Thursday, March 26, 2009
I came to visit over Easter and we spent the entire time holed up in her apartment watching NCAA basketball on her cable-less TV. It was a miserable picture and she only got three channels. (I did not require that of her but she thought cable was unnecessary for the six months she was living alone.) Our joint visit the previous November had been great with wonderful weather. For this, my second visit we had miserable weather. It was cold and rainy. The chilly rain fell steadily for the most part with intermittent periods of heavy rain. It destroyed any desire we had to sight see in Washington. In fact, we skipped a planned guided tour of the U.S. Capitol Building. (Five years later we still haven't managed to visit the Capitol.) I'm reminded of that crummy weather because that's the kind of weather we had today. Cold, steady, drippy rain fell all afternoon. Unpleasant, but a good thing really because it has been pretty dry here all winter and we could use the wet to fill the reservoir.
Wednesday, March 25, 2009
Sunday, March 22, 2009
My brother Larry (pictured above) is in town for the Maryland Arms Collectors Antique Arms Show at the Maryland State Fairgrounds in Timonium. He called us and we drove over to spend some time with him and view all the exhibits. It is more weaponry than you can even imagine. Larry says this is the premier gun show in the country and that people wait for years to be able to have a table at the event. He was working a table with a friend with whom he works on guns. While I was there a man came up asking for a stop pin for a blunderbuss. Yeah--a blunderbuss--those short little stocky guns they used during the early years of guns.
Lots of people were exhibiting their guns and others were selling. There were tables and tables of revolvers and rifles from the Civil War, Revolutionary War, World War I and II. Lots of displays of uniforms and medals and buttons and powder horns intricately carved.
Here is a picture of Japanese armor and a fabulous statue of a knight on a rearing horse.
We had a lot of fun and it was wonderful to see Larry and meet his friends. He is very knowledgeable about weaponry and the Civil War which is a common interest for us. And we stopped and bought new Vera Bradley purses on the way home. Can't beat that with a stick!
Saturday, March 21, 2009
Fortunately, I am saved from the looming feeling of failure that comes from a weekend spent without anything more interesting happening than a stellar game of Zuma. My brother has called. Yes, those who know me are probably gasping in shock. My brother. Larry is in town at a gun show at the fairgrounds. I did wonder who kept calling me from an Indianapolis number. The first call was at 7:30 Friday morning. No one spoke. I assumed some one's rear-end had called me accidentally. The second message was a male voice muttering about a gun show. I think he actually identified himself in the third message. So Judy and I will be going to the fairgrounds tomorrow to meet up with Larry. Thus, my weekend is saved from failure. I now have something to report when the "How was your weekend?" questions start flying.
Friday, March 20, 2009
Awww, man. So soon? I thought sure we'd make it to the Sweet Sixteen. At least I didn't watch it. I thought Illinois was playing Friday. (I've been a little distracted.) I don't think I could handle a mega-dose of hives right now. Here's a link to the article about the game.
Wednesday, March 18, 2009
Monday, March 16, 2009
Sunday, March 15, 2009
I just finished reading all the books published so far in Sharon Shinn's The Twelve Houses series. Sharon Shinn is a wonderful author of fantasy/science fiction books. Her Samaria series which begins with Jovah's Angel is fabulous too.
The stories are set in the country of Gillengaria, which is made up of twelve territories run by major and minor families. The time period is pre-industrial with vassals and what-not. The first four books have a connected and continuing story arc about a period of rebellion and revolution in the southern territories.
The fantasy element of the story is that some of the people of Gillengaria are "mystics" or have magic. The book's main characters are Senneth; a mystic who can control fire and heal; Tayse; a King's Rider--the ultimate soldier dedicated to the King; Kirra; a mystic who can shape change; Donnal-a mystic who can shape change--vassal to Kirra; Justin; a King's Rider recruited by Tayse, and Cammon-a mystic who can read other people's feelings and thoughts. The core group are present in all the books. They are the ensemble cast of the series, so to speak.
The first book, Mystic and Rider is about the group's adventures in the southern region gathering Intel for the King about the rebellion and the rise of a new religious order which persecutes mystics. The bulk of the story is told from Senneth and Tayse's points of view.
Senneth and Tayse end up in love--so Shinn throws in a little romance, which I always enjoy.
The second book, The Thirteenth House is Kirra's story. The rebellion is gathering momentum and the King's choice for a regent for his teenage daughter is kidnapped. This is a bittersweet book because Kirra falls in love with the regent and begins an affair with him. He's married though and it can't and doesn't end happily from that point of view but it was a great story.
Dark Moon Defender, is the story of Justin's undercover investigation into the religious order Daughters of the Pale Moon. He has some exciting times while separated from the group. He too, falls in love with an utterly unsuitable novice in the order. The rest of the group are accompaning Princess Amalie on a tour of some of the territories.
