Wednesday, November 02, 2011

How to Hack a Moleskine

I discovered this technique at Yarn-A-Go-Go and have refined it to apply to my own situation (and OCD). I recently found myself reading Allison Hewitt is Trapped: A Zombie Novel, by Madeleine Roux, in which Allison Hewitt, a blogger, is trapped in a bookstore with several colleagues when the inevitable zombie apocalypse happens. This, of course, started me thinking about what I would do if I found myself in a similar situation. Being me, rather than thinking in terms of weapons, I think in terms of information and creature comforts.

The creature comforts part of the equation mostly goes to what I carry in my day bag (a black leather backpack)--iPhone, wallet, keys, tissues, pain relievers, moisturizer, glasses, earbuds, pens and the inevitable Moleskine. The information part comes when I start thinking about what might happen if I'm holed up somewhere hiding from zombies and don't have access to electricity or wifi (Allison Hewitt, the fictional blogger, is trapped in a bookstore with both of those things, luckily). Or what if the cell towers are out (probably more of a worldwide armageddon than the zombie apocalypse, but you never know.

Thus, the Moleskine hack, my version.

  1. As soon as you get a new Moleskine, number the pages. I number mine in the upper right-hand corner, and leave the first few (at least two) pages in the book blank. These first blank pages will become your index, or table of contents. Alternatively, you could use a few back pages as the table of contents ... okay, this is what I did, but only because I didn't think of adding it at the front until after I had started writing in the book.
  2. Starting after the first blank pages that will be dedicated to the index, put your important information, i.e., information that you would want to have close to hand during the zombie apocalypse, such as phone numbers of relatives, doctors' phone numbers, medications you take, etc. This information will be the first entry in your table of contents. Mine is: Phone Numbers, Medications & Allergies, Mom's & Dad's Medications, Surgeries (Bob's and mine)
  3. Go to those first few blank pages and add the page number, the date of entry, and what the information is, i.e., Page 1 - 10/31/11 - Phone Numbers.
  4. Write only on the right-hand pages, leaving the left-hand pages blank for editing, adding notes, clarification, etc.
  5. Write whatever you usually write in the rest of the book--notes, drawings, shopping lists, whatever. When you write something that you might want to be able to access later without flipping through the whole book, go to your table of contents and write it down. That way when you want to refer to notes from a particular meeting, you can find them easily by the date or title. Mine currently includes: Ideas for Christmas 2011, books I want to read, notes from doctor visits, blog ideas, sewing patterns (so I don't buy the same one twice).
  6. Mark the index/table of contents with a post-it flag or some kind of tab so you can open the book to it easily. This is really only important if your table of contents, like mine, is at the back rather than the front.
  7. When you fill the book up and start a new one, re-copy the "important information" into the new book. That way you have a fighting chance of having the information you need when you're holed up in the basement waiting for the zombies to break down the door.

Updated Birthday Offers List

  • Office Max/MaxPerks - $15 off a $75 order
  • Colorful Images - Free shipping on an order of $20 or more
  • Nature's Bounty - $1.00 coupon
  • Michael's - 20% off any regular price purchase
  • Pizza Hut - Free dessert or free side with any online order
  • Knorr - A recipe for "Nacho Supreme Rice"

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Birthday Month!

I don't want to be, and am not, ungrateful, and I've never been one to turn down something free, but I noticed this last year, and I'm noticing it again this year. All those places that ask for your birthday so they can send you something are sending out the most lame deals you can imagine. I just got one from Office Max giving me $15 off a $75 dollar order. Someone, I think it was Boston Market, recently sent out a coupon where if you buy two dinners you get a free drink.

This is just my personal opinion, of course, but if you're going to give someone a gift, which these offers purport to be, make it a real gift, i.e., with no strings or requirements attached. Chances are, I'm not going to walk into a restaurant and just ask for my free drink, or free cookie or whatever, it's going to get me into the place and then I'm going to have a meal and get my free item. But making the free thing contingent on purchasing quite a bit of other stuff just rubs me the wrong way.

And I guess the thing that really irks me is the way these things are presented, i.e., an email with a subject line like Office Max's -- "A Special Birthday Gift for You." Really? How special is that? If I come up with $75 worth of stuff, I'll only have to pay $60 for it. Sure, it's something, but is it going to make me run out to Office Max and buy $75 worth of stuff? Not likely.

I know that fast food restaurants and other places offer these kinds of coupons all the time--buy one meal, get one at half price, or buy a meal and get a free drink, or upsize or whatever--I think it's the fact that they act like it's such a big deal, and that they're giving you something of such value when really, like in the case of a free drink when you buy two meals, they're getting you in to spend $20 or so and giving you something worth maybe a dime, realistically.

I think I'll keep track of the birthday offers I get this month and see who actually gives things that are worth getting and not just deleting.

  • Office Max/MaxPerks - $15 off a $75 order
  • Colorful Images - Free shipping on an order of $20 or more. Not bad. I probably won't use it, but I always appreciate free shipping.
  • Nature's Bounty - $1.00 coupon. I can't tell what the $1 is off of, though, because I would have to install a coupon printer application in order to print it, and I'm not doing that. Something else that I find completely irritating.
  • Michael's - 20% off any regular price purchase. Nice, but not too exciting, since you can usually find 40% off coupons in the Sunday paper.

