Tuesday, February 27, 2018

It's Still Tuesday

And I've got things to say, so I'm linking up with Stacy.

Have you ever been at a point in your life where you just wish God (or your personal higher power) would simply speak to you and tell you what to do?  Of course you have.  Not that I am in that situation right now or anything!  Haha.
Today in my next-door-teacher's classroom, an 11 year old male student told the teacher to "suck my d---."  And we wonder why the world is going to hell in a handbasket!  I don't think I even knew that word when I was 11!  And to speak to an adult like that?  I just... I don't know.

I was listening to a news blurb on the radio today, and the Governor of Kentucky had some wise comments about the state of, not only our schools, but our world.  He talked about culture, and how we glorify death instead of life in our movies, music, and video games.  How our teens' brains are affected by constant screen time.  I really liked what he had to say.  However, I don't think the video game, music, or movie industries are going to be willing to give up their millions to make a world a better place.  Perhaps that's negative thinking, but I prefer to call it realistic.  So much profit is made from denigrating women, violence, death, and destruction.  How do we change it?  Idk.  Just for future reference, banging your head against a wall burns 150 calories an hour!

And now, for some less serious randomness.  I'm recovering quite well from my fall and concussion.  It's been 12 days, and my bruises are almost gone.  I think the vinegar solution I've put on them daily has really helped.  The only issues I'm still having are a medium-sized knot on my chin and my foot.  My foot isn't swollen or bruised any more, but it sure hurts.  I guess I shouldn't feel bad about falling because, did you know, 50% of all orangutans have fractured bones from falling out of trees so often?

And on a similar note, did you know that 3% of the ice in Antarctic glaciers is made up of penguin urine?  Gross!!!!

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Sunday, February 25, 2018

Sunday Synopsis

The Scam (Fox and O'Hare, #4)The Scam by Janet Evanovich
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I usually enjoy Janet Evanovich, especially the Stephanie Plum series, but I can't say that I really liked this book. I can't say I really disliked it, either. It was just average.

The Scam is the fourth novel in the Fox and O'Hare series co-authored with Lee Goldberg. I received this book as a prize at a conference, so I had never read the beginning of the series. That didn't stop me, though, because Evanovich is good at writing series books that can also stand alone. The fact that I hadn't read the first three did not negatively impact my reading.

Kate O'Hare is an FBI agent partnering with Nicholas Fox who used to be her prey. Now, they team up to bring down big criminals. This time, their target is Evan Trace, a casino owner who is using his business to launder money for other criminals. Fox and O'Hare devise a complicated, elaborate scheme to catch Trace and others. And therein lies the problem.

First, the scheme was not believable. When one reads an entertaining adventurous story such as this, one must suspend belief... somewhat. This isn't fantasy, though.. It should have the essence of reality. This one crosses the line between entertaining and completely implausable.

It is also a bit cliche'. The super-criminal has a pond filled, not with koi fish, but piranhas. Flesh-eating, vicious piranhas. Typical. One of the criminals from Hawaii speaks using (fake) Hawaiian pidgin. He is also rotund and tattooed like Maui in the Disney film Moana. This character didn't require much imagination. One of the main villains stabs himself in the hand with a fork to prove a point. As it turns out, he has no nerve sensations in his hand. Hasn't this been done before?

And last, the book ends on a complete cliff-hanger. This might be okay if I wanted to read the next book, but I don't, so I guess I will never find out. And that's not a good thing.

If you're looking for a fun, imaginative book, this is for you. If you like a little originality or realism, you may not enjoy it much. Or, like me, you may just consider it average.

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Tuesday, February 20, 2018

It's Tuesday

I'll be linking up with Stacy for some random thoughts.

It's been a heckuva six days for me!
First, the good stuff!
My daughter's boyfriend came to stay with us for a couple of days.  He took her out to a fancy dinner on Valentine's Day, even made reservations.  He's a great kid!  (age 23, yes, he's a kid!  She's 21.)

