November 22, 2006

Giving Thanks and Then Some

It is that time of year again: The time of year when we gather with our loved ones and eat piles of turkey and other such yummy food. The time of year when we brave the crowds, the cold, and the darkness to shop until we drop for the best holiday deals of the year. The time of year when we sleep until noon and make chex mix while avoiding our homework. OK, maybe not everybody does that last one.

Nonetheless, it is the time of year to give thanks. And, in the spirit of the holiday, here are a few of the things I am thankful for this year:

1) Friends who pushed me to demand more of myself, convinced me to leave behind my night job, and shoved me into grad school. I've since come to the conclusion that while I may not know what I'm looking for, I'm probably not going to find it on my couch. (I also won't have time to look for it if I'm working 61 hours a week.)

2) The grant writing opportunity at my day job and the people who recommended me for it. I would not have been able to quit my night job without this extra income, and it has been a wonderful experience.

3) My now full-time, year-round job. :) HOORAY!

4) The family I still have with me and the family that taught me so much before they passed on.

5) The friends who gave me opportunities to succeed (and to add to my savings account).

6) The fact that I have a savings account.

7) The Leonid meteor showers.

8) All the fun times I have spent with friends over the past year laughing at dumb stuff and drinking the good tequilla (or not as the case may be).

9) Wednesay soup day at work.

10) Movies.

11) The Roseville Parks system and the people who walk through it with me.

12) Good food.

13) Books.

14) Sleeping in again on an occasional Saturday.

15) Free time (especially to watch Celebrity Jeopardy, which is essentially Jeopardy for Stupid People. I know this to be true because it is the only time I can actually answer most of the Jeopardy questions.)

16) My pirate costume.

This list is in no way complete. I, of course, am thankful for many other things, including NASCAR. Feel free to share some of the things you're thankful for in the comments.

Posted by LoWriter at 09:35 AM | Comments (1)

November 13, 2006

One Simple Joy

Today was not my best day ever. I had very little sleep, the computers crashed at work, a student cussed at me (I snapped back), and to top it all off, I had a rather crappy date this evening.

So, to cheer myself up, I went to Barnes and Noble and touched all the books. There is little in life that brings me more pleasure than going to a humungous bookstore and touching all the books.

As a kid, I didn't get to see much in the way of books. This was, of course, before Barnes and Noble came to our town. B Dalton ruled the roost, and it was small. Used book stores in my neck of the woods were full of trashy romance novels. I gobbled books, but mostly they were Christian books from my grandma's library. Occasionally, my mom would bring me some fantasy novel, which I'm sure my dad would have been furious about had he known. It was rare that I had unlimited amounts of time to browse a vast space filled with books that I could choose without someone asking me why.

Therefore, when I go to the bookstore by myself, I am usually full of wonder. I look around, and I see entire worlds--so many worlds that I will never be able to see inside them all. I love going to the HarMar Barnes and Noble because they have a gigantic used books section and a nice bargain book selection. I visit the Pratchett section. I visit the cookbooks. I visit the sci fi used books section (tonight I almost bought Box Office Poison [graphic novel] and two books in the Earthsea Cycle. I say almost because I never buy I anything when I go to Barnes and Noble to touch the books). I visit the poetry. I visit the journals. I visit the young adult fiction section. I wander through the MN history section and the guides to wildlife and plants in MN. I touch as many books as possible.

Tonight, I opened all the bargain books on astronomy and looked at stars and planets, something that always leaves me awestruck. I helped a lady find bargain book journals. I looked at people with my big eyes, and I'm sure they thought I was crazy. I looked in a lot of bargain art books, including one about how to draw cartoons. I looked at a book about horses with full-page pictures. I touched all the Pratchett novels.

I don't know what it is about touching the books that fills me with joy and lends me comfort. Maybe it's that somewhere in all these stories is a story that is a little like mine. Maybe it's that all stories are a little like mine. Maybe I hope that someday a story I have written will live among them. I have no idea.

Posted by LoWriter at 10:50 PM | Comments (3)

November 11, 2006

Suggestions Welcome

I need a little help from my friends.

I am looking to make two major purchases between now and January. The first is a printer. Preferrably, I would like an all-in-one (printer, scanner, copier... fax is unnecessary, but could be fine, too). I would like the quality to be fairly decent as I will likely be using it in my proofreading business, but it doesn't have to be as crisp and perfect as a professional office printer would be. I would really like to keep this purchase under $200 if at all possible. Picture printing is not terribly important, but it would be nice to be able to print pics that look at least as nice as those that I can get if I buy a funsaver camera and wait a few days for developing.

