Welcome to Esther!

I’m a Mémé! Oth­er­wise known as a grand­moth­er 🙂 My baby girl had a baby girl on Sun­day, Sep­tem­ber 11. Lit­tle Esther is absolute­ly beau­ti­ful, of course — she looks a lot like her moth­er did as an infant.

Both Mom­ma and baby are healthy. I’m for­tu­nate enough to be in Oma­ha with them for now, and I’m enjoy­ing every min­ute of my time here. There’s noth­ing else like the smell of a sweet, clean infant. It’s def­i­nite­ly worth all the sleep loss.

We’re get­ting lots of good singing and read­ing time togeth­er. I was very hap­py to be able to find Pame­la Ballingham’s Earth Moth­er Lul­la­bies from Around the World series (vol­umes I, II, and III) on CD, as I near­ly wore out the cas­set­te ver­sions play­ing them to Katie while car­ry­ing her and after she was born. They’re a fam­i­ly tra­di­tion now!

One of the first books I bought for her? A is for Activist! She’s also fond of Dream Ani­mals: A Bed­time Jour­ney. We’re going to have to find a new copy of Jennifer’s Rab­bit, as Katie’s copy has dis­ap­peared, and we’re very fond of the illus­trat­ed ver­sion of Tom Paxton’s mar­velous song. 

Book Review: Magic to the Bone

Magic to the Bone (The Twenty-Sided Sorceress, #7)Mag­ic to the Bone by Annie Bel­let
My rat­ing: 5 of 5 stars

The Boss Fight!

The cli­max to the Samir sto­ry­line that has been build­ing through­out all sev­en vol­umes of the series, this plot does not dis­ap­point. My only com­plaint about the book, as with the oth­er six, is that it’s short. Still, it’s as long as it needs to be to tell the sto­ry, with noth­ing extra­ne­ous, so I guess it is the right length.

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Book Review: Better Than Before: Mastering the Habits of Our Everyday Lives

Better Than Before: Mastering the Habits of Our Everyday LivesBet­ter Than Before: Mas­ter­ing the Habits of Our Every­day Lives by Gretchen Rubin
My rat­ing: 4 of 5 stars

Not quite as good as her first book, but well worth the read. I prob­a­bly should have got­ten the abridged ver­sion, because as usu­al I got tired of the anec­dotes.

I find her types inter­est­ing — there are uphold­ers, oblig­ers, ques­tion­ers, and rebels. Appar­ent­ly most peo­ple are ques­tion­ers or oblig­ers (I think — I may be wrong about the oblig­ers). (I’m a ques­tion­er, so for once in my life I’m not weird.) Then she clas­si­fies peo­ple in addi­tion­al ways, like abstain­ers or mod­er­a­tors and so on. In fact, there seems to be some sort of clas­si­fi­ca­tion or label in near­ly every chap­ter!

Any­way, the infor­ma­tion in the book is use­ful, and I am already using it in ana­lyz­ing my own habits and improv­ing them. Rubin’s read­ing voice is fair­ly pleas­ant (I lis­tened to the Audi­ble ver­sion), so I don’t hes­i­tate to rec­om­mend the book.

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Review: LG Tone Infinim Headset

I pur­chased the LG TONE INFINIM Blue­tooth Stereo Head­set on Ama­zon to use with my iPhone 6+. I was so excit­ed! From the reviews and descrip­tion, it sound­ed like exact­ly what I want­ed for lis­ten­ing to music while work­ing out and still being able to take calls.

LG TONE INFINIM Bluetooth Stereo Headset

When I got it, I imme­di­ate­ly paired it up and could hear my music with beau­ti­ful clar­i­ty. Great bal­ance, nice highs and lows. I hate most ear­buds, but the­se fit in my ears very well. There was just one prob­lem — I couldn’t hear any­one on phone calls, and callers couldn’t hear me. Hmm.

Think­ing it was a prob­lem with the head­set, I exchanged it. Ama­zon is great about that kind of thing, you know? I got the new one, paired it, test­ed it — and had the same prob­lem.

So I test­ed this one with the boyfriend’s (Android) phone — it worked just fine. I erased my phone com­plete­ly and set it up as new, and still had the same prob­lem. I sought advice from co-work­ers (I mean, come on, I do work for Apple) and checked out all the sug­ges­tions. No joy. I Googled and could find noth­ing about prob­lems between this head­set and iPhones. In fact, there were reports of it work­ing nice­ly with the 5 and 5s mod­els.

I went to the Apple store and they swapped out my phone. Same prob­lem. Then we got the bright idea to try the head­set with the tech’s iPhone 6, and found that we couldn’t hear calls on it, either.

Final­ly I did what I should have done orig­i­nal­ly, and called LG. After final­ly get­ting the idea across to a man who didn’t have a firm grasp of the Eng­lish lan­guage, and didn’t even ask what mod­el iPhone I was using, or what ver­sion of iOS it was run­ning. He just put me on hold and went away for a bit, then come back and said, “The HBS-900 is not com­pat­i­ble with iPhone.” 

