Thursday, December 27, 2012

Chicago Bears: Week 16

Opponent: Arizona Cardinals
Location: Away
Outcome: Win
Record: 9-6 (2-3)

11-4 (5-0) Green Bay Packers
9-6 (3-2) Minnesota Vikings
4-11 (0-5) Detroit Lions

Charleen and I were out of town this past weekend, and I completely forgot about writing this post after the Bears game on Sunday. I hope everyone had a Merry Christmas and is looking forward to having a safe and happy New Year.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

December Reading

Doing this one a bit early. I would hate for the world to end without telling you all what I read in my final days.

Actually, it's because we're heading out of town this weekend and won't be back until the new year. Not that I won't have internet access, but we have lots of plans that don't involve the computer, and I don't feel like squeezing a post in there somewhere. Also, I'm pretty much done reading for the year; it's hard to find snatches of time and a quiet space when I'm away from home.

Anyway, here's what I've been reading since last time:

Monday, December 17, 2012

Blogging and Commenting

Very quickly, you'll notice I haven't said anything here about the events from Friday. I wasn't going to, not because it's not worth talking about, because I simply don't have the words to do it. But about ten minutes after posting this, I saw this post in my reader, and it so beautifully says everything that I wish I could. Thank you, Ginger, for these words.


In the past several months, I've started posting a lot more regularly than I had for most of the run of this blog. I've also started reading a lot more blogs than I have since my World of Warcraft days, when I was very into that part of the blogosphere.

There are a lot of blogs that have made their way into and out of my feed reader as I continue the search for those I can really relate to. I don't think I'm all that unique, but it's been surprisingly difficult.

There have been blogs that had an easy conversational language that I instantly loved, only to find that I didn't care about any of the post topics. There have been blogs that, based on their focus, I should have loved, but the author didn't grab me. I think there have to be at least some elements of both of these things: you have to care about what the person is saying, and you have to appreciate the way they say it. There's a spectrum, for sure, but connecting on only one or the other just doesn't seem to cut it.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Chicago Bears: Week 15

Opponent: Green Bay Packers
Location: Home
Outcome: Loss
Record: 8-6 (2-3)

10-4 (5-0) Green Bay Packers
8-6 (3-2) Minnesota Vikings
4-10 (0-5) Detroit Lions

If you remember from last week (Thursday), I mentioned that I was traveling to a friend's house to watch the game. It was a fun time. There was a good balance of Bears and Packers fans. Regardless of the outcome of the game, I knew I'd have a fun time which is why I took the 6 hour round trip to do it. I especially enjoyed the host and his mom shouting "Booyeah" back and forth at each other when their team did something well. Thanks Dan and Toni for hosting!

Saturday, December 15, 2012

My Year of Reading

I'm not quite done reading for the year, but I wanted to get this done before the holidays. This end-of-the-year survey is hosted over at The Perpetual Page-Turner. On the off chance that I read something in the next couple weeks that deserves to be on this list, I'll edit accordingly. Now let's get to it!

Best in Books 2012

1. Best book you read this year?
The Bells, by Richard Harvell. It's about love and music and it's just wonderful. I had a few 5-star books this year, but this one in particular had me completely enchanted. (The others I'll be sure to mention when they come up in other questions.)

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Chicago Bears: Week 14

Opponent: Minnesota Vikings
Location: Away
Outcome: Loss
Record: 8-5 (2-2)

9-4 (4-0) Green Bay Packers
7-6 (3-2) Minnesota Vikings
4-9 (0-5) Detroit Lions

Sorry for the delay in this post. I've been a bit under the weather this past week.

The banged up Bears lost to the also banged up Vikings this past week. The Bears have lost 4 of their last 5 games. They are no longer in control of the NFC North, and unless they win out, they're not guaranteed a spot in the playoffs. These games are getting harder and harder to watch.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

The Failed Vlog Experiment

A while back, when I first got my new laptop, I think I wrote about wanting to possibly do a vlog, now that I had a fancy new webcam. (If I didn't write about it, I at least thought about it, and I'm too lazy right now to go find out if I actually mentioned it or not.) But then it turned out that the webcam didn't actually work; it refused to record sound. So unless I wanted to post a vlog silent movie style, that wasn't happening.

Well, I recently got a working webcam from a friend, and today I finally hooked it up and gave it a trial run, and here's the result: the most awkward 78 seconds you will ever see.

The worst part, I think, is when I turn my head, trying to show how weird it was to turn my head to the right, and see it turning to the left on the screen . . . only to realize that it's not weird at all in the video, you have to see it from my perspective for it to be weird . . . so then I sort of ramble and try to explain what I meant and completely lose any sort of confidence and momentum I might have had to start.

Anyway . . . it's all very awkward. But I'm sharing it anyway, because I guess I'm a glutton for embarrassment.

Thanks, Jeanette, for the webcam! I promise I will put it to better uses than this in the future. When's the next virtual girls' night?

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Anticipation: The Order of the Sanguines

"What's your most anticipated book of 2013?"

This is a question I've come across a few times recently, and it's one that I'm pretty quick to answer. For me, it has to be The Blood Gospel, the latest from personal favorite James Rollins and new-to-me author Rebecca Cantrell. It's the first in a new series, The Order of the Sanguines, and fortunately for me it comes out a mere eight days into the new year!

Since we're only a month away, I thought I'd share some of my enthusiasm.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Short One Today

Three quick things today:

1. I've added some tabs up at the top of the blog. Instead of just "Home" and "About Us," there are now links to some recurring blog topics up there. I also kind of want to make a "Favorites" one, so some of our better posts aren't just lost to oblivion (I've got the top posts by page views over on the side bar, but I think every blogger knows that the posts you WISH were most popular usually aren't the same as the ones that ARE), but that requires a bit more thought. An idea for the future, though.

2. I'm not really sick anymore. I mean, I feel mostly fine. Like 97% fine. But I can't seem to shake this cough, and my throat -- even on days when I make an effort not to talk -- is raw by bedtime, if not sooner. It really sucks.

3. I've been . . . I don't know . . . just feeling kind of down lately. More so than usual. Maybe it's the holidays, who knows.

BONUS #4. The cat's being super annoying today. And by super annoying, I mean wants to snuggle. I'm thinking that my negative reaction to this is probably related to item #3.

Sorry I'm being such a downer. Here's something to cheer us all up:


Tuesday, December 4, 2012

The Results Are In

The results of the Goodreads Choice Awards were just released today. I still think it's ridiculous to have to wait a week for the results when the whole thing's automated anyway, but maybe I should give them the benefit of the doubt. Maybe they didn't actually have all the results tallied immediately (even though the longest we had to wait for results between rounds was a day). Maybe it wasn't just a ploy to keep the anticipation building for a week (during which I almost forgot all about the awards). Who knows?

Monday, December 3, 2012

Chicago Bears: Week 13

Opponent: Seattle Seahawks
Location: Home
Outcome: Loss
Record: 8-4 (2-1)

8-4 (3-0) Green Bay Packers
6-6 (2-2) Minnesota Vikings
4-8 (0-4) Detroit Lions

That was tough to watch. The Bears lost to a team who has played lousy on the road, and surprisingly it was the defense who was the bigger letdown.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

No-Shave November

It is no longer November which means that yesterday morning, I went from this...
to this.
It was an interesting month. There were definitely some pros and cons to growing a beard for a month.

