Sunday, August 31, 2014

Books read in August 2014

There's a lot of books listed here, most of the month was vacation for me.  And maybe also because I'm a compulsive reader.

Picture: nothing I was crazy about.
Middle reader:  West of the Moon
YA: Perfect Fifths (but only if you've read books 1-4 in the series).  If I Stay (which was a re-read) Noggin, which was bizzare and awesome.  Also the first 3/4 of Say What You Will.
Grownup:  Gone Girl.
Nonfiction:  The Family Romanov.

Picture Books

The Pilot and the Little Prince
Peter Sis
Read for Librarian Book Group
For some reason, there were three different levels (and fonts) of text on nearly every page in this book.  It was confusing and made the information very inaccessible.   Overall, a very frustrating book and one that people had trouble coming up with anything nice to say about it.

The Adventures of Beekle
Dan Santat
Read for Librarian Book Group
Cute story of Beekle, who is waiting to be someone's imaginary friend.

Middle Readers

I Kill the Mockingbird
Paul Acampora
Read for Librarian Book Group
Solid (and short) tale of three friends who plan a gurulla campaign to get people to read Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird.  Good adolescent transition (from eighth grade to high school) group of three friends novel.

Deborah Wiles
Read for Librarian Book Group
A big book, but it turns out that most of it's girth is due to pages that are mostly picture.  Interspersed with  history lessons is an interesting story of a white girl who witnesses Freedom Summer events in her own Mississippi town.  A solid historical fiction read, if reader can get past the number of pages.

West of the Moon
Margi Preus
Read for Librarian Book Group
Aside from being a beautiful book to look at, this is also one of my favorite books read this month.  Beautiful weaving of traditional Norwegian fairy tales with the narrative.  I also enjoyed the historical data in the afterward. 

Young Adult
Second Helpings
Megan McCafferty
We're back again for another year with Jessica Darling, this time her senior year.  Will the push-pull with Marcus be resolved in a satisfactorily way? (Pre-reading)  I'm guessing no, because there are three more of these. (Post reading) Just as satisfying as the first book.

[I think at this point in the five-book series, the library starts shelving them in the adult fiction section, but I'm putting them here because we started out as YA]
Charmed Thirds
Megan McCafferty
Books three, four and five I read on vacation and they've all mostly blended.  McCafferty does a good job letting her characters grow up.  Sometimes the continued inclusion of high school acquaintances strains credibility, but otherwise this is a solid series.

Fourth Comings
Megan McCafferty
Books three, four and five I read on vacation and they've all mostly blended.  McCafferty does a good job letting her characters grow up.  Sometimes the continued inclusion of high school acquaintances strains credibility, but otherwise this is a solid series.

Perfect Fifths
Megan McCafferty
Books three, four and five I read on vacation and they've all mostly blended.  McCafferty does a good job letting her characters grow up.  Sometimes the continued inclusion of high school acquaintances strains credibility, but otherwise this is a solid series.

The fifth book had the advantage of being a book-length conversation between Marcus and Jessica.  It was the perfect payoff.

Say What You Will
Cammie McGovern
Ah yes, this book.  Which was so incredibly good. I particularly liked the slow build of friendship between Amy (born with cerebral palsy) and Matthew (currently pretending he doesn't have a pretty extensive OCD problem).  I loved this book a lot (thanks Danielle!) and was excitedly telling people about it before I was done.  Which is a hazard sometimes, because books can turn on you.  This one did. It went on much too long with an entirely unbelievable and unnecessary plot development in the last third of the book.  However, there were so many good things about this book (it was funny, there was friendship and very complex social structures, good and bad times) I can't not recommend it.

John Corey Whaley
Read for Librarian Book Group
16 year old boy dying of cancer chooses to end his life early so his head can be frozen and attached to a better body when technology improves sometime far in the future. He's thinking it will be 100 years or so, but when he comes back, only five years have passed.  Great conundrums throughout.  A solidly enjoyable read.

If I Stay
Gail Forman
Quick re-read before the movie viewing.  Still good.

This One Summer
Read for Librarian Book Group
Graphic novel written and illustrated by cousins about a girl and her summer at the lake with her family.  Packed with many telling details and a hilarious summer friend.

