Monday, February 28, 2011

A New Thing to Do!

I love finding blogthings to do, and if they involve 1) books and 2) lists, they really can't get much better. I discovered this one here, and she discovered it here.


So. This blog that I will now be following, The Broke and the Bookish, has a thing on Tuesdays where they post top ten lists. That page I linked to above is a list of all their past top ten lists, and I am going to do my own versions here. 


List one: Childhood Favorites
(in no particular order)
  • A Wrinkle in Time, and the other books in the series, by Madeline L'Engle
  • The Prydain Chronicles, by Lloyd Alexander
  • The Babysitters Club, by Ann M. Martin
  • some of the Sweet Valley books, by Francine Pascal
  • Nancy Drew/the Hardy Boys/Trixie Belden, by Carolyn Keene/Franklin W. Dixon/Kathryn Kenny
  • Number the Stars, by Lois Lowry
  • The Chronicles of Narnia, by C.S. Lewis
  • Summer of the Monkeys, by Wilson Rawls
  • Sideways Stories from Wayside School, by Louis Sachar
  • The Phantom Tollbooth, by Norton Juster
Alternates:
  • Wait Till Helen Comes--Mary Downing Hahn
  • Island of the Blue Dolphins--Scott O'Dell
  • Little House on the Prairie--Laura Ingalls Wilder
  • Daughter of the Mountains--Louise Rankin
  • Ramona Quimby, Age 8, by Beverly Cleary
I have a hard time remembering any more than this, although I know there were more, but this covers the most important ones. The Narnia series, the Prydain Chronicles, the Babysitters Club, and A Wrinkle in Time were probably the biggest ones for me, and lasted the longest as favorites.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Living History, by Hillary Rodham Clinton--7/10

I was seven years old when Bill Clinton was elected president, so I knew very little before reading this book. (You will probably not be surprised to hear that the only part of his presidency I did know about at the time was Monica Lewinsky. Incidentally, I am a little bit proud of my teenaged self, because even back then I remember feeling that although what he'd done was seriously wrong, it wasn't something to be impeached over because it wasn't related to his presidency. This is impressive coming from the girl who, even though she knew literally not one thing about politics or even who anyone besides the president was, wrote in her journal that she was "starting to be really afraid that Al Gore would win," and how awful that would be. Yikes.)


Anyway, I digress. Like I said in my Goodreads review, I have always kind of liked Hillary, even when I knew nothing about her; I actually preferred her to Obama in the 2008 campaign, and if she would have won the nomination, I absolutely would have voted for her. I hope she runs again in the future, and I really hope she wins. Reading about her years as First Lady was fascinating, and the more I learned about the issues that are important to her and the work she did to support them, the more I liked her, both politically and personally. 


Hillary Rodham Clinton had a pretty crappy time as First Lady. For one thing, her husband was the first president ever to have a civil lawsuit brought against him while he was president. Throughout Clinton's entire eight years of presidency, the two of them were investigated in one trumped-up "scandal" after another, not one of which ever resulted in their being found guilty. (I don't include Monica Lewinsky in this because although it was true that he had an affair with her, the charges that Lewinsky was used to bring against him ended up failing. Even though the Republican-controlled Congress voted to impeach him, when they actually tried him, they didn't have near enough votes to find him guilty--and even some Republicans voted not guilty. Considering the bitterness of the Democrat/Republican rivalry during his presidency, that is saying something.) Imagine going through that with your husband, and raising a teenage daughter at the same time.


And yet in spite all of that, Hillary spent the entire eight years doing serious civil rights work around the world and within our country, particularly in the defense of women and families. In the U.S. she worked on health care reform, making adoption easier and improving the care of foster children, and around the world she was one of the most prominent political figures of the 90s. Considering that she's still a part of our political landscape, and that most people of our age weren't really old enough to know anything about her as First Lady except what our parents thought, I think this kind of reading is a pretty good idea.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

The Maze Runner, by James Dashner--7/10

I almost feel less capable of talking about this book after having finished it than I did when I was halfway through, because the ending opens up so much more of the story before leaving you hanging. It's very much like The Hunger Games, where you knew halfway through that there would have to be sequels, because there was no way this whole story could be finished in one book. (Also because this book has been out for a while and you've already seen the sequel around.)

