Thursday, January 31, 2013

Word Association for January 31st

One month in 2013 gone already?  Yikes!

Anyway.  Here's this week's word association.

  1. Sophisticated :: Classy
  2. Pelicans :: Ocean
  3. Flat :: Tire
  4. Cheekbones :: Face
  5. Possible :: Impossible
  6. England :: Europe
  7. Jacket :: Cold
  8. Sunflower :: Seeds
  9. Hungry :: Dinner
  10. Accent :: Foreign

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

It's Been a Week

Okay, I know it's really only Tuesday, but I'm talking about the last week in general.

Work - Yes, I am still working.  And it's the week before the audit, which means there is lots of work to do to get everything ready.  I haven't been working overtime, but I've been working hard the entire time I'm there.

Epinions - Things are still erupting over there, too.  It's taken them this long to get us our money from December, such as it was.  And they haven't backed down on their stance that reviews over 5 years old will no longer earn money.

Meanwhile, Blogger still hasn't let me back into the review blog I set up.  I was going to start a blog over at Word Press, but I haven't had a chance to do that.  Guess I can wait another day or two mainly since I will be so busy.  But I really want to get going on posting stuff somewhere and off Epinions.  I'm taking my old content down if they don't reverse their stance.

Heck, I'm so disgusted right now, I may take stuff down anyway.  After all, this was a slap in the face.  And I have a very steady revenge rater there right now.  Plus someone called my integrity into question because I reviewed a friend's book over there.  Yeah, thanks.  I don't need that.  I need to become a book (and other things) blogger.

I've got to admit, my attitude hasn't been helped by the fact that I can't seem to sleep at night.  I woke up at 4:30 this morning and never did get back to sleep.  Hopefully tonight will be better.

But it all got better when I was talking to my family tonight.  My niece was still up, and hearing her say, "I love you, Uncle Mark" brought a huge smile to my face and pretty much put everything in perspective.

It was probably a good thing I couldn't do any review copying this weekend anyway.  I finally got my Christmas decorations down and put away and I got my chapter for a fan fiction group project finished.  Once I start the copying, I have a feeling I will be doing that pretty much full time.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Weekly TV Recap for January 26th

Once Upon a Time - It was looking so good there for a few minutes.  I thought Regina might be strong.  But then Cora got to her with the truth that things with Henry will never go back to the way they were.  Trouble is coming big time.  Meanwhile, the stranger knows what is happening as well.  Oh, boy.

Castle - Surprisingly little about the on-going stories this week.  But it's a fun mystery that I'm a little surprised they hadn't done before.  It just screamed Castle to me.

White Collar - A case of the week that revolved around the overall story.  I wasn't surprised he wasn't the big bad when they took him down already.  Interested to see where this goes.  Oh, and I love it when Elizabeth gets involved in the case.

Arrow - Interesting twist with having Arrow and his sidekick at odds.  I liked it, however, especially with how they played out the reveal for both the characters.  Very nicely done.

Necessary Roughness - I actually felt sorry for TK.  Most of the time, he just annoys me.  And seeing Dani needing therapy herself was a nice touch.

Suits - My roommate and I have on-going discussions about how the characters treat Louis.  Personally, I think he deserves at least some of the abuse he gets.  But I liked how they played things this week, especially with Jessica standing up to Harvey.

Nikita - I knew they'd play off Michael's hand for a couple of weeks.  They had to.  But I really like how they are using it to explore and grow the characters.  Not saying that last bit wasn't heartbreaking, but I like the story they are telling.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Word Association for January 24th

Here's this week's word association.

  1. Offered :: Accepted
  2. Center :: Aisle
  3. Benefit :: Good
  4. Yay! :: Excited
  5. Wonderful :: Counsel
  6. Currently :: Blogging
  7. Resignation :: Job
  8. Testing :: 1,2,3 Testing
  9. Strangely :: Happy
  10. Clinic :: Medical

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Fun Times at Epinions

Well, the last few days have certainly been fun at Epinions.  And they’ve shown why socialism will never work as well.

For months, they’ve been telling us that they were going to change how the money they pay us, called Income Share or IS, is distributed.  It was going to reward active reviewers.  They were also going to change payment methods over to Paypal, a move I was not remotely interested in but I have no choice since I want to still keep getting paid.

So the money was pushed through last week, but there were bugs and other issues with it.  But people were seeing a wild swing in money.  Some were talking about the best IS they’d ever seen.  Others were talking about wild drops.

