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RL has been pretty insane. The soft launch of the website is scheduled for this afternoon. We've spent the last two weeks doing a blitz trying to get ready. There's still some problems with the website's content management system. And now it's gone down again. I'm really glad that's another department's responsibility. In the meantime I'm making notes of what has to be done between now and the official launch.

We're having another snowstorm here on the East Coast. I am so over this winter.

If you haven't seen it, Allie Brosh has a book out, she of the "Clean ALL the things/Responsible Adult" column. It's also called Hyperbole and a Half. I highly recommend it. Run right out and buy it, in fact. She's awesome.

LJ seems to be having another DDOS. And I just paid my year's subscription too. Dang.

All right, duty calls. I'll be back
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1. It's a great example of parents encouraging a child's interest in science. Especially because girls are so often discouraged from expressing an interest in science
2. It's a wonderful story of a father/daughter relationship.
3. It's all about the cutting edge of physics and the scientists involved in it, explained in clear, plain language.
4. Physics as philosophy - the subtitle is "the meaning of nothing and the beginning of everything."
5. Figuring out how we know when we are adults is something we've all thought about.
In other words I really liked it and recommend it highly.

Other books read this week included:

Your Life Calling: Reimagining the Rest of Your Life by Jane Pauley. The book is very anecdotal. It's essentially a compilation of interviews from her TV show. I did like the stories and found some of them inspirational. I also liked her stories of her life. A good read if you like this sort of inspirational/aspirational book.

The Fire Baby by Jim Kelly. I quite enjoyed this. The setting was unusual, the fens near Ely Cathedral. The author shifts among different points of view and different time periods but handles it quite deftly. The mystery was clever. I thought the main character was interesting. I'll look for more by this author.

NYPD Puzzle: A Puzzle Lady Mystery by Parnell Hall. I have very mixed feelings about the book. On the one hand, the puzzles and mystery were clever. On the other hand, the author's idea of witty dialogue is just painful. It's a quick read. I liked the author's early books and decided to give him another try. I am not enamored of this protagonist.

Rosemary and Crime by Gail Oust. A weak two. It is reminiscent of Diane Davidson's Goldy series, which is not a good thing to me. Divorcee opening food-related business in small town, rat exhusband, cute potential cop boyfriend, spunky eccentric BFF - no, no, no. Susan Wittig Albert handles it much better. Points for the doggie, but that's about it. I won't be looking for more in the series.
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I make an end of year resolution. I resolve not to gain any weight between Halloween and Twelfth Night. That is when all the treats are out there, plus holiday meals and parties.

Tonight was my weigh-in. I met my goal! No fudge factor, no worrying that I had just eaten dinner. I met it with space to spare.

I was a little worried. I didn't think I had walked enough. So go me! And I will stick to keeping the weight off.
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Has now kicked in. Do not gain weight between Halloween and Twelfth Night. I can eat what I like but I have to come out on the far side weighing the same as I did. Best appetite governor I have.
vamysteryfan: (books)
The Russian attack this time seems to be overblown but given the problematical nature of LJ these days, I'll stick to my plan.

We had four or five days of a glorious Indian summer where it was incredibly warm. Yesterday we had torrential rains. Today feels much more like fall. Guess that's it for the heat for the year.

Death in Dartmoor by Robin Paige. I love the China Bayles books by Susan Wittig Albert but the books she writes with her husband under Robin Paige really set my teeth on edge. They hit all the cliche buttons. Spunky poor Irish American girl entrances English lord, unexpectedly inherits a fortune, and solves crimes. meh.

A Thief in Venice by Jane Langton. If you're going to do quirky, this is the way to do quirky. It's set in Venice, it's full of the details that Jane Langton is so good at, and it has those nifty little drawings she does. Her heroes and heoines are flawed but always seem to muddle through.

The Year of the Flood by Margaret Atwood. Exquisite. You don't have to have read Oryx and Crake but it helps. She created a consistent dystopia and carried it out through portrayals of interesting characters. A must-read.
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Someone I followed on Twitter joined a fundraising effort. He promised to dress up in drag for a full day if a certain amount was pledged. The tag for it was #punish[him]. All his tweets were encouraging people to "punish" him by donating. The charity is to encourage civility online and stop cyberbullying. His blog post emphasizes the opportunity to "shame" him.

I find this faintly skeevy. Encouraging civility by encouraging mocking is a mental disconnect. Mocking people who dress in drag has never been that funny to me.

Anyway, I dropped him from my Twitter feed. I was annoyed every time I saw a tweet. What do you think?
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If you saw last night's episode, you saw two guys tie as co-champions. That's the big secret I couldn't share. It's a fairly rare occurrence on Jeopardy! It also meant I went up against two guys already experienced with that dang buzzer.

In other news, the week I taped the show was its 49th anniversary. Watch this funny clip from MSN for the top 8 funniest moments Ken Jennings saying hoe will never not be funny.

In the category of "Don't Read the Comments" I took a look at the TWoP Jeopardy! forum. They were saying how relaxed Alex was with the new champion and how he showed favoritism. Ben's a really sweet guy but Alex had just come off five weeks vacation. No wonder he was relaxed!
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Seems somehow inappropriate to wish people a happy Memorial Day. But there it is.

