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Making progress

July 1st, 2014 1 comment

Well, I managed to get through more shelves in the studio, both closets, the upper cupboards and three bins of yarn. Since by that time I was throughly sick of the mess, I started on the back hall.

Several years ago we put a major bookcase in the back hall. I lovingly placed some books on the shelves and filled all the gaps with various stuffed animals, musical instruments and ornamental things. The Judaica went in the glass fronted cabinet and the cookbooks in the corner section. Over the last ten years those shelves have filled. First completely, then with paperbacks doubled and tripled up on many of the shelves. The YA section overflowed into the Cookbooks. The travel books had expanded from the living room and invaded all my medical reference on the bottom shelf and dust settled happily over the whole thing.

My first pass through was pretty brutal. All the medical references older than 10 years (other than Gray’s Anatomy which never goes out of date) are leaving as are 90+% of the mysteries, most of the romances and a lot of the junk fiction. I am hanging onto many of the hardbacks (which I no longer buy) as well as the Urban Fantasy (which doesn’t contain lovingly described vampires. I on the side of not buying sparkles). I now have several hundred books on both the terrace table and on the living room ledge backing up the knitting and sewing mags.

Yes, I know that I could make something on them in Berkeley if I wanted to haul them along. But really – given a weight allowance, if I want to make money bringing zauberball would be a lot smatter for the kilo.

Categories: Books & Tapes, home Tags:

Where?

June 12th, 2014 No comments

am I? In Germany I think. As long as I fall over my own feet too much from fatigue. It is not like I do all that well with the time zone changes in this direction. I keep quietly howling with laughter to myself when I hear all those on transatlantic crossings complain about losing 5 hours over 13 nights between Florida and Southampton.

I mean really, it is not all that much compared to – oh let us just say – the nine hours between San Francisco and Frankfurt done in one swell foop. So here I am after having been home a couple of days still staggering around with fatigue during the day and wide awake like a petulant toddler at night. All of which means that my original ambition to run errands and clean like mad just hasn’t happened.

But books – yes, I have managed to haul down 20 boxes of books from the attic and end up with 17 that are headed to swap shelves. Two of the other boxes are kids books and as such are not mine to give away and the 20th is SciFi/Fantasy which actually could be sold at various used book stores in the US if I was so inclined.

The end result is that I had no big adventures today…

Categories: Books & Tapes, home Tags:

Reading detour

February 9th, 2014 No comments

I should have been organizing or cleaning. I could have been knitting.

I settled for getting a head start on the packing for Tues.

Some of it was easy. I have the clothes I brought back in the suitcase, most of which were clean and the rest were washed yesterday. The weather, except for the Panama Canal crossing at the end won’t be hot, more spring/fall with maybe some rain. Short and long sleeves instead of sleeveless and short sleeves. No need for true summer clothes. Couple of things for smart casual. Underwear, socks, swimsuit. When I was done I had about 2/3 of what I took to the Caribbean even with some yarn and an extra pair of long pants. Oh! the shoes were all in the duffle bag along with gear for Maus’ spring break adventure.

And then I pulled out the iPad and fell into reading. Since the first of the year I have been re-reading old series and seeing where authors I read several years ago have gone with their series.  Some of it has been standard schlocky romance (Freethy, Perry, Delinsky, Shalvis, Woods) but some has been more on the SciFi/Paranormal end (Kahler, Gilman, Owens, Mayer, Harrison, Green, Swendson).

Up next – Ben Aaronovich’s Broken Home which is part of his River’s of London series and a new JD Robb is due out on the 14th. Oh, yes – and in audio the most recent Eddie LaCross – He Drank, and Saw the Spider by Alex Bledsoe. Audio because the narrator is excellent and also because my per credit cost puts it below the kindle price….

About then it will be mystery time….

Categories: Books & Tapes Tags:

yes, hats

September 26th, 2013 No comments

Just to let you know that I am knitting

another baby hat

another baby hat

as well as reading – starting with The Color of Magic since Amazon had a nice deal on the first five Discworld books.

Categories: Books & Tapes, Knitting Tags:

Wilhelmsplatz

September 1st, 2013 No comments

Yesterday I spent time trying to find Wilhelmsplatz in the Weststadt on my way to the Striktreff. Walked around and just did not find it. That area of the city has a number of winding streets and extremely limited parking so exploring on foot is the only sensible way to go.

What is even more sensible? Five minutes on Google and I found a Geocache site which listed all the free bookshelves in Germany by region. Since one of the listings actually had something useful (1 Wilhelmsplatz had already been a bust) I was able to take the grid coordinates and find where the shelf was actually located. Since it is partly sheltered by a building, it is no wonder that I didn’t see it.

The other key of course was to use the proper Google. Not everyone in the world wants to give up their umläuts (or is it umlaüts?) so that searching on buecherregal found zip. However – Bücherregal found them all.

So all those books which I had carefully added to Bookcrossing and signed out to Neugasse went to Wilmhelmsplatz instead. There was room on the shelves, they were fairly well organized and I think someone there might appreciate books just a bit newer.

In anycase – they are OUT of my house!

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Postcards

August 31st, 2013 No comments

I have been watching the post – all but one of the cards which I mailed from the Med have shown up -

Spain is prompt

Spain is prompt

The one that is missing is from France – Marseille on the 19th of August. Now those cards were mailed from the post office which I found following a long and arduous (ok, not so hard) hike around town and up into the city overlooking the east side of the harbor. I bought the stamps and mailed them right there. I think all the rest have shown up in the US but I still need to check. I would have thought Germany would take less time but one never knows.

My afternoon and early evening were spent at Red. Saturday knit crowd of course and I had a fun time. Managed to pass off a couple of more books but wasn’t able to drop off at the Neugasse bookshelf as planned. It seems like there are those who are not using common sense. If a book has been sitting on your shelves for, lets say 30-40 years, what makes you think anyone else is going to want to read it?

Anyway, the shelves were seriously overloaded with oldy, moldy books and tattered magazines. I didn’t have the energy to spend time cleaning so just let it go. There are supposed to be other bookshelves around.

