Monday, December 06, 2010

Craft night

I think it's interesting how just beginning something can start ideas flowing, and cause momentum to grow. It's true with writing, and most other creative endeavors. Since I've started sewing again I've been going into fabric and craft stores a lot to pick up thread and ribbons and other things, and also, since it's Christmastime, I go there for Christmas ideas and inspiration. I've also been looking at paper crafts. I probably love paper even more than I love fabric. I've never started the whole scrapbooking thing for a couple of reasons. Mostly because it's sort of twee, and also because I know I would never stick with it.

So I occasionally buy some beautiful paper, but I've only really used it as backgrounds when photographing my jewelry. Which is fine as far as it goes. But then a week or so ago I stopped in to Archiver's, which is a scrapbooking store, to look around, and fell in love with this line of paper products, particularly some snowman paper that I don't see on the site.

Also recently, I had run across this site, and loved the idea of making a Christmas mixed paper book. But again, I restrained myself because while I might actually make one, I doubt if I would really use it. But then I remembered that I had a blank book that I'd bought at the Border's closing sale (sadly, the Borders store where I go the most is closing, but "the most" is kind of an oxymoron anymore since I buy mostly digital). It's a Paperchase "multi" notebook with plain, lined and graph paper interspersed with pockets, sheet protectors and photo sleeves, and a zipper pocket at the back.

So last night I took the notebook, sheets of paper, stickers and stick-on tabs and made my own customized Christmas notebook. I used a glue roller that lays down strips of glue--much neater and gives a much more professional look than regular glue or glue sticks--and lined both sides of the first and last pages of the book with the paper. I also glued paper onto each of the divider pages, and with the scraps I made a bunch of tags and some bookmarks.

My plan is to record things like what gifts we gave, who we sent Christmas cards to, and special things we did like going down to the Plaza to see the lights. I'm going to glue in pieces of the fabric that I'm using, photographs of things I make, maybe an example of "to and from" tags; ooh---the recipe for sweet potato casserole that I made for Thanksgiving! That kind of thing. It's mostly for fun, but it's also a nice record of what happened, since my memory isn't all that reliable any more ...

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Sunday, November 28, 2010

Thanksgiving Weekend

I had a nice, long Thanksgiving weekend. We had Thanksgiving dinner at my brother's house; my parents didn't want to go out, so my sister and I took dinner over to them after we ate, and chatted with them briefly before heading home. Bob worked on Thanksgiving day, so I took dinner home to him, too. He had to work the entire weekend, actually. While I was out on Friday, I went by Boston Market and picked up turkey dinner for him; we're planning on doing a turkey dinner ourselves sometime between now and Christmas.

I've been sewing! I think I mentioned that my mother had asked me to hem a couple of pairs of jeans for her, and in the process of getting out the sewing machine I got interested in sewing again. I've made a couple of trips to the fabric store, and I made another one on Friday, which ended up being something of a mistake. I got some nice material, and got a good price--I had a 30% off everything coupon--but had to wait around about an hour and a half to do it.

Jo-Ann is about the only fabric store left in town, which I don't totally understand. When you want to get fabric cut there, you have to take a number and wait until you're called. When I got there, they were cutting for number 11, and I pulled number 65. They move pretty quickly depending, of course, on how much each person needs to have cut, but judging by the traffic every time I've been there, I would have thought the town could support a few more fabric stores. Of course, I haven't really paid attention except for the last few weeks, so the holiday season is probably busier than normal.

I'm making most of my Christmas gifts this year, so I don't want to talk about what I'm making, but I'm kind of excited about it. I'm also thinking about quilting again. I've never--and probably will never--made a full size quilt, but I enjoy playing around with it and have made a few miniature quilts before. I always remember a dress I made when I was in high school. I cut out squares of fabric and sewed enough of them together to make a piece of fabric that I cut a "maxi dress" out of. It had an elastic neckline and elastic cap sleeves, and a ruffle on the bottom. It probably would have been a large enough piece of fabric to actually have made a bed-sized quilt. But the dress was more fun.

I'm trying to get over the fact that sewing is so messy. My dining room is even more of a disaster than usual with a cutting board, rotary cutting board, pressing board, piles of fabric, thread, pins, etc., everywhere. I went to Target yesterday and bought a clear plastic storage box that I've put most of my new fabric in, and I've tried to organize notions and things in baskets. It's still mostly a mess, but it's a little better. I went out to my folks' house a couple of weeks ago, and ended up coming home with a big banker's box full of fabric, mostly cottons. My mom has a ton -- probably literally -- of fabric in the basement. Lots of it is doubleknits, which I don't have any use for, but I was glad to get the cotton. I just need to go through it and figure out what I can actually use.

Dinah and I spent most of Friday on the couch watching old James Bond movies. The Syfy Channel had a James Bond Festival or something, and we watched "From Russia With Love" and "Diamonds are Forever." I say "we," but of course, it was really only me. Dinah kept me company. I covered myself up with a big fleece throw, and she burrowed underneath it. It reminded me of the time we spent on the couch while I was recoving from my gall bladder surgery in March. I roused myself in the afternoon to go out and make the aforementioned trip to Jo-Ann.

On Saturday I got my hair cut and colored, and I've been sewing pretty much all day today. I made quite a bit of progress. I'm happy with it. While I was out yesterday, I discovered that the Borders store where I usually go is closing. Everything in the store was 30% off or more, so I grabbed a few Moleskine notebooks, some Christmas cards, and a beautiful book of French General sewing patterns. Lots of wonderful inspiration.

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Sunday, November 21, 2010

Cozy Christmas

Over the last week or so I've been downloading book samples to my Kindle and creating a "Christmas" ebook folder. Here's my Christmas reading list.

Books that I have read that belong on the list, but that I don't own as ebooks:

There's a great list here of cozy mysteries set at Christmastime.

This weekend I read Blaize Clement's Raining Cat Sitters and Dogs, which isn't set at Christmas, but it it set in Sarasota, Florida, which I love almost as much.

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Sunday, October 31, 2010

Everything's okay

When I was out at my parents' house a couple of weeks ago, my mother asked me if I would hem up a pair of jeans for her. She said there wasn't any hurry, and I said I would, of course, thinking I would do them by hand, since I hadn't had my sewing machine out in forever. But I realized that I couldn't do them entirely by hand, I'd need to turn up the edge and sew it by machine so they wouldn't ravel, and I'd been putting it off.

Today I finally dug out the machine and set it up. I probably hadn't had it out in, I don't know, ten years? Maybe. I used to have a sewing station set up where my desk is now, but I put it all away. When I got it out today, I also got out a big box of fabric, some of which I'd cut up into quilt squares, and some that I'd already started putting together, and which I'd forgotten about. I used to do a little quilting--mostly decorative stuff--but sewing is so messy, really. To do it right you have to have a big table to lay things out and cut, and the only big table I have is the dining room table, and while I can't say that it's always cleaned off--it definitely isn't--I don't feel like I can leave a big cutting board on it indefinitely.

Before we left on vacation I had gone to JoAnn to get a circular knitting needle, and while I was there I saw that they had a bunch of Christmas fabric on sale, so I bought some, not really knowing what I was going to do with them, but I loved them, so I bought them anyway. I was thinking maybe some kind of quilt, so I bought a half yard each of about 6 or 7 prints. I know there's no way that I'll be able to sustain my interest long enough to make a full size quilt, but a little one would be doable. Or maybe some ornaments or something. Anyway, since the sewing machine is out, I'd better do something.

I bought a pattern for a sewing machine cover, so I might make that, and I bought a pattern for something that might be good for Christmas gifts, if I will actually do it. I have a lot of ideas that don't actually make it to fruition, but I suppose that's better than not having any ideas at all . . .

When Bob came home tonight he asked me what I did today, and I said I went to the library and returned some books, and got out the sewing machine and cleaned off the desk so I could set it up, and went to the craft store. He said, "I like it when you go to the craft store," and when I askd him why, he said, "because that's who you are, and when you do craft stuff, I know everything's okay."