I said, “With any iPhone, or just my iPhone?”

“We have not test­ed with lat­est,” he said. “You have lat­est, yes?”

“Yes, the iPhone 6+ run­ning iOS 8.4,” I replied.

“We have not test­ed,” he said again.

Now that seems a major over­sight on LG’s part, and while the pro­duct descrip­tion men­tions an Android app for easy pair­ing, it also says there’s a man­u­al pair­ing mode (which I used) for oth­er devices. That’s noth­ing like say­ing, “This won’t work with iPhones” and it is mis­lead­ing mar­ket­ing. I am very unhap­py that LG has over­looked such a huge mar­ket seg­ment with this poor deci­sion, and that I have wast­ed so much time on this thing as a result. I’ve had decent expe­ri­ences with LG prod­ucts in the past, but I’ll think twice before buy­ing any­thing from them in the future.

Review: How to Win Friends and Influence People in the Digital Age by Dale Carnegie

How to Win Friends and Influence People in the Digital AgeHow to Win Friends and Influ­ence Peo­ple in the Dig­i­tal Age by Dale Carnegie
My rat­ing: 5 of 5 stars

I was a teenager when my father rec­om­mend­ed Mr. Carnegie’s orig­i­nal book to me, and at 48 I final­ly got around to read­ing this ver­sion. I’m glad that I did, as it was well worth the time. I would rec­om­mend this book to absolute­ly any­one who deals with oth­er humans in any capac­i­ty at all. And yes, I’ll be sug­gest­ing it to my own daugh­ter right away.

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Review: Attack the Geek by Michael R. Underwood

Attack the Geek (Ree Reyes, #2.5)Attack the Geek by Michael R. Under­wood
My rat­ing: 5 of 5 stars

Excuse me, but SQUEE! More Ree Reyes! More Drake! More East­wood and Grog­nard! Yes, more Geeko­man­cy!

Michael Under­wood is back with a delight­ful novel­la and if I have ANY com­plaints, it’s that this is a novel­la instead of a nov­el. That’s just because I am a greedy fan­girl read­er. The sto­ry itself is ful­ly devel­oped, and the novel­la is exact­ly the right for­mat for it. 

Attack the Geek def­i­nite­ly isn’t the place to start in the series, as it relies on pre­vi­ous knowl­edge of the char­ac­ters and the uni­verse, but if you’ve read the pre­vi­ous nov­els, you will NOT want to miss this install­ment when it is released on April 9.

Now I’m left hun­gry for Ree Reyes #3, though!

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Review: Bonk: The Curious Coupling of Science and Sex by Mary Roach

Bonk: The Curious Coupling of Science and SexBonk: The Curi­ous Cou­pling of Sci­ence and Sex by Mary Roach
My rat­ing: 4 of 5 stars

Fas­ci­nat­ing stuff! Vast amounts of sheer geek­ery about sex, sci­ence, and the inter­sec­tion there­of. If you’re look­ing for sex tips or sala­cious read­ing, look else­where. If you’re look­ing to howl with laugh­ter with­out being able to explain WHY to most peo­ple, this is your book.

Okay, one might glean the occa­sion­al sex tip, but I don’t think they’re any­thing that com­mon sense couldn’t tell you. And you’ll have to wait for the very last chap­ter for the best bit.

I’ll be adding more of Roach’s diverse works to my to-be-read stack soon!

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Review: Opening Up: A Guide to Creating and Sustaining Open Relationships by Tristan Taormino

Opening Up: A Guide to Creating and Sustaining Open RelationshipsOpen­ing Up: A Guide to Cre­at­ing and Sus­tain­ing Open Rela­tion­ships by Tris­tan Taormi­no
My rat­ing: 5 of 5 stars

I have to be hon­est. When I ini­tial­ly heard about Open­ing Up by Tris­tan Taormi­no, it was in asso­ci­a­tion with some­one I can’t stand, and I child­ish­ly let that asso­ci­a­tion col­or my impres­sion of the book. I didn’t real­ly con­sid­er read­ing it. I final­ly got around to read­ing (okay, lis­ten­ing to) it this past week, and I’m sor­ry I didn’t do so soon­er. It’s so good that I’m con­sid­er­ing pur­chas­ing a print copy to have on hand in my lend­ing library, and may­be even an ebook copy so that I might eas­i­ly ref­er­ence pas­sages from time to time. 

None of the infor­ma­tion is new to me, exact­ly, but it is put togeth­er very well. The sec­tions on issues to consider/​issues that might arise in each style of respon­si­ble non-monogamy were espe­cial­ly appre­ci­at­ed. I was dis­ap­point­ed that there isn’t a sec­tion in her web site for read­ers, but per­haps the print copy has repro­ducible check­lists.

The chap­ter on STIs was very good, although I think that a list of speci­fic STIs for which non-monog­a­mous peo­ple should request test­ing would have been help­ful.

