Thursday, August 30, 2007

Booking Through Thursday

Since I wrote about the one in four article last week, this is a perfect BTT for me!

There was a widely bruited-about statistic reported last week, stating that 1 in 4 Americans did not read a single book last year. Clearly, we don’t fall into that category, but . . . how many of our friends do? Do you have friends/family who read as much as you do? Or are you the only person you know who has a serious reading habit?

This is interesting to think about because most of my friends are readers. I really can't think of anyone I know who hasn't told me about a book they've read during the past month or so. In fact, I was talking about books and audio books with someone at lunch today. As I'm getting my classroom ready to go back to school, there has been a lot of discussion about what books people enjoyed over the summer.

My husband probably reads almost as much as I do, as does my best friend. We exchange books all the time. One of my teacher friends is always recommending books, and we loan books back and forth. So, yes, I do know people who enjoy reading as much as I do.

I still think I read more than my parents ever have, and I probably read more than some of my friends who have small children. I can understand that one because it's a matter of time. Even the moms I know read at least something.

So I guess that's why I was so surprised at the statistics because I seem to be surrounded by readers.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Unconscious Mutterings

  1. Uneven :: numbers (hey, I spend a week on it in math)

  2. Wonder :: Woman (Lynda Carter version)

  3. Spider :: Man

  4. Emma :: pretty (that's from SurferGirl because I got stuck)

  5. Swing :: Porch (I've always wanted both - a porch and a swing on it)

  6. Orbit :: Gum

  7. Flirt :: Woman

  8. Donation :: Money

  9. Veil :: Bride (I'm now on the back up list for wedding sound at my church)

  10. Atmosphere :: Galaxy

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Saturday's Six

This week's Saturday Six seems a bit deep and, potentially, controversial, but I'm giving it a try.

1. Considering all possible factors about a person that make us different, like age, appearance, religion, race, origin, sexual preference, etc., with 10 being the most prejudiced and 1 being the least, how do you think you would rate yourself? I'd rate myself a 1 in all areas. I truly don't care about things like age, religion, sexual preference etc. I like to get to know people for who they are as individuals. I will start conversations with just about anybody and form my opinions based on the individual as a whole. I know that sounds like the politically correct answer, but it truly is the case for me.

2. You’re having a problem with a product or service and you call customer service. You are finally connected with someone who has a thick accent that sounds difficult to understand. What is the first thing that goes through your mind?
I don't tend to think anything about it as long as I can understand the person, and they can understand me. My goal is to get the issue resolved. I only ask to be connected to a supervisor, or another representative, if the first person cannot resolve my issue. This would apply to anyone I spoke with on the phone, accent or not.

3. A co-worker you like tells you that his or her church is holding an “open house” and is encouraging people of other faiths to visit. You and your co-worker are of different faiths. How likely would you be to attend? It would depend on the individual involved - not the church. In the past, I have accepted invitations to a number of Jewish temples and Baptist churches and had a wonderful, uplifting time. I wouldn't accept the invitation if I didn't enjoy, and respect, the person who issued the invite.

4. Take the quiz: Are you prejudiced?

You Are Not Prejudiced

Not only are you color blind, but you're also ethnicity blind, gender blind, and sexual orientation blind.
You don't judge someone until you truly know them. And even then, you're probably reluctant to judge.
You try to treat everyone equally. Everyone has a fair chance with you.
Good job - there's not a prejudiced bone in your body.

5. You lose a big promotion to someone who you considered to be less qualified than you are, despite the fact that you are only going by instinct in making that determination. If your boss later pulls you aside and explains that because of a growing effort to promote diversity, the other person was selected over you. What would your first reaction likely be? I've never even been close to that situation. The key to the question is that I would be operating on instinct, which is not complete information. I hope my first reaction would be to support the person in their new position and give them the benefit of the doubt. I say "I hope" because I've never been anywhere near this type of situation.

