November 11, 2008

We are friends!

A little "hallmark" poem came through in an e-mail from a friend and it made me laugh so I thought I would share a slightly different version of it.

You and I are friends
You smile, I smile...
You hurt, I hurt...
You cry, I cry...
You jump off a bridge,
I'm gonna miss you.

November 3, 2008

X23: Target X

By Craig Kyle and Christopher Yost

This book is actually a graphic novel. Can you believe I read a graphic novel? I thought it would be fun to read something X-Men for the 'X' book on my list. It turns out it’s not so easy to go to a comic book store and browse for a “good book” like you can in a book store. I learned that the smaller comic books, excuse me…graphic novels, are only parts of stories so you have to buy a bunch to get a complete set. Bummer. I asked the guy working there for some help and he explained that you can buy books that are a whole set brought together. He recommended a couple and I got this one. It’s about a girl who’s life is tied to that of Wolverine (the Hugh Jackman character), but has been used by bad people and is now trying to figure out what to do. It was pretty cool and once you got used to the different way of reading the story it flew by. I’m actually thinking I might go back to see if they have more stories with this character.
So there you go, that’s my branching out for the month. Maybe next month I’ll try reading a non-fiction book (gasp!).

October 30, 2008

Breaking Dawn

By Stephenie Meyer
I put off reading this book for a while. I’m not sure exactly why, but I think I was worried. Bella Swan, the main character of the four books in the Twilight series, is very emotional. She feels things deeply and sometimes makes what I consider stupid decisions because she’s so darn self-sacrificing. It’s hard for me to read a book when I just want to reach into the story and shake the characters and yell “What are you doing!” I was worried that this story was going to drift irrevocably in that direction and I didn’t really want to put myself through that.
But finally I couldn’t put it off any longer, so I picked up, all 768 pages of it, gritted my teeth and started. At first, I was right. Bella was an idiot and I was going to hate this book. Then everything changed. It reverted back to the quality writing and great story-telling of the first three books and it never looked back. Stephenie Meyer has proven herself an excellent story-teller. She’s able to write romance without being soppy and gross and she’s able to write suspense without being a scary chiller, which is quite a feat. I will admit that I did have moments while reading when I had to set it down and take a break because it was INTENSE, both emotionally and physically.
The book is split into three parts. The first is told from Bella’s perspective and then we hear the events from Jacob’s (her friend) perspective, and then it goes back to Bella’s story. It’s a very interesting way to see events and to experience the story and it truly adds to the book. It also added to the question of “Will the good guys all make it?” If Stephenie can tell their stories from the perspective of someone who hasn’t been the narrator all along does that mean that the narrator isn’t going to last until the end of the book? Before the book came out there was enough speculation about the ending of this series to cast doubt on Bella’s ‘happily ever after’.
While I’m not going to say if there is a storybook ending or not, I will say that I was pretty satisfied with it. It does veer off a bit with the first part, but it’s necessary to make the story complete and full. I’ve never been a fan of the Edward-Bella-Jacob love triangle either, but this book does a great job of tying it all in and making it a necessary part of the other books in order to complete the overall story.
It’s a great book and totally worth reading. And…Bonus: it’s good for weight-lifting in a pinch, especially if you get the large print edition.

Her Royal Spyness

I happen to love almost all things British and one of my favorite ‘things British’ is Jeeves and Wooster. It’s a TV show based on the P.G. Wodehouse books, but made hilarious by Hugh Laurie and Stephen Fry. (Having seen Dr. House as Bertie Wooster has exponentially increased my respect for that man’s acting ability). The show is set in swinging London in the 20s and 30s and features the high class of British society that doesn’t need to work for a living and so instead does ridiculous things and say ridiculous things and is pretty much ridiculous, but so fun to watch.
Her Royal Spyness is set in that same time period and with those same types of characters, the main character being the exception (of course). Lady Victoria Georgiana Charlotte Eugenie (or Georgie to her friends) is 34th in line to the throne, but she’s completely broke. When an odious Frenchman threatens to take her family home she knows she needs to rise above her troubles to figure out how to save the family, but when he ends up dead in her bathtub things really get interesting. It’s a great murder-mystery that’s not too complicated, but not too easily solved either.
In the tradition of Jeeves and Wooster there are plenty of bumbling idiots with too much money for their own good, but Georgie manages to remain a definite part of that “class” without looking the fool. It’s a quality fluff read – my favorite kind.

