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Cleanup

I'm wandering through my friends list, removing names that I don't know who they are.

If I removed you, and I shouldn't have, just comment and tell me who you are.
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John Wick, alternate ending

[Some spoilers, I suppose]

Vigo, calling John for the first time: Hey, John. Really sorry about my son. I'll have your car cleaned and detailed tonight and returned first thing in the morning. And I'll pay the adoption fee for another dog, whenever you're ready. And why don't you have a little talk with my son and teach him some respect... a little roughing up is expected of course, but if he walks away afterward, then no harm done and we'll call it square. No one has to die just because he's an idiot, right?

Of course, that would make the film about 15 minutes long and rather boring. However, I really feel like that's about how much screen time the story deserved. It's a perfectly serviceable action flick, I suppose, but the justification for the start of the conflict seemed rather thin. Hell, I'd have been happier if Vigo HAD said something like that, and Wick responded unkindly.
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Ch-ch-changes

Holy cow, there's been some chaos lately.

First:
We sold our business. It's not the "retire early and live a life of wealth and leisure" exit strategy we may have dreamed of in the early years, but it was a number greater than zero and it gets rid of a lot of headaches. It's also tremendously sad, because we had coalesced into an extended family rather than just a group of co-workers, and now everyone is going their own way and I miss them already. It's also terrifying for me, because real bosses expect you to show up. Every day. On time. I'm not sure if I'll be able to cope after a decade and a half of not having to do that.

On the practical side, there's an entire office to empty. Thankfully, I'm not the one doing most of it-- just my little area is hard enough. But it's a good bet that there will be a last-minute "Oh god oh god oh god" rush and whatever's left will end up out in our barn.

Second:
Chris moved into his own house this summer, and got married earlier this month. (Yay, congrats!). John has claimed Chris's bedroom as his new home office, and has been slowly migrating things downstairs. This is complicated somewhat by the fact that Chris hasn't moved ALL of his stuff out yet.

There's been some entertaining exchanges as Chris cleans things out, in which he finds something that isn't his and leaves it someplace for us. 3 times out of 4, it's not ours either, and we put it back in his area. I foresee a few trips to drop off charitable donations in my future.

Third:
Did I say John was moving things downstairs slowly? Yeah, no. We discovered that CJ's room has a shower failure and as a result there's probably some mold issues hiding under the carpet, and probably explains why CJ has such a difficult time with allergies. (Plus, the carpet is old and was in need of replacing when we moved in 1998.) So CJ is moving into the guest bedroom, which means that my craft/sewing room has to move out.

The plan is: John moves all of his stuff off of his desk and clears the area around it. CJ moves his "desk" (which is actually just a table and much better suited to craft and sewing stuff) to John's actual desk, leaving the far 2/3s of the room for me. I move my craft and sewing stuff into the office, taking over CJ's table. CJ moves his bedroom into the guest bedroom. We take up the carpet and find out how bad it is. We fix the shower, and whatever needs to happen floor-wise happens. We set up the newly-restored formerly-CJ's room into a guest bedroom. (Or possibly CJ says "Agh, I hate this new arrangement" and moves back into his former room. We'll cross that bridge when we come to it.) And we do all of this quickly and somewhat simultaneously, because we like CJ and want him to continue breathing. The catch? The guest room carpet needs a good cleaning before CJ moves into it, and I don't just mean "vacuum it."

So the carpet cleaners have just left. Since we were having them come out anyway, we had them do the family room as well. John and CJ (and to a much lesser degree, me) spent the last couple of evenings moving things around to clear out the family room, hallway, and guest bedroom. The guest bed is in pieces, leaning against our dresser-- and my lazy laundry habits are paying off, because the only access I have to socks and underwear is the stuff still sitting in laundry baskets because I haven't folded it yet. The couches are in the kitchen. My sewing machine and accouterments are sitting in random places wherever they would fit in the upstairs office (and some of it is in the bathroom and some of it is in CJ's current room, because Shit Needed To Move Now). John and I had breakfast in his new downstairs office because it was the only place where we could both sit down at a flat surface at the same time.

