Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Toilet Paper: "Buddy, Can You Spare a Square?"

Years ago I read a novel by Margaret Atwood: Cat's Eye, published in 1988 so I probably read it around that time. It was Atwood's next book after The Handmaid's Tale which I had loved.

Cat's Eye, however, was a book I did not like AT ALL yet one part has always stuck with me: the father of one of the characters maintained a strict rule, allowing the use of only 3 squares of toilet paper per event.

It has been over 25 years since I read this book so it's possible my memory on this is faulty. But I didn't like the book so I never plan to go back and check. It had a disappointing ending so I did not read another Margaret Atwood novel (The Year of the Flood, which turned out to be book 2 in a three book series) until a few years ago. Except for The Handmaid's Tale, her books are not for me.

I also read a novel a few years back about the family of a polygamist and he had like 27 kids and he also restricted toilet paper use as 30+ people probably go through a LOT of TP. (The book was probably The Lonely Polygamist by Brady Udall.)

Is this a thing? Do other people restrict the use of toilet paper in their homes? I like to joke that toilet paper will be the currency of the apocalypse.

Not to get too descriptive, but even three squares seems like a puny amount, depending on the level of usage. A number one? Okay, barely, but a number two?! Only three squares is just crazy talk.

And what about feminine hygiene products? (What do other women do?) I always wrapped everything in TP so that it wasn't visible in the trash can. This generally takes more than three squares because no one needs to see used FHPs.

The character Elaine Benes on "Seinfeld" famously asked, "Can you spare a square?" in a public restroom. She is ignored and has to do without even a single square, much less three.

I did a quick search on "toilet paper restrictions" and it came up with a few gems:
  • The New York State lawmaker who restricts everyone to 6 rolls per month for their offices.
  • School bathrooms where users need to sign out the roll of toilet paper in the main office and return it when done. 
  • Several examples of restricted TP use as austerity measures. When the budget is cut the first thing to go is the toilet paper.
  • And, of course, when you visit national parks you may bury your poop but you need to carry out your used toilet paper. It's a fun souvenir for the scrapbook, right? Eeeew.
  • And this classic: a horror novel printed on toilet paper!
    • According to the website selling it:
      • "It will scare the shit out of you!"
      • "It will have you on the edge of your seat!"

Friday, August 26, 2016

Do we WANT to be Carrie, Charlotte, Miranda or Samantha?

If you don't know who those women in the title are, they are the four main characters of HBO's comedy show "Sex and the City" which aired from 1998 to 2004.

Carrie is a newspaper columnist, writing weekly about, you guessed it, sex and the city (Manhattan specifically). She meets a man in the first episode nicknamed "Mr. Big" and then obsesses about him for the entire series. Big is portrayed by Chris Noth, also a regular on "Law & Order" before SATC and "The Good Wife" after it. He is a very attractive man but his character is kind of an asshole so it gets frustrating that Carrie keeps after him for so very long.

As for the other three, Miranda is a lawyer who is cynical about romance. She has an on-off relationship with Steve. Samantha runs her own public relations firm and enjoys lots of casual sex. Charlotte, who works at an art gallery, is a romantic who is searching for the perfect husband.

All of these women are white, wealthy and have no problem getting men to sleep with them. They are in their early 30s as the show starts except for Samantha who is about 10 years older. Carrie constantly pleads poverty but she lives in a fabulous Manhattan apartment, buys $400+ shoes regularly, drinks in bars constantly and eats in trendy restaurants every episode so she is "poor" compared to her friends but not poor compared to regular folks. All on the salary of someone who writes ONE article per week! No wonder everyone wanted to be Carrie!

I have been watching the show the last few weeks and I am through the 3rd season so far. I know how it all ends up (12-YEAR-OLD SPOILER ALERT: Carrie ends up with Mr. Big), it's not laugh out loud funny, and I'm more irritated by the women, especially Carrie.

There are several quizzes on the Internet that will tell you which character you are: in one I was a Charlotte, in another "you WISH you were a Carrie but alas, you are a Miranda".

Like it matters! As I watch I think I am temperamentally more of a Carrie --- obsessing over men was definitely a specialty of mine (somewhere my best friend Lady Chardonnay is snorting coffee through her nose as she reads this!) --- with a dash of Charlotte and Miranda, thus obsessive and romantic yet cynical. I don't seem to have much of Samantha in me but I find that she's the character I'm drawn to most as I watch in 2016. She is so comfortable with herself and her sex life that you have to admire her. Except for Samantha these women seem to define themselves only by the men in their lives.

At the time it was considered risque' how Samantha's sex life was portrayed and discussed but that was then. Now we have "Girls", another HBO comedy with 4 leads who are white women with little in the way of financial difficulties. But they are even more free with the sex talk and situations than SATC ever was! And of course lip service is paid to how broke or jobless they sometimes are but they manage just fine.

The differences between "Sex and the City" and "Girls" are that the first takes place mainly in Manhattan while the second is based in Brooklyn. The girls in "Girls" are in their mid-twenties instead of their early 30s. (I assume the next HBO show with 4 white women will be about teenagers in The Bronx, Queens or Staten Island about 10 years from now.)

The character I seem closer to in "Girls" is Hannah, the lead role. She wants to be a writer and she is considered chubby. There the similarities to me end. I am nothing like Carrie or Hannah in any ways that count --- my life couldn't be farther from a young, single woman's in New York City in any decade --- but I think one is drawn to them because they are the leads. Since we "play" the lead roles in our own lives so it would make sense to identify more closely to the lead in a TV show. I guess I am just as self-centered as those characters after all?!

So the point is this:
  • Which "Friends" character am I most like? 
    • Obsessive Monica! (The quiz agrees!) I'd add a bit of sarcastic Chandler too.
  • Which is your favorite Beatle?
    • In my childhood it was Paul, the cute one. Then it was John. Then it was George. Now I'm back to John again. Sorry, Ringo!
    • The quiz tells me I am most like Paul. Whatever that might mean!
  • Which "Girls" character are you?
    • According to the two quizzes I took I am either annoying Marnie or a combo of Hannah and Jessa.
  • Which Harry Potter character are you?
    • I would choose Hermione but the quiz said Bellatrix. Hmm...
  • Which "Game of Thrones" character are you?
    • I say Margaery but the quiz says Cersei. Hmm...
  • Which Middle Earth (Tolkien) character are you?
    • I say Hobbit; the quiz says Hobbit.
  • Which character from "Lord of the Rings" are you?
    • I choose Arwen, a beautiful elf who pines for Aragorn, but the quiz says Merry, a supporting Hobbit.
  • Which "Star Trek: The Next Generation" character are you?
    • I am definitely a Wesley, sayeth the quiz.
  • Which "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine" character are you?
    • Quiz? Jadzia Dax.
  • Which "Star Trek: Voyager" character are you?
    • I am the captain now! Kathryn Janeway it is!
  • Which astrological sign are you? (Yes, there are quizzes for EVERYTHING!)
    • I am actually a Pisces and the quiz guessed Taurus or Pisces.

It's all ridiculous, isn't it?

Friday, August 12, 2016

Anniversaries!