The Sleeping Beauty Proposal

By Sarah Strohmeyer

This book isn’t a direct re-telling of the Sleeping Beauty story, but it looks at the question “What if someone was practically sleep-walking through life waiting for someone else to start it for them?” Genie hasn’t really been living her life. She’s just been waiting for her prince to come make everything perfect. When her boyfriend of four years proposes to someone else on national TV she lets everyone believe that he proposed to her. It’s the wake-up call that she didn’t even know she needed. Now as she’s struggling with her conscious and the realization that the world treats you very differently if you’re engaged, she’s slowly realizing the things that are important and becoming a fuller person.
I have a hard time with deception. It’s the number one reason that I don’t read certain books or go see certain movies (like how is Hannah Montana a role model when her life is built on deceiving people who admire her?). I decided to try this book anyway because Sleeping Beauty is one of my favorite Disney movies and I wanted to see how the author worked with the story. It wasn’t as bad as I was expecting. For the most part she just keeps her mouth shut and other people assume things, which is just as sinful but easier to take then aggressive deception. The thing that ended up bugging me the most was the way her parents treated her once she was “engaged”. They weren’t complete stereotypes, but they were willing to give her money for a house and throw her a lavish wedding, when they wouldn’t do anything for her while she was single, living in a hole of an apartment with a crap job. Ugh.
It’s a cute book, though. It’s fun and slightly quirky, with a healthy dose of romance without going trashy. Plus it has a cute cover.

October 14, 2008

Yeah Fall!

"The American spring is by no means so agreeable as the American autumn; both move with faltering step, and slow; but this lingering pace, which is delicious in autumn, is most tormenting in the spring."
- Frances Trollope

"There is a harmony
In autumn, and a lustre in its sky,
Which through the summer is not heard or seen,
As if it could not be, as if it had not been!"
- Percy Bysshe Shelley

September 21, 2008

More Books

I've been on a bit of a reading tear lately. Although, I must admit that most of the books in this post are quick reads. And all but one were mysteries which I tend to read really fast because I have to know "who-dun-it" as soon as possible.

The Secret of Platform 13
Eva Ibbotson, 1994
Eva Ibbotson has quite an imagination. I've read some of her stories before so I knew I was going to like this one. She writes about ghosts and monsters, but it's all very matter of fact and there are very few bad monsters, most are just misunderstood. It's a cute story about a kidnapped prince and the rescue party that is send to retrieve him, and even though it's very full of characters you never feel lost or confused. It's straight-forward good vs. bad and you root for the underdog the whole time. Very worth the read.

The Sea of Monsters and The Titan's Curse
Rick Riordan, 2006, 2007
I really liked the first book in the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series and was ready to keep reading about the characters, but the 2nd and 3rd books were amazing. The stories were better with scarier monsters and narrower escapes and you keep learning more and more about the world of the "half-bloods" and greek gods. And now there is an overarching story line that you can see running through all the books and you can see Percy and his friends headed towards. It's like when you're reading Harry Potter and you know there that each book is it's own story, but the battle against Voldemort is brewing under the surface in each one. Still... each books is so good and they keep building on each other so you can't put them down. When I finished the Sea of Monsters I immediately went to the library to get the next one and I'm kinda pissed that the 4th one is checked out. Definitely read these!

The Name of This Book is Secret
This is one of the quirkiest books that I've read in a while. It's told by a narrator who is conflicted because he thinks the story is too secret and dangerous to share, but he just can't help himself. So he changes all the names and only describes things if he's sure you won't be able to track them down and jumps in to the narrative every so often to warn you about impending danger or explain why the characters did what they did. It's very entertaining and creative. The main characters are two 11 years olds so it's definitely written for that audience. It's full of logic and actions that only make sense to the naive and un-worldly 6th graders, but it's still a great story and worth the effort.

The Library Card
Jerry Spinelli, 1997
Jerry Spinelli is a really good author. He's able to tell stories that are real and full of true feeling, not fluffy or fake, but at the same time make them relatable to a younger audience. Maniac Magee is a great example of that and his series of 5 short stories that make up The Library Card are also. Each story follows a different person as their life is affected by a small blue library card. Some use it to learn, others use it to remember, and others use it to connect. There's an element of magic in the stories, but it's not overt or cheesy, it just feels special. Of course I picked this book up because of the title, but I'm glad that I did. It's stories are touching and remind me of one of the reasons that I love sharing books and stories with people.