Oh, and by the way, since the holiday season is coming up, I wanted to mention that I have given up the post office box, and the forwarding order has apparently expired (if it was ever effective in the first place), so if anyone wants to send me a Christmas card and you don't have my home address, just email me and I'll give it to you. Assuming you're not the creepy stalker dude . . .

Thursday, October 20, 2011

No mo PO

I keep forgetting to mention this--I gave up the post office box, so if anyone wants to mail me anything, but don't have my address, email me and I'll give it to you.

Sunday, September 25, 2011


Bob has been having quite a bit of pain in one of his knees for at least a couple of months, and he finally went to see someone about it a few weeks ago. He saw an orthopedist, then had an MRI, and we met with the doctor this week to discuss the results. He has a torn meniscus, along with some other small things showing some damage. The doctor said that he couldn't be sure what was causing the pain, but he recommended doing arthroscopic surgery and fixing the meniscus, and hopefully that would take care of it.

So he's having surgery next Thursday. I'm taking off work Thursday and Friday, and I think he's planning to be off for two weeks. He's not exactly looking forward to it, but I know he's anxious to have it be done; the knee has been getting worse, and now he can't take anti-inflammatory medication from now until surgery, so he's in even more pain than usual. My main concern is for it collapsing on him and having him fall down the stairs or something. I guess if we can get through another week, he'll be forced to use crutches or a walker or something until it heals.

I read someone's post about apostrophe misuse, and it reminded me of a sign I saw last weekend at the grocery store. I kind of wanted to take a picture of it, but it was dark and I didn't think it would come out well, and anyway, I would have looked like an idiot, not that I actually care about that. Anyway, there was a big display of fall flowers and pumpkins and gourds, with a sign that said:

"Please take"
items inside
to purchase.

What? Who would even think that was correct? Why would you use quotation marks in any part of that sign, and if you wanted to, why choose that phrase? It boggles the mind. Or my mind, anyway.

Friday, September 09, 2011


Blogger finally came out with an iPhone app. Maybe now I'll blog more often.

Looking out the window in my office yesterday afternoon:

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Analyze THIS

A columnist for the National Review, Tevi Troy, analyzes the books that President Obama took on vacation, and concludes that "they may constitute the oddest assortment of presidential reading material ever disclosed, for a number of reasons. First, five of the six are novels, and the near-absence of nonfiction sends the wrong message for any president, because it sets him up for the charge that he is out of touch with reality." Within that group of fiction were some mysteries, prompting the comment, "there is also the question of genre. The Bayou Trilogy has received excellent reviews, but it is a mystery series. While there is nothing wrong with that per se, not every presidential reading selection is worth revealing to the public."

Toward the end of the article, Troy says, "This year’s list suggests that Obama needs to consider the messages sent by his reading more carefully." I suppose that might hold some water if he was reading something like, I don't know, Mein Kampf, maybe, but selecting an armload of literary fiction doesn't seem to me to send any message other than he was looking for something interesting to read on vacation. I suppose the argument could be made that presidents never truly go on vacation, but everyone, even presidents, need a break once in awhile; I don't think that means that he's "out of touch with reality," which makes him sound in he belongs in a rubber room.

I wonder what could be deduced about me by analyzing the last half dozen books I read?

In the last couple of weeks, I've read:

The list is all fiction, pretty heavily weighted toward zombie fiction ("My Life as a White Trash Zombie," "Home Improvement, Undead Edition," and "Countdown," although "Home Improvement" isn't exclusively about zombies, since it includes stories about other creatures such as vampires, shapeshifters, and ghosts.

The rest of the books are in the dreaded mystery category, "The Missing Ink" being set in a Las Vegas tattoo parlor, and the Grabenstein series, taking place on the Jersey shore, chronicling the adventures of an Iraq War veteran, now policeman, and his young sidekick. "The Missing Ink" is a cozy, the Grabenstein books are, I suppose, police procedural, and "The Shop" is a thriller about a paid assassin trying to unravel the reasons for his recent assignments--he never asked questions before, but it's all beginning to seem a little too strange.

My mind doesn't really work this way--when I read that article it seemed like it must be satire, but sadly, I don't believe it is. But anyway, if I was going to analyze myself based on that reading list, I guess I'd have to say, since it's all fiction, that I'm out of touch with reality. I suppose the zombie fiction indicates that I identify with the oppressed undead minority, and that I am looking for ideas on stockpiling supplies for the upcoming apocalypse.

Maybe the police procedurals would point out that, while I'm basically law-abiding, I also look for ways in which I can put one over on policemen, particularly those on the Jersey Shore, and "The Shop" could mean nothing other than I'm planning a politically-motivated murder and need to find out how to keep it a secret. Oh, and of course the tattoo shop cozy indicates that I secretly wish to either work in a tattoo shop or to be tattooed.

What a crock.