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Thursday, October 28, 2010

Books and yarn

We went down to Bennett Spring State Park for four days last week. I was delighted to have my first opportunity to go out of town with my Kindle, and I had a brand-new book to read--Connie Willis' "All Clear." "All Clear" is actually the second half of a book that was started in "Blackout," which was published earlier this year. I read "Blackout" when I was recovering from gallbladder surgery in March. "All Clear" isn't actually a sequel, it's actually the second half of the book. "Blackout" just stops, and "All Clear" just starts. It's as if Ms. Willis delivered a huge pile of pages, and the publisher divided them into relatively equal stacks and made each stack it's own book. I suppose "All Clear" could be read without having read the first part, but I wouldn't recommend it. Before I started it, I decided to go back and buy "Blackout" (I had read it as a library book) so I could read the last chapter or so before I started the new one.

The two books are set in Willis' time travel universe, the same one as "To Say Nothing of the Dog," that is, it is set both in 2060, and in the 1940's, i.e., World War II.

In this newest installment, three Oxford historians have traveled back in time to observe certain events of World War II in Europe--one to the Blitz, one to research heroism, and one to witness the evacuation of children. Their visits to London were supposed to be short-lived, but something happens, and none of them are able to get back home. There are supposed to be "drops" that open, doors back to their starting places, but they can't find the drops, and when they do find them, they won't open. All three begin to wonder if they may have affected history by their actions, and whether by doing so, they've marooned themselves in history forever.

I love Willis' writing, and I loved these books. They focused mostly on good, compassionate people, people who were brave and noble, and who thought of other people before themselves. I don't, as a rule, read historical fiction, but these are the exception, I suppose because the main protagonists are actually modern day people trying to fit in in a historical setting.

"Doomsday Book" is also one of the time travel novels, but this time the destination is (accidentally) Europe during the Black Plague. I would never have thought I'd enjoy this novel, but it's one of my favorites.

The picture above is of my "spot" while I was sitting on the bank of the river while Bob fished. My bag contained the Kindle, my knitting (you can see the scarf I was working on peeking out of the bag), my iPhone, my camera, a notebook and pen, and a knitting magazine. Oh, and hand cream and sunglasses -- all of the small things that are vital to me and that make my life happy. If I can just have a few books and some yarn, my life is pretty much complete. Well, and Bob, of course. That goes without saying.

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Wednesday, October 27, 2010

When things work out

Last week, I got notice that I had sold an article about "Domain Name and Web Hosting Requirements" at Constant-Content, and I received an email asking if an author could quote a poem I wrote in a book she's writing about spirituality and knitting.

Monday was our wedding anniversary--34 years!--but we weren't really going to do anything special. We had just gotten back from a short vacation to Bennett Spring, and had eaten out every night, so Bob had suggested picking up Chinese food and eating at home, which was fine with me.

But then when I got home, he asked me what I wanted to do, and I said, if I could choose, I'd like to go get Mexican food, and I'd like a Margarita. So he asked me where I wanted to go, and I chose On the Border. We ordered our dinners, and a regular guacamole appetizer, but it turned out that they were out of guacamole and had to make a new batch. So instead of making us wait, the server came out to do their "Guacamole Live" where they build it at the table, and said that we wouldn't be charged extra for it. While she was making it, she was also making conversation, and she asked if we came there very often. I told her that we probably visit a couple of times a month, but we were there that night because it was our anniversary.

So when it came time for dessert, she said they were comping that, and they were also comping the guacamole, and when we got the bill, I think they must have comped the drinks as well, because it was a lot less than it should have been. It was a great night, and inexpensive. Oh, and when she brought out the dessert, she asked our names, and we thought they were going to sing (oh no), but she just made an announcement, and everyone in the restaurant stood up and clapped for us.

Then, on Tuesday I found a pair of jeans that I had forgotten I'd bought, and they fit! And on Tuesday I got an email from Lee Jeans that everything was half price, and they had those exact jeans, in the right size and color, for $20/pair, so I ordered 2 pair.

And what else . . . oh yeah. Today I got my Amazon royalty check for "Fallen Angel." It's not a lot, but every month I sell more copies--about 40 so far in October and around 100 in total--so I'm grateful for that. It's nice when things work out, even on a small scale.

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Tuesday, October 12, 2010

What I've been reading

I've been enjoying setting up my Kindle, getting it loaded with all the books that I already owned, downloading lots of samples of books that I want to read--or might want to read--and just generally getting it set up the way I want. One thing I like about the actual Kindle as opposed to the Kindle app is that you can organize books in categories, or "Collections," as Amazon calls them. I currently have:

  • Currently Reading (2)
  • To Read (38)
  • Read (77)
  • Slushpile (172)
  • Reference (26)
  • Samples (39)

"Currently Reading, "To Read," and "Read" are pretty self-explanatory--although "To Read" is mostly made of of books that I've actually purchased and know that I want to read fairly soon. I have a lot of books that I downloaded for free that I don't really know whether I want to read or not--that's the "Slushpile." I couldn't think of a good name for it--does anyone have any better suggestions? I don't download every free book that's offered, but if it sounds like I might like it, I do. It's easy enough to delete them if I don't want them, after all.

"Reference" is dictionaries, the user guide, a Bible, and a bunch of knitting patterns that I converted to Kindle format. I had originally created a "Patterns" collection, but that forced the list of collections to go into two pages, and I didn't like that. (See: OCD) The reason the list is too long is that I also got a subscription to Asimov's Science Fiction magazine, and you can't put those into a collection, for some annoying reason. So the current edition stays on the homepage, and previous editions are saved into a "Periodicals: Back Issues" collection that is automatically created once you have more than one edition. And then there's the "Archived Items (119)" collection which is currently all the books that I'm pretty sure I don't care about, and that I haven't bothered to download.

So that means I currently have, or have immediate access to, 473 ebooks on the Kindle. That ought to keep me busy for awhile . . . About 5 years, I guess, if my current rate of reading continues, and of course, that doesn't take into account any new books.

I know I've mentioned Swagbucks here before. Since June 1, when I joined, through searching, a couple of online shopping awards, a few "special offers" and several referrals, I've earned about $150 worth of Amazon gift cards. And somewhere along the line I lucked into a medical focus group forum that pays in Amazon cards--$10/month plus an occasional $25 for a special project--so I haven't spent any "real" money in quite awhile. The gift cards give me free rein to buy pretty much what I want, although I still do spend quite a bit of time deciding what to buy.

There are a lot of good independent authors out there, and I've purchased quite a few books for a dollar or two; mine is one of those, of course! It's currently selling for $1.79, and I've sold something like 80 copies so far, which isn't a lot in the grand scheme of things, but as Bob says, "how many people do you know who've written a book and sold any copies?"

Lately I've been reading mostly paranormal, urban fantasy. I just finished the third book in a series that I consider the best thing I've read in a very long time. It's the "October Daye" series by Seanan McGuire. The first book is "Rosemary and Rue," the second is "A Local Habitation," and I just finished "An Artificial Night." The books center around October ("Toby") Daye, a changeling, that is, half human, half faerie, who lives in San Francisco. In the first book, Rosemary and Rue, she has only recently been released from a curse that caused her to spend 14 years as a goldfish. She's lost her husband and her child, and she's trying to stay away from magic. She works in a grocery store and tries to have a normal life. But she's pulled back into the magical world when a friend--a faerie--is murdered, and she has to find the killer or lose her own life.

I love Toby and all the secondary characters that populate the books. I've read a review that compares the books to the early Dresden files books by Jim Butcher, and the early Anita Blake novels, and I would have to agree. They have the same feel of a world just a little off kilter from ours, a place where, if you look hard enough, and know what to do, you can walk into another dimension, one populated by magical creatures that, in the end, aren't really all that different from ourselves. There are the aforementioned faeries, plus selkies, a sea witch, and a very interesting relationship with The King of Cats. She also has a couple of cats (Cagney and Lacey), plus a rose goblin, Spike--a cat-shaped and -sized creature made of thorns.

In the second book, "A Local Habitation," Toby has pretty much given up her hopes for having an ordinary life, and is working full time as a private investigator. She is asked to find the daughter of her liege, who owns a computer company, and who hasn't been returning his phone calls. Most of the action in the book takes place at the computer company, creating a "country house murder" of sorts.

Children are being kidnapped in "An Artificial Night," the third book in the series, and two of them are the children of Toby's good friends. Upon investigation, it turns out that the children were taken by Blind Michael, a figure from a children's nursery rhyme, and he plans to change them into either "riders" or "ridden," i.e., magical horses. This book is much darker than the previous two, I thought, and Toby finds herself in much greater danger, much of it self-imposed. She can't abide the thought of any children being in Blind Michael's control, so even though the quest seems suicidal, she has no choice but to try to rescue them.

