Friday, July 31, 2009


I didn't take my camera along to pick blackberries the other day. Yum! I have a big tupperware container in the freezer and made some syrup (was supposed to be jam, but, well...) and we had it on pancakes and just today I used about half of it on a shortcake, which is for dinner. We finished the big bowl of ones I kept just to eat. yum!

Some of these are from just now. The one of my eye was the day after DD almost took my eye out with the antenna from the cordless phone.



Um. Yeah.


The cut and bruise 1/2 inch from my eye, due to DD's fabulous throwing skills.

DH brushing his teeth over the sink, like I'm always telling the boys to do. See? Not his computer, no never.

RIP Judy

I heard via my sister that my mom's friend Judy died yesterday at about noon EST.

Lots of love for my mom and for Judy's family and friends.

In memory of a nice, nice woman whose life wasn't easy.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Sony 505 eReader review

As I might have mentioned a few dozen times, I am the proud borrower of a Sony eBook device, courtesy of Sony and of Smart Bitches Trashy Books. Here's my review so far:

I was picked for this test drive because I said, “I don't think so. Convince me.”

And then I was picked. And then I got excited.

First reaction: my Sony 505 eReader has a brown cover. I'm so not into brown.

It has a gray screen. I'm much more into gray.

It's a bit heavy. More heavy and solid than a paperback. Lighter and more streamlined than a hardback, though. It's a tad awkward too, because the cover is pretty lightweight compared to the actual reader, so it's always off-balance.

I also have this nightmare vision of my toddler-who-throws-things getting her hands on it. That's a lotta bucks straight down the tube if she does. I keep it in a high drawer.

The instructions. Oy. I read the first part of them – they fold out to cover approximately the same square footage as my house – and have winged it since then with not too much trouble. Someone had to tell me about the “history” feature where you can see the last few pages you've been on, in case you get lost.

I had downloaded the ebook Library software from the Sony website before I got the reader, because I wanted to feel like I was doing something. Apparently, this was the right thing to do because I got the most recent version and others said they ended up loading the software and then loading the updates.

The setup wasn't hard other than the software's burning desire to not take me to the correct page when I tried to link my eReader to the Sony eReader store account – remedied when I complained to the SB eReader group and they told me to go to “My Account” and then click and click and click and click.

Back to the screen:
1.I need a bit more contrast than it offers. It's OK in full daylight, but by lamplight it's a bit hard on my eyes, which are already not so good.
2.There's a lag of a second or two between when I push the button and when it turns the page and there's a flicker as it loads the new page. You know how electronic gamers don't blink as much as normal when they're really into their game? That's how I read. The flickering and lag mess me up. I've taken to turning the page before I get to the end of the page and blinking then. I'm still perfecting the timing.
3.There are three text sizes on the 505: minuscule, smaller than comfortable, and Beginner Books. I generally end up reading in Beginner Books size (Fox, Socks, Knox, Box) due to the aforementioned contrast problem. This means that in a 220 page Harlequin I have the text on approximately 440 screens, sometimes with just one or two words on a screen. I think I'm getting a repetitive stress injury in my thumbs. Oh, and the formatting of the text gets messed up as soon as you start zooming in, smashing paragraphs of dialog all into one long paragraph.

Buying and downloading books hasn't been too hard. I've bought books from the Sony store (Yay Harlequin gift code!) and from Samhain without a hitch. I had a long argument with the library website, but that was between me and my library and once it was resolved, moving those books onto the eReader was simple. I'm still arguing with the library because I can't 'return' the books before they expire and it will only let me check out ten at a time. I read a lot, what can I say? I haven't downloaded from the Gutenberg project, either, though I might if I think of a title in the public domain that I want to read.

My library doesn't have a whole lot of new releases that I want to read in compatible format and I get the vast majority of my books from the library, so this is a sticking point. I do buy books, but don't have a lot of shelf space and I like being to take the ones I don't want to keep to the used book store and get credit there.

I'm trying to keep an open mind, because this is exactly why I didn't think I could be convinced.

I haven't tried to convert any files from one thing to another, other than saving the book I'm working on as a .pdf and then loading it on. I'm not sure what software I would use and if it's always possible without getting technical and borderline illegal.

So to sum up:
1)awkward and flickery but I'm getting used to it
2)fragile and expensive
3)can't get the library books I want
4)really cool toy and I can start a new book right away, no lag time

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

very sad

My mom's best friend is dying. She's been getting there for a while, but now various systems have shut down completely and she is semi-conscious, but not involved and going fast.

My parents are going to see her and will stay until it's over.

Please send good thoughts (prayers if you pray) for Judy and for Judy's daughters and grandkids and friends.