I didn't have to shave.

It was itchy for about the first week and a half.
After about 3 weeks, it got long enough where I felt like there was something crawling on my face.
My wife hated it.
As illustrated above, I can't grow a good thick beard.

Obviously, I'm not much of a beard person, but it was kind of fun to do it knowing it would probably be coming off in a few weeks. Did anyone else participate in no-shave November or Movember (mustache)?

Saturday, December 1, 2012


Whew! So, November is finally over. Between NaNoWriMo and spending half the month either legitimately sick or just generally feeling like crap, I kinda thought it would never end. And now that it's finally December, Christmas will be here before we know it.

I am really terrible at coming up with ideas when people ask me what I want for Christmas. Which is funny because I have no problem coming up with things I want to buy at any other time of the year. I think part of the issue is that my personal lists tend to be so specific that they don't really translate well to gift-giving. It either feels like a demand instead of a suggestion, or it's just easier to say "gift card."

I'm also really terrible at shopping for others. I wish I could be one of those people who gets more excited about giving gifts than receiving them, but I just can't, because I'm no good at it. I think I've had that experience of having the "perfect gift" and being so excited for the other person to open it maybe once or twice in my life. And, when I can get it right, yeah, it's great. But most of the time I'm not aiming for perfect; it's all I can do to come up with "not terrible."

Friday, November 30, 2012

November Reading

This was not a typical reading month for me, because of NaNoWriMo. Time issues aside, I just don't like to read anything that requires a ton of investment while I'm working in my own made-up universe. So, I decided to make this month about two things: YA/children's lit, and re-reads.

His Dark Materials, by Phillip Pullman
   #1, The Golden Compass (2 stars)
   #2, The Subtle Knife (2 stars)
   #3, The Amber Spyglass (2 stars)
Chronicles of Narnia, by C.S. Lewis
   #1, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (4 stars)
   #2, Prince Caspian (3 stars)
   #3, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (3 stars)
   #4, The Silver Chair (3 stars)
   #5, The Horse and His Boy (4 stars)
   #6, The Magician's Nephew (4 stars)
   #7, The Last Battle (3 stars)
Percy Jackson and the Olympians, by Rick Riordan
   #1, The Lightning Thief (3 stars)
   #2, The Sea of Monsters (3 stars)
   #3, The Titan's Curse (4 stars)
   #4, The Battle of the Labyrinth (3 stars)
   #5, The Last Olympian (4 stars)

Thursday, November 29, 2012

NaNoWriMo Wrap Up

I did it. I finally made it to "The End," at 65,911 words, and with a day to spare.

This year's NaNo has been just brutal. I started off pretty strong, then got hit by the second week slump. Never completely recovered from that. I had some days that were better than others, some scenes that were better than others, even a few happy accidents along the way, which are always my favorite part of writing. But on the whole, it's been a pretty miserable process.

I never really got into my story. I realized early on that my main character was the only one even remotely developed. I thought I could just throw in random dares and characters and subplots from the forums, but for whatever reason I couldn't make myself do it (my argument was "none of it makes sense with my story" but I knew that would be the case going in, so I don't know what happened there), so I just had the barest bones of a plot, without any whimsical adventures to fill it in. I asked myself SO many times why I was still writing.

But . . . isn't overcoming these struggles what NaNo is about? It's not supposed to be easy. Fun, yes, but not easy. Attainable, yes, but not easy. It's supposed to be a challenge. It's something you do to prove to yourself that you can. I've been lucky so far. This year, I feel like I'm paying back taxes on my previous NaNo's. NOW I get it. I finally got the "real" NaNoWriMo experience everyone always talks about. Or at least one of them. I know there are plenty of other struggles I haven't faced. But at least I'm no longer in the "50K is EASY!" club. Believe me, if I wasn't so stubborn about getting it done, I would have given up on this novel LONG before getting there.

As for the novel itself . . . well, there might a story in there somewhere that's worth telling. Some day I might even go looking for it.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Chicago Bears: Week 12

Opponent: Minnesota Vikings
Location: Home
Outcome: Win
Record: 8-3 (2-1)

7-4 (2-0) Green Bay Packers
6-5 (2-1) Minnesota Vikings
4-7 (0-4) Detroit Lions

With this week's win and Green Bay's loss to the Giants, the Bears are back on top of the NFC North standings. I've also added in the division records of each team in parentheses since the regular season records are still pretty close. It's going to be an interesting close to the season in the NFC North.

My initial reaction to this game is mostly positive. All phases of the game seemed pretty solid. The only real concern I have is that we lost 5 starting players due to injuries that did not come back to finish the game. We'll have to keep an eye out over the next week and hopefully most of those injuries aren't very serious.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

NaNoWriMo Update: Weekend #4

We are down to the final five days of NaNoWriMo. Last week was somewhat awkward because of going out of town for Thanksgiving. I did make a point of writing every day, but no more than a few hundred words. And today I got clobbered with a nasty flu, so even though we got back home last night, I wrote fewer words today than any other day this month . . . not what I was expecting when planning for the long holiday weekend.

Luckily, I don't need a ton of words. I've already won the event; I hit my 50K. But never, after my first year, have I been content with 50K. I always have to push myself to do more. Otherwise, what's the challenge? (I'm sure my tune will change the first time I try NaNoing with kids.)

So, let's talk numbers. Last year, my final word count was 65,731. That means technically I'd be content with 65,732. I'll probably hit 66K, but I'll be shocked if I go much higher than that. I do plan to see my story through to "The End" (I've only not done that one year and it still kinda bugs me) but unless something really surprises me in these next few days -- hey, it could happen -- I anticipate things wrapping up pretty quickly once my goal is in sight.

At any rate, I'm currently at 59,031, so I need, absolute minimum, another 6701. If it weren't for the Bears game this afternoon -- and getting sick -- I might have tried knocking it all out today, just to be done with it. Instead, I'll need to write at least 1341 a day for these last five days. Getting sick certainly adds an interesting twist to the end of the month, but it still shouldn't be too much of a stretch.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Chicago Bears: Week 11

Opponent: San Francisco 49ers
Location: Away
Outcome: Loss
Record: 7-3

7-3 Green Bay Packers
6-4 Minnesota Vikings (Bye Week)
4-6 Detroit Lions

And with that, all of the NFC North teams have completed their bye weeks. Now the rankings actually mean something again, but there are so many intra-divisional games and the division is so tight that things could swing any direction in a matter of a week or two.

Now...I knew that Jay Cutler was necessary for the Bears to have any kind of offense. What I didn't know was that his presence was needed for the defense to function. I went into this game thinking along the same lines that everyone else was. Both teams' starting quarterbacks were out, both teams have great defenses, and this is probably going to be a very low scoring game. I honestly wouldn't have been surprised if this game had ended 3-0. I was expecting more like 10-13, but either result wouldn't have shocked me. Boy was I wrong.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

NaNoWriMo Update: Weekend #3

Here we are at the end of the third weekend of NaNoWriMo. Like last week, I barely stayed ahead of my goals from Monday through Saturday, and then I did another marathon session at the library this afternoon. I must say, when the Bears play prime time games -- like they did last week, like they're doing tomorrow night -- it really frees up my Sundays. And having half of the Sundays in November free to spend at the library has been great.

