most notically this season.

All told, I did enjoy this book. So if you love the show, check out Mr. Monk in Outer Space.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Good Stem Cell News

I just caught this headline at Yahoo.

NEW YORK - Scientists have created the equivalent of embryonic stem cells from ordinary skin cells, a breakthrough that could someday produce new treatments for disease without the explosive moral questions of embyro cloning.

Research teams in the United States and Japan showed that a simple lab technique can rival the complex and highly controversial idea of extracting stem cells from cloned embryos.

It was a landmark achievement on all fronts, defusing one of the most divisive debates in modern medicine and religion. It was lauded by scientists, ethicists and religious groups.

"This work represents a tremendous scientific milestone — the biological equivalent of the Wright Brothers' first airplane," said Dr. Robert Lanza, whose company, Advanced Cell Technology, has been trying to extract stem cells from cloned human embryos.

"It redefines the ethical terrain," said Laurie Zoloth, a bioethicist at Northwestern University.

"It's a win-win for everyone involved," said the Rev. Thomas Berg of the Westchester Institute, a Roman Catholic think tank. "We have a way to move forward which ... brings the kind of painful national debate over this controversial research to very much a peaceful and promising resolution."

This is indeed wonderful news. I hope those pushing for government funds for stem cells will back off now. There is no longer a need to kill people, or harvest them if you will, to do this research.

And I seriously hope that the research on these stem cells produces great results.

I will be interested to hear what those who claimed we would find nothing worth noting by pursuing other options will have to say on this issue. I would hope for some apologies, but I won't be surprised if the result if deafening silence instead.


So I've wanted to get to this post for over a week now. And finally here we go.

And I am going to come down on the side of ... nobody.

Let's be honest here. Strikes in our modern age never make anyone look good. We aren't talking about unsafe working conditions. We are talking about greed on both sides of the table pure and simple. Because if you don't like what you are getting paid you can always find a new job. If enough people did that, you might be offered more for your old job to get your level of expertise back. That's the free market economy at work.

I can see an argument for the writers. All creative endeavors pay royalties of some kind for new copies of the original. If these writers were writing books, they'd get paid every time their book was sold. Why not for TV and movies?

And let's be honest, CEO's get paid too much money as it is no matter what industry we are talking about.

On the other hand, it is the production company that is paying the majority of the costs of making the shows and movies to begin with.

And writers get paid an up front fee for writing the script. These royalties are in addition to the fee. And those fees are rather nice. Heck, one script is almost as much as I make in a year.

Of course, that would only really be helpful if a writer was on a TV show, which doesn't happen all the time. In fact, I keep hearing about how half of the writers are out of work at any given moment. So, um, work in a profession with better job security. Or, get another job during those down times. No one is forcing you to work in a job with no security.

And comments like this one do more to push me to the studio's side. Way to resort to preemptive name calling, Paul. See if I ever knowingly support you again. Ever.

Frankly, I am getting tired of the overblown rhetoric over the whole thing. One essay I read said this was taking a stand against all corporations and if the writer's caved it would make things horrid for all of us in any industry. Um, okay.

But let's be honest, this will impact me. And everyone else who enjoys some entertainment. But especially me.

I'm not worried about the returning favorites I watch. True, Lost or Heroes might have short seasons. 24 might take a years off (and maybe it will do them some good.)

I am, however, worried about the new shows I've found that I love. I can't wait each week to watch Chuck and Pushing Daisies. Neither show is exactly high in the ratings, but they have begun to build an audience. A long strike could ruin a chance the shows will last a long time. Either people will forget about them, or the studios will preemptively cancel them.

And let's talk DVD releases. Oh, I know the studios make millions off them. They hardly cost anything to produce, so most of the sale price is pure profit. So the studios could realistically eat the cost of what the writers are demanding without feeling much of anything.

But anyone who thinks that studios will do that raise your hand so I can come whack you on the head.

Once this is settled, watch for DVD prices to rise by several dollars. I won't predict how much for sure, but you'd better believe that we, the fans, are the ones who ultimately will be paying for the raise the writers are demanding. Especially since the Screen Actors Guild will be doing the same thing over the same issues come summer.

And, when the writers realise how rich the corporations are getting off their work, we'll go through the entire things all over again.

There are new talks scheduled for Monday. I hope they lead somewhere. Because if this drags out, it will get resolved in time for the actors to strike. And then we'll essentially loose two years of TV and new movies before this gets resolved.

Making everyone involved on both sides of the issues look like big babies.

Mini Review: Staying Home is a Killer

Today's mini review is of Staying Home is a Killer by Sara Rosette.

Ellie Avery is meeting her husband for lunch at the squadron when she runs into her friend Penny Follette. Penny is happy about something. Which is why when Penny dies by suicide that afternoon, Ellie doesn't buy it. Fortunately, the police don't buy it, either. Unfortunately, they think Ellie is a person of interest in the case.

Ellie's husband is an air force pilot stationed in easter Washington. That provides an interesting background to the book. And the plot was decent. Unfortunately, the characters were weak. I kept forgetting who all the suspects were, and constantly flipping back to remember who they were drove me crazy. The writing was rather weak as well. At times, over description slowed the book down so much it go frustration.

I enjoyed the story, but I don't think I'll pick up the next in the series.

For a full review, check out my Epinions review of Staying Home is a Killer.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Mini Review: Last Light

I'm falling behind on these reviews. Let's see if I can catch up before I leave for Thanksgiving. Okay, at least get two in.

