Thursday, June 23, 2011

Dad vs. Cell Phone

We've been busy this spring, in part because my dad suffered a fall at our rental house and broke his heel. He was in the hospital for nearly two weeks (with one surgery) and then spent six weeks at a rehab facility here in town. All told, he was away from home for eight weeks, and he was so happy to be home.

But I wasn't letting him get away without a cell phone anymore. We bought a fairly simple flip phone and added him to our plan. Here's how it went:

Week 0: I plug in the phone to charge it, program my number and those of several relatives and friends into it, and try it to make sure it works. I explain how to call and tell him that because we're all AT&T subscribers, he can call my cell phone at any time for free. He can also make use of some of our shared minutes if he wants, and we have lots of spare night and weekend minutes he can use. Under no circumstances, however, is he to call his friend in England and talk for an hour. I leave with instructions for him to unplug the phone when the light turns green. (The red light/green light thing is brilliant. Works just like his cordless drill charger. Glad we went with this phone.)

Week 1: Dad learns how to call me.

Week 2: He calls me again. Makes sure to ask if it's still free for both of us. Yep, still free.

Week 4: "I was driving to Valpo and there was a train, so I thought I'd call."

Week 5: Phone runs out of battery and turns itself off. Fortunately, I am there to tell him to charge it.

Week 6: A text message arrives. Panic ensues.

Week 7: He can't figure out how to answer when I call, so he waits for it to stop ringing and calls me back. "The green button says CALL...." I can't really help him without seeing the phone (just like I couldn't help with the text), so I suggest that maybe he can answer the phone by opening it? We haven't determined yet whether this works.

Gotta love engineers. He could probably take apart and reassemble the thing perfectly, but using it is another story. It is awfully cute to see him wandering around with it, though.

Thursday, May 27, 2010


Steph and I just got back from an 11-day trip to England. We went with her mom to visit Steph's sister Stacy, her husband Roger, and their daughters Annabelle (almost 2 1/2) and Penelope (7 months). They live in the small town of Upwell, which is about 25 miles outside of Cambridge. We spent eight days there and a day and a half in London. We stayed in the most wonderful little B&B in the small town of Little Downham called Bury House; it was in a house that dates from the 1700s, and it was beautiful. The bed was very comfortable, the breakfasts were incredible, and everything smelled good. Also, they had five chickens in the yard who supplied eggs for breakfast.

Among the things we saw were the town of Ely, the city of Cambridge (complete with punting down the river), the Queen's country estate at Sandringham, Bircham Windmill, the Norfolk lavender farm, the beach town of Hunstanton (on the North Sea), the Church Farm Stow Bardolph rare animals farm, and Castle Rising. In London, we saw the British Museum, took a double-decker bus tour, and stopped by the Charles Dickens museum (in a house where he once lived) briefly as they were closing.

My favorite thing that we saw (other than Stacy, Roger, Annabelle, Penny, and their adorable off-white miniature poodle who is sometimes known as Goya and sometimes known as Puppy) was Castle Rising. The stonework was fascinating, and it was interesting to me that on a warm afternoon, some rooms were quite warm and some were very cool. We could learn a lot about passive solar heating from this structure. I also liked the spiral staircase and the layout of the rooms. We did not get to see Westminster Abbey because they weren't open when we were in London.

I enjoyed all the little differences between England and the US. (Roger asked us what things annoyed us about England, and we couldn't come up with any.) Some things I noticed:

* About 95% of the cars are stick shift. Almost no one parks their car in gear. (Why is this?)

* Diet Coke tastes different. Not enough for me to think it's a different soda, but slightly different.

* "Are you all right?" there means the same as "How are you?" here. I only figured this out after I saw a cashier ask it of the guy in front of me in line; I was relieved because I thought we somehow looked awful every day at breakfast -- our B&B proprietor asked us that every morning.

* When people asked, we would tell them we were from Indiana. Everyone knew that that was in the Midwest. I was surprised; I didn't know that much about the geography of England.

* Tea is everywhere. So is ice cream.

* England smells good. That may be partly because we were there when the lilacs were blooming -- I felt very lucky to experience an extra lilac season this year -- but in general, there are lots of pleasant smells.

* There is nothing cuter than a toddler with a British accent.

