Sunday, December 12, 2010

Why I'm a Compulsive Reader

I would like to offer this explanation of why I read so much. I can't help it.

Seriously, it's an occupational hazard. What happens is this, I'm at work, minding my own business, just buying new books for the library when I run across book titles like the ones listed below. Now, you tell me if you don't just really want to read a few of them...

How Many Friends Does One Person Need? Dunbar's Number and Other Evolutionary Quirks
by R.I.M. Dunbar can only have 150 friends. I can't help but want to know why...and then mentally count up who my 150 friends are...(they certainly include anyone who actually reads and comments on my silly little blog)

The Secret Life of Your Cat: Unlock the Mysteries of your Pet's Behavior
by Vicky Hall
I don't actually want to read this...I don't really understand wanting a pet, let alone wanting to understand your pet. But I still think it's a great title for a book.

Cinderella Ate My Daughter: Dispatches from the Frontlines of the New Girlie-Girl Culture
by Peggy Orenstein
I MUST read this book. The title is amazing and the whole idea just screams to be investigated.

The Man Whisperer: A Gentle, Results-Oriented Approach to Communication
by Donna Sozio
Does this book remind anyone of a little movie titled "When a Man Answers"? I have no intention to read this book...but, again, it still intrigues a little.

The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating
by Elisabeth Tova Balley
I am reading this book right now and it is pretty good. Not as good as it's title, but that is really close to being the best title I've seen in months...ever since "Here's Looking at Euclid".

Science of Kissing: What Our Lips are Telling Us
by Sheril Kirshenbaum
Don't laugh...I am sooo excited to read this book! It "explores the act of kissing from a scientific perspective, from the history of kissing to how it differs in different cultures to the effects of lip gloss..." Good stuff, eh?

The Pot and How to Use It: The Mystery and Romance of the Rice Cooker
by Roger Ebert
I'm totally not making that up!

Creative Paper Jewerly
by Dafna Yarom't know what to say. I didn't know there was paper jewelry...and I don't actually intend to find out about it....but look at that necklace!

Atlas of Remote Islands: Fifty Islands I Have Never Set Foot and Never Will
by Judith Schalansky
Totally sounds like my kind of travel book! Learn all about a beautiful new place without having to deal with all the sand and sunburns.

Moby-Duck: The True Story of 28,800 Bath Toys Lost at Sea and of the Beachcombers, Oceanographers, Environmentalists, and Fools,
Including the Author
by Donovan Hohn
Love it. Totally makes me think of another book I really wanted to read this year and never got around to..."Slow Death by Rubber Duck: The Secret Da
nger of Everyday Things".

We, Robot: Skywalker's Hand, Blade Runner, Iron Man, Slutbots, and How Fiction Became Fact
by Mark Stephen Meadows
Brilliant title...but the reviews didn't actually make it sound all that interesting. The title is a bit misleading.

Well, anyway there are just a few books that caught my eye this past week. I probably won't get around to reading most of them...but I want to, and that is what keeps the pile of books by my bed so tall. And keep in mind, these are just the nonfiction books, fiction titles can be just as say "Dukes to the Left of Me, Princes to the Right."

But I think I've made my point.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Book Reviews...I'm Way Behind!!

So, I haven't kept up on this, so I thought I'd catch up tonight. I haven't LOVED anything recently...but I've read some good stuff and some dumb stuff. More complete reviews at:

Blind Descent by James Tabor
If you don't have claustrophobia before reading will after.

Defending Angels by Mary Stanton
Silly supernatural mystery waste of my time.

Cookbook Collector by Allegra Goodman
Not squeaky clean, but I really liked it and would recommend it.

I'd Know You Anywhere by Laura Lippman
Seriously fascinating novel about a girl kidnapped by a serial killer.

Roses by Leila Meacham
Not bad but its plot was a little too much like a soap opera for me.

Thin, Rich, and Pretty by Beth Harbison
Kinda annoying and really pointless.

Earth (the book) by Jon Stewart
He's funny...inappropriate, but funny.

Maybe This Time by Jennifer Cruise
I really loved this quick little piece of chick lit.

A Secret Kept by Tatiana De Rosnay
Not nearly as good as her 'Sarah's Key' that I read last year.

Proofiness by Charles Seife
This book convinced if I wasn't convinced already...that statistics presented by politicians, reporters, and corporations are all complete crap.

Women, Food, and God by Geneen Roth
Some parts presented interesting insight into addictive behavior..but the rest was too much like the last yoga class I attended...I have no idea what it means to "center yourself in your core."

Rich Boy by Sharon Pomerantz
I didn't like this book...almost as much as I really didn't like the protagonist. I haven't wanted to reach into a novel and strangle a character so much in a long time.

Naked Heat by Richard Castle
A novel spin-off from the ABCs Castle...not great literature...but it's fun anyway.

Great House by Nicole Krauss
Huge disappointment. I loved "A History of Love" and this was just great writing with a really lame story.

Sisters from Hardscrabble Bay by Beverly Jensen
Just strange...and depressing.

Colorado Kid by Stephen King
Strange story, but a great taste of King's amazing writing without the gore or freakiness.

Lock Artist by Steve Hamilton
This was a great psychological thriller...well not thriller, thriller....but it was still a page-turner.

Oh, No She Didn't by Clinton Kelly
100 fashion faux pas..only a few of which made me start freaking out...he tried to convince me to throw away my hoodies...I still believe they are appropriate sometimes. It's cold and they are comfy!!

I'll Mature When I'm Dead by Dave Barry
He's still funny!

The Distant Hours by Kate Morton
Really not as good as 'The Forgotten Garden', but I liked it.