Last Light by Terri Blackstock

This book follows the Branning Family as they try to survive in a world without modern conveniences. No, this isn't a reality TV stunt. All modern technology has suddenly stopped working. So now the Brannings and their neighbors must find a way to survive despite not knowing how to do any of the things they need to do to survive.

As if that weren't enough, someone in the neighborhood has murdered and robbed another neighbor. Who could it be? Are they ever going to be safe?

I found the story completely captivating. I could hardly put the book down. At times the characters felt a little shallow, but that was a minor issue. I did figure things out earlier then the characters, but that only made me more engrossed in the book.

This is a Christian novel, and I appreciated the spiritual issues the characters struggled with over the course of the book as well.

If you'd like to know more of my thoughts, read my full review of Last Light.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Word Association for November 18th

Here we go again.

  1. Toasty :: Warm
  2. Allegations :: False
  3. Herb :: Seasoning (Okay, I had seen a little further down the list)
  4. Bacon :: Eggs
  5. Neck to neck :: Race
  6. Simon :: Peter
  7. Heels :: Toes
  8. Fundamentals :: Essentials
  9. Middle :: School
  10. Seasonings :: Poultry

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Thursday Threesome for November 15th

This week's edition is brought to us by Santa's little helpers (already?) and The Back Porch.

Onesome: Classic-- get togethers? Is that on the list for next week, say about Thursday? ...or do you 'lone wolf' the Thanksgiving season?
I will be getting together with my family. This is our fourth year in Dallas, so that part is relatively new. But I always spend it with my family.

Twosome: Christmas-- Ready or not, here it comes! Complete with shopping and decorations and wants and needs and yeah... Are you ready for the experience? ...or does a nice South Seas cruise sound like a workable alternative?
Bring it on! I can't wait to pull out my Christmas music without feeling funny for listening to it. And I will probably put up my outside Christmas lights tonight while the weather is still pleasant.

Threesome: Elves-- and other helpers? Do you have any lined up to assist on Thanksgiving Day? ...or to decorate in the weeks to come. ...or do you even need them?
On Thanksgiving Day I will be one of the elves. As to getting ready for Christmas, it's the Mark show. I have never had a roommate who really was interested in helping decorate. And they certainly aren't interested in helping me shop for my family and wrap presents for my family. I never have understood that last part. :)

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Signing Traps

So I actually did something this weekend! All of it Saturday. It involved lots of driving. And with gas prices as they are, that's rather expensive.

First up was a book signing down at Mysteries to Die For. They had several of the authors who had written stories for the anthology Hollywood and Crime. The stories sound much darker then I normally read, but I really wanted to give it a try. The panel was fun. And I was able to pick up Mr. Monk in Outer Space at the same time, which I am loving.

Then that night, I went to Glendale and met up with Angelique to see The Mousetrap at Glendale Centre Theatre. Master's had done it my first semester here, but that was 12 years ago. I remembered the villain, but I had forgotten just about everything else. I remembered just about everything before we were told, however. Once again, they did a great job. I am so glad I started going to that theatre!

Sunday was a quiet day around the condo after church.

Monday night, the men's Bible study I've started attending had a dinner instead of our regular meeting. It was nice to hang out and fellowship with them. And the food was delicious!

Monday, November 12, 2007

Mini Review: Green Water Ghost

In the sixth mystery in the Luanne Fogarty series, author Glynn Marsh Alam shows no signs of letting down her fans. Green Water Ghost opens with Luanne and boyfriend Vernon on a walking tour of a nearby swamp. The discovery of new bones mixed in with the old changes things, and the two are soon called on to dive a nearby pond looking for more bones. How did the bones get there? Who are they? Is someone covering up a murder?

I still love this series. The writing is vivid, making you feel as if you are there in the swamp with Luanne. I could feel the crisp air and cold water when she had to dive. The characters are sharp as well. And the plot is entertaining with several twists I never would have expected.

Once again, Glynn Marsh Alam has proved what a wonderful writer she is.

If you'd like to read more, check out my full review of Green Water Ghost.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Word Association for November 11th

Before I get to this, I want to wish you a Happy Vetran's Day.

Okay, down to business.

  1. Treadmill :: Going No Where Fast
  2. Stroke :: Golf
  3. Exclusively :: Contract
  4. Lash :: Eye
  5. Red carpet :: Movie
  6. Credit card:: Spend
  7. Points :: Mortgage
  8. Domestic :: Chore
  9. 21 :: Blackjack
  10. Inject :: Drugs

Friday, November 09, 2007

Not Much

You know that feeling of being busy but not having much news to report? That's me.

I'm busy keeping up with TV shows (while I can. More on my take on the strike next week). And write reviews. Which is rather funny considering I was going to take it easy and write fewer reviews this month. You didn't actually believe that, did you? Cause I did. So far, I've got 8 reviews posted this month at Epinions and 7 at Amazon with one more waiting in the wings. Ah, to really truly slow down.

The good news is that I should make the top 1000 at Epinions when they update their stats this month. They only do it once a month. I don't quite have the numbers yet, but expect to tomorrow. And it will probably be mid week next week before stats are updated. For months I've been trying to predict whether I would make it this month or next month. But I've had a huge influx of hits in the last couple of weeks, which has really helped. The only problem would be in the threshold moved up more then normal this month. So we'll have to wait until next week to see for sure.

One thing that has really helped is my review of Bee Movie. The short version? It's only okay.

Other then that, I hung out with Clint and Kurt last Friday night, which was fun. Clint starts his new job tomorrow, so I have a feeling I won't see him much any more, which will make me sad. But such is life.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Thursday Threesome for November 8th

Welcome to this week's edition, brought to us by cell phones and The Back Porch. And I have a feeling I will have boring answers, too.