6. Your car breaks down in a neighborhood in which everyone is of a different race than you: are you more likely to be uncomfortable? The racial issue wouldn't make me uncomfortable at all. I would probably be uncomfortable if my car broke down if I were alone, or just with my daughter, in any neighborhood or situation. I'd be more concerned about the vulnerability of a woman and child. In fact, I'd probably be uncomfortable with police assistance, as well, considering the impostor issues in my area. I would probably have my cell on and connected to someone I trusted the whole time, no matter where I was. I wouldn't be as concerned if I were with a group of people, or if my husband were there.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Book Awards Reading Challenge

I just couldn't resist this book challenge. The idea is to read twelve award winning books over one year's time. I liked the fact that I could pick from any award list so I got to include Pulitzer Prize winners and Newbery winners as well. Here's my list:

1. Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides (Pulitzer Prize, 2003)
2. Life of Pi by Yann Martel (Man Booker Prize, 2002)
3. Criss Cross by Lynne Rae Perkins (Newbery, 2006)
4. The Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo (Newbery, 2004)
5. Mrs. Kimble by Jennifer Haigh (PEN/Hemingway, 2003)
6. The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver (Book Sense Adult Fiction Winner, 2000)
7. City of Bones by Michael Connelly (Anthony Award, 2003)
8. The Stone Diaries by Carol Shields (Pulitzer Prize, 1995)
9. California Girl by T. Jefferson Parker (Edgar Award, 2005)
10. Higher Power of Lucky by Susan Patron (Newbery, 2007)
11. The Road by Cormac McCarthy (Pulitzer Prize, 2007)
12. March by Geraldine Brooks (Pulitzer Prize, 2006)

I tried to keep the book list current because I tend to read older books. I also picked books that have been recommended by friends and on blogs.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Booking Through Thursday - Growing Up With Books

Today's Booking Through Thursday question is very interesting and fits in quite well with yesterday's story about the lack of reading in America. As I looked at the question, I realized that probably 25% (or more) of today's children may not be able to even answer this question in the future. I really hope there are teachers and others out there in communities modeling reading for these kids. In this day and age of public libraries and access to books, I can't imagine not reading with, or to, a child.

Well, anyway, here's today's question:

When growing up did your family share your love of books? If so, did one person get you into reading? And, do you have any family-oriented memories with books and reading? (Family trips to bookstore, reading the same book as a sibling or parent, etc.)

There were always books in the house when I was growing up. I don't remember seeing either of my parents sit down to read a book for themselves, but I do remember lots of time spent with my parents reading to me as a child. In fact, a favorite family story involves the time my father fell asleep reading a book to me, and my mother found us, him asleep and me reading the end of the book to him.

I was also lucky enough to have a great childhood babysitter who put Nancy Drew books into my hands one summer. I read every book on her shelf that summer, and my parents happily bought me the ones she didn't have. I still have these books for my own daughter.

I also grew up bike riding distance from the local public library. The librarians all knew my name, and I had a group of friends who would ride to the library together once a week to get new books. (And, of course, a Thrifty's ice cream cone before we headed home - I think it was a quarter.)

Boy, after yesterday's article, I feel blessed to have had so many people teach me to love reading early in my life. I hope I'm able to repay that debt with my own daughter and the children in my class.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

One in Four! What's Happened to all the Readers?

I spent part of the morning waiting at the car dealer for a minor recall repair to be done (glamorous, I know!) and read an article about the lack of reading in America. I was simply horrified. According to the reporter, one in four (that's 25%) of adult Americans had not read one single book all year. This survey seems to include religious readings, as well as fiction and nonfiction choices. I knew it was bad, but I had no idea. 1 in 4!

No wonder our children aren't reading. That could mean that 25% (or more) of kids have no role model for reading. This survey didn't seem to care about what language was read either. 1 in 4!