Monday, July 27, 2009

black dagger brotherhood - review

"All right, who named these poor kids? Seriously. It’s like the BDB had only one even halfway reasonable name to go around and they all drew straws to see who’d get it. And now that one guy is dead. The names are one of the reasons I’m finding it very hard to take this book seriously. I can’t help but think of the MST3K episode Cave Dwellers, in which Tom Servo changes his name to Htom Sirveaux and Crow says to Tom, “well, Htom, why don’t you hlick me?” "

Not my review, but the chapter-by-chapter discussion on the SBTB website.

Seriously good :)

Saturday, July 25, 2009

various ramblings

DS2 is cranky lately. He's been more prone to violence, more screechy, etc. He is also trying to get us to let him sleep in our bed again. We've been trying to get him out since he was a toddler. Most recently, he has started overwhelming his nighttime pull-up and wetting our bed. He tends to claim that he did go to the bathroom before going to bed and yet he hasn't. Weird, weird defiant behavior in that case. Like how does it hurt me and DH if he hasn't used the bathroom? Especially because he is now in charge of taking wet sheets off his own bed. Though we do have to check to be sure that he really has done it. I made him haul that stack of old, reeking pullups frokm under there the other day. What is with him?

DD's naps have been whenever she happens to take one lately. Since I try to work out when she's asleep so that DH doesn't have to actually take care of her and can work, my workouts have been all over the place or nonexistent. She seems to be shifting her nap to about 1:30, which is when the Curves closes for lunch. grrr!

DS1 is growing faster than I can keep track of. He's nearly 5 feet tall now. His hair has been getting greasy for a few months and I am totally not ready for a smelly adolescent!

But we're reading the Harry Potter books. We've just started book #4. They are already asking who the Defense Against Dark Arts teacher will be and I won't tell them. We were at a friend's house and they watched movie #4 and are just about to start #5 and I think they almost told my boys some stuff that they shouldn't. So we'll have to read fast and see if we can catch up ;) Well, not catch up exactly, because I loaned them my copy of book 5, but we'll see what we can do. I'm sure the library has the books!

And now I want to read ahead. I am not a huge fan of the last 2 books and so have only read them 2 or 3 times each and not since the year that the last one came out (2 years ago now? or 3?).

Thursday, July 23, 2009

slightly peeved

We got some photos from my MIL today of DH's German relatives from Dh's uncle's 70th birthday party. She also included a note saying that she had received the pictures that DH sent her of the kids and that it sounds like the baby is a real "garçon manqué". I'm not a huge fan of the word "tomboy" already, but the French term grates on my nerves. It means "failed boy" or maybe "unfulfilled" or "frustrated" or "missing something".

Because even these days, girls who climb on chairs really want to be boys. She doesn't know what a penis is, but she had penis envy because she runs and plays and throws.

(Throws a bit too well, as she gave me a cut and bruise 1/2 an inch from eye yesterday by launching the cordless phone at my head.)

It might be a bit late to preach modern feminism to my mother-in-law, even though she is certainly a self-sufficient woman with certain feminist sort of ideals, though I have no idea if she considers herself a feminist.

But a physically active toddler girl is a "failed boy"? I know it's just what they say and sometimes being politically correct in language goes too far, but dang, how many generations of girls have been called failed boys because they didn't cuddle dolls and have tea parties? Or they did those things and they played sports and stuff?

Yeah, I'm ready now to reform the French language.


still dizzy

RIP Florence.

This is the awful news I mentioned yesterday in my first state of shock.

How do you get past it? I know people have for millions of years, but how?

Send all your love to Jeannette and Woody and their kids.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

dizzy with grief

i just had some awful news about an online friend and am quite upset.

it's not my place to make a public announcement, of course

but unfathomable.

Wednesday grumps

We had a break in the weather yesterday: it was 92 instead of 102! Predicted 99 again today, though and more than that for the next week. I am so done with summer.

Speaking of 100-and-something, DD has a fever. I don't actually take kids' temps, but she was boiling hot off and on yesterday evening, for most of the night, and again this morning. She has some Ibuprofen in her and has cooled off and cheered up considerably.

I'm low on sleep, though.

DS2 is allegedly going to a friend's house and the mom is allegedly coming to get him, but that was an hour ago and she's still not here. The boys have now injured each other because they were so wound up and it is quiet again for the time being. whoops, knock at the door. yay!

Oh ICK! I was looking for DS2's swimsuit and looked under his bed, from which he had assured me that he had removed everything, and found old pull-ups that reeked. He almost didn't get to go to his friend's house there. But now they're out and thrown away and maybe his room won't smell like pee anymore. Maybe.