Seven years ago today we moved into our current house. It is the second longest time I have lived in any one place, tied with my childhood home in Louisiana where I lived from 1967 to 1974. First place still goes to our previous house where we lived for 11 years. Until 1998 I moved a LOT.
It looks mostly like a big garage, doesn't it?

Today is also the 27th anniversary of my very first date with CPA Boy! We went to dinner at an English restaurant that's long gone and then we played mini-golf.

Two days ago was the anniversary of the birth of my very best friend of almost 36 years: Lady Chardonnay! We met on September 21, 1980, on the first day of college and were best friends by the end of the month.
The brunette in red and the redhead in black, circa 1982

Next month is also the 25th anniversary of CPA Boy and me. The 23rd anniversary of Lady Chardonnay and Mr. Lady Chardonnay is two days later.

Isn't funny how all our anniversaries ended up in August and September?

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Clickbait Run Amok

I have noticed these ads constantly as I browse the Internet and they annoy me because, well, many things annoy me. (CPA Boy will vouch for this.)

Here's a screengrab of one:


Here's the second:

I don't know if they will be legible enough for my readers to see. Both feature a black & white photograph of the actress and both say: "Melissa McCarthy says her goodbyes at 45, Messages pour in after fans realize she's gone..."

For the record, Melissa McCarthy has "gone" nowhere.

I have seen these for Judi Dench and Meryl Streep. They also exist for Betty White, Sandra Bullock, Julia Roberts and many others. Apparently these actresses are the most click-worthy. (I haven't seen any --- yet --- featuring men. Sexism runs rampant everywhere, I guess.)

When I first saw one for Judi Dench I was sad because I love her work. But I was skeptical and instead of clicking the link I chose to do a Google News search to discover that Ms Dench was not "gone" at all.

There are several iterations of the Melissa McCarthy ad. Many of them are related to the cancellation of "Mike & Molly".

I did a search on "What's with all those Melissa McCarthy ads" and found out that if you click the links it will take you to a weight loss supplement ad with before and after pictures and purported quotes from Ms McCarthy related to the product. It seems rather obvious that the "after" photo was years ago, probably around the time she was on "Gilmore Girls". As one blog author commented, not only does the product make you lose weight but it takes you back in time!

Others actresses pictures will take you to ads for youth creams or other beauty-related products.

There is another type of ad, mainly featuring Ellen deGeneres and Oprah Winfrey and how their "lies" are leading to their downfall, or something along those lines. There are usually GIFs of Ellen and Oprah looking like they are crying, maybe from a segment of a Barbara Walters interview?

If in doubt head to your favorite news site or Google News. If any of these extremely famous people pass away they will be featured on the front page of a reputable news site.

You can also see the phrase "You May Like" in the second photo. These are ads sponsored by Taboola, a company that places them. Apparently they are infamous for these ads of misdirection. And clickbait is everywhere!

And don't get me started on "listicles": a numbered list which requires you to click through every item individually while the pages themselves are loaded with other ads. "Item #17 will SHOCK you" as the listicles often promise. It won't.

Add in all the the phone calls some people receive threatening arrest because you ignored jury duty or didn't pay your taxes --- unless you forward them cash card information, of course --- and it's another facet of our crazy world. The IRS tax return ones are especially hilarious as I am close to three CPAs: retired Pops, my good friend CPA Shell, and my hubs, CPA Boy himself.

I have to say though, since switching our phone number and using the Ooma device instead of Comcast, we have received only a small handful of telemarketer calls in over a year. We used to get 10-12 a week. The phone rang only four times in July! Bliss!

I personally receive trolling scams from being connected with the Creative Memories company. My e-mail address is accessible in case a customer wants to find me (I created a separate Gmail account for it). The scam e-mail goes to many of us at the same time.

It usually has an order request for multiple quantities of items. This is unusual because people rarely purchase, say, 12 blue albums and 12 identical paper packs. It is misspelled with randomly capitalized words while the e-mailer is always deaf and her boss will send a check to pay for her items. Sometimes they use the old "check will be for more, send back the difference" ploy.

Since all things Creative Memories are accessible on the Internet it sends another red flag: deaf persons should have no trouble ordering from any CM Advisor.  Who has a boss that will buy scrapbook items for her?! Again, deaf persons are perfectly capable; they can use checking accounts of their own. And who wants to accept checks from strangers these days?!

But several CM Advisors have fallen for it. They receive the (fake) check and mail the items before it clears (and it will bounce back as fake). I looked up the address of one scam e-mail. It was a rural Pennsylvania road with no houses. The assumption is the scammers get the merchandise and then sell it on eBay.

One needs to be alert and skeptical about everything on the Web! Don't click on ads. Google search --- or whichever search engine you prefer --- is your best bet!

Saturday, July 16, 2016

BEST MOVIE EVER!!!!!!!!

While I was watching I had to pause and text my son Thor who was upstairs in his room catching Pokemon or something. "SO MUCH AWESOME!" He was not induced to join me. His loss.

I am, of course, talking about the masterpiece that is "San Andreas". I don't usually seek out disaster movies but it was on HBO so I recorded it.

MANY SPOILERS FOLLOW!

It stars Dwayne Johnson (aka The Rock) and Carla Gugino. They play a divorcing couple who have two daughters. One daughter died because he couldn't save her even though he's a war vet and a helicopter rescue pilot. This is what led to their separation: guilt and lack of one good conversation about it.

Carla's character's career is not mentioned so I assume she doesn't have one. Her character is solely defined by the fact that she's divorcing one man and moving in with another (Ioan Gruffudd) and that she has two children. See? It's an ACTION movie. Who cares if the females are well-rounded?!

Alexandra Daddario plays the surviving, now adult, daughter. She's headed back to college. Dad can't take her because of a disaster rescue he needs to work on so Mom's boyfriend says he'll take her in his private plane as long as they can stop off in San Francisco first. She will demonstrate mad survival skills because her dad taught them to her. Will he be able to save his daughter this time?

Now before we even get to any of this we start with a young woman, driving her car in the hills of the Los Angeles area. She's on a twisty two-lane road with oncoming traffic. She reaches to the backseat for something, taking her eyes off the road and you brace yourself for the obvious head-on collision about to happen. Then she looks back to the road and nothing happens.

Then her cell phone beeps with a text message. She grabs her phone and looks at the text. Oh no, you think, NOW she will have the head-on! Nope! She continues driving and then little rocks start hitting her car: IT'S A ROCKSLIDE!! This is what causes her to lose control and spin out over the canyon below where she is trapped.

Helicopter pilot Rock and crew to the rescue!

Meanwhile, at Cal Tech, Paul Giamatti is getting word that earthquake monitors are suggesting an upcoming event in Nevada so he and a colleague head there.

A word, first, about the state of Nevada: It is pronounced Nuh-VAD-uh (VAD rhymes with BAD), NOT nuh-vah-duh (vah rhymes with la). EVERYONE in this film says it wrong even though they are all Californians and should know better. This is a pet peeve of mine and people's pronunciation of Nevada was recently made fun of in an episode of the most recent season of "Veep".

  • While at the Hoover Dam a huge earthquake strikes and the dam comes tumbling down. 
  • This leads to a major earthquake in Los Angeles.
  • Because it is a San Andreas thing it then leads to an even bigger one in San Francisco.
  • And then another, even bigger one in San Francisco. 
  • And then a tsunami as the cherry to the Californian destruction sundae.

