Archive for September, 2007

Waggily Tails

Saturday, September 29th, 2007

Growing up I was told small dogs were annoying yippy creatures that one would be crazy to own. Big dogs were respectable, smart and perhaps offered protection (or at least the appearance there of). They definitely weren’t yippy. But then we got one. I won’t deny she can be yippy, but it is our fault for treating her like a baby. How can you not!?! She was 3 lbs when we got her! We try to treat her like a dog, but ultimately she breaks us with her waggily tail.

I don’t think we are the only people that fall victim to the cuteness of a tiny dog. When we take our now 10 lb puppy out in public people literally slow down and stare at us with big toothy grins. Maggie is a fluffy mutt with a tail that shakes her whole body when it wags. It’s impossible not to smile looking at that dog. I have no doubt every owner feels the same, but I can’t help thinking Maggie makes the world just the tiniest bit a happier place for her being in it.

Doggie Day Care

Tuesday, September 25th, 2007

When we tell our friends we send our 9 month old puppy Maggie to doggie day care, we are usually greeted with a snort I interpret to mean “Are you kidding me? Dogs don’t need day care!”. Let me tell you why I disagree.

Our life before doggie day care: Bryan and I both work so that we can afford the roof over puppy’s head and afford the air conditioning that keeps puppy cool in the summer. That means that for 9 hours a day, plus 9 hours at night, puppy does nothing but sleep. What does this fun little math equation mean?

It means that all of the energy puppy gathers by sleeping 18 hours a day is expended between 5-9PM. This energy manifests itself in many wonderful ways, inclusive of but not limited to chewing anything within reach, biting (she especially likes to bite the “love handles”, not a pleasant feeling, I can assure you), digging, running outside through the mud then in through the doggie door and straight onto the couch, barking at anything that moves (or not, movement doesn’t appear to be a requirement), topped off by some crazy sprinting around the house while making strange gremlin-like noises and all be damned if anyone can catch her.

Our life after doggie day care: Doggie gets dropped off at 8 AM at doggie care, where she literally runs into the playroom and can’t be bothered by the fact that her mom/dad is leaving for the day. She spends all morning running after other dogs. She then gets a 1.5 hour nap around 1 PM, where I assume she at least stops running. The afternoon is spent following the care givers around, hoping for a treat (she is a known treat hound in puppy class).

Finally, some time between 5-6 PM she gets picked up. She walks VERY quickly back to the car, hops into the back seat, right into her crate and lies down. She doesn’t make a peep on the drive home. Upon arriving home, she calmly follows us around the house and thankfully plants herself in our lap the moment we sit down. At night, she is so tired she just waits to be picked up and put to bed. Basically, our little devil dog becomes an overnight angel.

It’s a pretty solid case to me. All of us are happier; Maggie is calmer, we feel less guilty, and we aren’t embarrassed to have guests over during the week. So go ahead and scoff if you like, but if I have changed your mind, I won’t make you admit it. Check out Planet Pooch any time you like, we won’t tell;-)

Is AppleTV just another gadget?

Sunday, September 23rd, 2007

We are a gadget house. We don’t own every new gadget out there (no iPhone for example) but we hold our own. Our latest purchase is the AppleTV. My first inclination was to think that all we needed was another plastic box on the shelf, but since I spend more than my fair share at Nordstrom’s I felt I had little room to complain. So we buy the new gadget, bring it home, and Bryan spends some time on the floor surrounded by wires (not all of which would make their way back to the garage on their own;-). A little while later we have AppleTV. I loved it! It wirelessly connected to iTunes, which is on a computer in our office, and our entire playlist was available in our living room, menu via TV and sound via surround sound. When before my music listening was relegated to the car (via ipod) or gym (again via ipod) we now find ourselves listening to music all the time.

As it turned out, this also meant we had to create some new playlists. We had a couple co-workers over not too long ago, and the only somewhat acceptable playlist we had included Bon Jovi and Journey. I was informed post dinner party that Bon Jovi wasn’t “guest appropriate”. Needless to say we now have a playlist called “Guest”, and there is not a Journey or Bon Jovi to be found.

Why is it taking so long to finish The Expected One?