The final book in the story arc, Reader and Raelynx is Cammon's story. He is given the job of protecting Amalie and helping to choose a husband for her by reading the intentions of the various suitors. Unfortunately, he and Amalie spend so much time together that THEY fall in love. The war breaks out in earnest and the King is killed. The book comes to a terrible and powerful conclusion--but happy--for those who insist on such things. (And I do.)
I think Shinn intended to finish the series with Reader. I have not insider knowledge, but I think that this world was just too good to leave. The next, but hopefully not last book is Fortune and Fate. It is something of a stand-alone book. It is about Wen, a King's Rider who appeared in the previous books as a secondary character. Senneth, Tayse and the gang all show up in this book but they are not the focus of it. After four books you might assume all those southern factions that rebelled against the King were evil--but this book shows the aftermath. The people left behind who were damaged and how they recover.
I enjoyed every one of these books. In fact, I stayed up way too late trying to finish a couple of them which accounts for my obsession with sleep this week. Any book that keeps you reading because you just have to know what happens next, even when you have an early faculty meeting is a good book. I really cared about the characters and I wanted everyone to be happy and to survive. Shinn made me worry that they might not all survive which certainly added tension! I highly recommend the series and I award it a five out of five stars.
Friday, March 13, 2009
Thursday, March 12, 2009
Tuesday, March 10, 2009
Sunday, March 08, 2009
"So you think that money is the root of all evil?" said Francisco d'Anconia. "Have you ever asked what is the root of money? Money is a tool of exchange, which can't exist unless there are goods produced and men able to produce them. Money is the material shape of the principle that men who wish to deal with one another must deal by trade and give value for value. Money is not the tool of the moochers, who claim your product by tears, or of the looters, who take it from you by force. Money is made possible only by the men who produce. Is this what you consider evil?
Friday, March 06, 2009
Thursday, March 05, 2009
First up, Jessie Langseth from Minnesota: She's grateful for the opportunity. Randy thinks she needs to show her range. So she's gonna do that. She's singing "Tell Me Something Good". Whoa. She's got a whole retro look going on with the hair and outfit. She's yell-singing right from the get-go. She---whoa---just got a look at how short her skirt is--I think she's going for the sex sells advantage. Meanwhile, singing-wise, she was off key. It wasn't good. The judges note that she sang off-key. Paula's impressed with her "tenacity". Cuz that's what you need in a singing competition.
Matt Giraud is up next. He's singing for his life. He wants us to go "WOW". He's singing "Here's Loving You" by the Jackson 5. He's got a whole hat and scarf thing going on. He's really driving the R & B thing. He appears to be channeling Ray Charles. The audience love him. Judges think he was a little "over the top". Ohh, burn. Simon thinks he was a bit Taylor Hicks. Can't get a worse comparison on Idol.
Hippie Chick--Megan Joy Corkrey. She's thanking her lucky stars. She's gonna rock house. She's singing "Black Horse". Sadly, I have no idea what song that is...Full sleeve tattos are on display...she's straightened her hair...and she's twitching her hips and shoulders...Hmm, isn't that the behavior that ruined her first performance?? She's not bad but she acts weird. I confess this may reveal my utter unfamiliarity with current culture and music. She really likes putting her hands on her hips. She didnt' suck. Naturally, Paula noted first thing that she looks beautiful. Simon likes her and thinks she's terrific. She's current. (Judy and I think that she might be Lilly Allen-ish or Amy Winehouse-ish. Which could be why I didn't recognize the song.) I suspect she'll make it through because she's different from all the others.
Von Smith is up next. He's ecstatic to be asked back for the wild card round. He wants to show what he can do (like he hasn't been given that opportunity once already.) He's singing "Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word"---didn't he already do Elton John? He's voice is all chipmunky as we called in in Robin/JudyWorld.
Ohh, very whiny sounding. He also has Alfafa Hair...very pointy at the top. Apparently, he chose to ignore Simon's advice about wearing a hat. Meanwhile, Simon thinks he's boring. He's too earnest.
Jasmine Murray thinks it's unbelieveable to be here and experience this. She's planning to show off her vocal ability. She's singing "Reflection" by Christina Aguilara. Nice ombre dress that goes from black to magenta. Judy criticizes her pronunciations first thing "art" instead of "heart". She's yelling pretty good. It sounds like a Disney soundtrack. She's best in the quiet parts---she way over-sang the loud bits trying to out Christina, Christina. Randy thinks she was better than last time, but the song was too big for her. (He generally thinks all songs are too big for everybody except, Mariah and Whitney.) Simon gave her a mostly good review.
Here comes, Ricky Braddy. Interesting name--very rythmic. His performance before was "flawless". He feels that he needs to just show his personality and he'll be in it. He's singing "Superstitious". Judy thinks he's good--very comfortable on stage. I don't like the white shoes but then, I have issues with white shoes. He too is going for the pointy hair head look. Simon doesn't think he made the impression he could have made. He's disappointed. Bad song choice--the dread karoake--darn it..I don't know how to spell that.