I really love these books, I think they're wonderful. They're both fantasy and mystery, and both aspects are very well done. I had originally picked up "Rosemary and Rue" at the library, but loved it so much that I purchased it for the Kindle, too, so that I have all of the books on it. There are two more under contract, and at least three more to come. Late Eclipses will be released in March, followed by "One Salt Sea."

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Wednesday, September 22, 2010


When the Amazon Kindles came out a couple of years ago, I thought they were cool, but way too expensive. Then I got my iPhone, and Amazon offered the free Kindle for iPhone app, and I was able to read ebooks on my phone. I had gotten used to reading on a handheld device when I had a Palm Pilot, and I enjoyed it. I also didn't really want to carry around an ebook reader; if I was going to do that, I might as well carry around a book.

But the newest generation came out recently, and they now had a wifi-only version that was priced at $139, which I thought was a much more reasonable price, so I was thinking about getting one. Then I was in Target over the weekend, and they had them, so I bought one.

I got home with it, took it out of the box, and plugged it in to charge. Then I got online and tried to register it at Amazon, but just got an error message. From what I could tell, it should be possible to register through the website, so after trying a couple of times wiht no luck, I called Amazon customer service. At first, I got someone in India, of course. She got the same error message I did, so she put me on hold and transferred me over to some uber-Kindle customer service support department.

The guy on the phone talked me through getting to several hidden menus, and tried several different things, but he wasn't able to get it to work, either. I asked him if I had to have WIFI on to make it work, but he said I didn't. We have WIFI at home, but for some reason, I'm not able to connect to it. Bob is, so in the interest of not breaking his connection, I'm willing to be wired.

Anyway, the guy finally decided that there was something wrong with the Kindle, and said that he could overnight a replacement to me if I wanted. I said that I would rather try to exchange it at Target first, but would call back if I couldn't. So I packed it back up and headed to Target. I went to the electronics department first rather than customer service. I took the box out of the bag and said, "I bought this here a little while ago," and before I could finish my sentence, the guy waiting on me said, "We don't have those."

I said, well, yes, you do, I bought it here, and he said no, we don't, you couldn't have. So I just stood there and looked at him, and he sighed and said, "Let me see the receipt," like he was going to say, "Aha! You didn't buy it here, you moron." So I handed him the receipt, and he said, "Well, this is my store. They must have gotten them in while I was at lunch." I guess it was too much to expect him to apologize, and he didn't. He just said, go over to customer service and I'll bring a new one over. Fine, whatever.

When I got home with the new one, I got the same error message. Of course. So I called Amazon customer service again, but this time the person I talked to first told me that they had been having trouble registering the Kindles from Target. Apparently they hadn't done something to them that they should have before they shipped them out. This time we went through a few menus, but the customer support guy eventually said that he could register it remotely. He said it might take an hour or so, but just to leave it plugged in, and it would eventually register.

So I waited awhile, restarted it, and sure enough, it showed that it was registered to me. I read the manual and discovered that I could mount it as a drive on my desktop computer and import documents that way, so I did that.

Then on Sunday I went to Panera Bread for a late lunch, and holed up in an easy chair and downloaded the rest of my books, organized everything, and basically spent a couple of hours getting it just the way I wanted.

I haven't really read a lot on it yet, but I like it, and I do see why it's so popular. I still like the option of reading on my phone, and I like that they sync up, so no matter which one I pick up, I can start reading at the spot where I left off. I don't like the fact that it isn't backlit, and I can't read it in low light, but I suppose that's actually good, since it's probably better for my eyes, but it is inconvenient. But I basically just treat it like a book, and sit by a lamp, and if I wake up in the night, can't go back to sleep, and want to read and not wake Bob up, I read on the phone.

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Monday, September 06, 2010

Holiday weekend

Usually during the week I have granola (Kellogg's Low Fat Granola with Raisins) and yogurt for breakfast. I put the granola in a zip-lock bag or one of the littlest plastic containers, pack it with my lunch and take it to work to eat when I get in. If I eat breakfast too early, i.e., at home, I'm starving before lunchtime, but if I wait until 9:30 when I get to work, then it will carry me through to noon.

Once in awhile, maybe once every two weeks or so, I'll drive through McDonald's on the way to work and get an Egg McMuffin or bacon, egg and cheese bagel. I'll do this if I'm running late and didn't have time to pack my breakfast/lunch--if I have McDonald's for breakfast I probably won't eat much for lunch, maybe just some snacks from the kitchen at work. Or if I have a meeting right away when I get to work, and know I won't be able to eat my breakfast, or if I know it's going to be a hard morning.

This morning Bob was going fishing and he needed to take a few things from the grocery store, and he also had to pick up something somewhere else, so I went to the grocery store for him. I almost never get going that early on the weekends, or on my day off! So after I went to the store, I drove through Wendy's to try their breakfast. I had a coupon for a free breakfast combo. I chose the Artisan Egg Sandwich on ciabatta, with potato seasoned wedges, and it was great!

Aw man. I just went to the Wendy's website, and it didn't mention breakfast at all, then I went to their Facebook page, and apparently the Kansas City area is a testbed for breakfast items. I hope it does well and they keep it, I thought it was really excellent. And no more expensive than McDonald's -- the sandwich, side and drink would have been $4.34, if I had had to pay for it, which I didn't. Now I'm worried. I might have to get it tomorrow, too, just in case it goes away . . .

We got Friday off as well as today, so I had a four day weekend. It was really a nice break. I didn't accomplish a whole lot, I guess, but I got somethings done that I'd been needing to do. I got the oil changed in my car, and got my hair cut and colored. I bought a new clothes hamper for the bedroom, since Dinah has destroyed mine. I got out the sock that I put away in March after I got out of the hospital, and started knitting on it again, and I had a great nap this afternoon. It was a good weekend.

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Friday, September 03, 2010


September might be my favorite month. I've always loved Fall, and I always loved going back to school. It wasn't so much the school part that I loved, I guess, but all the accoutrements. New notebooks and notebook paper and pencils and erasers. I still have a cardboard pencil box that I had in gradeschool, maybe 2nd or 3rd grade. I loved getting my school supplies and putting them in the box, putting paper in the notebooks, getting everything ready for the first day back.

After weeks of temperatures in the high 90's and low 100's, it's cooled off, and last night it almost felt like Fall. When I got home tonight I opened the windows and turned off the air conditioner. Bob may want it on again tonight when we go to bed, but for now, I'm enjoying the breeze through the windows, and Dinah seems to be enjoying it, too. She spends a lot of her time now between the drapes and the sliding glass door in the back, just watching. So now she can smell the outdoors, too, as well as watch.

I've been struggling for awhile with notetaking at work. I tried to move completely over to digital, with the iPhone, and iCal, etc., on the computer, but it's really not possible to take notes on the iPhone. Sometimes I would take my laptop to meetings, but I think that's distracting to the other party, and, again, not really conducive to taking notes.

So I'd been using a spiral notebook, pretty much a page a day, making lists of the projects I'm in charge of, staffing requirements, things like that. But a couple of times lately I've wanted to refer to a calendar, and the iPhone calendar wasn't really what I wanted. So I bought a datebook, just a month on a two-page spread one, so that I could have a calendar in front of me when we're making scheduling decisions. But then I end up carrying the spiral notebook and the calendar, and it was getting kind of cumbersome.

So I decided to go back to a day planner. I'm definitely not abandoning the iPhone, far from it, but I'm conceding that sometimes, paper and pen are just better. I still have a beautiful leather Franklin Planner binder that I got a few years ago. I went to look at their fillers, though, and didn't find anything that I wanted. I used to use the "Blooms" fillers, but they changed them and they're incredibly ugly now. And I need a certain layout that few of their fillers were using. So I looked around some more, and ended up buying a Day Timer filler. I haven't used them for years, but so far it's working out well.

I couldn't find any 2010 fillers in town, so I bought one that starts in January 2011, and also some undated month pages, and I've been using them, but this morning I went ahead and ordered a July 2010-June 2011 filler from Amazon. It was discounted a little bit (not much) since half the year is over, but I decided it was worth it just to save aggravation.