And then...
Thursday night, I had wished my sister happy birthday and visited a friend who just got out of the hospital, took my twins out to dinner, and got home.  At the top of our stairs, we have a landing, then there are 3 stairs going up to the left and 4 stairs on the right. Kind of like this:
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Well, I went up the stairs on the left to feed the cat.  I picked my stuff back up and went to go down the 3 stairs and up the 4 stairs to my room.  My hands were full, no handrail anyway.  I slipped and fell.
Causes of Concussion
My face broke my fall.  Yes, my face.  And partially my shoulder. My face hit one of the stairs on the other side before the rest of me hit the landing.  Didn't help that I was wearing boots with heels.  Hurt my foot, too, but the biggest problem?  Concussion.
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Headache, nausea, dizziness, sensitivity to light, fatigue, confusion., occasional blurry vision.
And ugly bruises on my chin and shoulder!

I have been off work since it happened, and I am supposed to be resting.  And I am.  Lots of resting.   They used to teach us that concussion patients shouldn't sleep much, if at all.  It's the opposite now. Can't look at the computer for too long in a row.  Or the TV.  Or a book.  Sleep.  Rest.  I'm starting to do household chores a little at a time to build up stamina and practice using my cognitive abilities.  It's really scary when the doctor tells you  that you have a mild traumatic brain injury, especially knowing that my father died of a brain injury.   You can read about that here. Scary stuff!  I'm scheduled to go back to work Thursday where I will be teaching 130 sixth graders and dealing with almost a thousand kids in the hallways.  Any advice?

And to lighten the mood a little...
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That's all, folks!

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Monday, February 19, 2018

Sunday Synopsis

Among the Barons (Shadow Children, #4)Among the Barons by Margaret Peterson Haddix
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Among the Barons is the fourth of seven books in Margaret Peterson Haddix's Shadow Children series. The series is built on the premise that severe food shortages and drought have led the country, run by a totalitarian government, to forbid couples to have more than two children. Those who choose to ignore the law have dire consequences if caught. Luke is a third child who is the main character of the series.

I liked the first two books in the series but not the third one, so I put off reading this fourth one for a long time. It started off slowly, but once it got into the meat of the story, it was good.

Luke has been living at the Hendrick's School for Boys under an assumed name, Lee Grant, a baron who died on the ski slopes. Unbeknownst to Luke, the School is admitting a new student, Smits Grant, who brings his bodyguard along. After a fire at the school, Smits and Lee/Luke, are sent home to their parents. The Grants have big plans for Lee and Smits, but you'll have to read to find out what happens.

This book would be classified as dystopian fiction for young adults. I think it is the perfect reading and interest level for grades 4 through 7. But I do believe adults who like an easy read occasionally would also enjoy the series.

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Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Thursday Thirteen

I only started drinking wine about six years ago.  I just didn't like it... until my husband's cousin refused to take no for an answer, and I learned to enjoy a good glass of wine, white wine mostly, but also an occasional sweet red.  BUT, the last two times I have had wine to drink on a school night, my whole night of sleep was disturbed, and today, I found the research to support that conclusion.  Here are some (fun) facts about wine.

1.  A new study shows that...
"drinking in the evening and before bedtime is associated with significant stimulating effects, compared to other times of day." So it wasn't all in my head!

2.  Red wine is more likely to keep you awake than white because it has properties in it that act as histamines.

3.  Did you know it takes about 2 1/2 pounds of grapes to make a bottle of wine?

4.  There are over 10.000 varieties of wine!

5.  We have the Mesopotamians to thank for inventing wine-making in 6,000 BC.

6.  Did you know that white wine gets darker as it ages?

7.  Corks didn't come into use until the 1780's.  This allowed vinters to be able to age wine directly in the bottle.

8.  Organic wine and wine made with organic grapes are not the same thing.  You can read further if you're interested.

9.  Watching calories?  You might like to know that a glass of wine has about the same number of calories as a glass of grape juice.

