Saturday, February 27, 2010

Off to Disneyland!

Hopefully as this posts, I am walking into Main Street USA for a day of fun at Disneyland.

Of course, it is supposed to storm all day, with rain heavy at times. So we'll see how much fun I actually have.

Have a great Saturday all. I'll blog about the trip when I get back.

Friday, February 26, 2010

That was Ugly

I think I've finally calmed down from last night's ultimate Frisbee game. Hopefully blogging about it won't stir things up again.

The final score was 12-15 or 13-15. Frankly, I didn't care. I was just glad to be done with it.

The problem was the other team really didn't know the rules. So when we tried to explain the rules (and I've got to admit some of them are pretty random), they would start yelling at us. And Heaven forbid they actually listen to what we are saying. They had to try to yell over us.

Unfortunately, we responded in kind, yelling right back, so no one listen to anyone else.

And we turned on each other. In fact, one of our ladies has stated she won't be back if another member of the team is there. Um, he wasn't the worst offender on our team (and the worst offender was on the other team). I guess they've got some history, but I sure don't see how it was all his fault.

I got called a liar twice, once by my team mate who wouldn't stop yelling long enough to listen to where the confusion came from. The other by the lead jerk on the other team when discussing the score. My favorite part of that exchange? When he yelled at me, "I'm not arguing with you about the score," after a couple of minutes of us arguing about the score. And it wasn't a yell to walk away, it was just supposed to be a statement of fact.

Unfortunately, we'll probably wind up playing them during the tournament in just over a week.

We've got two games this next week, and I'm not really looking forward to them. Then the tournament.

And my calf muscle has been bothering me all week. I hope whatever is wrong heals quickly because I need to keep running with those mud runs coming. But I am taking it easy for a week or so (outside of ultimate games) so that it will hopefully heal.

Word Association For February 26th

I almost forgot to do this week's word association.

  1. Teeth :: Brush
  2. Sweeten :: the Deal
  3. Demons :: Angels
  4. Pizza :: Yum!
  5. Protector :: Guardian
  6. Smooth :: Rich
  7. Coat :: Warm
  8. Pebbles :: Beach
  9. Pregnant :: Baby
  10. Sing :: a Song

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

What's on My Nightstand - February 2010 Edition

Can you believe it's already the 4th Tuesday of February? Yikes! But that does mean it is time for this month's What's on Your Nightstand.

Right now, I'm about two thirds of the way through Apple Turnover Murder by Joanne Fluke. I love going to launch parties that are before the official release date (which is today).

I'm enjoying the book. Yes, it continues to be light entertainment that focuses a tad too much on baking, but it's fun to spend more time with these characters. Joanne was hinting about a major plot point coming when the book ends, so we'll see what I think of the final 100 pages.

I'm hoping to finish it up tomorrow, but we'll see what happens.

Monday, February 22, 2010

What a Crazy (Fun) Weekend

Man, does it feel good to get back to work. Now I can relax and recover from my weekend. What all did I do? I'm glad you asked.

It started Friday night with Bible study. And I got my taxes done before that! That alone was great.

Saturday morning, I got up to help some friends from my Sunday School class move. I actually went late because this dang cold I'm still fighting didn't want to let me wake up. I stayed home and vegged a little before leaving.

I only stayed for an hour and a half or so before I took off to activity #2, a first birthday party for some friends' son. We've got lots of mutual friends, so it was nice to see all of them.

I was one of the first to leave so I could make it down to The Mystery Bookstore for the launch party of Sue Ann Jaffarian's new book. Had a wonderful time down there, especially since I had won a free copy of the book from Sue Ann. I love getting books I was planning to buy for free.

From there, I flew half way home to try to play some ultimate Frisbee. I was late, but I knew I would be. Unfortunately, only one other person showed up, and he was leaving just as I arrived. Of course, I did need a bit of a rest by that point, so I wasn't completely upset to have a bit of time to myself. I used that to talk to my parents for a little while.

Then I picked up a friend from the college. He hung out and we watched Up. Still love that movie.

That was all on Saturday.

Sunday started with church and Sunday School. I wasn't moving very quickly in the morning again, so I got there late.

I was home for a couple hours, and then left for the book launch party for Joanne Fluke's new book. Yes, I had to actually buy Apple Turnover Murder. But it doesn't officially come out until Tuesday, and I'm already a third of the way through it.