Onesome: Motorola--, Sanyo, Samsung? Which brand of cell phone are you most pleased with?
Since I don't have a cell phone and don't know the brands of anyone who does, I don't even know where to begin.

Twosome: Phone-- time, and more time, and more time... Okay, are you one of those who simply lives on their phone? ...or do you consider phones a necessary evil?
I don't live on the phone (and I've got them at work and home), but that's not because I hate the phone. I just don't seem to use it that often.

Threesome: Tools-- of the trade? Do you use your phones more for work use or for personal use?
Personal use, definitely. Even here at work I bet that half my (limited) phone time is for personal stuff. I should point out I talk on the phone one or twice a day at work max, so it really isn't that much.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Mini Review: The Kite Runner

So, after having read and loved A Thousand Splendid Suns, I picked up Khaled Hosseini's first novel, The Kite Runner.

This book centers on two boys, Amir and Hassan. The two are friends growing up in 1970's Afghanistan.

Frankly, friends is too strong a word. Hassan is devoted to Amir, but Amir treats him in a very fickle manner until one day Amir witnesses an act of evil being done to Hassan and both their lives change forever.

I didn't find this book nearly as enjoyable as his other. I found the plot predictable and was one step ahead of the story the entire time. And it didn't provide nearly the glimpse into Afghan history and culture the other one did. But the characters were still strong and I was pulled through the entire book.

In the end, this book is obviously a first novel. Okay, but not the great literature deserving of the praise everyone gives it.

If you'd like to read my full review of The Kite Runner, follow the link.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Word Association for November 4th

Welcome to this week's word association.

  1. Assets :: Liabilities + Equity
  2. Concern :: Worry
  3. Over the top :: Overacting
  4. Supplies :: Staples
  5. Mustache :: Trimmer
  6. Doug :: Boy
  7. Coach :: Carter
  8. Bleachers :: Sports
  9. Stripes :: Stars
  10. Assortment :: Random

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Thursday Threesome for November 1st

Welcome to the first post of November. This week's edition is brought to us by procrastinators and The Back Porch.

Onesome: Time is-- your friend? ...or your enemy? It's your call, but how do you feel about "time"? Are you in need of a spare cupful? ...or are you set?
I think Time is. I wouldn't say it's a friend, and it isn't an enemy. I know it is there, and I'm okay with it.

Twosome: on my-- way out the door, the last thing I check is to see.......
is that the lights are out

Threesome: "Side--out Sports"... I just love that name. Have you seen any fun signs or slogans lately you can share with the gang?
Nope. No one creative around here.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

All's Quiet on the Western Front

Frankly, I don't have much of anything to say. Life has been very quiet recently. In fact, nothing happened this weekend. Which, after the excitement of the last two weekends, was wonderful.

I did go see Dan in Real Life this weekend. It was okay, but not nearly as sweet or funny as I thought it would be.

Actually, the biggest news in my life isn't mine. One of my roommates got a full time job that actually pays better. And considering his current job was threatening to cut his house so he wouldn't even make enough to pay rent, we are all breathing easier.

And that's about all the news here.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Word Association for October 28th

Let's do a second word association this month, shall we?

  1. Inaugural :: President
  2. Pledge :: Allegience
  3. String :: Thread
  4. Trot :: Horse
  5. Fitness :: Center
  6. Cinder :: Fire
  7. Edge :: Table
  8. 31 :: 32
  9. Blue :: Green
  10. Leather :: Shoes

Friday, October 26, 2007

The Rest of Last Weekend

So when I blogged earlier this week, I talked about the fire. You know, the big news in the area.

But that wasn't all I did last weekend.

See, I started the weekend by heading to Disneyland on Saturday. Yep, time for the annual Master's Disneyland day.

This year, I went with Angelique and her friend John. Finally got to meet him!

I actually got there early for a change (normally, I'm rushing up to our meeting place at 8:15.) In fact, as I got out of my car and started walking toward the tram, I spotted Angelique in front of me. Which worked out well since she had the poster from the lauch party I missed the weekend before in her car. So we transfered that over before we entered the park.

Despite the fact that we went straight for the new submarine ride, we still had to wait an hour and a half for it. It was fun to be riding them again, and the stuff they've got in the cave (which is where all the Finding Nemo stuff is) was spectacular.

What was a shame was by the time we were done with that, lines were faily long all over the park. But we still managed to keep at it and get everthing done. No time for repeats, but we did everything.

And I bought pins. The restraint I thought I would show? Went right out the window. Spent about $100 on pins. I am thinking about getting an annual pass, but this is the best arguement I've heard to not get one. See, if I don't have an annual pass, I won't be tempted to spend as much money on pins. Wait, I've been driving down there and buying pins anyway. Never mind.

I hadn't slept well the night before at all, and thought I might need to crash at some point. But the only time I started dozing off was near the end of Pirates. Other then that, I was going strong all day. In fact, John and Angelique left about 11 PM, but I stayed until midnight.

Of course, I have spent most of the week paying for it. Between that and the stress and not sleeping Sunday night, I have been having trouble getting up in the morning all week. Hopefully I can get some rest this weekend and truly get back in the swing of things.


Fire update:

I don't know if everything in my area is out, but everything is definitely under control. The ironic thing is the air quality has gone down. Without the wind to push it away, the smoke is hanging around the area. Which means I am still praying for rain to clean the air. None in the forecast, however.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Thursday Threesome for October 25th

Welcome to this week's edition of the Thursday Threesome. This week, it is brought to us by Blizzrd Entertainment and The Back Porch.

