31 May 2009

Rather unusual

I am reading four books right now. Four. At one time. I cannot tell you how unusual this is for me.

Growing up, my mom would often tell people that I was an avid reader and usually had multiple books going at one time, but that was not true. (Sorry, mom). I would have whatever books were required for class (usually one for an English class, maybe two), and then MAYBE another book for myself. Generally, whatever I was reading for school would occupy me, and I had no need to read anything else. This was especially true in high school when I took a very demanding English-based humanities class for three years. Once I got to my senior year my English class was much easier, and I suddenly had time to read for myself again. (I hate to say "read for pleasure" because I almost always liked the books I was required to read for class).

So, how did I get wrapped into reading four books at a time? There are a couple of reasons:
  1. One book I am reading with my carpool-mate, Karina. Obviously that reading happens in the car only to and from work, which means that I have time to read elsewhere.
  2. Fiction/Non-fiction. I can breeze through most fiction novels. I cannot as easily breeze through most non-fiction books. Right now I am reading Twenty Years at Hull-House by Jane Addams, and it is really interesting, but it is not at all the kind of book you sit down and read for four hours straight. It's rather academic and written very much like a lady educated in the 1870s would write. I realized that if I tried to spend all my time reading just that book that I would really lose a lot of time to read other books. That is, I would constantly tell myself I wasn't in the mood for reading, when really I wasn't in the mood for Hull House.
I'm really glad I made that decision because I've been able to finish two fiction novels since I started reading Hull House. I'll probably finish Hull House tonight, and I might finish one of my fictions tonight as well. That will leave me another non-fiction to work on while I plow through a few more fictions during my trip to Texas this week.

Did I ever mention that I want to read 52 books this year? I've finished 20 so far, and I should be up to 22 by tomorrow night, maybe even 23. This Wednesday will complete the twenty-second week of the year, so I'm on track.

30 May 2009

Review: Aquaretto

Many moons ago I wrote a whole bunch of reviews for our favorite board games. I haven't written one in a while, and that is sad because we got two new board games for Christmas.

One of the games we got is called Aquaretto. Eric's Mom bought it for us, and she bought it's predecessor, Zooloretto, at the same time for Eric's brother.

Let's be honest. We were not impressed with the cover. We read the back:
Create your own aquarium and attract visitors with exotic aquatic animals. Particularly attractive to visitors are the shows featuring the feeding of dolphins, whales, and seals. The player who best takes care of his animals can hope for repeated visits by satisfied customers.
Not impressed? Neither were we. It just sounded so juvenile. But, Eric's mom bought it because the game store people said it was the great game these days.

Shortly after Christmas we set about to learn the rules and decide if this game was as good as the game store people said it was. And really, it is. It's just a great little game, and it's not nearly as juvenile as the box makes it seem. The object of the game is to earn points. You earn points by collecting animals, but you can only have three types of animals in your park, unless you buy an expansion which will allow you to add new types of animals. If you take a truck that has animals you are not collecting, then that animal goes in the holding pen, and you are penalized at the end of the game for it.

Even that is a very simplified explanation. The game is actually quite competitive, and it takes a lot of looking around at your opponents' boards to determine what animals everyone is collecting. It's also a game where you can see exactly how everyone else is doing, and you can count your opponents' points. Although, we've found that even though it is generally apparent who is doing well and who isn't, nobody keeps exact score until the counting is done at the end.

I'd highly recommend Aquaretto. It is very refreshing and entertaining strategy game.

25 May 2009

And you are. . .?

Eric, unfortunately did not inherit his Grandpa L's talent with names. In fact, Eric is so bad with names, that he cannot even name all of his cousins on the K side. He can generally identify which kid belongs to which sets of aunts and uncles, but he just has a really hard time with the names. Of course, you can't really blame him. His mom is one of ten children, and there are something like 50 cousins on the K side. Not to mention the fact that Eric is older than the vast majority of them.