Categories: Books & Tapes, Knitting Tags:

and another 40 books

August 27th, 2013 No comments

Have been logged in to Bookcrossing and will leave the house in the morning. Additionally, I have another batch of the same for Thursday.

It may sound insane to take the time, but I have actually had several books “found” out of my last batch, and someone posting a note saying they found it and thanks is more than enough to encourage me.

So this is the last of the first batch down from the attic. Unfortunately, romances don’t disappear quite as fast as the mysteries and scifi,but here is hoping that these find at least a temporary new home.

Categories: Books & Tapes Tags:

At dawn

August 7th, 2013 4 comments

Before 0600 in the morning the streets of Heidelberg are almost silent. Street parking along the Ploch is still legal which explains why I find it easiest to drop off heavy bags of books by car at this insane time of morning. If it would be just a couple of books, I can stick them in my backpack. Or, like I did when Brad came through for a visit – filled both of our backpacks for the hike into town.  But 35-40 books a mix of paperbacks and hard covers? No, not the 2.6 km hike (distance according to Google Maps).

Wednesday is bio/blue pickup followed by the gelbetonne truck almost immediately after. I don’t mind waiting for the trucks since all I am doign today is errands. From Heidelberg it is Landstuhl where I manage to pick up prescription renewals, find the ATM, Tri-Care and stop at the VA admin office. It is here that I discover that they happily scanned all my paperwork last summer into the system, but didn’t notify anyone that they had done so. I now know how to ask on line (required 5 day business response) with an email address that actually goes to a live person on the return.

Back home before noon I hiked back into town. Seems like a package that I had passed along to family members to mail in Feb became seperated from the address and never went out. So I went to the Post Office, mailed off the package, bought post card stamps and headed back home.

The rest of the day I would like to say I spent organizing, but to tell you the truth I read 1/2 through Broken Homes – Book 4 in the Rivers of London urban fantasy by Ben Aaronovich. The series is excellent. Mostly a police procedural focusing on the weird it manages to be funny, entertaining and avoids the stereotypical romances, vampires and werewolves. I read the first book while in the UK, then bought all three in audio. Now, reading the fourth, I can hear Kobna Holdbrook-Smith in my head with his wonderful interpretation and character voices.  Publication in the US looks to be about 6 months behind the US which means I won’t be able to get the audio till next spring.

Now all I have to do is get organized, pack, finish picking up and maybe get in a bit of reading or knitting.

Categories: Books & Tapes, home Tags:

departing books

August 4th, 2013 6 comments

I made a trip up into the attic this morning before even my morning coffee. The temperature rises rapidly and I had every intention of beating the heat. The socks are as sorted as is going to be and the rest are going to become loopers as a friend needs some cat mats. Sleeves has been completed and only awaits blocking.

The attic stairs pull down from a trap in our kitchen ceiling.

deceptive

deceptive

As you would expect, the air is still and the space is criss-crossed with spider webs which might be why every decent horror story includes an attic. Failing an attic there is normally a cellar with a hidden room of evil. I just adore tropes.

its like that the whole way back

its like that the whole way back

Where was I? Oh yes, covered with dirt and cobwebs ready to sacrifice more books of books to the ravening hordes who descend on the bookshelves of Neuegasse like the starving. Staging the boxes on the stairs provided a bit of short term entertainment and limited the amount of time I had to endure the moth and spider infested place. Mostly the boxes are small; eliminating the strain on my back but increasing markedly the trip. On the other hand, it sounds more impressive to say that I emptied a baker’s dozen boxes of books than 3.

and feels more like progress

and feels more like progress

Armed with pre-printed labels, scissors, strong coffee and clear tape it looks like I will be mostly labeling series romance today. Unfortunately I accumulated an excessive amount when we lived in Munich. Depressed, turning 50, living where I knew no one outside of the family, reading provided the perfect escape. No thought, no brains, not at all current reality.

After spending most of the day on the terrace, I relocated inside when the sun became too hot.

organized, stacked and still a lot of entry to do

organized, stacked and still a lot of entry to do

I have labeled almost all of this batch and have entered a goodly number into Bookcrossing. The ones on the chair have still to be entered but I am making progress. (We will not say anything at all about the three boxes still remaining on the patio). A number of the knitters are stopping by tomorrow so I am hoping a few books will leave with them. The rest will be dropped off at Neuegasse Bücherregal to find new homes. I am hoping they enjoy their journey.

Categories: Books & Tapes, home Tags:

Productive day

July 1st, 2013 3 comments

I can’t say as that I made any resolutions on getting my act together. Non the less, looking around this disaster of a house I will have to admit having at least some of the responsibility. Can’t dust or vacuum if I am not here but that isn’t most of it.

Most of it is all the “stuff.”  I have mentioned before not really being horders, more like being packrats. Horders save everything, packrats save the [to everyone] useful items in case their time comes around again. Or if the IRS wants to go back 15 years or they might want to re-read a paperback or perhaps sew something out of polyester double knit. Ok, that last one was a free-bee; I got rid of the last of the really horrible fabric prior to moving to the UK. At least I think I did. Can’t think of any where it might be stashed.

But I will acknowledge that most of the books, yarn, craft supplies and fiber stuff belong to me right in the same breath as saying that George has the vast majority of movies, albums and files. We both have at least some clothes but not beyond what really fits in the closets. He has more shoes that I do, even if he denies it. I am just not a shoe person.

Anyway, I started today early with a train station run followed by an Eldest pick up/drop off. I then came home to coffee and a task list. On that list were a number of items including

    finish up registering and releasing another 50 books on book crossing
    finding the next batch of books to go
    contacting a number of people in follow up of Saturday including finding fiber and burning off a couple of CDs
    downloading and backing up files
    finishing, blocking and photographing the last couple of weeks worth of knitting as well as posting to Ravelry
    cut almost a foot off my hair to take it to mid back (last time I did that was a two years ago when I whacked it back to my shoulders. Not having to wear it up all the time is wonderful)

So it is now 2230 at night. I have a bag of books ready to be dropped off and about 50 more to be registered tomorrow. Ravelry is updated which means all that remains is some blocking), computer is up to date including weeding out files. Notebook is started for the next cruise. I also have personal cards printed and mailing labels for post cards. My bills are paid, the kitchen is still clean and I managed to sneak in a bit of reading in the sun.