Is it..is it...yes! It's Tatiana "Crazy Girl" Del Toro time. Freak-extraordinary. I KNEW she would be brought back--she's gives good "television". The producers couldn't resist. She's telling us from her heart how much this all means to her. She has love for everyone and everything. Meanwhile, I don't think sentiment will do it. But hey--good television is good television. She's ready to sing for you America, thank you so much. She's singing "Saving All My Love For You". Judy is gobsmacked. Didn't she sing this already?? Didn't she plan another song? Is this the same dress too? Mind you--I thought she was good the first time. Her gestures seem oddly familiar. Hm....well, rehearsed even. Meanwhile, after singing, she started shouting that she loves the judges. Who would think she's trying to influence the judges? Just because she has a history of begging. In case you didnt' know, she really really really really really really really really really really really really wants a spot in the top twelve. Paula is so discombobulated she can barely form a sentence. Wait, that's how she normally acts. Simon gives her a really hard time about singing the same song again. I predict that she'll make it through again. Wait and see. Her television draw is just TOO good.
Anoop Desai is ecstatic too. There's alot of that going around with these wild card contestants. He wants to show the judges that Noop Dog is back. He's singing, "My Perogative". The audience is going nuts. He's even winkin' and sexifyin'. He's sings very well. Simon doesn't think he's the best singer we're going to hear but he's likeable. Boring singers don't get put through. They need personality too. (Tatiana anyone? I'm tellin' ya)
The results--probably decided before the show. Here's how it plays--Jasmine is in. They do the traditional and STUPID mis-direct which I fell for. Dang it. Ricky is out. Tatiana is out. Megan is in. I'm SHOCKED. I really thought good television would win out--(Tatiana should have sung a new song. Also, she needed to not be such a drama queen. Idol already had a prima donna in Taylor Hicks. Apparently, they don't want another one. Still-I'm surprised. I'll leave my wrong prediction in because I'm honest.) One more to go...and rats...the dvr cut out too soon and I have no idea who the last pick is going to be. Oh, well....guess I'll find out when somebody else blogs it.
Wednesday, March 04, 2009
Tuesday, March 03, 2009
Well, Terrific Tuesday is winding down for me. I'm home from work enjoying the quiet respite between my getting home and Judy's arrival. She's still slogging away at the salt mines, poor thing, but I am not. During this time, I usually talk to Jeri Lynn on the phone, (she calls a lot) blog, read, nap, and otherwise engage in total sloth. Occasionally, I cook or do some chore. Not today---I'm exhausted from my shortened work day. :O)
So, I'm sippin' a cup of french vanilla coffee and pondering my next book read. I finished Sharon Shinn's Mystic and Rider last night. I should read a biography next for the book challenge. I have many, many choices but I just don't have the energy to decide. Should I go with a Lincoln book, a royalty book, Oscar Wilde's secret life, or Emily Dickinson? Lately, I find I am doing a great deal of waffling on book choice. I have started but not finished about a dozen books. I keep thinking if I just pick them up again I can quickly get my page numbers up in the book challenge. (Currently, I appear to be in last place. I can't figure it out. I am the fast reader. Judy is the slow reader. Karen is in second place and she is the super super fast reader. How is Judy doing it? I suspect cheating. I know there is sabotage! going on in the evening. No sane person flips the mute button on and off so many times otherwise. By the way, please be sure to say the word "sabotage" in a hissing whisper, otherwise that sentence loses something.)
What I really want to read is the next book in Sharon Shinn's series, The Twelve Houses. Since I generally do what I want to do, I think I will stop blogging and start reading The Thirteenth House.
Monday, March 02, 2009
Sunday, March 01, 2009
Last night when the sleet started tap, tap, tapping on the window pane, Judy was pretty irritated with me. After we went to Target yesterday, sat in our car in the parking lot at Bed, Bath and Beyond talking to Karen for like an hour, shopped at BB&B (got a set of Henckels knives, woohoo!), paid the rent, picked up Burger King for "linner", and unpacked our goodies from BB & B which involved washing all the knives and putting them in the knife block; my back was ready for a rest. Which turned into a nap. When lasted like, um, three hours. She fell asleep too! How is that my fault? I just started out resting my eyes. So we ended up waking up at 9:00. That's too late in Robin-world to go to the grocery store. Hey--I don't like going out in the dark. Sue me. I assured her that I was confident despite the evidence of sleet falling that we would be able to go to the grocery story on Sunday and I was right. So there.
Meanwhile--I feel confident that if we actually slept more through the week, we would not 'accidently' end up napping on the weekends for three or four hours. I'm just sayin'...um, what was I sayin'? I can't remember what point I had, if any, so I'll just hit post.