Tonight we went to Eric's parents' house for the usual Memorial Day fare, and some members of the K family were there. It was Kathleen's sister, her husband, and seven of their eight children. We were greeted by his 12 or 13-year-old female cousin who shouted, "Eric! You're here! You're my favorite cousin!" To which Eric replied, "Hi Carie!" "I'm Jenny," she said.

And this was not the first time this exact scenario has happened. Same location. Same cousin. Same name switcheroo. Poor Jenny.

24 May 2009

I knew he'd have to leave the nest some day.

I made a few phone calls and found a place to take Ludwig. Unfortunately, he got into a bit of trauma on the drive there. I think the bumpy roads were a little jarring for him, and when I got there and opened the box to show the lady he was laying on one side.

"Oh no! I guess he didn't make it."

"Yeah, it looks like he didn't."

"Oh wait. He seems to be breathing!"

Then the lady poked around at him and said, well it is a jay. (There had been some confusion about whether he was bluebird or a bluejay). She took him into her room full of birds, made him a nest out of paper towels and fed him some cat food with a little dropper. He seemed to perk up a bit. I told her that Eric had named him Ludwig, and then I left.

I feel like I've done my part for birdkind, and the birds and I can call it good for a few years now.

23 May 2009

New Project

When Eric was little he and his brothers had some pet ducklings. Eric's duck was named Louie. His brothers' ducks were, of course, Huey and Dewey. Little Louie got eaten by a dog when he was left in a side yard. Little Eric has felt guilty ever since.

Which is why he felt the overpowering urge to "rescue" a baby bluejay from the middle of the road yesterday.

Meet Ludwig.
The first worm Eric found was very skinny and went down without any trouble. Then Eric went out and bought some night crawlers. Little Ludwig had a harder time with those, but he did eventually get one down.

I am very skeptical. Mostly because I read that even in the wild something like 95% of birds don't make it. And the vast majority of "rescued" birds don't make it either. I also read about how that shoebox is supposed to be lined with paper towels. About how we are supposed to feed the bird every twenty minutes from sunup to sundown. For some reason I don't really see that happening. Not only because we aren't home very often, but also because. Sunup? Please. I was proud of myself for getting up before 9 this morning.

This is why I think we should deposit Ludwig in a bush near where he was found. According to the site, that is what you are supposed to do anyway, and if a parent is around, the parent will tend to the little guy.

Alas, Eric has an overwhelming need to redeem himself after the Lewey incident of the late 80's.

20 May 2009

Trish, the Tomato Whiz

I share an office with Trish. When I started working where I work Trish had some plants on my desk. She said she would move them if I wanted. I told her I liked them there, and there they have stayed.

I have a perfect desk for plants. The sun comes right in all morning. So I got a Sweet 100 tomato plant.

Over the weekend it grew SIX INCHES. Six. I was astounded, and also a little concerned about how I would hold up my plant. Trish said cages cost like $5, and well, that's just ridiculous. Trish said I could hang a string from the ceiling. "I have a lot of yarn," I thought to myself.

So Monday night I set to crocheting a 5-foot thing. I hung it from the ceiling. I tied my tomato plant to it with twist ties (the kind for bread).


16 May 2009

A Letter to Chevron

Dear Chevron,

Are you seriously charging like a nickle more per gallon to people who don't use cash or a Chevron card? When your prices are already about three cents higher per gallon than the other places around town?

Because it only makes it that much easier for me to hit up the 7-11 right by my flat.

Seriously, what brainiac in the company thought up that excellent marketing tool?

Sorry we can't be friends.



08 May 2009

"Mountains of Books!"

Sorry for the hiatus. Only, I'm not sorry because family was in town, and it was awesome.

Went to the library tonight. Love that place. Lots. Not so much the building itself, but arriving there with my little post-it note on which is written my little list and leaving with a non-little stack of books. Think of all the new things I'm going to learn and enjoy!

But where to start?

(Gold star to anyone who can name the movie quoted in the title!)