In other news, my shellac French manicure just hit the 2-1/2 week mark, and still looks almost perfect. It's starting to show a little wear at the tips, so I made an appointment for Saturday to get it re-done. Three weeks is pretty darn good, I'd have to say, considering all the typing I do. Sort of in that same vein, I've got an appointment tomorrow with the hand surgeon who did my trigger thumb release a couple of years ago.

I've been having some pain that I think is probably carpal tunnel (I'm not a doctor, but I play one on tv); last week the pain was awful, but of course, just like a car that won't make that noise when you see the mechanic, this week it's almost non-existent. But using that same analogy, if I cancel the appointment, I'm sure the pain will come back. I figure it doesn't hurt to have her look at it and let me know what she thinks, although it will cost me a $50 co-pay. Oh well.

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Sunday, August 14, 2011

Twelve things I love

In no particular order or genre:

  1. Pizza Hut Thin & Crispy Chicken Supreme Pizza - My favorite pizza. Chicken breast, red onions, green peppers, and mushrooms.

  2. Adam Lambert. I never watched American Idol, and only discovered him after the show was over. There's just something about him. He's adorable, of course, but it's also his personality. He's (or at least he seems to be) sunny, happy, and helpful, just a nice young man. Okay, a make-up wearing, glammed up young man, but he seems to be pretty together, and has a great voice and stage presence.

  3. The way Aveda Shampure smells. Unfortunately, it isn't moisturizing enough for my hair, but Bob uses it, so I get to smell it by proxy.

  4. O.P.I. nail oil. I have the driest cuticles on the planet, so I use this stuff constantly. It improves the look of my nails instantly.

  5. Chris Grabenstein's John Ceepak series. I'm halfway through this (so far) six book series about an Iraq war veteran who is a policeman in a Jersey shore beach town. He lives by a code of ethics, will not lie nor tolerate lying, and quotes Bruce Springsteen lyrics when he's stressed. I'm currently reading Hell Hole, the fourth installment.

  6. Seanan McGuire's October Daye series. I can't wait for the next installment, "One Salt Sea" next month. October "Toby" Daye is part fae, part human, she spent 14 years as a fish after being spelled. She's understandably reluctant to get involved with magic again, but she keeps getting pulled into circumstances where her help is needed. She's sort of a flawed knight errant; she keeps getting into trouble, but she never gives up.

  7. My Built NY neoprene iPad sleeve. It's actually a sleeve for a small laptop, but I felt like the iPad sleeve that they make was too small. I got it for an unbelievable price--less than $6.00 plus shipping.

  8. Oikos Greek Yogurt. I love the chocolate and caramel flavors--dessert that's actually good for you.

  9. Clinique 3-step system (bar soap, clarifying lotion, moisturizing lotion). I've used Clinique for probably 30 years, and can't imagine putting anything else on my face.

  10. Vera Bradley bags. I know that the Vera Bradley bags aren't really stylish except on college campuses or with grandmas, but I love them. My current pattern is Simply Violet, a deep purple background with ivory paisleys. It's discontinued, so I was able to buy a few pieces at a discount. It's less busy than some of their patterns, and the dark color seems easier to keep clean.

  11. Design Seeds. LOVE this site. What a great idea.

  12. Kindle app on iPad. Love the iPad, and love the Kindle app, although now that they aren't allowed to sell books from within the app, it's less fun. And I love how, if I end up standing in line somewhere like the post office, and decide to read a little bit on the Kindle app on my iPhone, it syncs up to where I stopped reading on the iPad.

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Sunday, July 24, 2011

What I did on my summer vacation

I took a week off from work last week, with absolutely no plans other than to "sleep late and go to lunch." I almost never use all of my vacation time, except when I end up in the hospital, so I decided to just take a week even though I didn't have any place to go. I just wanted some time to hang out, take care of a few things at home, and have some time with no obligations.

I packed up a bunch of books and sold them to Half Price Books ($62 worth), packed up a box to send back to Amazon (if you check on the book page, there are certain books that they will accept, and pay you in gift cards--I had a little over $20 worth), visited a couple of bead stores, got my oil changed, and that's pretty much it, except a lot of reading and sleeping late.

On Monday I drove out to Martin City to visit a wholesale bead shop, and on Tuesday I drove downtown for a working lunch, and afterwards wandered around Crown Center for awhile, but for the most part I stayed close to home. I checked out the new Trader Joe's, I fixed a broken drawer on my dresser. I had lunch at Chili's, Chipotle, Noodles & Company, and Sweet Tomatoes. I stayed up late and rented two movies from iTunes ("Unknown" and "The Lincoln Lawyer," both of which I enjoyed). I read seven books:

  • You're Next - Greg Hurwitz
  • Moon Child - J. R. Rain
  • A Small Fortune - Audrey Braun
  • When Will There Be Good News? - Kate Atkinson
  • Started Early, Took My Dog - Kate Atkinson
  • In The Dead - Jesse Petersen
  • Rock'n'Roll is Undead - Rose Pressey

And I played a LOT of Pocket Frogs.

It was a good week.