Onesome: World--Wide Web resources? Is there one particular area of your life, personal or professional, where you use the web as an informational resource? Knitting? Medical? Research?
I think the closest I come is looking up info from the IRS for work. Most of the time it's just message boards or writing sometime that I hope others will use as a resource.

Twosome: of-- the 168 hours in a given week, how much time do you spend on the computer? No, we're not looking to plan an intervention, just curious...
160? Okay, not that many. But I am on my computer all day at work and quite often at home and night, too.

Threesome :Warcraft-- games? Poker games? Role playing games? Do you play games on your computer? Really? What kind of games?
Solitaire card games and backgammon on MSN.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Mini Review - Some LIke it Hot-Buttered

I must say Some Like it Hot-Buttered is the first disappointment in my Fall reading. I've read Jeffrey Cohen's previous mysteries and loved them. So I was expecting a funny, solid mystery. What I got was an amusing mystery with problems.

Elliot Freed is trying to pick up the pieces of his life after his divorse. And he does so by buying an old theatre and reopening it with a focus on comedy. Attendence is low.

Then one night, he turns on the lights to find one of his patrons dead in his seat. Turns out, his popcorn was poisoned. While the police are searching, they find pirated movies in the basement. Are the two connected? What's going on under Elliot's nose?

I loved the character, especially Elliot. But, as I said, the book could have been funnier. I laughed, but the jokes were uneven and felt forced at times. But my biggest problem was with the story. It was slow in developing, often repeating plot points we already knew. Then, the villain acted out of the character at the end. While it made for a suspensful climax, I didn't care for the sudden stupidity.

Yes, I'll read the next in the series hoping it improves. But this wasn't as good as it could have been.

If you'd like to read my full review of Some Like it Hot-Buttered at Epinions, follow the link.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007


It's been an interesting 48 hours here.

I'm sure by now you've heard about the first in Southern CA. It seems they are everywhere. At least that's true in my town.

One of the early fires started outside a town north east of us. The crazy Santa Anna winds blew it quickly toward town. By nightfall Sunday night, it was getting close to my condo. I decided to leave when I could see it coming down the hill across the street. Both my roommates stayed and never had to evacuate. But I went to stay with some friends across town.

My boss and several others I know had to evacuate that night as well.

After I left, they closed the road in front of my complex.

By Monday morning, it was well away from my condo moving toward the west part of town. Then Monday afternoon, another fire started, also on that side of town. Both are now out of town and moving toward others to put them in danger.

Just when I was beginning to breath a sigh of releaf this morning, we've had a couple more small fires here in town. Both are supposed to be under control, but the sky is pretty smokey.

What does worry me is another report of a fire northeast of town again. The winds have died down, so it should mean that one travels much more slowly. And, with the other fire already having come through, it seems like it would be harder for it to find areas to travel and cause new damage. Either way, I guess I will continue to moniter the situation again tonight.

I hope the winds really do die completely in the next 24 hours. Even more exciting would be rain. None in the forecast, but we sure could use it.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Thursday Threesome for October 18th

This week's edition is brought to you by the dictionary and the Back Porch.

Onesome: A--round this time of year? What's happening with the weather where you are? Ch-ch-changes? ...or are things still 'Summery'?
Early this week it was cool. Today and tomorrow are back in the 80's and lovely. Unfortunately, it's supposed to be low 70's again Saturday when I will be at Disneyland!!!!!!!

Twosome: to-- inventory your place for insurance coverage, what would it take? Too much work? How about ideas for the gang: is video taping with a voiceover the way to go?
With all the books and dvds I have, it would be way too much work. It would even be hard to properly video tape it. And the collection keeps changing since I am always buying more.

Threesome: Z--one coverage? ...better than "man"? Are you following any football teams this year? How are they doing?
It depends on the team you are playing and who is one the field whether zone is better then man on D. At least for ultimate Frisbee.

As usual, I am not following any teams this year. However, I've watched parts of a couple games, which is a big step for me.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Mini Review: Candy Cane Murder

Anyone who knows me knows I love Joanne Fluke's series of cozy culinary mysteries. I've even bought a romance anthology because Hannah and Co. were in it. So naturally I had to buy Candy Cane Murder when it came out. As an added bonus, I am also a fan of Laura Levine's series and have always wanted to try Leslie Meier but haven't gotten around to it.

The book consists of three novellas. Each is around 100 pages, although the first looks longer because of the recipes.

"Candy Cane Murder" finds Hannah investigating the death of Santa - sort of. Wayne Bergstrom is found dead in a snow bank after playing the part of a bunch of under priveledged kids. Wayne wasn't well liked, so the suspect list is rather long. As with the series, there are lots of characters, but fans of the series will love getting a chance to catch up with all their favorites.

"The Dangers of Candy Canes" by Laura Levine finds her series star, Jaine Austen, looking into the death of a man who fell from his roof while putting up his Christmas decorations. This story is full of humor, and as a Southern Californian, I recognized some of her depictions of December here.

"Candy Canes of Christmas Past" by Leslie Meier was the weak link. In the story, she flashes back to series protagonist Lucy Stone's first Christmas in the little Maine village she calls home. The problem was the mystery was weak. I liked the characters enough to give them a chance in book form. But I sure hope the ending isn't as bad as this one was.

All told, this book has two good stories to put you in the Christmas mood. And any fan of Joanne and Hannah's will have to have it.

If you'd like more info, check out my full review of Candy Cane Murder at Epinions.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Last Weekend

So yesterday I posted about the weekend that had just passed, but I'd like to flash back to the first weekend of the month today. See, I had a busy weekend that weekend.