Categories: Books & Tapes, home, Knitting Tags:

Newfoundland and Labrador Music

June 1st, 2013 Comments off

In 2010 when Noah and I went North along the Eastern Seaboard on the Costa Atlantica, the last landfall we made prior to Dover was in Sydney, Nova Scotia. There were a number of merchants set up with stands in the big open area of the cruise terminal (which I think also doubled as a shipping warehouse). One of them reminded me strongly of the Filk pushers at your average SciFi convention. Stacks and Racks of CDs with interesting names and even weirder covers featuring music and artists a bit out of the ordinary.

Music in Nova Scotia, traditional music that is, still holds tight to its Scottish roots. Fiddles are present but so are pipes. Of the six CDs I found, all but one were anthologies in order to be able to sample a variety of artits.

Newfoundland harkens back to Irish roots in the old world. High on the fiddle with a smidgen of French influence from the trappers transversing the area.

in recognition of the arts

in recognition of the arts

I found two music peddlers – the first was Fred’s Records almost right across the street from the Fixed Cup where I first found wifi and coffee.

After my wander around town including out and back with the yarn store I mentioned yesterday – I found and O’Brien’s Music two doors down from Rocket Food and Bakery where I had a lovely bowl of curried cauliflower while writing this note.

So I now have a collection of CDs, primarily instrumental recommended in one of the two places which I can’t play till I get home!
The Empress – Dwayne Cote and Duane Andrews – mostly fiddle
Weaving the Wind – Ed Kavanagh – celtic harp
Sea of no Cares – Great Big Sea – mostly traditional and modern updates
Gavin Simms and the Garrison Hill Band (seems to be sea related material)

then also Fiddles and Reels – Newfoundland’s Anthology
Rufus Guinchard – Fathers of the Newfoundland Fiddle Vol 1
Vive La Rose – Emile Benoit – more fiddle.

I am back to the ship, so expect to hear from me live about the third in Reykjavik.

Categories: Books & Tapes, Travel Tags:

Reading and

February 6th, 2013 1 comment

computer games.

I think you have probably guessed that I have not exactly been the height of ambition since returning home. When faced by another day of dreary weather accompanied by some snow, ice and sleet I had the perfect excuse to stay in bed with a cup of tea and my computer.

So what I should be doing is telling you all about the intellectual reading/listening that I am doing.

Instead, I will be honest and call it easy listening…. and easy knitting and three kinds of naps. Except for the Pirate Solitaire and Bird Town.

Categories: Books & Tapes, home Tags:

Salt

February 5th, 2013 3 comments

Have I mentioned my love/hate relationship with salt?

First – the book. Salt by Mark Kurlansky is $2.99 last viewed on Kindle and $6.99 in audio. A journalist known for his off-beat views (who else would put forth the proposal that Cod – the fish – was key to world development, travel and certain groups domination) and interesting non-fiction.

Anyway – I have both the eBook and audio courtesy of some deal or another.

I have been enjoying listening as I knit. It didn’t hurt that for most of the book (non-fiction I listen to in spurts unlike fiction where I plow right through) I was on a cruise ship in the Eastern Med sailing past many of the ports mentioned and thinking about the Phoenicians, Greeks and other early sailors on the waters.

The other part of salt relates to everyday issues of diet and rationality. at home I don’t use salt in anything beyond the minimum needed in baking to control yeast. I don’t add it to food. I don’t put in water to make it boil quicker and there probably has not been a salt shaker in my house in decades. I don’t particularly like the taste and my guy just happens to have some issues with his blood pressure. Since he grew up with a mother who believed that “a little bit isn’t going to hurt” while on three meds and later died of a stroke, I take such things rather seriously.

Then there is cuisine on cruise ships where the cooks are young and healthy, the passengers often old and not and salt use goes by the handful not gram. Normally I come home at the same weight as I left courtesy of a bit of disciplin and a lot of time spent in the fitness center.

This time not so – I managed to trash my shin significantly in Alayna (first loop) and found that the pain and leg swelling caused by treadmill/elliptical/bike attempts simply was not worth it. So I skipped all of that. I still watched the food but was appalled to find that it appeared that I had gained a couple of kilos over the three weeks.

Not so as it turns out – this morning I was back to my pre-cruise weight. More importantly, my ankles and feet felt normal. As it turns out, all that salt certainly made an impact and even the amount of water I was drinking on the ship wasn’t enough to make up for the cooks love of the salt.

Maybe it was the lack of exercise and sweating that turned the tide? In any case, I will continue to read about salt and, disappointed, will have to watch what I eat while indulging in future cruises….

Categories: Books & Tapes, home Tags:

Reading

January 7th, 2013 Comments off

Reading is always a wonderful alternative to “accomplishing” anything around this house especially when it seems that anything done just winds up needing redoing. Dishes seem to generate spontaneously and we all know what socks do in the dark. On those sort of days sitting with a book in hard eliminates just about anything else.

No multi-tasking: not cleaning, laundry or knitting. Just curling up under a comforter with the book.

Besides half a dozen eBook freebies garnered from Barnes & Noble and Amazon I have had a pile from the library. Your mileage may very

1) Dark Storm - Christine Feehan. Oh, ho hum. Here we go again – another Carpathian – this one buried in a South American Volcano for centuries with his requisite vampire opponent. Then there is the love interest always centuries younger. I view these books kind of like train wrecks – how many different ways can the same plot crash, over and over and over? Nothing really new here – give it a pass

2) The Long Earth – Prattchet and Baxter. A totally different look at the future as well as different from either author alone. The writing feels occasionally rough (styles probably not blending as well as they might want). It took me a while to get into it, but was worth the time and read.

3) Existence – David Brin. In a future of complete and total tracking, exposure, public, social and government observation the question becomes – who else is watching us. Interesting characters and a plot that weaves together multiple threads seamlessly. I don’t like this future but it is fascinating reading.

