How many of me?

Posted by barb on Oct 24, 2006 in Memes, Etc.

Logo There are:
people with my name
in the U.S.A.

How many have your name?

P.S. Party reports and pics as soon as I finish my costume…



Oh, boo-hoo

Posted by barb on Sep 25, 2006 in Books, Random Thoughts

“Pro-Family” groups* are upset** with the American Library Association for Banned Books Week:

“What people need to understand is that this is the American Library Association’s way of trying to censor those who exercise their free speech rights and say that there are books in the library that should not be available to children.”

Huh? First amendment right to censor? Can anyone take these people seriously?

Their main problem seems to be that none of the books were actually banned across the nation. No, but books have been challenged, and groups like these so-called pro-family people would be perfectly happy if many of these challenged books were, in fact, banned.

Boo-hoo “pro-family” groups who have a problem with banned books week because it shines a big spotlight on your intolerance. Perhaps the place for discussions on books you feel are inappropriate for you children is in your household, since not every parent shares your narrow-minded views. Indeed, the first amendment is alive and well in public libraries and schools, and those of us who celebrate banned books week intend to keep it that way.

*Because, of course, if you don’t support their view that we should censor books, then clearly you aren’t pro-family.

**I’m a little ashamed to be linking to a “focus on the family” site, but there it is. Please don’t think any less of me.



Book catch-up, part 2

Posted by barb on Jul 26, 2006 in Books

The rest of my books for the past few months:

Harry Potter and the Order of the Pheonix
by J. K. Rowling

Wow. Just wow. With Voldemort back in the picture, Harry has more to worry about than ever. Add to that the Ordinary Wizarding Levels at the end of the school year, and it’s a wonder Harry survives the year at all. Of course, the pressure does start to get to Harry. This book sees a lot of changes in Harry’s personality – he seems to be teetering on the edge for much of the school year.

The book is as engaging as the others, and left me gaped-mouthed and wishing for someone to turn to and say, “What? What just happened? Did I read that right? AAAAAA!”

Burning Road
by Ann Benson

I was a little surprised to find that this book is actually a sequel to The Plague Tales, but there was no indication of this on the book jacket (only a sentence like, “by the bestselling author of The Plage Tales).

That said, once I got past my surprise, the book was just as engaging as the first. As The Plague Tales, this novel follows two related medical tales that are separated by 700 years in time. In 14th century France, Dr. Alejandro Canches has kept a low profile since he saw England’s royal family through the last surge of the plague. He gets pressed into helping to translate a jewish text for an alchemist. Alejandro’s journal stumbled into Dr. Janie Crowe’s hands in the 20th century in The Plague Tales. We now find Janie dealing with a possible resurgance of DR SAM, a deadly and highly infectious disease that swept the world, killing a good percent of the population, including Janie’s family. The text that Canches had been translated also came into the possession of the same depository that Janie used to store Alehandro’s journal.

This was a good follow-on to The Plague Tales; however, in some ways it’s much the same, with the two parallel stories, and a bit unbelievable that two books with writing by the same person would first of all both survive 700 years, and second fall into the same book depositotry. It was just a bit too much to swallow. I likely won’t read a third book in this series if Benson continues. However, if she decides to start with a new story and new characters, I’ll be happy to give it a try.

Deep Wizardry
by Dian Duane

This is the secon book in Duane’s Young Wizard series, and I must confess that I missed the first one (though it is now on my to-read pile). Nita and Kit have only recently fell into wizardry, and now on a vacation with Nita’s family at the beach, they discover that they are needed by the wizards living in the sea – whale wizards.

This was a fun book. Fluffy and a quick read, but fun.

The Clan of the Cave Bear
by Jean M. Auel

The novel begins with an earthquake that takes the live of young Ayla’s family. After wandering for days, unable to feed herself, and attacked by a lion, Ayla collapses, on the edge of death. She is found by members of the clan of the cave bear. The clan was displaced from their long-time home-cave by the same earthquake that took Ayla’s family, and they are searching for a new home.

The novel follows Ayla’s struggles with becoming accepted into the clan, for she is clearly not of the clan – she is blonde and tall and likes to use her voice. The people of the clan are dark-haired, short and talk mostly with their hands. The people of the clan are also very set in their ways, with men and women having very particular roles, and both men and women seem happy with those roles, not only unwillingly to change, but unwanting. Ayla, on the other hand, wants to explore, hunt, and genearlly act unwomanly. Throughout it all, one member of the clan hounds her, Broud, son of the mate of the leader.

This was an excellent book – a page turner.




