Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Craft Time!

Believe it or not, I do like crafts, even though I haven't had time to really do anything for the past, oh, year or so. Through Google Reader, I read several craft sites each day and try to remember to mark the good ones so that one day I'll try them out.

I saw this one today and said "Yes, that's my next project!...when I have time, that is." I'm blogging it for two reasons: 1) to share with you, and 2) so I have a convenient place to go to for the link.

Here it is.

One of my writing buddies is as nuts about colored pens as I am, and this has given me an idea to cover a pencil box with paper and fill it with colored pens for her. For my other writing buddy, perhaps a similar box filled with these paper-covered pencils. Yes, I know it's the end of July, but for crafters, it's never too soon to be thinking about Christmas presents.

If I get a chance to try the pencil thing in the next month or so, I'll post pictures, okay?

Monday, July 20, 2009

Update - Kendra

So, I stopped in yesterday afternoon to see Kendra and the burns weren't as bad as I had feared. She has about 10-12 spots on her face that are burned. The doctor in the emergency room said they were second-degree burns, but they looked to me to be first-degree burns, with two spots possibly second-degree. There are two spots on her left thumb that are at least second-degree and while those two spots didn't look so bad, she says those are the ones that hurt the most. At least she's enjoying the pain medications.

She's going to the UVA Medical Center Burn Clinic tomorrow for treatment. They'll also be able to give the "official" burn depth diagnosis and let her know what her prognosis is as far as healing time and scarring. Based on what I could see, it shouldn't be bad, but we'll see.

I got the rest of the story of what happened from my sister. The kids weren't spraying mosquitoes or themselves with the OFF. They were spraying it into the candle flame on purpose, so they could "ooh" and "aah" over the flame it produced. The last time they did it (obviously the last time), the flame shot back up the stream and into the can, blowing the canister up. Kendra was standing next to the guy doing it and she's just the unfortunate one who wound up injured. Needless to say, I don't think any of those kids will ever be playing with fire and flammable liquids again.

Kids, this is why those boring grown-ups that live with you in your house tell you not to do these things! THEY KNOW WHAT CAN HAPPEN! Now, unfortunately, so do Kendra and all her friends. They learned the hard way.

When I arrived at church yesterday morning, my only thought was to find my pastor. I was going to walk in the door, grab the first person I saw and ask them if they knew where Pastor was. If that person didn't know, I'd grab the next person, and the next, until I found him. I usually enter the church through a side door, and when I opened that door, Pastor was standing right there, like he was just waiting for me to arrive. God knew I needed him, and He placed Pastor in just the right spot at just the right time. I'm taking that as a good sign.

Please keep her in your prayers, that she will heal without any permanent damage to her face or hand, and that she won't be too psychologically damaged from this incident.

Thank you, and God bless you everyone.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Asking For Prayer

I'm asking for prayer for my niece, Kendra. Last night, she was at a party with some friends, there were candles lit, and because the bugs were bothering them, someone brought out a can of OFF.

Kendra and her parents were at the hospital until 3:30 this morning. She has 2nd degree burns on her face, some of her hair was singed, and she has 2nd & 3rd degree burns on one hand. They'll be taking her to the University of Virginia Medical Center today for evaluation and treatment.

She's asleep right now and my sister is setting up appointments for her, so I haven't been over to see her to see just how bad it is. Please pray for Kendra, that she won't be in pain, that the burns will heal quickly and that the scarring will be minimal, if at all. She's so young (only 16) and has a full and beautiful life ahead of her, I don't want this to hold her back.

Thank you everyone.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Another Reason Not To Buy Kindle UPDATE

Before you go looking, no, I haven't published any of my reasons for not buying a Kindle yet, so this isn't a subsequent posting. But, since you're probably curious...

1. Price: It's still a bit cost-prohibitive for me at this point, both for the reader and for the books/subscriptions I'd download.

2. No Backup: As far as I know, there's no way to back up the books you've purchased. Yes, I know Amazon saves your purchases so you can re-download if necessary, but I'd rather have a copy stored on my PC or on a CD. Because what if, heaven forbid, Amazon should go under? What happens to your purchase?

3. No Sharing: It's impossible to share a downloaded Kindle book. If I read a great book and wanted to share it with my friends, there'd be no way to just hand them a copy. We do it all the time with real books, but can't with Kindle (another reason to have my own copy on PC or CD). I suspect this is an issue that may eventually work itself out, in twenty years or so.

4. No Importing: I know I can e-mail pdf files to the Kindle, but I don't know if I can e-mail an e-book that already exists on my PC to the Kindle. I read the on-line guide and I can't see where this functionality exists...if it does. I have a small library of books on my PC and I'd love to be able to send them to an e-reader, but if I can't send them to a Kindle and read them just like I'd read something I downloaded from Amazon, then what's the point?