Friday the 5th, I only worked a half day. In the afternoon, I drove up to visit my parents for the weekend. But first, I stopped off to visit Donald and Heather and their new house. Donald grilled burgers, and the three of us had a great visit. The only problem was I got there later then I had intended and we didn't have time to play a game. :(

Saturday was a family wedding. It was my mom's cousin's step-daughter. That was down in the Bay Area, so we had to drive down there. But it was a nice evening. We left just after they cut the cake, but it was already close to 9 PM.

Sunday, we got together with some family friends and took a drive out to the coast, stopping and walking along the way. And we celebrated my mom's birthday, which was that Tuesday. She loved the card I got for her.

To understand this card, you must know that she is always kidding about everyone in the family being her "favorite." She tells me, my brother, and my sister-in-law this.

The front of the card says, "I wouldn't say you are my favorite member of the family." Then you open it to read "At least not on the front of the card. Happy birthday, favorite." I didn't think she was going to open the card for a minute she was so busy pretending to pout, but she did open it and she did love it.

Monday, I headed back home, stopping to see Donald again along the way. Since he had the day off (Columbus Day), we got in a round of The Stock Market Game. I was so close to winning. Literally two turns. Yet he won again as always. Some day, Donald, I will beat you again!

And I got back just in time to start watching that night's Dancing with the Stars to blog for The Disney Blog.

That was a lot of driving in one weekend. But it was a good weekend.

Monday, October 15, 2007

This Weekend

Sounds like my little town made international news this weekend.

If you've heard about the massive truck pile up in Southern California, that's me. Or at least my town.

I first heard about it Saturday morning while watching The Fox News Channel. It took me a while to figure out where exactly they were talking about, but once they did I started trying to figure out what this meant for traffic. Best I could tell, it wasn't sounding good.

I was supposed to be heading down to The Mystery Bookstore by UCLA that afternoon for the second launch party for Candy Cane Murder. But with both sides of the 5 closed, I knew it would take me hours to get out of town and back in to town. And as much as I love Joanne Fluke and Laura Levine, it just wasn't going to be worth it.

So I didn't even leave the condo Saturday. It allowed me time to write several reviews and watch Raiders of the Lost Ark and The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. I must admit to really enjoying watching both of them.

Sunday, I did venture out of the house for church. Of course, I'm only about a mile from church, so it wasn't bad at all. Then the Sunday School class I'm part of now had a fellowship that night. But it was within walking distance of my condo.

What amazed me was the fact that the freeway was completely open today. Last night, they were talking about only one side being open today with the other side openning tomorrow. But everything was open and smooth sailing today.

So really, it wasn't that bad for me. Yes, I would have loved to have gone to the book launch party. But it wasn't the end of the world to miss it. And I'm not like those three people who lost their lives.

And frankly, that's the thing that amazes me the most about the whole thing. Only three people died and only 10 people were hurt. Considering we are talking about 26 big rigs and 1 car, I would think the injuries alone would be more extensive. Add to that the fact that the fire sounds horrific, and the number of fatalities could have been so much worse.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Word Association for October 14th

It's been way too long since I did one of these.

  1. Illicit :: Affair
  2. Go :: Fish
  3. Jacket :: Sweater
  4. Blow :: Back
  5. Coach :: Football
  6. Effort :: Work
  7. Leadership :: Style
  8. Snore :: Sleep
  9. Fearless :: Approach
  10. Network :: TV

Friday, October 12, 2007

Al Gore? Seriously?

Okay, I'd begun to write off the Nobel Peace Prize for a while now. I could understanding giving it to President Carter, although the timing was suspect. The final straw for me was when they gave it to Yassir Arafat. That man never met a war he didn't like. To say he had anything to do with peace was laughable.

Yet, somehow, they managed to top themselves.

This year's winner of the Nobel Peace Prize is...Al Gore. No, I'm not making it up.

Granted, he had to share it with the UN's panel on climate change.

Now I will freely admit part of my problem with this is I don't believe in Global Warming. With as cold as the winter was last year, I find that rather hard to swallow. Plus, we have only been keeping track of temperatures for 120 years of so. So who really knows what normal temperatures are. Then there's my always favorite little factoid - 30 years ago, Global Cooling was a fact. The cause? Human CO2 emissions. Yep.

But leaving all that aside for the time being, what in the world does Global Warming have to do with peace? Someone please tell me that.

This was absolutely nothing but a shameless stunt by a bunch of lefties to promote their agenda. And give the US another dig since Al Gore lost the Presidency in 2000 and they would have preferred it if he had won. (Yes, he lost it and tried to steal it back, but that's another issue.)

At least one world leader recognizes the idiocracy of it all. Unfortunately, it's the Czech President. Unfortunately only because it wasn't the leaders of a bigger country with more pull in the world.

Prague (dpa) - Czech President Vaclav Klaus, a rare vocal global- warming sceptic among heads of state, is "somewhat surprised" that former US vice president Al Gore received the Nobel Peace Prize, the president's spokesman Petr Hajek said in a statement.

"The relationship between his activities and world peace is unclear and indistinct," the statement said. "It rather seems that Gore's doubting of basic cornerstones of the current civilization does not contribute to peace." Klaus said in a recent speech that environmentalists' efforts to halt global warming "fatally endanger our freedom and prosperity."

And I love this quote from further down the article.

In a newspaper interview earlier this year, Klaus said that only Al Gore, and not a sane person, would say that mankind is ruining the planet.

For more of his thoughts, check out this article from earlier in the year.

Now before you write me off or flame me, do know that I care about the environment. I think hybrids are wonderful and hope that we can figure out ways to consume even less. But let's do it logically and not as a crazy rush in a panic because of some theories that may or may not be the case.