* The city of Ely has no actual movie theater but manages to support three small yarn shops. We visited them all.

We're still recovering from jet lag (though it wasn't as bad for me this time). All the flights were good except that I had terrible ear pain on the last leg of the flight home. We were fortunate to have a good friend petsitting for us, and all the creatures and the house were very well taken care of while we were gone. Lucy has been a little extra affectionate this week, which is nice because I missed her.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

First blog post of the year

So I've been a little behind on updating things around here.

This year I had only one New Year's resolution: to pass my Adult Bronze moves in the field test before September 1, when several elements on the test will change.

We began to focus primarily on the moves test in my lessons last June, and I decided not to skate in three competitions last fall because I finally started making progress on the moves and I didn't want to start working on my program again and lose the gains I'd just made. I decided to compete in Wyandotte in January, as I usually do, and we found out that they'd be having a test session in conjunction with the competition. It made sense for me to test then, even though my coach couldn't go, as I'd be there anyway and there would be other adults testing at the same time.

I'm pleased to report that I skated well during the test and I passed! My crossovers felt good, and I did some of the best left back outside edges I've ever done on the back crossover to back held edge pattern. (Part of that was because I didn't have to worry about running into anyone during the test.) One of the judges said I looked relaxed, which surprised me, as I didn't feel relaxed.

I did, however, feel quite relaxed during the competition later in the day. The warmup felt like any other practice, and I had fun skating my program. I'd been spending so much practice time on preparing for my test that I'd only run the program with music three times since I competed it last March, so I knew it'd be a little rough, but it wasn't terrible. We're working on getting some of the transitions to be smoother before sectionals on March 13.

In other news, I've finished two books on my Fill-in-the-Gaps list (Treasure Island and Wide Sargasso Sea), and I read a total of 25 books last year. I'm ahead so far this year, as I've finished three already. Knitting is going well -- I finished a cowl and several dishcloths, and I'm working on a baby blanket for our impending nephew. We celebrated the seventh anniversary of Lucy's adoption day last week. (I told her the story of how she was adopted and there was catnip for everyone.)

And now I'm caught up.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Sunday, August 09, 2009


Whoops. I haven't posted in almost two months. I keep Tweeting and Facebooking everything I would normally blog.

The summer is flying by. Steph and I are taking a knitting class, which has been lots of fun. I've always wanted to learn to knit, and it's as much fun as I expected. In class, we're making sweaters, and outside of class, I'm trying to finish a bloblike thing that I've decided is a blanket for Spike. I'm hoping that he will like it despite its odd appearance. After that, I want to try my first sock, and I have a pattern for a kitchen rug that looks easy and interesting.

In other news, we got a scooter yesterday. It's a Buddy 125 and it's made by Genuine Scooter Company. It should get 90-100 miles per gallon, which I'm excited about. Steph and I both got motorcycle permits, and we'll take a safety course and get our licenses within a year. I'm currently afraid of turning corners on the scooter, but I'm reasonably good at traveling in a straight line so far. We also got high-quality retro-looking helmets. (I want my head to remain in one piece.)

Our garden has begun to produce vegetables. We've had several radishes, some small carrots, a few cucumbers, and some zucchini, including one that is larger than the dog. (The dog weighs more, but the zucchini is longer.) I blanched and froze some zucchini, and I'm going to make zucchini bread this afternoon. Really. I am.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Just a dream

My coach has been out of town for a couple of weeks, and I've been working on my Bronze moves in the field again. That's the next test in the adult stream; I have to pass it before I can test Bronze free (which I'm not ready for yet). Last night I had a vivid dream that I went to the rink in the morning for a lesson and I found that my coach had signed me up for a test session without my knowledge. (I don't think this could actually happen, but apparently it could in my dream.) I decided that I may as well test even though I didn't feel ready, and to my surprise, I passed. Tomorrow I'll have to see whether my dream improves any of the moves in real life.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

My favorite David Letterman Top Ten List

One of the local radio stations used to read the David Letterman Top Ten List from the night before during my morning commute to work. My favorite one was "Top Ten Greatest Books of All Time About Guys Named Steve," and I found it online and sent it around in an e-mail. Unfortunately, I lost the e-mail in the Great Hard Drive Crash of 2002, but I Googled it tonight and found it.