SO MUCH AWESOME!!!!

So yes, this is a TERRIBLE, AWESOME movie. NONE of it makes sense.

At one point the Paul Giamatti character tells the people of San Francisco to evacuate. Now I live about 40 miles north of San Francisco. If a 9.5 magnitude quake hits it isn't just going to destroy S.F.! The whole Bay Area --- and then some --- will be destroyed.

During the 1906 earthquake the town of Santa Rosa, 60 miles north of S.F., was destroyed too. In the Loma Prieta quake of 1989 there was major damage in S.F. but it was Santa Cruz, about 80 miles south, that was devastated.

My point: THERE IS NOWHERE TO EVACUATE TO! Unless you can get over the Sierra Nevada (still pronounced Nuh-VAD-uh) which is about 4 hours away from San Francisco and the Bay Area, assuming there's no traffic.

Of course, that's not why we watch this kind of film. We watch to see things we recognize get destroyed. What is the psychology behind this, I wonder? It's not like terrible things aren't happening almost every day in this world.

But back to the movie. A major earthquake on the San Andreas fault would not cause a tsunami to head INTO the bay. It would head out into the Pacific Ocean and destroy things thousands of miles away.

San Francisco turns into kind of an island thanks to the tsunami. Because why not?

At one point in the movie Dwayne and Carla are headed from L.A. to S.F. to rescue Alexandra and they need to crash land in Bakersfield. Which is nowhere near the path between L.A. and S.F., most certainly NOT as the helicopter flies.

This film ignores everything that isn't "Los Angeles" or "San Francisco". It is sort of a live-action cartoon since it is mostly CGI. And all the main characters survive except Carla's new boyfriend. Of course the parents get back together! Of course Dwayne saves his daughter! Otherwise there couldn't be a sequel!

Many of the "great" disaster films aren't really very good but they are so suspenseful and chock full of action that you almost can't turn them off once you start watching. In the 1970s there was a heyday of disaster films: "Earthquake", "The Towering Inferno", "Airport", "The Poseidon Adventure", "Jaws", "Planet of the Apes" (actually late 60s but the sequels were all in the 70s) and so many more.

What are everyone's favorites? I especially like "Titanic", "Jaws" and "The Poseidon Adventure". "Earthquake" is so terrible it's great, just like "San Andreas"! I guess even "The Greatest Show on Earth" is a train disaster movie. Also terrible and simultaneously great!

Check out the list on Wikipedia: Disaster Films. There are SO MANY.

SO MUCH AWESOME.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Turning an Adult Child into an ADULT

My dear, sweet son Thor just turned 23. He lives at home with us while he goes to college and works a part-time job. He has his associates degree in Natural Sciences from the local junior college and will eventually go on to a 4-year school for a bachelor's degree in chemistry.

He has the maturity of a goat teenager though there are very occasional signs of life in the desert. (Supposedly, real maturity occurs by age 25 so we are in sight of the end of the tunnel!)

He took last week off from work so he stayed up into the wee hours playing video games and then sleeping all day. Yes, yes, he was on vacation. I get it but it still irritates me.

All his video-game-playing friends work late (they all work at the local movie theater) so they can only play together after midnight.

Lately my biggest issue with him is how he uses the kitchen. I generally have a good working knowledge of what I have in the pantry and refrigerator. I plan the meals, do the shopping and cook the meals. CPA Boy does some cooking on occasion and we eat out often too.

And then comes the plague of locusts my son. For example, I started making tuna salad a couple of weeks ago. When I went to get the mayo from the fridge it only had a couple of tablespoons left. There was none in the pantry.

When I take the last container of mayo from the pantry I write it on the list for next time I go shopping. My son, who eats a zillion sandwiches with mayo on them, doesn't pay attention to this aspect of kitchen management. Our list is on a large bulletin-board-sized white board; you can't miss it hanging on the wall in the kitchen. And our biggest kitchen commandment is "write it on the list".

Since I only use mayo for tuna, egg or chicken salads I don't have a constant knowledge of how much we have in the fridge at any given moment. I buy LOTS of mustard (CPA Boy LOVES that stuff) but only 2 containers of mayonnaise at a time as mayo is more likely to turn bad than mustard. This mayo purchase policy will be up for review. And I will probably end up hiding one, just in case.

Then last week I bought small taco size flour tortillas to make fish tacos. I never buy the small size as we generally use the larger burrito-size to make quesadillas. The last time we had fish tacos the tortillas were ridiculously huge!

Anyway, my son blithely used 6 of them to make mini-quesadillas, never questioning WHY the tortillas were smaller than usual. Perhaps Mom bought them for a special purpose?

He goes through loaves of bread, packages of cheese and cold cuts, cookies and desserts and leftovers like a 23-year-old bottomless pit.

Meanwhile, last month I had the idea that he needed to be more responsible for his own meals so I asked him to start buying his own breakfast and lunch items. I would set aside some space in the pantry and refrigerator for him.

It never mattered.

He got around it by skipping breakfast and lunch completely. Then he came to dinner and ate like crazy.

I talked to him last night about some new solutions. Perhaps he should be responsible for ALL his meals. Maybe he can pay me to make his meals. Or something, anything. I'm open to ideas. Instead he turned into a petulant, sulking child.

The real point is this: I realize that I need to treat him like an adult but I also need him to ACT like an adult. So instead I stressed "collaboration not sabotage" when it comes to kitchen issues. His face lost the pout and it seemed to help when I stressed he was an adult, not a child.

He IS a dear, sweet young man. And the reality is that he will probably live with us for a while longer. He's a good person; he just needs to embrace maturity and kitchen collaboration!

A postscript: A lot of people just tell us to "kick him out" but even if we did there is nowhere for him to go. Rents around here for a one-bedroom apartment start at $1200-1500; he makes $1000 a month with his part-time job. (When I was 25 my one-bedroom apartment cost $400 and my salary was $1000/month for full-time work.)

He could quit college and try to get a full-time job or get a second part-time job but he will be better off if he can finish college with a degree. And he is not the only adult child still living at home among my parent friends and acquaintances.

Recently Realty Trac released its list of the top ten least affordable counties in the United States. Sonoma County was #10, following Marin (#2), Santa Cruz (#3), Napa (#7) and San Francisco (#4). Also Monterey, Brooklyn, Queens and Maui were on the list. This is not a great area for young people just starting out. (For the record, I have lived in three of those counties!)

Monday, July 4, 2016

"Finally!"

Yeah, I have very little of interest to say these days. I still write lots of book entries though so I haven't completely left the blogging world. I will work on posting more often.

I have noticed that several of the people I used to follow on blogs have mainly switched to Twitter, Snapchat, Facebook, Periscope, Instagram and/or Pinterest.

The thing is this: I am pretty sure you need to sign up on those platforms in order to be able to use it or view things on it. With a blog you can just e-mail your web address to someone and they can see your entries. I would almost swear that none of my readers --- I have so many, haha --- have accounts for any of these except possibly Pinterest.

I have Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram and Twitter accounts. I look at Facebook pretty much every day but I rarely post there. I have never Tweeted or Instagrammed.