And that’s when people started to notice that there was a cut off date beyond which their reviews didn’t earn them any money.  When staff confirmed that yesterday, that’s when things really started to get exciting.

Seems they’d determined that only reviews written in the last five years deserve IS.  Doesn’t matter how many hits you get or how much your review brings in – it is now dead unless you wrote it in the last 5 years.

Now, I can see how some reviews wouldn’t really be relevant any more past that date.  But most of mine still are.  A movie, book, or CD doesn’t really change from one year to the next.  Furthermore, some of my reviews on rare items still get big hits and bigger IS.  Yes, I’m one of those very upset by the change.

Fortunately, the multitude of posts seem to be heard.  They are discussing what will happen going forward.  However, I am taking no chances.  I’m setting up a reviewing blog and becoming an Amazon affiliate.  Hopefully, I can add a bit more to my reviewing income if not supplement what I will lose as my Epinions review start to expire.  And yes, I will be taking them down as they expire.  If I want to post something for free, I can do that at Amazon.

Of course, if Epinions reverses itself, I’ll keep my reviews up there.  But I am creating this review blog regardless since the work involved in transferring them all will only get worse as the reviews pile up.

Now I’ll need to build a readership for that blog, something I’ve never quite managed here.  Hopefully, I can do that, or all this work will be for nothing.

I’ve actually started on the blog.  I’m calling it Carstairs Considers….  Unfortunately, I didn’t come up with the name, but I love it.  Thanks to Holly for suggesting it.

So what does this say about socialism and capitalism?  Well, those of us who were doing well and stand to lose much are taking down content or threatening to take down content if Epinions doesn’t reverse itself.  Those who don’t have as many reviews and were helped by this change are praising it.  And yes, some of those upset by the change are liberals who have no problems taking from the rich to give to the poor via taxes until it is their income that is affected.  Obviously, I’m in the group that will take down reviews that have “expired” if Epinions doesn’t reverse itself.  Why should I let them earn money to give to someone other than me?  That very idea makes no sense at all.  However, I’m still going to post reviews there and earn money until they expire.  Why not?  By the time they expire, I’ll already have them on my blog, so it will be no problem to delete them and move on.

Really, this reminds me of the attitude I felt from Amazon a few years back when they changed their review rankings.  It became all about “What have you done for me lately?”  That’s what Epinions is saying, too.  They want fresh content.  They’ve made that clear in other areas recently as well.  The newest review is on the top no matter what it is rated, which means some of my reviews are buried.  And don’t even get me started on the search engine and lack of listings for reviews.  That’s really frustrating.

Still, I’m hoping that Epinions sees the light and works out another way to distribute IS.  The thought of taking down all my hard work makes me sad.  But there is no way I’m letting them have it for free.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Running in 2013

Wow, we’re 22 days in the new year and I am finally talking about my running plans.

Fortunately, my running has been quite that bad.  I have been running, although only once a week plus ultimate Frisbee on the weekends.  My legs have been okay.  Not perfect, but better than they were the end of last year.  And it is issues that seem to be better when I run than if I don’t run.  Weird, I know.

And that’s a good thing since I am already signed up for several mud runs.  My roommate is doing all but one of them with me, too.  We’re doing two in April and two the same weekend in June.  There’s one in May we’ll most likely sign up for as well.  The one he isn’t joining me for is a second go at Tough Mudder.  I don’t think I’ll be the weak link in the team this time, but I need to train for it so that is definitely the case.

There will probably be some other runs along the way.  And there will definitely be more mud runs as the year progresses.

The race most on my mind right now is the Disneyland Half.  They’ve added a 10K to the weekend and a challenge to do both.  I am so tempted to sign up for both, but it would mean two very early mornings and two nights in hotels down there.  Not sure I should/could commit.  But it would be awesome to get the first medal for the 10K and the challenge.  Registration on this one opened today, so I need to decide soon.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Weekly TV Recap for January 19th

Once Upon a Time – I must admit I was expecting them to drag out Hopper’s “death” for several episodes before everyone learned the truth.  The fact that they now know is certainly interesting.  As Emma said, Regina won’t be quick to forgive them, but at least she is talking about making an apology.  I really like her this season.  That ending with Belle?  So not a fan.  I love Belle!  I’ll be interested to see where they go with that next week as well as with the driver of this car.

Castle – A break from the normal since it not only focused on Esposito instead of Castle and Beckett, but it also wasn’t quite so much about the mystery but some character development.  I don’t know if I’d tune in for that every week, but it was nice for a change of pace.  The ending felt a bit rushed as a result, but they did wrap things up nicely.