Top Ten Greatest Books of All Time About Guys Named Steve

10. "War and Peace and Steve"
09. "The Seven Habits of Highly Successful Steves"
08. "The Grapes of Steve"
07. "The Steves of Wrath"
06. "Steve Grapes Steve Wrath Steve Steve"
05. "Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus, Steve Is From Cleveland"
04. "Where's Waldo? Is He With Steve?"
03. "Time Life Mysteries of the Unknown, Volume VIII: 'Mysterious Guys Named Steve'"
02. "The Joy of Sex with Steve"
01. "The Bible" (King Steve Version)

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Project Fill-in-the-Gaps

For an English major, I've always felt that I'm not particularly well read. When I got 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die, I checked off the ones I'd read, and I scored a miserable 29. (I've since read 5 or 6 more.)

I was pleased to find a new challenge over at Editorial Ass. Moonrat, inspired by her friend Andromeda Romano-Lax, made a list of 100 books she wants to read to fill in some of the gaps in her coverage of "classics and great contemporary fiction." The time limit is five years, and they both gave themselves "25% accident forgiveness," which means that if they finish 75% of the titles on the list, they'll consider themselves to have completed the challenge.

I'll start today with my own list, so I aim to finish by April 2, 2014. This leaves time for me to read plenty of other interesting books along with these. When I made my list, I started with the lists from the first and second editions of 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die and a list from the Guardian of 999 notable books of some sort (I forgot to save the title of the list!). At least 97 of the 100 books on my list come from there. In addition, I limited myself to only one book per author. Here's my list.