I have used Pinterest but rarely. I guess it's okay for saving recipes I find on the internet in one place but I also find it unwieldy to actually get back to the recipe and the whole thing irritates me.

For example, I had pinned a recipe for "Raspberry Walnut Tart" that I really like (I substitute pecans for walnuts) and I just now clicked on it from my Pinterest page. It took me to a different page on the main website so I had to search for the raspberry tart separately. I have now printed it out on actual paper which is easier to use in the kitchen anyway!

As another example, I had pinned a recipe for a pork tenderloin stew from the Cook's Country website but when I click on the Pinterest link from my page it wants me to sign up for a 14-day free trial before I can look at the recipe again. Um, what? I have no real need to sign up for a 14-day trial especially since that sounds like I will need to pay for access after that time. That ain't gonna happen. So I can't get the recipe again but I have no memory how I found it in the first place! I hope I wrote it down before and it's in my cookbook cupboard already.

But back to the main point: I much prefer reading blog entries than trying to follow someone on Facebook, Pinterest or the rest! I like reading paragraphs of words and sentences! Sigh. I am getting old. I know I have written about this before so sorry for repeating the same old, same old.

So to wrap it up, I will continue blogging rather than using the newest apps and programs. I have a couple of new idea books that have a list of random questions to answer so I might try plumbing them for topic ides. Things like this:
  • Be your own psychic. Write about your future.
  • Which fad of your youth didn't live up to the hype?
  • What was your worst babysitting experience?
  • Which sibling do you love the most? 
    • I think we all know the answer to this one!

Happy 240th Birthday, United States of America! Happy Birthday tomorrow to my darling son, Thor!

Friday, May 20, 2016

May is a Lonely Month

CPA Boy and Thor are diehard supporters of the Oakland Athletics, the Golden State Warriors and the San Jose Sharks. Sigh. It's not like I didn't expect this when I married CPA Boy almost 25 years ago...

Thus I give you the sports schedule for May:


  • May 1: 
    • Golden State Warriors basketball playoff
    • San Jose Sharks hockey playoff
    • Oakland Athletics baseball game
  • May 2: 
    • Oakland Athletics baseball game
  • May 3: 
    • Golden State Warriors basketball playoff
    • San Jose Sharks hockey playoff
    • Oakland Athletics baseball game
  • May 4: 
    • Oakland Athletics baseball game
  • May 5: 
    • San Jose Sharks hockey playoff
  • May 6:
    • There would have been an Oakland Athletics game today but it was rained out in Baltimore.
  • May 7: 
    • Golden State Warriors basketball playoff
    • San Jose Sharks hockey playoff
    • Oakland Athletics baseball game
  • May 8: 
    • Oakland Athletics baseball game
  • May 9: 
    • Golden State Warriors basketball playoff
    • San Jose Sharks hockey playoff
    • Oakland Athletics baseball game
  • May 10: 
    • Oakland Athletics baseball game
  • May 11: 
    • Golden State Warriors basketball playoff
    • Oakland Athletics baseball game
  • May 12: 
    • San Jose Sharks hockey playoff
    • Oakland Athletics baseball game
  • May 13: 
    • Oakland Athletics baseball game
  • May 14: 
    • Oakland Athletics baseball game
  • May 15: 
    • San Jose Sharks hockey playoff
    • Oakland Athletics baseball game
  • May 16: 
    • Golden State Warriors basketball playoff
    • Oakland Athletics baseball game
  • May 17: 
    • San Jose Sharks hockey playoff
    • Oakland Athletics baseball game
  • May 18: 
    • Golden State Warriors basketball playoff
    • Oakland Athletics baseball game
  • May 19:
    • Oakland Athletics baseball game
  • May 20: 
    • Oakland Athletics baseball game
  • May 21: 
    • San Jose Sharks hockey playoff
    • Oakland Athletics baseball game
  • May 22: 
    • Golden State Warriors basketball playoff
    • Oakland Athletics baseball game
  • May 23: 
    • San Jose Sharks hockey playoff
    • Oakland Athletics baseball game
  • May 24: 
    • Golden State Warriors basketball playoff
    • Oakland Athletics baseball game
  • May 25: 
    • San Jose Sharks hockey playoff (if necessary)
    • Oakland Athletics baseball game
  • May 26: 
    • Golden State Warriors basketball playoff
  • May 27: 
    • San Jose Sharks hockey playoff (if necessary)
    • Oakland Athletics baseball game
  • May 28: 
    • Golden State Warriors basketball playoff
    • Oakland Athletics baseball game
  • May 29: 
    • Oakland Athletics baseball game
  • May 30: 
    • Golden State Warriors basketball playoff
    • Oakland Athletics baseball game
  • May 31: 
    • Oakland Athletics baseball game


Thursday, April 28, 2016

Tradition!

Please imagine that Tevye is singing the title from "Fiddler on the Roof".

♫ Tradition. TRADITION! ♫

I am wrapping up the family Christmas scrapbooks and while all the pictures are in place I still need to do all the writing. This is the part I love best.

[ASIDE: What I don't love is formatting a zillion text boxes in Word so that I don't waste paper. I fit as many of those suckers on one sheet of paper before I print it, cut out the boxes and add them to the scrapbook. But it is still easier than writing everything by hand. And yes, I *could* just waste paper and make it easy on myself but that just isn't gonna happen!]

We have been fortunate around the Christmas holidays in that our families live close by. We are talking a five-minute drive to my parents' house and 1/2 hour drive to CPA Boy's parents' house.

We have NEVER had to travel for the holidays. No "over the river and through the woods" for us. No suitcases to pack, no airfare or airports, no chains for the tires, no meeting everyone for a Disneyland Christmas. We have been totally okay with this.

On the other hand, we didn't really have the option of staying home, just the three of us, and creating our own specific family traditions.

For example, years ago I found a recipe for "Overnight Christmas Cookies", basically a vanilla-y meringue cookie with chocolate chips inside. I made them once to test and they were great. You need to beat the eggs and other ingredients until stiff peaks form and fold in the chocolate chips. The oven needs to preheat to the proper temperature. You spoon out little mounds of the dough onto cookie sheets, put them in the oven and TURN IT OFF. In the morning, COOKIES!

Since we spent Christmas Eve at my parents' house, getting home at close to midnight, and had to be at CPA Boy's parents' by 10:30 am for Christmas Day festivities, there was never any time to make the cookies nor even the time to eat them. By midnight I was tired from the previous days of cooking and baking and then we needed to prepare the way for Santa's visit. We were lucky to get to bed by 2 am and then we got up sometime around 6 am so we could have time to open our own gifts to each other.

But as I went through the pictures I realized that from my son Thor's view, we DID have traditions every year. Some on CPA Boy's side go back to before he was even born! My parents got married on Christmas Eve so some of my side's traditions started before I was born too.

The new traditions I thought we would create didn't happen according to plan. But some unplanned and unexpected things became traditions after all and it's so clear as you look at the pictures over the years. Thor is an infant and then suddenly he is a 17-year-old, experiencing the same family traditions with every passing year. Is the phrase "Life is what happens while you're making other plans" applicable here or what?!