Posted by barb on Jul 25, 2006 in Movies

I’ve been seeing preview for Scoop, a new Woody Allen movie. I like Woody Allen, for the most part. Scoop also stars Hugh Jackman and Scarlett Johansson. I like Hugh Jackman. He’s rather cute in addition to being able to act. The dilema? I hate Scarlett Johansson. Ghost World? It was middling. Lost in Translation? Hated it (I want my 2-hours back). Girl with a Pearl Earring? Middling, bordering on boring. The Island? Actually, it was okay (not great cinema, but I didn’t expect that), but it also had Ewan McGregor in it (yum).

So, do I go under the assumption that Wood Allen and Hugh Jackman will nullify the mindnumbing performaces of Scarlett Johansson? Or do I finally learn my lesson and skip it?



Book catch-up, part 1

Posted by barb on Jul 23, 2006 in Books

I took a bit of a hiatus from reading in December, but I have been reading since then – I just haven’t been keeping up with my book diary. Here’s half of the books I’ve read since my last entry.

by Gregory Maguire

This is not your mother’s Wizard of Oz. In fact, that’s clear from the first page.
“She [the wicked witch] was castrated at birth,” replied the Tin Woodsman calmly. “She was born a hermaphroditic, or maybe entirely male.”
As with Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister, this book is fairly dark. Elphaba was born green and with sharp teeth. Is it any wonder that life was hard for her? Her father was ashamed of her, but doted on her armless sister. In school (yes, Shiz, just like the musical), she found a cause – the rights of Animals (where the capital ‘A’ denotes an animal who is sentient and intelligent). But when she brings her cause to the Wizard, she finds that he’s behind the villification of the Animals. He created them as an enemy to unite the different factions of Oz. Her crusade goes wrong, and everything she touches seems to go wrong. Is it any wonder that she became “wicked”?

Great book, highly recommended

In Search of the Big Bang
by John Gribbin

I didn’t actually finish this book, but that’s because the content wasn’t what I expected, not because of the quality of the book. In fact, as usual, Gribbin takes a very difficult subject and makes it manageable for laypeople. he tells the story of how scientists came to devlop Big Bang theory and some of the ongoing investigations into refining the theory.

I was looking for a book that told the story of the COBE spacecraft and its results. Since COBE is depicted on the cover, I don’t think I was foolish in thinking that I might find it here. Sadly, COBE was only mentioned in a paragraph or two of one chapter. Sigh.

Undead and Unemployed
by Mary Janice Davidson

The subject on the spine says “paranormal romance”. What more could a girl want?

Betsy Taylor is Queen of the vampires. She got this title just a couple months ago when she died, though most vampires don’t acknowledge her as Queen yet. In fact, several of these vampires are now out to kill her…er…again. During all this, Betsy secures a job at Nordstrom’s shoe departement at the Mall of America. So, at least her shoe-fetish is satisfied among the death threats.

There’s not much substance here, of course, but the book is rather fun while it lasts.

Twilight Rising, Serpent’s Dream
by Diana Marcellas

I’ve been anticipating this book since The Sea Lark’s Song. It’s Marcellas’ third in her series that started with Mother Ocean, Daughter Sea Brierly grew up wondering if she was the last of the shari’a, a race of witches which had long ago been killed off. But then Brierly found a young fire witch after Brierley fled the Duke’s dungeon. In this book, we found two forest witches, a girl and her twin brother (usually the shari’a abilities are passed down to the girls in a family, but if a girl has a boy twin, he may get some of the abilities as well). The forest witches have been awaiting The Finding – an event that will only happen when one of each type of witch gather (fire, ocean, forest and air). However, no one is quite sure what will happen at The Finding. Perhaps the abilities of the witches will change/grow. Perhaps new types of witches will come about. But it seems clear that the shari’a will find a rebirth at The Finding.

Wonderful book – up to the high standards set by the previous two books in this series.



Quiet Weekend

Posted by barb on Apr 17, 2006 in Crafty Me, Games, Pictures

After the hellish week I had, we decided to have a quiet weekend at home. We rented a couple of PS2 games (Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire and X-Files: Resist or Serve), and I gamed much of Friday, since I’d already put in more than my 30 hours.

Harry Potter was quite fun, though we came close to defeating the game by the end of Saturday. (We had gotten to Voldemort, but didn’t quite defeat him – we didn’t try again, but most of the fun of the game was done.) Goblet of Fire can be played by two players simultaneously for many of the levels – not the Tri-Wizard challenges or final fight with Voldemort, but all other levels. So, Andrew and I were able to play together, which I think is the first time we’ve done that. I can hardly wait to pull out Tak and Lok and play that with Andrew.

The rest of the weekend I spent scrapbooking. I finished up the “Wedding Odds ‘n’ Ends” book that I’d been working on. Here are a few of the spreads I did:
Wedding Odds 'N' Ends Scrapbook spread  Wedding Odds 'N' Ends Scrapbook spread  Wedding Odds 'N' Ends Scrapbook spread

You can check out all of my scrapbook photos on Flickr. Next up? The eclipse cruise scrapbook!