Arrow - I hadn't enjoyed the last couple of episodes, but this one was great.  Yes, a bit predictable, but still very good as they got Arrow back out there and helped draw him closer to the girl.  Plus they were showing the mother feeling guilty about what she is really doing.  All in all, a great episode.

Suits - Not quite the barn burner I was expecting, but they did move the characters to new places.  Louis is not going to be happy with how he is treated, and I can't say as I blame him.  I think it should set up a very interesting second half, however.

Nikita - I am the second mole.  Keep that in mind.  I was expecting the unwilling mole to die, I wasn't not expecting the real ending.  And it was so intense.  Holy cow, I felt like I'd just lived that instead of watching it.  Great job with the writing and acting.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Word Association for January 17th

Time for this week's word association.

  1. Lizard :: Slither
  2. Swimming pool :: Summer fun
  3. Tank :: Dunk
  4. Horrible :: Situation
  5. Cabbage :: Patch Kid
  6. Pet :: Dog
  7. Photography :: Camera
  8. 1970 :: Brady Bunch
  9. Ornate :: Design
  10. Turkey :: Thanksgiving

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Almost Bragging Book Review Request

Time again for another book review request worth poking a little fun at.  One a week for the next few months until I get caught up.  Honest, I have that many.  Heck, I’ve flagged several in the next couple of weeks alone.

Anyway, here’s the one for this week.  I am editing out specifics, but here is the gist of what I was sent.

Dear Hall of Fame Reviewer,
I'm the author of the newly published book XXXXXXX.

I'm happy to let you know...

This book won third place, in Specific Book Festival Mentioned but Editted Out.,
which honors the best of international publishing.

The book was also named an "Honorable Mention" in Second Specific Book Festival.

It has received several good reviews including Kirkus review and from amazon Hall of Fame Reviewers – Grady Harp and Rebecca Reads.

I'll gladly send a complimentary copy if you consider it for review.

Book Title is published by Publisher (Publication date).
I would highly appreciate your valuable time and effort and welcome any honest, unbiased opinion.

Okay, so what was wrong with this request?

For starters, at least try to pretend you didn’t just run a computer program and get my e-mail address.  Even if you aren’t going to pretend you’ve read my reviews, you can take the time to say Dear Mark.  (Of course, if you are going to take the time to comment on one of my reviews, please act like you’ve paid attention to them, but those are issues that will come up in weeks to come.)

Now, honestly, I get the fact that, out of hundreds of books, your book getting 3rd or Honorable mention is a big deal to you.  And it probably really does mean something overall.  But as I was reading this e-mail, it seemed like you were bragging about nothing.  1st?  Definitely include it.  But if you are going to talk about 3rd, please tell me how many books were in the category instead of just giving me a link to the award (which I took out of what I quoted above).  I’m sorry, but I’m not that impressed by 3rd or Honorable Mention without at least a little context, especially since I haven’t heard of either festival before.

Then, there’s the recommendations from other Amazon reviewers.  While I do respect Rebecca Reads, Grady is suspect as a reviewer.  Glowing praise from him doesn’t necessarily mean much.  It’s kind of like getting a rave from Harriet Klausner actually.

Finally, what is your book about?  Fiction?  Non-fiction?  And if it is non-fiction, how much of that do I review?  (More now than I was when I got this e-mail, which is still pretty small.)  If you want me to read your book, don’t just send me the Amazon link and talk about all the praise it’s gotten.  Take a couple of sentences to tell me what it is about.

Monday, January 14, 2013


Okay, I’m going to expose just how much of a California wimp I am.  But this weekend was freezing cold!!!!

Mind you, I grew up in Northern CA, were it could get cold in the winter, but where it still never snowed.  But I’ve lived in Southern CA for 17 years now, and I can tell when I am home for Christmas that I’ve gotten soft even by those standards.

So you can imagine how well I did with temps in the low 50’s for highs.  And they were lower 30’s/upper 20’s at night.  Heck, I didn’t leave the condo all day on Saturday.  I didn’t have to do anything, so I decided to be very lazy.  It was kind of nice, actually.

Okay, so I did nix playing disc golf early Saturday morning, but that was partially because we were talking 7:30 AM, and I wanted to sleep in.  My body didn’t let me sleep in as much as I would have liked, but it was still to just laze around in bed and not do anything.