So, thanks to a productive afternoon, I am currently sitting at 49,640 words. As long as I can manage 360 words in the next three days, my "50K by Thanksgiving" goal is taken care of. In order to beat last year's word count, I need to write at least 1347 words a day (1470 if I take Thanksgiving off; 2020 if I take that whole weekend off).

A month ago I would have called those numbers easy peasy, but this year I know it's only my stubbornness that will see me through. Because, to be honest, I'm ready to be done with this story. It's very tempting to say "screw it" to my bigger goal, throw a quick ending together tomorrow, and put this thing to rest. But, whether or not I want to, I know that I CAN write those extra words. I just have to make myself do it.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Chicago Bears: Week 10

Opponent: Houston Texans
Location: Home
Outcome: Loss
Record: 7-2

6-3 Green Bay Packers (Bye Week)
6-4 Minnesota Vikings
4-5 Detroit Lions  :)

Quick blurb before the review of the Bears' game. The Vikings beat the Lions this weekend. That's not once, but twice that they beat them this season. It's been a while since they were sweeping anyone in this division and I'm not sorry in the least that it happened to the Lions. Moving on.

My initial reaction to this game came before it even started. Everyone needs to get the old idea of "Bears football" or "Bear football weather" out of their heads. I lost count of the number of times someone made reference to the Bears having an advantage due to the weather. It's not 1990 anymore! We have some fast receivers who like to make cuts. We have an elusive running back who is good at making people miss by changing direction. We have defensive players who like to play tight coverage using their speed. Remind me again, what part of a slippery field helps these groups? There's a reason a lot of fans (myself included) want Soldier field changed over to turf. One is because it's used for so many events and concerts that wreck the field, but the other is because it'll give our team and advantage by providing better and more consistent traction. Ok, on to the actual game.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

NaNoWriMo Update: Weekend #2

At the end of the second weekend of NaNoWriMo, I have 29,031 words. I'm one day ahead of where I need to be to hit 50K before Thanksgiving. I'm two days ahead of where I need to be to beat last year's word count. And I'm six days ahead of where I need to be just to win.

I'm still struggling with the story itself. But, I did a marathon session this afternoon, and in addition to doing wonders for my word count -- today is my most productive day this month, and my first 5K day since Day 1 -- it also felt good to just sort of power through the plot more than I have done all week.

I've also been really enjoying being a part of "Team IB"; a big thanks to Susie at Insatiable Booksluts for getting that going. And that brings us to the homework section of today's blog post. Today's prompt over at IB:

Re-read a really good scene from your favorite book. Write a blog post and talk about what you enjoyed about the scene, what you think made it work in terms of how it is written, and if you want, how you have or will apply that to your own writing.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Maiden Mishap

This is the first blog post in November that I am actually writing in November. Both of the previous two were written and scheduled ahead of time, one specifically because of NaNoWriMo, one because of political overload.

NaNo is going fairly well. I am far ahead of where I need to be to finish on time. I am ahead (but not far ahead) of where I need to be to beat my last year's word count. And I am only oh-so-slightly ahead of where I need to be to hit 50K by Thanksgiving, which I have done every past NaNo thus far. It's just nice to be able to breathe over that weekend, knowing that I don't have to worry about anything other than my own personal goals.

As for the story itself, well . . . it leaves a lot to be desired. I picked an idea that I didn't care much about, because in the past, "not caring" has allowed me to take some huge leaps and really have fun with an idea. This time around, though . . . the words are coming, I've never really had a problem with that . . . but I feel like they don't really mean anything. It's still early, though; there may be hope for my story yet.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Chicago Bears: Week 9

Opponent: Tennessee Titans
Location: Away? (see first paragraph)
Outcome: Win
Record: 7-1

6-3 Green Bay Packers
5-4 Minnesota Vikings
4-4 Detroit Lions

51-20. Do I really need to say anything else? Chicago Bears fans were drowning out the Tennessee Titans fans in Tennessee. "Let's go Bears" was heard clearly on the television. This was partly due to the score and partly due to the proximity to Vanderbilt University where several of the Bears went to college. It was a fun game to watch.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Perspective from a Political Novice

I am writing this in mid-October. Some of this has been churning in my mind since August. But I am not even posting this until the election, because I'm just so sick of hearing about it right now.

I'm with ya, buddy.

You could argue that I'm just adding to the noise, but I'm not, really. At least I don't think I am. I don't want to rant and argue about the same things everyone else is ranting and arguing about. I just want to talk a little about my first election.

That's right: this is my first time voting. I know, I know. I've been eligible to vote for two previous presidential elections and who knows how many other elections in the past eleven years. Right or wrong, I had my reasons for not voting, but I decided early on that this year would be different.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

It Begins . . .

November 1st is FINALLY here!

This year's NaNo has been a strange one so far (and by "so far" I don't mean the past eight hours, I mean the weeks leading up to it) just because I had so much up in the air, and I didn't know when things were going to happen, and I sort of wanted to do NaNo, but I had no idea how certain events in my life were going to interfere with that. Now that it's here, it turns out there's nothing about this NaNo that will be all that different than previous years.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

October Reading

Here's a quick overview of what I've been reading since last time:

A Time Odyssey, by Arthur C. Clarke and Stephen Baxter
   #1, Time's Eye (4 stars)
   #2, Sunstorm (4 stars)
   #3, Firstborn (3 stars)
The Dark Half, by Stephen King (4 stars)
The Casual Vacancy, by J.K. Rowling (3 stars)
House of Shadows, by Rachel Neumeier (3 stars)
Ring of Flowers, by Brian Andrews (2 stars)
The Calypso Directive, by Brian Andrews (3 stars)
Love Anthony, by Lisa Genova (4 stars)
The Constant Princess, by Philippa Gregory (4 stars)
The Twelve, by Justin Cronin (3 stars)

I also did a re-read of Cronin's The Passage (3 stars) before reading The Twelve.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Chicago Bears: Week 8

Opponent: Carolina Panthers
Location: Home
Outcome: Win
Record: 6-1

Minnesota Vikings     5-3
Green Bay Packers   5-3
Detroit Lions             3-4 was pretty ugly, but it was a win in the end. With that the Bears move to 6-1 and remain at the top of the NFC North. The Packers and Lions both won this weekend, and the Vikings lost surprisingly to the now 3-4 Buccaneers. As they say, "any given Sunday."

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Pitfalls of Technology

When I was in High School, I was one of many kids who had something like 7 different alarm clocks. I had to rotate through them because after a couple of weeks, I'd get used to one tone and sleep right through it. My mom is infamous for the line, "Patrick, get up! Your alarm's been going off for 45 minutes!!!" And that would be the first thing I'd hear. It wasn't a matter of getting up and hitting snooze, I just didn't hear the alarm tone once I got used to it. 

Ever since I got a cell phone, that's changed. I use it for my alarm clock, and every couple of weeks I change the tone when I notice that I've started getting used to the old one. Even better is the fact that I can go out and snag some fun ring tones from the internet. Right now my alarm is the marble zone music from Sonic the Hedgehog. Anyway, I love using the phone as an alarm for several other reasons too. It's not susceptible to power outages (for the most part), and I can put it wherever I want in the room to keep my groggy self guessing in the morning. 