The Girl Who Fell From the Sky by Heidi Durrow
Short book that really stuck in my head. Terribly well written.

The Wave by Susan Casey
Tow surfing sounds like the scariest thing ever....I'll stick to boogie boarding.

The Disappearing Spoon by Sam Kean
Science is crazy...scientists are crazier!!

At Home by Bill Bryson
Bryson is always brilliant. He's the king of the tangents and I love him for it!

The Hand that First Held Mine by Maggie O'Farrell
A surprisingly tender tribute to motherhood.

Okay...that's it! I'm too tired to add cover art...I doubt anyone will actually read all this anyway :)

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Halloween at the Library

I experience scary moments in the library year round. But this Halloween brought a couple of special treats.

First, a story about me and a little old man who likes to hang out at the library all day. He seriously looks like this old man from the Pixar short.

Old Man: Do you dress up for Halloween?
Carla: Not usually.
Old Man: You should dress up as a cat.
Carla: Excuse me?
Old Man: It would be perfect for you. Just draw on a little nose and some whiskers.
Carla: Um...interesting. I'll keep that in mind.

Well, needless to say, I didn't dress up as a cat. And I kinda forgot about the interaction as one of those quirky conversations I so often find myself in. (Right after this one...some guy came up and told me I looked ill. But at least I didn't look tired...right?)

Anyway, yesterday the little old man returned for an encore...

Old Man: Did you dress up as a cat?
Carla: No. I didn't.
Old Man: Why not? You would make a perfect pussy cat.
Carla: Um...I'm not really sure how to take that. I'm not really a cat person.
Old Man: Oh...not a cat. A pussy cat.
Carla: Meaning....?
Old Man: Well a cat that doesn't scratch or bite...just rubs up against your leg purring.
Carla: (speechless)

First of all, if you know me at know my personality is so far from a "pussy cat" this whole story is frankly hysterical. And second, it's creepy...right?

Moving on.

I did actually dress up for Halloween, but only because I pretty much had to for work. We presented our first ever Teen Book Fest and had YA author extraordinaire Scott Westerfeld as a keynote speaker. The event was fantastic and we had over 800 people there.

The only downside was that I did have to dress up. So, for weeks before the event, I spent hours putting together my costume. I had the pith helmet already and just built the steampunk (Westerfeld's latest books are all steampunk) costume around that.

Anyway, it turned out really well. The most impressive part...I sewed the shirt, vest, and pants all by myself (with a little help from my mother on the pants and the button holes...'cause she loves me).'re impressed aren't you...I know I am.

I kinda consider myself a 4-H success story since I haven't really sewn clothing since high school...just crafty stuff which I think is totally easier. (And I don't count the Von Trapp costumes as sewing....I didn't even use a pattern on those and they barely held together for the ward party.)

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Some of My New Favorite Things

First of all, a super great co-worker (AM...are you reading this?) pointed out a website titled Catalog Living at . So, on this site, they take pictures out of catalogs and make up captions for them as if people actually lived in them. Totally hilarious.

Also, just to make my day, yesterday I received my favorite catalog in the whole world. It's called Heifer International and you can buy animals for
communities in third world countries. The concept is actually really great...but for some reason the idea of buying "Pigs as Presents", "Heifers for the Holidays", and the "Gift of Goats" makes me giggle.

The best is that you can give the "Gift Ark" which includes 2 cows, 2 sheep, 2 camels, 2 oxen, 2 water buffalo, 2 pigs, 2 beehives, 2 goats, 2 donkeys, 2 trios of ducks, 2 trios of rabbits, 2 trios of guinea pigs, 2 flocks of geese, 2 flocks of chicks, AND 2 llamas!! (Only $5,000!!)

And finally, I love the Old Spice guy commercials...and the BYU parody was great...but, that's not all! Now I found a Grover it is! (This is totally for you Marla!!)

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

My Favorite Sign in the Whole World

I've seen a sign like this before, but I still get a kick out of it whenever I see a new one. This one is located on my route home from work and it always makes me smile and feel just a little better about myself.
I kinda wish I could hang one around my neck, but I don't think anyone else would get it. I think it's the word "Gorgeous"...not pretty or special or beautiful...."I'm Gorgeous Inside!"

Aren't we all?

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Feeling a Little Nostalgic?

I was reading a newsletter the other day at work and ran across this website. It's called the YouTube Time Machine. You just give it a year and it gives you a youtube video from that year.

It's an excellent time waster! And who doesn't need a good time waster every once in a while?

Monday, September 13, 2010

Book Reports

Remarkable Utah Women
by Christy Karras
This is a collection of short biographies of over a dozen remarkable women from Utah's history. I should have expected it, but I was surprised how much polygamy played a leading role in the lives of most of the women. Really interesting and a quick read. I highly recommend for book clubs!
The Postmistress
By Sarah Blake
This was a really interesting work of historical fiction and I'm not really sure how to even describe it. It takes place as World War II is beginning but before the United States becomes involved. But the story is really more about several people on both sides of the Atlantic, as they come to terms with the violence erupting in Europe.

Packing for Mars
By Mary Roach
A quirky look at space travel. What I learned was that I do not want to be an astronaut! I don't really like to go camping because of the inconveniences involved. Space travel is a million times worse! Seriously, though.....weightlessness does still sound kinda cool.
By Robert Wittman
This is an autobiography about an FBI agent that specialized in art crimes. I listened to it, and it was okay. An interesting mix of "Burn Notice" and "White Collar"...without the really cute guys (so maybe a little pointless).
The Passage
By Justin Cronin
This book was totally not what I was expecting. The first section really made me think of "The Road" in all it's post-apocolyptic glory. But later it becomes a really exciting adventure story with a little romance and a whole lot of super terrifying vampires. Certainly not for everyone, but I really liked it. Looking forward to the next one in the trilogy.