And my friend/DS2's friend's mom said she hadn't heard me yell before. Huh. I must hide it well.

So anyway, it's about time for DD to take a nap. And maybe I can drag my fatigued hiney out to exercise. Then I'll be really tired.

Monday, July 20, 2009

one-twelve on the freeway

no, not driving that fast. I really doubt my Maserati, um, ancient Corolla, can go that fast.

that was the temp on my car's thermometer yesterday at a bit after 5 as we came home from the mountains. (moun-TAYNS as DH says).

it was about 90 up there, though the forecast had said 85. it's usually 80-ish, but 90 was better than 112. the water was cold in the little lake we went to.

there were some other kids there, picnicking like us, plus fishing and boating and whatever. I was a bit worried about the war and the sticks and the thrown pine cones, but everyone made it out without major injury.

officially, it was 107 here. oh is that all??

Saturday, July 18, 2009

reading the Reader

In some ways, the eReader is great. I can start a new book without even setting the last one down and getting up and looking around. That's also a drawback, because I was lying there way too late one night and thought, "aw, I'll just start this little old thing" when I finished another book. I finally just turned it off, though, remembering that I had several physical books on my shelf, both purchased and from the library, that I wanted to read first. And it was late and I needed to sleep.

With the latest news on Amazon deleting George Orwell books (because they didn't actually have the right to sell them, apparently), it makes me wonder. The discussion is circulating around "who owns this book?" on the eReader loop. Turns out you don't own it.

One of the reasons that I am leery about going all electronic is that though I am allowed to read a book, I can't just tell my mom "this is a great book" and then mail it to her. Or buy her a book and read it before sending it (hehehe). People share books.

Also, in 20 years, am I still going to be able to read a .pdf file? I have paperbacks that are considerably more than 20 years old on my bookshelf, so don't tell me that all paperbacks fall apart.

And no, I don't think my high school copy (bought at a used book sale, even) of Pride and Prejudice is the Gutenberg Bible, but it will probably stick around for another 20 years.

And what is this about some agents and authors refusing to be published in eformat? Or at least waiting 6 months? Why are they not getting the same royalties both ways, since the price is generally the same AND the publisher and distributor don't have to make actual physical copies? Yes, they have to maintain larger servers, there is that, but the same amount should come to the author, shouldn't it? I think that's going to be the next big step: the same royalty to the author, no matter what the format.

And I know myself too well to think that if I find an eBook to be fabulous that I will go out and buy a hard copy. I won't. Sorry. It takes a heckuva lot to get me to buy something that I read from the library, at least not until a few years later when it's hard to get it from the library or else I want to reread it and I think "why not?"

series books (suite et fin)

Just a week ago, I was saying that I couldn't finish four different series of books, but now it looks like I've got all the bits and pieces coming.

I used the gift certificate that came with my trial of the Sony ereader to buy book 5 of Body Movers and read that and #6 just arrived at the library. As I mentioned, I found out that the library did have the 2nd in a trilogy of cheesy books and got that and it's on my shelf. The next in Sabrina Jeffries' series has just arrived at the library for me. And the second Mary Balogh book somehow leap-frogged the third and came in this week I finished it yesterday.

Oh, and I thought the Balogh series was a trilogy because the three titles are linked, but there's a fourth one with the brother and an unrelated title, so I just requested that one, too. (Though I'm wondering if the cousin gets resolved in that one or if he's going to get his own book) Oh, and they have multiple copies already circulating, unlike the one before it, for which they have 3 copies county (and more) wide and another 7 ordered and not processed. I know they're surely processing books as fast as they can, but don't they have them in some sort of order?

So I guess I can read series books. :)

P.S. Oh, and somewhere, presumably in my house, is the 7th Robyn Carr book. I have it checked out and I can't find it. I might be buying the library a new copy. SIGH.

Friday, July 17, 2009

More about the Sony Reader

I'm bloggin bit by bit as I think of stuff, then will pull together the most important parts for the first review, which is due to the Smart Bee-yotch who set this up for 30 people to borrow Readers for a couple of months. Sort of rough draft and then editing. The review is only supposed to be 250 to 500 words, so you all are going to have to see the long, blah blah blah versions. Or ignore them, That's OK, too!

I downloaded some books from my local library the other day and it took an age and a half. For some reason, the Adobe Digital Library software that i used to have on this computer had disappeared. Did I take it off when I knew I wasn't going to use it? Or did DH blast it to make sense for whatever he wanted to put on here to go demo for someone? Anyway, I had to re-download that from Adobe after futzing about, trying to figure out where it was. And then I tried to download the books i had checked out, but all got was the little tiny file that is the DRM (which stands for, uh, licensing thingie). Once you open the tiny file in Digital Library, it's supposed to download the book. Only it didn't. So I ended up closing the Dig Lib and then rebooting and then magically all my missing USB ports were suddenly alive and then it would download the books and then I could just slap them into my eReader. All this took over an hour.