Ironically, just last week, the University of Illinois reported on global ice caps. The ones in the Northern Hemisphere are at record lows right now. But guess what. The ones in the Southern Hemisphere are at record highs. Seems like that wouldn't be the case if the entire earth's temperature were really rising. Talk about an Inconvenient Truth for Al Gore!

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Thursday Threesome for October 11th

This week's edition is brought to us by The Gong Show and The Back Porch.

Onesome: Bang--ing your head against the wall? What haven't you been able to get to this week that you really wanted to? ...any hope for next week?
Finished the 50 review write-off at Epinions. All caught up on TV after having been gone this weekend. I think I'm good here.

Twosome: the-- other side of the coin: What have you seen this week that was just really so cool/neat/tight/pick your own buzzword that you just had to describe it to someone?
This week? Nothing. Last week? The reference to Oceanic Flight 815 (the doomed flight on Lost) during the show Chuck.

Threesome: Gong-- Okay, do you have one of those cute little gongs in your house? ...or a larger one in your garden? Just askin'...
No gongs, but I do have a bell on my desk.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Mini Reivew - The Spellman Files

As part of Fall Into Reading, we are encouraged to review the books we read. Like I've never done that. :)

The first book I got read was The Spellman Files by Lisa Lutz. While the story is about a series of PI's, it's not a mystery novel. It does contain a mystery or two at the end, but it is really about family dynamics.

The novel centers around Izzy Spellman, the middle child but the older daughter by about 15 years. The novel covers much of the family's history, but focuses on a couple years.

Now this is a very dysfunctional family. Everyone but the oldest brother works for the family business, Spellman Investigations. And that includes the youngest daughter, who is only in middle school. That means that everyone's secrets are everyone else's business. They follow each other and break into each other's bedrooms.

But there is lots of love. And watching them interract provides lots of laughs before the more serious ending.

This book is different from most of what I read, but I really enjoyed it.

And if you'd like a full review, read my review of The Spellman Files at

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Thursday Threesome for October 4th

Looks like we've got a sexist Thursday Threesome today. Or at least a battle of the sexes topic.

Onesome: Women-- buy more cars than men? True or false? Heck, I have no clue; I'm just curious about your opinions...
I don't know either, but I'm going to guess True. Women prefer reliable cars while men will tinker with something until it is absolutely falling apart. That's my theory, anyway.

Twosome: or-- Jo~Ann or Michaels? Which place would you use to buy your crafty stuff? I mean, Christmas is coming and gift cards would be lovely; let's get the word out now !
I buy craft stuff? I learn something new every day!

Threesome: Men-- are better chefs than women? Bobby Flay or Rachel Ray? True or false? Sure, you can go all Food Network if you'd like (Paula can make my dessert any day; butter, butter, butter!), but who's grilling your ribs?
I think this one boils (pun intended) down to interest. I think men and women can both be excellent cooks. Most women are more then men, so most women are better at it then men. But one of my male co-workers is an excellent cook.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Cars and Busy Weekends

The last week has been so busy I don't know whether I am coming or going any more.

Most of last week my car was in the shop. It had been idoling very rough. There was no way I was heading to northern California this week with it acting up. Also, it was time for my 90K turn up anyway, so I took it in. Turned out I had a cracked valve in one cylnider. I am so thankful that my warrentee was still good. Another six weeks and it would have cost me $3,500.

Not that the trip was cheap. The 90K service is expensive. And they also found a cracked axel. Since that was in the same area as my accident in 2001, they wouldn't cover that with my warrentee. So I still had to pay a couple pretty pennies. But it wasn't nearly as bad as it could have been.

They had some problems with the axel, so I didn't get my car back until Friday afternoon. Which was just in time for my crazy weekend.

Friday night, I went to see downhere in concert down in Thousand Oaks. That was great. I really do like their music. And I got to have my picture taken with the band after the concert.

Saturday, I went to the Aquarium of the Pacific. Debbie had gotten some free tickets before she moved, and they expired the end of September. It was a last minute plan, but we still managed to get Josh, Bonnie, and their two kids, Angelique, Clint, and myself there. It was fun, although it's not something I'd rush back to. But I can't complain about the price. Free is always the right price.

Then Sunday, I left church as soon as it was over to rush down to the West Hollywood Book Fair. Joanne Fluke and Laura Levine were there selling their just released novella collection Candy Cane Murder. Of course I had to get a copy. Angelique got down there a little before I did, so we hung out for a while and caught up with another couple authors we enjoy. I only spent a couple hours there because the fair is rather small. What was nice is it was divided by subjects, so all the mystery booths were in one area.

Compared to all that, this week has been rather quiet. Trying to write as many reviews as I can while watching TV shows. Gotta get stocked up for this weekend so I'll have some to post from out of town. And it helps that I seem to have a backlog of things to review right now.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Thursday Threesome for September 27th

Welcome to a frightening edition of the Thursday Threesome brought to us by Monk and The Back Porch.

Onesome: The Dentist?-- ...a bigger 'scary factor' than flying? What do you think?
I've never found the dentist that scary. I don't find flying that scary either. Maybe the dentist a little, but not too much.

Twosome: or-- maybe you have coping skills to handle dental visits? Would you care to share any of them?
I just don't consider it that scary. Then again, I haven't been in 10 years. I was lazy, and now I'm scared of what I'll learn. Maybe I am scared of the dentist after all.

Threesome: Flying-- has received a really bad rap this year. Deserved? ...or is all sweetness and light now?
I don't fly all that often, but I didn't think my trip to Niagara Falls was that bad.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007


I'd feel bad about not blogging if I had something exciting to talk about. But I don't.