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Wednesday, July 06, 2011


Since sometime last winter, I've had a cough that just won't go away, along with wheezing that comes and goes, but is loud enough for Bob to hear, and which sometimes keeps me awake at night. I kept thinking it would get better eventually, but it just didn't, so I went to the doctor. He gave me a chest x-ray and two courses of antibiotics that didn't do anything, so I went back, and he gave me a breathing treatment and steroids, and it worked! It got better for a couple of weeks, then came back.

I called for another appointment last week, and he didn't have anything available until the end of the month, so I made an appointment with a physician's assistant and saw her yesterday. She asked me about asthma, which I have never had, but my mother does.

So I've got another batch of steroids, a different antibiotic, and an inhaler. I asked her if she thought it was asthma, and she said, "I think there's an asthmatic component to it," whatever that means. We'll see, I guess. She said if this doesn't work, then I need to see a specialist. It's exhausting. I really hope it works.

I looked at Oprah's Summer Reading List yesterday, but out of a couple dozen books, there were maybe only two that held any interest to me at all. I know I've said this before, but I read for relaxation, for enjoyment, and I read almost exclusively fiction. I don't apologize for the books that I read, and I'm not defensive about it. In the limited free time that I have available, if I'm going to sit down and read, I want to read something fun. One of my fondest memories is on one of our trips to Mexico, I toted along Stephen King's Cell, which had just come out, and spent several afternoons by the pool reading it, and it was perfect.

"Fun," for me, means fiction in several genres--paranormal mostly, some thrillers and police procedurals, some "women's fiction," maybe a little "chick lit." I also like short story anthologies, mostly paranormal. Here's my summer reading list:

Read so far since June:

On the "to read" list (queued up in the Kindle app):

New and Upcoming Releases from my wishlist:


So, I've read 77 books so far in 2011. If I read all of the books on this list (47), that would end up 124, but I'm sure I'll come up with some new ones between now and the end of the year, and I probably won't read all of the anthologies, I just like to have them to dip into in odd moments.

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Thursday, June 16, 2011

Lots of reading and a little drama

Here's an interesting article from Kristine Kathryn Rusch about bookstores. I remember when I could go to a big chain bookstore and find an author's complete backlist, and I remember when that started to not be the case. It used to be that you could go to B&N or Borders and count on finding pretty much anything you wanted, but no more. It happened to B&N first, but now it's happened to Borders as well.

I used to spend hours at the bookstores--it was one of my weekend rituals to go to Borders and spend a couple of hours looking at books, discovering new writers and being reminded of favorite "old" ones. Now the big bookstores are more giftshops and less bookstores, and unless you want one of the half dozen current bestsellers, it's a pretty sad experience. I don't even go to the bookstores anymore. I do all of my book shopping on Amazon, both electronic and paper. It's not that I necessarily prefer it that way, but it seems like it's now the only way. After a few trips to the brick-and-mortar bookstore and walking away empty handed, I just gave up on it.

My local library is now offering ebooks; they only have a handful, but I'm sure that will increase. I enjoy reading on the iPad so much that I've pretty much stopped going to the library, also, except for checking out craft books and things like that. I find that I'm not much interested in reading fiction in paper anymore. It's so much easier to have my entire library on the iPad or Kindle, and not have to worry about returning a book.

I imagine I'm spending more on books now than I used to, but at some point I decided that was okay. I don't have a lot of indulgences, and I tend to think of books as necessities anyway.

My booklist for this year is testament to the fact that I've been reading more than ever -- at mid-June, it's up to 62 books.

Part of the reason for that is that I hurt my back toward the end of May. It was one of those things where I didn't do anything in particular--I was taking a shower actually--but I just suddenly got an excruciating pain in my lower back. It was all I could do to hobble out of the shower and gingerly lower myself onto the bed, then just lie there trying to figure out what to do. It was mid-afternoon on the Sunday before Labor Day, and Bob was working until 7:00. I figured if nothing else, he'd be back then.

Fortunately, I had the iPad upstairs next to the bed, and my phone, so I just tried to stay as still as possible, read, sleep, and wait for Bob to get home. He called when he got off and started home, like he always does, and I told him what had happened, and asked him if he could bring me something to eat. He brought tacos, and I was able to sit up and eat them, but I definitely wasn't going anywhere.

I spent the whole day Monday in bed, and decided to stay home from work on Tuesday also. By Wednesday I was functional, but still not 100%. We had planned to go down to the Lake of the Ozarks that next weekend, and I was taking Friday off, and by Thursday I was feeling pretty good, so we went ahead with the plans. We drove down on Thursday night, getting in pretty late, and went to bed. On Friday morning when I woke up, I could barely get out of bed. I don't know if it was the long drive down or the hard bed, but the pain was back.

I ended up sleeping on the couch the rest of the weekend; I don't know if the bed was the problem or not, but I was afraid to risk it.

I'm still being pretty careful of my back, but it seems to be okay now.

Bob's out of town this week on his annual fishing trip to Minnesota, and I've been trying to take good care of myself and get a lot of rest. Dinah and I have just been hanging out in the evenings, and going to bed early to read or play Scrabble online.