Amazon remotely deletes Orwell e-books from Kindles, unpersons reportedly unhappy (update)

If you're into keeping tabs on irony, check this out. Amazon apparently sent out its robotic droogs last night, deleting copies of the George Orwell novels Animal Farm and Nineteen Eighty-Four from Kindles without explanation, then refunding the purchase price. As you can imagine, a lot of people caught in the thick of Winston and Julia's love story aren't very happy -- and rightfully so -- the idea that we "own" the things we buy is pretty fundamental to... ownership. We're not sure exactly what happened, but it seems that the publisher of said novels, MobileReference, has changed its mind about selling content on the Kindle, and poof! Amazon remotely deleted all previously purchased copies. It's all a bit Orwellian, is it not? Good thing we "permanently borrowed" hard copies of both from our middle school library, huh? Let Hate Week commence.

Update: According to commenters on Amazon, this message was sent out from the company's customer service department:

The Kindle edition books Animal Farm by George Orwell. Published by MobileReference (mobi) & Nineteen Eighty-Four (1984) by George Orwell. Published by MobileReference (mobi) were removed from the Kindle store and are no longer available for purchase. When this occurred, your purchases were automatically refunded. You can still locate the books in the Kindle store, but each has a status of not yet available. Although a rarity, publishers can decide to pull their content from the Kindle store.

While that publisher's version of the book may have been removed, it appears other versions of the novels are still available.

Update 2: Drew Herdener,'s Director of Communications, pinged us directly with the following comment, and now things are starting to make a lot more sense. Seems as if the books were added initially by an outfit that didn't have the rights to the material.

These books were added to our catalog using our self-service platform by a third-party who did not have the rights to the books. When we were notified of this by the rights holder, we removed the illegal copies from our systems and from customers' devices, and refunded customers. We are changing our systems so that in the future we will not remove books from customers' devices in these circumstances.

Still, what's upsetting is the idea that something you've purchased can be quietly taken back by Amazon with no explanation and no advance notice. It's a rotten policy, regardless of the motivations behind this particular move.

I can understand Amazon's reasons for doing this but the last paragraph sums up my feelings. How can they take back a purchase without notice and without giving a clear reason at the time of "takeback"? If I had purchased a novel at a bookstore and they were recalled for some reason, it would be up to me to return my copy. Big Brother wouldn't come banging on my door and demand I turn over my copy.

If a book was ordered recalled from the stores, they would be removed from the shelves and be no longer available for sale and those that purchased the book could keep theirs--oops, you bought yours on Kindle, we're just going to take that back now, okay, there's a good little customer, oh don't cry, see, we're giving you your money back so everything's even now, okay?

Amazon says they're going to change their systems so that in the future they will not remove books from customers' devices. Do we really believe that? I mean, sure, we WANT to believe that, but who's to say they'll actually do it? And what does this say for the future of e-books and e-readers and all sorts of other e-transactions?

If Amazon wants to GIVE me a Kindle, thus saving myself the cost of one, I'd take it in a heartbeat because I'd love to explore its functionality and it would make taking books on vacation so much easier. But I'd be careful about what I'd put on it, knowing that they're out there, watching me.

Here's more on the topic from Slate magazine.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Book Review #2

Or is this #3? It's #2 from Leucrota, so I'll call it #2. So without further ado, here's my review of ONE IF BY HEAVEN, TWO IF BY HELL by Rick Maydak.

I had high expectations for this novel and I was not disappointed.

Ethan Reyes hears voices and he can’t stop them, no matter what he tries. The only peace he finds is when he drinks himself into unconsciousness. When the people around him are attacked and start dying grisly deaths, Ethan must pull himself out of the bottle and confront the real-life demon that is haunting him.

Rick Maydack has crafted a great story. I will admit I guessed Ethan’s “secret” early on (and I don’t mean the mind-reading), however, I could not have predicted the twists and turns this story takes and how this story would turn out. Imaginative and well paced, the action kept moving and growing more and more intense right to the very end.

If you’re looking for a great middle-of-the-night-scare-me-read, I highly recommend this book.

The reviewer received an Advance Reader Copy (ARC) from the publisher.

I was hoping the book would arrive before I left on my vacation, but of course it didn't. So I made sure I finished whatever book I was reading so I could start on this one once I got home. It had to wait a day or two for me to finish recovering from my trip, but I dove right in once I was ready. This story wasn't anything like what I was expecting, which I suppose is both good and bad. Good, because it was new and different, and bad because I had different expectations. But it was a good story and I did enjoy it so yes, I would recommend it.

Happy Reading!


Relax, everyone. I’m not turning this into a religious blog. It’s another book review! I know, I know, you’re waiting for my review of the second book I got from Leucrota Press. That’ll come tomorrow. This is a different book entirely.

Tall, non-fat, blond, extra-conflicted, to go...