I came home and started it (after a brief nap), then headed over to Joe's for some Babylon 5. Josh picked up dinner at Woodstone Ranch for all of it. Very yummy!

Just writing about all of this is making me tired again. I'm glad I get to go home and crash tonight. Well, do laundry, watch TV, read more, and crash.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Mini Review: Alice Through the Needle's Eye

Yep, another book for the Alice in Wonderland Challenge. How did you guess?

I'd actually read Alice Through the Needle's Eye by Gilbert Adair back when it first came out in the 80's. I spotted it on the library shelf not too long after I had read the two Lewis Carroll volumes.

In this adventure, Alice is attempting to thread a needle when she spies a new world through its eye. Before she knows it, she is tumbling into an A pile that at first she mistakes for hay. And that's just the start of a new round of crazy adventures that follow the alphabet.

Even rereading it as an adult, I'm sure I miss some of the alphabet connections. But I still enjoy the book for the silliness and the word play scattered throughout.

There are some nonesense poems and wacky new characters. There are even references to both of Lewis Carroll's Alice books.

This book was very lovingly done. Even the illustrations were done in the style of the classic Alice illustrations.

This book appears to be long out of print, and the LA County Library only has one copy, so it will be hard to track down. But it is completely worth the effort.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

A Hard Loss

My team lost our ultimate Frisbee game last night. It wasn't even close. The final score was 4-15. We scored two points each half.

Part of that was age. We are an older team. I'm sure the youngest members are in their late 20's, and we have several members in the 40's.

We only had 10 people show up. And since you play with 7 people on the field, that doesn't give you very many subs. The other team had about twice as many subs.

Honestly, I almost didn't go myself. I started coming down with a cold Tuesday night. But I decided to go anyway. I seem to have skipped a stage in the cold as a result. Maybe I can knock this thing out of my system more quickly as a result.

I had been hoping not to have to play very many points, but with so few subs, I was in quite a bit. I felt like I did much better than last week. I was always with my man, but I actually had the energy to run fast after him when I did. The other team didn't respect me, so I could get open more easily. Unfortunately, that didn't always translate to getting the disc, but I did get it and pass it on one time successfully. The others, the person throwing it to me didn't quite get it to me, so that wasn't my fault.

My biggest frustration, however, was one of the people on the other team. This guy almost drove me away from my Saturday pick up game. Even there, he takes it way too seriously. He swears every time he messes up and yells at anyone who doesn't do exactly what he wants. It's not fun to play with him. Frankly, I wish the score had been lopsided in our favor just to put him in his place. I know I didn't react well to him at all.

On the other hand, there was a friend on the team. It was actually rather funny seeing him there since he is much older than the rest of the team.

We might be playing this team again during the regular season to make up the game we were rained out back in January. We'll see if we can get some of our stronger players back and at least give them a bit more of a run for their money.

Although this game was closer than the score makes it sound. We had several long points with multiple turn overs. It was just that they always managed to score in the end. Ultimately, that's all that matters.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Word Association for February 16th

Time for this week's word association.

  1. Suitcase :: Trip
  2. Exhaust :: Car
  3. Olympics :: Sports
  4. Video :: Game
  5. Cargo :: Hold
  6. Previously :: on 24 (since that's the show I watched last night)
  7. Wild card :: Spot
  8. Artificial :: Gravity
  9. Gambling :: Addiction
  10. Exhibition :: Game

Monday, February 15, 2010

Weekend Over Already?

Wow, it's hard to believe that my weekend is already over. Of course, I did actually work today. We don't take off days like President's Day, but we get two weeks at Christmas. Given the choice, I am quite happy with this arrangement.

I had one simple goal this weekend, go see Percy Jackson and the Olympians. I never made it. Friday, I was going to go with my friend Josh, but Josh ran into traffic coming home from work and wasn't going to make it in time. So we decided to try Sunday night. Got the theater to find out it was already sold out. I guess I'll have to try next weekend. As if I needed something else to squeeze into my weekend.

But that's not to say I didn't have a good weekend. Josh and I hung out both nights, watching Babylon 5 one night and Electra the other.

Saturday, I went down to play ultimate Frisbee. And yes, we actually had a few people show up. Three of us were there for the game, and we snagged another couple guys for a game of hot box (think half court ultimate). I do tend to play well in small spaces like that since you can't run as much. Either that or I get luckier.

Saturday night, I met up with Angelique to see Murder on the Nile, which was playing at a local theater. We really enjoyed it. I was completely wrong who done it, but Angelique got it right. Of course, she had read the book before.