The Holy Family. The Yule Log on TV. Stump kicking. A Christmas Eve buffet. Shopping at Cost Plus for stocking stuffers. "We went nowhere and we bought nothing." RolyPolys (sp?) and cinnamon rolls. Driving to visit the grandparents on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. The little stackable wooden elf blocks from the old Hearthsong store in Sebastopol. Pizza at Round Table after Christmas tree shopping. Grandma's individual, handmade stockings for everyone in the family. Flinging wadded balls of wrapping paper at each other at CPA Boy's family gathering. (This was my LEAST favorite tradition and my small part in it was to hoard the balls until there were none left so the sudden thwacks to my head would stop.)

And so many more! ♫ TRADITION! ♫

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Upgrading to Windows 10 and Other Chores

I have 5 entries written up for my book blog so I am about 3 weeks ahead there so I figured I better throw a bone to my readers who couldn't care less about books!

Last week I backed up my computer data and my son Thor helped me to install Windows 10. He recommended doing a "clean install" where it's like having a new computer. This meant I needed to re-install all my software and data. And everything went fine except for the fact that I forgot to back up my address list in my e-mail program. Oh well.

I am going traveling in a few weeks visiting my sister-in-law Hennrietta in Southern California. (My brother Everest will be there too of course.) We are going to talk and scrapbook and just have a good time. I have been working to get organized so I bring down just the right amount of scrapbook stuff.

This has involved going through photos and tossing a bunch of them. I have a box that I will put the "tossed" pictures into and then I will store it for a few months before actually tossing it just to make sure I don't want them.

It's kind of like our CD collection: about 6 or 7 years ago we took all the discs out of the plastic jewel cases and put them into 4 zipper cases that take up much less space than all those jewel cases. As we bought new CDs we kept having to buy new shelving to store them and as we were mostly listening to iPods and the like we barely touched the CDs themselves.

I kept all of the cover art and booklets that came with the CDs. They have been stored in a box next to the zipper cases. We NEVER touch them and they are going to be tossed this week.

One of the casualties of my Windows 10 upgrade was that my iTunes backup didn't actually seem to work and I didn't find out until after it was done. All my music from CDs is gone from my hard drive and I need to reinstall everything. Luckily my iPod is separate and has most stuff. I need to see if I can copy from iPod to PC before I tackle the CDs.

Back to photos, so far the stack I am getting rid of is about 3 feet tall (imagine a stack of 4x6 photos). I still need to go through a bunch more but I think I will ultimately get rid of at least a yard-and-a-half of photos! For the events that are already in photo albums I have whittled down the remaining loose pictures to  the best left over, maybe 20 or so for each year.

As I come across photos of CPA Boy and me I am gathering them all together in one place. I didn't know there were so many! I also have a nice pile of pictures of Lady Chardonnay and me, as I've mentioned in an earlier post. I also have pictures of the three of us: me, CPA Boy and Thor.

Things are moving along as I go through stuff and get rid of it. And I keep stumbling across MORE stuff. I forgot about the cedar trunk I have in the closet. It has my (yellowing) wedding dress, and some other sentimental things in it. Hmm, time to dump some of it on Everest or K2, heh heh! (NOT the wedding dress though.)

Friday, March 4, 2016

Throwing Away Photographs: What's the Answer?

I have several boxes of photographs. As part of my GETTING THINGS DONE™ tour I am currently going through and sorting them, mainly chronologically but with some subsidiary categories. (More on this below.)

But I need to thin the herd of photos. Choose the ones that are scrapbook/photo album worthy and then what shall I do with the rest?

To the Internet! I searched "Should I throw duplicate photos away?"

The answers fell on both sides of the debate;
  • YES! As long as you keep the negatives safe somewhere in case of disaster, toss any photos you don't use.
  • NO! You'll regret it!
Many people feel guilty when they toss old pictures. I have mainly found it difficult to throw away pictures of my son. It always felt like I was throwing HIM away somehow. But I have a zillion pictures of him and I am over this issue. Once you throw one away and nothing happens you are emotionally freed to toss more!

I don't see how I will regret tossing bad photos. In any case I have the negatives from my camera in our safe deposit box and my brother Everest has the negatives from my mom's camera so they are recoverable if necessary.

There are SO MANY pictures!

For instance, my mom took a LOT of pictures of Thor, who was her only grandchild for several years until granddaughter Shenanigans came along. Almost weekly, Mom would take an entire roll of 24 pictures of him posing in the backyard or eating lunch or whatever. Then she had duplicate prints made, giving me one set and keeping the other. At some point she gave me the box with all her copies too. So I have two copies of a ZILLION pictures of my son and they are all undated and mixed up.

What I have decided to do is this: Go through the boxes and pick out the pictures I like, tossing the ones I don't. Then I think I will be down to a manageable amount of pictures.

I have created scrapbooks from Thor's grade school years but I still have dozens of school-related pictures in storage. I will go through and toss these too. I already went through and picked out the best shots from 6th Grade Camp, for instance. They are in the scrapbook. Why keep the ones that didn't make the cut?

Same with vacation stuff. The scrapbook is done. The extras can go. Extra pictures of the pet rats? Scrapbook's on the shelf. Bye bye, extra pictures! 

As I sort I am mainly sticking to chronological order as that is how my brain works. But there are special categories that I am picking out as I go. I already have a folder with a bunch of pictures of me and my best friend Lady Chardonnay. I would never part with a single one of those pix!

I am pulling out any pictures of Thor and HIS best friend too. And I need to have a good pile of pictures with me and CPA Boy, love o' my life! Then there are things like cars, school pictures from family and friends, junior high and high school, scouts and a few others.

Now this particular photo project covers the years of my life with CPA Boy (since 1989). I also have the pictures from my childhood and college years but they are already sorted by place I lived (I moved every few years in those days) and they just need to be placed in albums.

And I am still working on figuring out the best way to store digital pictures. Right now they are copied to CDs and DVDs as well as on my computer's hard drive but I also need to get some into the Cloud. Apple, Google and Amazon (and other smaller companies like Dropbox) all have some sort of photo storage but I need to do more research first.

I need to get back to sorting. That's right, I am GETTING THINGS DONE™!

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Where I Live


I have lived in the town of Petaluma off and on for the past 33 years, the most recent stretch beginning in 1998.

It was founded in 1836 and incorporated in 1858. The Coast Miwok (pronounced me-wock) were the indigenous people who lived here for at least 4,000 years before the Columbian period. Apparently "Petaluma" means "backside of the mountain" referring to Sonoma Mountain nearby. And it's pronounced pet-uh-LOO-muh.

General Mariano Vallejo (pronounced vuh-LAY-ho or vuh-LAY-yo) acquired the area as part of a Mexican land grant in 1834. This land also included the town of Sonoma, on the other side of the hills from Petaluma, about a 20 minute drive away. I went to high school in Sonoma.

The current population is approximately 60,000. Highway 101 runs right down the middle of town. We are divided into Eastside and Westside. On the west you can find "downtown" and many older houses including some fabulous Victorian era homes. The Eastside used to be full of chicken ranches and has been built over with subdivisions over the last 40-50 years.