  1. Things Fall Apart – Chinua Achebe

  2. Hitchhikers' Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams

  3. The House of the Spirits – Isabel Allende

  4. Lucky Jim - Kingsley Amis

  5. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings - Maya Angelou

  6. I, Robot – Isaac Asimov

  7. Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen

  8. Fahrenheit 451 - Ray Bradbury

  9. Wuthering Heights – Emily Brontë

  10. The Master and Margarita – Mikhail Bulgakov

  11. The Pilgrim’s Progress – John Bunyan

  12. A Clockwork Orange – Anthony Burgess

  13. Tarzan of the Apes – Edgar Rice Burroughs

  14. Naked Lunch – William Burroughs

  15. Possession – A.S. Byatt

  16. The Stranger – Albert Camus

  17. In Cold Blood – Truman Capote

  18. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland – Lewis Carroll

  19. Don Quixote – Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra

  20. The Awakening – Kate Chopin

  21. Lord Jim – Joseph Conrad

  22. Last of the Mohicans – James Fenimore Cooper

  23. The Red Badge of Courage - Stephen Crane

  24. Robinson Crusoe – Daniel Defoe

  25. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? – Philip K. Dick

  26. David Copperfield – Charles Dickens

  27. Out of Africa – Isak Dineson (Karen Blixen)

  28. Crime and Punishment – Fyodor Dostoevsky

  29. The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

  30. The Three Musketeers – Alexandre Dumas

  31. Silas Marner – George Eliot

  32. American Psycho – Bret Easton Ellis

  33. The Invisible Man - Ralph Ellison

  34. The Sound and the Fury – William Faulkner

  35. Tender is the Night – F. Scott Fitzgerald

  36. Herland - Charlotte Perkins Gilman

  37. Memoirs of a Geisha – Arthur Golden

  38. Lord of the Flies – William Golding

  39. The Thin Man – Dashiell Hammett

  40. Return of the Native – Thomas Hardy

  41. Catch-22 – Joseph Heller

  42. The Old Man and the Sea – Ernest Hemingway

  43. Les Misérables - Victor Hugo

  44. Brave New World – Aldous Huxley

  45. The Turn of the Screw – Henry James

  46. A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man – James Joyce

  47. The Last Temptation of Christ – Nikos Kazantzákis

  48. Kim – Rudyard Kipling

  49. Dangerous Liaisons – Pierre Choderlos de Laclos

  50. Lady Chatterley's Lover - D.H. Lawrence

  51. Get Shorty – Elmore Leonard

  52. Main Street – Sinclair Lewis

  53. The Call of the Wild - Jack London

  54. One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel García Márquez

  55. Life of Pi - Yann Martel

  56. Of Human Bondage – William Somerset Maugham

  57. The Heart is a Lonely Hunter - Carson McCullers

  58. Atonement – Ian McEwan

  59. Moby-Dick - Herman Melville

  60. Gone With the Wind – Margaret Mitchell

  61. Beloved – Toni Morrison

  62. Lolita – Vladimir Nabokov

  63. Nineteen Eighty-Four – George Orwell

  64. Doctor Zhivago – Boris Pasternak

  65. The Bell Jar – Sylvia Plath

  66. The Godfather – Mario Puzo

  67. All Quiet on the Western Front – Erich Maria Remarque

  68. Wide Sargasso Sea – Jean Rhys

  69. Portnoy’s Complaint – Philip Roth

  70. The Satanic Verses – Salman Rushdie

  71. Contact – Carl Sagan

  72. The Little Prince – Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

  73. The Catcher in the Rye – J.D. Salinger

  74. The Reader – Bernhard Schlink

  75. Ivanhoe – Sir Walter Scott

  76. The Jungle – Upton Sinclair

  77. One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich - Aleksandr Isayevich Solzhenitsyn

  78. The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas – Gertrude Stein

  79. East of Eden - John Steinbeck

  80. A Sentimental Journey – Laurence Sterne

  81. Treasure Island – Robert Louis Stevenson

  82. Dracula – Bram Stoker

  83. Uncle Tom’s Cabin; or, Life Among the Lonely – Harriet Beecher Stowe

  84. Gulliver’s Travels – Jonathan Swift

  85. The Magnificent Ambersons - Booth Tarkington

  86. Vanity Fair – William Makepeace Thackeray

  87. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas – Hunter S. Thompson

  88. Walden – Henry David Thoreau

  89. The Hobbit – J.R.R. Tolkien

  90. Anna Karenina – Leo Tolstoy

  91. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer - Mark Twain

  92. Around the World in Eighty Days – Jules Verne

  93. Candide – Voltaire

  94. The Color Purple – Alice Walker

  95. Infinite Jest – David Foster Wallace

  96. Ben-Hur – Lew Wallace

  97. The War of the Worlds – H.G. Wells

  98. The Picture of Dorian Gray – Oscar Wilde

  99. The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test – Tom Wolfe

  100. Mrs. Dalloway – Virginia Woolf

In the interest of full disclosure, I've read about half of Dracula and maybe 60 pages of The Hobbit, and I may have read part of A Sentimental Journey in college, but I don't remember much, if anything, about it. I'm starting this evening with Wide Sargasso Sea.

Friday, February 06, 2009

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Photos and updates

I'm a little behind in my blogging again. My synchro team, Cincinnati Style (sorry, no Web site this year), skated well at Fraser in late January despite only having skated three practices together as a team. (One skater on the team was injured, which left them without have enough skaters to compete. In an effort to recruit an additional skater for the rest of the season, they ended up recruiting three.)

In our category, Open Adult, we tied for fifth out of nine teams. (The tiebreaker gave us sixth place.) We were thrilled, as we thought we'd surely be ninth. Here are some pictures of us on the ice.

Here we are doing footwork in a circle:

This is a pinwheel, again with footwork:

Here is a tri-spoke:

This is part of a block that moves down and across the ice:

We have another competition (Tri-States) in two weeks; we've worked hard on polishing the program and adding footwork, changes of hold, and other touches. I'm thrilled to report that the traveling circle doesn't scare me anymore, and I think we're improving each week. It's wonderful to skate on a team again -- it pushes me out of my comfort zone and makes me a stronger skater, and I love being part of something that's so much more than any one of us can do alone.

A week after Tri-States, I'm competing at the Deborah Burgoyne North American Invitational in Wyandotte, MI. This all-adult competition is friendly and fun. I'm working on a new program, and my goal is to skate the entire thing in time with the music. (And remain vertical, of course.)

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Random tidbits

1. We have named the Rabbit. His name is Eddie.

2. Phoebe doesn't seem to be bothered by Eddie. I drove her to work last week and she behaved perfectly.

3. Wii Fit is tremendously fun and cool. Except the part where it is mean to you when you skip a day. It will let you add activities, but not to previous days, so I couldn't find a way to tell it that I had spent FOUR HOURS at synchro practice on Sunday and there was NO WAY I was going to be able to drag my sorry ass onto that balance board afterward.

