Saturday, April 24, 2010

What I've been reading.

I've been reading like crazy lately. It's like in the midst of college and studying for my PE and working I forgot how much I liked reading! Now I have years to catch up on!

Reading Malcolm Gladwell has given me an unnatural draw towards books with single word titles. Single syllables seem to be an even greater draw as I had to wait list for this particular title and then was in a huge rush to finish up "Island of the Blue Dolphins" so I could start it.

Plus, I start feeling guilty when I read too many crime stories, so after finishing The Women's Murder Club series by James Patterson, I filled my to read list with all kinds of nonfiction and non-thriller/ crim stories best sellers . Bonk was not was I was expecting although I can't remember exactly what I was expecting.

Bonk is basically a witty history of the scientific 'research' (seriously, most pre-scientific method experiments are hardly science) into human sexuality and sexual dysfunction. The style is probably a bit too whimsical for me put Roach in my favorite authors list, but it does make it fun to read. There is quite a bit of interesting information hidden among the antidotes, but the cringe factor made parts of the book almost unbearable. I can only imagine that this would be much worse for a man who tried to read it!

Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden

Memoirs of a Geisha is not the type of book I'd normally read, mostly because my twisted mind tends to want to read primarily crime and horror books. Stephan King's The Shinning is one of the first books I remember picking out to read when I was in grade school or junior high. Gavin has recently convinced me I'm missing out on a ton of great movies by taking this same attitude towards movies, so I'm trying to broaden my horizons. I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed this story. I have to admit, I disliked the author some after I didn't realize that the first chapter, where he describes a historical writter sitting down with the Geisha of the story to record her life story, was the first chapter and not a forward. I therefore spent the duration of the book believing that at least some of the character were real people.

I think the reader of this book, Bernadette Dunne, was amazing. Also, listening to this novel had the added benefit of me actually learning some of the names of the people and places. Often when I'm reading a book and an unfamiliar name recurs, I just make up a pronunciation based solely on the letter in the world. This resulted in me calling Hermione of Harry Potter "Her-Me" until I saw the movie. I can only imagine how badly I would have butchered the various Japanese words. Not to mention that I may have had difficultly keeping all of the character straight. I very much enjoyed the story.

I'm starting another mindless novel today.

Honeymoon by James Patterson

I'm also taking recommendations, so let me know what's worth reading. On that no, " I give a solid 'don't bother' to Go Green, Live Rich by David Bach.

Listening to Audiobooks.

Just got home from a fun weekend in San Diego, and this topic came up.

I listen to Audio books. This started somewhat recently (less than a year ago) when a coworker recommended a series to me to help with the stress of a longer commute. She recommended The Berrybender Narratives by Larry McMurtry. It's the type of book I would have never picked out for myself, but I very much enjoyed it. She brought me each of the four books on CD over the course of a few months and it did help my commute. I'd listened to one book on CD before with Gavin in the car, "The Watcher" by Dean Koontz (mostly while camping, btw, which was creepy), but other than that I'd never thought of listening to books on CD.

I started checking out books on CD from the library and began listening to books almost exclusively while driving. The selection was somewhat limited, but I figured they had enough to keep me busy for a while. When Gavin and I were getting ready to go to Hawaii, I decided to rip one of the books to my iPod (I'll admit, it was a Danielle Steel novel, I figured it was worth at least trying to read one of her books, plus what better time than a romantic vacation!). Ripping them to my iPod proved less easy than I'd hoped as the tracks were constantly jumping out of order and were often not titled correctly. Not to mention that I didn't immediately think to exclude them from shuffly, making my shuffle useless for the trip. As for the ethicacy (is that a word even?) of ripping the library CD, I decided it was fine as long as I kept the book only as long as I had it checked out...

While at the library one day, I saw they now had audiobooks available for checkout and download online. This has been amazing. I couldn't tell you exactly how many books I've listened to since I found out about this option, but I think I average around 2 per week, depending on the length (it took me more than two weeks to get through Atlas Shrugged, it wasn't a very easy listen). Basically now, I can easily check out, transfer to my iPod and listen to TONS of books I would never ever have time to read. Not to mention that since they are now on my iPod, I am not required to idle in my driveway while listening to the end of a particularly exciting section/chapter.

Gavin has a somewhat strong opinion, it seems, that listening doesn't count as 'reading' the book. I see some merit in this. I'm sure there are benefits to reading that you lose with audiobooks (don't harass me with that feel of the book nonsense, though, I hate the feel of paper). Listening certainly isn't going to help my spelling, for example. But as a result of audiobooks I'm able to turn my commute into an entertaining or informative time (depending on the book) and can justify the time required to read a Danielle Steel novel, for example, despite that my spare time is better spent studying for my PE, playing with my dog, etc etc. I have also found that some readers are impossible to listen to. Therefore, it is likely that the quality of the reader impacts my opinion of the book/story much more than I realize.

I've decided I may start writting my opinions on some of these books in this blog. So for future reference, I fully intend to state that I recently 'read' a particular book when it is quite likely I actually listened to it.

An Escargot problem.

My tomato plants are growing quite well and I finally have flowers!

The problem is that someone keeps eating them! I can't be sure it's actually snails. But several google searches lead me to believe they are the most likely culprit. The thought of dealing with them is almost enough to make me just rip out all of the plants. I bought some snail killer, but it's toxic to pets and doesn't seem worth the risk. The thought of putting a bowl of stale beer in my garden and then fishing dead snails out of it doesn't sound particularly bearable to me, although likely not as bad a using a snail stick to impale them one at a time. Anyone know a better way to deal with garden pests???