Book of Awesome
By Neil Pasricha
This book is a collection of posts from a blog called The author writes about the simple but beautiful joys in life like pealing an orange in one piece, going to bed right after shaving your legs, waking up and realizing it's Saturday, and the smell of freshly cut grass. My only real complaint was that every single entry ends with the word "Awesome". Guess what!! The word awesome can be over used. Eventually, I started putting my hand over the last line of the post so I wouldn't have to read that annoying final AWESOME!
The Tower, the Zoo, and the Tortoise
By Julia Stuart
I don't even want to talk about this book. Other than the little bits of fascinating history about the Tower of London this was a complete waste of my time! It had been compared to "Guernsey" but it was soooooo not! Don't read this book!
Blind Descent
By James M. Tabor
Deep cave exploration is a very dangerous hobby. This book talks about a number of teams of spelunkers who were trying to penetrate the deepest cave in the world. I listed to this book on CD, so this may just because of the narrator, but the author seemed to have written each sentence as a cliffhanger and the cavers almost died so many times I could barely keep from rolling my eyes toward the end. But, it was an interesting look into an area of science/extreme sporting that I NEVER want to explore. Logan cave was enough for me!

See!!! Kids can like me!

I don't think it's much of a surprise that I'm not known as a "kid person". They often smell funny, they are loud and unpredictable, and I've just never been super comfortable with them. Even as a teenager, I hated babysitting and was always glad few people ever asked for my help.

However, the last few years I've learned that nephews and nieces are different. They are absolutely adorable and so easy to play with...most of the time. They still smell funny at times, but their little smiles, hugs and "Tarla came in her tar"'s just melt my heart.

I still struggle with kids I'm not related to. But, I'm learning to love them as well....especially the kids in my little Primary class. I'm not really learn to love those you serve. What does surprise me is that, they are starting to like me too. Here is a little note I received from little Jessie in my class:
Isn't that sweet! Of course the week after she gave me this letter I gave a horrible lesson on tithing....complete with tears and a "You explain things weird."

Oh well! Win a few, lose a few!

Monday, September 6, 2010

Rice Krispie Treats 2.0

Months and months ago, I took some Rice Krispie Treats to party thing. I had included a large box of Nerds in with the Rice Krispies and they turned out super tastey. As we were munching, someone (I hesitate to claim the idea was only mine...but it probably was...I can be brilliant that way...while still suprisingly humble about it) suggested we try Pop Rocks! the next time.

Well, it's taken a while, but I finally got around to trying it out and, I'm telling you, they are AWESOME! It takes 10-15 packages of Pop Rocks! and you really should try to eat them as soon as possible...they still pop 12 hours later, but within 24 hours they are pretty much just regular Treats.

Before they go flat, though, they are, "A party in your mouth!" No joke.

Friday, August 27, 2010

For Sale: Little Condo Home

I did it! I met with a great realtor and put my condo up for sale. (Listing Link )

I've been meaning to do this for a while and finally couldn't wait any longer. I have really loved my little condo home. It took me to a great ward and stake where I met amazing people and some of the best friends I have ever had. Plus, I took a roommate along that first year and she met the boy she was supposed to marry...which is just super for her! :)

But, it's time to move on. I am desperate for a garage and a bigger kitchen. My family has grown and now when they come to visit, the cozy living area isn't quite adequate any more. I won't start to seriously look for new homes until mine is sold....but I'm sure that will be fun. (When isn't it fun to spend crazy amounts of money all at the same time on an asset that could crumble to pieces due to earthquake or tornado?)

If you happen to know anyone in Utah County looking for a really great little place, let them know my home is available. With the housing market the way it currently is, I'm not thinking it will go super fast...but we'll see. Keep your fingers crossed!

Monday, August 23, 2010

My Latest Crush

I love spies. I'm not really sure what the appeal is. Could be their uncanny capability to save the damsel in distress (I do love superheroes as well). Could be their nifty gadgets (Batman always was cooler than Superman because of that). Could just be the fact that their exciting lives are such a complete departure from my own mundane daily existence. Or, it could be that, as a whole, they are just plain awesome!

I love them in books, TV, and movies. From Jason Bourne to Michael Weston, from James Bond to the Scarlett Pimpernel...I love them all. Well, I found myself a new spy to admire from afar. Where did I find this new practitioner of espionage? Helaman Chapter 2, my friends!

So, here's the story as I interpret it (keep in mind I watch way too much TV, read way too many books, and have such an overactive imagination that at times I confuse myself with scenarios played out in my mind and real life):

Gadianton and Kishkumen are busy trying to organize their secret combinations and take down the government. Here enters our hero "one of the servants of Helaman" who "obtains, through disguise, a knowledge of those plans." He totally goes undercover to find out what is going on. Super brave and resourceful....very attractive qualities!

Then he happens to run into Kishkumen on his way to kill Helaman. Mr. Superspy gives him the secret sign and gains our villain’s trust by staying true to his undercover persona, going so far as to encourage the murderer with a "Let us go forth unto the judgment seat."

So, off they go on their little assassination mission, Kishkumen "pleased exceedingly". But...this is where things get awesome...Kishkumen never reaches his objective because Mr. Superspy stabs him "even to the heart, that he fell dead without a groan." (Sounds to me like a move totally worthy of Jason Bourne!) The Judgment Seat is saved!

Well, that's all we learn about him. It's only a handful of verses but I plan to hear the whole story sometime because you know there was more to it than that. Until I know the whole truth though, I've created a great adventure for our hero in my mind.