I did go play ultimate yesterday, however.  It was fine when we started at 2:30, and running around I actually got warm.  But I stood around talking with a couple of the guys afterward.  The sun was pretty much set by the time we left, and I was freezing.  Fortunately, my car has a great heater.

The poor heater in my condo has been working overtime, running a lot more than normal.  I am dreading seeing the bill for the month.

Fortunately, it’s only going to be the one weekend of overtime heating, however.  Temps should start warming up tomorrow to hit lower 70’s by mid weak.  Yes, there are strong winds that go with it, and you know how much I hate wind.  But if it will warm things up, I’ll take it.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Weekly TV Recap for January 12th

They're starting to come back!

Once Upon a Time - I can't tell you how sorry I feel for Regina.  Cora is pure evil!  At least they didn't really kill off Dr. Hopper.  This is going to get very interesting very quickly.

Castle - I was expecting a bit more of theme crossover between the mystery and the sub-plot, but it was still funny.  Can't wait to see how they explore this new idea of Beckett trying to draw Castle out.  That's going to be hard to do, but it could be interesting.  And is this leading into more about Castle's dad during the February sweeps two parter?  From what I'm seeing on line tonight, it's looking like yes.

The Big Bang Theory - The story with the guys was okay.  Pretty funny at times, not so much with others.  But the ladies?  That was hysterical!

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Word Association for January 10th

Here we go with this week's word association.

  1. Resolution :: New Year
  2. Fortunate :: Unfortunate
  3. Humid :: Wet
  4. Instantaneous :: Reward
  5. Bug :: Squish
  6. Mocking :: Bird
  7. Ball :: Frisbee
  8. Fluid :: Water
  9. Interest :: Income
  10. Mattress :: Bed

Wednesday, January 09, 2013

Last 5K for 2012

Yes, I’m still talking about 2012.  That’s how behind I am on blogging.  But I did get one last race in during the year.  That brings my total to 14 over all.

This was the Holiday 5K and was held on the Saturday between Christmas and New Years.  It was put on by the cross country team of my old employer.

My roommate has started working out more, and he joined me for this one.  Or should I say he beat me for this one.  He finished about 5 minutes faster than I did.  Honestly, I don’t know if I would have been able to keep up with him even if I had been running.

That’s right, I ran only once the entire month before this race.  My legs had been killing me thanks, mostly I think, to some very bad dress shoes I’d been wearing for work.  As a result, there were days I could barely walk let alone run.  That seems to be behind me now.

Fortunately, I was able to run the entire thing.  And I finished in a time of 32 minutes, which isn’t that bad at all considering.  I figured I’d be much later.

The course itself is mostly off road and is beautiful.  Unfortunately, it was also very cold that day.  We’re talking almost snowing.  And it was sprinkling a bit as we started.  Yes, I know I enjoy doing mud runs, but that’s when the temps are warmer.  Waiting for the race to begin was the hard part.  Once we got going, I was fine.

Still, I’m glad I went and did this.  Plus it’s proved my legs are doing better, so I am back to running.  Which is a very good thing since I’ve started plotting out and signing up for mud runs in 2013 already.

Sunday, January 06, 2013

What I Read in December

And here's the list of books I read in December.

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

I was expecting this book to be filled with vintage pictures of the park, but most of the pictures were from the past 5 years or so.  I did find the behind the scenes essays interesting, however.

Lady Georgie is looking to escape her family castle and lands herself a position helping with a Christmas house party.  But amidst the old fashioned Christmas, she finds the members of the village dying off one by one.  Is there a pattern to the deaths, or are they the tragic accidents they appear to be?  I made a connection early on that Georgie missed, but once she made it the book took off and never quite let go.  I really enjoyed this one.

PETER AND THE SWORD OF MERCY by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson - 5
The authors take their Peter Pan prequels to the era we know best as Peter much team up with Wendy to save Molly, George, and all of England from a new threat still after the star stuff.  If you've enjoyed the others in the YA series, you'll certainly enjoy this one.  The multiple plots actually seemed to compliment each other, and I always had a hard time putting the book down.

All nine of these short stories have been previous released, but I got a kick out of them because I hadn't read them before.  From a murder at the North Pole to a suspicious mall Santa and a murderous fruitcake, this one has it all.  Some humor and light crime - what could be more perfect at Christmas?