The one thing I haven't been able to do is watch much in the way of the Olympics. My roommate has been watching them, but I've been trying to get other things done like books read and TV shows watched. Frankly, I don't see how I am going to find much time to watch them period. Just too much else going on and too many TV shows not breaking for the Olympics. Oh well, there's always next time, right?

Friday, February 12, 2010

The Good and Bad of Last Night's Ultimate Game

Yep, last night was another winter league ultimate Frisbee game. It was a team we had played before. I missed that game, but we won something like 15-5. I was looking forward to playing them, figuring it would be an easy win. If only.

Things were fairly even early on. We were down 5-6, but scored three in a row to end the half 8-6.

Then, in the second half, we started out with a big lead. We got up to 14-10 at one point. And then, once again, we decided we didn't really want to win. We finally did win at 15-13.

Plus, our captain and my friend who got me on the team either broke or dislocated his finger early in the game. I hope he is able to come back.

Personally, it wasn't a good game. I got scored on 5 or 6 times. Run as hard as I could, I couldn't stay with my man when they decided to run into the end zone. Guess I'm still that guy who can't keep up wtih anyone after all.

On the plus side, I got the disc three times, caught and passed it on every single time. So I wasn't responsible for any of the turn overs we had. That makes me very happy.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Word Association for February 10th

Time for this week's word association.

  1. Humbled :: Embarrassed
  2. Buns :: Hamburger
  3. Snowstorm :: Washington DC
  4. Sweetheart :: Candy
  5. Punch :: Fight
  6. Glass :: Full
  7. Classical :: Music
  8. Heels :: Toes
  9. Twitter :: Post
  10. Husband :: Wife

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Weekly Geeks - Author Profile

So, I stumbled upon the Weekly Geeks blog a few months back. I keep thinking about doing the weekly assignment, and forgetting. Well, this week, I decided I was definitely going to do it.

The assignment, write about a favorite author. My only problem was coming up with an author to profile.

I finally decided on Sue Ann Jaffarian. I've actually only been reading her books for the last year, but I've known her longer thanks to seeing her at the LA Times Festival of Books and other such events.

Sue Ann Jaffarian's day job of as a paralegal. That's even more amazing when you realize she now writes three series.

Odelia Grey - Odelia is a plus sized, middle aged paralegal living in Orange County. About the only difference between Odelia and Sue Ann is that Sue Ann now works in LA County. These books are full of humor and some pretty twisty plots. And I love Odelia. The newest, Corpse on the Cob is out this month, but I suggest you start with the first, Too Big to Miss.

Ghost of Granny Apple - I do my best to avoid supernatural mysteries, but Sue Ann did such a good job of selling this series, I had to give it a try. Ghost a la Mode introduces us to Granny Apples and her great-great-great granddaughter Emma Whitecastle who has just discovered she can see ghosts. Together, they solve Granny's murder during the pioneer days in California. The second book won't be out until this time next year, and I can't wait.

Fang in Cheek - As if those two series weren't enough, Sue Ann is launching a new series this fall featuring vampires. I don't know much more than that at the moment, but I am already planning to read Murder in Vein as soon as I can get my hands on it.

Now remember, she is a full time paralegal on top of writing three books a year. My hat is already off to her.

Now let's bring in the factor that made me go with her for this post. She has decided that writing and a full time job aren't enough. Last year, she ran the Camp Pendleton Mud Run. It sounded like so much fun, I decided that if a plus size, middle age paralegal can complete it, this overweight, almost middle age accountant can do it, too. I've signed up for that in June and am planning on doing a shorter one in April, too. Heck, she was even the reason I did the Disneyland 5K back in September. Not only was that how I found out about it, but she bribed me with a free book.

But Sue Ann can't rest on her accomplishments. She has announced on her blog that she is training for the LA Marathon in March of 2011. Don't worry, I have no plans to join her on this quest. I have no desire to ever run a marathon (although I am beginning to waver on the half marathon). But my hat is definitely off to her.

Sue Ann is also available for motivational speaking. I've never heard her at that, but I'm guessing she'd be pretty good at it. She's also done some stand up comedy, which doesn't surprise me after hearing her talk about her books.

I've already given you a link to her web site, but if you want to read even more, you can read her blog and follow her on Twitter or Facebook. I highly recommend either one of those since she is very active on both, so you can see her progress through each book. It's hard not to get excited about a book after cheering her on in the writing process.