Grown Up Novels
The Chronology of Water
Lidia Yuknavitch
Read for Kenton Library book group.
Good writing, interesting story.  My edition came with an interview with the author which was enlightening.  Our paperback came with a modesty panel, although I didn't realize until our discussion that's what it was.  It was so well integrated into the design that I never noticed that there was a naked breast underneath.  I should tell you more about the book itself than the cover design and extras, but I'm feeling lazy.  Good writing, interesting story, like I led with.

Gone Girl
Gillian Flynn
Expertly plotted suspenseful novel. I was hooked.  The diatribe about "cool girls" will stay with me for a very long time.


The Family Romanov
Cadice Fleming
Read for Librarian Book Group
This was a very good book, an easily readable history of the last Czar of Russia and his family as well as the social and political developments which brought about the family's end.  I enjoyed how so much history was imparted in a way that did not drag or bog down in details.  I came away from it thinking what a solid read it was.  Then we talked about it a few weeks later in book group and I remembered vividly so many scenes which caused me to revise my initial "very good" to "fantastic."

Stubby the War Dog
Ann Bausum
Read for Librarian Book Group
World War I dog who becomes a mascot for his unit.  Manages to impart the horrors of war without scarring the children who will read this for either research or pleasure.  Good text-to-picture ratio and compelling story.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Found in library book.

Rebecca Pepper McKenna checked out Gone Girl before I did.  She also picked up three other holds.  Now we know.

Postcard from Minnesota.

This postcard is not correctly oriented.  So sorry. But it's from regular commenter Sara.She got this postcard while staying in W Hotel, St. Petersberg. It's very shiny looking.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Mural Done

Here's our finished product.  I find it odd, but not annoying or offensive.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

HabitRPG Back to School Tips #5

One final way you can use HabitRPG to improve your life.

Gear is fun.  Drops are fun.  Pets are fun.  Mounts are fun.  Badges are fun.

And the most fun of all?  You get all this stuff for accomplishing things. That's me, up there on the left with a Base Dragon Mount and a Cotton Candy Blue Wolf  I'm a Healer at level 80 with 26 perfect days, badges for all manner of things including one for Annoying Friends.  I have hatched 119 pets and 57 mounts. I'm a Beastmaster.  I have all sorts of gear which I can switch out on my character's avatar when I'm bored which is almost never.

It's the small things in life that really make or break you.  I may have been annoyed by people at work for most of the day, but I come home, check off most of my dailies, knock out a few to-dos and finally, finally hatch that Zombie Flying Pig mount.  Guess what is a more memorable part of my day?

Habit makes not-so-interesting things much more fun.  It makes you a better you.  It's free.  You can go on quests with other Habit users (Like me).  Habit will make your life better.  What are you waiting for?

Interested and intrigued?  Join HabitRPG today. It's free.

New columnist bugs.

We used to have the Ethicist, which was a great column, but like many good things in the Oregonian, the Ethicist dissappeared.  Olive Gallagher has appeared and I'm always amused how she prints letters that praise her or agree with her.  I find this so off-putting, I have trouble paying attention to what she's saying.

That's a lot of "no"

Outside the back book drop for the Library.  
No PGE (Portland General Electric)
No CTL (Century Link--phone and Internet)
No NWN (Northwest Natural--natural gas)

I wondered why we needed to know this and also who does this locating.  Is it a separate company from the utilities?

Monday, August 25, 2014

HabitRPG Back to School Tips #4

Yet another way Habit can make your life easier.

Habit keeps your schedule for you.

Maybe it's just me, but I have certain days I have to do certain things.  Wednesday and Saturday are laundry days, Sunday and Tuesday are double-cook nights.  On Saturday I vote in Flimspotting's Poll and on Wednesday I renew library books.  Do you know how I remember to do all that?  Habit tells me.

I have my dailies set up so they only happen on the days they are supposed to happen.  Some of them are more "weeklies" or "biweeklies" than dailies, but Habit lets me roll with it.  It's great to come home, log onto Habit and have it remind me what I need to do for the night. 

Interested and intrigued?  Join HabitRPG today. It's free.

More mural.

Our Viking-type friend has now been joined by a very large snake.

Jockey's Slip Shorts.

In the quest to live life without chafing thighs, I purchased Jockey's Slip Shorts.  They are light and breathable and not at all restrictive like Spanx and other girdle-type shorts are.  I loved how they fit, they were very comfortable.