In the early 20th Century Petaluma was the "Eggbasket of the World" supplying eggs to the Bay Area and beyond. There are several brick buildings still standing that were once hatcheries. These have all been re-purposed for other businesses today.

Today Rocky the Free Range Chicken is raised and processed by Petaluma Poultry Processors.

Every year in April the Butter and Egg Parade is held through downtown. All of us, Thor, CPA Boy and I, have marched in the parade at various times: Thor with junior high and high school bands and CPA Boy and I as part of the Bank of Petaluma (where I worked as a controller in the 1990s) float entry.

Our other claim to fame from 1952 through 2003 was the World Wrist Wrestling Championships. Even Snoopy attended! (He was disqualified for not having thumbs.) The championships are now based in Europe, specifically Bulgaria and Romania!


Many movies have been filmed here. The biggies are "American Graffiti" and "Peggy Sue Got Married". I showed Thor the final drag racing scene from "American Graffiti" which was filmed on the road bordering our neighborhood (which was a field in 1973) and you can see the familiar hills and the PG&E substation which is still in the same location. It's funny to know that your home is like an 1/8 of a mile from there!

See the PG&E substation on the left? Our house will be 1/8 mile to the left someday!
What else is Petaluma known for? How about The World's Ugliest Dog Contest? Every year in June at the Sonoma-Marin County Fair a new victor is crowned. This event has gotten to be a big deal over the last few years. This is same fair where I won Best of Show for my crocheted afghan in the 1990s. It's also held right next to the library so I avoid it for the 5 days of the fair because there's never any parking!

One hidden treasure in Petaluma is Rancho Obi-Wan, the museum featuring the largest collection of Star Wars-related memorabilia. It is about a three hour tour (heh!) with the man whose collection it is, Steve Sansweet. My brother K2, who hasn't even lived in Petaluma for over 25 years, found out about it and when he visited last year he and I went on the tour. It isn't cheap, about $60 per person, but it is thorough. I can only imagine what the future holds as the newest movies come out.

Petaluma is also the location of Mrs. Grossman's, a large sticker manufacturer. I remember taking the factory tour about 20 years ago with my sister-in-law Jillybean. 

Lagunitas Brewing Company moved to Petaluma around 1994. It has apparently grown in recent years. They are currently building a huge new parking lot near their taproom because people have been parking across a very busy street and then jaywalking their way to Lagunitas. And by busy I mean BUSY: it's a four lane main artery on the Eastside of town. Nothing like beered-up people trying to dodge traffic after their dinner at the brewery! Scary for us drivers.

Come visit us! Snoopy did!

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Scrapbooking Like a Bookkeeper

I truly enjoy the creative side of making scrapbooks even though I have moved to a much simpler style over the years. I especially love to write the stories to accompany the photos.

I enjoy the practicality of it too: getting photographs into albums along with the stories.

But unlike many scrapbookers I cannot begin anything without completely planning it out. I even have a SPREADSHEET. See? Bookkeeper Girl strikes again!




I have never seen anyone use this type of system but I cannot scrap without it. Each box is two pages and my scrapbooks are generally between 15 and 40 sheets, meaning 30 to 80 individual pages.

I list the events or topics and count up how many pictures each group has. Then I list the extras: tickets, brochures, and so forth. Then I take a pencil and start filling in the template:


The big "X" indicates the inside cover. An "X" at the end will indicate the last page too.

Here's a closer look:
 

I know where each group of photos will go and where each piece of memorabilia will go too, so nothing gets forgotten. When each page is complete I put a little check mark in the boxes.

I definitely make changes and edits as I go, which is why I use pencil. That's where CREATIVITY comes into play! But with this system I have a pretty good idea how the project is going to go and if I need to put a project aside for a while then I know exactly where to pick up.

One other thing that helps is using the computer to write, edit and print the journaling. I usually put the photos, title and other page decorations on the actual page and then measure the space available for the stories. Then I use MS Word to create a bunch of text blocks, fitting them so they fill the entire sheet of paper. Then I print out a batch, cut them out and stick them on the correct pages. I have a Post-It Note system for that part!

A lot of scrappers hate their handwriting and don't write much in their scrapbooks because of it. I like my writing just fine and my block printing is even better. The trouble is trying to make manual writing fit into the required space, otherwise it ends up too long or too short. You are basically regulating the font size as you write and that ain't easy! Or the dreaded problem of reaching the end of a line and the word you need to write is too long and will slop off the journaling square and you need to start over. Who knew scrapbooking could be so angst-y?!

(Spellcheck is telling me that "scrapbooking", "scrapbooker" and "journaling" are not words but they are used all the time in the scrapbook world. Stop it, Spellcheck!)

I found that if I put the project away for a while I forget where everything goes! So each square has the measurements of the text box and where it goes. I also made notes so I could keep track of each little rat. We could certainly tell them apart in real life but it's less easy in a photograph sometimes!

BEFORE:


 AFTER:



I am currently working on a digital scrapbook using an app on my iPad called Project Life. It's very easy to use and ideal for this particular project because then I can print multiple copies if necessary (at least one for us and one for my in-laws). This project features the Disneyland trip we took with CPA Boy's whole family in 2009. (As you can see, I'm right on top of things!)

It turns out that most of us were TERRIBLE photographers --- but most of us did not yet have smart phones which helped cut down on the number of photos --- so I went through and weeded out the blurry shots, the pictures of Disneyland scenery that include strangers, and so forth.

That means over 800 pictures went down to 350. Still way too many but I have made an index print with tiny photos that I can now use to fill in my grid and in the process cut down the number of photos even more. In some cases you had several cameras taking pictures of the same things! I need to pick the best one or two shots.

So that's a peek into my scrapbooking process. Just how a bookkeeper would do it!

This has been another installment of GETTING THINGS DONE™!

GETTING THINGS DONE™ includes finishing up all the scrapbook projects in 2016!

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Back by Popular Demand!

Okay, maybe not "demand" but I have been requested by my brother Everest and by hubby CPA Boy to "stop posting about books and get back to posting on your regular blog". (Not a direct quote but close enough.) So here I am!

Last week I was sick for several days and then I suddenly got better. I suspect I had the flu but since I get the flu shot every year now I think it kicked in and cured me almost instantaneously. And now I have tons of energy which is odd because I am one of the world's laziest creatures. I am taking advantage of this energy, which also seems to making me wake up earlier in the morning. (Maybe I'm still sick? Doesn't TB make you peppy before you die?)

Right now I am doing laundry. I already changed the sheets. I put away the pieces to the new vacuum cleaner system. I read a chapter of my book. And now I'm blogging. Wheeee! And it's only 11 a.m. as I'm writing this! Energy is fun! (It won't last. Laziness is my natural state.)

I'm still on my never-ending quest to GET THINGS DONE™. I have been cleaning out my office, going through boxes. I have cleared out several, hooray!

For example, I have bound copies of my high school newspapers for 10th, 11th and 12th grades. I also have a box with loose, multiple copies for 11th grade when I was a writer on the newspaper staff. My plan is to go through and cut out my articles and scan them. Then I can toss the papers.

