Saturday, January 07, 2017

2016 Book List

Here are the books that I read in 2016:

Speaking in Bones - Kathy Reichs
Faux Paw - Sofie Kelly
The Christmas Box - Richard Paul Evans
Driving Heat - Richard Castle
A Whisker of Trouble - Sofie Ryan
If Walls Could Talk - Juliet Blackwell
Dead Bolt - Juliet Blackwell
Tempest-Tost - Robertson Davies
Leaven of Malice - Robertson Davies
Goodbye to Berlin - Christopher Isherwood

Only 10 books this year.  Oh, well, it seems that I just keep moving in the same direction, fewer books each year.  Mostly light reading and books in a series this year, too.  Mostly murder mysteries, with the exception of Davies, Isherwood, and Evans.  Maybe I will find more time for reading this year.  Only time will tell.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

My challenge to everyone

The election is over and about half the voters are happy with the outcome and about half are not.  In reality, that is to be expected.  This is, however, something of a historic election.  For the first time, as far as I know, the United States has elected a president with no previous political or military experience.  This leads to a great deal of uncertainty.  We really have no way of knowing what to expect.  Some people are excited about the idea of change and shaking up Washington.  Others are fearful of what someone with no experience will do in a position often touted as "the leader of the free world."

So here is my challenge to everyone - the Trump supporters and the ones who oppose Trump - take a moment to think about what you expect to happen as a result of this election.

To the Trump supporter - During his campaign, Donald Trump used the slogan "Make America Great Again."  Take a few minutes to think about what that means to you, in measurable terms.  Will that mean a lower unemployment rate than what it is today?  Will it mean you personally have a high income than you have now?  Great is generic term, so what does it mean to you?  Think about it, and WRITE IT DOWN.  When it is time for the midterm elections in 2018, look back at your list and see if Trump and the Republican Congress have accomplished what you thought they would do.  There should be very little to stand in their way.  See if the policies they enact produce the result you were expecting.  If they do not, HOLD THEM ACCOUNTABLE!

Now, to the ones who opposed Trump in this election - What do you fear about a Trump presidency and Republican controlled Congress?  Do you fear higher unemployment rates?  Do you fear losing your own job (as one of my friends has apparently already been let go due to his employer's economic fears)?  Do you fear another economic recession (or worse)?  Do you fear WWIII?  Think about it and WRITE IT DOWN.  Two years from now, look back at your list and see if any of your fears have come true.  Remember, many who voted against Obama had many of the same fears and they did not come true.  In the midterm elections, vote according to what has actually happened.

Do I think a Trump presidency and Republican controlled congress is a good thing?  No, I don't.  I do fear another recession like we had under President G.W. Bush.  I think that Republican policies have negative effects on the economy and especially on the poorer segments of the population.  Those are my fears.  However, the political rhetoric in this country has become so driven by fear mongering that a realistic discussion of issues and potential outcomes has become almost impossible.  My friend who just lost his job did so because of his employer's fear, not because of anything that Trump himself or the Republicans have actually done. 

Many of my family members voted for Trump out of fear of what Hillary Clinton might do, when they were things that were not even a part of her plan or platform.  The lies that the candidates and media tell, and the fear that they intentionally evoke, verge on being criminal in my opinion.  People have a right to their own opinions, but they don't have a right to their own version of "the facts."  The truth should always be to told, even when it is unpopular or difficult to tell.  But outright lies should be stopped.  And lies masquerading as opinions shouldn't be given a free pass no matter which side is telling them.

Now let's all take a deep breathe, don't over-react, and see what happens.  Keep calm and carry on.

Election 2016

On Monday and Tuesday, I was seeing posts about how it is almost over. Today I am seeing posts about how the election is over, and people are glad that it is over and don't want to think about the election anymore. On the one hand, that is great - no more political commercials is always a good thing in my book. However, unlike the World Series, when it is over, it isn't really over. When the Cubs won the World Series, Cubs fans got bragging rights for a year and Indians fans had to go home an lick their wounds, but the members of the Cubs baseball team didn't win control over baseball for the next year. When an election is over, the real work has just begun. 

Too often, politics is treated like sports. We have chosen our teams and too often root for them blindly. Without even realizing what we are voting for or the true consequences of our decision, we make decisions that will hurt not just others, but ourselves, in the long run.

A lot of bad decisions were made in this election cycle on both sides of the aisle. The whole country is going to have to live with the consequences for at least two years, until the midterm elections. So don't stop paying attention. This was not game 7 of the World Series. This was game 115 of a series with no set end point. We have elected America's 115th Congress. In two year we will elect the 116th, and the game goes on. But remember, it is not just a game. It has real consequences for America and the whole World. Pay attention to how your decisions affect you, your friends, neighbors, the rest of the country, and the rest of the world.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

2015 Book List

Here are the books that I read in 2015.