Unfortunately, the "slip" turned out to be a verb and not a noun.  Those shorts would not stay in place.  Wearing them under my uniform dress, I had to hike them up roughly every six steps.  And that's too much adjusting of underwear in public.   I tested to see just how far they would slip down by walking to the store without hiking them up.  I hadn't gone a block when they had crawled down to my knees and I resorted to holding them up at knee level to keep them from ending up around my ankles.

There was no clear sense of sizing either.  In the dressing room I tried on LG, XL, XXL, XXXL in different colors and lengths and all seemed to fit exactly the same.  I went with the smallest size I tried on.  Maybe I should have gone smaller?  Or maybe this product needs to go back to the drawing board.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

HabitRPG Back to School Tips #3

More ways that HabitRPG helps you to keep your life easy.

Do you need a nag? HabitRPG can be your nag.

Put anything you need to remember on the To-Do list.   Right now, sitting right at the top is my reminder to buy cat food.  Because I log into Habit at least once per day, that reminder to buy cat food is sitting right where I need it to be to keep it in the forefront of my mind.

As time passes, the the task changes color, ending in a very grumpy looking red.  However, when you finally complete your grumpy red task, you are rewarded with gold.  Gold that can buy gear.  And non-tangible rewards are quite fun.

Interested and intrigued?  Join HabitRPG today. It's free.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

HabitRPG Back to School Tips #2

Continuing with Back-to-school tips for Habit RPG.

Today's tip is:

Why not get something for all the boring stuff that's part of modern life.

So you have to empty the dishwasher every day.  Or deal with a bunch of emails so your inbox isn't overflowing.  Or shower.  Or brush your teeth.  Or even go to work.  Why not make those tasks a daily or a habit, so you can have the satisfaction of checking off your task and getting the reward of gold or possibly an egg or potion drop. 

Sure, there's satisfaction in getting the job done, but there's also satisfaction in getting the job done, checking off the task and then using your gold to buy some limited edition gear.  We both know which one of these things is better.

Interested and intrigued?  Join HabitRPG today. It's free.

Finding efficiencies in food.

One of my goals this summer is to find efficiencies in food.  As such, I have been tracking how much it costs to produce the food I eat.  I've discovered that in general, my daily food costs between $7.00 and $11.00 in ingredients.  This is interesting to know and lets me know that there is no way in hell I can keep eating the way I do and reasonably have a monthly food budget of $150.00.  Which I knew, but I didn't really know, know, if you know what I mean.
So far, the best efficiency I have discovered (which again, I knew, knew, but this really brought it home) is to break down your own chicken. It's so much cheaper!  Do you want to pay $2.52 per chicken breast* rather than $5.99 per pound?  Buy the whole chicken, divide it up and package.  Voila!  Much cheaper.  

Here's what I do.  I line the toaster oven roasting pan with aluminum foil and oil that.  I set out a plate, a plastic bag from the produce section, a cutting board and a container for the freezer.  I also make sure the dishwasher is empty and hope the cats are fast asleep.

The plastic bag is for holding the bag that the chicken comes in and the pad that is with the chicken to absorb moisture.

I pop the legs off first and separate the drumstick from the thighbone.  I sort of knew how to do this anyway, but I watched a few YouTube videos to refresh my memory. Drumsticks go into the roasting pan, Thighs go on the plate.  You can debone, but I leave bone in.

I cut off the wings (still a bit tricky) and put them on the roasting pan.  Then I slice into the breast and pull out the wishbone (which is incredibly fun, my favorite part) and cut down the back which gives me the breasts still joined.  The back goes into the container for making stock.  

I cut the breasts down the middle and sometimes debone them, sometimes not.  They go on the plate too.

Then  rinse off the cutting board (and usually shoo away the cats who are bugging me) put it in the dishwasher. I wash my hands and doing my best not to get chicken juice anywhere, wrap the pieces on the plate.  Those go into a plastic bag in the freezer and the plate gets rinsed and put in the dishwasher.

The container with the back goes into the freezer too.  

The drumsticks and wings I cook right away using this recipe.  Most chicken recipes in my world are for thighs or breasts, not drumsticks.  Matt gets the wings (which he loves and I don't) and I get the drumsticks.  