This last weekend was very quiet. I did absolutely nothing on Saturday. Well, I watched a couple movies and wrote several reviews. I will hit 30 reviews in September over at Epinions, which is good considering how little time I have now that the new TV season has started.

And, while I haven't been blogging here, I have been blogging. I have been invited to blog about Dancing with the Stars over at The Disney Blog. You know, that takes a lot more work then I thought it would. Either that or I set the bar too high for myself. Still, it should be fun. Granted, it doesn't help that this week it's on three times.

And I'm trying to sample all kinds of new shows. Last night, I watched the premier of Chuck. That really has the potential to be a fun show. I certainly enjoyed the pilot. Tonight I plan to watch Bionic Woman and record Life. Not to mention the fact that I want to give Back to You another few weeks to develop.

And that's just this week. Next week I'll be trying to add Cavemen for at least one week and Pushing Daisies. No wonder this is stressing me out. See, I still have to find time to write reviews, too because you know I will.

Deep breath. Repeat after me. This is supposed to be fun. This is supposed to be fun.

In other news, we had a church business meeting to talk about the pastor search Sunday afternoon. I guess the good news is that the three hour meeting only delved into a shouting match once. Still, I was emotionally spent by the time I left

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Fall Into Reading 2007

So, since today is the first day of fall, it's time to list my reading goals for Fall Into Reading 2007. In my case, something like a public to be read list. The interesting thing will be to see how closely I stick to it.

I was going to start by including the books I didn't read from the Spring challenge, but there's only one. And yes, it will be included.

So, without further ado, my list for fall.

Death in Lover's Lane by Carolyn Hart
The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
The Spellman Files by Lisa Lutz
Face Time by Hank Phillippi Ryan
Green Water Ghost by Glynn Marsh Alam
The Crafty Teddy by John J. Lamb
Mr. Monk in Outer Space by Lee Goldberg
Beware False Profits by Emilie Richards
Some Like it Hot-Buttered by Jeffrey Cohen
Candy Cane Murder by Joanne Fluke, Laura Levine, and Leslie Meier
Blood Matters by Taffy Cannon
Last Light by Terri Blackstock
Peppermint Twisted by Sammi Carter
Hell for the Holidays by Chris Grabenstein
A Threat to Justice by Chuck Norris, et al.
Staying Home is a Killer by Sara Rosett
Faint of Art by Hailey Lind
On the Wrong Track by Steve Hockensmith

That's 18, and I usually read a book a week, so I'm already overestimating by 6 books. I guess we'll see what I actually do.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Thursday Threesome for September 20th

Welcome to this week's edition. Brought to you by me (okay, so I was going around saying "Details, details." Close enough.) and The Back Porch.

Onesome: "Details--are everything!", or so it is said. Are a a details person? ...or a big picture person?
It depends. At times I am a detail person. Other times, I am a big picture person. I think it depends on how much I care or an interested in the subject. Disney? I want all the details. I'll take lots of details on politics, most of the time. Food? Give me the big picture. (The big picture, of course being, does it taste good.)

Twosome: Details-- (in the military definition) can be a royal pain: what routine detail at your job/school/home would you cheerfully off-load to someone else?
Credit card payment detail. I hate all the work I have to go through to process people paying us with credit cards.

Threesome: Details-- and devils: what are you willing to work on nearly endlessly until you "get it right"?
Endlessly? Nothing. But I will put lots of time into reconciling stuff at work. But once I feel like I'm getting no where, I go to someone else for help.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Ahoy, Maties!

Just a reminder that today be talk like a pirate day.

So be sure to talk like a pirate as you swab the poopdeck.


Tuesday, September 18, 2007

What Didn't I Do This Weekend?

Actually, lots. But I was a busy guy, especially Saturday. How busy? I left the house at 10 AM and didn't return until after midnight. I had a book with me the entire time and never once touched it.

Actually, the fun started Friday night with career Bible study. It was a nice night of worship, prayer, and fellowship.

Saturday started earlier then I wanted it to. I woke up an hour before my alarm went off. Yet somehow, I still left exactly when I wanted to. Stupid internet. :)

So I start out by driving by the courthouse in San Fernando. I'm on jury duty this week down there, so I thought it might be a good idea to find out where I was going. So far, I haven't had to show up yet. Keeping my fingers crossed.

Then I went down to The Mystery Bookstore for a book signing. I had just read Randall Hicks debut The Baby Game and wanted to get the sequel, Baby Crimes. Only one other person show up, and she was a friend of his. So the three of us got some nice time to chat.

From there, I headed to Glendale Centre Theatre for their production of Disney's Beauty and the Beast. I barely found a place to get lunch before it was time to meet Angelique. They did a great job and we both enjoyed it. They made great use of the limited space and pulled it off quite well. I so want to go back and watch it again.

Because Angelique had to go, I decided to stick around in the area for a sneak peak screening of The Kingdom. It was wonderful to see Jennifer Garner again. What else did I think about the movie? Really didn't like it. Too much shakey camera work made it hard to concentrate on the story.

So, after all that, do you think I went home? Wrong!

I really wanted to head down to pick up a limited edition pin at Disneyland celebrating the 40th anniversary of The Jungle Book. And since Glendale is half way there already.... I was proud of myself. I spent about two thirds of what I have been spending on those trips.

Sunday didn't involve nearly as much travel, but it was still eventful.