What I found with the spiral notebook/calendar system was that it was hard to find specific things when I was looking for them. With the Day Timer (or Franklin Planner, or any other system), there's a place for appointments, a place for phone calls, a "to do" list, and a page for notes (I use the two page per day system). It's heavy to carry around, but honestly, it makes me happy, so I'll deal with that.

It feels a little like buying new school supplies, and that makes me happy, too.

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Monday, July 12, 2010

A matter of perception

This was an interesting article about the value of ebooks and why readers are so up in arms about their cost. The initial reason is probably that when Amazon came out with the Kindle, one of the big draws was that they said that most ebooks would be $9.99. As ereaders gain in popularity, publishing companies are scrambling to figure out the market, and trying to find the correct price point.

There are a lot of discussions on the Amazon message boards about Kindle book pricing, and a lot of anger, even going so far as to start boycotts against any book with a price higher than $12.99. I don't claim to understand all of the ramifications, but apparently part of the problem is that Amazon discounts the physical books, but isn't allowed to discount the ebooks, so you will quite often see an ebook at a higher price than the physical book which, when you think about it, makes no sense at all.

You run into instances like this:

"Don't Kill the Messenger" is a trade paperback originally priced at $15.00. Amazon discounts it to $10.20, but the ebook edition is $12.99. I wanted to read it, but I just couldn't justify it at that price, so I put it on the waiting list at the library.

When you buy a book, the main thing that you should be buying is the content, but of course, when you consider a physical book, a lot of the appeal is the packaging. I kind of like separating the content from the packaging--I have often seen a book that I would like to read, but I'm turned off by the font, or the paper, or something else, and don't buy it. I don't have those constraints with an ebook--they all look the same, so it's just the content that's important.

I used to want to own the books I read, but over the last few years I've gotten away from that. Part of it is expense--I seldom re-read a book, so it doesn't really make a lot of sense to buy them if I can get them at the library. The other consideration is space. I have a LOT of books. I've been slowly getting rid of some of them, either selling them (either at Half Price Books or online at Amazon or or donating them to the library.

Ebooks don't take up any physical space, so it's easy to have a library of hundreds of books that will fit in the palm of your hand. I enjoy reading on my iPhone; I know a lot of people don't, they think the screen is too small, but I actually enjoy it a lot. I download a lot of free samples of books, but I really do think long and hard before I spend the money on one. At $.99 or $1.99 it's not a big deal, even $6.39 isn't bad, but when it gets up over $9.99, I definitely have second thoughts.

The article I referenced above made me think, and I believe the author made a lot of good points. I don't buy $4.00 cups of coffee, but I will buy a couple of lunches on the weekends while I'm out running errands; I don't have a problem spending $10 on lunch, so why do I have a problem spending $10 for an ebook? I think it's the issue of necessity. No, I don't have to eat out--and seldom do, anymore--but I do have to eat. I don't generally need a new book. I have a lot of books that I haven't read yet, so I could read one of those, or I could put the book on the hold list at the library and wait a couple of weeks.

Spending ten dollars or more on an ebook seems frivolous, extravagant. Which is why I've been so pleased to do the Swagbucks thing and earn a few Amazon gift cards. I still think a long time before I buy a $9.99 ebook, but at least when I do buy one, the price is coming out of a gift card, and not going onto a credit card.

A lot of Anne Tyler books came out in ebook form in the last month or so, and I bought my favorite, of course, Ladder of Years. I paid $9.99 for it, using a gift card; I noticed it on the Amazon homepage yesterday, and I thought the pricing was pretty funny:

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Saturday, June 26, 2010


I've tried a few online money making opportunities, but most of the time they're a lot of work for very little return, or require you to spend money up front that you will probably never recoup. I thankfully never got involved in any of those. I've been using Swagbucks for about a month, and have managed to acquire $30 worth of Amazon gift cards. They have a lot of other prizes that you can trade your points in for, but so far I've only been interested in the Amazon cards. When I tried to trade in points for another one last night, I got a message that you were only allowed to get 5 of the same prize in the same calendar month, so after the first I can get 2 more. Or I might save up my points for an iTunes gift card this time.

The way it works is, you go to the Swagbucks homepage to do your searching, rather than using Google or some other search engine. Just doing this normally, you'll randomly win some "swagbucks," usually 7 or 8, or sometimes as many as 50. There are also surveys that you can do; I seldom qualify for them, but if you do, they pay 50-200 "bucks" upon completion.

There are also special offers and "tasks" that you can perform. The special offers are the usual--Netflix, book clubs, credit card offers, insurance quotes, etc.--they pay very well, but I would only do those if it was actually something I was interested in. If I wasn't already a member of Netflix, I could sign up and get 850 Swagbucks, which would be almost enough for 2 $5 Amazon gift cards. The tasks (listed under "Special Offers/Wall 1") are mostly search-related, i.e., they give you a search term and you copy and paste what you believe is the most relevant search result, or you're choosing categories for a list of items.

I'm pretty good at the search ones, but not so great at the categorization; still, if I spend an hour or so at it over the weekend, I can end up with another hundred points or so. Voting in the Daily Poll gets you one point, as does visiting the survey page, even if there aren't any surveys for you to fill out. One thing I almost missed--on the Survey page, there's a section for Profiles, asking you questions on everything from automobiles to snack foods. The profiles are worth 50-100 points each. They take quite awhile to fill out, but they reward you fairly well.

On one hand, it seems kind of silly. After all, $5 isn't that much. But it's kind of hard for me to spend $9.99 or more for a Kindle ebook; $25 in gift card currency makes me feel rich! Swagbucks doesn't cost anything to use, you don't have to give them a credit card, there is really no downside that I can see.

Following any of the links in this post will get to you my referral page, and if you sign up, Swagbucks will give me the same amount of bucks that you win, up to a certain level. Pyramid marketing is where the money is!

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Friday, June 18, 2010


I read this article at Crazy Aunt Purl this morning, and was going to comment on it, but comments are off, so I thought I'd just write my own blog post instead. She talks about wanting to know the ending of a movie before she sees it, and about books, she says:

I flip to the last page in a particularly engaging mystery book. Yep, you heard me. I like to know how it ends because then I can go back and enjoy the unraveling of the story. After all, it's fiction, it's fantasy. Maybe it's because in real life I never know what will happen next. Or maybe I'm just wound too tightly. It doesn't bother me one bit but Lord it seems to freak other people out. The idea of the surprise ending is sacrosanct.

I'm going to mention some spoilers of my own, so you might not want to read this if you haven't seen The Phantom Menace, or read John Harvey's "Cold in Hand," Elizabeth George's "With No One as Witness," or the Harry Potter series.

I don't know if I've ever written about that topic before, but I'd be surprised if I haven't. While I'm reading a book I'll sometimes start to worry that the hero, the dog, the child, whatever, is going to die or be killed. I don't actually read the ending, but what I do do is kind of flip through the last pages and see if the dog, cat, hero, child, etc., is mentioned or, specifically, if they have dialog. If they do, then no worries, I can relax and enjoy the story.

The movie that I remember most clearly being shocked when the hero died is The Phantom Menace. I couldn't believe they killed Liam Neeson off! I was completely invested in that character and was completely stunned when he died. There are a couple of mystery books I can remember that killed off major characters very suddenly and surprisingly, one is the Elizabeth George's With No One as Witness, one of the "Thomas Lynley" mystery series. His wife was killed off, and she was pregnant. The relationship between Lynley and Helen was lovely, and I was looking forward to its unfolding. But she was murdered on her doorstep in a senseless killing.

I recently read a John Harvey book, "Cold in Hand," I believe it was. He was in the first months of a romantic relationship with a major character, another police officer, and she was killed in a shootout. That was another one that I just couldn't believe, I thought surely she would survive, but no. There again, I thought the domestic scenes were the most interesting, but I suppose I may be in the minority there. I don't know what the motivation of the writer was, but I found myself very disappointed.

I guess the other big one is the death of Professor Dumbledore in the Harry Potter series. I knew how that one was going to turn out before I read the book, so I wasn't surprised.

I don't necessarily want to know how all the books I read turn out, but I also don't really mind "spoilers." I don't want to know all the details, of course, but in general I read for the enjoyment of the story, not for the outcome. I read a lot of mysteries, but usually I don't actually care "whodunit." I don't generally try to figure out the mystery, I just read the book. Because it's a story. It isn't true, someone made it up, so they can make it be anything they like. So it doesn't really matter. It's the story that's important. At least that's my opinion.