I'm still ambivalent about the bound copies because they are yellowing and will ultimately deteriorate. Like many things, you keep them because, well, I don't know. I guess they are tangible proof that I attended high school? I graduated high school on 1980 and have not read a single thing from any of these newspapers and yet throwing them out seems so wrong. And yet, do they add anything to my life? Not really. I think I am talking myself into dumping them!

But this is why it takes some time and effort to deal with this stuff. Do I keep? Do I toss? 

Other things to GET DONE™:
  • Put the foreign coin collection into sleeves and pocket pages. They were organized YEARS ago and then I put them in a closet and ignored them. Time to get them into the binder for display.
  • Put the doubloon collection into sleeves and pocket pages. I grew up in New Orleans and its suburbs, attending many Mardi Gras parades in my youth. It would be great to have these in their display binder too.
  • Get the family history typed up so we can edit it and create a book.
  • Finish a handful of scrapbooks. 
    • One example: CPA Boy and I are getting nearer to our 25th wedding anniversary (this September) and the wedding scrapbook is not done.
    • If I don't finish with the scrapbooks this year I need to face facts: they will NEVER get done. I am on a mission this year! Complete the scrapbooks and MOVE ON.
    • I finished a scrapbook in January and it felt so good!
  • Make a list of and box up the stuff headed for Goodwill. CPA Boy needs an itemized list for tax purposes. It used to be so easy years ago: box it up and drive it away. Now you have to handle every item one more time. This leads to thoughts like "maybe I should keep this after all" and that way leads to hell.
  • Learn to use the new vacuum system tools properly. The house has a central vac which means you have a unit about the size of R2-D2 in the garage and then you plug the hose and tools into the vacuum outlets around the house rather than hefting a heavy vacuum cleaner around. 
    • We just got the old one replaced. I refused to use this thing because all the tools were FILTHY. "Do you have a dog?" asked the installer. No. "It (the old unit) smells like dog." FILTHY I tell you.
  • I was organizing my box of computer CDs and some were tossed (my old digital camera has a CD: I have the CD but not the camera) and some were mysteriously and unhelpfully labelled: "2006". Yessiree, that tells me all I need to know. You can't toss things if you don't know if they are mysterious.
  • Various house projects like: buy new toilets and have toilets installed.
  • Oh-so-many more things. 
There are many reasons blogging gets short shrift!

Saturday, January 2, 2016

I Need Another Blog Like I Need Another Hole in My Head

I have decided to try something new by creating a second blog called Kelly's Book Channel where I will do my writing about books (duh). This one will remain for non-book stuff.

Because a SECOND blog is the answer. Sheesh.

The web address for the new blog is: kellykarbooks.blogspot.com. It's the same as this one with "books" added. There's also a link over to the right side of this blog.

It has been several years since I started this blog and I forget how to personalize some things so I may be experimenting a bit with the new one.

I prefer a simple, easily readable page. For example, I hate reading blogs on dark backgrounds so I keep my background light for ease of reading.

I could also set it up so that I make money if people read it or click through ad links but I am forgoing that for now.

One thing that I might consider is trying to get new readers for the book blog. One thing that seems to help drum up traffic: I commented on a post by The Bloggess, which included my blog info, and got TONS of people checking out my blog! (She has a zillion followers.) So I guess that's the plan: comment on other people's blogs. I rarely do this because it is mostly outside my comfort zone (except on Lady Chardonnay's blog, of course!). A challenge for 2016!

I will definitely post as I read each book rather than in batches.

So there we are: an experiment that may work out well or may be deleted without a trace.

Wish me luck!

Friday, January 1, 2016

The Last Book Report of 2015, #114 to 130

But first, some of my book stats according to Good Reads!

For 2015 I read 130 books.

For comparison here are my book total for the last few years:
  • 2011: 50
  • 2012: 120
  • 2013: 121
  • 2014: 97
That totals 45,140 pages with an average book length of 350 pages.

The shortest book was Thing Explainer: Complicated Stuff in Simple Words by Randall Munroe at 64 pages. The longest book was Edge of Eternity by Ken Follett at 1,098 pages.

My average rating was 3.9 (out of 5).

My 2015 reading goal was 100 books. Good Reads says, "You read 130 out of 100 books. Congratulations! You're really good at reading and probably a lot of other things, too!"

Darn tootin'! (Although with this much reading going on it's no wonder my housework chores go unheeded.)