However, there is one problem that I do forget about each year. For some reason, some phone carriers can't seem to get the daylight savings time switches right. It's only been the same for the past 7 years... For those of you not paying attention to your calendars, DST ends next weekend at 2 AM on November 4th. My phone decided to make the switch this weekend. On the plus side, I didn't have anywhere I needed to be bright and early this morning at 5:30. I just wanted to get up to keep up the habit of getting up at that time during the week. The down side is that I am now up and going an hour later than I planned. Stupid technology...

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Groggy Grumblings

So, to set the stage, I've been sick the last couple days. At first I figured it was allergies, which is pretty much how all my non-winter colds start. I used to be really good at "feeling" the difference between the two, but apparently not anymore. Either that or it truly is allergies and THEN I get a cold, and the transition is so seamless that I can't tell. But anyway, this last week we were having some unseasonably warm weather, so I figured it was my allergies flaring up when I was all sneezy and snuffly. Wednesday night I started coughing, though, and then Thursday and Friday . . . well, I won't go into all the nasty details, but it was unpleasant, I'll leave it at that.

Then last night, despite my taking NyQuil right before I went to bed, I couldn't sleep. Part of it was my typical brain not turning off, and then in addition to that my stomach was feeling wonky (I think I had too much medicine and not enough real food yesterday), but I think the fact that I stayed up till 1:30am -- while annoying -- is probably a good indication that my body is on the mend.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Chicago Bears: Week 7

Opponent: Lions
Location: Home
Outcome: Win
Record: 5-1

Minnesota Vikings     5-2
Green Bay Packers   4-3
Detroit Lions             2-4

We won against a division opponent! I quite enjoyed watching this hard-fought game against the Lions. Sadly, the Vikings and the Packers both won their games, but I'd rather that than us lose and they win. On a side note, I no longer appreciate Monday night football games. I'm way too tired the next day.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Struggling with Recommendations

I was browsing through some book-related online discussions recently and came across the topic of recommendations. Who recommends books to you? Who do you recommend books to? Does most of this happen online or face-to-face? Which book do you find yourself recommending again and again?

Pretty much all of my book discussions happen online. I do have some real life friends who are into reading as much as I am, but we're so far away that I always see their activity on GR and make comments and all of this back and forth happens before the next time we actually see each other in person. Mostly, though, I follow book blogs, I'm in a GR reading group, and pretty much all of the recommendations that I get are a) not necessarily personal, tailored-to-me recommendations, and b) exclusively online. Am I missing something? By not having a close-knit group, or a couple people who know my tastes and are recommending things to me personally? I don't know, maybe. But I think the "missing" part might be the social aspect more than the reading opportunities, and as we all know, social activities don't necessarily have a huge draw for me. So, maybe I'm not missing anything.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Gone with the Wind (and other musings)

I watched Gone with the Wind this week. I split it between two days because I didn't really feel like spending four hours watching a movie, but it certainly wasn't boredom that made me take a break. It was a good movie. Though, predictably, not as good as the book.

And not because of "OMG THEY CHANGED EVERYTHING!" because they really didn't change that much. Some events were skipped or merged with other events, same with characters, just for simplicity's sake. But that wasn't really bothersome. It's just that the book went so much more in depth. Yeah, a lot of it was general description of life in the South which was kind of boring to read, and wouldn't translate to the movie anyway. But even without all that, it's still a LONG book. They probably could have made the movie six hours long, and you still wouldn't get to know Scarlett as well as you do in the book, actually getting inside her head instead of just watching her actions.

I also found it interesting, between watching this, and watching the Alfred Hitchcock movie I saw last week, to note just how much movies have changed. Older movies are almost like watching a play. They're all about telling a story. Sure, plenty of newer movies still focus on the story -- the really good ones do, anyway -- but even movies that aren't loaded with special effects and gimmicks still just feel different. And movies from, say, 30 years ago . . . they aren't like the old movies, but they aren't like movies now either (and not just because of the clothes and hair). Thinking about all this kind of makes me wish I'd taken a film class when I was in school, and had a chance to look at just how movie-making conventions have changed over time.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Chicago Bears: Week 6 (Bye Week)

Chicago Bears   4-1
Minnesota Vikings   4-2
Green Bay Packers   3-3
Detroit Lions   2-3

Since the Chicago Bears were on bye this week, I decided to take the opportunity to talk a little bit about the rest of the division. I've been having some computer problems this week so I'll be keeping this very brief.

I was a little disappointed this weekend. The Lions pulled off an OT win in their game against the Eagles, and the Packers unexpectedly crushed the Houston Texans who had been viewed by many as the most balanced team in the league this year. I have to at least laugh at the irony. They lose to the Colts, but beat the Texans. Anyway, the Vikings lost to the Redskins so that puts the Bears in a 1/2 game lead in the division. I don't hold a lot of stock in that though. Don't get me wrong, the Bears are doing well, but until everyone has played an even number of games again, week 11, I don't put a lot of stock in a 1/2 game lead.

Anyway, I'll be including the records of the rest of the NFC North at the top of each of my weekly posts. Later in the season, I'll probably also include their division record, but so far only 2 of those 12 games have taken place so there's not a lot of value of that stat yet. In fact, 75% of the division games don't take place until the last half of the season. I know that each team usually has a couple of their division games towards the end of the season, but this year it seems very heavily back weighted. Anyway, I just thought that was interesting when I was looking at the other teams' schedules for when the last two bye weeks were.

Hopefully the Bears come out strong from the bye week like they normally do and take it to those dirty Lions at Soldier Field next Monday. Go BEARS!!!

Saturday, October 13, 2012


I still don't have much in the way of specifics, but I do have a title.

It's a Greek word, the origin for our word empathy. One of my main characters has a sort of supernatural empathic ability. I actually don't know that any of the story will be told from her point of view, but she's the one around whom everything revolves.

And I really can't say any more than that. It's not any kind of writerly anxiety, it's just that all I have are these little scraps of ideas. I've actually been sitting here for about twenty minutes TRYING to come up with more to share, but none of it makes sense on its own. Or is it that none of it makes sense together? I don't know.

Regardless, anything more will just have to wait until I actually start writing, and the little scraps start coming together.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

A Week and Six Comments Later

I got so many comments in my last blog post (well, "many" relative to our blog, anyway) I figured it was best to address them with another post.

First of all, just a general statement. I've been feeling sort of guilty for implying that some people are proud of their mental illnesses, and not in a "taking ownership of who I am" kind of way, but in a "woooo, look at me" way. I don't know. Maybe there are some people who feel superior because they deal with disorders numbering in the double digits, but most people probably aren't. Most people are probably just struggling to survive.

That out of the way, I also feel like I can't criticize because I'm guilty of playing the martyr card myself. Anxiety is a HUGE reason that, two years after moving to Dubuque, I still don't have a job (actually I stopped the search a while back, for reasons involving that thing I'm not talking about yet). I'm awkward face-to-face. I'm way worse on the phone. I've only had one serious* panic attack in my life, but I feel like I have a mini one every time I have to pick up the phone. I have to really psych myself up for it. I can sit there staring at my phone for upwards of twenty minutes before I input a number, and then it will take me another five to actually press send . . . and then the whole time I'm praying that I can just leave a pre-rehearsed message instead of having an actual conversation.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Best of luck to little TJ

In other sort of Bears...but not really news. Most Bears fans know the name of tight end, Greg Olsen. Most were also upset that he was traded to the Carolina Panthers at the beginning of last season.