The second purchase is a digital camera. I am not a photographer, so I don't need anything with a ton of bells and whistles. I have been using disposable fun-saver cameras for the last four years or so, and I have always been happy enough with them in the past, but now that I am well into this century on the computer/internet front, I would like to step up my game a bit, bite the bullet, and get a digital camera. So preferably, it would be something that's easy to use but that takes good pics and has the capacity for a fair amount of memory. A zoom that doesn't make everybody look out of proportion and ghastly fat would be nice, too.

Thanks for the help in advace, all.

Posted by LoWriter at 01:58 AM | Comments (6)

November 07, 2006

Don't Forget to Vote

Today is state election day, kids. Don't forget to vote.

If you live in Minnesota, the STrib has a really good voters' guide. (It will give you all the choices that will be on your ballot, including referendums and ammendments with links to explanations/articles about them.)

Also, if you're not sure where to vote, the state of Minnesota has a pollfinder website.

If you live in other states, you should be able to go to your state's or county's website and find your polling place.

So go on, do your civic duty. You know you wanna.

Posted by LoWriter at 11:53 AM | Comments (1)

November 01, 2006

October Books

Without further ado, the book list:

The Thirteenth House by Sharon Shinn: This is "A Novel of the Twelve Houses," which basically means it's part of the same series as Mystic and Rider. Some of you may remember that was the only book I read last month. It continues the story of the people from the last book but tells it through a different character's perspective this time: Kirra. She is part of the nobility but is also a mystic, which lowers her status and would lower it even more were it not for her father and her sister. After her sister is announced heir to her father's lands, Kirra, a shape shifter, offers to go to the summer social season disguised as her sister. She falls in love the Regent of the Realm and has an affair. It's all quite delicious if you ask me, but pure fluff, as so much of what I read is these days. My favorite quote from the book is this: "'I don't care,' he said. 'I look at you and I see heartache, and I don't care. I think of you, and I know loving you will hurt everyone else I love, and I don't care. You may end up hating me, and I may end up mourning you the rest of my life, and I don't care.'" It goes on to talk about how much he loves her and she can't run away from that, but it's rather mushy, so I left it off. Personally, I love love that loves folly. I have alwyas rather felt a lot of compassion for Edna St. Vincent Millay when she says, "Yet women's ways are witless ways/ as any sage will tell/and what am I that I should love/so wisely and so well?" This book really resonated with me. If you like romances and fluffy fantasy novels, you will probably enjoy it as well.

Dark Moon Defender by Sharon Shinn: This is yet another novel of the twelve houses. It is told through the eyes of Justin, one of the Riders who has served with Kirra and Senneth and the rest and through the eyes of Ellynor, a novice at the Luminen convent. I won't give away the "surprise" about Ellynor, even though I knew it from the moment the book brought her in. I thought it was going to be really dreadful because I felt Justin was probably my least favorite character, but it really helped to have Ellynor's story intertwined. In addition, Justin wound up having hidden depths. These are, apparently, all romances set against the backdrop of a country on the brink of civil war, so the plot moves the world closer to that war while the characters fall for each other in droves. I would be surprised if the next book isn't about Cammon because the author seemed to be laying the foundations for a story devoted to him. On the whole, these books ruin my life because I can't put them down until I've finished them, and now I have to wait until she writes another one. I recommend this series.

His Last Bow by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle: More Sherlock Holmes awaits you in this book. It was somewhat less interesting than the earliest ones that got me hooked on Sherlock Holmes but somewhat more interesting than the last one I read. I personally enjoy these books a great deal, but I can only take them in small doses because after awhile, they all read the same. I also am starting to wish Doyle would have just gotten over his love/hate relationship with the character, admitted he was a sellout, and stopped trying to end the series and then find creative ways to bring it back again. I did enjoy the character development, though. The introduction put me on the look-out for the small glimpses into Holmes's heart, and I enjoyed those moments a lot. I wouldn't start Sherlock Holmes here, but then, the series isn't meant to start here. I recommend it, but not as highly as my other two reads this month.

Well, kids, that is it for the books. Happy reading and feel free to share your own picks in the comments.

Posted by LoWriter at 08:30 AM | Comments (2)