It's also like The Hunger Games in the sense of the sick "game" created in dystopian society and controlled by unknown authorities, in which teenagers are used like pawns and killed. The story begins in a pitch-black elevator, where Thomas wakes up and realizes that his name is the only thing he remembers about his entire life. He can remember generic things about the world, like what a movie theater is, but can't remember ever having seen a movie himself; knows what parents are, but has no memories of his; and so on. When the elevator stops moving and the doors open, a group of boys pulls him out and introduces him to his new life in the Maze.



If you liked The Hunger Games, you'll probably like The Maze Runner, although it isn't as good. It took a little while to hook me, but after a while I just kept getting more interested as I read, and then the last forty or fifty pages in particular were impossible to put down. Unfortunately it looks like I'm going to have to wait a while to find The Scorch Trials at any of my libraries, but I've got it on hold in any case.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Facebook Sting

Everyone has Facebook friends they're not really friends with--people they went to high school with but never even spoke to, friends of friends who just like to have tons of connections and whom you humored by accepting their request, distant cousins you've never met... And so on. So it isn't really a big deal when you occasionally get unfriended; I've unfriended plenty of that kind myself. 


What hurts, though, is when you realize one day that you've been unfriended by people you used to be really close with; people who were some of your absolute best friends, who you talked to constantly and about everything in the entire world, who you've known for years and still talked to up until a few months ago--and in some cases still talk to (present tense!) in certain situations like the blogosphere or email or wherever. 


All friends have differences arise between them, and sometimes you find out things about people that you never would have expected. Sometimes people drift apart. But it's just kind of crappy to find out that, even though you've never fought about it or anything, someone decided that those differences were significant enough that they didn't want to be your friend anymore--not even your Facebook friend, which is just about the most meaningless type of friend there is. 


It's a sad day.

Kind of Love This



[Update: The embedded video doesn't work anymore, so go watch here.]

Saturday, February 19, 2011

It's an Interesting Night!

In the first place, Mike and I are babysitting right now, which we don't do often--and not for one of our nieces, but for Hannah Jo! I haven't seen her in about seven months, and I cannot believe how much she's changed in that time. She talks in sentences, for one thing, and she's at least several inches taller. She's a kid now, not a baby at all, and it was absolutely bizarre seeing her again (in a really great way)!

In the second place, my aunt Virginia is getting in tonight, then staying for less than 24 hours before heading off to Dallas for business--and then my maternal grandmother is getting here Monday morning from Israel and staying for a week.

And finally, we are spending the evening with Bridget Jones, one of my favorite fictional people in the world. It's a good night!

Time Warp Confusion

I'm reading Living History, Hillary Rodham Clinton's autobiography, and the section I've just been reading has been kind of trippy because it parallels what's happening in 2011 really closely. In 1995 the Democrats lost their majority in the House (for the first time in 40 years); the Democrat president was fighting House Republicans over budget reform; and the federal government actually ran out of money and had to shut down (which is what we're looking at in the next two weeks). I'm having trouble remembering that I'm reading about fifteen years ago and not today! It's funny, and also sad... that instead of working together to move forward, our government fights against itself and moves in circles. 


In related news, I am seriously concerned about rumors that Newt Gingrich might attempt a run for president. I realize that my current reading is probably not the most objective presentation of what Gingrich is like in a position of power, but if even half of it is true--and that much I have a hard time doubting--I think I would actually rather see a President Palin than a President Gingrich. Despite his unfortunate resemblance to my favorite most beloved bishop of all time, man oh man oh man, would that guy and I not get along.


That is all. 

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Working

Today was a longer day at work, so it's a very very good thing I put a new audiobook on my iPod last night. It's I Am the Messenger, by Marcus Zusak, and it is fantastic! It's been a while since I had such a hard time putting a book down (or in this case, stopping listening).