Oh....and in my mind....he kinda looks like Hugh Jackman for some reason.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Book Review Catchup for July & Part of August

I haven't been blogging....but I have been reading. Here's a little catch up. If you want the full reviews, if they aren't included, follow the link to the library's blog.

PCL Staff Review Blog

Sizzling Sixteen
By Janet Evanovich
The series stays strong! Still a little dirty....still totally hilarious. I really loved Lula's new diet...the "One Diet". You can have one of everything. One pea, one apple, one roast, one cake...sounds good to me.

The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake
By Aimee Bender
I still haven't quite decided how much I liked this book. I liked it, couldn't stop thinking about it, even weeks after I finished it. Fascinating premise; a girl who tastes the emotions of anyone who prepares her food. With 'cake' in the title, I thought it would be a little less deperessing, but it was still really fascinating.

By Gail Carringer
This is one of those vampire books I have a strange affection for. This particular piece of fiction is more steam punk than horror, but I really liked it. It's the first in a series. I'm not sure I'll read the others...mostly because I'm trying to avoid dirty-ish books...which this is.

Writing Jane Austen
By Elizabeth Aston
Elizabeth Aston is the author of the "Mr. Darcy's Daughters" series which I actually love. This book is not part of that series and I really wouldn't recommend it to most people. It's kind of entertaining, but the story totally drags and the romantic aspect of the plot is completely unfulfilling.

The Last Dickens
By Matthew Pearl
This, like most of Pearl's literary mysteries, is based on actual facts. An American publisher becomes mixed up in the opium trade while trying to find the unpublished conclusion of Charles Dickens's last piece of fiction. It was good. I recommend to anyone looking for a good clean mystery.

Spies of the Balkans
By Alan Furst
I realized recently, I read a lot of WWII fiction. This one takes place in...surprise!!...the Balkans just before war breaks out. This wasn't a terrific book, but it was good enough. The love story was a little annoying to me...glances across the room lead to true love within moments....kind of obnoxious...or maybe I mean kind of nauseating...

The imperfectionists
By Tom Rachman
This was basically just a collection of short stories which use the common setting of a English language newspaper printing out of Rome. The writing was really good, but I have a hard time getting excited about short stories. By the time I start to like the protagonist...the story is over.

Agent Zigzag
By Ben Macintyre
This is the same guy who wrote "Operation Mincemeat", which I loved. I also loved this book, not quite as much, but almost. This one is about a British/German double agent during World War II.

Graveyard Book
By Neil Gaiman
I've said it before, but it is seriously still should always listen to Neil Gaiman books. He just does a fantastic job of narrating his own stories. This won the Newberry award a couple years ago and is a story about a little boy raised by ghosts in a graveyard.

Here's Looking at Euclid
By Alex Bellos
This is a little tour through the history of mathematics. Sounds boring, but I really liked it. Bellos has a real gift for words, as you can tell by the BRILLIANT title. He also called a horse whose owner claimed could count and do basic arithmatic an "equine Eistein"....had me giggling for days. (I'm easily entertained...and LOVE alliterations!)

Team of Rivals
By Doris Goodwin
I'm a little mad about this book right now. I found out after listening to 8 discs that I was listening to an abridgement of this book! I hate that! I feel so manipulted. Still, it was a good book, Lincoln was a brilliant leader and just a really good man and this is a great review of his presidency.

Pearl of China
By Anchee Min
This is a fictionalization of the life of Pearl S. Buck. I really enjoyed it and learned not only about a really brave woman but also about what was going on in China during WWII and the Chinese civil war that followed.

The Invisible Bridge
By Julie Orrington
I checked this book out 3 times before I actually got around to reading it. But I'm glad I stuck with it. I really enjoyed this story of a young Hungarian Jew during the years building up to WWII and then through the nightmare of the holocaust. Not a clean read, but a really great work of historical fiction by a gifted writer.

Well, that's it. :)

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Jane Slayre

Jane Slayre
By Charlotte Bronte and Sherri Browning Erwin

The plot should sound familiar. A lonely orphan is raised by her heartless aunt until she is sent away to boarding school where she eventually becomes an instructor. She then takes a job as a governess and falls in love with the taciturn master of the house. He, in turn, loves her but their plans to marry are thwarted by the existence of a lunatic wife. “Jane Eyre?” you ask. Not quite. This is the story of Jane Slayre. A lonely orphan, gifted in the art of slaying, who is raised by her vampire aunt until she is sent away to a boarding school that harvests zombies where she eventually becomes an instructor. Naturally, after that, she takes a job as a governess and falls in love only to have her opportunity for happiness stymied by a lunatic werewolf wife.

I am not the biggest fan of Jane Eyre, but I loved this horrified version of her story. I’ll admit the zombies are usually a little much for me, a prefer vamps and weres; however, even that wasn’t able to detract from the enjoyment I experienced as Jane spiked and beheaded her foes while winning Mr. Rochester’s heart. I wholeheartedly recommend this funny spin on a familiar tale to anyone looking to venture into the ever growing world of twisted classics.

I'm On Vacation!!! (and almost rested enough to enjoy it)

I just arrived today in…well, not rainy…but cloudy Seattle and I’m just excited to be here!

As I prepared to leave this week, I found myself trying to put in as many hours as possible in order to limit how much actual time off I would have to take. I know that doesn’t sound especially crazy, but I’ve decided it actually is.

You see, I have plenty of vacation hours. Why then, do I feel a compulsive drive to kill myself working long hours so that when my vacation actually comes I spend the first day just recovering from staying up too late and getting up too early to actually keep functioning? That is just insane!!