Friday, April 23, 2010

April is too busy!

April is too busy! There is so much going on I don't know where to begin. I suppose not least of all is my work. While I've for the most part determined I won't write about my work here, I should at least say that although I'm averaging 11 hour days for the last week and find some of the situations incredibly stressful, I love it more than ever. This is why I became a civil engineer. Now if my test results will just back me up, I'm in good shape....

Today was an even more stressful day with Gavin leaving for a week, so despite all my plans for this blog, I think I'll narrow it to a story each of two subjects that make me happy almost all the time: Gucci Goo and food.

Gucci is my incredibly beautiful, although at least slightly evil cat. I've had Gucci for almost six years. In that amount of time she has bitten pretty much everyone who has spent more than a few minutes at my house and caused me at least 2 days worth of misery wondering where she was at, but also been one of the best friends I could have asked for.

It's basically impossible for me to pick a favorite picture of Gucci, so here's the first picture I ever saw of her.

As I've mentioned, Gucci is evil. For this reason, Gucci must spend the time it takes the maids to clean the house in whatever room of the house is in least need of being cleaned. Frequently this is the upstairs guest bathroom. During her last stay there, she decided to let us know her displeasure with this arrangement.

In case you are wondering, that is an entire roll of toilet paper completely unrolled into a neat pile on the floor. Pets are a joy. Sigh.

One perk of working a gazillion hours is that I was able to take Thursday off to hang out with Gavin before he left. We decided to cook a steak. Our previous efforts have been pretty miserable, but I really like steak, so we decided to try again.

First of all, this is probably the first time I've ever cooked something that actually looked nearly as good to me in real life as it did in the cook book, especially out of the Williams-Sonoma Cook books! (Sometimes I think I could out plate Rachel Ray when push comes to shove.)

Secondly, it was amazing! The recipe wasn't particularly challenging or even really interesting enough to post (although I do think the addition of my completely home grown herbs helped!), but it came out awesome and was the perfect send off for Gavin! :)

I have so many other things I've been intending to write about, but they'll need to wait. I've got work at 6 am!

Monday, April 19, 2010

I got tagged!

I was tagged. There are a few people in the world I would auto respond to a blog tag, Nathalie just happens to be one of them! Plus the question is interesting.

Six things I'm Master of. I'd love to say all kind of things: photography, gardening, ceramics, painting, home-making, cooking. As it turns out, I am a solid apprentice at best of all of these! Then there is the literal version, as in I am Penny's Master, but as it just took me three attempts to get her to go back to her bed, I might fall short here as well!

But I am a master of....

1. Civil Engineering. Okay, everything but seismic design! And hydraulics, and soils, and watershed management and and and. I am making solid progress towards mastering the fields of civil engineering in which I am currently engaged. Currently that's primarily construction/contracts/structures/etc.

2. Being Random. I am not the most random person you've ever meet. I prefer to think I am more random than that because if you are always random, doesn't that technically make you not random?

3. Drinking Champagne while cuddled up in a snuggie. I am world class at this. Pretty sure there is no one better.

4. Excel. Yes, as in spreadsheets and the office program. I make awesome spreadsheets. They have colors, formulas, macros, shading, if-then statements, the works. I thank my first internship with the AQMD for this skill.

5. Organization. Particularly with post its. Until I met Jen, I thought I was alone in appreciation for this skill. That is not to say I am always organized, just that when I chose to be, I am quite good at it.

6. Making a happy home. Okay, okay, there was clearly some awesome luck involved in this as well! Still, I'm master at managing to find an awesome guy who's willing to put up with my and my crazy cat while we're cuddled up in a snuggie with a class of champagne in one hand, an excel spreadsheet of next weeks tasks in the other, babbling about some misaligned stairs on a construction project. :)

I've got tons to blog about, sadly I am just quite short on time. Gavin will be globe trotting again soon so I expect I'll be posting more then!

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Easter and a Free Saturday

Happy Easter!!! Gavin and I went to mass this morning and had a lovely breakfast, but sadly, Sunday isn't a day off in our world and Gavin was back to work by 2. We mostly celebrated yesterday. I gave Gavin the basket I'd put together for him, full mostly of candy. Not a very good basket considering that I thought he loved peeps and it turns out he hates them. Gavin brought me an awesome bubble gun from London. We also colored our Easter Eggs!

Crazy, right in the middle of writing this blog an Earthquake happened. Everyone is fine, but it was crazy long. I'm still a little shaken up (literally and figuratively!) It was a 6.9 based in Mexicali. Gavin and I thought we'd just wait it out, but it was getting louder and longer and eventually we darted into the back yard to wait for it to end. The water in our neighbors pool was going crazy! I could hear it splashing over the edge! Pets didn't seem affected, except Dora who was a bit upset afterwards.

Yesterday was a Free Saturday! Those don't exist in our world, and to be honest, I probably shouldn't have allowed it to be one with so much to do. But Gavin's only home for a few days, I have to take advantage of it! We spent the day in Huntington Beach just hanging out.

It's as if the world agreed with my Free Saturday. Gavin and I got free hugs and free monsters! The monster has NOS in it, no joke. Really fun to open the bottle. Not too bad to drink either.

We also saw this awesome bird. Everyone was tossing food to him, it was pretty cool!