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Any Plurkers?

Posted by Cyn | Posted in Links | Posted on 08-06-2008

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That man roped me into anoth­er mes­sag­ing thingie, Plurk. If you’re already a mem­ber, I’m Tech­noMom there, of course.

I can’t real­ly blame him, since Twit­ter seems to be down all the time. Pownce nev­er real­ly took off, did it?

I wish Plurk had a desk­top client, though.

I must say that I find Twitter’s excus­es for their tech­ni­cal prob­lems fair­ly ridicu­lous. They used a con­tent man­age­ment sys­tem for a mes­sag­ing plat­form, and nobody thought that would cause prob­lems?

Bloggers are Dangerous!

Posted by Cyn | Posted in Blogging, Humor, Links | Posted on 07-06-2008

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You’d bet­ter learn to rec­og­nize the warn­ing signs, just to be safe.

Blah

Posted by Cyn | Posted in College, Education, Kvetching | Posted on 06-06-2008

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That’s pret­ty much my opinoin today. Blah. Blah blah blah. I couldn’t wake up enough to dri­ve safe­ly, so I missed an appoint­ment that will take months to resched­ule.

For every assign­ment we do in the tech writ­ing course I’m tak­ing, we turn in a rough draft and receive two peer reviews and feed­back from the instruc­tor before doing the final draft. I got the two peer reviews this morn­ing from the assign­ment I turned in on Sun­day, and they were ridicu­lous. Seri­ous­ly – both reviews were full of non­sense like, “your sub­mis­sion wasn’t dou­ble-spaced” (that’s because the instruc­tions said to sin­gle space it, doo­fus) or “there aren’t dou­ble spaces between the para­graphs” (yes, there are – I dou­ble-checked) or “you have to spell it ‘co-hous­ing’” (not when the author­i­ties in the field spell the word ‘cohous­ing’ kid).

They get grad­ed on their peer reviews, as I’ve been on mine, so hope­ful­ly they’ll get sucky grades. I got count­ed down on one of the first ones I did because I wasn’t harsh enough. Yes, that person’s piece need­ed a lot of work, and I could have ripped it to shreds. I was try­ing to stay “con­ge­nial” as instruct­ed. My true thoughts were more along the lines of, “Why are you in this course? Only TCOM majors need to take it, and oh please $deity do NOT tell me you’re major­ing in TCOM when you can hard­ly write a read­able sen­tence.” That wouldn’t have been con­ge­nial, would it?

The idea behind the peer reviews is that most tech­ni­cal com­mu­ni­ca­tors work in teams now, so we have to get used to giv­ing each oth­er con­struc­tive crit­i­cism and accept­ing the same. I can han­dle that. I don’t, how­ev­er, see why peo­ple who can’t man­age to sort out “there” and “their,” or who don’t under­stand that an apos­tro­phe does not mean HERE COMES AN “S” are even per­mit­ted in the course. They’re all sup­posed to have passed the basic Eng­lish cours­es before tak­ing any­thing in the TCOM depart­ment, but obvi­ous­ly “pass­ing” and “mas­ter­ing the mate­r­i­al” are not close­ly relat­ed con­cepts.

Book Reviews: Magic Burns and No Rest for the Witches

Posted by Cyn | Posted in Reading | Posted on 06-06-2008

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Magic BurnsI read two short books Wednes­day and Thurs­day. The first, Mag­ic Burns by Ilona Andrews, was great fun and very well writ­ten. It’s book two of her Kate Daniel series, and it cer­tain­ly left me eager to read book three (which has just been turned in to the pub­lish­er, as I under­stand it).

I think I’m miss­ing some­thing, though. There are ref­er­ences to an ex-almost-boyfriend, Max­imil­lian Crest, in Mag­ic Burns. I just read Mag­ic Bites at the end of March, and I don’t remem­ber Crest at all. I don’t remem­ber Kate hav­ing a love inter­est at all, in fact. Only a fool could miss the sex­u­al ten­sion between Kate and Cur­ran, but that’s unre­solved. I don’t remem­ber any pri­or encoun­ters with a teenaged urban shaman, either. So did I just miss some things, or are there sto­ries set between the books that I don’t know about?