It really makes me wonder if our national illiteracy rate is truly that high. As a reading educator, that saddens me. I can't imagine not enjoying at least one book in a whole year. With all the advances in audio books on CD, through public libraries, and in new formats like MP3, it seems that books are more accessible now than they have ever been.

I know, in this case, I'm probably preaching to the choir, but I was really shocked by the statistic. What do you think? Is this really accurate in modern America?

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

The Devil Wears Prada by Lauren Weisberger

This is the first of my three books for the Book to Movie challenge. I went ahead and read it early because of some new rules posted on the challenge. I also decided that I would compare the books to the movies as part of the fun of this one.

I actually saw the movie for this one last summer. It is pretty unusual for me to see a movie and then read the book. I normally read the book first. Well, anyway, I loved the movie when I saw it. Meryl Streep was wonderful as Miranda, the she-devil boss of the title, and Anne Hathaway did a good job as Andy, the suffering junior assistant. After reading the book, I realized that there were some significant plot changes in the movie. I liked them when I saw the movie, but ended up liking the book much better. In the movie, Miranda is somewhat redeemed and shown as more humane by the end. In the book, there's no such redemption. She's a she-devil from start to finish, which I think is much truer to the character.

I ended up liking the book much better than the movie. It was told in first person by And, and I got a much better sense of her thoughts that way. I also liked that the book did not wrap the whole thing up with a somewhat contrived happy ending. Miranda was still awful, and Andy had to deal with the consequences of some of her decisions while she worked for Miranda. In the movie, Andy cheated on her boyfriend, but, in the book, it was much more of a moral decision for her and did not progress beyond a kiss at a party. That felt more in keeping with the character. I think the movie had Andy lose a bit if herself to Miranda, but she ended up stronger in the book.

Overall, I really liked the book. It was well-written with some great dialogue. This was not a book I'd normally select to read which is the great thing about this challenge. I forced myself to pick books that were not "safe" picks. I'd love to know what other people thought of the book.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Odd Thomas and Brother Odd by Dean Koontz

I'm reviewing these books together because I just finished reading Odd Thomas and have already read Brother Odd, and, therein, lies my problem. Before I discuss the strengths and weaknesses of Odd Thomas, I have to admit to a huge problem. I read the books out of order (which I do NOT recommend doing) so I already knew enough about the ending that what should have been a wonderful twist was wrecked for me. So be warned, read Odd Thomas first! With that said, here it goes:

Strengths of Odd Thomas: It had a really great opening ... nice way to grab the reader and explain, at the same time, that Odd, the title character, can see the souls of the departed who have not crossed over. It isn't creepy or scary in any way. I actually found the souls to be quite sad, and even tortured. There is a great recurring bit with Elvis Presley's ghost. I enjoyed the humor Koontz used to lighten the mood. I also truly enjoyed the relationship between Odd and his girlfriend. It was very quirky, but quite well-written. The plot involves the appearances of "bodaches" (think dementors from Harry Potter) , and Odd's attempts to present a killing spree. It sounds quite wild but is done in a believable way. Koontz does lay a trail for the reader to follow so the who's and why's do make sense at the end. I also liked the cast of characters. They were just odd ball enough to hold my attention without being over the top.

Weaknesses of Odd Thomas: After reading two books with this character, I'm not sure I want to be in his world any longer. I like to see growth and change in a character and, while I like Odd and find him charming, I'm not sure he is very interesting. Also, the ending of the book was ruined for me because it was alluded to in Brother Odd. I already knew the where and the ultimate effect on Odd of the killing spree before the book even started. It pays to look at copy write dates and read books in order (sigh!) So I'm not sure if the ending was as contrived as I thought it was.