September 16, 2008

IL Hearts McDs, I Heart Taco Bell

I don't know what it is about the McDonald's around here, but they are always busy. It doesn't matter when I pass one, there is always a full parking lot and a line at the drive-thru. I can't figure out why. It's not like it's the only game in town. There's every fast-food joint I can think of around here, well...except for a Sonic, but no town is perfect. I don't get it. Case in point: I wanted to drive through McD's last weekend to get a coke (because they have the best fountain cokes, obviously) but the line was around the building, at least 10 cars long. And usually if they drive-thru is too busy you can go inside, but the parking lot was full. I didn't see one open space, and it was 2:30 in the afternoon. I don't get it.
So I've slowly been converting to Taco Bell for fountain pop. Fountain Mt. Dew from Taco Bell is second best behind fountain Coke from McDonalds and there's one on the way home from work so I let myself take a little detour every so often. There's rarely a line, which is nice and every so often, if I only order a pop and nothing else, I'll get it for free. I love that! I got one today, "on the house" he said. That's three times now! That's the way to keep me coming back, and maybe sometime I might even order food.

September 12, 2008

End of Summer Reads

It’s officially the end of summer. It’s been raining off and on all week and it was dark by 7:20pm tonight (darn Central Time Zone). It all goes downhill from here. Despite the depressing loss of sunlight I’ve managed to read some good books lately. So here are my end of summer reads:

Q is for Quarry
Sue Grafton, 2003
Sue Grafton has quite a series going, and it worked out very well for me since I needed a ‘Q’ book for my reading challenge. The A, B, C books are mysteries that follow Kinsey Millhone, a private detective in California, as she tackles cases. They are fun and suspenseful and hard to predict. They’re also amusing because they are slightly dated. They are set in the 90s before cell phone and PDAs and lots of modern technological conveniences that would be beneficial to someone in Kinsey’s line of work.
Overall they’re great stories. I’ve read two of them out of order, and they can definitely be read as individual books, but I think you could get even more out of the stories by reading them in order.

Mansfield Park
Jane Austen, 1814
Jane Austen is very good. Her stories are so calm, yet cover so many events and emotions. I’ve read all but one of her books and I have to admit this is probably my least favorite. It’s very long and it seemed to drag more than the other books she’s written. I’ve seen two different movie versions of this story, and never realized how much they condensed the book. As much as I admire Fanny Price’s moral character, I kept getting annoyed at her crippling shyness. It’s a good book and well worth the time it takes to read, but if you could only read one Jane Austen book, I would say go with Persuasion or Pride and Prejudice over this one.

The Lightning Thief
Rick Riordan, 2005
For those of you who are slightly depressed that there are no more Harry Potter books coming out and slightly mad that Warner Brothers has decided to move the next Harry Potter movie release back from this November to July 2009, there is hope. The Percy Jackson and the Olympians series follows Percy and his “half-blood” friends as they navigate the world of mythological monsters and gods. The world of Greek mythology is real and Percy is learning what it means to be the son of a god and to see all the creatures and monsters that he’d always thought were just tall tales.
This is a great story. It had been recommended by a couple of people, but I just now got around to reading it. It’s well written with exciting adventures and action sequences. It’s chocked full of Greek mythology, but you don’t have to be an expert to understand what’s going on. It’s a quick, fun read that’s perfect for lazy rainy days, when you are yearning for HP type adventures.

The Big Over Easy and The Fourth Bear
Jasper Fforde
I loved these books. It’s been a while since I read something that was so creative and fun, yet complicated and compelling. These are the first two books in the Nursery Crime Series. They tell the story of Detective Inspector Jack Spratt and his Sergent Mary Mary who run the Nursery Crime Division of the Reading Police Force. They investigate the cases involving PDRs or Persons of Dubious Reality.
In the first book, The Big Over Easy, Humpty Dumpty has fallen off the wall. Was it an accident or was there foul play involved? In the second book, The Fourth Bear, Henrietta “Goldilocks” Hatchett has gone missing and the last people to see her alive were the three bears. Adding to Jack’s problems is the fact that the Gingerbreadman – “psychopath, sadist, genius, convicted murderer and cookie” – has broken out of prison.
There are so many ways that these books could fall flat, but they don't and I'm sure it's because the author is intensely talented. They are full of nursery rhyme characters acting out their stories in incredibly creative ways, but at the heart of the books is a really good who-dun-it mystery that truly keeps you guessing.

September 5, 2008

My Brick

If you read my last post, you heard mentioned the fundraising effort at USF that involved "buying" bricks that they would engrave to your specifications. Here's what mine looks like: (If you were standing the the side of it, since I can't get the picture to load right side up)
They put it in yesterday. For those of you who aren't British sci-fi nerds, it's a reference to Doctor Who. In the first season of the show the main characters kept coming across the phrase "bad wolf" and *spoiler alert* we find out in the season finale that someone had scattered the phrase all over space and time as a warning to the good guys. The Bible verse, Ephesians 1:3-10, is a response to that really cool concept. It says:

"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth."