NON-FICTION
  • It Ended Badly: Thirteen of the Worst Breakups in History by Jennifer Wright
    • A fun little confection of a book. A quick read and gossipy good fun.
    • Some of the included couples include Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn, Lord Byron and Lady Caroline Lamb, Nero and Poppaea, Debbie Reynolds and Eddie Fisher,  and Oscar Wilde and Lord Alfred Douglas.
  • Rin Tin Tin: The Life and the Legend by Susan Orlean
    • I'm not sure why I decided to read this book but I am very glad I did.
    • Most of us born in the 1960s had probably heard of Rin Tin Tin as children but we were all raised on the Lassie TV shows. The TV show featuring "Rinty" was no longer airing by the time we were watching Lassie episodes.
    • Rinty was a German shepherd, a breed that first existed only in the late 1890s. He was born in France during the last days of World War I and brought to the United States by a man named Lee Duncan.
    • Lee eventually got the dog into films and Rin Tin Tin was a huge star. The dog died in 1932 and was succeeded by other German shepherds who were never as good actors as the original.
    • It was interesting learning about how the breed came to be (in Germany, naturally) and how dogs in America became pets rather than just treated as working dogs.
  • Ravensbruck: Life and Death in Hitler's Concentration Camp for Women by Sarah Helm
    • This was a tough read --- so many awful things happen right from the first pages --- but it was an amazing book.
    • Ravensbruck was located in the north of Germany and ended up in East Germany after World War II so it was behind the Iron Curtain for decades, meaning it has been lesser known than the more infamous concentration camps.
    • The author was able to interview some survivors and had access to Russian archives which completes quite a horrendous narrative.
    • Ravensbruck started out as a camp for political prisoners and most of its inmates weren't Jewish. It also did not start out as a death camp (those to be executed were taken to other camps) but it became one by the end. 
    • This was one of the camps where "medical" experiments were performed, especially on the Polish women. Abortions were performed on incoming prisoners and if a baby was born it did not live long.
    • Local German women acted as guards. A German town was located quite nearby, within view across a lake. Many prisoners were used as slave labor in a Siemens factory built on the camp land. 
    • You read something like this and become angry that people can act so inhumanely towards others. And yet it happens over and over again in history.
      • And then you have the women who rebelled like the Russian women who refused to work making munitions to be used against their countyr and suffered as a result.
      • The Russian soldiers (including the women) were expected to fight to the death in war and to be taken prisoner was considered a failure according to Joseph Stalin. When some of the women returned home to the USSR they were suspected of becoming spies and many were sentenced to prison in Siberia too. Crazy. But the women were inspiring.
    • Obviously this is not a book for everyone but for those interested it is utterly fascinating.
  • Rosemary: The Hidden Kennedy Daughter by Kate Clifford Lawson
    • Apparently at Rosemary's birth in 1918 the doctor was late (tending to influenza victims in Boston) and the nurse was afraid to deliver the baby alone. She had Rose Kennedy basically keep her legs closed for two hours until the doctor arrived even though the baby was already in the birth canal. This probably caused some brain damage in poor Rosemary because she ended up "slow" compared to her 8 brothers and sisters. She was the most beautiful of the sisters too.
    • Her IQ was apparently between 60 and 70. She was mentally disabled in a time when that was an embarrassment for a family, especially the parents who had aspirations for their children.
    • In 1941 her father Joe Kennedy arranged for a lobotomy to be performed. It went terribly wrong and she was worse than before. She was placed in a care facility in Wisconsin for the rest of her long life (she died in 2005 at age 86).
    • Interestingly she was the first Kennedy sibling to die of natural causes (two assassinations and two plane crashes took Jack, Bobby, Kathleen and Joe Jr).
    • The author seems to have little sympathy for Rose and Joe Kennedy. Joe is obviously unsympathetic but one is surprised at Rose's reaction to her daughter.
    • The real hero of the story is younger sister Eunice Kennedy Shriver. She took up the management of care of her sister and ultimately founded the Special Olympics. I think Eunice was the smartest of the siblings. SHE should have been president, not necessarily one of her brothers! But Ted Kennedy was also a champion for the rights of the disabled in his Senate career.
    • The book was quite good focusing on Rosemary. Poor girl would have been so much better off in today's world where all sorts of programs exist for mentally challenged children.
  • We Don't Need Roads: The Making of the Back to the Future Trilogy by Caseen Gaines
    • Interesting book covering the films and their production and impact. It suffers from a lack of interviews with Michael J. Fox and Crispin Glover which makes it somewhat incomplete.
    • I haven't seen the movies in years. They aren't currently streaming on Netflix or Prime but the library has them so perhaps I will have a little film festival in the next month or two.
  • Lafayette in the Somewhat United States by Sarah Vowell
    • Sarah Vowell writes snarky histories that are fun and entertaining to read. This one is about the Marquis de Lafayette, the 19-year-old Frenchman who came to America to fight with George Washington and the gang in the American Revolutionary War.
    • Lafayette was a HUGE hero to early Americans. One fun fact on the book jacket is this: In 1824, when Lafayette visited the United States, 80,000 people cheered as he sailed into the New York Harbor. New York's population was only 120,000. 
    • The French recognized the United States as a separate country which helped the revolution succeed (also leading to the revolution in France partly due to the debt incurred in support of the Americans).
    • I am fairly well-read in history but apparently not so much about the American Revolution. I know the start (Boston Tea Party, Sons of Liberty, Boston Massacre, Concord & Lexington, Declaration of Independence, etc...) but very little about the specific battles (although Diana Gabaldon is slowly covering much of this ground with Jamie and Claire in her Outlander novels). So it was interesting to find out more about the battles themselves.
  • Pearls Gets Sacrificed: A Pearls Before Swine Treasury by Stephan Pastis
    • A collection of about 1-1/2 years of strips with commentary from the cartoonist. I read this strip every day and it amazes me how many of them I don't remember 3 years later.
  • Troublemaker: Surviving Hollywood and Scientology by Leah Remini
    • Leah Remini loudly and publicly broke with the Church of Scientology a few years ago and this is her own expose' of the Church's activities. 
    • She is loud and straightforward which makes this a fun read even though I have actually seen her in only two things: a "Friends" episode and on "Dancing with the Stars". 
    • One of the more entertaining celeb memoirs.
  • Thing Explainer: Complicated Stuff in Simple Words by Randall Munroe
    • Randall Munroe writes and draws a science comic strip called XKCD described on the website as "a webcomic of romance, sarcasm, math and language". Yep, right up my alley. (The site is xkcd.com.) 
    • This book include his drawings and schematics explaining the workings of various machines and phenomena using the 1,000 most common words in the English language. Dishwashers, washing machines, microwaves ("food heating radio box"), Mars vehicles ("red world space cars"), the International Space Station, the Large Hadron Collider, etc...
    • The book is large, 9x13 inches, and most of the words are small. I am old so this was hard on the eyeballs after a while!
    • It's cute and the diagrams are fascinating but after a few pages the novelty wears off and you just want to know the real names of things. That said, the Periodic Table of the Elements ("the pieces everything is made of") was awesome.
  • Pacific: Silicon Chips and Surfboards, Coral Reefs and Atom Bombs, Brutal Dictators, Fading Empires, and the Coming Collision of the World's Superpowers by Simon Winchester
    • The sequel to Atlantic: Great Sea Battles, Heroic Discoveries and a Vast Ocean of a Million Stories. No, not really but just as entertaining to me. It will be interesting to see if he follows up with Indian or Arctic. Ha!
    • There are essays on topics like the atomic bomb testing on Pacific atolls (displacing the native populations), how surfing got a boost from the movie "Gidget", the history of the Sony Corporation, Australia's place on the world stage, and Mount Pinatubo's eruption causing the United States' abandonment of military bases in the Philippines (allowing China to ramp up their activities).
FICTION
  • Heap House by Edward Carey
  • Foulsham by Edward Carey
  • Lungdon by Edward Carey
    • This is a young adult series, almost steampunk in some ways, taking place in the London area in the 1800s.
    • It is the story of the Iremonger family. At birth they are assigned a "birth object" as a lifelong companion. It could be as small as a button; it could be as large as a fireplace. One Iremonger member, Clod, can hear voices coming from each object, each saying a name. A new servant girl named Lucy arrives and so begins a 3 book adventure story. I really enjoyed it.
  • The Hired Girl by Laura Amy Schlitz
    • A 14-year-old girl named Joan runs away from a cruel father and finds work as a hired girl in Baltimore for a Jewish family in the 1910s.
    •  Joan is the narrator via her diary entries. The ending is predictable once you read about a character's new school but that's okay. Joan is a wee bit too naive but of course she is because she is a sheltered farm girl with little education so it's hard to fault her for that! I wish the story had gone father though rather than wrapping everything up in a brief epilogue.
  • Romeo and Juliet and West Side Story by William Shakespeare and Arthur Laurents & Steven Sondheim
    • This book has the play of "Romeo and Juliet" followed by the play "West Side Story".
    • The movie is slightly different in that scenes and songs are rearranged to work for film better. For example, Riff sings "Cool" in the stage play BEFORE the rumble and Ice and the gang sing "Gee Officer Krupke" AFTER the rumble. It's kind of non-sensical to have a comic song after one of your friends has just died. The movie also cuts out the more risque language: Anita's singing "Don't matter if he's tired as long as he's HOT" vs. "as long as he's HERE" and Tony and Riff's lines of "Womb to tomb" and "Sperm to worm" that they will always be friends.
  • Perchance to Dream: Selected Stories by Charles Beaumont
    • Charles Beaumont wrote a bunch of short stories that were turned into several "Twilight Zone" episodes. Each of these stories, even if not adapted for that show, has a "Twilight Zone" feel to it.
    • The saddest thing is how Charles Beaumont died when he was 38 years old of some unknown disease or diseases. In his mid-thirties he began to ail in various ways, including loss of his mental faculties and then he began to age rapidly. His son said his father looked like he was in his 90s when he died. 
  • The Bazaar of Bad Dreams by Stephen King
    • The latest book of short stories. Some are pretty creepy in true Stephen King fashion. Very entertaining.