I hadn't expected to hear from Bob all week--there isn't any cell reception where he is--but he called on Monday to say that he was on the way to the emergency room. He had been trying to take a hook out of a fish, the fish jerked, and he drove the hook through one of his fingers. I'm sure that's not the first time it's happened, but this time it was bad enough that his doctor friend who is with him didn't want to risk taking it out himself, and said he needed to go to the hospital. So they were driving in to town to get it taken care of.

After seeing a doctor and getting the hook removed, he said they were going to go buy him a rubber glove so that he could continue fishing. It was, after all, only the second day of the trip.

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Tuesday, May 10, 2011

A couple of days off

Ever since my cancer scares a few years ago, I've been religious about my annual "woman's issues" appointments. Every year in the spring, I make my ob-gyn appointment and my mammogram appointment for sometime around the first of May. My doctors are close to where I live, and since I work so far away, I make both appointments for the same day, and take the whole day off. Also, it feels kind of yucky to go back to work after either one of those things . . .

So yesterday, Monday, was my doctors' appointments day. The ob-gyn was at noon, and the mammogram was at 1:45. On Sunday night it was really nice to know that I didn't have to get up and go to work the next morning, even though the reason for it wasn't exactly exciting. I really love my doctor. I didn't start going to him until after my surgery--he was the surgeon in the practice where I had been going for a long time, and my regular nurse-midwife had some health issues and took some time off around the same time.

I went to the surgeon for the after-surgery appointments, and when the time came for my regular appointments, I just stuck with him. So while not exactly pleasant, the appointments aren't bad, and it's always nice to see and talk with him. And the mammogram isn't usually bad, either. I go to an imaging center, and they're always very kind, and make it as pleasant as possible.

This year when I scheduled my day off, I decided I could really use some actual time off, i.e., time that wasn't spent at the doctor's office, so I took an additional two days of vacation. I wanted to do a little bit of sewing, maybe clean out a drawer or two (probably not going to happen), just have a little more time to myself. So yesterday when I left the imaging center, I thought, now I'm free for two days!

I haven't exactly taken the time off completely -- I've been checking email and coordinating stuff from afar, corresponding with clients and being sure that things are done -- but as Bob said, I can do it in my pajamas.

I can't tell you how much I love the iPad! I, along with one of the other guys at work, have been trying as hard as I can to get completely paperless at the office. I no longer carry a notebook and pen to meetings, I carry the iPad. And a stylus, if I remember. It's not as seamless, or as easy, as paper and pen, but I feel like I need to do it.

The other things I've been doing with it are playing "Words With Friends" constantly with one of my nieces, playing Scrabble with people at work, and reading. A LOT of reading. The ease of using the Kindle app on the iPad is, of course, a blessing and a curse. When I was out at my parents' house on Mother's Day, I took the iPad along so I could show my folks some photographs. My brother and sister-in-law came by while I was there, and we got into a discussion of books and ereaders. My sister-in-law is a big reader, too, and gets most of her books from the library, as did I until I started using the Kindle.

I don't know I if she would like an ereader or not--she wasn't sure about it--but I love it. With the Kindle, or the Kindle app, you can download a preview of a book--usually a couple of chapters--to see if it's something that you want to buy. If it isn't, just delete it, and you've spent nothing but a little bit of time. If you want to continue reading it, you just click the "buy this book" link, and within seconds, you can just keep on reading. And, of course, buy the rest of a series, or the rest of an author's backlist, in most cases.

I still use SwagBucks as my search engine, and earn Amazon gift cards that way--I've been doing it a little less than a year, and have earned $275, which buys a lot of eBooks! I also pay attention to the free and bargain ebook blogs, such as Pixel of Ink, and pick up quite a few books that way. You can also get ebook news by signing up for mailing lists from your favorite authors. I got an email this morning that Kim Harrison's first "Avery Madison" book, Once Dead, Twice Shy, was available for a promotional price of $1.99 because the third book in the series is coming out soon.

On Sunday my brother said, "I guess it's only a matter of time before the library has ebooks to lend," and I told him that it has already happened. It took awhile for them to available on the Mac platform, but my library has recently--within the last month or so--started making ebooks available. Once the lending period has passed, the ebook is either removed from your device or you can no longer open it--I'm not sure about that part yet--so no late fees. The selection doesn't seem to be that great so far, but I'm sure that will improve.

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Sunday, April 24, 2011

Quiet Sunday

I've been reading quite a bit lately, mostly in my favorite genre, urban fantasy. Last night I finished "Vicious Grace," by M.L.N. Hanover, the third in a series, which I've read all the way through. I love when I can do that, i.e., discover a new series of books and read them all right in a row. That way it's like a REALLY long book, which is my favorite thing. The series is 1) Unclean Spirits, 2) Darker Angels, and 3) Vicious Grace. Basically, the books are about a young woman, a college dropout, who finds out that her black sheep uncle has named her in his will. Not only has he named her in his will, but he has left everything to her, everything being multiple homes everywhere in the world, many corporations, and enough money to run a small country.