Mike was working in Dallas today and didn't have a long route, but then it turned out that his last stop is in Fort Worth, which was a pretty crappy thing for his office to do to him. Since I'm already out and his work is on my way home, I'm hanging out at the Allen library until he's closer so I can pick him up.

I'm finding that it's difficult for me to listen and type at the same time.

My tummy is very hungry! It's a good thing I grabbed those two chicken tacos at Taco Bueno before I got to work, because I'm starving as it is. No idea what to do for dinner tonight, though, and it's always a bummer having to start cooking when we get home from work. Boo.

I'm checking out a lot of classical CDs, which is making me happy. Chopin, Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninoff, and Peter and the Wolf (Sergei Prokofiev) and Carnival of the Animals (Camille Saint-Saens). I've always loved "Aquarium" and "The Swan," ever since I learned them in my fourth-grade music class. Classical music is my favorite.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Breakfast of Champions, by Kurt Vonnegut--7.5/10

As it turns out, I like Kurt Vonnegut.


Breakfast of Champions is about Kilgore Trout, an obscure (and made-up) science fiction writer who appears in a lot of Vonnegut's books, and an insane man named Dwayne Hoover. Kilgore Trout has written a book in the form of a letter from the Creator of the Universe to the reader, and what the letter says is that the reader is the only human on the planet, and everyone else is a robot. Dwayne Hoover reads the book and believes it (because he is insane). 


Unfortunately I am not in the mood right now to be able to do justice to Kurt Vonnegut's writing, but if you've read any of his books, you know why I like him. He's a social satirist with a dark sense of humor, an artistic style, and a bluntness that is fantastically refreshing. I'm glad I already have Cat's Cradle on the shelf to pick up next.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Save Public Broadcasting!

Please, take about thirty seconds to go to this website, fill in your name and address, and contact your representatives to let them know that people aren't okay with having public broadcasting cut! (Okay, I know there's a good chance many of you don't actually care one way or another, but Mike and I do, so do it for us! And for Sesame Street!!) Seriously. This is the only radio I can stand.

Happy Valentine's Day, Nerds!

Friday, February 11, 2011

Ohmmmmm

Yikes, I am grouchy tonight. Things are just getting under my skin and I finally had to get off Facebook and close all my tabs that had news articles open. Before I move on to distracting myself, I will just tell you that sometimes it's frustrating when you see something that someone wrote on a Facebook friend's wall, and you think it's completely absurd, but you can't comment because the person who wrote it is, say, an older relative or member of their church or something, and you don't even know them so you feel like it would be rude to start debating with them, especially on someone else's wall. 


And I will also tell you that reading the news, particularly political articles, can be risky business when you are already in the mood to be irritated to death with people. I will admit right now that I hardly knew anything about Mitt Romney before tonight, so the fact that I had no unfavorable feelings toward him doesn't really mean much. And maybe my dislike of him will fade tomorrow when I am not so worked up about everything, I don't know. But for tonight... UGH.


So, anyway. I am pretty much done with computering for the day, and I am going to go read Kurt Vonnegut and then try to relax before going to sleep. Tomorrow I'm helping Dafni and Brandon move to Fort Worth, and I don't want to be up too late because I was exhausted all day. Time to relax. And maybe I'll put some yoga music on.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Snack Time

Dafni and I were at Whole Foods today picking up a few things, and I decided that they have the best snacks pretty much in the world. Here are my top picks:


These Snapea Crisps are some of my favorite somewhat-healthy snacks (enough so that I'm starting to think I may even have written about them before).


Organic chocolate truffles. I don't think I need to explain.


Challah bread makes the most fantastic toast, and Whole Foods sells a great one. If I'm not careful, I can eat the whole loaf myself in less than three days.


We discovered that the oatmeal flavor of Barbara's Snackimals is AMAZING. I had to stop myself stealing them from my one-year-old niece. The flavor is nice but nothing special when you first put it in your mouth, but then after a second a different sweetness kicks in, and you want to devour the whole bag instantly. Which you should not do, because it's a fairly large bag... but maybe it's okay if you buy the individually-sized ones.