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Sunday, June 13, 2010


I wouldn't say I had the most productive of weekends, but it wasn't bad. Friday night I met some friends for dinner, which was fun. I don't do that often, but I always enjoy it. Barb was in town for a wedding, so I met her and Patti and Nancy at Cheeseburger in Paradise and ate way too much, but had a great time.

I got home around 9:00, but since I'd had a drink at dinner (only one!), I was falling asleep by 10:00, so I went ahead and went to bed. I didn't have anything in particular to do on Saturday, which was good since it rained like the end of the world. It cleared off in the early afternoon and I went out and ran a few errands and had a late lunch at Chipotlé, then came home and ended up going upstairs and taking a nap, then reading in bed for most of the evening.

So of course I was wide awake, and stayed up way too late watching streaming movies on Netflix, which I love. I watched "Monsters, Inc." and "Up," neither of which I had seen. "Up" hit a little too close to home, and made me cry, but I loved both of them.

I didn't get to bed until about 2:30, which normally would have been fine, but I had agreed to participate in a study that a university is going on interactions in groups in Second Life. My timeslot was 9:00 a.m. - 11:00 a.m. this morning, which wasn't too bad, but I could definitely have stayed in bed a while longer. But I didn't, I got up, washed my face, and signed on.

I can't really talk about it since the study is ongoing, but there are details here. I see that the study has been closed for now, but they may open it up again in July. They were paying $5,000 Linden (the Second Life virtual currency), which equates to about $20, so it was fun and worthwhile. It was a Victorian mystery that you had to solve by teamwork with 5 or 6 other people, then answer some survey questions afterwards. I found it a little hard to get into at first, but it was fun once it got going.

After the SL stuff, I boxed up some books to take to Half Price Books to sell. I've been doing that about every weekend; it doesn't pay much, but it gets some stuff out of the house and gives me a little extra pocket money. Last week I did pretty well, and got $25.00; this week I only got $6. But I always figure it's $6 I didn't have yesterday, and it cleared some space on the bookshelves.

I always check Amazon to see if any of the books are worth anything, and if they appear to be, I'll list them for sale there since I can normally get LOTS more for them there than at Half Price. But there's the hassle of packing them up and mailing them, of course, so it probably all balances out. Unless I run across one that's worth quite a bit. If I can sell a book for $50 or so--and I have--then it's obviously worth the packaging and the trip to the post office.

I remember when Liora was talking about selling books and using the proceeds to buy her Kindle. At the time, I thought I would never sell my books, but I've gotten out of that mindset. I have books that are 20 or 30 years old, or older, that I'll never look at again. With the internet, I don't really need reference books, and I'm finding I'm less and less inclined to want to purchase fiction books that I won't re-read. And I'm trying to practice non-attachment. It's going pretty well so far.

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Friday, June 11, 2010

Are you busy?

This is something that has always bugged me: Someone calls, or IMs, or walks in my office and says, "Are you busy?" My answer is always, "I don't know, it depends. What do you need?" The right way to ask the question is, "Do you have time to help me with something?" or, "Are you too busy to help me with something?" I will almost always say, "sure, I can help you," or maybe, "I can help you in a few minutes once I finish what I'm in the middle of." But "Are you busy?" is just so irritating. I'm always busy doing something, and if I'm not, what does that say about me? "Nope, not doing a thing, just sitting here taking up space."

Someone asked me today, "are you at maximum capacity?" Here again, it depends. Why are you asking? Do you want to offload a client to me, or do you just want to talk something through? I can definitely talk, but I'm probably not willing to take on another client unless there's a really good reason for it. "Maximum capacity" is dependent on what you want me to do. Maybe I'm being too literal, but there are just certain things that set me off.

Another one is being asked to "like" all those Facebook pages like "if you can't afford a 20% tip, don't go out to dinner," or "I'll have a Diet Coke with my quarter-pounder, I'm on a diet." Why are people so freaking judgmental? I know they're just silly things, but frankly, who cares? If you want to publicize that you like it, fine, but why ask me to join you? And who has so much time to spend on Facebook during the day anyway? Rather than continue to be irritated every time I read one of those, I finally figured out all I had to do was hide the people who do it. My brain is now much calmer.

Now get off my lawn!

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Saturday, June 05, 2010

Nice Saturday

Had a really nice, quiet, enjoyable day today. It started out taking Dinah to the vet, which wasn't exactly enjoyable (especially for her), but wasn't too bad. Bob left for the golf course around the same time as Dinah and I left for the vet; I brought Dinah home, then headed out again to run a few errands. Bob called me while I was at the post office standing in line. He said he was going to stop and pick up a sandwich and wanted to know if I wanted anything. I said no, that I was going to stop and get something to eat while I was out. A few minutes later he called back and said his brother had called and he had run out to where he was and help him do something with his car, so it was just as well!

After the post office, I went to Subway for lunch. I got there right in the middle of a huge rush--the guy in front of me was ordering five sandwiches and the group in front of him must have ordered six--but I wasn't in any particular hurry, so I didn't mind waiting--much. I have to admit I did get a little antsy. The guys working there were kind of slow; it always takes quite awhile there, because every sandwich is made to order, but sometimes it's faster than other times. And they apparently have a new policy of cutting the sandwiches in half and wrapping them separately, so that adds to the time.

This particular Subway also seems to always be playing particularly irritating music, usually a hard rock radio station, which, when combined with a shop full of people, three people working behind the counter, etc., makes for a somewhat noisy place. But I stuck it out, got my sandwich, and sat in a corner booth for awhile reading. It quieted down pretty quickly, thankfully.

After lunch I went to Target for groceries, and got home in the middle of the afternoon. Bob was upstairs watching golf or something; I put the groceries away and sat down to read for awhile, then decided that a nap sounded lovely. I went upstairs, read for a little while until my eyes closed and the book dropped from my hands, and ended up sleeping for, I think, around two hours.

Later, Bob grilled hamburgers outside, I made pasta salad, and we had a really nice, summery dinner. He doesn't usually get Saturdays off, so it was nice for both of us to get to do things that we liked to do during the day, then spend the evening together.

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Thursday, June 03, 2010


The last couple of nights I've been up until around 1:00 a.m. working on formatting Fallen Angel for various outlets. It's now at Amazon in Kindle format, Smashwords in about a dozen different formats, and Lulu as PDF, as well as PDF here at my site. Last night I added an excerpt. All of the editions are the same price, $1.99. This price will remain until the end of June, when it will go up to $2.99.

I've also been working on jewelry. I spent one evening sitting in front of the television watching the Food Channel and making earrings. I just need to photograph and post them. I'll try to do that tomorrow. That's the hardest part, actually, the most time-consuming part. I really enjoy actually making things.

Angel of Awakening

I get an "Angel of the Month" email from Innerlinks, the makers of Angel Cards. (To get your own Angel of the Month, sign up here.) I've chosen to see it as a sign, and use "Awakening" as my theme for the month of June.

Another motivator, or inspiration, was running across this sometime last week: 30 Days of Creativity. Sometimes I just need a push, and this month I'm pushing myself.

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Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Fallen Angel

My NaNoWriMo novel, Fallen Angel, is available now in the Kindle store.

In addition to the Kindle, Kindle books can be read on the free Kindle app, available for Mac, PC, iPhone, Blackberry, and iPad.

If you don't have a Kindle, and don't want to use the Kindle app--maybe you would prefer to print it out rather than read it on the screen--I've made a PDF version available for the same price as the Kindle version ($1.99). To purchase the PDF version, just click on the "Buy Now" button below and you will be taken to the Paypal site to complete your purchase. As soon as I receive notification of payment, I'll email you the PDF, so watch for it in your email!

If you buy the book, and like it, I would really appreciate it if you would leave a positive review at the Amazon site. Thank you!


Five Star Review

Now this is what I call a feel good read!

I totally believe in guardian angels and the signs that we ask for when we need some guidance and help, so I could totally relate to this book. Sarah was a lovely main character and although she suffered some heartache in her life she didn't go on and on and on about it like some books that I have read, she just dealt with it in her own way without really bothering everyone else in her new life in Saratosa. Zach well, sorry but I just fell in love with him, he was just so adorable and such a believable guardian angel. I have never been to the USA but willa described this beautiful place in Florida so well I felt that I had been there.