Saturday, September 22nd, 2007

I can usually complete 1 book a week (no kids and lots of plane time). I have been reading The Expected One by Kathleen McGowan for 3 weeks or so. Why so long, you ask? I made the mistake of looking up information about the book on the internet and came across this review:

http://www.theseekerbooks.com/articles/ExpectedOne.htm

When I thought the author intended this as fiction, I thought the book was ok. Not nearly as well paced as The De Vinci Code but it wasn’t horrible. After reading the review by Ms. Welsh (link above) I couldn’t help but find McGowan’s novel nothing short of pretentious. She claims to the be the decedent of Jesus Christ and Mary Magdalene (notice the dedication in the beginning of the book – To Mary Magdalen, my muse, my ancestor” – my ass!). So far, I cannot find one drop of evidence as to how she came to this conclusion. Ms. Welsh went so far as to contact McGowan, seeking substantiation of these “facts”. What did she hear? Nothing but crickets.

To add another interesting twist, Suzanne Olsson made public a letter she sent to Ms. McGowan claiming that McGowan stole Olsson’s research and own personal story to write The Expected One.

http://www.theseekerbooks.com/articles/ToMcG.html

Olsson’s story seems just as out there as McGowan’s, but at least Olsson claims to have documented proof. If she does, bring it on. I would be lying if I said this article didn’t affect my opinion of McGowan. Who knows which story is true, but I find it highly suspect that McGowan would make such a bold claim but refuse to disclose the source. If I said I was the descendent of Mr. and Mrs. Claus, and that I had a secret document that proved it but I couldn’t show you the document because it was so secret, would you believe me?

I just got to a place in the book where one of the characters claims De Vinci has nothing to do with the Magdalene legacy or the grail. When I read this section, I got a flashback of grade school. Can the author be more petty? Grail, descendant of Mary, secret societies aside, McGowan could have at least taken the high road with regards to The De Vinci Code. Such an obvious sucker punch is an embarrassment.

Salem’s Lot, by Stephen King

Tuesday, September 18th, 2007

This review is dedicated to my dad:-)   Salem’s Lot was the first non-young adult book I ever read.  I was in 5th grade and still reading Nancy Drew and The Chronicles of Narnia, when my dad handed me Salem’s Lot.  I don’t think I told him at the time, but after reading this book, I spent several sleepless nights staring at the sliver of night peaking through my bedroom drapery, hoping that I wouldn’t see two glowing red eyes or hear the scratching of unnaturally long nails.  My mom probably warned my dad and I against reading this type of material at that age, but I would never have admitted she was right.  Salem’s Lot is a phenomenal vampire story, probably one of the best in my opinion.  And thanks to my dad and his (albeit perhaps early) introduction to his novels, Stephen King is one of my all time favorite authors.  I was literally saddened when the Dark Tower Series ended, more so than for any other series (including Harry Potter).   The Stand should also not be missed (my Dad would be disappointed if I forgot about the Walking Dude;-).

With Halloween right around the corner, and the days getting just a little shorter, curling up with a Stephen King novel might just be the perfect escape from …. work, kids, house cleaning, getting the car washed, you get the picture!

Jersey Boys (the musical)

Monday, September 17th, 2007

Jersey Boys was just finishing its San Francisco run, and based on 3 recommendations, we decided to pick up tickets.  SF locals – be advised that the Curran theatre must have been built when people were an average hight of 5’5″ and had bladders the size of basketballs.  Bryan, who is 6’4″, had to sit sideways, and there were only SIX women’s stalls to accomodate the entire theatre.  Now imagine the crowd for Jersey Boys (sorry mom!), now imagine the line for 6 stalls.  Not pretty.

The play itself was really enjoyable.  We unfortunately didn’t get to see the core cast; the understudy for Frankie Valli performed at ours (Saturday matinee – did I mention we aren’t cool?).  The music was good and it was actually very funny.  My dad warned me about the language, but anyone who has watched the Soprano’s has heard worse.  Half the time it was the language that made it so funny.  Net/net, if Jersey Boys is your area, I would suggest checking it out, just make sure your local theatre was built later than the early 1900’s. 

Rich Dad Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki (non-fiction)

Sunday, September 9th, 2007

Rich Dad Poor Dad is definitely worth reading if you are interested in getting your money to work for you, rather than you working for your money. Kiyosaki brings up a lot of great points of how the typical American (myself included!) thinks about money: you make it, spend it, get a loan for a house or car, make more money and start the cycle all over again. The whole concept of “keeping up with the Jones'” prevents a lot of people acquiring actual wealth. This was probably one of the more potentially life changing books I have read in a while. I have been sticking more to the “how to be a better leader” type of material, but this book gave me insight into how to be a better business person for the benefit of our family, not for the benefit of a corporation. It’s a quick read, and worth it if you are anything like me, and think money is for “making and spending”.