I do rec­om­mend these books to any­one who enjoys the urban fan­ta­sy genre. This one played around with Celtic mythol­o­gy, which I also enjoy.

No Rest for the WitchesNo Rest for the Witch­es con­tains four novel­las. Mary­Jan­ice David­son is the head­lin­er, since she’s appar­ent­ly the best-known of the four authors. I don’t remem­ber how this book end­ed up in my hold queue at the library, but there it was with the oth­ers, so I checked it out.

Davidson’s con­tri­bu­tion is “The Majic­ka,” which might or might not be set in the same world as her Bet­sy Tay­lor and Wyn­d­ham Were­wolves sto­ries (maybe even the mer­maid series, although I haven’t read those so I can’t be sure). You real­ly need a good rea­son to toss a fairy, a vam­pire, a were­wolf, a woman enchant­ed into a vehi­cle by her arch­mage ex-SO, and a dryad into one novel­la. I didn’t real­ly buy the expla­na­tion, hon­est­ly. I didn’t find the main char­ac­ter inter­est­ing or attrac­tive, nor did I see any rea­son for the oblig­a­tory love inter­est to find her irre­sistible. But it’s a romance novel­la, and one of the absolute neces­si­ties seems to be peo­ple falling into love at first sight.

The set­up of “Voodoo Moon” by Lori Han­de­land was a bit bet­ter, although that main char­ac­ter should turn in her FBI badge and for­get hav­ing any career in law enforce­ment. The first guy she meets should have been wear­ing a red shirt, because it was way too obvi­ous that he wouldn’t last long.

Cheyenne McCray’s “Breath of Mag­ic” needs to be rela­beled “erot­i­ca” instead of “para­nor­mal romance.” Even if the hot guy does whis­per sweet noth­ings to the main char­ac­ter, this novel­la is about the two peo­ple bump­ing fuzzies. There’s an intri­cate plot set­up for absolute­ly no rea­son, as it cer­tain­ly wasn’t nec­es­sary for them to get naked togeth­er, and there isn’t any res­o­lu­tion to any of the plot threads. The only way the sex scenes could have been more explic­it would have involved wiring the two up to mea­sur­ing devices, as inch­es and degrees are the only details not giv­en. From the teas­er of one of McCray’s books, it seems that the intri­cate plot is explored more thor­ough­ly in at least one book. I got the feel­ing that the sex would be sim­i­lar, as well.

“Any Witch Way She Can” by Chris­tine War­ren opens with much grous­ing by the main char­ac­ter about her spin­ster­hood. She then pro­ceeds to try a love spell, but does a lot of ingre­di­ent sub­sti­tu­tion and doesn’t fol­low the instruc­tions prop­er­ly. Unsur­pris­ing­ly, it doesn’t work as expect­ed. Unfor­tu­nate­ly, she doesn’t expe­ri­ence any dread­ful con­se­quences as a result of toy­ing with things she doesn’t under­stand, either. And of course she, like the char­ac­ters in two of the oth­er novel­las, will end up in bed with a guy she meets right after meet­ing him.

I need to go through my hold queues at both libraries to be sure there aren’t any more romances hid­ing there, because I obvi­ous­ly have a very bad atti­tude about them. I know that there’s a for­mu­la, and it seems that all of these novel­las do fol­low it. But I don’t like for­mu­la­ic fic­tion, and I don’t know that it could be writ­ten well enough to real­ly please me.

On to Blind­fold Game by Dana Stabenow. That should pro­vide a nice change of pace.

R.I.P. “Dad” Ward

Posted by Cyn | Posted in Family | Posted on 05-06-2008

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A friend of my family’s, Claude “Dad” Ward, who worked with my father for many years, died this week. He was a good man, and he’ll be missed.