I loved the story line, it was not complicated, it was just a story that could have happened to anyone. It was a totally believable storyline.

At first I thought it was too short a book, however when it finished...and I will say that the last few lines made me cry, I realised...yes that's where the book should end!

Thank you Willa for writing such a simple and beautiful story, I almost felt I was watching a movie as I could see all the characters so well.

I would recommend this book!

~Firedrake, on Amazon

Four Star Review

there is much to be found in this book. from angels that kick butt to angels that make your teenager look sane, you will definately find something to love here. but there is something missing to the story. while zach is amazing (can i have one? please?) and sarah is fun, there is something missing between the beginning and the end. it seems the story ended too soon (what happened to zach? what was with that council of angels? are yukemi and carmiel going to come back?) with many plot points left untied. all i can hope for is a sequel to solve those conundrums. but it is still a wonderful book, with all the right things to make you fall in love over and over again

~Amazon customer review

Mentioned in Friday Finds - Sweet Indie Deals at Indie Paranormal Book Reviews.

Five Star Review
An urban fantasy that starts off with the protagonist owning her own bookstore grabs my attention right away because that's one of my fantasies and that of most anyone who loves books. The descriptions were delicious -- life in a small Florida town, working in an independent bookstore (with resident feline) and encountering mysterious angels. The story flowed smoothly, and I enjoyed watching the protagonist gradually open to love and risk. A feel-good read that isn't overly sugary, which is sometimes a hard balance to achieve. I hope to see more by this author.

~Liora Hess, on Amazon


Fallen Angel is now also available at Barnes & Noble, Sony eReader, Smashwords and

Read an excerpt.

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Friday, May 28, 2010

While deriving

I'm immersed in books lately. It seems to have started after my recuperation from surgery. Once I was able to concentrate on something other than bad television, I started reading, and I haven't stopped yet. I've read 44 books so far this year, which compares favorably to the number of books I was reading years ago before I started spending so much time on the computer.

I've been checking out books from the library, but I've also been reading a lot on my iPhone, which I'd rather do, actually, except for the minor point of buying all those books. I ran across this article about the Kindle this morning on the Amazon blog:

And...of interest to me as a critical of the anticipated minuses turned out to be a plus, in a way. There were no clues--no jacket, no typographical design, no author photo, no blurbs...nothing to influence my response to the book except the words themselves. I read everything a little more carefully.
--Lee Child

That's one of the reasons that I like reading electronically also. I'm kind of a snob about books; if I pick a book up off the shelf, either in a bookstore or in the library, I do judge it by the cover. I also judge it by the typeface, how large the type is, the size and heft of the book, whether it has deckled page edges (which I dislike) or not, etc. The biggest thing for me is the typesize and no, I don't want it larger so I don't have to wear my reading glasses, I want it to be small. I like long books, I like being able to immerse myself in a book for days.

I also especially like trade paperbacks. That's probably my favorite format. But with an ereader, none of those considerations come into play. As Child says, it's just the words. And I do find myself reading pretty much all of them, unlike how I tend to read a paper book. I don't speed read or skim, really, but I do tend to skip over long descriptions of fights or battles or landscapes. An interesting note -- Bob has been known to pick up a book and reject it because it has too much dialog, while I'll reject a book because it has too little dialog.

What I find with an ebook, particularly reading on the iPhone with the small screen, is that I read more closely, and feel like I get more out of it. It seems like a more personal, more intimate experience, I think. It's kind of the same way with audiobooks. I think I get a more complete understanding of a book by listening to it, because for some reason I pay more attention than I do when I'm reading a book.

Of course, I guess that's not exactly a good thing, since I only listen to audiobooks while I'm driving . . . [I first typed that as "deriving," as in, "I only listen to audiobooks while I'm deriving." :) I derive much pleasure from audiobooks, btw.

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Sunday, May 02, 2010

Blogger conversion

I had a couple of clients who were using Blogger as their blogging platform, and updating through FTP, which is no longer available as of yesterday. I got both of their blogs converted and updated so that they could continue to update their blogs through Blogger as they always had.

I hadn't decided what to do about mine. I had been thinking about converting to Wordpress, and I also thought that I could just do the blog manually, like I used to. Last night I sat down and opened up the test Wordpress blog that I set up months ago, but I just couldn't do it. I wasn't ready to give up the template that I had designed. I know that you can use customized designs with Wordpress if you install the software on your own server, but I just wasn't ready to tackle that, either. And all of the links I have in the sidebar; I would have to either give them up, or duplicate them.

So I thought, well, I'll just do the blog manually like I used to, and I started working on templates, stripping out the Blogger code, and then I realized that I was breaking ALL of the previous entries. So I had to start backtracking, undoing, checking . . . What a pain.

I ended up converting the blog to a "Blogspot" blog, which means that future entries will be on Blogger/Google's servers, not on my own. I will back them up, of course. I had to do a bunch of work on the templates anyway, to make everything work, and I stopped the conversion before it got to the point where it adds forwarding code, so all of the previous entries haven't been affected. I would appreciate it if anyone notices anything weird, or something that doesn't work, if they would let me know. Now, for every image and every link, I have to put in the complete path, which is also a pain, and not really good code, but it'll have to do.

Last September (I looked it up -- the benefits of having an online journal) we had weird electrical problems, but Bob fixed it, and I didn't worry about it anymore. Then on Wednesday or Thursday he called me at work and said that we were having the same kind of issues, that he thought he needed to replace the GFI, but for now the outlets in the bathrooms didn't work.

When I got home that night I put water on the stove to boil, and when I turned on the burner, the lights in the kitchen dimmed, like a brownout. Deja vu. I turned off the stove, the lights came back on, I turned it on, the lights went out. The GFI had tripped, so I reset it, and then all the lights on the first floor stayed out. I went down to the basement to check the breakers; they were all on, but I flipped them just in case. Nothing happened, so I went upstairs, where we had lights, and read.

When Bob got home, he replaced the GFI, but it didn't help. He tried several things, with me running up and down the basement stairs to flip the breaker on and off, but no luck. So he talked to an electrician friend of his, who came over the next day to check things out. They discovered that it was a bad breaker outside--they said it was actually melted, and broken, so it was definitely good that we discovered it when we did!

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Thursday, April 29, 2010

Lists and adventures

I was reading this this morning (Crazy Aunt Purl), about how she loves to re-read books and watch movies over and over, and some of her commenters said they don't do that. I do have favorite movies that I can watch many times, but I almost never re-read a book. I think it seems like wasted time to me. But it got me thinking, because I do have a few books that I have read more than once. So I made a list. I could only come up with five.

Ten Five Favorite Books

  • Ladder of Years - Anne Tyler
  • Miracle and Other Christmas Stories - Connie Willis
  • Timeline - Michael Crichton
  • Under the Dome - Stephen King
  • American Gods - Neil Gaiman

It was easier to come up with ten movies.

Ten Fifteen Favorite Movies

  • Beverly Hills Chihuahua
  • Bolt
  • The Phantom Menace
  • The Money Pit
  • Grosse Pointe Blank
  • Christmas With the Kranks
  • Love Actually
  • School of Rock
  • The Bourne Identity
  • The Terminal
  • Home Alone
  • The Commitments
  • Robots
  • Under the Tuscan Sun
  • The Incredibles

I've been working my way through the free Kindle books that I've downloaded from Amazon over the last year or so. I don't download every free one that is offered, but if I think there's a possibility that I might enjoy it, I do. Sometimes I'll read a few pages and decide I don't like it, and will delete it, but there have been some that I've really enjoyed, and have gone on to buy other books from the same author, so it seems that, at least from my perspective, the strategy works.

The latest series that I've been reading is Elizabeth Moons "Vatta's War" series. I would never have purchased the first book, "Trading in Danger," at the bookstore--it looks very military, very much a "space opera." But I tried it, and I loved it. So much so that I'm reading the rest of the books in the series. I'm currently reading the third one, "Engaging the Enemy," and finished the second, "Marque and Reprisal" over the weekend. There are two more.

The series is about a young woman who is something of a black sheep in her very business-minded family, a family who owns a very successful shipping company. The woman, Kylara, declines to join the family business, and instead decides to go into the military, and enrolls in military school. Through what was basically a misunderstanding, she's thrown out of the school, and comes home in disgrace.