I've got THE EYE

At my university we celebrate Founder's Day. It's a day when we celebrate and thank the Sisters of St. Francis who founded our school. This year I was asked to do a display in the large display case in the middle of the main building on campus. (No pressure). So for the last three months I've been gathering materials, scanning photographs, cutting out background pieces and much more. Because I'm such a detail person things had to be just right and I've slowly been driving myself insane.
Here's a little background about the display. At this year's Founder's Day celebration there will be a blessing of the bricks that have been newly laid in the nice walk in the middle of the Quad. (The school raised money by having people "purchase" a brick and have them inscribed to their liking and then placing them sporadically throughout the path). So I decided to use the theme of the day "From our past, we pave our future" and show how the school has changed over the years using photos and other stuff to compare the past and the present.The background of the display is a brick path that mimics the one outside in the Quad and then moving from left to right the photos and brochures and other things move through the years. I found some really cool stuff and it was pretty fun coming up with ideas. I added a couple of 3D elements by hanging some framed pictures with clear fishing wire so they are suspended and not just flat against the back wall. There are also a couple of key-chain and pennants both old and new.
I had help from my director with setting up a laptop so that we could play a video within the display. I put all the images that are in the display into a video and it's playing on a loop in the corner.
I'm intensely proud of this project and was very gratified to have people walking by commenting on it as it was going up. My favorite comment was from a staff member that I didn't know who said "This display is just great. You've got the eye." I'm really hoping that's a good thing and he wasn't referring to smudged mascara, but either way he noticed and appreciated the display.
Here are some pictures I took as it was developing. The first one is the brick walk before I added all the stuff. I took pictures of the path outside and used Photoshop (because I'm an expert now) to cut out individual ones to mimic the pattern and colors of the bricks outside. Then there's the display without the AV equipment and then the final product. Feel free to stand and applaud.

September 2, 2008

Labor Day Golf Lessons

This Labor Day Weekend I went home to MI for the long break and had a wonderful time. I was able to see old friends and extended family and I spent some quality time on my parent's couch in front of the TV, which is one of my favorite places to be.
During the course of this full weekend I played my first round of golf. My friend Paulette took me out on Saturday morning for 9 holes at Indian Hills in Okemos and I had a blast.
Here's what I've learned about golf:
- My clubs are too short
- I'm not very good at hitting the ball off the tee, but my short game isn't too bad.
- Paulette is the most patient, kind and supportive golf partner/teacher/coach EVER, although "hello noodle, goodbye noodle" is totally stuck in my head. (The golf balls we used had the word noodle on them).
- The golf sandals that my grandma gave me are great, unless you're playing early in the morning when the grass is covered in dew, because they tend to pick up bits of grass and water so that by hole 5 you squish when you walk.
- Keeping your eye on the ball doesn't always work. Sometimes you just watch is sit on the tee as the golf club swings by.
- Hitting a divot of grass farther than the ball is embarrassing.
- The day after golfing can be painful. I have muscles in my lower back and arms that I had no idea I was using, but can definitely feel now.
- I can totally see why people head to the clubhouse after a round. By hole 8 I was famished and could really have used a stiff drink.
- Golf courses are beautiful!

August 14, 2008

It's Magic!

I just discovered Windows Movie Maker. I didn't even know it was on my computer, let alone what it could do. But let me tell's cool. Super cool. And super easy. I've made two videos from our trip to the Brookfield Zoo last weekend and I'm going to toot my own horn and say they are the bomb-diggity. least for a first try.
The first one is a giraffe that we were watching saunter around. It tripped a bit and then began an intense make-out session with a tree. The video doesn't show it that well, but I like hearing my friends comments about it:
The second one is a montage of all the videos I took with some still photos interspersed. I finally figured out how to get audio in too so it's set to music:

August 12, 2008

Summer Reads

I’ve gotten a bit behind on reviewing the books I’ve been reading this summer so I thought I would do a couple quick reviews to get back on track.

Laurie Halse Anderson, 2007
Ms. Anderson is a very good author who writes with a gritty sense of reality to her stories. Her characters are flawed and their lives can be hard, but their stories, while intense, are relatable and good reads. This is the story of a high school boy who pulled a prank at the end of the school year and has been working off his community service all summer. The summer of hard labor in the sun has turned him from geek to hottie. His life has changed, but he's finding being noticed by the “in” crowd can bring just as much negative as positive.

If a Tree Falls at Lunch Period
Gennifer Choldenko, 2007
Kirsten has had a rough summer. Her parent’s are fighting and her best friend has been gone. She’s not really excited about starting school again, but does her best to keep a good attitude. Walker is starting at a new school as one of the only black students. He knows life will be hard, but this school is what he’ll need to get a good start in life and keep out of trouble. When the two of them become friends they learn something that makes each of them really have to question what they’ve known and what their future will look like. Very good author and an interesting story told from both main character’s point of view, going back and forth from chapter to chapter. The ending seemed a bit too easy, but it was a great read.