4. I'd like to thank the lady at Michael's who told me the secret to crocheting dish scrubbies. They're made of tulle. Who knew? Turns out we have quite a bit of it left over from the wedding, so I tried it. I learned that 4" is too wide, but 2" should work. The scrubbie I made is a little dense, but I think it'll still work okay.

5. Huckleberry is playing kitty soccer with one of Spike's bones. Seriously.

2009 resolutions

1. Read 45 books or more this year, 15 or more of which are on the 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die list.

What the heck -- let's try this again.

2. Lose most of the 34 pounds I gained in the past two years.

My goal is to fit back into all of my pants. We have recently begun to use our new Wii Fit, so I hope it will assist me in this goal. I will also eat more fruits and vegetables and not so many cookies, chips, and the like.

3. Keep doing 50 pushups, flutters/Supermans, and situps every night.

Every night that my arms aren't KILLING ME from FOUR HOURS of synchro practice, that is. I joined a synchronized skating team in Cincinnati that lost a skater recently to a knee injury. They were desperate to find a replacement because they no longer had enough skaters to compete. I forgot how sore your arms get when you hold them up for two hours at a stretch!

4. Consistent loop.

Or, failing that, a semi-consistent loop. I'd be happy with one in ten right now -- I haven't seen my loop in months. If you happen to discover it wandering around Cincinnati or Michigan somewhere, please send it back. I miss it.

Last year's resolutions: Update

1. Read 45 books or more this year, 15 or more of which are on the 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die list.

Nope. I only made it through 31 books, and only one of them is from the list. The upside of this is that I can't die!

2. Use up another three bottles of perfume.


3. Save money toward the Smart car and our wedding.

I mostly succeeded at this resolution. Both the Rabbit and the wedding are paid for, though our emergency fund isn't as robust as I'd like.

4. Increase my daily pushups and situps to 50 each.

I achieved this, along with slowly adding 50 Supermans (also known as flutters).

5. Go out for lunch only once per week at work.

Well, it wasn't only once per week, but over the year I averaged less than twice per week.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

It's been a while...

...so I'll hit the highlights.

We replaced the smart with a 2009 Volkswagen Rabbit, which we both love. We got a good trade-in value on the smart, and I think it's found a new home, as it's not on the dealer's Web site anymore.

My tenants moved out. We need new ones. I'm considering hiring a property manager. Last weekend we stripped the wallpaper from the downstairs bedroom, and I'm going to go paint it this coming weekend. It looks better already.

We delivered the art car to my niece a couple weekends ago. I spent about three hours teaching her to drive a stick, and it went pretty well with the exception of the clutch lasting a mere three days. They got it fixed, and she's doing pretty well with it. The only places we didn't finish were the roof and the edges of the front bumper where it wraps around on the sides, and she's been working on it some with her friends.

I've been skating more now that the rink at the state fairgrounds (where my club is based) is open for the season. Tonight I centered a bunch of spins (usually they're not that consistent), and this week my waltz jump improved as well.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

A smart decision

After much soul-searching, Steph and I decided to sell the smart car.

Why? Well, to put it bluntly, I don't love him.

I got in him a couple weeks ago and realized that I didn't want to drive him for the next 200,000 miles. I still don't like the transmission, despite a "lesson" from the dealership about how to drive it (they concluded that I was doing it right all along), and that's a deal-breaker for me. I don't need to have a car that's perfect; I don't even need a particularly luxurious car. I do, however, need to enjoy driving it. Buzz is cute, and he has some nice features, but the things I like about him (the CD changer in the dash, the auxiliary input jack, the outside temperature readout, the versatile cupholders) are readily available on other cars, cars that have non-annoying transmissions. (For the record, I think the smart car should have the option for a manual transmission. I understand that other people may not have a problem with its transmission; I just don't like it.)

It's a good time to sell Buzz: There's an 18-month wait for a smart car at the dealership. Also, yellow was discontinued for 2009, so it'll only be available if you order an extra set of panels.

You can see our eBay listing here. The reserve is significantly less than the Buy It Now price, although if you want to buy it for $22K, I won't say no.