On the topic of money, while traveling this week in Austin, I ironically came across a PBS special by Suzie Orman. Because I never study money or finance, I had no idea who she was, but since I was halfway through Rich Dad Poor Dad, it caught my interest. Her message was directed to women and it was pretty clear – don’t be afraid of money! It resonated with me because I often feel that way. I haven’t read any of her material yet, but I included the link to her books listed on Amazon as it was on topic.

Couple of movie reviews…

Monday, September 3rd, 2007

Since so many have limited time to enjoy movies other than those of an animated nature, I thought I would share a couple of movies we watched lately.

Worth watching: The Lookout – I was skeptical as I knew nothing of the movie, but it had enough action for Bryan and I liked the characters. Interesting story and worth its 99 minutes (also nice that it wasn’t too long).

Worth skipping: Hannibal Rising – OK, so you probably didn’t need me to tell you to skip this one. Just in case you had any doubt – it’s gory and doesn’t correlate at all to the version of Hannibal that was so brilliantly portrayed in Silence of the Lambs. This Hannibal seemed like an entirely different character, and not nearly as interesting as the original one.

Twilight Series

Saturday, September 1st, 2007

I should first warn you that this title is in the young adult (YA) genre. I have actually found a lot of really great fiction by venturing into the YA section of the bookstore; The House of the Scorpion and the His Dark Materials Trilogy to name a couple. It is ironic that this isn’t the way I discovered Twilight by Stephenie Meyers. On one of our (many) stops at the local Barnes and Noble, I was perusing the fiction/literature aisles and a striking black cover with a bright red apple caught my eye. The cover indicated it was a vampire story. It was also the only one of its kind on that shelf and I was actually in the “B” section, so although it was apparent that it was in the wrong aisle, at that point I had no idea it was indeed a YA book. Being that the story is told first person by a 17 year old girl I quickly suspected its YA roots, but I ended up really enjoying the story. I have subsequently read the next two in the series (Eclipse was just released in August 2007). This series lacks the adult themes and undertones that weave themselves throughout Harry Potter, His Dark Materials and the like, and because of this it is definitely a lighter read. The Twilight series is a little like a low calorie yet indulgent dessert; you know there isn’t a lot of nutritional value there, but that doesn’t stop you from getting seconds! I probably would have loved this series if I were a young adult too. It’s a sweet (and clean – the author is Mormon) Romeo and Juliet style love story with a supernatural twist. The only real theme I can decipher is if you love something let it go. Noble, but lacking depth. If you are in the mood for a sweet, fast read, I would recommend picking this one up.

Thoughts on The Deathly Hallows (spoiler alert!)

Saturday, September 1st, 2007

If you haven’t read Harry Potter yet, stop reading this entry, go to amazon.com, and buy book 1. How JK Rowling created the world of Harry Potter I will never understand, but I am grateful she did! The series is a must read, but I had a few thoughts on book 7. Overall, it was a good end to a fantastic series. I am almost hesitant to say anything negative about it, but one section of the book didn’t resonate well with me. Near the end, where Harry realizes his fate and walks to face his death, I was getting prepared to dig out the tissues, and almost did, until Harry wakes up in some strange form of purgatory, at which point my reaction was closer to “huh?”. That scene didn’t fit. It felt contrived and squeezed into the story. A more natural ending to me would have been for Harry to sacrifice himself, and the audience left to hope that the rest of the HP crew can finish Voldemort off without Harry. That would have been a more adult ending, frustrating and tough to swallow, but closer to being “right”. Harry ultimately living to finish off Voldemort and raise a nice neat little family with Ginny seemed to me the rated G ending, the version that would satiate Rowling’s young readers with a happily ever after ending. I have to admit, normally I am the first person to appreciate a Disney ending, but for some reason it just didn’t sit right this time. A tragic ending would have been deeply moving, and somehow more poetic than the ending we got. JKR – I don’t know if the editors got to the story, or if this was the ending you had intended all along, and ultimately I suppose it doesn’t matter. I still enjoyed every rich chapter of every sizable tome, and would and perhaps will read them all again some day.