4) Return to Willow Lake. Susan Wiggs. Yet along book in the Lakeshore Chronicles. Her characters are growing up, some more so than others. Overall rather superficial but love conquers all. I’d classify it as a beach read (if you lose the book while at the beach you can mentally write the ending by about page 50).

5) When Elves Attach – Tim Dorsey. If you don’t like his insane characters, drugs, mayhem and total disregard for societal norms you won’t like this book.

6) A Wanted Man – a Jack Reacher novel. Lee Child. Well written up a little too pat. I have to admit I am starting to wonder about how long Reacher can go without growing up, getting a job or landing permanently in prison. Takes me back to the question of how long a series (this is #17) before either boredom, repetition or skepticism sets in.

Categories: Books & Tapes Tags:

That time of year again

December 24th, 2012 8 comments

Up front, I would like to offer congratulations to all my colleagues who do not procrastinate. I know you are out there somewhere sitting smug, safe and secure on the 24th of December knowing that you, once again, have completed your recertification requirements prior to the end of the year deadline.

For the rest of you normal people like me who haven’t learned to “Eat that Frog” (link is to the Brian Tracy Audiobook) all my best to you and whatever you absolutely have to get accomplished by the end of the year.

No, I am not speaking about those resolutions that you lost sight of sometime in the last 12 months or the things you do every month (pay bills, hound spouse,  drool over travel schedules). Rather I am looking at those once a year deadlines which can have consequences in excess of not filing your taxes on time. Birthdays’ and Anniversaries may fill this requirement for you – there are those which, if you miss, are going to wind up either never getting forgiveness or costing so much in terms of emotional heartache that making a mistake of any kind is simply not worth it.

For me, other than death and taxes – and since I am not planning on leaving this mortal coil any time soon that only leaves the taxes which I foist off on George if at all possible – I have the annual CME requirements from the American Board of Family Medicine.

Knowing myself quite well, when the opportunity to move from a seven year cycle to a ten year cycle came up ~2005/6 I jumped on the bandwagon. To really keep the pressure on myself, I prepaid for the ten years. Being the basically cheap soul that I am, this almost completely insured that I didn’t quit somewhere along the line since you don’t get refunds. Money spent? Need to get my value back out of it! Each year, in addition to regular CME, I have to complete an on-line learning module by the 31st.

Now, I have a couple of good friends doing full time clinical practice. They sail through the modules, using them as review for the types of things they are seeing in daily practice. No muss, no sweat, minimal crying and pain. Me?  I have been doing primarily Occ Health/Public Health/Travel Med for … let us say ….. 20 years or more? I know my limits in family medicine. Being quite computer literate, I have no problems looking things up as I go, asking for assistance, finding answers. I routinely conduct various on-line searches. I have been doing this since PUBMED first went on-line. Over the years, I have expanded the tools which I use as other databases, searches and methods have become available.

For heaven’s sake, I have an MPH, epidemiology, study design ,and several stats courses under my belt. I know how to evaluate research, studies and be objective. The idea of evidence based medicine being problem-based, learning and life long isn’t an issue.

The process involves:

♦ Converting information needs into focused questions.

♦ Efficiently tracking down the best evidence with which to answer the question.

♦ Critcally appraising the evidence for validity and clinical usefulness.

♦ Applying the results in clinical practice.

♦ Evaluating performance of the evidence in clinical application.

 

is very sensible and provides better results for both patient and practitioner than randomness, tossing darts at the wall or most empirical guess work.

So why can’t I wrap my head around the sentence structure and format that the ABFM wants me to use in its scenarios? It just shouldn’t be all that difficult. The concepts are there, PICO (Patient/problem, intervention, comparison, outcome) I get – it is just that my sentences don’t like up word perfect with theirs and I am sick of not being able to see the difference between what I just filled in the box and what they would like to see filled in the box.

I’ll let you know tomorrow if I survive this section. At least this is not the 31st so that means that I am not howling as late in the year as has happened in the past. I do have a couple of days ahead of me in which to complete it.

Argh – so far I am having by far more fun frogging an old project than studying!

frogging an old project

Categories: Books & Tapes, Prose Tags:

Better then than now

November 30th, 2012 1 comment

I was listening to Simon Winchester’s “The Professor and the Madman” while exercising this morning and hit a point in the story where I just had to stop. Then I had to analyze why it irritated me so much. On the surface the discussion was innocuous and related to how early writers knew and were sure that they were using words correctly in selection, meaning and pronunciation.

I almost fell off the treadmill in shock.

Excuse me? Isn’t that a rather modern and arrogant assumption? Started in Victorian England by scholars with the absolute assurance of learned men of that time that there was TRUTH.

Didn’t it occur to them that perhaps authors were perfectly happy to use the words that felt right to them? That Shakespeare was know for coining words and phrases? That the English language since the 400s (CE) had happily, cheerfully and bloodily ripped words willy nilly from what every source took its fancy at the time?

I don’t think in the 1500 and 1600s that authors were as worried about fact checking as they are at present. For one thing, facts were acknowledged as a lot more fluid and subject to personal beliefs. For another, stories are stories. As such, truth is mutable and the story is the thing.

Today’s authors, whether fiction or non-fiction have to meet style, spelling, formatting and data rules that would have left those of former centuries shaking their heads. Structure and correctness have triumphed over story telling capability and content.

Perhaps this is why fantasy and science fiction are popular: they are built worlds subject to their own rules and as such are pretty much exempt from the pettiness of fans writing via that wonderful media of the Internet about a street in San Francisco being one way in the opposite direction or a restaurant in Chicago being four doors from the corner rather than three.

Admittedly the book to which I am listening is the story of the OED (Oxford English Dictionary), that extensive and codified tome that attempts to define what is and is not proper to use in the English Language. Perhaps in the late 1800s such an undertaking made sense the same way that Wikipedia developed over the last 15 years in response to a perceived need.

What also must be remembered about the Victorian time was the CofE argument. Spreading English (and doing it properly) was to the benefit of the Empire and not at all of benefit to Rome. God’s work – as delegated to the Englishmen and their self appointed rightful place in the world.