There's a downside, though--he also leaves her his legacy of fighting evil in the form of spirits ("riders") who possess people and cause them to commit hellacious crimes. She quickly gets together a band of sidekicks including a former Jesuit priest, a Buddhist, a gorgeous, geeky parasitologist and a vampire. In the first book they are devoted to taking out the demonic spirit who cursed the vampire.

The second book, Darker Angels, is set in New Orleans amid voodoo rituals, tourist museums, and a lot of local color. THe third book, Vicious Grace, is set in Chicago, mostly in a pretty creepy hospital. this one is much more like a horror novel than the others, and frankly, left me feeling a little odd. There is an event at the end that I couldn't be entirely happy with, but I did enjoy the book, for the most part.

I'm typing this on an Apple wireless Bluetooth keyboard, using the iPad, which I've got sitting on a book holder on the coffee table. I had kind of a hard time convincing myself to buy the keyboard, but I decided that I would get a lot of good out of it, and I can see a lot of uses for it. I love the iPad and the iPhone onscreen keyboards, but even with the larger iPad keyboard, it's pretty hard to actually touch type. I can, but what I found was that even though I could type the letters, I couldn't access keys like the apostrophe without changing keyboards, and it just wasn't working very well.

It's been kind of a weird day. Bob was out with some friends last night, and I went upstairs to bed at about 8:00 with the iPad to read. Bob came home shortly thereafter, and he was tired, so he laid down to take a nap, and I fell asleep, too. I slept until about midnight, woke up and read for awhile, fell back asleep, woke up around 6:00, read some more, fell back asleep, and finally got up around 11:00.

I spent the afternoon watching television shows about the upcoming royal wedding, doing laundry, and just puttering around. I never left the house or even got dressed!

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Thursday, March 31, 2011

New toy

After having an iPad for a couple of weeks, here's my take on it.

My boss bought a stack of the new ones for the office when they came out on March 11th, and he kept one of the new ones and gave me his old one, the original iPad. I wouldn't exactly consider it "old," though, of course, since it's less than a year old. It's the top of the line model--64 GB, WIFI and 3G. And I LOVE it.

I have some kind of problem with the WIFI at my house, but I've never really cared enough to get Time Warner out to figure it out. Bob can get WIFI upstairs for his PC, but for whatever reason, I can't get it on my Mac. But it's not a big deal, I just plug in, and it's fine. But of course, I wouldn't be able to do that with an iPad. So I was thrilled to get the 3G iPad. I can sit upstairs now and play Scrabble with the guys at work, shop at Amazon, read and answer email, read a book, all the things I can do on the computer, but I don't have to be tied to any particular place.

It's pretty much the same stuff I can do on the iPhone (I got the new iPhone 4 recently, too), but a lot more comfortable with the larger screen. And what a screen! It's big, beautiful, and sharp. Photos look wonderful on it. The on-screen keyboard takes some getting used to, but I'm getting pretty fast on it. With the touchscreen, you can also take notes by writing; I got a stylus and I've been using that some, it's easier than using a finger.

I haven't tried using a wireless keyboard yet, but I have one at work, so at some point I plan on figuring that out. With an external keyboard, there's almost nothing that I can't do on the iPad that I can do on the computer. Well, Photoshop, I guess. But pretty much anything text-based. I've spent hours on the iTunes stores looking at software, trying out free versions, and figuring out what I need.

My favorites right now are:

For work:

  • Penultimate ($1.99) - for taking handwritten notes or making drawings with stylus or finger
  • Todo ($4.99) - syncs with iCal task lists
  • Pages ($9.99) - (Apple official app) for viewing and editing Word docs
  • Notebooks ($8.99) - for taking and organizing text-based notes using the keyboard
  • Photosync ($1.99) - wirelessly transfers photos from desktop to iPad and vice versa
  • Dragon Dictation (Free) - converts spoken word recordings into text
  • Printer Pro ($6.99 - try Printer Pro Lite (Free) first to be sure it will work for you) - wirelessly print documents from the iPad
  • Dropbox (Free) - Invaluable. A cloud storage service that you can access from anywhere, with any device
  • Readdle Docs ($4.99) - connects to Dropbox, iDisk, Google Docs and FTP accounts; allows you to read PDFs and MS Office files
  • Terra (Free) - a tabbed browser that I prefer to Safari
  • Sugar Sync (Free) - Creates a folder on your desktop computer that instantly syncs anything in that folder over wifi. And I mean instantly. It's crazy! You can watch it happen.

For news and weather:

  • The Daily ($.99/week) - I subscribed to this for $.99/week, mostly because I love the daily crossword and Sudoku
  • AccuWeather (Free) - Just the weather. Simple. What's the temperature, is it raining or not? That's mostly what I want/need to know. I also have The Weather Channel app, and use them both.