Fourth:
Did I mention that we're hosting the Penguicon ConCom meeting and SMOS party on Sunday? The upstairs is going to be off-limits because there's no possible way I can put both floors back into a semblance of order, but the family room and kitchen need to be put back together ASAP, and all the furniture needs to be thoroughly vacuumed because some folks have cat allergies. The good news for the allergy sufferers is that the carpet cleaners will have drastically reduced the amount of dander in the room.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, we have all been rather exhausted lately.
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The best laid plans of mice and men...

Me: "Yay, Wednesday I have no actual commitments, and thus have an entire day to myself. Think of all the projects I could catch up on, or at least make progress on!"

My body: "lol. Nope. I have a better idea: you're going to sleep until nearly 2pm, then wake up groggy and fuzzy-brained when the phone rings and you're forced to get out of bed. No, I don't care that you napped last night, you're still going to get 14 hours of sleep tonight, dammit."

I'm choosing to think positively about this by assuming that I have just saved myself a week of illness by letting my body have the rest it clearly needed to fight off something.
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Made a new friend

While CJ and Maria spelunked through caves, I sat at (and sometimes on, as the cave tour was 90 minutes and I'm the fidgety sort who can't sit still that long) a picnic table, a jay meandered the area, coming closer when it was quieter and then flying farther off when more people walked by, or when a new noise (say, for example, the click of the camera focusing) startled him. (I have a lot of fuzzy pictures of him flying away.)

At one point when I was engrossed in my book, he actually hopped on the table I was sitting on, but when I turned towards him he fluttered back up into the trees.

2014-09-02 15.26.14

His friend the chipmunk also popped over to visit briefly, but didn't stay long enough for me to get a picture.
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Books: So, so many books

I've got a folder on my Kindle called "To Be Reviewed". This is my attempt to clean it out a little bit.

* Handbook for Dragon Slayers by Merrie Haskell

Another phenomenal book from someone who is fast becoming a favorite author. Haskell sees the tropes, waves at them, and then turns away from them into a much more interesting story.

Ultimately, it's a story of strength and transformation (sometimes literally, mostly figuratively). The characters are complex and feel real. It's pure fun, until you realize that there's deeper philosophical thoughts hiding underneath the fun.

* No Game for a Dame by M. Ruth Myers

You know those old hardboiled detective novels, which may have fun mysteries but often leave you a little squicked out at how women are portrayed in them? This book is their antidote.

Maggie Sullivan is a Private Detective in the 1930s. She's smart and quick and good at what she does. The sexism (and racism) of the era isn't ignored, but it isn't overwhelming, and Maggie makes as much use of the stereotypes surrounding her gender as she encounters difficulties because of them.

I liked this book a great deal, but I felt like the ending was a little deus ex machina. Much of the climax involves Maggie having good luck, or someone bursting in at just the right moment. I understand that it's before the era of instant communication and Maggie's options were somewhat limited, but I do wish that she'd left a little bit more of a trail of clues for her cohorts to follow, so that it felt like she had more of a hand in the ending.

* Tough Cookie by M. Ruth Myers

The second Maggie Sullivan novel is even better than the first. What I said then still applies, so I'll just quote myself:

"Maggie Sullivan is a Private Detective in the 1930s. She's smart and quick and good at what she does. The sexism (and racism) of the era isn't ignored, but it isn't overwhelming, and Maggie makes as much use of the stereotypes surrounding her gender as she encounters difficulties because of them."

* Mirror Sight by Kristen Britain

I love this series, but I only like this book. Karigan gets sent forward in time several hundred years, and the fish-out-of-water thing doesn't play as well this time as it did in earlier books-- in part because Karigan's focus this time is "I have to get home!" rather than "I have to solve the problems I'm facing" as they usually are. (Okay, technically being in the wrong time is a problem she's facing, but she faces it by whining and ignoring the rest of the problems in the world she's in.) You get told things about the future of Big Name characters, but not with a good sense of why or how Karigan could change the course of history.

* The Rook by Daniel O'Malley

Holy cow, this book was amazing. And intense. And more than a little creepy at times. Myfanwy Thomas works for a secret organization that keeps supernatural forces under control in Britain. And while that part is kind of cool and there's an interesting mystery to be solved, that's only half of what the book is about-- perhaps less than half. Because Myfanwy Thomas has lost her memory. Fortunately, she had some advance warning that it was going to happen, and her former self wrote some letters to help her out. The book is a fabulous story about what shapes us and makes us who we are. Myfanwy has to figure out who did this to her before they do worse, while simultaneously trying to figure out who she is, both in the literal and in the philosophical sense.