I'm open to suggestions for alternate cars. We've test-driven several models, but we haven't made any decisions yet. For now, I still have the Honda, although I'll be giving it to my niece when she gets her license this fall. I also have Phoebe -- she's not going anywhere! -- and I can drive her in the meantime while we search for another car. I'm not restricting myself to new cars; a used car would be fine. I strongly prefer a manual transmission, and good gas mileage is also a major consideration. We'd like to stay in the same price range (or under -- I'd love to have extra money left over to add to the emergency fund).

Friday, July 18, 2008

NYR update

1. Read 45 books or more this year, 15 or more of which are on the 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die list.

I've been reading a little more lately, mostly quality stuff.

2. Use up another three bottles of perfume.

Doing well on the second bottle.

3. Save money toward the Smart car and our wedding.

Now that we have a smart car and the wedding is over, the savings is going toward building the emergency fund back up.

4. Increase my daily pushups and situps to 50 each.

Currently 47 each of pushups and situps and 30 Supermans.

5. Go out for lunch only once per week at work.

We had a stressful week, so we went out three times this week.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Book meme

Meme from Steph.

The National Endowment for the Arts has an initiative you may have heard of called the Big Read. According to the website, its purpose is to "restore reading to the center of American culture." They estimate that the average adult has only read 6 of the top 100 books they've printed.

Here's what you do:
1) Look at the list and bold those you have read.
2) Italicize those you intend to read.
3) Underline the books you LOVE. (I'll bracket them because Blogger doesn't do underlines.)
4) Reprint this list on your own blog.

1 Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen
2 The Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien
3 Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte
4 [Harry Potter series - JK Rowling]
5 [To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee]
6 The Bible
7 Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte
8 Nineteen Eighty Four - George Orwell
9 His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman
10 Great Expectations - Charles Dickens
11 [Little Women - Louisa M Alcott]
12 Tess of the D'Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy
13 Catch 22 - Joseph Heller
14 Complete Works of Shakespeare
15 [Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier]
16 The Hobbit - JRR Tolkien -- started it
17 Birdsong - Sebastian Faulks
18 Catcher in the Rye - JD Salinger
19 The Time Traveller's Wife - Audrey Niffenegger
20 Middlemarch - George Eliot
21 Gone With The Wind - Margaret Mitchell
22 [The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald]
23 Bleak House - Charles Dickens
24 War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy
25 The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams
26 Brideshead Revisited - Evelyn Waugh
27 Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky
28 Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck
29 Alice's Adventures in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll
30 The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame
31 Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy
32 David Copperfield - Charles Dickens
33 Chronicles of Narnia - CS Lewis
34 Emma - Jane Austen
35 Persuasion - Jane Austen
36 The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe - CS Lewis
37 The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini
38 Captain Corelli's Mandolin - Louis De Bernieres
39 Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden
40 Winnie the Pooh - AA Milne
41 Animal Farm - George Orwell
42 The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown
43 One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
45 The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins
46 Anne of Green Gables - LM Montgomery
47 Far From The Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy
48 [The Handmaid's Tale - Margaret Atwood]
49 Lord of the Flies - William Golding
50 Atonement - Ian McEwan
52 Dune - Frank Herbert
53 Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons
54 Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen
55 A Suitable Boy - Vikram Seth
56 The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon
57 A Tale Of Two Cities - Charles Dickens
58 Brave New World - Aldous Huxley
59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time - Mark Haddon
60 Love In The Time Of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
61 Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck
62 Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov
63 The Secret History - Donna Tartt
64 The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold
65 Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas
66 [On The Road - Jack Kerouac]
67 Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy
68 [Bridget Jones's Diary - Helen Fielding]
69 Midnight's Children - Salman Rushdie
70 Moby Dick - Herman Melville
71 Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens
72 Dracula - Bram Stoker -- partway through right now
73 The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett
74 Notes From A Small Island - Bill Bryson
75 Ulysses - James Joyce
76 The Bell Jar - Sylvia Plath
77 Swallows and Amazons - Arthur Ransome
78 Germinal - Emile Zola
79 Vanity Fair - William Makepeace Thackeray
80 Possession - A. S. Byatt
81 A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens
82 Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell
83 The Color Purple - Alice Walker
84 The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro
85 Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert
86 A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry
87 [Charlotte's Web - EB White]
88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven - Mitch Albom
89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
90 The Faraway Tree Collection - Enid Blyton
91 Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad
92 The Little Prince - Antoine De Saint-Exupery
93 The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks
94 Watership Down - Richard Adams
95 A Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole
96 A Town Like Alice - Nevil Shute
97 The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas
98 Hamlet - William Shakespeare
99 [Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl]
100 Les Miserables - Victor Hugo

My score: 23/100

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Blogging from another country

We're in Canada!