In order to get her out of town until the scandal blows over, her father asks her to take command of an old spaceship that needs to be take to the scrapyard. He assigns her a basic crew, and sends her off. All hell breaks loose after that. I'm really enjoying reading about Ky and her adventures.

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Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Ranting about ebooks

I have read all the books in Kim Harrison's "The Hollows" series, and was looking forward to the latest, "Black Magic Sanction," which was released in February. I don't buy hardback books anymore (except for Jim Butcher's "Dresden Files" books that I buy for Bob); I either put the book on hold at the library and wait, wait for the paperback, or, increasingly, wait for the ebook version.

Publishers are now tending to hold the ebook version for a period of time after the hardback comes out; this seems to have started with Stephen King's "Under the Dome" (which I ended up buying in both hardcover, audio, and ebook versions). Before that, it seems that the ebook versions were released at the same time as the hardback. But I can understand the motivation--it appears that the publishers believe that if the ebook version isn't available, people will just go ahead and pay for the hardback version, although I don't think that's true.

In any event, it isn't true for me. I'll wait. I was looking forward to Ms. Harrison's latest book, and the release date for the ebook version was April 6. I could have pre-ordered it a month or so ago at $8.65, but since most Kindle books at Amazon are $9.99, I figured that wasn't a huge savings, and I might as well just wait and pay the money when it comes out. But April 6 came and went, and now Amazon is showing the ebook version of Black Magic Sanction as "no longer available." I also noticed that the Kindle version of Charlaine Harris' "Dead in the Family," her newest, due to publish in May, also appears as "no longer available," and the Kindle version of "Changes" has disappeared also, although I see that the hardcover version is listed at $9.99. I ordered it for $12.99 at WalMart, plus a couple of dollars shipping; with all the book pricing volatility it's just impossible to know if you're getting the best deal or not.

When Black Magic Sanction was theoretically available to purchase in ebook form, the latest price at Amazon was something like $12.65, and another book that I'm interested in reading, Jennifer Crusie's "Wild Ride," is $12.99. When I saw those prices, I thought, well, I'll wait and they'll come down, like the hardcover prices tend to do. Ebook version of most backlist books are available at Amazon for around $6.50. But after reading this, I suppose they won't, or maybe they won't for a year or more. I just have no idea.

I guess one thing I don't understand is, if Amazon and other online retailers are discounting the hardcover versions so steeply, what difference does it make if you pay $9.99 for a hardback or $9.99 for the ebook version? I don't pretend to understand or know anything about the publishing business, but it would seem to me that publishing a hardback book would cost quite a bit more than producing an ebook version. I'm not going to get into that argument, because I know you're not paying for the paper itself, but for the work that went into writing and producing it, but an ebook, being only bits, obviously contains less physical production cost, so if they're being sold for the same price, why not release them at the same time?

There's a page at Kim Harrison's blog where she has opened up comments for people to rant about their dissatisfaction with ebook pricing, ebook delayed releases, etc. Either of things are certainly not the author's fault, and I hate to see people direct their comments at her, or at any author. They're as much a victim here as anyone.

I just wrote an extensive review of iPhone ereader apps over at my iPhone blog yesterday. As I said, I love books, and I love ebooks. I love the convenience of reading books on apps on my iPhone. I'm very conscious of price, though, and will very seldom pay what has, up 'til now, been the "normal" ebook price, that is, $9.99. Still, there are a few books that I will pay that price for. I bought Patricia Briggs' "Silver Borne" last week, and I see that it's still listed at $9.99 for the Kindle version at Amazon. "A Local Habitation" by Seanan McGuire is $6.39, but there was no hardcover version, it was released in mass market paperback.

While I was reading Kim Harrison's blog yesterday, I discovered that I could buy the "enhanced" combination ebook/audiobook version of Black Magic Sanction for $16.99 in the iTunes store. I do have about $6.50 worth of credit in my iTunes account, so that would make it cost about $10, but I was going to buy Swankolab . . . And the thing is, I hate the idea of buying a dedicated app for one book. I don't have that much real estate space on my iPhone, I definitely don't want to start loading it up with an app for every book that I want to read. I guess I could read them, then delete them, but I kind of like hanging on to the ones I like.

I don't know. I guess it will be an interesting issue to follow. I hope they figure it out soon.

Update: "Black Magic Sanction" came out in Kindle on April 7, just one day late. I still haven't bought it, though. I think I may wait to get it from the library.

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Sunday, April 04, 2010

A weekend off

Sadly, the high winds that we had here on Thursday knocked the wreath off the nail that it was hanging on, and broke the eggs that were in the nest. When I came home Thursday evening I saw the wreath lying on the front porch, and asked Bob to go out and look. I don't think he was going to tell me that there had been eggs in it, but I had to ask. I know it's stupid, but it made me cry.

The day had just been awful. I've got a former client threatening to sue me, and saying terrible things about me, and I've been worried about the medical bills that are piling up. Coming home to find the little nest on the ground was kind of the last straw, I guess. I cried a little bit, then shook it off and changed my clothes, and we went out and ordered a pizza, then drove around a little before coming back to pick it up. It turned out to be a nice night anyway.

After the stress of last week, I ended up really taking the weekend off. I got the oil changed in the car on Saturday, did some grocery shopping, went out and saw my folks today, cooked chicken and rice for dinner, and read three Kindle books on the iPhone.

I've been having trouble sleeping; it seems that no matter when I go to bed, I wake up at 4:00 or 4:30 and can't go back to sleep. It happened Saturday morning, so rather than lie there sleepless, or get up, I got my iPhone and read. I read Patricia Briggs' "Silver Borne," which was great. Briggs is one of my favorite authors. Silver Borne is the latest in her "Mercy Thompson" series about a shapeshifter--Mercy shifts into coyote form--who was raised with werewolves. The series is really well written. She's started another spin-off series called Alpha and Omega which is wonderful, too.

Then I read a couple of books that I had gotten for free. Publishers have started offering Kindle books for free to introduce their authors and hopefully generate some interest in their other books. I don't download all of the free ones, but if I see one that looks like it might be interesting, I do. I read You Can't Stop Me, by Max Allan Collins and Matthew Clemens (although I see that it's no longer free), and The Dark Tide, by Andrew Gross (which is still free).

I enjoyed both of them, and ended up buying a second book by Gross, Don't Look Twice, which I'm reading now. I really like reading on the iPhone. If I'm in bed, and I don't want to turn on the light and wake Bob up, I switch the font to white type on a black background, and increase the type size a little. I like that I can hold it in one hand and touch the screen to flip the pages. It's getting so I don't really want to hold a big book, I'm so used to reading on the phone.

After I came out of surgery, I really felt pretty good. I actually thought that once I was home I could start working and expected to get a lot done the week I was home. Ha. That turned out to be VERY far from what actually happened.

The surgery was on Sunday, and I got to go home on Monday. The way they do laparoscopic surgery, they blow your abdominal cavity up like a balloon with gas, then make several incisions through which they insert the surgical instruments, fiber optic lights, and something that feeds images to a television monitor. Or something like that. Anyway, they fill you up with carbon dioxide gas, and it takes awhile to dissipate.

It feels like really awful heartburn, and you just have to wait it out. We filled my pain medication prescription, but taking them made the heartburn worse, so after the first day, I didn't take them. Everything tasted awful to me. Bob had gone out and bought pudding cups and jello, and the first night I was home he made me a grilled cheese sandwich and cream of mushroom soup, but I couldn't eat anything. The only thing that sounded--and tasted--good to me was fruit, so he got me some canned peaches and pineapple and grapefruit, and I ventured out one day and bought some ready-made smoothies, and that's what I lived on for most of the week.

I couldn't get up enough energy to do anything at all, so I spent most of the week on the couch watching television. I watched a lot of television, mostly old sitcoms--The Golden Girls, The Cosby Show, like that. One day I ran across "Early Edition" on the SyFy Network, the show about the guy who gets tomorrow's newspaper each morning, and then goes out and tries to stop all the bad things that are going to happen. I must have watched five or six episodes in a row.

I had a hard time sleeping, and spent a couple of nights in the recliner in Bob's office, reading. One night I didn't sleep at all, I read Barbara Bretton's Laced With Magic, which she had sent me and which I had been saving. One day I stayed in bed all day and read Blackout, by Connie Willis, which I had gotten from the library.