Overall, I enjoyed my first go with this character more than the second. It seems that there may be another Odd story coming, but I don't think it'll hold much attraction for me. This is a very lukewarm review for me. I'd love to hear from anyone with stronger opinions on either book.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Unconscious Mutterings 3

  1. Darling :: husband

  2. Majesty :: queen

  3. Pebble :: Flintstone (boy that dates me)

  4. Fate :: Karma (look at my Saturday's Six)

  5. Instant :: coffee

  6. Screen :: flat

  7. Unplugged :: plugged

  8. Dairy :: cow (but I almost said Anne Frank because I wasn't reading clearly)

  9. Benefactor :: Bill Gates

  10. Market :: super

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Saturday's Six - Karma

OK ... I almost skipped this one when I read the questions because it seemed kind of deep and metaphysical but .... if you believe in karma, and I do, then I'm meant to think about these things at this point in time. God, or whatever power source you believe in, led me to these thoughts. So here it goes:

1. What is the most unlucky thing that has happened to you all week?
I don't think it was "bad luck," but I did have to tell a small lie to my parents to cover for another small lie I had told them earlier. This really was a result of my being untruthful and, maybe, it was God's way of reminding me of that.

2. Do bad things happen more often to good people or bad people?
I think bad things can happen to anyone - look at Darfur or the Holocaust. I don't think that people attract these bad things to them either. I really believe that sometimes we are put in situations which are totally beyond our control, or comprehension, because we do not know what the Divine Plan truly is. I do believe we can control some things using theories of positive thinking and the laws of attraction discussed in The Secret.

3. How much do you believe that you can improve your outlook in life (from a “fate” perspective) by doing good deeds and correcting past wrongs? I'm not sure about this one ... the question could mean many things. However, I do believe that there is some kind of "karma bank." What I mean by that is that I can attract a positive outcome to an event by using energy in a positive way. Now, I may not always realize how the events are connected because I'm not a part of the Plan, but I do believe my actions have ramifications to my future.

4. Take the quiz: What will happen to you in the future?

The Quiz of Luck - What Will Happen In Your Future?

Seems like you are not in big trouble. Actually, this result is actually BETTER than average. You will have a perfect job. You will make a lot of money. The job that you will have is being a kind of doctor. You will not marry. Many (wo)men will like you or did like you in your college, but you don't think anybody is good enough for you. You will live in a two-story house when you are older. Two stories all for you is good enough for you! You will have many dinners in your house. The bad news is that you will be very lonely and sad - perhaps almost depressed when you are older. Yes, you will think that money is not everything in your life. Feel good young man. You will not bald /*_*\ Your hair will be the same as it is right now. You will feel that you are one of the prettiest/handsome (wo)man there is for your age /*_*\ You will be the over average (wo)man. In your future, nothing will hurt you. Only pain on the outside. When you are 87 years old, you will die of painful cancer.
Take this quiz!

Quizilla |

| Make A Quiz | More Quizzes | Grab Code

This is an odd quiz ... results don't truly reflect me, and the grammar is awful!

5. Do you believe in fate, coincidence, or both?
I'm not sure I believe in either because if everything is fate then I can't make any changes, which I do not believe to be true. I believe that I can use positive energy to make changes in my life. So, if I believe I can make changes, then I don't think everything is a coincidence either.

6. Overall, when “bad things” happen, how often do you believe the victim generally “had it coming?”No, I can't believe that any merciful God would punish people with mass exterminations or painful illnesses. I find it difficult to blame the victim for events over which they probably had no control.

A Few Fun Questions

OK .... I got these questions from Hidden Side of a Leaf and, since I'm a bit brain dead ... thought they might be fun.

What are you reading right now?I just finished The Devil Wears Prada (review to come) and will probably start Freedom Writers Diary.

Do you have any idea what you’ll read when you’re done with that? I'm also going to read Beverly Cleary's Socks since my eight year old has to read it.

What magazines do you have in your bathroom right now? None ... just cleaned everything out.

What’s the worst thing you were ever forced to read? I was part of a book club briefly that read The Dante Club. I HATED that book and the months, yes months, it took the club to discuss it. I even tried the audio book and still hated it. Mu husband will point out every book by the same author because I make such a foul face when he does.