Then I was giddy with my own success, so I decided to use the Sony eBookstore gift certificate (good for Harlequins) the next day. And spent about an hour trying to figure out how to get the freaking thing to recognize the eReader and allow things to be loaded onto it. Turns out that the "temporarily unavailable" page that it hits to do that isn't the right page. It's a good thing there's an email loop for the testers and I asked the question on there and someone knew and told me how to set it up. So another hour blown and then a few hours between asking and getting back on the computer to find the answer. But anyway, i got 5 books for a bit over $3. Cool!

One was the 5th Body Movers book by Stephanie Bond that I had complained earlier that my library didn't have, even though they have the 6th one.


More on the actual reading later, after lunch and after I get the baby to take a nap.


We've had a mostly nice summer up until the last week or so. For DS2's birthday party, we had some light rain before and during which cooled off the air, though it made it a bit humid. The kids were in and out of the wading pool and the grown-ups (other than me, who was running around) had time to talk.

The last few days have been over 100 and the next few days bode to be the same.

I just got the electric bill for last month, which wasn't even as hot, except a couple of times (and, oh yeah, that one day when it was 108 and the hot days right around it). Yeah, it's steep. The next one will be worse. Sigh. It would be nice if they had built the houses around here with enough insulation to keep out some of the heat, wouldn't it? And double-pane windows? I know they existed and that they were recommended, even in the late 70's, when this house was built. But hey, cheap materials mean big profits, right?

The boys are watching season 2 of Rocky and Bullwinkle. We watched the first 2 Star Wars movies at the beginning of the week, but haven't watched the 3rd one yet. The old ones, from the late 70's, speaking of the late 70's :)

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

First impressions of Sony Reader

Mine got here yesterday (a 505) and DH had my laptop to meet with a client. Our Mac is the only computer with a compatible port that I can reach (there's one on DH's work computer, probably, but it's lost in a tangle of wires and dust) so I charged it up on the Mac. Then he got home, but our wifi isn't working and my kids had the cord I use plugged into the Mac so they could watch old Transformers cartoons on YouTube, so I could only transfer stuff I already had on my laptop.

I saved my work-in-progress (WIP) as a pdf file and transferred that, too. Since we went for a playdate at my beta-reader-friend's house (her sons are the same ages as mine), I showed it to her and had her read the intro that I had changed (and more and more I keep thinking I need to take it out completely. It's very prologue-y. And ooooh I have an idea for it (quick jotting things down...)) But anyway.

So yesterday and so far today, I have only uploaded my book and a couple of free Harlequin books that I had already put on my laptop. Once I went back and read the instructions (and I didn't like the fold out format of the instruction sheet, so got most of my answers from the reader computer program - oh, which I had already installed from the Internet), it made more sense, but they still were a bit vague, I thought.

I read one of the Hqn books last night while getting the baby to sleep. When magnified one click, one page almost fits on a screen, but sometimes there are some orphan lines on the next screen and I have to click again 2 seconds later. It would be nice if it could figure that out and go from one screen to the next, but it is just a pdf reader and reads a page. Oh, and it messes up the formatting quite a bit, especially in dialogue. There were a couple of places that I had to click through the magnifications (I know it's only 3 sizes, but wouldn't it be nice if there were a zoom out button, too?) to get back to the original, small size just so I could see who said what.

It is a bit dim in the light of one lamp while the baby is falling asleep, but generally it has been all right. The reason I don't like reading on computer screens for too long at a time is the backlight. I'm glad to hear from others that it is visible in bright light, it doesn't just disappear like cell phones screens usually do.

It's going to take some getting used to the blinking when going from one page to the next. I read quickly and am used to just zooming on, but I have to give it a couple of seconds which is throwing me off. Obviously, that shouldn't be insurmountable!

I'm still pretty paranoid that I'm going to drop or leave it where the baby can get and she's going to hurl it across the room.

Right, all that and I haven't even downloaded anything new from the Net for it, have I? Well, once I have, I'll write a review for Sarah at the smart bitches :)

Sunday, July 12, 2009

series books that make me crazy

I am not sure why, but the library (covers the whole county and then some) has plentiful copies of books 1, 2, 3, 4, and 6 in the Stephanie Bond Body Movers series and book 5 is still in the computer as "On order."

