Thursday, May 29, 2008

New and Old photos

Finally got around to uploading some photos. Check out the wedding here and the winery trip here.

Free Book and Sony Reader

First, the free book. I have an Advanced Reader's Edition (ARE, ARC, or galley if you prefer) of The Lace Reader by Brunonia Barry that I'm willing to send to anyone out there on one condition. You help me (and yourself) enter to win a free Sony Reader.

Here's what you need to do.

1. Email me ( you name and mailing address (your online handle would help too).
2. Read the book and write a review.
3. Post the review to two or more websites (like Amazon, Blogger, MySpace, Facebook, Borders, Live Journal, etc.).
4. Email the link to the reviews to and mention my name.
5. Complete all the steps by June 30th, 2008.

In the end, we'll both be entered to win a free Sony Reader. You're welcome to keep the book or pass it along to include others in the drawing. Of if you want your own ARE (ARC or galley) of the book, go to the Lace Reader website and sign up.

I'll admit that the book wasn't in my favorite genre and I'm not a big fan of pimping books that I love and adore to no end. In other words, this is no Abercrombie, Rothfuss, or Chabon. But I love swag. I love free stuff. And I love how they've marketed this book.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

The Lace Reader Review

The Lace Reader
Brunonia Barry

Brunonia Barry has written what I can only describe as the equivalent of a lace novel. Some readers will see the patterns early on while others will only see a nice piece of art. I happen to fall into the latter category.

The book is, simply put, a chick-lit novel. The main character, Towner, has lived a hard life and returns home when her aunt dies. She has to face those she left behind, the labels others have placed on her, and new challenges. All while recovering from surgery. Salem, as in the home of the burned witches, also plays a character of sorts in the book. We see how it has become a center for tourism based on its past. It is also a gateway to other smaller, subset communities. My favorite being the social community of cray people.

The plot was confusing at times but had some solid pieces to anchor the reader. Being a guy, I think I had a harder time than a woman would in following the story and the emotions. The best comparison I can make is The Lace Reader is like The Sisterhood of Traveling Pants. Only with lace readers and witches in New England.

The marketing was outstanding for this novel. I may not know all that goes into marketing a new novel from a debut author, but the publishers have impressed me. By using social and viral advertising, and awesome prizes, they've done well in getting the word out.

My bottom line is this. I enjoyed the book. Even if it wasn't my cup of tea (or piece of lace), I still found it entertaining. I especially liked the ending when the pattern was finally revealed for the novice lace reader I am.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

The Dreaded Weekend Report

Dreaded for you as a reader, not for me living it (thank God).

I took off Friday from you-know-where to get things prepped for the picnic Sunday. Got a few things done around the house and generally just cleaned. My shining moment of stupidity came when I went to install the new spark ignitor for the grill since the old one "broke." Turns out it just needed a new battery. And we did some grocery shopping as well. Costco is on my shit list as they've prohibited me from carrying a firearm in their store. I'll be sending them hate-mail later.

Saturday was a great trip to Barrel Oak Winery in Delaplane, VA. A college friend's sister and husband run the place and this past weekend was their grand opening. Got the "inside scoop" on much of the operation, building, etc. The weather was awesome, our friend was surprised to see us (he had no idea we were coming), and we got to see alpacas.

Sunday was our annual picnic where we had friends and family join us for food, drink, and roasted marshmallows. The weather was again great and we had fun. Everyone (kids and adults) slept well.

Monday was another great day, this one spent just running around and doing errands. Nothing terribly exciting until Target decided to get on Yvonne's shit list for charging us tax on first aid supplies when the state has a tax holiday all week for the stuff. Yeah. Sucks to be you Target.

I'm now in my fifth (of six) weeks of school. I'll roll right into my next class when this one finishes, so we'll see how it goes. I was hoping to finish The Lace Reader today during lunch, but instead spent the hour working on my other blog for the scavenger hunt. I've also gone back to the last Wheel of Time book on CD so I have something to listen to and to catch up before I try to listen to the next one that I downloaded from

And that's about it for now. I'm off to research iPods and Zunes.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Sunday Mobile

Fire is going. Food is coming soon. Friends are here. I love holidays.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Holiday Mobile 2

Done at the winery. Back in F'burg to shop and enjoy the weather.