Circumstances force Dag, a young snowboarder based in Whistler, to give up his sport and to find another way to live. He embarks on two paths, the first, a subsistence job as a barista in a coffee mega-chain where he works hard to be a worker extraordinaire to boost his tips. He also invents an online alter ego who pronounces his own brand of wisdom and rant, an outlet to express what Dag can't in his day-to-day role of coffee slave. His dark side blogs provocation in every post and gains a following.

Women figure prominently in his life, including his friend Heathen, whose competitive skiing successes are a painful counterpoint to his own loss; his new roommate Grace, whose expectations are impossible for him to live up to; and the flirtatious customers and the casual flings he suddenly finds himself drawn to and capable of. Dag's personality suffers in the struggle between his real and cyber lives as the blog veers wildly between bluster and baiting, as people begin to do what it says.

When his blog butts heads with the corporate paranoia of his coffee overlords, Dag has trouble keeping his real and cyber selves integrated. His percolating identity crisis boils over into real-life jeopardy, scalding himself and those around him.

Godblog raises fundamental questions about the risks and rewards of reinventing ourselves in the twenty-first century. The story is told through a combination of regular narrative, blog entries, and corporate memos from the coffee-industrial complex, which also becomes a catalyst in the drama.

My review:

Dag Olsson “crash and burns” his opening day of snowboarding on the Whistler slopes, limps into the nearest BlackArts coffee shop and applies for a job. Within a week, he’s the star barista (or as he calls himself, javaslinger), providing coffee and entertainment (coffetainment) to the customers and his fellow coffee-slaves.
But who is Dag? No longer a snowboarder, he struggles to make a living while figuring out who he should be. He vents his frustrations on an anonymous blog, calling himself the Hero of the teeming masses, not realizing the impact his words will have on his readers.

His looks are drawing attention, too, and for the first time in his life, Dag finds easy relationships, well, easy, to the annoyance of his female co-barista Heathen and roommate Grace. Heathen’s attracted to him, even if she won’t admit it to herself, and Grace slowly finds herself falling in love with him, in spite of the fact that he’s so not her type.

When the Hero posts an off-handed rant against BlackArts, it catches the attention of the corporate office, whose attempts to simultaneously capitalize on the publicity and uncover his identity only irritate the Hero into calling his masses to act.

As things heat up between his work, home and on-line lives, Dag struggles to keep up with everything going on around him. In the end, when lives are literally on the line, what can he do to stop the madness his life has become?

I found this book on Wowio back in March, read a couple chapters, thought it had potential, added it to my library and forgot about it. I started thinking about it again recently and decided I wanted to know what happened. I started reading it this past Monday at work and just finished it yesterday afternoon.

Because I’m a writer myself (or working on it, at least), I tend to read with a critical eye. I’m studying characters, motivation, plot construct and keeping an eye on sentence structure, punctuation, and whether or not the author breaks any established writing rules. And if they do break any rules, are they breaking good or breaking bad?

Laurie breaks some of the rules—breaking bad—but I’m not so sure the average reader would notice them—a few places where she gives background information on some of the characters felt a little forced to me. And she broke what I always thought of as a major rule but did it in a way that worked out, so that broke good. I can’t tell you what that rule is because (1) I’m not so sure it really is a rule and (2) it’s a major plot spoiler and I won’t do that.

There are a number of intertwining subplots throughout this story, but Laurie blends them smoothly like a rich cup of (I don’t drink coffee, so insert your favorite specialty coffee drink here), sure to satisfy.

Books are free to read on Wowio, but since some books in my Wowio library have disappeared, I decided not to take a chance on losing this great story and purchased an e-book copy. I encourage you to give it a look.

Click here for a direct link to Laurie's book--you may need to register first!

Sunday, July 5, 2009

I'm Baaaack!

I made it home yesterday and I don't know how I made it. Honestly, I don't understand it.

I left Winchester--which is in the northwest corner of Virginia--around 7:30 in the morning and I arrived in Myrtle Beach just before 4:00. I stopped twice, one for lunch and once for gas for a total of maybe 40 minutes. That means it took me just shy of 8 hours to make the drive.

On the way home, I left Myrtle Beach at 7:00 and didn't get home until almost 6:00 with three breaks--lunch, gas and drink, taking about an hour of time. Someone please explain to me how an 8 hour trip south becomes a 10 hour trip north. Someone, anyone please explain that to me.

Also, while you're at it, explain how I could drive south for 6 1/2 hours before my right shoulder starts aching, but it takes only 2 hours on a north-bound trip for the same shoulder to start aching? And even with Aleve, I was in pain the entire rest of my drive. I got home and I was absolutely miserable...and yes, relieved to be home.

And I get to do it again in four months!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009


Have any of you seen this?

Click here

I...I have no words for this.

Except this...each one of these people deserve to win the Darwin Award.