I would hate to think of such minds as Shakespeare and Chaucher having been limited by the Chicago Manual of Style, or the precise definitions of English as defined by learned men. Would they have written such interesting, occasionally elegant or baudy works which have survived the centuries had they been so constrained? What is the effect on authors today who are picked to death by readers who focus in the one-way street reference and lose the whole context of the story.

I need to finish listening to the book, knowing that all is never as it seems on the surface with classification, regimentation, and categorization lending clarity, structure and occasionally choking the life out of ideas.

Categories: Books & Tapes Tags:

Anchorage

August 1st, 2012 Comments off

Not really needing any supper either, we wandered around town for a good hour before stopping at the Glacier Brewhouse for some locally brewed ale and a couple of salads before calling it a night.

BTW – if you read mysteries – I highly recommend reading either of Dana Stabenow’s series (Kate Shugak or Liam Campbell) or Sue Henry while traveling in Alaska.

What I think I appreciate most is not the stores, but all the murals. I headed out early to wander around. No surprise, it was drizzling. Breakfast was in this great small place at G & 3rd that had excellent coffee and wonderful crepes. Also free WiFi in case you were wondering about why you were finally hearing from me. We were put up at the Marriott last night. In fine high end hotel tradition they charge both for coffee in the lobby and all Internet.

Categories: Books & Tapes, Travel Tags:

Reading

June 9th, 2012 Comments off

Given that it has been too hot to knit (yes, I know – go see post back a few days) I have been reading.

I think I have mentioned both BooksontheKnob and PixelofInk before as sources for free eReading material along with the Baen Free Library.

According to the “read” bookshelf, it has been 42 books so far on this reading junket of which I have probably read somewhere around 30-31 all the way through. When I was a lot younger I finished everything. Now it just seems that life is too short to waste on books which are of marginal interest or worse, so poorly written that even I can find the grammatical and spelling mistakes.

Mostly Sci-Fi with a bit of romance and mystery thrown in, I am afraid that I can’t recommend a series of new or brilliant authors. Otherwise, the weather is hot, obviously.

Categories: Books & Tapes Tags:

Row 12

February 26th, 2012 5 comments
a bit more progress

a bit more progress

Maybe knitting another dozen rows of a 275 stitch fairisle (plus steek) doesn’t seem like much progress but considering there is are 1/2 a dozen color changes just in this short segment, I am pretty pleased with the progress. I can even recognize what might be trees started above the large leaves. At this rate, without much effort I should be at the armhole steeks by next Saturday.

Considering that I also read a couple of books (like three in the quick 225 pages each category) and played the latest for Mac entry in Jewel Quest – my day may not have been all that productive, but I had fun

Its a holiday

February 20th, 2012 Comments off

Once again I was reminded of the reality of US calendars. Or rather, the US federal holidays.

I hadn’t planned on making a post office run today – they are always closed on Mondays, but I had planned on making a refill run over to the Heidelberg Hospital/now clinic. Migraines are so much less a problem with medication on hand. It avoids taking the anti-nausea stuff and the sleepy making tablets so that I can possibly function. But no, it is a federal holiday which I figured out before I went over there from the simple process of checking email.

All of these places are having President’s Day Sales. Oops. If there is a sale for President’s Day, then there must be a ….. and since it is Monday – it has to be today. Did I mention that I also had DH underfoot since it is a German Holiday (Rosenmontag for those who track such things)?

Double whammy on a Monday.

Ignoring the laundry which will still be there tomorrow or the day after, I spent a quiet day reading more than knitting. I have a whole collection of eBooks downloaded from Amazon and B&N on various free deals. Then there is Michelle Sagara’s series which I bought last year and are still in the queue along with the new Robyn D Owens urban fantasy (no vampires) set in Denver (sort of). Light reading all.

Categories: Books & Tapes, home Tags:

La Laguna

February 4th, 2012 Comments off

The Old Tower stands at one end of what is now a pedestrian zone in La Laguna at the Placa de la Conception. Its stones are old, the wood frames of the windows looking only a few decades old and well cared. There are 24 stone steps inside leading to the first main level. From this point, obvious new wooden construction lets you climb another 112 stairs up to the point when you literally hit your head against the glass ceiling at the top of the cupola. The bells are one level down from there and the highest section at which you have access to the outside world without benefit of glass separating you from the weather.

Since I was just here in Nov (as apposed to Nov of 2007) when I had seen some of the museums I decided to take the tram across the northern part of the island from Tenerif. From one end of the line to the other takes close to an hour starting from near the old fort at water’s edge and ending at the Pedestrian Zone at the other.

It is easy to see that we are back in Spain; the fancy patterned stone side walks with their lines, symbols and insets are gone in favor of ordinary cobblestone and pavement. The architectural highlight in this city is the door. Old wooden doors pitted but lovingly tended. Newer doors (well 100 years old is newer, right?) gleam with varnish and sealant. Also of interest are the wooden frames to upper windows.

I hope you can handle doors two days in a row. Oh, and did I mention the tribe of Scouts complete with backpacks, sleeping rolls and a weary looking couple of adults escorting them down the street. From the variety of languages heard I don’t think they are local kids.

Reading -

I am trundling through Monica Ferris’s Needlework Shop Mystery series. Not exactly in order by chronology but by alphabetical order as I picked most of them up over the last year on the various Audible Sales.

Knitting.

It takes much longer to finish a section repeat on the Shadow Jacket now that I have added the body extensions on both ends to to the sleeve sides. ~150 stitches suddenly had 220 added, which does slow me down.

Categories: Books & Tapes, Knitting, Travel Tags:

Knitting and Reading

January 15th, 2012 5 comments

and of course, packing. It is not that I really have all that much to take home, it is I don’t want to leave the extra suitcase here. Good thing that my Frequent Traveler card with Lufthansa entitles me to the extra suitcase (and only a bejillion miles to go to reach Senator status).