This is a pretty sweaty process the first few times you do it, but becomes automated after about the third time.  I also enjoy it because I remember watching my mother do this when I was a child and being totally grossed out.  She told me it was cheaper than buying the parts and I remember thinking I would just buy the parts when I grew up.  I'm happy to master the technique instead.

*Just to be clear, I buy meat at New Seasons.  So it's more expensive than standard supermarket prices. 

Friday, August 22, 2014

HabitRPG Back to School Tips #1

Remember me talking about Habit RPG?  I'm still using it and it's still helping me accomplish a lot.  Here are five days of "Back to School" tips for how Habit can make your life easier.

Today's tip is:

Habit helps you automate regular tasks, especially ones that only happen on certain days.

I do my best to keep up with my banking, because keeping track of what I spend helps me not spend money.  But I've always been good at putting off this task.  Until I used Habit's ability to specify dailies (which are daily tasks) on only certain days.

Instead of failing at building the habit of updating my banking every day (because who wants to do that?) I changed my habit to a daily of "banking no more than three days out" and designated the days the task needs to be done as Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.  This means that not only do I have some leeway (if it's Thursday and I updated on Tuesday, I can successfully check off the task) but that the task is done often enough it doesn't become overwhelming, but not so often I never do it.

Interested and intrigued?  Join HabitRPG today. It's free.

Walk to work. The sunrise edition.

It has become apparent that if I can keep up these one-per-week walks to work through the school year, it will probably be dark for most of them.  Let's watch the light change as the sun rises.

This was an amazing amount of cars parked.  I think there were five.

Squash growing up!

Delacata on one side, Butternut on the other.  This was a most impressive parking strip garden, but apparently the owner was not at all thrilled with people helping themselves because s/he had posted a very passive aggressive sign about how much work s/he spends every week and the produce is for "MY FAMILY!!!!"  Signs like that make me want to take stuff too.  But I didn't.

Pretty black-eyed susans.

Renovation!  Maybe I will be able to find this house again and report on the finished product.

I love how they just cut it off.

Kitten!  Cat, really.  But cute.

Pretty red flowers.

Poem from the Poem Booth.  You can read it here.  

This was a block length (at least) hop scotch grid.

I liked that they attached the slide to the porch steps.

I wanted to see how far the hopscotch went on this side of the block, but had to be getting to work.

Nice stone and hens and chicks.


This is a house that hangs out on the overhang below Interstate, just at the top of the  hill.  I'm worried it is not long for this world, given that everything looked very overgrown and there seems to not be siding on it anymore.

Here is the parking spot.  

I'm glad to see that someone is finally renovating this building as I have always loved  it.

Later in the day, I found myself behind the satchel brigade.

Three sentence movie reviews: Bernie

This was the second in our Richard Linklater double feature and I still loved it as much as the first time.  I think Jack Black would have made a great musical picture star* if that was still happening in the movie world today.  I think the scene where the guy at the lunch counter explains the different parts of Texas to us is my favorite of the locals.

Cost:  Netflix DVD prince
Where watched: at C & M's.  M declined to watch this one and actually didn't watch it.

poster from:

*As observed by someone, perhaps Richard Linklater.

Three sentence movie reviews: Dazed and Confused.

During a discussion of Boyhood, my friend mentioned she had never watched Dazed and Confused and we made plans to remedy that situation, pronto.  While I had seen this several times in the 90s and early 2000s* it had been a good decade since my last viewing.  This time around I found the soundtrack incredibly intrusive,** but I loved the passage of high school knowledge among the "generations"*** and really enjoyed the amount of detail packed into every frame.****

Cost:  free via Netflix on demand.
Where watched:  at C &M's with C.  M said he would just watch a little, but ended up staying for the whole thing.  Good thing too, because he was the one who finally pointed out Renee Zellweger to me.

poster from:

*I owned it on VHS and lost it when I brought it to my job at Bread and Circus to lend to a friend. He left it on the counter in the Bakery and when he next worked his shift it was gone. Crappy thieving Bread and Circus coworkers.  I paid $5.00 for that previously viewed at Blockbuster.
**does EVERY single scene change need to be introduced by another 70s rock classic?
***Senior to sophomore.
****"Is his belt buckle a bong?" C said to me after the famous scene.  It was.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

More mural.