10.  I know what you people from California, Florida, and New York are doing!  These three states have the highest wine consumption in the US.

11.  California is the fourth highest wine-producer in the world following France, Italy, and Spain.

12.  "Drinking to your health" refers to ancient Greece when the host would take the first sip of wine to prove that it was not poisonous.

13. Plato believed a man should not taste wine before age 18 and drink it only in moderation until age 31.  According to Plato, a man over 40 can drink as much wine as he wants in order to cure the crabbiness of old age.  Hey!  What about women?  I get crabby, too!

I hope you enjoyed this bit about wine.  You can join Thursday Thirteen here.

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Monday, February 12, 2018

So Random!

I'm linking up with Stacy

This is post number 1,983 for me!  1983!  That's when I graduated from high school.  Those were easier times, huh?  I bet some of you weren't even born yet.  I may not be a spring chicken anymore, but I can still cluck like one!  Hahaha!  I crack me up!

Did you know you can  Save 15% on flowers sitewide at Teleflora? Same day delivery available with code AFLS1822. Offer valid through 2/28/2018.

Did you get something for your sweetie for Valentine's Day?  I got something small-ish.  Just a reminder that, as much as he may irritate me SOMETIMES, I still love him.  We went to our fancy dinner Sunday night.  Tomorrow, we'll probably eat at Whataburger.  We've done that a few times. It's almost a tradition.

What?  You've never heard of Whataburger?  Well, it's just about the best burger you could eat.  It beats In & Out by MILES!  I was expecting something special when I tried In & Out.  Boy was I disappointed.  The burger is small, nothing spectacular.  The fries are bland.  But, back to Whataburger.  If you're ever fortunate enough to eat one, may I suggest the Whataburger with Cheese, mayo, no mustard, lettuce and pickles only.  My husband likes his all-the-way.  And try a small side of gravy with your fries.  Or some spicy ketchup, my son's favorite.  You'll be glad you did.  And if you're lucky enough to live in one of these states, give Whataburger a try! (And no, I don't get anything if you do.  This is a free PSA!)

I haven't been keeping up with The Olympics.  Have you?  I've just been so busy.  Since I live in a state that is NOT known for snow, and I've never actually participated in any of them, it's hard to get too invested.  I enjoy watching ice dancing and figure skating, though.  I really look forward to the summer Olympics.  What is your favorite sport?

Have a great week!

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Valentine's Day Flowers for Your Sweetie

Save 15% on flowers sitewide! Same day delivery available with code AFLS1822. Offer valid through 2/28/2018.
Check out this Mad Crush Bouquet!

Sunday Synopsis

A is for Alibi (Kinsey Millhone, #1)A is for Alibi by Sue Grafton
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Why have I never read Sue Grafton? Her books have been on my TBR list since 2012. Finally, I came across a great deal through Book Bub and purchased this book. It's right up my alley! I love sleuthing stories!

The book is set in Santa Teresa, a fictional town that is loosely based on Santa Barbara, California. This book is the first in the "alphabet mystery" series. I'm not certain if the author or readers coined that phrase, but I liked this book enough to go ahead and purchase the next, B is for Burglar. I would like to read them in order, but I've already been offered a great deal on T (also through Book Bub), so I may not be able to read them chronologically, though it's my preference.

Kinsey Milhone, a former cop, has set up shop as a private investigator. She is approached by Niki Fife who was convicted of poisoning her husband. She maintains that, even though she has served 8 years for the crime, she is innocent, and she needs Kinsey's help to find the real killer. Can she clear Niki and restore her good name? You'll have to read to find out!

I really loved that there were several twists in the plot. As soon as I thought I had it figured out, the author threw a wrench in the plot, and I was off in a new direction. The writing is solid. Good characterization, believable characters and believable scenarios. The author paints a picture that is clear in the mind of the reader using sensory details and visual images. I was also impressed that there were no errors in grammar or spelling because, lately, I seem to come across things like that more often.