Fearless Fourteen
Janet Evanovich, 2008
The fourteenth book in the Stephanie Plumb series is a no different than the others. It’s really fun, really quick and slightly frustrating. The fun characters are back. Lula, Grandma Mazur, Joe Morelli and more, plus more quirky residents of Trenton, NJ join the ride. As much as I like these books I’m about at the end of my patience about the Ranger vs. Joe dilemma that Stephanie is in. I think she’s in a rut and needs to choose one guys over the other and make some changes in her life. But regardless, this is another fun book and I’m gonna keep reading the adventures when new ones come out.

Just Like That
Marsha Qualey, 2007
Hanna is a really cool girl. She’s someone that I would want to be friends with, but I have a feeling that people that are that well adjusted and sure of themselves in high school don’t exist outside of books. I took a chance with this book because I needed an author whose name started with a ‘Q’ for my A~Z Reading Challenge. It was a “blind date with a book” and I think I’d be willing to go on a second date if they asked. Hanna has an event happen in her life that really makes her question who she is and what she wants in life. The author does a superb job of making her search real and relatable and I’d love to read more that she’s written.

Montmorency: Thief, Liar, Gentleman?
Eleanor Updale, 2004
This book is set in England in the 1800s (one of my favorite places and time periods) and tells the imaginative story of a convict who uses his skills as a thief to set himself up in high society. His plundering finances a new more gentile way of life, but without even realizing it he truly begins to change, slowly becoming the gentleman that he only started out pretending to be. There are sequels to this story, but I think I’ll stick with the first one since it’s so satisfying of an ending.

August 7, 2008

A ~ Z Reading Challenge Update

I would like to report that I am over half-way done with the A ~ Z Reading Challenge that I decided to do for 2008. I now have 22 books left to read in the remainder of the year. 22 books in 4.5 month? Cake!
I'm a bit behind on posting reviews of the books I've been reading, but I'll get to them eventually. The important thing is that I'm really enjoying myself and I'm already thinking of what challenge to do next. I might try reading all the Hercule Poirot mysteries by Agatha Christie, or maybe I'll take a shelf in my bookcase that has too many unread books on it and make it a challenge to read the shelf. So many choices!
Be sure to keep checking my original post for updates and feel free to ask for any recommendations. I've been forcing some of my finds on my close friends and family, but I'd be more than willing to shove books at strangers.
Happy Reading!

Olympic Snacks

Tomorrow is the Opening Ceremonies of the Olympics. If you knew my old roommate Katie, you knew how excited she gets every time the Olympics are held (just check out her latest blog post). I definitely caught the bug from her and am making Olympic themed snacks for my get-together this weekend.
Sadly, I am extremely proud of my creativity so I took a picture to share.

Blue jello, red licorice and teddy grahams. Genius!

More Twilight

They've posted a new trailer for the movie, and this one tells more of the plot. Excellent! Check it out!

July 22, 2008


This is a link to a post on The Butler Center for Arkansas Studies blog in Little Rock, Arkansas. It's a great description of what a processing archivist (i.e. ME) does. My archives has collections related to the University and very few personal letters, but it's mostly the same.

A Day in the Life of an Archivist...or...I read your mail

July 10, 2008

Drums, Girls and Dangerous Pie

By Jordan Sonnenblick

I've read another book by this author and I really enjoyed it. He writes from the teen male perspective really well. He does a really good job of telling stories that you could imagine really happening. I'm not, nor have I ever been, a teen male, but I almost feel like I can relate to the main character because he is so real and his voice is so true. (how's that for a pretentious phrase)

Steven is just starting high school and trying to figure everything out. He's lusting after the hot girl in class and working hard to be the best drummer in the all-city jazz band. His life takes a dramatic turn when his little brother, Jeffrey, gets sick. Everything changes and he has to figure out who he is and learn what he can and can't do to affect his situation.

It's a great story, and a quick but satisfying read.

Slaughterhouse Five

By Kurt Vonnegut

Every now and then I like to read a book that falls into the "literature" category. Normally, I gravitate towards very light, general fiction within the young adult sphere, but I recognize that there are good books out there that I might not immediately think to read. This is one of those books. People like to talk about how they had to read it for a class in high school or college and what they did or didn't get out of it.