Stacy's Pita Chips are my current favorite salty snack. I usually don't like the original flavor of pretty much anything, but the Simply Naked pita chips are awesome.


My family is in love with the chocolate coconut macaroons they sell there, although we didn't get any today.


And we snacked on garlic ciabatta bites while we shopped. These are house-made for the soup bar, so I have no link for you, but take my word that they were amazing--especially since they're between 50 and 75 cents for a bag of about 12 pieces.


Some of these things are available at places other than Whole Foods--like the pita chips, which I know you can get at Target and Walmart--but this is just where we happen to find them. And now... I am off to find some Snackimals.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

100 YA Books for Feminist Readers

Do you ever see something on a friend's blog and get really excited about it, start to comment, and then realize you're writing so much that you need to just write your own blog post? (I assume you've figured out that that's what happened to me... And happens rather a lot, if we're being honest.)


No idea how long it's been out there, but I just discovered this list of 100 Young Adult Books for Feminist Readers. And now I am going to talk about it. 


How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents by Julia Alvarez has been on my to-read list for a while, and is on my literal bookshelf at home right now. It's one of the next few I'm going to read, after I finish Dramarama and either Living History or Breakfast of Champions (whichever comes first). The Book Thief by Markus Zusak and For the Win by Cory Doctorow have also been on the list for a long time, but I haven't gotten there yet. 


Books I read as a kid and loved, but need to read again because after fifteen years I don't remember much except that I loved them:
The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle by Avi
Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech
Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh
Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell
Books that immediately became some of my favorites:
A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray 
Graceling by Kristin Cashore
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart
A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’engle
Number the Stars by Lois Lowry
The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman
The Ruby in the Smoke by Philip Pullman
From this list, I've also read Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson, Wintergirls by Laurie Halse AndersonAre You There God? It's Me, Margaret by Judy Blume, The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros, Ella Echanted by Gail Carson Levine, The Member of the Wedding by Carson McCullers, and Uglies by Scott Westerfeld. 


I would like to eventually read most of these, but The Midwife's Apprentice by Karen Cushman, Dreamland by Sarah Dessen, The Year They Burned the Books by Nancy Garden, The Blue Sword by Robin McKinley, and Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred D. Taylor are the ones I'll probably be picking up soonest.


What do you think of the list? Which ones have you read?

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Things I've Learned Today

Monsters Inc. isn't as funny as I used to think it was, but the end definitely makes me almost cry.


Lana doesn't eat grapes anymore. She used to love them, so it's taken me several days to realize that they are the food she most consistently doesn't eat; she just holds them in her mouth for hours and hours and hours until we notice that there's still food in there, and make her spit it out. 


We may have a couple more snow days coming up. The snow is only supposed to be for one day, but the high on Thursday is 34, so it's possible that it won't melt until mid-Friday, and a Facebook friend who's a teacher said that her class met with a meteorologist today who told them that they probably wouldn't have school Wednesday and Thursday. Guess I should be one of the people going to the store tonight and stocking up, because I have pretty much nothing in the way of groceries right now. Sigh.


In other news, I had a weird incident last night in which I woke up feeling like I was about to throw up. I'd actually been dreaming about feeling that way, and then I woke up and my whole torso felt really tight and I was super nauseated. I spent about an hour on the bathroom floor feeling horrible but wasn't able to really throw up. I got rid of the tiniest, tiniest bit, and then I drank water to try and help me throw up more, but instead it made me feel better so I got back in bed.


Then I slept in and the car was frosted over and there was a school bus picking up kids in my neighborhood, so I was late to work. Good times. I'm pretty lucky in my work situation, though, since it's so close by; even with all of that, I was only ten minutes late.

Monday, February 7, 2011

My New Favorite Quote

"An error does not become truth by reason of multiplied propagation, nor does truth become error because nobody sees it." --Mahatma Gandhi

Saturday, February 5, 2011

It's not right for a woman to read! Soon she starts getting ideas, and thinking...