What’s the one book you always recommend to just about everyone? There's not one. It just depends on who I'm talking to and what I've read recently. I do tend to recommend books by Allende and Atwood.

Admit it, the librarians at your library know you on a first name basis, don’t they? Yes, they do, but more because of my daughter. We did library story times together for a few years and now she's a library regular so the librarian's learned my name rather than call me Surfer Girl's mom.

Is there a book you absolutely love, but for some reason, people never think it sounds interesting, or maybe they read it and don’t like it at all? I can't seem to get anyone to read John Irving. He seems to intimidate most people I know.

Do you read books while you eat? While you bathe? While you watch movies or TV? While you listen to music? While you’re on the computer? While you’re having sex? While you’re driving? I don't read and eat unless I'm alone which is very very rare. I do like a good mystery in a hot soaking bath but that's few and far between as well. I can't read and have a lot of background noise so no to TV, computers, and music. I do read each week at our local ice rink where Surfer Girl skates. I seem to be able to block out noise there. Driving ... never. Only the occasional audiobook on long car trips.

When you were little, did other children tease you about your reading habits? No, I got teased for being the tallest until 6th grade. I stopped and everyone else shot up around me.

What’s the last thing you stayed up half the night reading because it was so good you couldn’t put it down? It was a couple of years ago. I remember having to finish Allende's book about her daughter Paula and crying at 2:00 in the morning as she wrote about her daughter's death.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Unconscious Mutterings 2

I find these really fun so here goes:

  1. Voyage :: around the world

  2. Patricia :: Cornwell

  3. Transformation :: Configuration

  4. Vocabulary :: SAT

  5. San Francisco:: Golden Gate Bridge

  6. Edward :: Scissorhands

  7. Sawyer :: Tom

  8. Literary :: literacy

  9. Tiger :: shark

  10. Seal :: pup

Bookworm Carnival

Here's a link to this month's Bookworm Carnival. One of my reviews is included so I'm very excited because this is the first time I've participated in a Carnival. Check it out! There are some great posts on summer reading.

Dog Days of Summer

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Booking Through Thursday - Monogamy

It's been awhile ... just got back from Las Vegas and the Grand Canyon ... so here's this week's Booking Through Thursday which will be up in time (but barely!)

One book at a time? Or more than one? If more, are they different types/genres? Or similar? Normally I read one book at a time ... well ... unless I'm somewhere and forgot my book, then I'll start another one. Also I sometimes take a break from a book if I'm not sure about it. So I guess the brief answer is normally one at a time.

(We’re talking recreational reading, here—books for work or school don’t really count since they’re not optional.)

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Booking Through Thursday - Multiples

Here's this weeks BTT. My answers will be brief because I'm stealing a little time from vacation to blog.

Do you have multiple copies of any of your books? I don't tend to keep many books (wow, that's probably an admission here). I have a few favorites on a bookshelf (and no duplicates that I know of). I tend to loan books out and don't worry about getting them back. I also donate good hard cover copies to my local library. They get put in the collection for other people to read. I have, accidentally, borrowed the same book more than once either from a library or a friend. It seems to happen if the cover is different. Once I start reading, I realize and return it.

If so, why? Absent-mindedness? You love them that much? First Editions for the shelf, but paperbacks to read? The only duplicates I have are borrowed, and it truly is absent-mindedness, especially if the cover is different. I seem to have a memory for covers.

If not, why not? Not enough space? Not enough money? Too sensible to do something so foolish? Space is one of the issues, for sure. I don't think it's foolish to keep a personal library. In fact, my classroom library has 100s of books, and I add to it all the time. That's probably why I can give away books at home.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

The Case of the Missing Books

Before I leave for another short vacation (this one to visit family), I thought I'd review one of the books I read in Maui. I found this one on the mystery book shelf at my local independent book store. It had a glowing recommendation from a store employee as well as from another independent book store. In case you can't tell, I'm a big fan of my local bookstore. They have some wonderful author events.