It’s like when you start building up a savings account and then, even though you have lived with less money saved up in the bank….it is just torture to deplete that stockpile. If that analogy doesn’t connect with you…how about when you have your favorite treat or dessert and you put off actually eating….saving it for the perfect moment….and then you go to eat it and it has gone bad. (Olloliberry Pies come to mind….)

Anyway, my point is just that I really struggle using up scarce resources even though they are actually a bit abundant…..but what if I need more at some time in the future???

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Who Knew...I Love Mincemeat!!

Operation Mincemeat: How a Dead Man and a Bizarre Plan Fooled the Nazis and Assured an Allied Victory
By Ben Macintyre

Major William Martin’s body was found on a Spanish coastline. He appeared to have died in a plane crash while delivering extremely sensitive document about an upcoming Allied invasion. Though Spain was officially neutral in the conflict, the documents were leaked to German intelligence before being returned to British officials. These important plans were relayed all the way to Hitler himself, who used the information to redeploy German troops to the areas of the impending attacks. Fortunately for the Allied Forces, all the documents found on Major Martin’s corpse were forgeries planted by British Intelligence to dupe the Germans, and Major Martin himself never actually existed.

This is the best spy literature I have read in ages, fiction or nonfiction. Macintyre is an engaging story teller and this is a story well worth telling. The individuals involved are fascinating and the plot is filled with lucky breaks and daring deeds. I can highly recommend this to anyone interested in World War II histories, espionage stories, or students of both human folly and courage.

By David Shenk
In The Genius in All of Us, David Shenk presents new scientific discoveries uncovering a new way to think about IQ and talent. First, he argues for a new way to think about genes and genetics. Where we once thought our genes decided who we are and what we can become, science is now finding that our environment plays an extremely large role in activating those genes and changing how they in turn alter us and our potential. Once the science has been explained, Shenk gives on overview of what this means for us and our children.

Almost half of this book’s 300 pages contain “The Evidence” which includes sources, notes, clarifications, and amplifications. The author’s presentation is convincing and fascinating. What we learn is that while not everyone can become an expert at anything, we are all hardwired to be adaptive to our environment. The right circumstances, drive, and opportunities can create amazing abilities in peoples. It would almost appear that we have more control over our genes than we do over our environment which is a dramatic paradigm shift. This book’s topic reminds me of Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers, but relies more on science to make its arguments.

I Blame the Fact That I Was STARVED!!

Do you ever find yourself in a situation where you really want to do something, but you know that...even though it totally makes sense to you....others may think you are crazy if you actually do it? Well, sometimes....I just have to do those types of things anyway.

So, I'm in a fabric store where I had just selected my 4 bolts of lovely flannel when I found myself at the cutting table with a couple of women in front of me and no store employees on the other side of the counter.

After waiting for what felt like 10 minutes, but was probably only 2, the cutter returned to the table with three large rolls of 2" ribbons. They were for the ladies in front of me and each roll needed to be measured...which is fine. The first roll was unwound and measured (it was 10' long) and then, the store employee proceeded to slowly and meticulously roll the ribbon back onto the spool.

Now, in my mind I'm thinking, "How weird would it be if I offered to do the re-rolling? This is going to take FOREVER!! Will they think I'm rude? Or just nuts?" I'm proud to say I refrained from stepping in....until she got to the second roll of ribbon (8' long) and started re-rolling.

I just couldn't take it anymore. I had to offer my help! There were three of us just standing there staring at the one person who was doing all the work...slowly!

I put on my sheepish, unjudgmental face and said "Could I please roll that up for you?" They all looked at me like I was a little I added "I'm really hungry." They laughed nervously and the employee handed over the ribbon and I happily started winding it back onto the spool.

When it came time to wind the final spool, the lady buying the ribbon actually offered to do it...I felt a little bad...but seriously....I was really hungry and I just wanted to buy my fabric and get out of there.

Fortunately, I don't go there often, but I really do think I was totally justified....I just wanted to help. And in my defense, I was starving to death and I could tell my stomach was eyeing my liver as a possible place to find sustenance....though I wouldn't have eaten anything last night if I thought my stomach could go ahead and start munching on other pockets of stored cellulite....

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Kicking Me While I'm Down...

This is not a "pity me" blog...just in case you were wondering.

However, I had a rough week...and by rough I mean frustrating in a way that will entertain others. I was kind of totally dogged this week by a guy I kinda liked. Nothing big or anything, but it's sad to learn that a hope you had has dried up like the last leaves of autumn and crumbled into nothing but dust...dust that then is blown by the winds of disillusionment and then gets lodged under your contacts and hurts like....well, it hurts.

Anyway, so I was feeling a little down and wouldn't you know it, but the sketchy residents of Provo came to make me feel better. First there was the tattooed, weird facial hair guy that smelled like smoke who asked me to look up his library card number. As I did my little look-up thing, he observed "You don't have a ring on."

"No, I don't." I politely acknowledged.

"Well, does that mean you are available?"

"No," I asserted. "It surely doesn't."

The third depressing "guy" related experience this week found me again at the reference desk. Minding my own business when I noticed that two men (both, I swear in their late 40's) were pointing and giggling like two high school girls. The one I have talked to before (he informed me that when I worked in the old library (10 years ago) they (I have no idea who "they" is) used to call me 'sleepy eyes'....I's that looking tired thing again). Anyway, I just had a bad feeling about the way they were acting, so I got up from the desk to run a few errands hoping to avoid any awkward confrontations.

Well, I was too slow. The guy I didn't know, we'll call him "the friend", says "Hey, ma'am."


"What's your name?"