For entertainment:

  • Kindle (Free) - a really great reading experience, I unexpectedly like it more than the Kindle itself
  • Netflix (App is free, but requires a Netflix account to watch) - so much fun to watch streaming movies!
  • Zinio - magazines are a lot of fun to read on the iPad


  • Scrabble ($9.99) - I have a couple of constantly ongoing games with people at work
  • Sudoku2 Pro HD ($2.99) - I've just recently started playing Sudoku, and love this app
  • Angry Birds Rio ($2.99, free version available also) - yes, it's everywhere, but for good reason


  • Min to Go (Free) - A timer that shows the "minutes to go" as an icon badge
  • Remote (Free) - Control iTunes remotely, i.e., I can be playing something--music or a video--on my desktop computer and conrol it using Remove on the iPad (or iPhone)
  • Fluid Monkey (Free) - Love this! It reminds me of . . . I'm not sure what. I used to have a little notebook that had a squishy liquid cover, I guess it's like that. Very soothing, anyway.

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Sunday, March 13, 2011

Kansas Troubles

A couple of weeks ago we went down to the Lake of the Ozarks for the weekend. Bob has a friend who has a place down there, and he goes down there quite often, but I'd never been. But this time, when Bob invited me along, I went. He always tells me that I can do the same things down there that I do here--mess around on the computer, read, knit, eat--which is true. I didn't even take the computer, though. I took the Kindle, my iPhone, a couple of skeins of Noro Silk Garden, and I put together a traveling sewing/quilting kit.

I've started sewing again, after probably a couple of decades away from it. I've always enjoyed sewing, but it's a messy hobby, and once the sewing machine is put away, it's hard for me to get it back out, with all the attendant fabric, thread, cutting board, etc.

But awhile ago, when I was out at my folks' house, my mother asked me if I could hem up a pair of jeans for her, and of course, I said yes. So I got out the machine and set it up, and I enjoyed having it out so much that I've kept it out. I sewed gifts for almost all of the women that I gave Christmas gifts to this year--reusable shopping bags in their own little zippered pouches.

I've also made a bunch of cotton "produce bags"--I haven't used them for that, though. I've used them as lunch bags, knitting bags, Christmas gift bags, the uses are many. The pattern says they're produce bags, so that's what I'm calling them. (I asked for permission to make the bags for sale, and paid a licensing fee.)

Oh, so anyway, back to the quilting. I had picked up a quilting magazine recently that had a project for making a pincushion out of fabric selvages, the tightly woven edge of the fabric that is usually printed with details like the name of the fabric line, the designer and/or the mill, and registration marks and dots of color that I assume are used by the printer.

I absolutely loved that idea, so I started going through my boxes of fabric and cutting off selvages. I quickly amassed enough to make a few pincushions, then I decided to make a small quilt with some of them. I didn't like the quilts I had seen that were made completely of selvages, they were way too busy, but I did like the look of them when used as blocks. In my reading about selvages, I had discovered that the Moda fabric company was selling "scrap bags," which were fabric strips left over from cutting their pre-cut fabric squares. I ordered a bag, and I thought that the fabric line that I got (all of the "scraps" in one bag will be the same line) went well with the selvages. It was called "Summer's End by Kansas Troubles Quilters," which I thought was very appropriate!

So I cut the selvages off of the scrap strips, and sewed up 12 squares. I love the sewing part; I don't like the cutting part nearly as much. It's tedious, and it's hard on my back, and it's hard to get motivated to do it. But I thought, hey, I'll take my stuff with me on the weekend, and lay it out when I have less distractions.

So I packed up a plastic box with my rotary cutter, shears, pins and needles, and bought a small rotary cutting mat and plastic ruler. I put my selvage squares in a plastic bag, and brought along the strips from the scrap bag. When we got down to the Lake, Bob went out fishing on Saturday, and I laid out the quilt top. Once I had arranged everything to my liking, I cut out the strips and squares so that it was ready to sew.

I didn't actually sit down and sew it together until the next weekend, and it wasn't until yesterday that I built the quilt "sandwich" (quilt top, batting and backing) and started quilting it. I don't really know what I'm doing, and it's FAR from perfect, but I figure it's better just to do something that to spend forever studying and worrying about it. Anything takes practice, it's not going to perfect the first time, but I enjoy doing it, and really, that's the whole point.

It's a small quilt, probably about 2 x 3 feet, and I'm planning to hang it on the wall in the bedroom. I'm already planning another one that I think would look great on the wall of my office. It's just a matter of doing it. In the winter it's very hard for me to want to do anything when I get home from work, but I think I'll be more energetic and motivated once it starts staying light longer. I'd better be--I need to do something with all the fabric I've bought!

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Saturday, March 12, 2011


I've been having fun using Pinterest. I started "pinning" things a couple of weeks ago after seeing it on someone else's blog. It's basically just a repository for saving images of things, like a virtual bulletin board or shoebox. In the past, I've tried to save photos that I find of things that I love, or things that are inspirational, but when I do that, I never remember to look for them, and if I do, I can never find them. By using Pinterest, when I run across something beautiful that I want to remember, I just "pin" it.

You can even create a board that other people can modify, although I haven't explored that. People can also comment on your images, follow them like on Twitter, or "repin" something to their own board. You can have multiple boards--as many as you want, I think--and can rename them and rearrange them to suit yourself.