Well, he and his wife are expecting the arrival of twins today. Sadly all is not good news. The twins are a boy and a girl, and while the girl is perfectly healthy, the boy has a very serious heart defect called hypoplastic left heart syndrome. From my understanding, basically it means that the left side of his heart didn't develop. Without intervention, the rest of his heart would give out in just a few days after being born. Thankfully they found out ahead of time and are prepared for it (at least as prepared as they can be).

They've gotten a lot of support from the Panthers and the community and especially owner Jerry Richardson. In fact he's been so extraordinarily supportive that they're honoring him by naming their son Trent Jerry (TJ). I've also heard that Olsen has been in contact with Charles Tillman whose own daughter underwent a heart transplant at a young age.

Chicago Bears: Week 5

Opponent: Jaguars
Location: Away
Outcome: Win
Record: 4-1

The Bears trounced the Jacksonville Jaguars in a 41-3 blowout! Unfortunately, I didn't get to watch the Bears game this week so I really can't go into too many specifics, but I'll do the best I can based on the statistics and from the general sports media that I do read.

The Bears are going into their bye week, so I'll start things off with some things that I hope they work on in that time. The first one is the slow start on offense. The score of the game at the end of the first half was 3-3, the final score was 41-3. It shouldn't have taken that long to get rolling against a clearly inferior team. Several others have pointed out that in games where the offense has really gotten going, it hasn't happened until the defense has given us a nice lead with a pick-6. It's nice that the D can do that, but I don't expect them to do that every game. Eventually we're going to play a team that is good enough where the offense is going to have to win it. I'd like to see some evidence that they can do that sooner rather than later.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Silently Suffering

I've had a lot of random thoughts floating around in my head as potential blog topics, but this is the one I've been coming back to for the past couple days.

NaNoWriMo is coming up soon. I wasn't really intending on doing it this year, but then someone mentioned it on Twitter, and now I can't get it out of my head. So, I'm probably going to go for it again this year, but more on that later. That's not what this post is actually about.

No, this post is about something that occured to me while browsing the forums. It's funny, people will create topics for just about anything. There's a forum for 20-somethings, and on the very first day (forums are wiped clean and relaunched every October, to get ready for the event) some kind of war between the ages broke out, and every single age has its own thread now. Another forum is called "Writing Groups and Clubs," where you can seek out other wrimos who are single, or married, or unemployed, or LGBT, or wiccan, or knitters, or on Pottermore, or hockey fans upset about the lockout, or . . . you get the idea.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Chicago Bears: Week 4

Opponent: Cowboys
Location: Away
Outcome: Win
Record: 3-1

Wham Bam, thank you...Romo?

Sunday, September 30, 2012

September Reading

After my whole big "Hitting 300" extravaganza, I decided it would be nice for me to keep up more on my reading here on the blog. So, without further ado, here is a quick overview of the books I've read since last time:

Disclosure, by Michael Crichton (3 stars)
The Strain Trilogy, by Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan
   #1, The Strain (3 stars)
   #2, The Fall (3 stars)
   #3, The Night Eternal (4 stars)
Gone with the Wind, by Margaret Mitchell (4 stars)
The Shining, by Stephen King (4 stars)
The Brotherhood of the Rose, by David Morrell (4 stars)
Mozart's Last Aria, by Matt Rees (2 stars)

Also, there was one book I started but gave up on: The Iron Duke, by Meljean Brook. The idea sounded interesting, but I got 100 pages in and it just hadn't grabbed me at all. The murders, the hints of romance, the alternate history . . . I didn't care about any of it. So I gave it up.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Late-Night Hodge-Podge

So, I haven't been sleeping well lately. Sometimes the sleep I have is fine, it just takes me a long time to get there. And sometimes, after I eventually get there, the sleep is filled with bizarre dreams or interrupted by random wake-ups or just otherwise not very restful. But mostly I've been having issues falling asleep, because of the (not-so-)random thoughts that keep rushing through my head that just WILL NOT STOP!!! You know the ones. It happens to all of us. I mean, I know I tend to over-think things, but I'm sure that even non-over-thinkers have been kept from sleep by those thoughts.

Sometimes they're completely random, like your brain has ADD. More often they're nagging worries of some sort. Mine aren't worries, exactly. Just . . . thoughts. Mostly centered around a particular subject that I'm not going into right now. I should be able to talk about it soon. Not that I CAN'T talk about it now, I haven't signed a non-disclosure agreement or anything. I just don't feel like getting into it while things are still up in the air.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Replacement Refs

There's been a lot of controversy around the league regarding the replacement refs in the NFL. Some have been grumbling about every play, some say the replacements aren't any worse than the regular refs. Some are blaming them for wins or losses of their favorite team. Some don't care as long as their team isn't too badly affected. A lot of people don't know what to think. I think the best way to illustrate the confusion the situation has brought was what happened to me yesterday. I was in the office and the hot topic of the morning was the previous night's game. I shared my opinion on the poor officiating and then someone asked me a question I don't think I've ever been asked...

Chicago Bears: Week 3

Opponent: Rams
Location: Home
Outcome: Win
Record: 2-1

What can I say about the defense? They were amazing. As I said last week, if there were any doubts as to how effective the D could be, they've been entirely put to rest. Not only is the core of the defense showing up true to form, but the rest have stepped up as well. The secondary is performing beautifully with a pick-6 and another interception to seal up the game.

One player of the defense that I thought really shined Sunday was Julius Peppers. Now, some of you may be thinking, "Isn't that normal for him?", but there was series that truly showcased the caliber of player he is. The Bears had just tackled the Rams for a big loss on 3rd down when Peppers shoved the runner down after the play was over drawing a personal foul and an automatic 1st. It was a horrible time for the penalty as it continued a drive and got the Rams out from being deep near their own goal line. What happened on the next 3 plays? Peppers happened. He was largely involved in stonewalling the Rams on 2 big plays and put a decisive end to their drive. After the game, he was asked about the penalty. His response was that he didn't hear the whistle, and the runner was still trying for forward progress (he was) so Peppers finished the play. Personally, I believe him. Julius Peppers isn't one to draw many penalties, and I think he's been around long enough not to be drawn in or aggravated by chippy play or trash talk. But whether it was deliberate or not, my favorite part is that he didn't throw a fit, or cause any other penalties. He simply took it as it was and did his best to make sure that the Rams didn't get any more yards from his mistake. That's a real pro.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Courtesy of the Insatiable Booksluts

Okay, so I know that Pat's Bears post is coming later today (probably) but I just can't NOT share this.

So, there's this pretty sweet book blog, The Insatiable Booksluts. How do you know it's pretty sweet? They review primarily literary fiction. I read primarily . . . well, as I mentioned last time, I read a lot of various things, but literary fiction is definitely toward the bottom of the list. And yet, I still love this blog. Their tagline is, "Voracious readers tell you if that book is going to suck." I mean, come on, how do you not want to read a blog like that?

Anyway, in honor of Stephen King's 65th birthday, all last week was Stephen King week over there. I never read Stephen King until a couple years ago, while I was working at Borders when Under the Dome came out, and got curious. For the record, Under the Dome is NOT the book to start with. (What should you start with? That's coming up . . .) But, while it didn't blow me away, it wasn't terrible, which is good. Otherwise my Stephen King experience might have been over before it started.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Books I Grew Up With

So, I don't usually pay a ton of attention to trending topics on Twitter, but every once in a while one will catch my eye. Today, it was #BooksIGrewUpWith.