Grafton crafted a clever who-dun-it. Nook book available for about $2.99. Enjoy!

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Monday, February 05, 2018

Random Tuesday

Hello all!  I'm linking up with Stacy.

How 'bout them Eagles?  I don't really care much about football, but it's really exciting for them.  I was so proud to be a Houstonian when the Astros won the World Series.  I'm glad this gives Philadelphia a cause for celebration.  I don't understand the riots, though.  That is just not a way to demonstrate your pride.
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And how 'bout that Ryan McKenna?  What a lucky and exciting night he had taking selfies with Justin Timberlake.  I bet he gets all the girls now!

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But the commercials this year?  I was underwhelmed.  I think my least favorite was the Doritos Blaze vs. Mountain Dew Ice, even though Morgan Freeman is one of my favorite actors.  The TurboTax Thing Under the Bed was seriously freaky.  Actually, it's probably my least least favorite.  The M&Ms commercial with Danny DeVito  and the Alexa loses her voice were on the humorous side.  I got bored with all of the ads for new movies, though.  You can watch them ALL (plus the halftime show) HERE.

Since my daughter graduated from college, she is living at home right now.  I love it, but she doesn't, so she is actively looking for a job.  Things are done waaayyyy differently now than they were when I was her age.  Anyway, she cooks dinner at least once a week, which I could definitely get used to!  Here's what she made tonight (and it was delicious!):
Roasted Veggie Trapanese Pesto Pasta with Chicken Sausage  - Click for Recipe

I can't wait to eat something cooked by my husband in his new birthday present.  I got him this smoker, and I'm pretty sure he likes it and that after he cooks in it, he will love it.  I know I will!
Have a great week!

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Sunday, February 04, 2018

Sunday Synopsis

The City of Ember (Book of Ember, #1)The City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

After the barrage of dystopian novels that have been the rage for the last few years, this seemed like just another attempt to capitalize on the success of The Hunger Games and Divergent. Little did I know that it was published in 2003, many years before those books. Several of my students insisted that it was "so good!!!!" and encouraged me to read it, so I did. It's a fairly short, easy read.

The City of Ember is set in the future, what has been described as post-apocalyptic. The main characters are Doon and Lina who have been assigned their first jobs. The city was supposed to be a refuge, or perhaps an experiment, but the Builders never returned to Ember. Years and years have passed so that the people no longer remember any life before Ember, which is always dark and requires electricity. Things have run smoothly for who knows how long - until now. Stores of food and supplies are running low, the government is corrupt, and the electricity is beginning to fail. Doon and Lina must solve a mystery, initiated by Lina's grandmother, if they are to save the people of their city.

I liked that this book had a mysterious element with some suspense as it made me want to keep reading. There were some adventures along the way. And the ending is not really an ending, because, surprise, there is a sequel. I'm not sure if I care enough about the characters to invest my time in another book, though, as the book lacked character development. The friendship of Lina and Doon, their effort to solve a mystery that might save their community, and the snags that occur along the way are what kept me reading.

I would not put Ember on the same level as The Giver (which I read first although it was published two years later). Several parts that me of it. The Builders arranged things so the citizens would not have the memory of their previous lives. They have assigned jobs (at the tender age f 12) so that the city functions in an orderly manner. However, The Giver was deeper with more sophisticated conflicts and themes. Situations in Ember just seemed to be solved a little too easily for Lina and Doon. Oh, here are the items we need, what a coincidence.

For younger readers, this is a great starter dystopian book that does not get as violent as The Hunger Games or Divergent, nor does it require the same reading skill as The Giver, or even Matched. I would recommend this for grades 4-6. For adults, if you're needing a "bubble gum" book just to kill time, this should do the trick. And it's enjoyable.

Jeanne DuPrau beat all the others to the punch in the dystopian genre, and for that and her clever storyline, she deserves praise.

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