Anyway, this is apparently the first book in a mystery series. It is about Israel Armstrong who is the new librarian in a small town in Northern Ireland. The premise revolves around the fact that the town has closed the local library and put Israel in charge of a mobile library.

Strengths of The Case of the Missing Books: I loved the characters. They are quirky and funny. Israel is your "fish out of water" character, but the author uses a great deal of humor in describing the people and setting. I'm guessing the author spent so much time with some of the characters because he plans to explore them more in future books. I haven't found another one, but I'm assuming there is one. I was a little worried about it being set in Northern Ireland because I wasn't in the mood for anything too political, but that's not what this is. It's more like a humorous slice of life setting.

Weaknesses of The Case of the Missing Books:
The mystery element was a bit weak. I didn't really care who had the missing library books (and it was kind of far-fetched that every book in the library had gone missing). I enjoyed the characters and humor enough to overlook this. If you like to follow along with the clues and a traditional detective, then this is not for you.

Overall, I enjoyed the book for its humor and will probably read more in the series.

Monday, August 6, 2007

Junie B. Jones controversial?

Junie B. Jones (for those of you who don't have young ones currently in your lives) is a character by Barbara Parks in a series of books for first and second graders. Junie is in kindergarten and first grade as the series progresses. Well, anyway, I read an article in the Los Angeles Times on Sunday about these books and was blown away.

It seems that this series is one of the ones that is most frequently challenged in public libraries. Apparently, there are parents who are offended by Junie's improper use of language.

I have always read aloud a book, or two, from this series to my students. I have probably heard every book either from a student reader or from the audio versions my own daughter listened to all last summer as we drove on vacation. I have never had anyone complain about them.

Yes, she talks like a child but that's why kids like her. I guess I've never expected books to be perfect models of any language. Some of my favorite books use dialect and slang to create their sense of time and place. I'm thinking of the work of William Faulkner and To Kill a Mockingbird. I do agree that Junie is annoying and makes poor choices in the stories, but that gives me things to discuss with the kids. They know she behaves poorly, and, I think, they know not to do some of the things she does.

I wonder what anyone else thinks of this one. Does her inaccurate use of language bother you? Have you read them to, or with, a child? How do you feel as a parent or reader about this?

Thanks for any responses. I'm really thinking about this before the new school year starts because I normally start the year with a Junie novel.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

The Lighthouse by P.D. James

Okay ... I think I'm one of the last people to discover James. Even my husband, the non-mystery reading one, knew the character's name and had seen something done on PBS. I found this book at our Maui condo (more on that another day) and left three books behind in exchange.

Strengths of The Lighthouse: The plot and characters reminded me of the old time mysteries where there were a limited number of suspects forced together by circumstance. This time it was a remote island and an outbreak of SARS (a bit dated, perhaps). I pretty much had the murder solved three-quarters of the way through the story because the author left a good, but not overly obvious, trail to follow. This is part of a series which I've come in on midway but still enjoyed the character development and their relationships with each other.

Weaknesses of The Lighthouse: I like this quite a bit. Since I didn't know the characters, I was a little confused in the first three or four chapters, but it didn't seem to matter too much by the end.

Overall, it was a fun read. I was a bit intimidated by James and was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed this one.

Sunday Meme - Unconscious Mutterings

  1. Voices :: in men's heads (silly church class title that's a family joke)

  2. Have to :: get more sleep

  3. Machine :: computer since it's staring at me

  4. Seventh grade :: English class

  5. Beach :: want to be in Maui right now

  6. Roommate :: crazy and even crazier

  7. Cyclone :: never been in one and don't want to start now

  8. Theater :: movie

  9. Pregnant :: YUCK

  10. Phoebe :: the annoying Friend

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Saturday's Six - Ka-Ching!