I read a TON as a kid, but these are the series that really jump out at me, that I know I spent a lot of time with. And I realized . . . even when I was younger, I was cultivating my eclectic tastes.

Little House - historical fiction
Chronicles of Narnia - fantasy
Nancy Drew - mystery
Fear Street - horror

The Babysitters Club is the one that is most defying definition for me, but I guess you could consider it a precursor to chick lit.

I just never realized it before. I know that now I read a little of everything . . . but I guess that's always been the case.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Last Year in New York

This trip was absolutely amazing, and even considering that neither of us were blogging regularly back then, I still can't believe it was never even MENTIONED. Seriously, it was a couple months later when I realized that, not only did we never post a recap about our trip -- that's not so unusual -- but we never even mentioned ahead of time that we were going! And we'd been planning it for months.

Anyway, since it was exactly a year ago that we were there, I figured what better time to write all about it. So here it is, the long-awaited New York post.

We flew out early on Thursday morning. It actually wasn't super early; our flight was at 7-something. But with the whole getting to the airport early, and us getting to the airport SUPER early since neither of us are regular flyers so we actually listen when they say "get there 2 hours before your flight," it ended up being a much earlier morning than either of us realized when we bought our tickets. But, whatever. I'd rather get to New York tired than get there late and have to pay extra fees on top of it all because we missed our flight because we didn't know what we were doing or where we were supposed to go.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

New Windows

I've had my new laptop for about a week now. It's pretty sweet. It's so new and shiny -- actually it's from 2009, I think -- and I feel about as excited about it as I did my original laptop, which was a graduation gift right before I went off to college. (Of course, this was 2001, so in retrospect it was a pretty crummy laptop, but it was good for the time, and it was mine!)

And what makes this computer feel even newer and more shiny is that it has Windows 7. I was a little wary about it, from the little I'd used it on my MIL's laptop, because it was so different. I'd never experienced Windows Vista, so I've been using XP for a good ten years now.

While I'm still getting used to the different menu setup for the Office 2007 programs (Excel is the one I use most often), Windows itself I like. I like the new taskbar. I like the new start menu. Everything is very streamlined and, as I get used to it, very intuitive and user friendly. And I'm sure Office is the same way, it's just taking longer to adjust because I use a lot more functions in these individual programs than I do in Windows, and I'm still trying to do things "the old way."

Of course, now Windows 8 is being released in October, so says Wikipedia, and I'll be behind again. But at this point I'm pretty much used to it.

One other fun thing is that my new laptop has a built in webcam. So . . . I may try my hand at vlogging in the near future. Unfortunately the internal microphone doesn't work, or at least I can't seem to figure it out. This is a second-hand laptop (it used to belong to my FIL, and he got it through his job I think), so I don't know for sure, but unless it was something custom, this model is definitely supposed to have one. I do have a microphone I can plug into the jack, so it's not a huge deal, just a little annoying. I'm used to laptops being fully self-sufficient.

Anyway . . . still playing around and learning, but I'm definitely happy with it.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Chicago Bears: Week 2

Opponent: Packers
Location: Away
Outcome: Loss
Record: 1-1

Well, that was tough to watch. About half way through the 3rd quarter of the game, I knew how I was going to structure my blog post. The good, the bad, and the ugly.

Let's start with the good. The bears defense. I think even Packers fans would have to admit that it's a pretty impressive thing to hold Aaron Rodgers to nothing but field goals until the 4th quarter. Anyone who had any questions about the level of play they could expect out of the "aging" defense this year has been thoroughly answered. They're still the Bears Monsters of the Midway defense. Even when the Bears were down by 20 points in the 4th, the defense kept doing their best to put us into a position to come back and win with several great 3 and out stops, 5 sacks, and 2 turnovers.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Where Did It Go?

So, I've been looking for my motivation for a while. Last year I had an abundance of it. I don't know where it came from, or where it went, but I miss it. It was the first time in my life that I really had the drive to do something that I cared about. I guess you could say school was like that, but school was just something I had always known, something I was good at, something that wasn't nearly as much of an effort for me as it seemed to be for others (and something else that I sorely miss . . . but that's a topic for another day).

If there's one thing I've learned in these past two years, it's that motivation has to come from within. Right now, I have two pretty big reasons to get serious about losing weight again. One is health-related (possible surgery coming up . . . again, more on that later), and one is completely superficial (high school reunion next month), but neither is giving me the motivation I need to make me make the right decisions. Whatever it was I had last year came from somewhere inside me that had nothing to do with the outside world.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Chicago Bears: Week 1

Opponent: Colts
Location: Home
Outcome: Win
Record: 1-0

This week the Chicago Bears hosted the Indianapolis Colts. They weren't very hospitable, handing out a 41-21 butt-kicking. It was a terrific way to start the season as a Bear fan!

Unfortunately this game also has a lot of "but"s to it.

We were playing the Indianapolis Colts. Yes, we lost in the Superbowl to them 6 years ago, but that was an entirely different team. The team we played this week was a rebuilding team that only won 2 games last year. In fact, it's why they have the number one draft pick, Andrew Luck as their quarterback. They were the worst team in the entire league last year. The Colts also lost one of their best pass rushers to an injury early in the first quarter. The final thing was that our defense looked amazing, BUT they were playing against a rookie quarterback.

So, keeping all of that in mind, here's my take.

Friday, September 7, 2012


I was going to write this this morning . . . and then I discovered that my A key decided to spontaneously stop working.

This isn't the first time this has happened, but luckily a computer restart usually does the trick. But, since I got caught up in other things instead of just restarting and writing it right away, that means I don't have nearly the time I meant to do this. So, very quickly . . .

My laptop conked out several weeks ago. Pat and I have been sharing the desktop. Which is a little annoying, but not a huge deal. But with football season upon us, and season premieres starting soon -- all of which we used to watch by hooking the laptop up to the television -- having just a desktop has been a growing concern.

Just a quick note: I'm not nearly the football fan that some of my friends and family are, but I have gotten into it a lot more in recent years. If we had the laptop, I probably would have watched the Wednesday night opener along with Pat, not because I particularly care about the Giants or the Cowboys, but because it's exciting that football is back! But, my enthusiasm stops short of sitting awkwardly in a desk chair for three hours.

Anyway, so I'm excited that this weekend I'll be getting a new (used) laptop. I'll be back to having computer access whenever I want, and we'll be back to watching our jerry-rigged TV in a more comfortable setting.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Pet Peeve

Like most people, I have several pet peeves when it comes to driving. Several of them are simply related to where I learned to drive, some have a very personal history to them, but then there are some that don't seem to bother many people but drive me absolutely nuts. I'll be talking about one of the ones in that 3rd category today.

I'll set the scene. Pea-soup fog. I'll estimate visibility at about 5-6 car lengths. There were about 8 cars in the pack I was driving along with on the way to work. 3 of them didn't have their lights on. I would estimate that roughly 1/3 of the cars in the oncoming direction (assuming I saw them) didn't have their lights on. This is a huge pet peeve of mine. People driving without their lights on in situations where they should be. When will people realize that the point of having your lights on in most situations is not to help you see, but to HELP OTHERS SEE YOU?!?! Or is it that people realize this, but don't care since they don't see it as a personal benefit?