Reading

I had mentioned the reading in the my first note this year. I am attempting to shift my reading to free sources as much as possible. It may stop me from spending as much on books (all formats) as I did last year. There is a lot of material free (B&N, Amazon, iTunes and even occasionally on Audible). In response, there was a wide variety of reading from all of you. Ron, for example answered -

What am I reading? Just finished the “Hunger Games” Series after Deb kept telling me I need to read them. I could not put it down, 3 books in 7 days, over 2000 pages. Well written. Interesting fiction with socioeconomic subtext about distribution of resources (food) in American future at some distant point yet to come. It is not deep, but it will grab your attention and hold it. It reads like an ancient Roman story set in the future… food and blood sport used as tools to control the masses. Play the colonies against each other for the good the the empire. I am probably going to read them again to see if I missed anything… It is about to be released as a single movie, that has a big list of stars in the key characters.

These are books in which I, to this point, have had no interest. I had mostly heard teens talking about them. After being totally irritated by poorly written wizard stories and sparkly vampires, I had been ignoring YA fiction. Sounds like these might actually have some redeeming worth and I might reconsider.

Ignoring all those books out there which fall into the SVS group (stupid vampire stories), I have been listening to mostly mysteries and the occasional non-fiction.

For something completely different in non-fiction, I would recommend “Looking through a Keyhole” a memoir by Julia Spencer. With sharp, clear prose Ms Spencer unflinchingly interweaves her past into her present situation. Having inherited retinitis pigmentosa, she must come to grips with going blind; changing her life, reclaiming independence and finding her place in the world. This is also a story of Irene – a golden lab – who makes the difference. Most of us have issues with trust, wanting to do things for ourselves. Having to define relationships, especially in one’s seventies is really pretty impressive. I don’t know how the book would read – I have it in audio (and at $3.95 it is cheaper than print) and the narrator is awesome.

Otherwise, have deleted a number of free books, read a couple of so-so urban fantasies and am working my way through some of the early Sharon McCone books by Marcia Muller (again, Audible has nice sales).

Knitting

One does not want the daughter of a knitter to get cold. Someone who has moved to Chicago didn’t have a decent warm neck scarf. So, I knit her a scarf

just the pattern portion of a larger shawl design

just the pattern portion of a larger shawl design

Categories: Books & Tapes, Knitting Tags:

A year of free reading

January 1st, 2012 10 comments

Last year I joined a lovely Ravelry Forum called “52 Books in a Year.”  Obviously, reading 52 books in a year is not a particularly difficult goal for me being part of the subset that read more than 200 books. (Obviously, being deployed heavily contributed to my reading numbers along with eBooks and Audiobooks).

Listening to books and reading books electronically can  be financially wallet breaking if you are not careful since it is extremely easy to just hit the buy it now, load and go. All of the on-line book stores continually have special deals as does Tantor, Audible, GraphicAudio and numerous other sources for audiobooks. (please note that I am not providing links for you, I am not going to facilitiate increased expenditures).

This year, instead of spending large amounts of money on reading and audio material, I am going to concentrate on what I can read for free. I have a decent local library; that solves the best sellers reading. I have plenty of access to paperback swap shelves, so portable books for take-offs and landings are solved. My backlist of audiobooks to be heard is long enough that it should last months. Finally, there is a wealth of free eBooks – I must have a good hundred between various accounts (B&N, Amazon, Kobo) and more are available every year.

The end result is that I plan on reading what I find, writing reviews, recommending new authors and limiting my spending. I am willing to be honest in a review here; I am unlikely to post on an otherwise open site if writing is significantly lacking. Something about the old “if you can’t say anything nice…….”

There are some others from Ravelry joining in. If you want to play as well, just let me know. I am more than happy to link to anyone else participating and also put up links for anything interesting that I find. Pixel of Ink and Books on the Knob are a good sources for listings and recommendations on free eBooks. ITunes has the occasional freebie, not as often as Amazon or Barnes&Noble but more than snow in Florida.

Currently on hand from the Library:

Aloha from Hell (A Sandman Slim Novel) – Richard Kadrey which I thoroughly enjoyed. Yes it is violent; no – there are no vampires. Gritty Urban Fantasy with imagination and minimal romance.

Three-Day Town (Deborah Knott Mystery) – Margaret Maron. Deborah and Dwight on their one year delayed honeymoon no sooner arrive in NYC than there is a murder in their apartment. Bringing Sigrid Harald (1980s-1995 mystery series) in as one of the NYC detectives is both interesting and effective.

The House of Silk – Anthony Horowitz. After writing a whole series of YA mysteries – Horowitz was selected by the Arthur Conan Doyle Estate to pen a new Sherlock Holmes Mystery. It is next on my reading list.

Son of Stone (A Stone Barrington Novel) - Stuart Woods. The latest in the Stone Barrington novels – sometimes life takes some rather interesting turns.

Spellbound – Blake Charlton. With all these mysteries – I just had to pick up one fantasy book complete with dragons didn’t I?

What are you reading? Write a post, write a review, I will happily keep the links and conversation going.

Categories: Books & Tapes Tags:

Twas a lovely afternoon

September 24th, 2011 3 comments

we spent, Carmen and I, first relaxing with coffees and knitting then wandering the isles of Barnes & Noble.

Since the demise of Borders, Barnes & Noble is the only large scale chain that actually offers service, miles of in house book shelves and on-line ordering. Yes, I know that Amazon does on-line ordering, but I really like to hold the books every once in a while and believe that rewarding the store that supports my book addiction to be a worthwhile endeavor.

Then there is the small matter of e-books. I don’t mind reading books on either my computer or iPad; but again I want to know what I am purchasing before I commit myself to the large layout of $$. Currently being in the US means that I can happily download books from both B&N and Amazon (funny, but the price is always the same in both locations) onto my computer.

Then, there are all those knitting and craft magazines to which I no longer subscribe since they never have anything that is all that interesting. As you probably guessed, I am not much for current fashion nor knits completed on needles the size and weight of lightening rods.