Our grey object seems to have a face now.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Postcard from New York.

Tara my boss sent this to me.  They visit family on Long Island every summer, and on this trip they went to the Empire State Building. After that, they walked through the West Village looking for Taylor Swift (one of her daughters is a fan) but no luck.

Morning surprises: Kittens! Mural!

Oh my gosh, two of them, sitting in front of a fence on the way to the Max train.  They froze when they saw me and bolted through the hedge into the cat wonderland that is the former City of Roses Motel.  (Chain link fence all around, flat ground, depressions with copious amounts of weeds growing.) There was one already waiting for them, so there were three!  Three kittens!
Sadly, I suspect they are feral. 

And, blooming on the side of a building, is the beginning of a mural.  That would be the grey thing on the left.  The exposed brick is the historic painted sign for the first indoor car dealership in Oregon.  The building was required to preserve it when they did the renovation.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Three sentence movie reviews: What If?

I'm going to start by saying this is a horrible title, so bad that even after I saw the movie I kept seeing the title and thinking, "What's that movie about?"*  However, aside from the forgettable title, I greatly enjoyed this movie that let Daniel Radcliffe be his very short self** and did me the great favor of introducing me to Zoe Kazan who was so very good I would like to see her in a multitude of things in the next decade before she ages out of the female actress demographic.  If you enjoy witty banter and can recognize the Toronto skyline,*** this movie is for you.

Cost: free due to gift card.
Where watched:  Lloyd Center 8 (the one in the mall) with maybe 4 other people because it was a sunny and warm August Sunday.

poster from:

*Not only when I would see it in movie marquees, but even when it was in my own blog roll!  So I knew I'd seen it, but couldn't quite remember what movie it was.
**First time I've ever seen that for a male lead.
***It turns out I cannot recognize the Toronto skyline, so I spent a good 45 minutes driving myself crazy trying to decide in which big city they were living.  When I recounted this trouble to the clerk at Fred Meyer, he said, "Doesn't Toronto have that unique round building displayed prominently?"  And I had to admit that I did not at all associate that unique building with the Toronto skyline.  But now I do.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Postcards from California & Nevada

This is from regular commenter Jan who observes "I'm not totally sure what 'she' is going to get but it sort of looks like she wants it."

This is from Cindy, she of the fabulous wedding last summer. It's from Great Basin National Park and Cindy said no one was there.  However in Zion National Park, everyone in the world was there. 
 Keep that in mind when planning your next summer vacation.

Farmers Market and Buffalo Bill Days.

Buffalo Bill days had many things, including an outhouse race.

This gentleman in the hot dog costume wanted us to buy fresh made donuts.  He did what any teenager enthusiastically overselling things will do:  cartwheels. I bought a twist and man, was that a good donut.  It rivaled Blue Star Donuts and that is saying a lot.

The teenager sitting in the window noticed me and waved before I could take the picture.

I tried out these chairs, which were so incredibly comfortable, I wished to pack one up and carry it back to Portland with me.

E with her donut sample.

They had Civil War reenactors.

E examines walking sticks that are also flutes.

L sat with me on the comfortable chair.

Patrick, after nearly getting hit by one of the walking sticks, helps E choose one to try out.

I was fascinated by the family and took many surreptitious photos of them.

This youngster told us all about the cannon.

He had great cheekbones.

E got to hold one of the cannon balls. (Cue the Breeders)

I enjoy a good label and am happy to know this is where the windshield washer fluid is kept.

Not a warning you will see on a civilian vehicle.

Big truck.

Patrick looking into a humvee.

There were pony rides!  E and L meet one of the ponies.

Also on this trip I learned that when you are around small children, you tend to acquire things.

An excellent juxtaposition of customer t-shirt and vendor sign.

These guns were really great.  I bought one.

Patrick takes a shot.

Headed for the pony rides.

They were still getting the ponies saddled.

Hipster cowboy.

The cheerful owner.

These girls were interested, but ultimately, only one of them rode.

E and Patrick.

L and Heather.


Working teenagers.

When we walked back through, there was another outhouse ready to be pushed in the contest.
So ended a great trip.  Thanks to Heather, Patrick and the girls for funding and hosting me.  It was so wonderful to see them and their slice of army life.