I didn't have much time to blog much about the wedding planning, but it all paid off -- our wedding was amazing. I can't remember ever being happier than I was during the ceremony, except for possibly the day after our first second date, when I learned that Steph liked me back.

This is the second day of our honeymoon in Toronto. Yesterday we walked around a lot. We went to Barbara Ann Scott Park, where there's a round outdoor rink; I stood on the concrete where it would be in the winter. We shopped at Winners, which is like a TJ Maxx or Marshall's, and I got a cute flowered shirt. Steph got a hat at Le Chateau, and I liked a shirt there but didn't want to pay $50 for it. We bought a small stuffed moose because we completely failed to bring any monkeys with us (except Hector, but he's too big to carry around and photograph). Maybe they'll forgive us if we bring them a new friend. We bought a book at Indigo about how to be Canadian. We walked through several other stores and had a good time looking around, and we found a brick labyrinth and walked it. We both thought of putting one in on an empty lot in our neighborhood; I'll mention it to the board when I get back. We had dinner at Elephant & Castle, which was just okay -- I mean, what kind of place fries their pretzels?! -- and we saw the movie Baby Mama in the evening.

Today we took the subway to Union Station and then walked to CN Tower. The view there was really neat even though it was overcast. I especially liked looking down on clouds. After we had our fill of admiring the view, we took a tour at the nearby Steam Whistle Brewery. It's a microbrewery that brews one kind of beer and does so in a very green fashion. The bottles are made with 30% more glass so they can be used 30 to 40 times, whereas regular bottles can only be used 10 to 15 times. All the energy used there is provided by wind turbines and hydro power. In addition, they have one of the only women brewers in North America. After we rode the subway back to the hotel, we ate dinner at an excellent Vietnamese restaurant, and now we're hanging out in the coffee shop downstairs at our hotel.

Tomorrow we go to City Hall at 2 pm to get married!

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Check engine light saga

The smart car started it all by throwing a check engine light on the way to work a couple Mondays ago. I called the dealer and made an appointment to have it looked at over lunch one day, and I decided to drive Phoebe the next day, both because I thought I'd give Buzz (Steph named him 'cause he looks like a bumblebee!) a rest and because I didn't want Phoebe to get jealous. Apparently I didn't reassure her enough that I still love her, or I mentioned too loudly in the parking lot that the Roswell show has been cancelled this year, or she just wanted to fit in, because she came up with a check engine light of her own on the way home.

I took the smart in and they diagnosed a bad part in the mechanism that blows warm air over the oxygen sensors in the exhaust pipe at startup -- it's the whirring noise that lasts fifteen seconds or so when you turn the car on. They had to order the part, so I dropped the car off last Friday and it was repaired under warranty. I made an appointment for Phoebe for this past Monday for the CEL, the window regulator from the Roswell trip, the battery fuse box that melted in California, the lid of the battery case that I cracked one cold winter day trying to get it to snap shut, and the brake light safety switch recall. Meanwhile, Steph called on her way to work today -- her truck has a CEL too, so I made it an appointment at Tune Tech for this Friday.

$806 later, I picked Phoebe up this evening (they wouldn't cover the $321 window regulator because I'd already had it done before) with an operational window, a clean throttle body, some new vacuum hoses, and a new battery fuse box and case. And yes, she was probably mad about me leaving her there for two days after she was done, so the CEL showed up on the way back home. Either that or the damn things are contagious. I'm kind of afraid to get in the Honda tomorrow.

Friday, April 18, 2008

NYR 2008 update

1. Read 45 books or more this year, 15 or more of which are on the 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die list.

I'm not making much progress on this goal. I'm on my way to finishing book #5, so I would need to finish 40 books in the next 8 months. Yikes. To my credit, though, I've been busy planning a wedding.

2. Use up another three bottles of perfume.

I finished up the first bottle this morning, and I'm partway through another (I've been alternating perfumes for variety).