I made progress on the current scarf

Nessie II

Nessie II


who is resplendent with beads at the turn points for short rows. Then again, I added more on the increase row since I had a plethora of beads that otherwise fall into the ?who in the world would want orange &/or yellow beads? category.
all the pretty sparkles

all the pretty sparkles


Once it is complete, then I will worry about finding it a home. Orange and yellow are just so not my colors.

Categories: Books & Tapes Tags:

helping me

July 6th, 2011 Comments off
someone is tired

someone is tired

The theory of my making some particular clothes for the Maus is that she puts in some time and assistance. To a large extent, this has happened. When she vanished partway through the day, I went to find her. All this clipping, pinning, snipping and ironing apparently has taken more out of her than planned.

Knitting

Just to show of totally and complete pictures of the City Sweater ….

the City Sweater

the City Sweater


A Vivan Hoxbro pattern that came in a kit – I substituted the red for the two shades of yellow/gold that were supposed to be the contrast trim. Knit in Harrisville Shetland on 3.00 mm needles in a very dark charcoal and natural, the Shadow knitting make the pattern. Not exactly garter stitch but close, there is a lot of back and forth – more knit rows than purls and, since each section is worked from the outside in, one has the pleasure of each row getting shorter and faster.
looking at 1/2 the sweater back

looking at 1/2 the sweater back

Books and Audio Books

I have been doing well in various Bookcrossing Virtual Book Boxes having been able to send off several books to people who are interested and picking up a few more that I would like to read. That takes care of the Dead Tree side of things. Unfortunately, Audible has another sale, so my “to be heard” queue is actually longer than my TBR pile is high. Go figure.

Categories: Books & Tapes, family, Knitting, Sewing Tags:

Airbus Supersize

June 4th, 2011 8 comments

Brand new and Huge. LH400 from Frankfurt to New York’s JFK was via Airbus A380-800.

You know a plane is large when there are four (4) different boarding ramps. When row numbers run up to 94. When frankly the departure gates are separate for the business/first class sections and the rest of us mere mortals. Downstairs, below stairs, dungeon we are while rows 1-9 are First Class and 10-18 hold all those self important business passengers. Did I mention that they are upstairs? Penthouse view while we should be glad to have new seats, windows, decent over head bins and individual seat back displays.

The seating is 3-4-3 for most of coach. Lucky me with an isle seat in row 70 which turns out to be the last group to board the plane. Even better wis when you get to polite but insistent oversize people in the other two of your group of three who want to swap your precious isle seat for a window location. Now normally I prefer sitting next to the window. But my bag with camera was already stowed for the flight and there was not way that I was taking a chance on not being able to get out of my seat for the entire flight.

In an amazing turn of luck, the flight was not completely full. Just across the isle and up a row (69G) there was an empty seat which I nabbed just the moment the flight crew shut the doors giving me elbow room which translates to knitting room.

The flight was smooth, the food was barely warm (they are going to have an issue if they don’t properly heat up the food), and the peons had to wait at JFK while the entire upper class departed the plane through the single gangway.

I managed to find the bus to Central Station and a train in the direction of Scarsdale. Of course, it might have helped if I had managed to take along the directions so that I got off at the correct stop or had an easy time with the cell phone. In any case, I wound up at the right location with some small bit of insanity in time to snack, knit, read and crash for the evening after taking a short walk in a lovely neighbourhood.

Knitting

Started Polo II – a sock yarn version of a Hanne Falkenberg Cowl. The multicolor is African Grey (parrot) from Cherry Tree Hill Yarns and the grey is a sport weight from Louet.

Konkylie is a knitted collar/scarf – also a HF which I am knitting out of some sale coned yarn (with double strands as directed on 5.00 mm needles

Audio Books

Beach Lane – Sherryl Woods
Trick of the Light – Rob Thurman

A long plane flight is a great way to go through more t

from Scarsdale, NY

Categories: Books & Tapes, Knitting, Travel Tags:

catalogs

April 10th, 2011 1 comment

I am making slow but steady progress.

Two more boxes have been emptied and most of the knitting books are back on the shelves. Yarn is in storage bins and clothes bags are in the bedroom although not sorted out or unpacked. I made nice piles of stuff on the dining room table (His, theirs and mine), and have steadily been adding to the “going out box.”

A good friend is taking a lot of the older audiobooks off my hands. She has a cassette player as well as CD/MP3 and I am happy to pass these along. Also in the box are leftovers of sock yarn for her “going to be how big?” blanket from scraps. I have thought about doing one of those, then decided to forgo it in favor of sweaters and comforters with flannel covers.

Lastly, I have been cataloging books again. As you might remember, the audiobooks (real vs electron versions have been done, I am now starting on the books… the hundreds and hundreds of books we have in the house. I broke down and have purchased a bar code reader. Even with a number keypad, data entry was just taking too long….

I had extensive catalogs once. The computer crashed and locked files which I was never able to open. It is time to try again….. meanwhile, letting me avoid other parts of the organization and cleaning!

Categories: Books & Tapes Tags:

Audio Books

March 27th, 2011 7 comments
I know that I have mentioned audiobooks more than once and that I started listening in the 2005 time frame when I was commuting Heidelberg <-> Landstuhl.  Since the drive took me across Landes boundaries (Baden-Wuertemburg, Hessen, Rheinland-Pfalz) there was little point to listening to a radio station. Besides the fact that I detest talk radio and the German habit of reading Newspaper Headlines and calling it new, just the thought of having the radio station going into Seek mode multiple times on the drive (and yes, I could turn it off, but leaving it alone meant that the emergency broadcasts came through).
Anyway – an hour going and an hour returning meant 2 CDs per day.
Fast forward to home – audiobooks meant that I could hear a book while knitting. Much better than music since I have a low boredom threshold. Then think about all the time I spent on trains and airplanes.
At first I just purchased books on CD from Audiobookstand – especially when they had sales (how can I turn down an audiobook when it is cheaper than a paperback and lasts much longer). Some of the collections also gave me a chance to sample authors I otherwise might not have read. Then along came iTunes. Instant gratification – but if you are not smart enough enough to back up everything on a regular basis (or have a LaCie network drive fail….).  I finally caved and also download books from Audible – but only when they are on sale. $4.95 is a great deal – and again cheaper than a paperback.
All of this is leading somewhere. In thinking about the process of sorting out the house, I decided that picking tasks and completing them was going to be a much better idea than trying to clean a room. A room could take days, weeks or several months. A task, such as cataloging all the hardcopy audiobooks, sorting and storing them properly is something I imagined it possible to complete in a couple of days.
So here I am, audiobooks sorted. Database courtesy of Readerware . And, not surprisingly I have found a few duplicates which have gone into the donate pile. Priority goes to MP3 followed by CD versions. Since I still have the ability to play cassettes, I am not tossing them but not buying any more in that format.
Anyone want to take a guess (either by format or all together) of how many are now tucked safely away in the hall cupboards above the coats?
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No Chinese here …

December 25th, 2010 5 comments

Or Indian either for that matter.  