He wasn’t my father, but every­body who knew him called him “Dad.” I don’t think I even heard his giv­en name for the first ten or fif­teen years that I knew him.

He had bat­tled myas­the­nia gravis for years, but what final­ly got him was weird – tuber­cu­lo­sis from a spi­der bite. After Dad­dy told me that, I thought he must have mis­heard some­thing, so I Googled it – and yep, there are oth­er cas­es of that hap­pen­ing.

I’ll think of him every time I see an Airedale or a rac­coon 🙂

Review: The Outlaw Demon Wails by Kim Harrison

Posted by Cyn | Posted in Reading | Posted on 04-06-2008

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The Outlaw Demon WailsThe Out­law Demon Wails, book 6 of Kim Harrison’s Hol­lows series, was a very fun read. I’m afraid I whipped through it in one day. Grant­ed, it was a day that involved a fair amount of wait­ing here and there, then col­laps­ing at home to recov­er, which gave me lots of time to read.

I liked Rachel much bet­ter in this book than in the oth­ers. She has grown up a bit, and that’s encour­ag­ing. While there’s a big plot ques­tion left to answer, it felt a lit­tle bit like Har­ri­son is almost done with this series. I hope that she does come back and wind up that last detail, at least. Even if Rachel goes on to live hap­pi­ly (in the) ever after at some point, the world itself is so rich that I would think there are many oth­er sto­ries to be told.

If you’ve read the oth­er books in the series, you def­i­nite­ly want to read this one. If you haven’t, catch up first! I have read them, and I got a wee bit lost regard­ing some ref­er­ences to past events (due to a bad mem­o­ry and fibro fog on my part, not any fault of Ms. Harrison’s).

Rant at Fibrant Living

Posted by Cyn | Posted in Health | Posted on 03-06-2008

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If you have fibromyal­gia, or care about any­one who does, please read and respond.

Review: A Rush of Wings by Adrian Phoenix

Posted by Cyn | Posted in Reading | Posted on 02-06-2008

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A Rush of WingsA Rush of Wings was a ran­dom “that looks inter­est­ing” choice from the library’s new books shelves. I was some­what sur­prised to find that the book was just pub­lished this Jan­u­ary, because the copy I checked out has obvi­ous­ly been read many, many times. It seems as if Adri­an Phoenix’s first nov­el is a hit.

It wasn’t bad, espe­cial­ly for a first nov­el. It’s yet anoth­er urban fantasy/​horror vam­pire sto­ry, but it didn’t feel too deriv­a­tive. I did won­der if Phoenix has read much of Nan­cy Collins’ work, but she still has a rea­son­ably dif­fer­ent spin on the genre.

I liked the main char­ac­ter, FBI Spe­cial Agent Heather Wal­lace. Her love inter­est, Dante, didn’t do much for me, but then I’m not into bad boys or goth kid­dies. I didn’t quite buy the attrac­tion between them, but hap­py Wal­lace did (most­ly) con­tin­ue to live by her val­ues.

I think I would have been slight­ly hap­pi­er if I didn’t feel like the book was being set up for sequels if it sold well. What­ev­er hap­pened to stand­alone nov­els? Phoenix’s web­site says that her next book, In the Blood, will be released next year. I didn’t find any­thing that says it’s about Dante and friends, but I have a feel­ing that it is.

Crime TV

Posted by Cyn | Posted in Fun | Posted on 01-06-2008

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I’ve been on a video spree over the last month or so, get­ting caught up with all three C.S.I. shows. We also fin­ished watch­ing sea­son 2 of Torch­wood, and real­ized that some of it wouldn’t make sense unless we get caught up on Dr. Who.