Sleight of Paw - Sofie Kelly
Copycat Killing - Sofie Kelly
Cat Trick - Sofie Kelly
Final Catcall - Sofie Kelly
A Midwinter's Tail - Sofie Kelly
The Whole Cat and Caboodle - Sofie Ryan (aka Sofie Kelly)
The Turn of the Screw - Henry James
Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte
Wide Sargasso Sea - Jean Rhys
Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen
Buy a Whisker - Sofie Ryan
The Silent Girl - Tess Gerritsen
Emma - Jane Austen
Changing Places - David Lodge
Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? - Philip K. Dick
Villette - Charlotte Bronte

Only 16 books in 2015, which is a bit disappointing, especially when one considers that I didn't teach at all this year.  I was doing really well early in the year, but my reading dropped off considerably as the year progressed.  Partially the Austen and Bronte novels slowed me down a bit, but I also had some issues deciding what to read at time.  I'm just not 100% sure what I'm looking for in a book anymore.  I really enjoyed Jane Eyre, but then I found Villette a bit disappointing in the end.  I guess maybe that is why Jane Eyre gets more attention.  Somehow I missed reading the Magical Cat Mystery that came out in the fall of 2015.  I have a copy now and intend to read it soon.  I also have copies of the Kathy Reichs and Richard Castle novels that were published in 2015, but didn't get around to them in 2015 either.  The David Lodge novel is also the first in a series.  I have copies of the other two, but haven't read them yet either.  Oh well, maybe they will all be on my 2016 list.

Friday, September 04, 2015

Why Going to the Zoo Makes Me Sad

Earlier in the summer, my family and I took a trip to Seattle, Washington.  The first full day that we were there we went to the zoo.  We spent almost the whole day there, and I took a lot of pictures (some better than others).  I realized while I was there that being at the zoo makes me kind of sad.  This picture (below) is a good illustration of why that is.
It's not a very good quality picture, and there is a good bit of reflection in the glass, but it is the subject of the picture that tells the story.  While we were there, this gorilla just sat with his (or her, I don't know) back to the glass staring into the distance.  He just seemed sad and like he was really tired of having people look at him all the time. 

I know that there is value to zoos, and that, as a general rule they take good care of the animals and protect them.  But especially when it comes to seeing primates in captivity it makes me feel like I'm visiting a jail just to gawk at the prisoners.  It just feels wrong and it makes me sad.

Oh well, I'm just a bleeding heart anyway, so I guess there is no surprise that I'd feel that way. . .

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Red-bellied woodpecker

I've been getting a real kick out of this guy.  He's a red-bellied woodpecker and he's been really enjoying my new bird feeder.  I don't generally think of woodpeckers coming to seed bird feeders, because they usually eat insects, but apparently they eat black-oil sunflower seed, too.  And this one seems to really like them.  But then again, I would bet that eating seeds out of a feeder beats banging your head into a tree, so I can't blame him.

Zebra Swallowtail

I saw this butterfly fluttering around my gazebo a few days ago and decided to take some pictures of it.  I only had my cellphone to take the pics with, and it is a very old Nokia (dumb) phone.  So I apologize for the poor quality of the pictures.

I don't remember ever seeing a butterfly like this one before.  From what I can gather looking online, it is a zebra swallowtail.  The swallowtail shape is new to me.  It just seemed so odd that it's wing are so wide at the top and so narrow at the bottom.  Just not what I think of when I think butterfly.

Thursday, January 08, 2015

2014 Book List

Here is a list of the books I read in 2014:

Round Robin - Jennifer Chiaverini
America Again: Rebecoming the Greatness We Never Weren't - Stephen Colbert
206 Bones - Kathy Reichs
Spider Bones - Kathy Reichs
Flash & Bones - Kathy Reichs
Bones Are Forever - Kathy Reichs
Bones of the Lost - Kathy Reichs
The Surgeon - Tess Gerritsen
The Eyre Affair - Jasper Fforde
The Apprentice - Tess Gerritsen
The Sinner - Tess Gerritsen
Body Double - Tess Gerritsen
Vanish - Tess Gerritsen
The Mephisto Club - Tess Gerritsen
The Keepsake - Tess Gerritsen
Ice Cold - Tess Gerritsen
Fahrenheit 451 - Ray Bradbury
Raging Heat - Richard Castle
Oral History: A Novel - Lee Smith
And Another Thing. . . - Eoin Colfer
Bones Never Lie - Kathy Reichs
Curiosity Thrilled the Cat - Sofie Kelly

Wow!  I read 22 books this year, which is even more than last year.  This only working 4 months out of the year thing really opens up my time for reading.  As is rather obvious, I'm still tending toward reading books in a series.  I'm currently all caught up on the Bones series by Kathy Reichs and the Nikki Heat series by Richard Castle.  I've made a good dent in the Rizzoli & Isles series by Tess Gerritsen, as well.  There are still more to be read, but I decided to take a break from them and read something a little different.  I had to read Fahrenheit 451 for class.  Honestly, I wasn't really a fan.  I'm enjoying the Magical Cats Mysteries by Sofie Kelly.  In fact, I've already read the next one in the series since the beginning of this year.  I'll probably read them through before I move onto something else.  I've decided that I don't think I really want to read any more of the Jennifer Chiaverini novels.  I like quilting, which is why I started reading them, but they are just a little too much drama for me.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Thank you!

Thank you, Barbara Oakley, whoever and wherever you are. 

Today I received an unexpected package from Amazon.  Inside was a gift - a Doctor Who fleece throw - and the enclosed note said "A gift from Barbara Oakley."  The item wasn't on my wishlist and I don't know anyone named Barbara Oakley. 

So I just wanted to take a minute to say thank you, and this is the only way that I know how to do so.