Monday, February 08, 2010

Super Bowl Thoughts

Yeah, I know. I'm actually talking about sports on my blog. But I have some thoughts on the game and the ads yesterday, so I thought I'd share.

First off all, I can't believe the Saints won. I don't follow sports at all, but I have roommates who do, so I knew enough about the teams to figure the Colts had it in the bag. And they did for the first quarter. I was actually getting bored at that point until the Saints really picked things up in the second quarter. From there, it was pretty much their game. So congrats to them.

Now, on to the most important thing, the Super Bowl commercials.

My favorite has to be the Doritos commercial featuring the anti-bark collar. I was laughing pretty hard at that one. And I also enjoyed the Betty White playing football Snickers commercial, mainly because I'm a fan of Betty White. The Denny's ads were pretty good, too.

But on the whole, I found the ads to be disappointing. They were trying too hard. They weren't funny, weren't original, weren't worth the money spent. That's especially true of the ad I bought for the US Census.

And what was with all the guys in their underwear? I am not comfortable with equal opportunity. (Of course, I'm not a fan of seeing women in their underwear in commercials, either.)

And I am still shacking my head over the controversial Tim Tebow ad. Honestly, if you saw the ad without knowing the story behind it, you'd miss the anti-abortion message until "Celebrate Life" and the fact that it was sponsered by Focus on the Family came up at the end. If NOW had kept their big mouths shut, it wouldn't have been more than a blip on the radar. Instead, it was talked about for more than a week as people called on CBS to censor the ad. With all the controversy, I honestly expected an in your face statement, and it just wasn't there.

Gee, maybe you should actually try watching something before you attack it?

Friday, February 05, 2010

Mini Review: 8th Confession

I am now up to date on James Patterson's Women's Murder Club series. Well, until the next one comes out in April. But I'm already on the waiting list at the library.

Meanwhile, here are my thoughts on The 8th Confession. (The link will take you to my full review.) Will someone get them (James and co-author Maxine Paetro) to write a good book again?

The book has two stories going on at the same time. Other than our main characters, there is nothing to tie the stories together. Up first, we have the case of a homeless man who is shot and then beaten. Then there's the case of a serial killer who is targeting the richest citizens of San Francisco.

Both of these cases were actually pretty interesting. I certainly enjoyed them. The pace moved quickly. One didn't end at all satisfactorally, which irritated me.

The problem was with the romantic sub-plots. I am so far beyond the whole Lindsay is attracted to her partner but loves her boyfriend story line. End it already! I think they've finally done that here, although I'm not sure I buy how that happened.

Then there's the poor case of Yuki. The assistant district attorny has two sub-plots here. Neither amounts to a hill of beans. It was like they suddenly realized they had no idea what to do with her, so they invented stories for her. But none of those stories had a good resolution. They were just stupid.

The first few books in this series were good. I'm wondering if he needs to write one himself or go back to Andrew Gross so we can get a book truly worthy of these great characters again.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Two Winter League Games

We are now in week 5 of winter league, and I have finally played two games.

See, in week one I was getting over a cold and figured running around in cold weather wouldn't be good for me. Week two, we had our bye. Week three, all the games were rained out. So that leaves weeks four and five.

Our game last week was Friday. It was pretty bad. We started out behind and pretty much stayed there. I think we ended up at 7 or 8-15. Not a pretty picture. The disc was thrown to me twice in one point. Once, it bounced off my hand in the end zone. The second, it was thrown behind me. On the positive side, I felt like I was keeping up with the guys I was supposed to be guarding. I was never more than three or four steps behind them. Okay, so that's still not where I should be, but it was better than usual.

Last night was our game for this week (meaning I still haven't watched Lost from last night yet.) I actually started out playing the first point. We were on defense. I was doing okay keeping up with my guy. We got a turn over, and my guy took off, leaving me poached. But we weren't able to take advantage of that and called a time out. They switched players guarding me at that point, so when we turned the disc over, my new guy took off running and scored. So much for keeping up with him.

Frankly, I felt I did better than normal keeping up with my guy, but I wasn't as confident as I was on Friday. I was scored on one other time, but other times I was there to keep my guy from being thrown to.

They also threw me into the cup on a zone defense. The short version? This is the position I have avoided for years because it is the most running you will ever do in ultimate Frisbee. They did score that point, but I felt reasonably happy with my performance. I just need to be able to run fast for a longer period of time. If they hadn't scored when they did, I would have been dead.