In any case, I do rec­om­mend this book. It’s replac­ing Love With­out Lim­its as my go-to rec­om­men­da­tion for new poly­folk to read.

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Review: Bonobo Handshake: A Memoir of Love and Adventure in the Congo by Vanessa Woods

Bonobo Handshake: A Memoir of Love and Adventure in the CongoBonobo Hand­shake: A Mem­oir of Love and Adven­ture in the Con­go by Vanes­sa Woods
My rat­ing: 4 of 5 stars

I near­ly put this book down after the first chap­ter, because I want­ed to learn about Bono­bos, not atroc­i­ties in the Con­go. I stuck with it because it was the most inter­est­ing of the audio­books that were already on my phone when I was mak­ing a long dri­ve, and I got halfway through it dur­ing that dri­ve. I was hooked by then, and need­ed to know what hap­pened to the­se par­tic­u­lar Bono­bos and the humans around them. 

Now, I still don’t feel that I need­ed the explic­it descrip­tions of vio­lence. I could have under­stood what was going on with­out that. But then, I’m par­tic­u­lar­ly sen­si­tive to such things, and I did already have a pret­ty good idea of what was going on in that part of the world. I sup­pose some read­ers may have need­ed those descrip­tions to “get it.”

I real­ly loved the rela­tion­ships that devel­oped between Woods and the var­i­ous Bono­bos, and how her net­work of friends and fam­i­ly grew over time. I am envi­ous of the con­nec­tion she has with her hus­band, Bri­an Hare. The infor­ma­tion shared about the exper­i­ments is tru­ly fas­ci­nat­ing, and the competition/coöperation the­me that runs through the book is vital to under­stand­ing not just chim­panzees and Bono­bos, but humans.

I was lis­ten­ing to the book in the car the oth­er day, and heard the fol­low­ing at the end of chap­ter 34. It caused me to cry.
“If there are those you love, who­ev­er or wherever you are, hold them. Find them and hold them as tight­ly as you can. Resist their squirm­ing and impa­tience and uncom­fort­able laugh­ter, and just feel their heart throb­bing again­st yours. Give thanks that for this moment, for this one pre­cious moment, they are here, they are with you, and they know they are utter­ly, com­plete­ly, entire­ly loved.”

All in all, yes, I rec­om­mend the book. Just be warned about those descrip­tions, and if you choose the audio­book ver­sion, don’t lis­ten with lit­tle ones around.

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Belated Windows 8 Review

I’ve told a few peo­ple that I don’t real­ly see any advan­tage to Win­dows 8 over Win­dows 7. I have to eat my words now.

Before I put Win­dows 8 on my four-year-old HP lap­top, I checked with HP to make sure that it was 8-com­pat­i­ble, and they said it was. AFTER I did the upgrade, I learned that they aren’t putting any Win­dows 8 dri­vers out for it! So some of the hard­ware func­tions don’t work prop­er­ly. The hard­ware man­u­fac­tur­ers say, “We only deal with HP, go to them.” Now, I was dual boot­ing with 7 any­way, but hadn’t actu­al­ly boot­ed into 7 on the sys­tem until this week. And dang, it’s slow in com­par­ison, even with the prop­er dri­vers. I thought that may­be dual boot­ing was part­ly to blame — not like­ly, but may­be.

Because of issues with my employer’s soft­ware, I’ve decid­ed to ded­i­cate the lap­top as a work-only com­put­er, and that means it has to run Win­dows 7. I’m fin­ish­ing up a clean install of 7, then I’ll image it, and every time the work stuff caus­es a prob­lem, I can recov­er and move on quick­ly. Any­way — I was right. Before I blew away the 8 par­ti­tion (recent­ly upgrad­ed to 8.1), I timed how long it took to boot. And I just timed the boot on the clean 7 install. Even though I had been using 8 for may­be six months, with­out all the prop­er dri­vers, it boots three times as quick­ly as 7. (Both OSs are Pro-64 bit ver­sions.) For what it’s worth, I am boot­ing from an SSD with both — that, of course, makes more of a dif­fer­ence than ANY oth­er upgrade.

So yes, Win­dows 8 IS a pos­i­tive dif­fer­ence on a sys­tem that can han­dle it. I haven’t found any­thing that I can’t do com­pared to Win­dows 7 (except access my employer’s VPN, and that’s due to their restric­tions). I do find the lack of the start menu to be a nui­sance, but it’s eas­i­ly fixed with the addi­tion of Clas­sic Shell or one of the many oth­er util­i­ties designed to fix that prob­lem. I am told that 8 does not play well with vir­tu­al machi­nes, if that’s impor­tant to you.

I don’t have a touch screen and haven’t missed it. I nev­er use the Metro inter­face for any­thing, and I’m whol­ly unim­pressed with the native Win8 appli­ca­tions. I don’t like the app store. I don’t need my com­put­er to be like a phone or tablet, but it seems that’s where things are con­verg­ing.