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Hitting 300: Saving the Best for Last

As I've mentioned, I read for entertainment. Literary merit, cultural significance -- the qualities that turn a book into a classic -- don't really concern me. The books that I rate 5 stars, I'm not saying these are the greatest books ever written, just like all of my 1-star books aren't trash. My ratings answer one simple question: how much did I enjoy reading this? And no one should infer any conclusions about these books other than that.

Last time, I said that the occasional 1-star book is the price I pay for taking chances in my reading. Today, we look at the other side, the happy accidents. A lot of the 5-star books listed below aren't exactly surprises. But there are several that I wasn't expecting. This is what keeps me willing to explore, despite the occasional dud. It's knowing that I may never have read some of my favorite books if I hadn't taken a chance.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Hitting 300: They Can't All Be Winners

I was going to do this "good, bad, and ugly"-style, but decided to get the "ugly" out of the way first.

Book #300 was, luckily, a pretty good one. Most of the previous 299 were pretty good too. I'm not saying that they're all amazing works of art, but I'm not really interested in that. I'm interested in being entertained. I'm looking for an escape.

Unfortunately, there've been some not so great books along the way. It's bound to happen, especially the more I try to branch out of my literary comfort zone (which, for the record, is not all that "literary"). So, here are some of my more bitter disappointments:

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Hitting 300: Let the Devil Sleep

When I write my reviews on Goodreads, I like to keep them short and sweet, because those are the reviews I like to read. I don't like a ton of details. I tend to skip right over any that are more than a paragraph long. When I'm browsing GR, I'm just looking for general impressions. Other people have their own opinions on what makes a good or a bad review, and there are probably many who think mine aren't very helpful at all. But, I write the types of reviews that I like to read, figuring that there are bound to be others out there who appreciate the simple and direct approach

Today, though, I thought I'd try my hand at a more "typical" book review. I picked a pretty good one for my 300th book, and I thought both the book and the occasion deserved a little fanfare.

Let the Devil Sleep, by John Verdon
#3 in the Dave Gurney series
Crown Publishers, July 2012
449 pages
ISBN: 9780307717924

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

More from me soon™

My soon will be significantly sooner than the trademarked version. Anyway, I like Charleen's idea of doing a weekly themed post so I'm going to start writing a review of the Bears games every week. I can't promise that I'll have it posted Monday of every week, but for Sunday games, I should have it done by Tuesday at the latest. For Thursday and Monday night games, I'll probably have them posted within two days.

Hitting 300: A Look Back

A couple years ago, a little while after I'd started using Goodreads to track the books that I read, I decided I had a goal: 300 by 30, to read 300 books before turning 30. It seemed a reasonable challenge, but with that much time and that many books to go, I really had no idea. It could end up being laughably easy. Or I could get blindsided by life and fall terribly short.

Well, I just finished my 300th book yesterday, with months to spare.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Music Monday: Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue

This is going to be my last Music Monday, at least for a while. I made this decision based on a few factors.

First, the original reason I wanted to start a weekly feature was to get myself posting regularly again. That seems to have happened. Since I started this, I don't think there's been a single week that I made ONLY the one obligatory post. I'm confident I can keep that momentum going.

Second, football is starting soon. Already started, actually, but the regular season kicks off a week from Wednesday. I don't want to make any promises, but Pat has expressed interest in possibly doing a weekly post-game wrap up on the Bears. That's a whole lot of content coming at the beginning of the week. It seems a little lopsided. Sure, I could move my weekly music post to Thursday or Friday, though it wouldn't have the nice alliteration. But, that brings me to my third reason.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Why Can't I Look Nice Too?


This isn't a body image thing. I'm actually pretty satisfied with my body shape right now (which is probably why I can't seem to get back on the horse with the whole weight loss thing). Sure I have a few more curves than I'd like to, and those curves are a little bigger than I'd like them to be, but I no longer feel like the massive blob of flesh that I used to. I'm roughly 50 lbs less than I was at my highest weight. I'm about 15 lbs up from my lowest that I hit last year. At the very least, I want to get back down to where I was (since I know that I can) and ideally another 10+ beyond that (at which point I'll be looking beyond the scale to judge what my "ideal" healthy weight is).

Long story short, no I'm not where I should or could be. But that's not what this is about.

No, this is about my recent efforts into making myself look "nice." I'll never be one of those women who can't leave the house without makeup, but when I'm going out socially, I'd like to make more of an effort. I talked about this a bit last month. And while I started out strong, I seem to have settled into a new comfort zone.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Music Monday: Special Birthday Edition

It's time again for Music Monday. This week, in honor of it being Pat's birthday today (!!!) you get a two-fer.

Sorry, music geek joke.

Friday, August 17, 2012


(This was originally going to be a bullet point post, but my first bullet got a little out of hand. So . . . the rest of the bullets will have to wait for another day.)

So, everyone knows how much I love Sports Night, right? (If you don't, just trust me . . . I do.) I was obsessed with it when it aired, back when I was in high school. And I immediately bought the series when it was released on DVD, at some point in college. However, much as I love it, it still remains the only Aaron Sorkin show that I've ever watched. I never got into The West Wing. I never watched Studio 60 (a little shocking because it's Aaron Sorkin AND Chandler Bing . . . I mean, Matthew Perry). And as I currently don't even have regular TV let alone premium channels, I'm unable to check out The Newsroom.

Anyway, I decided to get the first season of WW from my library. And I watched the first couple episodes. And . . . then I stopped. It's not that it's not good. It is good. And it's very typically Sorkin (like I'm some kind of expert, never having seen most of his work). And I'm sure that I would enjoy it. But this is not a show that I'm going to be able to just whip through. It's a little too intense for me, and not what I need right now. I'd still like to watch through the whole thing eventually, but it's going to be a slow process.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Music Monday: Elgar's Cello Concerto

Each Monday, I share a piece of music I really enjoy. This week, I've chosen Elgar's Cello Concerto.

Edward Elgar (1857-1934)
Cello Concerto (1919)

This might have been more appropriate two weeks ago, as the Olympics were starting, rather than the day after the Closing Ceremony. But, I realized that I hadn't featured any English composers on the blog yet, so I figured now was as good a time as any.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Eleven Questions

I got tagged by Wilhelmina. It's been a while since I've done one of these survey-type things, but I'll give it a go.

1. What’s the place or country you would want to visit the most if you could just pack your bags and go?
Italy, most definitely. It's one place I've never been to but have always wanted to. And then a detour up to Switzerland, which I have been to before, but it was amazing and I'd love to go back.

2. What do a lot of people assume about you which is not true at all?
I am one of the millions of people who are so shy and socially awkward that people I meet tend to assume I'm just a bitch, because I avoid interacting with others as much as I can, and when I do interact with others I tend to do it badly. There may be other assumptions floating around out there, but this is the one I'm most aware of.

3. What is your favourite number?

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Other Matters

Couple of things.

First, I haven't commented on Pat's post from the other day, mostly because I agree with the main point, that gay marriage should be allowed, and that any additional points I tried to make would probably get out of hand. Not in a ragey way, just in a rambley way. I do tend to ramble. Not sure if you've noticed.

Second, I've updated the About Us page. Nothing major, mostly bringing the time frame up to date (our move to Dubuque isn't really "recent" anymore) and adding a couple pictures.

Now, onto other matters.