3. Save money toward the Smart car and our wedding.

We've managed to save some money, but this wedding thing is expensive!

4. Increase my daily pushups and situps to 50 each.

My coach added "Supermans" to my daily routine. In this exercise, you lie on your stomach on the floor and lift your arms/torso and legs off the floor at the same time. It's going to help me arch my back for sit spins. I'm up to 25 of those and 44 each of pushups and situps, so I've made good progress here.

5. Go out for lunch only once per week at work.

I'm averaging more like one and a half to two times per week (the salad bar at Marsh counts as half).

smart car arrives!

Our smart car arrived on Monday, and we picked it up on Tuesday afternoon. They had it sitting back in a bay by itself, and we spent quite a while poking around it and playing with its various features because our sales guy was running behind. It's so cute!

Our New Smart Car

I like it very much for the most part -- it's easy to drive and very cute. The interior is laid out pretty well, too, and the clear panel in the roof is a nice feature.

Everywhere we go, people stare and ask what kind of car it is. My co-workers were so excited that they called a 3:00 meeting in the parking lot so I could show it to them. We proved that it's roomy enough for tall people, that it has a loud horn, and that you can fit a medium-sized guy in the hatch if you need to.

It's been ten years since I got Phoebe, and I'd forgotten how fun it is to get a new car. Steph and I have been trading off driving it to work. She keeps apologizing when she gets to drive it -- she thinks she's keeping it from me somehow -- but I'm just glad she likes it. I hope to keep it for many years, so we'll both have plenty of opportunities to drive it.

The car only has a few flaws: its transmission, the quality of its parts, and the lack of rear speakers.

The "automated manual" transmission shifts quite slowly, and if you take off with any speed at all, the car nose-dives with each shift. It behaves better if you shift it yourself in manual mode, but the car can't decide what gear is appropriate at city street speeds. It constantly asks to be shifted up or down with an arrow that appears in the instrument panel, and there are some speeds at which no gear seems quite right.

When he was showing us how to open the hood, the hatch, and the engine cover, the sales guy emphasized how careful one must be with various parts of the car. It seems that many people have broken parts of the car already, as they're quite fragile. Also, the engine cover (which must be removed to check the oil) is nearly impossible to release. It requires you to press down on it with your full body weight while leaning over the hatch to be able to turn the screw. I successfully managed that only once, and I wasn't ever able to get it to screw back into place.

The sales guy had the attitude that I shouldn't worry my pretty little head about checking the oil, telling me that I should instead just bring it in once a year for an oil change. I'm pretty sure that if the car began to burn oil and the engine was harmed before that next yearly oil change, the smart company wouldn't be sympathetic to my story that the sales guy said I didn't have to check the oil. (I reminded him that the manual suggested that I check the oil each time I buy gas, and he said that that was just the manual and I didn't have to worry about that.)

I ordered the car with the $350 premium stereo package. The mp3-capable 6-CD changer and integrated auxiliary jack are great, but there are no rear speakers. The sound very obviously comes from in front of you, and the bass is distorted even at the +2 setting (out of 7) . My 15-year-old stock Honda radio that plays my iPod through a cassette adapter in a deck that needs cleaning sounds better (except for the one speaker that rattles).

Other than those things, it's quite fun to drive and it's completely adorable. I hope Phoebe isn't jealous when I get her out this weekend and introduce them.

Monday, April 07, 2008

The beginning of the art car

This weekend I began to attach the bottle caps to the Honda. I started on the door with the dent in case my adhesive didn't work, but it seems to be holding up well. Before I stuck the caps to the car, I sprayed them inside and out with a clear gloss Rustoleum paint that will hopefully keep them from rusting. The adhesive is 100% silicone caulk, and it needs 24 hours at a temperature of 40F or above to cure. I'd planned to adhere one cap as a test, but once I got started I didn't want to stop, so I did 15 on Saturday and 55 more on Sunday. 70 down, 12733 to go...

Thanks to Steph and Douglas for the photos.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

To clarify about organic fruits and veggies...

In my previous post, I intended the lists to serve as a reference for organic purchasing; I wanted to put my scrawled-on-a-paper-towel notes in one place so that I could access them when I make decisions about which produce to choose or substitute. I didn't at all mean to minimize the importance of organic food or the food we're getting.