"Well, my friend," he looked around for his friend who had disappeared someplace. "He's a little skittish....well, he just thinks you're real pretty."

"Um...thanks? That's very nice of him."

"He just thinks you have the nicest eyes."

Again...since I've never really found a good way to say what I was actually feeling which was "The words you are saying are things I would like to hear...but the fact that they are coming from you makes them really depressing." I simply said "That's very nice."

And I made my little escape.

Later I learned that they met up again a few minutes later and the "friend" told his friend that he had "told me I was pretty for him." And...better yet...that I had thought that was really sweet.


Well, my question is....WHY!!!!???? Why do guys I like run away from me like I'm a leprous one eared freak....when really weird guys feel free to hit on me. Someone explain!!

Rich People Are Crazy!!

Richistan: A Journey Through the American Wealth Boom and the Lives of the New Rich
By Robert Frank

Just before the U.S. economy took a brutal beating in 2008, Robert Frank wrote this book detailing the lifestyles of the wealthiest Americans. The spending habits of these multi-millionaires and billionaires (because just having a million dollars now-a-days barely raises you above the middle class) demonstrate a shocking level of consumerism and opulence. And if readers aren’t dazed by the spending, they may still experience feelings of astonishment over the amount of debt people are willing to get themselves into in order to “have it all”.

Before reading this book, I thought I had a pretty good idea of the amount of money the “other half” was spending. But when I read about the $350,000 watches being purchased, I had to take a serious moment to swallow the unkind feelings that may have surfaced. It would be interesting to learn what has changed over the past couple of years since the recent economic downturn. But definitely, the strongest conviction I walked away with was the assurance that if I found myself in possession of a large (or small) fortune, I would surely be a better rich person than most of those described in this book. "I would demonstrate the perfect combination of frivolous and sensible. Money is so wasted on the wealthy!"

Anybody recognize the quote at the end?

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Weekend Reviews

By Sebastian Junger

From the author of The Perfect Storm, comes a new book detailing the lives of U.S. Army soldiers fighting from the most dangerous camp in Afghanistan. What goes through the mind of a man after a bullet ricochets off his helmet? What type of relationships develop between soldiers who continuously trust their lives to each other? How can these men return to civilian life after living on the front lines? Junger tries to answer these and other probing questions, illuminating the sacrifice and courage demonstrated by those fighting for our country.

The author spent months at a time on the outpost eating the same food, sleeping in the same bunks, and venturing out with the company on missions into enemy territory. His observations give a unique look at these men living in extreme circumstances. It’s a look into what we ask of those protecting our interests and the toll it takes on them physically, emotionally, and mentally. I highly recommend this book. Be prepared for the rough language that necessarily accompanies an honest portrayal of Army life. But also be prepared to understand a little better how modern warriors are made.

The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates
By Wes Moore

How are our fates decided? How can one person succeed and another fail when their origins appear to be so similar? These questions are asked in a very powerful way through this dual biography of two boys whose names, family circumstances, and socioeconomic positions are all eerily similar but whose lives lead them in two entirely different directions. One becomes a Rhodes Scholar and the other is sentenced to life in prison. The author summarizes their stories well on the front jack stating “The chilling truth is that his story could have been mine. The tragedy is that my story could have been his.”

In each of the eight chapters, Moore describes events or decisions in both boys’ lives during a single year that led them to their polarized futures. Don’t expect any real answers to what points a kid toward success or failure. What Moore does provide is a very vivid picture of the obstacles young men face as they progress to manhood, especially in our country’s inner cities. Readers gain a timely reminder that our youth need role models and positive influences that give them confidence in their own ability to rise above their circumstances. Moore realizes at one point that “The Expectations that others place on us help us form our expectations of our selves.” A powerful message our society undeniably needs.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Thank Heaven! The worst is behind me...

I was putting together a bunch of family pictures for my Dad's 60th birthday when I came across this gem. It is officially the worst portrait that has or ever will be taken of me. There I am, in the top left corner....terrifying eh? The bad hair can be blamed on the one survived the 80s without a few bad do's...yes, that is a cold sore on my lip... the glasses are what we used to wear...seriously....and I just can't excuse the startled look on my face. Soooo bad!! Maybe I was trying not to blink?? Ever??

I'm proud to be secure enough to post this picture...putting it out there to the ridicule of my family and friends (Melanie and Shayla have already bonded over this). But I'm not so secure that I won't also post a cute picture of me when I was little....because, I was a dang cute kid.
I'm the one smiling on my Dad's lap.

You may be wondering how I know this will be the worst portrait of me...I'll tell you! It's one of the benefits of being a grown-up. I now have a lot more control over what pictures survive to see the light of day. Never again will something like this survive to be witnessed by others! Seriously...I'll destroy memory cards with massive magnets if I have to. :)

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Just a few books I read over the holiday :)

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter
By Seth Grahame-Smith
Grand Central Pub., 2010. 336 pgs. Fiction

As if Abraham Lincoln didn’t have enough stress in his life, what with preserving the union and emancipating the slaves, Grahame-Smith also has him saving the nation from vampires. Abe is first introduced to this dark world of death when he learns that his mother’s terminal illness was caused by his father’s dealings with the undead. He vows to avenge her murder and begins a quest to rid the entire country of all vampires.

This was so much better than Pride and Prejudice and Zombies! The picture of a tall, thoughtful Abe Lincoln wielding a fierce ax as he slaughters the walking dead is surprisingly believable…as far as stories of vampire hunters can be believable. Historic facts are represented as Lincoln struggles with depression and suicide each time he is devastated by the deaths of those nearest to him. If you are looking for an entertaining and light horror read with little language or sensuality but a whole lot of blood and guts, this book may be perfect for you.