[Note: I actually read this book a year ago, and just realized that I hadn't ever reviewed it.]

* The Atrocity Archives by Charles Stross

I was recommending The Rook to a friend, and as I described the organization that Myfanwy Thomas works for, he said "Oh, like The Laundry?" I'd never read any of the Laundry series, so I didn't know how to answer that, but now I do:

No. No, not at all like the Laundry. Oh, the organization's goals are about the same, and there's a power struggle within it. But while The Rook makes you think about the mystery (and gives you all the clues you need to solve it, if you're good enough-- I wasn't, and the ending took me by surprise) and the implications of Myfanwy's memory loss, The Atrocity Archives reads more like "The Bastard Operator From Hell gets shoved into things he thinks he wants but maybe not." The BOFH part does die down after the first half (thank goodness, as the jargon did not age well), but there's still a distinct lack of depth to the Laundry in comparison.

* Nobody's Prize by Esther Friesner

Not quite as good as its prequel, but still very enjoyable.

* The Undead Pool by Kim Harrison

Throughout the series, Rachel has gotten more mature, while making more complex (and poorly-received by the general public) decisions. I've said before that the series is ultimately about morality, and it still is-- but it's also about Rachel making peace with herself and her past, and opening herself up to other people's points of view as well.
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Book: In Hero Years... I'm Dead

The story itself is engaging and likable. It's worth a solid 4 stars, 4.5 if Amazon let us do 1/2 stars. I'm particularly fond of the way that Vixen's daddy issues are handled, because so very many absentee-parent stories ignore the confusing mix of emotions in favor of a black-and-white option.

But it's also full of obvious copyediting errors. In addition to at least a dozen little words missing ("the", "he", etc), at one point I was taken completely out of the story in the middle of the climactic battle by saying "Wait, who is Jimmy?" Further confused reading finally indicated he was the brother of an earlier character, which is fine and dandy except that when the brother is introduced, his name is Andrew. But that's nothing compared to the confusion of Mr. Chase and Mr. Haste, both of whom are important characters in the narrative, which makes it extra confusing when Mr. Haste is referred to as "Mr. Chase".

The errors are enough to break the flow of the story, and are the sort of thing one expects to see from a first-time self-publishing author who thinks they can go it alone, not from a seasoned veteran like Stackpole who should understand the value of editors.
shopping is hard

Algebra problem of the day

A mountain of laundry needing to be done = a gajillion trips up and down the stairs

A gajillion trips up and down the stairs = "Screw it, I'll just stay in the basement for a while"

"Screw it, I'll just stay in the basement for a while" = a dramatic decrease in the amount of clutter in the basement + a dramatic increase in the amount of recycling ready to be taken to the recycling center

Additionally:

A mountain of laundry needing to be done = a need to fold some of the laundry to free up enough baskets to bring the newly-cleaned laundry up the stairs

A previously-scheduled engagement = a fair amount of walking around outside

Solve for how tired Amanda is.

Answer listed in the teacher's edition: "Utterly exhausted."
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Book: The Princess Curse

* The Princess Curse by Merrie Haskell

I picked this book up thinking that it was a light, humorous romp poking fun at a bunch of princess tropes. (There's nothing wrong with that sort of thing, if you're in the mood for it, and I frequently am.) This is not that book. Well, this is sort of that book, if you took that book and added ten times the depth and maturity, and then sprinkled in a generous helping of solid story-telling.

The Princess Curse is a mix of many different fairy tales, so skillfully done that I didn't even notice the Beauty and the Beast one until someone else pointed it out-- and it's very obvious, I was just so engrossed in the story by that point that I didn't pay any attention to it. The author has several opportunities to go deep into Creepy Land with her child brides, and very pointedly does not do so, which I appreciate.

I'd give it 6 stars, but I've subtracted one for the lack of a sequel. You left yourself so many good hooks, Ms. Haskell. Please, I beg of you, write about one of them. Or all of them.