I spent the whole week like that--watching television, resting, reading--and made a couple of short trips out to the grocery store for fruit and milk and cereal--Rice Krispies was the one other thing that sounded good to me, with bananas. An hour out was about all I could do before I started really fading, but Bob said it was good for me to get out a little and try to build my strength back up. I went back to work the next week, and except for getting tired easily, didn't have any ill effects.

I'm feeling fine now, and seem to be able to eat anything I want. I assume that the reason food was tasting so weird to me was the anesthetic still working its way out of my system; everything tastes fine now. I lost about 15 pounds while I was in the hospital, and have put 4 or 5 back on, but that's fine. I'm just glad to be able to eat again!

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Monday, March 29, 2010


There are two things in play here:

  1. We never use the front door, we always come in through the garage.
  2. I'm a terrible procrastinator.

Like I said, we never use the front door, but I do occasionally check to be sure that there aren't things stuck to the door, or that no one has left a package on the front porch. I checked this morning, and when I opened the door, a bird flew out of the Christmas wreath (see No. 2).

Yes, the Christmas wreath is still up. And now it's going to be up until summer, because a bird has built a nest in it.

When I drove myself to the emergency room, all I took were the clothes on my back and my purse. Unlike the last time I had surgery, I didn't have time to think about it, worry about it, or plan anything. I don't know what day it was that Bob asked me if I wanted him to bring me anything, maybe it was Friday. I asked him to bring me a couple of pairs of underwear, a pair of pajama pants and a t-shirt so I would have something clean to go home in when the time came.

He asked if I wanted any books or anything, and I told him that there were some library books near my chair, and I asked him to bring me a notebook that I had left in my car. He went down immediately (my car was still in the emergency room parking lot) and got the notebook, and moved my car to the regular parking lot -- I was a little worried that they would ticket me if I left it right outside the emergency room for more than a couple of days.

He brought me the library books and a bag of clothes. He was so sweet, he said "I tried to color-coordinate" -- he had brought a pair of flannel pajama pants that are kind of a faded red and black plaid, a rose-colored t-shirt and a white one, and a couple of pairs of underwear. I pulled out a pair of underwear, and said, "Is this the only underwear you brought?" He pulled out another pair, and I told him that unfortunately the first pair was definitely too small, and the second pair probably was, too.

He said something like, why did I have underwear that was too small? I said well, I don't know, but in any event, I'm going to have abdominal surgery, I don't want to have to squeeze into my underwear to go home. So he said he would go home and lay out all my underwear and pick out the biggest ones, and he teased me about that the rest of the week, that he had to go home and get "big butt" underwear. Oh well.

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Sunday, March 28, 2010

Week in the hospital

I meant to come back and write the whole saga of the hospital stay, but the days kind of got away from me. The time in the ER was awful because I was so sick; the ultrasound made me even sicker because I had to lie on my side. I just wanted the pain and nausea to stop. Everyone was doing everything they could, but I'm very susceptible to nausea and it's difficult to get it under control. They eventually were giving me two different medications, alternating them, and it finally helped, although it never completely went away until after the surgery.

It turned out that I had pancreatitis. One of the doctors--there were so many!--told me that, and told me that I was "very sick." I didn't really realize how sick until it was all over and I looked it up.

They were giving me the anti-nausea medication through IV, and pain medication, but weren't giving me anything to eat. I didn't want anything to eat, of course, but I was kind of worried about my blood sugar. I tend to have problems if I don't eat regularly, and I was worried that maybe some of the nausea was from not eating. But I realize now that they were letting my pancreas rest. After a couple of days they started giving me glucose in the IV, and then they started giving me insulin.

I didn't really understand that, either, I thought it was in reaction to the glucose, but I guess it was because of the pancreatitis. It was all sort of a blur, really. I just did whatever they told me to do. Once I stopped throwing up, it wasn't horrible. Bob was there every day, as much as he could, my parents came a couple of times, Bob's parents came, and my sister Lynn, and Anna from work and my friend Patti. I got flowers, and Bob brought my library books, although I couldn't concentrate enough to read.

I didn't even watch television except the last day when I caught a Pink Panther marathon, which was kind of fun. Mostly I tried to sleep, but of course, I only got to sleep about a half hour at a time before someone came in and woke me up to check my temperature or stick me with something. They were constantly sticking the ends of my fingers and checking my blood sugar; by the time I left most of my fingertips were bruised. The IV machine would start beeping if it was empty, or if I turned over and the IV in my arm moved, but as far as I could tell, the beeping was confined to my room, and it didn't turn on any alarms anywhere else. So it would wake me up, and I'd lie there for awhile, then call the nurse and tell them "the IV is beeping," and someone would come and fix it.

On Thursday they scoped me; the ultrasound had showed that there was a gallstone blocking the pancreatic duct, which I guess was what was causing all the problems. But the doctor said that there wasn't anything there; I guess it had passed by itself. On Friday the surgeon came by and said that my liver and pancreatic enzyme levels were better, but my white count was still high, and he wasn't sure why, and didn't know if they were going to be able to get it down. He said he might have to go ahead and operate over the weekend.

The ended up doing the surgery on Sunday, and only after thinking about it afterwards did I realize that I wasn't scared at all. It didn't even occur to me. I just wanted it to be over.

Friday, March 19, 2010


Wow. Talk about your lost weekends. Although in this case, it was more like a lost fortnight. Apologies for the complete drop-off-the-face-of-the-earth for the past two weeks. It was completely unplanned.

I know I've mentioned that I think I have been having gallbladder issues for a year or two. The attacks hadn't been frequent enough for me to feel like it was imperative I do anything about it--it would happen every three or four months, last 8-10 hours, then would be okay until the next time. I figured I'd just keep trying to manage it with diet the best I could, and put it off as long as possible. I had an attack on Sunday, two weeks ago, that went away like they all had so far, so I thought I'd dodged the bullet again.

Then on Wednesday morning, the 3rd, I woke up feeling kind of bad. I had a meeting that morning, so I went ahead and got ready and went to that, then afterwards I called in to work and said I wasn't feeling well and was going to go home. That was about 11:00, I think. I went home, and the gallbladder pain started up again. Since I hadn't eaten anything that I felt would have caused it -- since I didn't feel well that morning, but knew I should eat something, I had had a piece of dry toast -- that was kind of scary.

The pain just kept on and kept on, and I tried to figure out what to do. Normally I try to sleep, but that wasn't happening. I looked back in my notes to see if anything had helped in times past; one time Pepto Bismol had seemed to help, so I took some, and I can tell you that me taking Pepto Bismol by choice is one of those things that means I'm really sick. It didn't help. Nothing was helping. I had talked to several people over the past year or so who had had the same issues; I think it was Stefani who said that one time, the pain just didn't stop, which is what sent her to the doctor, so I thought, well, I think I'm at that point.

It was so bad, though, that I knew I couldn't wait to try to get an appointment with someone. I threw on some sweatpants and flipflops--at this point, I was hurting so bad I just wanted it to stop, I didn't care what I looked like--and tried to figure out where to go. I know some of the guys at work don't have regular doctors, and go to urgent care offices, so I thought about that, then thought, screw it, and drove the mile or so to the emergency room at the nearest hospital. I wasn't sure what to expect, never having been to the emergency room before. I talked to (someone who I think was) a volunteer, who asked me what was wrong. I'm always hesitant to self-diagnosis, because I know that can be irritating to people who are, you know, actually doctors, but I said that I thought it was probably gallbladder pain.

The man, an elderly gentleman, said he had had that before, too, and said, "that's really bad, isn't it?" I nodded, and he called someone, and I was immediately whisked off to an examination room. I don't really know how long it took, but I saw a doctor pretty quickly. He was the doctor on call, an internist, and he examined me, ordered an ultrasound, and admitted me. I was kind of surprised at that, but glad, because I definitely didn't feel like going anywhere.

Once I knew what was going on, I called Bob's cell phone and left a message about what was happening and where I was, and called my parents. It was all kind of a blur from that point--I think I saw three or four different doctors, had the ultrasound, had IVs put in, got pain and anti-nausea medication, etc., and was in a room within a matter of a couple of hours. As soon as Bob got my message, he left work and came to the hospital, and I opened my eyes, and there he was.

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