I was thinking about this the past couple days. I actually felt really weird writing my last post. I mean, Pat actually takes a leap and writes about something that's really important . . . and then I, less than 24 hours later, switch the topic to television. I mean, they're blog posts, and topics generally don't carry over from one to the other, but it still just felt . . . weird. To not even acknowledge this really important issue (although I already explained why I didn't want to say anything more) before jumping back to my random crap that doesn't really matter.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Talking About Television

So, Amy over at Lucy's Football was talking about television, those shows from last season that did or didn't live up to expectations, and those she's looking forward to this year. It got me thinking about my own TV-watching habits.

When I was younger, I used to LOVE getting all excited for the new fall season to start. My parents used to get TV Guide (maybe they still do?) and I would scour the fall preview issue, and plan out my ideal TV-watching schedule. Pretty much every night of the week, I was planted on the couch during primetime, and the sad thing is that looking back on it I couldn't even tell you most of what I watched. For the most part, it was just filler. Hours and hours and hours, wasted.

Which is part of the reason why, these days, I don't typically get too excited about TV. I have a few current shows that I watch. How I Met Your Mother, The Big Bang Theory, and Castle are the three big ones, the ones that Pat and I watch together. I also keep myself up-to-date on Glee and The Office, although I'm kind of over Glee. I'm curious how exactly they're going to include the recently graduated seniors in the coming season (I heard something about a "show within a show," which makes no sense to me, but I'm thinking that maybe they're not using the phrase to mean what I think it means), but I'll probably just watch the first episode or two and then stop.

Monday, August 6, 2012


Charleen's been writing blog posts like crazy lately! She's been gently prodding me to post something so that she doesn't feel like she's completely taken over our blog. I mentioned something about the Bears the other day and she responded that it sounded like good blog material. *hint, hint, nudge, nudge* I just feel like all I have been writing about lately (when I've written something) has been football. Especially with the season starting in a month, I'll probably be writing a lot more about it, so I'd like to write about something else for a change.

It's an issue that's been in the news, in ads, and on facebook a lot lately. I've been trying to avoid posting about it in any form until I had really thought about what my opinion is. The issue is gay marriage. Now, I realize it's an issue that crops up in many different forms from politics and law to the boy scouts and even to advertising. I'm going to try to focus only on the law part in the interests of not making this post 10 pages long.

Should gay marriage be legalized across the entire US? In my opinion, the answer to this question is a simple yes. Now, if you haven't decided to boycott this blog, send me hate mail, or any other ridiculous reaction to someone sharing a personal opinion, I'll explain why.

Music Monday: Beethoven's Choral Fantasy

Each Monday, I share a piece of music I really enjoy. This week, it's Beethoven's Choral Fantasy.

Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827)
Fantasy in C minor for Piano, Chorus, and Orchestra (1808)

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Photo A Day August

So, I've seen this floating around the web the past few months, and I always thought it seemed interesting and creative, but this is the first month I've actually decided to take the plunge. I've hesitated in the past because I doubt I can actually stick with it, but I'll never know until I try, will I?

Here's a link to the blog hosting the challenge: Photo A Day August

I'll be posting my pictures from my phone straight to Twitter. Not sure how much it will spill over to the blog, if at all, so I guess we'll just see what happens as the month unfolds. This is an experiment, after all.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Music Monday: Debussy's Suite Bergamasque

Each Monday, I share a piece of music I really enjoy. This week, I've chosen the beautiful piano movement "Clair de lune" from Debussy's Suite bergamasque.

Claude Debussy (1862-1918)
Suite bergamasque (1905)
"Clair de lune"

Thursday, July 26, 2012


I love otters. I think they're just about the cutest things ever. Well, the cutest things that I'll never be able to have in my own home. Although, I don't know, there's a lot of cute animals out there . . . but, whatever. Otters are very high up on the list. So, here's some otters to make your day a little brighter:

Monday, July 23, 2012

Music Monday: Rachmaninoff's Vespers

Each Monday, I share a piece of music I really enjoy. This week, I've chosen Rachmaninoff's Vespers.

Sergei Rachmaninoff (1873-1943)
All-Night Vigil (1915)
"Slava V Vyshnikh Bogu" (Glory to God in the Highest)

Friday, July 20, 2012


There are certain times when I seem to be removed from reality. I imagine most people have these moments and the triggers are probably different for everyone. When I was very young, any time I did anything outside of my normal routine. An overnight trip to my grandma's, or even just going out to eat at a restaurant, everything would sort of take on a dream-like quality, like it wasn't really happening. When I was in high school, I remember it happening if there was some big assignment that I was putting off. It would get closer and closer to the deadline, and I still wouldn't start work on it, because it didn't seem real. If it was real, I never would have let it get that far. So the fact that I did must mean it wasn't real. (And then of course I'd always manage to squeak it out at the last second, and probably get an A on it. In fact, my final semester of college I got an A on a term paper and presentation that I threw together at about 11:30 the night before it was due and was sure I was going to fail. The secret: stop worrying about all the stuff you don't know, and just focus on what you do know. You sound a lot smarter that way. Also, the "write now, edit later" mentality that I learned during NaNoWriMo helped quite a bit.)

Monday, July 16, 2012

Music Monday: Leonardo Dreams of His Flying Machine

Each Monday, I share a piece of music I really enjoy. This week I decided to share another something from my college days, an a cappella choir piece by the modern composer Eric Whitacre.

Eric Whitacre (b. 1970)
"Leonardo Dreams of His Flying Machine" (2001)

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Some Reflections on Last Night

So, I went out last night for the second time this week. Third time in eight days. This is VERY unusual for me; I'm not exactly a social butterfly. After we got home and I was lying in bed, several thoughts were swirling through my mind, and -- crazily -- I actually remember most of them this morning. So, in list form:

~ It wouldn't be nearly this strange to me to be going out so much if we were back in the suburbs. Because I have friends there. So, it's sort of a strange realization that I have friends here too. They aren't just "people Pat works with" or "Pat's friends." And the real surprise isn't even that I went out three times in eight days, it's that I actually had a good time on each occasion. Typically we go out, and I feel so socially awkward the whole time and it's so emotionally draining that I won't venture out of the apartment again for days. To not have that happening is something I'm not quite used to.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Labor of Love

I recently stumbled across a blog I kept a few years back. This was during the brief time in between quitting my WoW blog and starting this one, and it just felt weird not to have a place to let it all out. It only lasted about a month, because then Pat suggested we start a blog together, and here we are. Well, here I am. He's around here somewhere. I think.


In one of my first posts, I was discussing the theme (or lack thereof) of the blog, and I wrote the following:

Monday, July 9, 2012

Music Monday: Mozart's First Symphony

Each Monday, I share a piece of music I really enjoy. This week I am jumping back to the Classical period to talk about Mozart's earliest symphonies, his first in particular.

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791)
Symphony No. 1 (1764)

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Heat Wave!

Someone posted this picture to Facebook the other day, and . . . yeah, that pretty much covers it.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Music Monday: Copland's Rodeo

Each Monday, I share a piece of music I really enjoy. In honor of the holiday this week, I wanted to share something by an American composer. Unfortunately, though I hate to admit it, I'm not as familiar with American composers as I should be. A few names came to mind, mostly in the context of musical theatre -- Bernstein, Gershwin, Sondheim -- but after a little online searching to jog my memory, I decided to go with Aaron Copland's Rodeo.

Aaron Copland (1900-1990)
Rodeo (1942)