It was creatively written in that it was a story within a story, kind of like Mary Shelley's Frankenstein. I thought that was interesting. And it kind of centers around the bombing of Dresden during WWII, which I will admit I don't know much about, but made for an interesting centerpiece. But other than that I didn't really like it. It was just weird. When the literary types rave about a book and say how it had deep meaning and all that, they lose me. Here's a direct quote from the back of the book: "Billy Pilgrim's odyssey through time reflects the mythic journey of our own fractured lives as we search for meaning in what we are afraid to know." What?! That sounds so pretentious and it means nothing to me.

It's a book about a guy who writes a book about a character who was a prisoner of war during WWII and managed to survive the bombing of Dresden and who gets "unstuck" in time so keeps popping in and out of different periods of his life, which include a number of years when he was abducted by aliens and placed in the "human" exhibit in their zoo. Again...WTF? If the description of the book was ever actually clearly stated anywhere I wonder how many people would actually read it.


By Chris Van Allsburg
2002 - Houghton Mifflin Company

This is a picture book so I almost feel like I’m cheating by having it on my reading list, but I really don’t think the quality of a book can be judged by it’s length or whether or not it has illustrations. Chris Van Allsburg has quite an imagination so reading any of his picture books is a treat. This particular book is loosely a sequel to Jumanji. Both books have been made into very clever and fun movies, but I have to say I almost always like the book better.
This book is a more simplified version of the movie (which I saw first) and I like it because of that. It’s still a great imaginative adventure in outerspace, but it’s quick and engaging without really over-thinking anything. Two thumbs up.

Love, Rosie

By Cecelia Ahern

I heard about this author because she got a lot of buzz because her father was the Prime Minister of Ireland from 1997 until just recently. I imagine she had trouble being seen as a successful author apart from who her famous father was. I, for one, think she has talent. Her first book was P.S. I Love You, which was adapted into a very sad, yet touching movie.

This book, Love, Rosie tells the story of two best friends, Rosie and Alex, who become best friends at the age of 6 and remain tight for years and years. It follows their lives, but the twist is that it is completely told through correspondence. You read about their lives through e-mails, letters, IM conversations, birthday cards and more. It’s so creative and rather well done. It does take a little while to get into it because there is no narrative so you have to pay attention and kind of fill in the blanks yourself. But it’s not hard and it's fun to see what happens next. The two main characters are a bit of a departure from the goodie-goodie hero and heroine that are the usual fare in books. You are definitely rooting for them as you read, but you laugh along as they get in trouble and make sketchy decisions. I also love that it's set in Dublin. I’d say it’s worth picking up and reading at your leisure.

4th of July

This year for the 4th of July, my parents came to visit for the day. It was a truncated visit since they had to make it back to MI for a wedding on Saturday, but we stuffed as much into their time here as possible.
We got up early (kinda) Friday morning and headed to Naperville to catch the Metra into Chicago. Once we were in the city we headed directly to the Taste of Chicago in Grant Park to experience the food and crowds and craziness that is “The Taste”. It was a total blast! It took some discussion and observation to figure out buying the tickets (which are used in place of cash at all the booths) and then there was more discussion about which booth to hit up for Chicago Style pizza. Pizza in hand, we then walked around a bit looking for a good place to sit and finally found a bench right across from the Buckingham Fountain with an excellent view of the lake.

More eating, more walking, taking a picture of our reflection in "the bean" and a slight delay at Union Station and we headed back to Romeoville.
After a short siesta to rest a little and brush our teeth, we headed down into Joliet to attend a Joliet Jackhammer’s baseball game. It’s the minor league team in the area and our seats were pretty close (7th or 8th row up, behind the home team dugout). It was pretty normal baseball fare except that they kept hitting foul balls that went out into the crowd or above our heads out of the stadium. I don’t go to many baseball games (or watch many games on TV for that matter), but I thought it was unusual. The most exciting bit during the game was the “foul ball of death” that almost killed us. We were so used to the balls going out into the stands and the street that I kind of stopped watching where they went. One ball went up over our heads and I lost sight of it and assumed it had gone out of the stadium until it landed on the seat right in front of my mom and bounced off the seat next to her and calmly rolled away. It caused quite the ruckus. Everyone around us was talking about how if the people who were sitting there had been in their seats (which they had been except both sets of people got up to get food so they weren’t their when the ball came down) they would have gotten hurt, etc., etc. Needless to say I was very vigilant of all the foul balls for the rest of the game.
After the excitement of the game (The Jackhammers came back from 5 to 1 to tie it in the 8th inning and win it in the 9th) there were fireworks set to really peppy and exciting classical music (you know the type I mean). It was a great show and there were appropriate oohing and aahing noises all around.