Flawless: Inside the Largest Diamond Heist in History
By Scott Andrew Selby & Greg Campbell
Union Square Press, 2010. 319 pgs. Nonfiction.

Is there such a thing as a perfect crime? Probably not, but a group of jewel thieves from Turin came pretty close when they robbed the vault of a building in Antwerp’s Diamond District. They got away with hundreds of millions of dollars worth of diamonds, cash, and jewelry without anyone being aware of their visit to the vault until a security guard opened the building for business the following Monday morning. Some of those involved were apprehended and sentenced to jail time but there are still aspects of the job that baffle investigating officials.

As a fan of heist movies and novels, I didn’t think this true narration was exactly gripping. It was fascinating though. The patience the thieves had over the two years of planning for the theft and then their nerve in actually pulling it off was truly amazing. On the other side of the crime, the authors also describe the actions of victims and law enforcement officers as they face the crime’s aftermath. This is an entertaining true crime story, without the violence that genre often contains.

Fragile Things: Short Fictions and Wonders
By Neil Gaiman
William Morrow, 2006. 360 pgs. Fantasy.

This is a collection of short stories and poems, including a novella featuring Shadow from American Gods. The introduction includes a short explanation for each story telling why it was written, where it was originally published, and any awards it won. Gaiman’s stories contain the dark humor that usually accompanies his work. Fans will enjoy these little morsels, but those not familiar with his other works may find them a bit random.

I listened to a production of this book read by the author, which I’m convinced is the best way to enjoy all things Gaiman. His skills as a writer are enhanced by his narrating abilities. I did not love every story, but I really enjoyed most and I usually dislike reading short stories. A couple of the stories were a little gritty and definitely for a mature audience.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Cars & Computers, aka Things That Should Just Work

Last night, Stacey's car battery died and I took her to Walmart to buy a new one. As we were standing there, looking at a wall of EverStarts and Duralasts, Stacey asked me which one I would buy. Without much thought, I honestly replied, "Oh...I'd have sold the car when it didn't start yesterday." (I've actually done this before....Dad got a real deal 4 years ago on a car he still drives. But I'd like to point out that it was making a funny noise which he finally heard and got fixed after owning it for a few one would believe me!)

This is the thing, I'm not not unhandy or unresourceful. I've done all kinds of DIY projects around the house...I've installed shelving, replaced a light switch, fixed the toilet, and installed my new showerhead. I've repaired a couple small appliances all by myself and I even fixed my treadmill once when it wasn't working right. I love to assemble furniture and basically take a lot of pride in the fact that I am somewhat self sufficient! But when it comes to cars and computers...I just think they should work and if they don't, I just refuse to deal with it.

Last week I was having some issues with my computer. (I have a mac, which I love....I've had it for 4 years and this is the first time I've had problems.) I took it into the store and the tech guy said I needed to update my operating system and install some additional memory. I asked him how I went about doing that and he started explaining what I'd need to do to make the updates. I cut him off midsentence and said, "Oh, do I go about paying you to do all that?" He told me and I gladly paid.

I'm sure this is just an unconscious choice I have not learn to understand these two tools I use daily. I want to believe it's not because I'm lazy or stupid or something....maybe I know I rely on cars and computers so heavily in my life that the thought of them not working makes me panic and my brain freeze up.

Sometimes, I can be such a mystery to myself. All I know is that my car and my computer better keep working or they are gone! Newer, shinier models will always be available...

Saturday, May 15, 2010

The Revival of an Old Crush

Years before Colin Firth jumped into an English pond, I fell in love with Mr. Darcy. I first met him in the old 5 hour miniseries 1985. I actually didn't love Firth's portrayal for a few years, I thought he was a little 'soft'. That first Darcy was super imposing and had a condescending glare like nothing I've seen since, but he also had the best smile by the end of the story....and with that smile I was lost.

Well, years pass and I've found new crushes both literary and real, but there is nothing like finding an old friend again. I seldom reread books, so when I want to return to Pemberly and Netherfield, I find a new version of the old story and lose myself in nostalgia.

Over the last few weeks, I found myself drawn back to Austen's England with a series I've been meaning to read for a long time, "Fitzwilliam Darcy, Gentleman". It's a three volume series telling the whole story over again, but from Darcy's perspective, and I loved it!

I'll admit, it isn't the greatest writing in the world, and the second volume lost some of my interest, but as a was fantastic! I loved the imagined world, motives, and internal struggles Pamela Aidan imagines for our beloved hero.

Anyway, I completely recommend! I was in desperate need of something lighter after several months of heavier reading material, and I'm so grateful I finally decided to pick these up.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

The Tudors & My New Favorite Word

(This is a copy of a post I already posted on my work blog containing librarian reviews...'cuase I'm that lazy!)

The Tudors: The Complete Story of England’s Most Notorious Dynasty
By G.J. Meyer
Delacorte Press, 2010. 612 pgs. Nonfiction.

Of all England’s rulers, the Tudors have proved to possess the greatest ability to remain prominent in the history books. Their relatively short reign, barely three generations, managed to bankrupt the government and establish an unrivaled legacy of brutal tyranny and civil unrest. This work follows the royal family from Henry VII’s unlikely rise to power, to Henry VIII’s six wives and the tumultuous religious war he waged against the Catholic Church, on to his son Edward VI’s short time on the throne, his daughter Mary’s 5 year reign and bloody legacy, and finally to Elizabeth’s forty years in power.