Boy do this week's questions strike home. At the end of twelve days in Maui(and a few ka-chings!)I probably don't want to consider money but here it goes anyway:

1. If you had to leave your job on Monday, how confident would you feel that you could get another job paying close to the same amount quickly?

Since I'm a teacher, I feel pretty confident I could get something paying the same or even more. But, if I decided to leave my current employer, it would either be for a totally different position or for part-time work which would, obviously, mean less money. I'm actually quite happy where I work so I haven't thought about this for a while.

2. How many different employers have you worked for over the years?

Let's see ... I worked part time at a computer computer and hair cutting salon in college and a fast food restaurant in high school. I worked for a mail order video company and two different job placements agencies between college and grad school. I've worked for 4 different schools, and I also worked part time one summer for an educational day camp. So let's count ... that's 11 employers since high school.

3. Consider the employer you worked for the longest: how big of a factor was money in determining why you left or would consider leaving that employer?

I'm still at the place I've worked the longest (13 years now) and money has never been a factor in my job. (But I guess as an educator, that's almost the norm!)

4. Take the quiz: How good are you with money?

You Are Great With Money

You know the value of a dollar - and you save and spend wisely.
By living below your means, you've set yourself up for a rich future.
And while it may hurt to sacrifice now, you'll probably have plenty of money later on.
You're on your way to riches - just keep it up.

Wow ... I'm proud of myself, and I didn't even lie!

5. When is the last time you actually were told what your credit score actually is?

About 2 years ago, we bought an investment condo, and during the financing part, I actually remembered to ask. I'm very proud that my score is two points higher than my husband's. It's been a family joke since I tend to be the shopper, and he's the saver.

6. Do you think that learning what your score would be would be likely to make you change anything you’re doing with money?

Well, since I did get my score, I didn't feel the need to make any changes because it was a fairly good one. I would probably check it again before I made any other major purchases, like real estate.

Thanks for this week's questions. I actually feel a whole lot better about my recent ka chings!

Maui - Our Favorites

Here's my favorite part of Maui (but not my husband's because he was the driver!) This was taken on one of the overlooks on the Road to Hana. We spent about five hours driving up, exploring waterfalls, lava rocks, a black sand beach, and a variety of overlooks. We also took a great nature hike loop that SurferGirl wanted to do twice. Next time (if there is a next time) we're going to stay overnight in Hana to avoid making the return trip in one sitting.

Well, here's SurferGirl after her second surfing lesson in Maui. She actually scoured the house for change and came up with enough money for two group lessons (over $100 in coins) while we were there. Her instructor (J) was from Rio, and I don't think she realized how good-looking he really was. She was too intent on catching the wave. She actually rode a number of waves and was up on the board on her very first try. I think that was her favorite part of the trip. Living in Southern California, I think I'm in trouble now, especially since she took this quiz. I'm not surprised at all.

Your Summer Ride is a Mustang Convertible

You're out to experience the very best of summer.
From the best beaches to the best tan, you want it all!

This is the sunset as seen from our balcony (or lanai) on our final night in Maui. This is probably my husband's favorite part, dinner on the lanai followed by a gorgeous sunset. We owe a big Mahalo to relatives for the use of their condo while we were there. It truly is a magical place.

Friday, August 3, 2007

Books to Movie Challenge

I just found this challenge, and it sounds like fun. I love to read books and see the movies to compare them. I normally like the books much better, but I could surprise myself.

Anyway, I picked three books for this challenge. I've already seen two of the movies, but haven't read the books which is somewhat backwards for me. The third is a book I've wanted to read and movie many people have told me to rent so here goes.

My three choices:

1. Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamillo
(loved the movie)

2. Devil Wears Prada by Lauren Weisberger
(loved the movie...Meryl Streep was a riot)

3. Freedom Writer's Diary by Erin Gruwell
(highly recommended by a number of friends)

Check out the link on the sidebar for all the details on this one.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Booking Through Thursday

Here's this week's BTT:

Have you ever written an author a fan letter?