I finished book 4 last night and unlike the first three, it completely leaves you hanging. Well, they all do to a certain extent, because they're a series and not all issues are resolved, but in #4, they solve a minor mystery, but - not to give too many spoilers - they don't solve the big one where people are dying.

I greatly prefer series that have some sort of closure at the end of each book, where each book could possibly stand on its own. Especially in a mystery. Eeesh

So anyway, I have #6 on its way from the library, but who knows when I'll be getting #5. Maybe I'll use my Harlequin gift certificate to buy it for the e-book reader that should be here soon... hmmm.... Still, seems a waste of money.

PLUS, I am reading the Sabrina Jeffries School for Heiresses series. I have read 2 or 3 of them before, but out of order, so now am going to read them all in order, since there's a new one out, apparently the last in the series. So I read the first one and am stuck because I didn't realize which was the 2nd one and have just now requested it from the library, so I have 2 books on my shelf which i have to forcibly restrain myself from reading - and probably have to renew at the library - until i get it.

Oh, and a cheesy series that i read the first of and the third is in transit, but the 2nd one is stuck on hold - only one copy in the system and suddenly it's marked "claims returned" so it's disappeared. I'm not sure this particular series is worth holding my breath, so I'll probably read the 3rd book and turn it in and call it done. Oh, wait. It seemed odd that they only had one copy, so I searched for it by keywords of author and title and they have it in there twice. Phew! My OCD self will just have to pass on the 3rd book for a bit. So there it is on my bookshelf...

Oh wait, one more: I have read the first in the latest Mary Balogh series and the third is on its way to me, but the 2nd is hung up somewhere with more people ahead of me in line.

Maybe I should stick to single title books.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

the whole purpose of summer vacation

is to run around shirtless and practice your armpit farts.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

role playing?

The boys are playing some odd game that involves whining to "Mom" (the other boy) and arguing.

Because we don't have enough whining and arguing as it is!

DH and I are sitting in here laughing...

Because Margaret commented that I didn't have any PICTURES on my blog

All of June here...

It's sad when a 9 1/2 year old forgets how to dress himself...

The tutu I made a few years ago as a half-hearted Halloween costume makes a lovely dress!

Playing with lego - yes she can stack them and take them apart. But why does she have to stand on a chair to do it?

DS1 putting on the brakes at the bottom of the slide - they wouldn't let him wear his goggles down so he didn't want to get his face wet.

Boys at their lesson

Deranged boy before a lesson

Contemplating getting on the table

See? I did plant some tomato plants! They're much bigger now, about a month later.

Happy hose girl

The boys had all the shoes out of the closet. Don't ask.

Want UP! NOW!

More shoe mayhem.

Foot mayhem this time.

Monday, July 6, 2009

happy birthday ds2! (headache)

bossy big brother who likes mechanical things and who knows everything


overexcited little brother who can't read a whole lot yet and who doesn't want ds1 to take over


bicker bicker bicker cry

remind me that gifts with some assembly required or some sort of mechanical thing should be opened by ds2 only after ds1 has been sent to siberia.

but good haul already and we haven't even had the party yet. just what we needed! more toys!

and yes, my attitude is bad, which is why i am blogging and not helping build the erector set thing.

but i do love my kids and will go frost a birthday cake in a minute.

happy b-day to my big seven year old :)

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Dipping my toe into the lake of e-books

I won a contest - along with 29 other people - on to test a Sony e-book reader for a couple of months. I have to print out and sign the contract and send it back and then the reader will be winging its way to me. So I am excited and yet filled with trepidation.

I'll have a $25 gift certificate from Harlequin to buy books for it and as I sort through the Harlequin site, more specifically the HQN section because I'm more partial to books that are 400 pages long, not the 200 page category romances, I realize that I have already bought 2 of the recent books and as I skim through the back catalog, I don't see anything much that I want.

I will be gettin Christine Merrill's Wicked Liaison, though. It's a short category romance, but an historical one and I've liked what I've read of her before. I did download a couple of free books to my PC. I don't read much at my computer, but hey, they were free and by authors and in genres that I haven't read before, so someday when I'm bored...

So anyway, I'll be dipping my toe into the e-reader waters and I will see if I like reading on a tiny screen any more than on a big screen. And then unless I buy a Sony reader when my test is up, I guess I just lose the e-books I buy, which brings up my main complaints with e-books - no sharing, no resale value, no keeper shelf.

Entering the 21st century. Next thing you know, I'll be Tweeting.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Happy 4th of July!

To everyone.

And yeah, happy Independence Day to the Americans :)

And to local neighborhood co-op: When does the parade start? I'm outside the neighborhood, so don't get the flier.