One thing I've found to be very interesting is that when you look at a board in its entirety, sort of like spreading a bunch of photos out on a tabletop, it clarifies, or crystalizes, what makes them similar. I'm explaining that badly, I know, but what I mean is, it shows with great clarity what the things I love have in common. For instance, in my Places and Spaces board, all of the images seem to be of small spaces, lots of little nooks and alcoves, mostly crowded/cluttered with eclectic things. Lots of plants and light, lots of white and neutral colors and when there is color, it tends to be turquoise.

I've been "pinning" recipes to try (that I probably never will), things to make (that I probably never will), places to go (that I probably never will), but you never know!

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Wednesday, January 19, 2011

50 things that make me happy

  1. A hot cup of tea in a travel mug for the drive to work
  2. A good audio book to listen to in the car
  3. My little space heater next to my chair
  4. When Dinah gets under the covers at bedtime
  5. Knitting during my lunch hour at work
  6. Aaron cleaning off my car after work today
  7. Changing into my pajamas when I get home from work
  8. Going to bed early
  9. Staying up late
  10. Free Kindle books
  11. My stash of quilting fabric
  12. Great-niece Abigail's giggly smile
  13. My niece Mallory sending me a text message
  14. Hugs
  15. Bob cooking me eggs Benedict for dinner
  16. Macaroni and cheese
  17. A snow day
  18. A new book by a favorite author
  19. Using my reusable grocery bags at the store
  20. Pocket Frogs iPhone game
  21. Christmas trees
  22. Magazines
  23. Browsing in the fabric store
  25. New tires
  26. Good hand lotion
  27. Clinique gift-with-purchase
  28. Birthdays
  29. Hot baths
  30. Painted toenails
  31. Grapefruit as big as my head
  32. Zulugrass bracelets
  33. Bed Bath & Beyond's Twisted Peppermint soap
  34. Clinique moisturizer
  35. Urban fantasy
  36. Indigo Wild products
  37. Big, loose cardigan sweaters (I need one!)
  38. Angels
  39. The ocean
  40. Sunshine
  41. The dogs at work, especially Jojo and Clark
  42. Jojo lying on her back for a tummy rub
  43. Clark coming over to visit me by himself
  44. Wooden knitting needles
  45. Mimosas for breakfast on New Year's Day
  46. My MouseRug
  47. Crystal Light Peach Mango Green Tea
  48. SoftLips Vanilla Mint lip balm
  49. Cats
  50. Our electric blanket

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Saturday, January 01, 2011


I'm not sorry to see 2010 go. It definitely wasn't one of the better years, although at the end of the year Bob always says that they're all good years, as long as we're together, and of course that's true.

In March I finally gave in and admitted that I needed to do something about the almost constant pain I was in, and drove myself to the emergency room. I ended up in the hospital for a week, and had gall bladder surgery. I still don't feel like I've completely recovered from it--I almost never feel truly well, almost everything I eat upsets my stomach--but I'm confident that it will improve.

I didn't write very much this year; I just now went through my journal entries to see if anything stood out, and I discovered that the few times I did write, I was mostly writing about writing. 2010 was also the year that I finally decided to admit that I would probably never sit down and re-write Fallen Angel, and I made the decision to put it out there and see what happened. It started out slowly, but it really took off the last couple of weeks, and by the end of December it was in the Top 100 in Contemporary Fantasy at Amazon.

It's dropped out of the top 100 the last time I checked, but over the last few days it's been hovering between 90 and 100. Last night it was at 95. Seeing my name up there with Neil Gaiman (82), Laurell K. Hamilton (89), Charlaine Harris (98) and Kelly Armstrong (100) was pretty heady stuff. I'm always tempted to be self-deprecating, but I guess the evidence speaks for itself.

Media Shift says 2010 was "The Year Self-Publishing Lost Its Stigma." If 26 year old Amanda Hocking can sell 99,000 books in a month, I think we all need to sit up and take notice:

My total sales for the month of December as of 8:30 PM, 12/30/10 are an absurdly even 99,000.

Which brings my total books sold, since April 15, 2010: 148,887 books

The interesting thing, of course, is that these books are "self-published" ebooks and are priced at between $.99 and $2.99. My book is priced at $2.99, but is discounted by Amazon (I don't know why, but since I get the full commission based on $2.99, I don't really care) to $1.99 (and at times shows up at $1.79). $.99 and even up to $1.99 or $2.99 seems to be an impulse buy, whereas the same book would cost probably $7.99 in paperback, and in these times, is something that does take some thought. If I can read 3 or 4 ebooks for the price of paperback, it's a no-brainer.

I also love it when a publisher puts out one book in a series for free. Sure, the purpose is to get you to buy the rest of them, but I don't see anything wrong with that. I've been on something of a young adult paranormal kick lately. In the last few days, I've read:

So I'm thinking maybe YA is where I should be concentrating. I haven't really made resolutions this year, but I've been thinking of making 2011 "The Year of Living Creatively." I definitely want to write another book this year. I've also been reading about people who choose one word to concentrated on in the coming year; this year my word is "Believe." In other words, I'm going to stop being surprised by things like my book selling 200 copies in a week, and believe that it can happen.

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