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Posted by barb on Mar 8, 2006 in TV

I’m watching Adam on Mythbusters sitting in a tub waiting to fart. And now they’re bringing the resulting vial of air to be tested for the gasses present. Are there some lines that shouldn’t be crossed…even in the name of science?

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Quiet Weekend – Gaming and Shopping

Posted by barb on Mar 6, 2006 in Games, Random Thoughts

Andrew and I wanted to do as much of nothing this weekend as possible, so we rented a couple Playstation 2 games, bought bad-for-us food, and played video games for much of Saturday and Sunday.

We rented Ribbit King, a silly game where you play rounds of frolf (frog golf) on different courses on different worlds. The game can be played either in “story mode” where you’re trying to get ribbinite by playing rounds of frolf against various computer-players. The game can also be played with two players playing rounds of frolf against each other; however, unless you also play in story mode, the number of worlds/courses are limited. Andrew and I both had fun playing, which is difficult given that I’ve played a lot more video games that him, and am generally better at the games, and look for more challenging games.

We also rented Tak 3: The Great Juju Challenge (warning: the web page has music, but it can be turned off), which promised 2-player simlutaneous mode. Unfortuantely, we were unable to figure out how to invoke the 2-player mode until late yesterday. By then, we were mostly gamed out (and Andrew wasn’t feeling particularly well), and the Oscars were close to starting (which I always watch). It’s too bad we didn’t get to play much, because the little bit we did play was pretty fun. It feels a lot like Sypro, my favorite series of games, so the fact that Andrew and I could play Tak 3 together could make it a good game for us to own.

In between playing games, we also did a bit of shopping. The cruise is coming up quickly (two weeks from today we leave for Italy!!!), so we went out to get a few things for that: new walking shoes (which we both found at Timberland – they have an awesome shoe with soles that feel really, really comfy right out of the box – I highly recommend these for anyone looking for good walking shoes), money belts for each of us, a document wallet, a watch for me, and a new memory card for my camera. We also looked for jeans for me, but the only thing I could find were “stretch, flared” jeans – ick – so I made a quick Eddie Bauer order.

We’ve consulted a few web pages on what to pack for a cruise, like this one; but, if there’s anyone out there with some suggestions that either might not be on the list or that you can’t understress the importance of, please leave those in the comments.

So, a productive and relaxing weekend. (Not a usual combination!).


Not surprsing…

Posted by barb on Feb 13, 2006 in Memes, Etc.

You Are Dr. Bunsen Honeydew

You take the title “mad scientist” to the extreme -with very scary things coming out of your lab.

And you’ve invented some pretty cool things, from a banana sharpener to a robot politician.

But while you’re busy turning gold into cottage cheese, you need to watch out for poor little Beaker!

“Oh, that’s very naughty, Beaker! Now you eat these paper clips this minute.”




Posted by barb on Jan 27, 2006 in Memes, Etc.

JD tagged me for the “four things” meme.

Four Jobs I’ve Had

  • Game hawker at the Minnesota Reniassance Festival
  • Sales Associate (at various stores: Kay-Bee Toys, Hallmark, Claire’s, Lane Bryant)
  • Tutor (of lots of subjects: physics, math, writing)
  • Teaching Assistant

Four Movies I Can Watch Over And Over

  • Ever After
  • Indiana Jones (all of them)
  • Star Wars
  • Down With Love

Four Places I’ve Lived

  • Bloomington, MN
  • Socorro, NM
  • Beltsville, MD
  • Vienna, VA

Four TV Shows I Love

  • Gilmore Girls
  • Battlestar Galactica
  • Judge Judy (I’m so embarassed — this is my guilty pleasure
  • Mythbusters

Four Places I’ve Vacationed

  • Myrtle Beach, SC
  • New York, NY
  • Altanta, GA
  • Key West, Florida

Four Of My Favorite Dishes

  • Mexican Haystacks (aka Frito Pie)
  • Pizza
  • General Tso’s Tofu
  • Jumbo Veggie Burrito (from Anita’s)

Four Sites I Visit Daily

Four Places I Would Rather Be Right Now

  • In bed
  • New Mexico
  • On our cruise (that’s coming up soon!!!
  • Someplace with lots of sunshine, warmth and not too much humidity

Four People I am Tagging

  • Mushi
  • Sweetie
  • Crash
  • Andrew

(Though I don’t seriously expect Crash or Andrew to do this — they aren’t “meme”-type people…

People not tagged, also please feel free to post your’s in the comments or give me a trackback ping so I know to check out your answers.


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