Holiday Mobile

Heading to the winery to see a friend.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Chabon is a literary God

So I just finished Michael Chabon's Yiddish Policemen's Union on audio. There were some technical aspects that were different than other audio books I've listened to before. First, the CDs were labeled with each track's length as well as the length of the CD itself. And there was music at the beginning and end of each CD. Those were good things. But that damn music played over the start of the first track and it drove me nuts.
Outside of that, we have Chabon's skill. The plot was weak. Unabashedly so. In fact, there were times that the plot wasn't even there. Or if it was, I couldn't find it. But his skill with words was undeniably god-like. The only other person I've read that has skills even remotely close is Rothfuss. You can tell Rothfuss spends time crafting the right word and the right sentence. But Chabon is not only profound, he's prolific. Sentence after sentence rang home in my head like the bells of a church tower tolling the hour.
So, check it out. You'll thank me. Awesome book. I now want to check out some of his backlist.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Sunday Mobile

It's frelling raining. Again. But we haven't gone to the hospital (knock on wood) so things must be getting better. Right?

Friday, May 16, 2008

In case you're blind...

I've had enough of this week. Whatever God is out there, please fast-forward your DVR to a week or two from now when things are (hopefully) calmer. I'll spare my faithless readers the litany of despair and wish you all a happy weekend instead. I can't even say this one will be quieter than last.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Booky News

No, not like a gambling bookie, I'm talking books.

Heliotrope Issue 4 is live!

Online and viral advertising appears to be taking off for books. Which is how I got one of the few ARC (Advanced Reader's Copy - or in this case ARE as in Advanced Reader's Edition) versions of a book. It's called The Lace Reader. Stay tuned for details on how you can me (and you) enter to win a free Sony Reader (a chance to win for everyone that helps out!).

I'm a die-hard XML fan and have been pushing for anyone and everyone to hear about its benefits. Looks like some publishers are pushing for the same thing.

And finally, e-books have popped up in the news, this time in a way I'm not sure I like. The company, Dnaml, looks like they want to take e-book to the next level by junking it up with all sorts of videos, graphics, audio, etc. The jury is out on this one, but it doesn't look good.

And this is why I like boring

For those of you who know me (and us), we're probably pretty boring people. We work, we do chores, we eat and sleep. But we don't really party, or go on fancy trips, or do neat things. We're boring. Sure, we'd love to see Europe or Australia or the Grand Canyon (again), but we're boring. Here's why.

In the morning we went to town to do our weekly food shopping and to run some errands. We checked out (to no avail) some railing systems as our front steps are in dire need of renovation. We came home, changed, cleaned up, then went to the wedding of our babysitter's daughter. Now, I don't like writing checks to pay for the sitter, but it's a great deal. Not only is it way less than what a commercial chain of daycare centers would charge, these people actually care about our kids. How many babysitters do you know that buy a dress just for your kid (with matching dress for her doll) so she can hand out bubbles at the wedding? Not many. Anyway, the wedding was nice, the rain stopped a few hours before the ceremony, and we had some snacky foods. William was getting cranky so we headed home to eat our dinner of Sheetz food.

Sunday morning saw Yvonne sleeping in (per her request for mother's day) and plenty of laundry being done. Dishes were next on my list while Yvonne was going through Elizabeth's clothes (she's like the Imelda Marcos of kid's clothes - thank God for hand me downs). Suffice to say, the house was a mess with all the projects under way. Then William had some vanilla yogurt and some banana yogurt for lunch. Not a lot though, just some spoonfuls.

After an hour of fussing, he spewed. Everywhere. Floor. Mom. Not pretty.

Then he broke out in hives. After some phone calls, the nurse/triage people said to go to the ER since he's already taking various medications and is so young. So we zoomed to the ER, got behind the iron curtain of admissions very fast and waited. A quick checkup by the doc said he needed benadryl.

He had a bottle, and upchucked again while trying to give him the meds orally. So we moved to another room to await an IV infusion of benadryl.

And waited. Waited some more. And waited some more. After much waiting, some benadryl, more waiting, some fluids, more waiting, and yes, even more waiting, we finally got the hell out of there. Mother's Day dinner was Sheetz again (we had some right tasty looking steaks at home on the menu that have to wait now).