On Saturday morning we got up and went to play a round of miniature golf. I found a place online that is relatively new (I think) and right next to a small airfield so we were playing on a well cared for course and watching small two-seater plans take-off and land. It was all very exciting. The weather was perfect for being outdoors. The best part of the morning was when my dad got a call from a salesperson on his cell phone and said “I’m actually on the golf course right now so I can’t talk”. Ha.
It was the most fun I’ve had on the 4th of July in a long time. The only thing missing was my bro, but he was off having fun in WI.

USF Security Cart

I started my job at USF in January so this is my first summer on the campus. One of my favorite things that came out of storage when spring arrived was the security golf cart. How can you not think that’s cool? I’m not sure if it necessarily intimidates would-be hooligans, and I’m pretty sure I would start giggling if I actually saw any of the security staff riding around in it, but it sure looks good sitting in the quad outside their office.


My last golf lesson for the summer has been cancelled due to inclement weather. While it's true that I don't want to stand in an open field during a storm with a lightning rod in my hand I'm disappointed not to be going. Maybe that's a sign that I need to take this sport up seriously. hmm. I'll ponder that while I sit in my dry apartment tonight.

July 3, 2008


I am taking a class at Joliet Junior College to learn the basics of Photoshop. So far it is 50% exciting and 50% frustrating. I still have a long way to go to make believable looking photoshop pictures, but I'm off to a pretty good start. I thought I would share my amazing works of art. Enjoy.

June 27, 2008

Golf Lessons - Hole 2

I have now had two official golf lessons and I have learned a couple of things.
1) It is a whole lot more of a work-out than I ever thought. Our instructor spent the first 1/2 of the first lesson teaching us proper posture and stance and swing all without a club. Oh, baby. I was working all these muscles that are not used to being stressed, like certain parts of my arms and most surprisingly my abs and lower back.
2) Proper equipment makes a difference. I have a really old set of clubs that my great-grandfather (better known as Gramps) put together for my dad way back in the day. I'm pretty sure the clubs were gathered from various garage sales which would make them even older. So they're pretty old and out-dated and short. My instructor has me lean over more than normal so I can actually hit the ball when I swing. After a while she feels sorry for me and she just gives me her club to use and wow...does it make a difference.
**side-note: I pulled my putter out of the bag for the first time yesterday and noticed that it has a little label on it with Stewart Huff's (Gramps') name and address.**
3) Golf is fun! It is true that I've stayed pretty much on the driving range so I don't really know if I would like playing a round of golf. Let me clarify: Hitting golf balls is fun! I only wiff occasionally and every now and then I hit one and really impress myself. My instructor says "Those are the shots that keep you coming back" and I totally agree.
Conclusion: I'm not ready for the LPGA, but I could see myself buying my own set of clubs and heading to the driving range every now and then.

June 24, 2008

The Mother-Daughter Book Club

By Heather Vogel Frederick
2007, Simon & Shuster Books for Young Readers

This was a very interesting take on the “put un-like people together with a gimmick and they’ll grow and become great friends” type book. It’s set in Concord, Massachusetts, the historical town that was home to Louisa May Alcott, so the characters in the book read Little Women. It was a really cute story and even though you knew it was going to have a happy ending it was still great fun to read. I loved that there were so many characters. It made it more interesting and fun that there were so many people interacting. I also really liked that the author snuck in a lot of history, both about Concord, Mass and Louisa May Alcott. It was a “twinkie” book where the reader secretly learns a little history. Nice. It also didn't hurt that one of the moms was a librarian and was really the coolest of all the my unbiased opinion.

Get Smart

This movie was intensely funny. Unexpectedly intensely funny. And no one else could have played Maxwell Smart but Steve Carell. He did an amazing job. There were moments when I was giggling uncontrollably and I could hear my mom and brother laughing next to me too. Yes, it’s true that sometimes we were the only three laughing that heartily, but it didn’t lessen the enjoyment.
While the original TV show relied more on campy stunts and pratfalls, the movie has a bit more sophisticated stunts and fun gadgets. But the feel of it is the same. You still watch to see how Max will screw up and then how he will inadvertently save the day. Most of the supporting characters are fun to watch as well, especially the two lab geeks.

The Incredible Hulk

I wasn’t sure whether or not I wanted to see this movie, but I decided to go and I’m so glad I did. You know…I did the same thing with Iron Man. I wasn't sure, but I went and ended up loving it. So I’ve decide to invoke a Linnea Movie Rule: see everything Marvel makes.
For those of you that don’t read Entertainment Weekly religiously, you may have missed the fact that Marvel, the makers of intensely popular comic books, decided they were sick of selling their characters to other movie companies so they created their own movie division. Risky, but so far it’s really paying off. Iron Man was their first outing and The Incredible Hulk was their second. Both are excellent movies and raked it in at the box office.
I really loved the fact that The Incredible Hulk and Iron Man are both full of intelligent and mature actors. They aren’t teeny-bopper media darlings, they’re veterans who have proved themselves as good, quality actors and I really believe it makes a difference. They make the stories that much better. Of course there are awesome fight scenes and lots of stuff blowing up, but still...quality.
I also love the tiny little scenes in both movies hinting at the making of an Avengers movie. Something more to look forward to in 2011.