So, in case you are interested (and I know you are), here are the books I have out from my libraries right now. Remember the Wylie library has closed until March because they're moving to the new building, and none of their books are due until April--so naturally, we stocked up.


The Lost Hero--Rick Riordan
How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents--Julia Alvarez
Mirror Mirror--Gregory Maguire
Why Are We in Vietnam?--Norman Mailer
The Maze Runner--James Dashner
Freedom--Jonathan Franzen
Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister--Gregory Maguire
Dramarama--E. Lockhart
The Weed that Strings the Hangman's Bag--Alan Bradley
Dandelion Wine--Ray Bradbury
Homeland--Barbara Kingsolver
Night--Elie Wiesel
Breakfast of Champions--Kurt Vonnegut
Cat's Cradle--Kurt Vonnegut
Fed Up!--Rick Perry
My Life--Bill Clinton
Living History--Hillary Rodham Clinton (what I'm reading right now)
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy--Douglas Adams (what I'm listening to right now) 
The Man in the High Castle--Philip K. Dick

Books I probably won't get around to before I have to return them because I have so much other stuff to read:


The Other Boleyn Girl--Philippa Gregory
Brideshead Revisited--Evelyn Waugh
The Namesake--Jhumpa Lahiri
Al Capone Shines My Shoes--Geniffer Choldenko
Billy Budd, Sailor--Herman Melville (audiobook)
Madame Bovary--Gustave Flaubert (audiobook)
Les Miserables--Victor Hugo (audiobook)


And finally, other books I have on my to-read shelf that didn't come from the library:


Nickel and Dimed--Barbara Ehrenreich
Les Miserables--Victor Hugo (not audio)
Running with Scissors--Augusten Burroughs
Bel Canto--Anne Patchett
I Am America (And So Can You!)--Stephen Colbert
The Witch of Portobello--Paulo Coelho
The Elephanta Suite--Paul Theroux
Even the Stars Look Lonesome--Maya Angelou (reading now)
The Scarlet Pimpernel--Baroness Orczy
Wuthering Heights--Emily Bronte (want to reread)
Crime and Punishment--Fyodor Dostoevsky (I've been halfway through it for about five years now)
Voices of Protest: Documents of Courage and Dissent--Lowenstein, Lechner, and Bruun (eds.)


Don't worry, these are just my books; Mike has his own stash, to which we added significantly this afternoon when we stopped by Allen to return the last batch. Have I ever mentioned that I love libraries?

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Why Are Those Logs Moving?

The Princess and the Frog is definitely one of my favorite Disney movies. Mike and I just watched it last night, and this afternoon I'm watching it with Lana (determined to get her to start watching something besides Sesame Street). It doesn't get old! And I could listen to this music all day.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Remember the Chill Pill?

Yikes. It seems like everyone's getting offended really easily lately, which is lame. Relax, people! Some things are really dumb and not worth getting upset about. 


In other news, I am exhausted... And in other news, there is no news to share at the moment. Except that I would almost buy some Apple products just to put these decals on them:







And finally, I just think this picture is really awesome:
That is Megan's wedding photographer taking a picture of Mike taking a picture of Lindsey and me. He took several like this, actually... Apparently he thought Lindsey and I were pretty amusing, and we all had a good laugh while he took pictures of our antics.


Good times.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Snow Day

It's a snow day! When Mike and I woke up this morning to check our phones and see if work was cancelled, we heard it raining ice outside. When we officially woke up a couple hours later,  the front door was frozen shut (we haven't been able to open it all day) and you could ice skate on the street outside. My insane dad still managed to go to in to work, but pretty much the rest of north Texas stayed home--and it's looking like tomorrow will be the same. The temperature hovered around 19 degrees today, and I heard somewhere that the overnight low is supposed to be 4 (although weather.com says 12, so who knows).
Not gonna lie, we were not prepared for a snow day and it ended up being a little boring at times. Mike and I did watch Red and several episodes of Friends, and my mom and I baked a lot in the evening, but Benjamin mostly walked around making annoying noises because he was so bored. Tomorrow is also a snow day, though, so we have some yummy potato soup and other things planned.