On a positive note, I also got the disc and successfully got rid of it twice. I didn't throw it away once. The other game finished before ours, and several members of that team who know me commented on how comfortable I looked with the disc.

And the score was the best part. We tied it at 2-2, then fell behind at 3-5. Then we went on a long run. At half, the score was 8-5. Then we kept the streak going in the second half, bringing us to 14-5. I'm still not quite sure what happened at that point. Maybe we were tired or mentally checked out, but we let them get 5 points before we won, leaving the score at 15-10. Heck, I'll still take that score.

And the most important thing? I've having fun and really enjoy my teammates. I'm sorry we only have a month left.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Word Association for February 2nd

Time for this week's word association.

  1. Furniture :: Couch
  2. Beauty :: and the Beast
  3. Sip :: Cup
  4. Block :: Party
  5. Forehead :: Hair
  6. Championship :: Game
  7. Hurl :: Curl
  8. Whip :: Indiana Jones
  9. Destruction :: Earthquake
  10. Leather :: Jacket

Monday, February 01, 2010

Amazon May Have Gone too Far This Time

I have been reviewing on Amazon for 9 years this month. I've actually been getting very tired of how they are treating reviewers these days. It's very hard to get your review seen unless you are one of the first few reviews. And the new ranking system they introduced a year and a half ago really hurts you if you get negative votes. I've been reviewing up a storm since then, and I've dropped about 50 places. Yes, it's an ego thing, but it does hurt.

I may be about to drop a whole heck of a lot more places. I may be about to walk away from Amazon to only review at Epinions.

Why? Not because of anything they've done to me, but because of what they did this weekend with Macmillan.

If you aren't in the know, Amazon and Macmillan got into it over the price of books on the Kindle. Macmillan wanted the prices of new books that have just been released to be set around $13-$15, with a decrease in price over time and as cheaper versions of the book come out. Amazon wanted to keep the price at $10.

When Macmillan refused to give in, Amazon pulled all the books by Macmillan authors. That would include Kindle and paper copies.

I'd actually noticed this before the story hit over the weekend. An author I like has a new book coming out tomorrow. I was looking at the page, and saw that they didn't list the publication date any more. I was confused but thought maybe it had been delayed. I remembered his publisher today and put the pieces together. Ironically, they are still honoring my pre-order. The book was mailed today (while the DVD set also coming out tomorrow and shipped with a faster speed hasn't been.)

Over the weekend, we got two responses. Macmillan's CEO gave a reasonable sounding explanation. Amazon, however, sounded like a spoiled brat, even saying the Macmillan had a monopoly on their books. (Right. And Amazon doesn't have a monopoly on the Kindle.)

Apparently, Amazon pulled something similar in the UK with a publisher over there, too.

I realize I have given Amazon lots of free publicity over the years with my reviews. I've been fine with that. But if this is how they are going to act when a publisher doesn't give in to their demands, I'm getting close to being fed up.

After all, the reason I started writing those reviews was the help the authors. And if their books could be pulled on a whim, I'm not helping them. I'm better off sticking with Epinions (where I get paid for my work).

Now, that's not to say I think Macmillan is completely right here. Many people have been complaining about the price increase at Amazon. People are used to a $10 price, so if you are suddenly going to raise it, they will complain and boycott.

But I don't get Amazon's unwillingness to let Macmillan try and fail. After all, if the price is too high, no one will buy it. As they play with a price, they'll find the spot where they make enough to cover the costs. That's how a free market system works. But I get the feeling that Amazon is so worried about getting their market share now and becoming a monopoly, they don't care about anybody else.

Now, Amazon claims they've backed down, but all the authors I've checked who are published by Macmillan still have their books unavailable as of this writing. If Amazon has truly backed down, they should have been restored by now.

Now, I'm not saying I won't write another review for Amazon. I'm going to give this some time and see what I think. I do know the two reviews I had planned to post there in the next couple of days aren't going to happen. They'll be Epinions exclusives.

But I am certainly leaning toward not only not writing any more over there, but taking down all my reviews. I will certainly make them the seller of last resort instead of first resort for upcoming book purchases.

If you want to read some more articles on this, here are a couple of good ones:

All the Many Ways Amazon So Very Failed This Weekend
Why My Books are No Longer for Sale Via Amazon
And for more on the laughable monopoly claim, check out Nabisco Has a Monopoly on Oreos.