So, after another visit to the doctor for the post-allergy check-up, he's good to go for now. We'll be avoiding vanilla and milk until further tests come back (he eats banana all the time so it shouldn't be that). The rain is still coming down like the second coming of Moses. I'm still trying to catch up at you-know-where, school, and home. Projects galore at you-know-where, homework for class, and things to mend at home (those damn steps, the water timer under the house, and now the ditch needs fixin').

And that is why I like boring.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Today's Sunday Mobile is photo-less

Today's Sunday Mobile is photo-less as we are in the ER waiting for William to see the doctor after having an allergic reaction.

Friday, May 09, 2008

We survived

For those that didn't know, we survived last night's storm. The house just had some light winds, heavy rain, and plenty of thunder. Everything appears to be intact (haven't checked the shed yet), but in town, well, that's a different story. This particular photo is right outside my current location (you-know-where).

Annndd, Elizabeth was in today's paper in the Caboose Run race results (just her name). I'm working on the photos of the medal and of William. Give me a second.

Okay, they're uploaded. Here's the full album. And here are two of them.

Another Tarzan?

The Ancient
R. A. Salvatore

I really wanted to cry at certain points during this book. Not because the story was so gripping and moving, but because it wasn't. For the first time since ready Salvatore's Tarzan adaptation, I actually wanted to stop and listen to something else.

And to make matters worse, the ending gave some serious overtones of his previous Drizzt works. The Highwayman has fancy sword work and dresses all in black(Drizzt). The priest and his female companion (Wulfgar and Catti-brie). And the red cap powrie (Bruenor).

So, in light of this general malaise from reading (well, listening technically) The Ancient and the fact that my other reviews have been rather lackluster, this is all you get. If you want a glowing review, check out Rob's.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Great Train Race Video

Just posting the short video I took of the Train Race from Sunday.

Writerly and personal news

I've been sitting on the "audio book download" fence for some time now. I've been listening to audio books for several years now and must say, it makes my commute pass much faster than normal. And at seven to eight hours each week, that makes a world of difference. But my problem has become funding. An average audio book will run me $30 to $40. An insane amount considering that the same title in print would be half that in hardcover or even less in paperback. So I'll give the Audio Book Exchange a whirl and see what Trina and I can do (anyone else i welcome to join of course). But I'll still keep Audible as an option. Especially when I read this (bit of Star Wars news after it too):

Audible has formed a new imprint, Audible Frontiers, which will offer a range of exclusive science fiction and fantasy titles that will be available as digital downloads solely through its Web site. The imprint will feature a number of original works as well as titles from six publishers.
I'm seeing some static about Jay Lake's latest endeavour. Maybe it's good marketing, maybe it's a good book. Either way, flying ships always catch my eye.

Well, school is school. Not much to say about it right now. But I do plan on running through three classes before taking another break.

The shed has power and has passed the final inspection. That means we are done! Well, almost. We still have some insulation and drywall to install, but neither of those need an inspection because it is not a livable space. Maybe I'll be able to get some alone time to work on projects. More likely, I'll just putter.

Train Race
Elizabeth ran in a train race this weekend. It was only 400 meters or so but it's the largest race on the East Coast for kids. To put things in perspective, they limited the Caboose Run (for kids 6 and under - the one Elizabeth ran in) to 400 kids. That's right, 400. Overall, there were 2,500 kids there as racers. Add parents and fans and you get a madhouse. This photo should take you to more from the race (and of the shed).

And that's it folks.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Sunday Mobile

May the Fourth be with you.

Friday, May 02, 2008

A Study of Art

Briefly, seeing as I took all of five minutes to take the photos, what follows is a study of the art in our house.

The most prolific artist would be Yvonne's grandmother. Of all the hanging art in our house, she painted most of it. Nearly half in fact. I think this one is my favorite (it hangs in our hall bathroom):

The next artist would be my mother. Of the quilts in our house, she's made pretty much all of them. She's been featured in magazines, books, and national quilt shows. In other words, she does good work. Even as a child, she was a pretty good artist:

Various other artists grace our walls, but my favorite of all is the wood burning done by my great uncle:

You can view the rest of the art collection here.