Did you get an answer?

Did it spark a conversation? A meeting?

(And, sure, I suppose that e-mails DO count . . . but I’d say no to something like a message board on which the author happens to participate.)

This is a pretty easy one for me because the only letter I can remember was a junior high assignment, and I wrote to Ray Bradbury because I'd just read Farenheit 451. Well, I didn't get an answer, but I did have the chance to meet him a few weeks later at a play adapted from the book. He was fairly old, even then, and did not remember my letter. (Looking back, he'd probably never seen it, but I didn't know that then.)

I still sometimes assign author letter writing to my students and, unfortunately, no one has ever gotten a reply.


It was about 6:00pm ... just back from twelve glorious days in Maui when every toilet in the house made the aforementioned sound at the same time. A coordinated welcome home maybe, but I didn't think so as my husband went to get the handy dandy plunger. When I heard, "We've got a problem," I could smell it right away, and it wasn't sweet. So, off to the phone with the plumber's number in hand. Since it was after hours (time and 1/2 - ka-ching!), they needed to call me back.

Flash backward a little over twelve hours, and we were getting off the red eye from Maui. As our bags approached on the carousel, my husband calmly told me that our luggage was old and it was time to buy a new set (ka-ching!) One suitcase was totally missing it's handle and the other looked like it had bust a gut. The seam was undone. Oh well, Maui was great!

Time to call the parking lot shuttle for pick up. We found that pay phones still exist believe it or not. (My husband's cell really enjoyed its splash into the warm waters of Maui - ka-ching!) After explaining that we couldn't call from the red curb, the driver said five minutes. Well .... I guess he meant five minutes island time because we had to call again (a second pay phone) after 1/2 hour and were told ten minutes. At this point, we realized that the nice older ladies, father traveling with his daughter, and two entire families with too many children to count were all waiting for the same small van (did I say small?) So ... with the van finally in sight, we grabbed our broken down luggage and made a dash for the door as soon as it opened. (Not normal for our family, but I'm writing it off to red eye induced hysteria).

OK ... flash forward back to waiting for the call from the plumber who calls and asks if we have some kind of clean out drain. By then I, of course, need to use the restroom so I'm off to our nearest local (and clean) restroom at the public library while my husband valiantly tries to find the drain in question. (Being me, I did take a couple of minutes to peruse the recent acquisitions shelf but more on that later). I got back to the news that we didn't seem to have the needed drain which meant two guys (ka-ching! ka-ching!) going on the roof.

Well ... they couldn't get there until 9:00pm which seemed a bit late (and dark) to climb the roof so, without a bathroom option, I did what I do best and googled local hotels (ka -ching!). I know it's August and vacation time but I guess smokers don't rent hotel rooms because that was all I could find until the last one. I couldn't book direct because the internet rate was better so back on I went. OK .. all's well and off we go to the hotel which has become a grand adventure for "Spots" aka SurferGirl. As we drove, SurferGirl asked about dinner, which never happened and became fruit from the hotel lobby.

Well .... we get to the lobby and have to swipe our credit card again, and it's denied! Ok, luckily, I had my working cell and called the company to be sent to the fraud department. It seems that they considered charges in Maui and a mainland hotel within 20 hours of each other a bit suspicious. As I answered the security questions, the red eye hysteria set back in, and I lost it. I don't normally cry in public but those last four numbers of the social security number do it to me every time. Finally settled and in the room.

Flash forward to this morning, 8:30am, my husband meets the plumbers to find that the drain is located in, of all places, our master bedroom. Well, they decided to use the roof access and save our rugs. But, we will need to add a new drain in the future (ka-ching! ka-ching!) to avoid the tree roots that caused the whole problem.

That's what I get for starting the laundry .... Maui is looking better and better! Now that this is off my chest, I'll get some pictures up soon.