Annoy­ing­ly, all three C.S.I.s end­ed on cliffhang­ers. I do hate that. I would keep watch­ing next sea­son any­way, so why the tease? They’re all very well estab­lished. And one episode of C.S.I. Mia­mi had a “spe­cial scene” that was only avail­able on the offi­cial web­site – and it isn’t there any more! What are all the view­ers who didn’t view it in real time sup­posed to do? I found a descrip­tion of the scene, but it wasn’t as good as actu­al­ly watch­ing it.

Sam is always amazed that I can watch that stuff. Hon­est­ly, the vio­lence and blood do both­er me, espe­cial­ly when there are ran­dom crimes. For some rea­son, it doesn’t both­er as much as some oth­er things, maybe because I take off my head­phones so that I don’t have to hear some sounds, and I gen­er­al­ly avoid look­ing at the bod­ies too much.

The part I like is the puz­zle, fig­ur­ing out how a crime was com­mit­ted and who did it. I know the shows are incred­i­bly unre­al­is­tic in many ways, from the fact that real crime scene inves­ti­ga­tors almost cer­tain­ly do not go run­ning around with guns to arrest crim­i­nals to the real­i­ty that nobody can be pro­fi­cient in every sin­gle type of foren­sic analy­sis that needs to be done. Actu­al foren­sic labs are almost always under­fund­ed, so get­ting evi­dence gath­ered, processed, and ana­lyzed in hours (as the shows often depict) is pure fan­ta­sy. Real foren­sic labs don’t usu­al­ly get the equip­ment they need reg­u­lar­ly, and they cer­tain­ly don’t have the lat­est and great­est toys of every sort in handy forms that every sin­gle tech can car­ry in his kit “just in case” he ever needs it at a scene.

I can sus­pend my dis­be­lief that much. And I can almost ignore the non­sense of “trac­ing an IP address to an email address” to get a criminal’s iden­ti­ty in sec­onds. It’s Hol­ly­wood.

I watched the first episode of The Clos­er tonight, since I’ll have to wait until fall for more C.S.I. I don’t like cop shows as much as foren­sics shows, but I was intrigued by Kyra Sedgwick’s per­for­mance in some pro­mos I saw a few years ago. Her “Atlanta accent” is atro­cious, but the char­ac­ter is inter­est­ing. I don’t know why the “big plot twist” that was obvi­ous to me in the first few min­utes of the show would take a bunch of pro­fes­sion­als days (appar­ent­ly) to fig­ure out, though. Maybe they’re too gen­der-bound? Who knows.

I sup­pose that if we had cable and I hap­pened to run across The Clos­er, I would watch it again. I think I’ll find anoth­er foren­sics show the next time I’m bored enough to go look­ing for view­ing mat­ter, though.

Books Books Books!

Posted by Cyn | Posted in Reading | Posted on 31-05-2008

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My Big Fat Supernatural Honeymoon
Yes, the girl and I man­aged a library run (to the GOOD library) on Fri­day. It took more time and ener­gy than expect­ed, of course, but we got a bunch of very good books.

I read My Big Fat Super­nat­ur­al Hon­ey­moon last night, with much gig­gling. The sto­ries were a bit uneven (nor­mal for an anthol­o­gy), but worth­while over­all.

I espe­cial­ly liked “Heo­rot,” the Har­ry Dres­den piece from Jim Butch­er. I love the way he brings in mythol­o­gy from so many dif­fer­ent cul­tures.

Kel­ly Armstrong’s “Stalked” was fun, too. Her were­wolves are just more wolfish than most, in my opin­ion.

P.N. Elrod’s “Her Mother’s Daugh­ter” wasn’t bad at all. I’ve obvi­ous­ly missed some of her Jack Flem­ing nov­els, and I’m look­ing for­ward to catch­ing up.

I want to find some of Mar­jorie M. Liu’s longer works, as “Where the Heart Lives” isn’t the first of her short sto­ries that have impressed me. What’s even bet­ter is that WtHL is a total depar­ture from the ear­li­er sto­ries I remem­ber.