Instead, in the tradition of DFACs everywhere – the breakfast service was moved up by 30 to 60 minutes and stopped by 0730 in order to prepare for the main meal which is served at noon. Also, like many other facilities, the senior personnel – officers, first sergeants and command sergeant majors staff the serving line. The only significant variation that I saw is that all of us senior types were in ACUs rather than Dress Blues.  

At Aviation DFAC there are two lines – for this meal both the same. First station is roast carving, followed by choice (more than one ok) of turkey, prime rib, ham, pineapple chicken and corn on the cob. Following that was self serve for mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, collard greens and black eyed peas. There was a separate ham carving station along with a seafood area featuring cold crab legs and shrimp cocktails. In the next room were the salads, fruits and deserts.  

My line, of course, was the most efficient (grin). I spent a bit over an hour before my back said enough. I will attribute all of our ability to serve at double the speed of the other time to both the CSM asking everyone what they wanted and the SPC who was fast and efficient at the roast carving.  

 Seriously, the BDE Commander from 10th Mountain stopped by to say hello later and asked how we managed. His CSM and a good carver. In fact, the only thing that slowed us down at all were people self serving multiple side dishes. Oh, yes, Mac&Cheese, there was Mac & Cheese. I will need to ask Bonnie why, but it did give me something with protein besides ice cream.  

I am now back in the office with the following to finish before the end of the day

1) ABFM Part II Patient Simulation. Since this is open anything (as far as I can tell) I finally located a couple of great review articles to walk me through the two main diagnoses. With luck I will be done today – a bit in advance of 31 Dec….

2) two awards

3) review another award

4) Dari.  

My reward for getting through each section is to be able to stop and listen to an episode of Owner’s Share by Nathan Lowell. The first five episodes are up and I managed to download them last night and today at the USO. Remember those old 56k modems? With the limits on the USO system it takes about an hour to download 35 MEG. I also have the new Rawlins Cross album (Heart Head Hands) which came in the mail this week.

Categories: Books & Tapes, computers, deployment Tags:

reading

September 22nd, 2010 1 comment

And it was a quiet day here at Camp CRC. At least it was after the morning session of IED and UXO training. As a Health Care Provider they exempted me from the first aid training drills for the afternoon giving me a chance to organize, pack u things and read junk books.

There are not many worthwhile books on the swapshelves here – mostly old romances of the “stupid helpless young woman rescued by the older, experienced alpha male” variety. Means that you can read a dozen books in an afternoon. Or, as it more like the case, start a dozen before tossing each aside as not worth the time and effort!

Categories: Books & Tapes, military Tags:

Left Hand of Darkness & Changes

April 8th, 2010 2 comments

For those Harry Dresden fans – Changes – by Jim Butcher has hit the streets, the library and arrived at my APO box courtesy of amazon.com. Take an interesting plot twist involving the return of Susan, add in the White Council plus a pending “peace proposal” from the Red Court (give us a break – trust a vampire? I mean, really…..) and it is Harry and gang against the world as he knows it

Any thing more than that would involve serious spoilers. Even though each book stands alone and Butcher is relevant but sparing with his back story, I would really recommend reading this series in order. The books just keep getting better.

Now – back to the re-read of Sci Fi Classics  (and thanks to Ruth for the nagging) the partial list of which includes – iRobot and the Foundation Trilogy by Asimov, Cities in Flight by Blish, Waystation by Simak, Dune by Herbert, Stranger in a Strange Land by Heinlein, Rendezvous with Rama by Clark, More than Human by Sturgeon plus todays -

The Left Hand of Darkness – by Ursula le Guin. (FantasticFiction Link here). Published in 1969 (university time, before medical school; long before marriage and children) the story is set in a far future universe where mankind and others are far flung across the galaxy and loosely organized into the Concordance. Newly discovered worlds are sent a single Envoy who establishes a toehold by peaceful means.

Genly Ai is posted to Winter, by himself with just his wits, an ansible and belief system which undergo transformation during his time. For Winter, you see, is populated by hermaphrodites and provides a challenge to deep seated assumptions and prejudices. A population that can and does change genders over the years and dependant on social situations beyond the understanding of a short term visitor.

Hailed at the time and discussed for years after, The Left Hand of Darkness is considered a key work in the genre as it explores both society and the role of the individual against the backdrop of other than traditional belief systems.

I read it when it first came out, finding it fascinating. Unlike other SciFi of the time which portrayed strange looking creatures with otherwise US/UK mores, language, and behavior, Le Guin created a society that challenges those beliefs while maintaining a complexity and internal consistency.

40 years later, this Hugo and Nebula winner still stands the test of time. Because it is person and society centric rather that hard technology dependant, it has aged well. The questions raised – how to initiate first contact, how to understand new societies and cultures, are as relevant today as then.

Superficially, the roles of women in western society may have changed drastically in the last four decades. But have we really evolved? Do we still want to know if someone is “a man or a woman”? Isn’t that the first question asked of parents about their newborn?

And are we not all a bit uncomfortable when we can not identify the gender of an individual by their first name? Needing that little bit of knowledge to carefully slot one into our own privately constructed pigeon holes of roles?

At the end, a book that makes me think as well as being a good read is certainly worth putting in my classics pile and recommending it to you.

In this case,

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