Meyer writes in an entertaining style with a dry humor that kept me tied to the narrative. I did feel that the coverage was uneven; spending a majority of the book telling of Henry VIII’s many intrigues while spending an amazingly little amount of time exploring Elizabeth and her relatively lengthy reign. However, I still recommend this collective biography to anyone interested in English history. The “Historical Notes” that ended most chapters were particularly fascinating and gave excellent glimpses into life during the time period. I, personally, am glad I decided to explore the Tudor dynasty if only to be introduced to my new favorite word, kleptocracy, which was used to describe the political environment Henry VIII established. Totally worth all 20 discs and 25 hours!

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Did you hear the one about the cat?

My Grandma Zollinger suffered from Alzheimer's. It was hard to watch her fade, but we were fortunate in that she was able to continue living next door with Grandpa for a long time before she needed 24 hour supervision. That doesn't mean we didn't notice signs of her slipping sanity. She would forget conversations or events soon after they occurred and that would sometimes lead to humorous situations....sometimes it's better to laugh to keep from crying.

Anyway, my favorite Grandma story from this time period is the one about her cat.

I don't believe she met the cat alive. Grandma encountered the cat only after its death, but she really did love that thing. She found it some place out on the farm and immediately decided it should spend its afterlife walking along the gate behind her house. I hadn't realized we took a picture until recently. And here it is.

This is Melanie and Stephanie posing with Grandma's cat. If you can't tell, that is a rib bone from a cow that Grandma used to prop the cat up...Grandma was always resourceful.

She was seriously so fond of this cat standing on the gate. We did convince her to move it off the gate and onto the fence and slowly moved the thing North until it was behind the well house. It seemed like a good idea....just to keep from freaking out the neighbors.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

I had a pair of worn out jeans...

Ever have a little decision turn into something huge? Well, this is what happened to me almost a year ago. I had a pair of worn out jeans and realized that I actually had several pairs. So, I thought I'd make a denim quilt....since you can never have too many of those. But I wanted this one to be different, something really unique.

I searched online and found a really neat pattern for a circle quilt....which I decided was what I was going to make. Twelve months later, I have finally finished the stupid....I mean lovely...quilt.

Here are some pictures of it. It is big enough to fit a queen sized bed....which may have been a mistake....There are 650 circles....I went through 11 spools of thread...I quickly stopped counting the bobbins I wound.

But it turned out really well (as long as you don't look too so many things in life).

Here is the front of the blanket...

Here is a closer detail of the front....

This is the back of the blanket....
A closer detail of the back (it is sown completely by machine...those are zig zagged edges on the circles).

So, there you have it. I apologize if I haven't emailed or called you in a while.....this has kind of taken over my entire life. I'm very glad to have it back! :)

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

I Did Some More Reading

Here are some more reviews I just wrote for work. The first, I Am Nujood, really was fantastic. Completely recommended! But the other two are optional selections.

I Am Nujood, Age 10 and Divorced
By Nujood Ali and Delphine Minoui

In an honest and heart breaking narrative, Nujood Ali tells of her escape, at age ten, from an abusive marriage. The story she shares is clearly from her point of view and readers are never allowed to forget that they are hearing this tale from a child, still in Primary School, just learning to read and discovering the world with all its beauty and cruelty. Nujood describes her rural childhood which was cut drastically short by her marriage to a man she had never met, the horrors of being trapped without a soul willing to rescue her, and her courageous escape and battle for freedom from a life she could not bear.

It is almost impossible for me to imagine the courage needed for a little girl, completely abandoned by family, to do what Nujood did. To fight for herself and her right to a childhood in the face of such pain, is an example of inborn grace and strength that few of us can claim to possess. I believe that the humility portrayed in Nujood’s short account is what gives it the power to inspire and uplift, despite the abuse and horror it brings to light. This would be a great selection for book clubs and I can easily recommend it to almost anyone.

Secret History of the Mongol Queens: How the Daughters of Genghis Khan Rescued His Empire
By J. McIver Weatherford

Genghis Khan rose to power at the dawn of the 13th Century. He conquered a vast empire through bloody campaigns that spanned decades. Because his legacy is one of brutal conquest, you may be surprised to learn of his great respect for and dependence on women to maintain control of such an expansive territory. Not one of his sons was ever entrusted with governing any portion of his empire. Instead, he married his daughters to conquered rulers and gave them power to govern in his stead. Unfortunately, soon after his death, the empire crumbled and his daughters lost power. More amazing female leaders followed throughout the history of the Mongols and this book attempts to tell the stories of their strength and influence, which extends beyond what you may guess.

If you thought the history of the Tudors was filled with intrigue and scandal, you certainly have not read up on the history of the Mongols and the great Khans. I admit to having a difficult time remembering whose name belongs to whom, what their connections and politics were, and what their significance was, but if you get past that, this book is a wealth of fascinating stories about amazing individuals in a cold and inhospitable area of the world. I was completely swept up in the lives of these nomads and their proud history. A must read for anyone who enjoys popular history writing.

The House at Riverton
By Kate Morton

Grace Bradley began working at Riverton House as a maid before the start of World War I. She is now in her 90’s and feels a need to relive the years she spent in service to the Hartford family. As her mind visits the past she is again faced with doubts concerning secrets she has kept faithfully for decades. But now that she is the last living witness to the events leading to the suicide of a young poet in 1924, she feels compelled to share the truth before it is lost forever.

Kate Morton is the author of The Forgotten Garden, which I loved. Because of this, I decided to read Morton’s first novel. While The House at Riverton is not the worst book I’ve read this year, it certainly is not as enjoyable as her second published work. I felt like the first 450 pages slowly built to the last 25, which I admit ended the book with a surprise twist I had not anticipated. This is a decent suspense novel that does remind me of Du Maurier’s Rebecca, minus most of the suspense and an intriguing storyline.