Mrs. Pollifax and her husband Cyrus are hours away from a vacation to Thailand when Bishop shows up asking if they could possibly make one small detour for the CIA.  Of course, things go wildly wrong when Cyrus is kidnapped and Mrs. Pollifax has to hunt for him with a man she doesn't trust.  The plot to this one is a little different.  The scenes with Bishop and Carstairs drive it more than Mrs. Pollifax's action does.  As a result, it's not as good as the classic books in the series, but it's still fun.

Danvers hates his life, especially since no one appreciates his attempts to create stunts that his idol, Gonzo, would love.  But one morning Danvers wakes up as a Muppet.  What is happening?  And how will his life change?  I found the book to be a very fast read, the large number of pictures certainly helped.  Yet, I also found it quite funny.  Any fan of the Muppets will enjoy it, down to the elementary school target audience.

Trixie and her friends are spending the week between Christmas and New Year's at a ski lodge in Vermont.  But when they are greeted by an ominous warning, it appears there is more happening here than meets the eye.  The plot is great with some twists I didn't expect - at least the first time I read it.  The characters are their true selves as well.  The pacing of the book could be better, but it's still one of the better of the later books.

Saturday, January 05, 2013

Weekly TV Recap for Jan 5th

Yes, a blog post for one episode.  How exciting is that?  Actually, it has been nice having so little TV to watch right now.  But here's what I did watch.

Big Bang Theory - Yes, the episode was funny with Sheldon accidentally doing what he did, but I still found the Sexual Harassment go to be a bit painful to watch.  Funny but painful.

Friday, January 04, 2013

Cruisin' Through the Cozies - 2013

How could I pass up the Cruisin' Through the Cozies Reading Challenge for 2013?  With the number of cozies I read how could I pass it up?

Naturally, I'm signing up for level 3, which means I have to read 13+ in the next year.  That's going to be so hard.  :)

I will list the books and link to my reviews as I get them read.

1. Mr. Monk Gets Even by Lee Goldberg
2. The Ninth Daughter by Barbara Hamilton
3. Mr. Churchill's Secretary by Suan Elia MacNeal

Criminal Plots Reading Challenge III

It's January, so it's time to sign up for some reading challenges that run all year long.

Up first is the Criminal Plots Reading Challenge.  Each year, our hostess Jen comes up with some new categories to challenge us.  I've got to admit, I'm not sure what I'll be doing for some of these, but I may be finally getting some of the books off my shelves that have been sitting there for years.

Anyway, the categories this year are...

1. Novel with an Animal in the Title
2. Two Short Stories Written by Two Different Authors Who are New to You
3. Book Written by More than One Person
4. A YA Crime Novel
5. A Book from a Series Options for Television
6. A Novel that's been Nominated for an Edgar in the last 5 Years

Since I don't have to list the books until I read them, I won't.  But I will come back and post the books and link to the reviews when I've read them.

4. Black Ice by Andrew Lane
6. Mr. Churchill's Secretary by Susan Elia MacNeal

Thursday, January 03, 2013

Christmas 2012

Yes, it's still time to talk about Christmas.  After all, I haven't blogged about it yet.

I was able to go home.  My boss is great about letting me off for the holidays, which is nice since I wasn't going to miss Thanksgiving or Christmas for a temp job.  I headed up on the Saturday before Christmas and came back on Thursday.  Yes, I did work one day the week of Christmas.  I'll work 4 this week before I go back to 5 from here on out.

It was a different Christmas from previous ones.  My brother and sister-in-law were working on doing the repairs they need to do on their new home, so any spare time they were spending over there.  It meant less hang out playing games time.

But I had a great visit anyway.  I got plenty of time with my niece, which is a highlight.  Christmas day was good with family of all stripes.

Traffic was pretty bad both ways.  I wasn't too surprised it was busy on Saturday, but Thursday was a bit of a surprise.  There looked to be an accident heading north at one point, and it slowed us way down for rubber neckers going south.  Yes, it was worse the other way, but not like much.

Obviously, there are a lot of people still out there on vacation because traffic has been lighter than normal all this week heading down to work.  Certainly not complaining about that.

Tuesday, January 01, 2013

Word Association for New Year's Day

Wow, I've got to get back in the blogging habit.  Here to start things off is this week's word association.

  1. Princess :: Disney
  2. First kiss :: Magic
  3. Humor :: Funny
  4. Campaign :: Political
  5. Resolve :: New Year
  6. Intrepid :: Explorer
  7. Rhythm :: Rhyme
  8. Grand :: Piano
  9. Dirty :: Clean
  10. Tooth :: Decay