Monday, October 29, 2012

Hurricane To Do List (at least until the power goes out)

  • Check
  • Bake stuff
  • Go on Facebook
  • Watch The Avengers
  • Go on Facebook
  • Check email
  • Check email again
  • Go back on Facebook
  • Look out window
  • Check again
  • Watch lights flicker
  • Stare at until eyesight becomes blurry
  • Go back on Facebook. Stay there.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Notes from an IT Presentation

After sitting through an IT presentation about "new" technology that we have recently received with our latest Microsoft update, I have a few notes I'd like to share. When you work for IT and are trying to convince colleagues to use new technology:
  • Don't start the meeting with technical difficulties. If IT can't get it to work, how do you expect us to use it?
  • Don't sound like you are convincing yourself how easy it is. If it's easy, we'll figure it out. If not, no amount of pontificating will convince us to use it.
  • Don't assume that your normal non-IT colleagues have the same snazzy equipment as you do. If it's not standard-issue, we don't have it.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Snapshot Book Review: Gold

GoldGold by Chris Cleave
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is more than a book for cycling enthusiasts. This is a book for athletes. And also for parents. A book for anyone running from something in their past, and anyone who has been betrayed by a close friend. It's a book for readers who crave fully developed, complex, dynamic characters. It's a book for writers looking to read more good writing.

Gold is about Kate and Zoe: two elite British track cyclists who have competed against each other for their entire lives. Their final showdown will be the 2012 London Olympic games. However, as Cleave gradually reveals the backstory of each character, the reader begins to realize that the real conflict is not just about who will win gold at the Olympic games.

As an endurance and recreational cyclist, I sincerely appreciate the research Cleave did in order to render his athletes both believable and compelling. As an avid reader and sometimes-writer, I appreciate the complexity with which he develops his characters in the readers' mind.

I now must go back and read his previous two novels. I sincerely hope they were as well crafted as this one.

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Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Snapshot Book Review: Divergent

Divergent (Divergent, #1)Divergent by Veronica Roth
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Maybe, if I hadn't just read the considerably better Hunger Games, or if I didn't habitually read bad "pop action" books--like, well, anything by Iris Johansen--where every female lead is weak-but-strong (you know, where she "should" be a weakling but just keeps doing all of these incredibly amazing things to save herself and every other "good guy" in the novel), or maybe if I actually was still twelve years old and cleaning out the YA section of the library every time I visited, maybe then I could give this book a more positive review.

For dystopian fiction, it ultimately isn't bad. It just isn't particularly good, either. There were a few slightly promising characters . . . until they too became caricatures, fulfilling the stereotypical roles of "evil bad guy" or "eternally patient, protective, good (but bad) boy." The settings were interesting . . . until the reader starts to wonder about them (e.g. who controls the trains and why don't they ever stop them to let other factions ride?).

Ultimately, I guess I just had higher expectations. But then again, if I were still a "true" young adult, I might have loved this book. So I can't be completely disappointed.

After all, it's hard to pan a book that uses faction names to teach kids vocabulary words. Did anyone else know what the word "amity" meant before reading this book?

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Thursday, October 11, 2012

A Nightcap

Prompt: Take an element from the first prompt responses and use that, somehow, in the a new piece. (My element was a line from J___'s piece, "A nightcap. Isn't that an odd word.")

Time: 10 minutes


A nightcap. Isn't that an odd word. It was usually more like a nightstart or a nightpour, at least with his mother. He couldn't think of one time when she sat down to have a nightcap and the cap actually stayed on the bottle. Usually, the refrigerator would rumble four or five times at least, ice plinking down into her newly empty cup. Then there would be a silence until the light creak of her footsteps on the stairs. Then silence again, until her lavender hair brushed his face, her sour breath mixing with the smells of summer.

Tonight was no different. At eight on the dot, she sent him up to bed. He climbed the stairs alone, wiggling his toes down into the worn carpet rectangle on each step before lifting his foot to the next. It lasted longer that way.

He would rather stay down with her, in the soft lamplight, snuggled under blankets with an ear pressed to the radio. Well, maybe not right against it. She only let him do that when she had already started, maybe one or two in. But with each step up the stairs, the air grew colder and the house grew darker, and when he reached the landing, he knew he was the last little boy left in the whole world.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Snapshot Book Review: The Sisters

The SistersThe Sisters by Nancy Jensen
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

It's undeniable that this writer has talent. However, she should have stuck to a few fewer pairs of sisters. By the time you start to feel compassion for a character (even one who you previously despised after reading about them from another character's point of view), you are whisked off in time to meet a new character at a new stage of life, and eventually there are just too many women introduced and all vying for your sympathies as a reader to care about any of them.

If Jensen writes another book, I'll likely look for it, because I really enjoyed her writing style. She has a way of getting the heart of each character's motivation quickly and effectively that I sincerely admire. However, this book just didn't do it for me.

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