Kung Fu Panda

I laughed so hard I just about fell out of my seat. This movie is Jack Black at his best because he’s controlled and G-rated which makes it easy to appreciate his comedic timing and unusual voice without wondering if he’s going to venture into “shocking gross out land”. I also loved the story because there’s no deception. Everyone is honest about who they are and the story deals with coming to terms with being different and accepting people that sometimes seem to “intrude” in your life. Great story, top-notch creative animation. And Po the Panda is just so cute.

June 19, 2008

Golf Lessons

I have my first golf lesson tonight. I'm a bit nervous and unsure of what to expect, but I'll let you know how it goes.

"Of our major professional sports, golf alone retains the lyrical innocence with which it began centuries ago among Scottish herdsmen slapping the gutta-percha ball around the bonny banks. Golf alone, despite huge purses, has remained immune to the violence and vulgarity that have turned other sports into spectacles of sanctioned mayhem. The game, as Andrew Carnegie believed, is an “indispensable adjunct of high civilization.” No other group of professionals is self-ruled by an honor code in which players call penalties on themselves. Golf etiquette prevails. Can football etiquette or hockey etiquette be imagined? Golf has no Charles Barkley, who has spit at fans. It has no John McEnroe, the obscenity-shouter, nor does it have enforcers, late-hitters, or self-absorbed clods who moan that they aren’t paid enough."

-Colman McCarthy

I'll try to remain civilized if things don't go well.

June 12, 2008

A Year Down Yonder

By Richard Peck
2000, Dial Books for Young Readers

When I made the list of books that I wanted to read for the A to Z Reading Challenge, I had no idea that two of them were related. I didn’t even realize I had two books by the same author. I read A Long Way from Chicago last weekend, and this week read the sequel A Year Down Yonder. While the first book was about Joey and his little sister Mary Alice on their summer visits with their grandma, the second is about Mary Alice alone. Here’s the summary from the book: “During the recession of 1937, fifteen-year-old Mary Alice is sent to live with her feisty, larger-than-life grandmother in rural Illinois and comes to a better understanding of this fearsome woman.”
I loved this book. It was just as good as the first set of stories, if not better. It has such a great feel to it. You wish the characters were real people and you could meet them and hear more stories about them. There was one story in particular that had me laughing so hard I had to set the book down to get control of myself. And then I got the giggles every time I thought about it. If you’re a fan of books like Holes by Louis Sachar you’ll really enjoy this one.

June 11, 2008

"Be nice to the archivist or she will erase you from history."

- Anonymous

June 9, 2008

Shedd Aquarium

I took a train into Chicago this weekend and met a friend (and her friends) at Shedd Aquarium. It was a fun trip for more than one reason. I feel very grown up for figuring out how to get to Shedd on public transportation. I took the Metra train from Naperville (free parking at the train station on weekends) and then walked from Union Station to the "L" (stopping for a little food at Panera on the way) and got on the right colored line to get off as close to "Museum Campus" as possible. Then I walked towards Lake Michigan, following the incredibly helpful signs until I made it there. Shedd is in a great locale because it's right on the water. There are tons of boats anchored there, there's an awesome view of the city skyline, and you can see Navy Pier across the water. I wonder if you can see MI on a clear day?
I also had fun because the acquarium was really great. I went overboard with the pictures, but I used my camera to take some videos too. If you ignore the fact that it is extremely overpriced, it's a great place to go.

And now that I'm more familiar with the different modes of transport, I'm excited to go back and see other things in the city. On the way back we walked a ton looking for a good place to eat, but we ended up passing some fun stuff, including the Buckingham Fountain, so it was worth it.

And I must have looked kind of cool and comfortable because twice I was asked directions by strangers. Once by a girl looking for the red line station and once by a good-looking guy with an attractive accent wondering which train to take to get to the Belmont Station. I think I managed to sound pretty informed and I'm pretty sure I sent them in the right direction.
These are some short videos of some of the animals. Mostly I took videos of the ones that were moving and doing something interesting. The penguins were great because they were interacting with the guy outside the exhibit and the staff that were inside feeding them. There's quite a bit of crowd noise, but it creates the right ambiance.