At the Sunday morning church service, we were told that the search committe has decided not to submit Pastor Jon to us as a candidate for our new pastor. I am sure everyone was as shocked as I was. I think everyone has assumed he'd get the job. So I have no clue where we will head from here. One candidate at a time is all I know. Frankly, I still have mixed emotions about the decision.

Sunday night, I attended an activity sponsered by The GAP. It's the new group at church for college grads, singles, and young marries. Basically a chance to sit around and socialize. Got to talk to someone at our church who used to work for Disney, so that was fun.

You can understand why I was ready to get back to work yesterday. I needed the rest.

Monday, September 17, 2007

The Only OJ I Care About... the kind from oranges. But since everyone else, or at least the news media, is focused on a different one....

So, good ole OJ Simpson has gone and gotten himself arrested. Again.

I hope this time that the police don't bungle the case. The guy needs to learn that his celebrity status doesn't let him get away with robbery. It may have let him get away with murder, but there has to be a line somewhere.

At least the judge was smart enough not to let him out on bail. That way, TV won't be interrupted with another low speed chase on the freeway.

If he wasn't famous, no one would even care.

Frankly, I wonder how many people care now.

But you know what I find most ironic about this? This happened just days after his book came out. And did you notice the subtitle the Goldman family gave the book? "Confessions of a Killer." And look at the font on the cover. Nice.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Thursday Threesome for September 13th

This week's edition is brought to us by marksmen and The Back Porch.

Onesome: Right-- around the corner from where I live (or work) there's this neat little..... (Go ahead, add your own ending to that sentence!)
Are you kidding? I live in Los Angeles. If it's right around the corner, I don't know about it. But if it's across town, I could tell you all about it.

Twosome: on-- the other hand, I'll travel clear across town to..... (Same deal: fill in the blank so we'll know what will get you traveling!)
So, having said that, I tend to visit chains most of the time. I honestly couldn't tell you about any specialty shops in town. Now, I will admit that I love SouPlantation and will gladly drive across town to go there.

Threesome: Target-- or Walmart? Nah, no contest. How about Target or Mervyn's? Hmmm... That would limit us to clothes, but that's okay, go for it! (No, Macy's isn't eligible...)
No contest? Which way? Because I can't remember the last time I bought anything from Target, but I go to Wal-Mart once a week or so. Which also means Mervyn's wins. I buy lots of my clothes there, in fact. As an interesting fact, Mervyn's and Target are in the same shopping center here in town.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Six Years

I can't let today pass without acknowledging the sixth anniversary of 9/11.

In past years, I have talked about what I was doing that day. And I have talked about my belief that we as a country aren't committed to fighting terrorists.

I find it highly ironic that today, the sixth anniversary, there is a hearing in Congress to determin what will happen in Iraq. And the generals can't even give their testimony because of the anti-war protestors.

If you believe that Iraq isn't part of the War on Terror, listen to the terrorists.

And if you don't think we need to be concerned about terrorists, remember 9/11.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Settling Down to Life

So I've been back in town for a week, and not much has happened.

Frankly, that isn't surprising. My life has been work and youth for years. And with youth out of the picture, that leaves me work.

And reviewing, of course. I am participating in a 50 reviews by Halloween challenge at Epinions. So far I have 18 published and 21 written (3 still in draft to publish over the next few days.) So I'm getting close to half way. Of course, two have already finished and there are lots more ahead of me. I'm hoping to be at 35 or so by the end of the month, but we'll see what happens.

And, I'm going to hit 1000 reviews at Amazon tonight. Just need to get those last two written.

Saturday, Clint and I went to the aquatic center here in town. He'd been raving about the pools and how non-chlorinated the water is. Well, he was wrong about that. We both left with our eyes burning. But it was fun. We spent time in the diving pools and I went down the water slide quite a few times.

My right leg is really hurting. I'm not quite sure what I did to it, but today is worse then yesterday. I'm trying to take it easy. Hope that helps. Certainly glad I don't have ultimate right now.

And we're two weeks away from the start of fall, and that can only mean one thing, the Fall Reading Challenge. Take a look at the event and join us if you are so inclined.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Thursdays Threesomes

Since I was in New York last week, I need to do a little catch up with these.

Both were taken from The Back Porch.

And the first was brought to us by The Wizard of Oz.

Onesome: "Over-- the Rainbow" Has someone 'Somewhere' done the song better than Judy Garland did in the movie? ...or does she still 'own' it in your opinion?
You know, I don't think I've heard anyone else do it, so Judy wins by default.

Twosome: the-- best all time album in your collection? ...or one you'd like to have? Sure, the Go-Gos count, but hey...
I'm going to keep going back to David Meece's Learning to Trust, although I have several close contenders.

Threesome: Rainbow"?-- As sung by Billy Ray Cyrus? (Yes, on his latest album.) Who has done the best "cover" of a song you like to listen to? You know, better than the original artist...
Believe it or not, I'm going to go with DC Talk on this one. I think their version of "In the Light" is better then the original.

And now this week's, brought to us by, well, The Thursday Threesome.

Onesome: The-- best things in life are free? What's your favorite freebie? I'm thinking of some annual event you partake in...
Without doubt, the LA Times Festival of Books at UCLA.

Twosome: T--buckets, Model T's, maybe even Thunderbirds? Do you have any ties to classic cars or modified roadsters?
I've had old cars, but never classic cars. And the closest I've come to any is looking at them drive down the road.

Threesome: 3-- days until Sunday, but the NFL season begins tonight! Who's your team this year? Not a football fan? Post your rant on why not !
It's not really a rant, but I just don't get into sports. I only care if I am playing. There are so many other things I'd rather sit around and watch, like movies and TV shows. Or I could be reading.