The weather's been chilly but clear so it should be nice for the Rolling Thunder bikers. It's grown every year and they are estimating up to 900,000 bikers this year and more than 1.5 million spectators. They've been zooming around the city a couple of days. Today there's a steady faroff rumble that will last for a while, as it takes a couple of hours for them to cross Memorial Bridge. Tonight is the Memorial Day Concert hosted by Gary Sinise and Joe Mantegna. I'll likely watch it on PBS.

Tonight is also supposed to be the planetary alignment with Jupiter, Venus and Mercury. Sister 9 and I plan to look for a spot with enough open space to see it, if the weather stays clear.
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I volunteer for a group that supports and promotes women in technology careers. Once a year there's FOSE, a big convention that started out as an office supplies expo and now has the latest technology. We're their favorite charity and they give us free space. I spent large parts of the last three days handing out our brochure and being charming to random people. I actually really like doing it because I get a chance to see the cool toys (and meet nice people).

The booth next to us had a 3-D printer. That was cool if slightly creepy. According to the demonstrators, it all depends on the materials used as input. It could make an ice cube if the input materials were cold enough. They could make a wedding ring if the input materials were raw gold. Toshiba had a little robot dog, like K-9's great grandad. The robot baby needs a robot doggie to play with.

Another company had a computer table of awesome like the one in Hawaii 5-0. I watched the demonstration for a while and noticed all the pictures were of women in bikinis. Oddly enough, women were not lingering at the display. Tech types are sometimes tonedeaf about their audiences.

The government security guys also had an expo this week. Now those are some cool toys. A two-seater helicopter, lots of scopes and various firearms. Lots of very fit young men with serious faces and short haircuts,too.
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The tree pollen has been wicked, but we had a nice rain and since then we've had a couple of rarely beautiful days. The azaleas and dogwoods are gorgeous. I've been taking care of Belle, a NPM, for a few days and our walks have been so pretty.

Books read this week:

Excursion to Tindari by Andrea Camilleri. Reviewers usually call him sardonic and I think that suits his style. This was an unusual murder with an unusual motive. Nicely written.

In the Beginning was the Command Line by Neal Stephenson. Interesting musings on operating systems, the operation of the universe, the meaning of life and many points in between. Even though it was written ten years ago, it still has a lot of resonance.
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All you wanted to know about Watertown!

"Watertown is a close in, older suburb of Boston/Cambridge. It has a large, long-established Armenian population. There are two large Armenian (Eastern Orthodox, I think) churches with their own schools there, and there is an Armenian elementary school here in Lexington, run by Armenian nuns. I am not aware of a large Russian population there or anywhere else, in terms of a community. In the 90s, and early 2000s, there was a modest influx to all the Boston suburbs of Russian families. The only ones I ever met (several families here in Lexington) were well educated and had left because of the chaos in Russia after the fall of the USSR.

Aside from the Armenian population, Watertown is kind of working/middle class, along with students and grad students. Rents are a little lower and there is convenient bus service into Cambridge/Boston. Also, great Middle Eastern food. It is not a town that is dangerous in any way, just a little gritty looking in parts. There are also some large, beautiful old Victorian houses there.

[I] have been to the area they are showing now, the Watertown mall, countless times. It is just a couple of miles from the WBZ-TV studios where I worked in the 80s and early 90s, and I still go over there sometimes, because for a while it was the closest Target and Best Buy!

It is about a half-hour to 40 minute drive from here. Sister #3 is much closer, only a mile or two away. [I] have talked to her and she is safe and watching TV at home. Niece and her night owl friends heard some of the explosions last night in the gunfight. She is a few miles away from that part of Watertown in North Cambridge."
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It's been a while since I've done a proper post. I finished the dogsitting gig with Gracie and then took care of another dog for a couple of days. I get so attached to my Not My Pets. I miss them when I leave.

Good habit I should have kept - before Jeopardy I was really conscientous about applying moisturizer twice a day. I was amazed at how quickly my skin dried out when I stopped. Now I'm back to doing it. Let that be a lesson to me.

Right now I'm listening to the news from Boston and getting depressed all over again. I hope my sister in Cambridge stays safe and all the peeps in the area. It sounds like the situation is changing very rapidly.
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Bad habits are hard to break. Creating good habits is an incremental effort. Some of the ones I formed for Jeopardy aren't worth keeping, such as all the trivia study. But there are some worth hanging onto. Keeping off the weight I lost is obviously a good habit to keep. Less alcohol and chocolate and more protein are keepers. I did learn that there's no point to empty calories. If I'm going to eat I'm going to enjoy it. I also like the herbal tea at bedtime. Hula-hooping is a keeper but I need to find another exercise for my arms.

I'm ambivalent about continuing to keep records of what I've read on Goodreads, after its acquisition by Amazon. But I do like having some sort of record. I'll also stick with one good nonfiction and one good non-genre fiction book a week (plus any genre and work reading).

I might not be as dedicated to doing daily puzzles but they are fun and easy to do on my Metro rides. Have they really improved my mental acuity? Who knows, but there's no harm in keeping it up. It's a better way to spend Metro rides than vegging out.

In general, the habit of perseverance is a keeper. It took fifteen months to get to Jeopardy. Persevering in the good habits is a good habit in itself.
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I had dinner with a friend Friday night. I hadn't seen her since the holidays so we yacked for two hours catching up on all the news. We let too much time go by in between meetups. I always have a good time talking to her.

Most of the rest of the weekend was spent reading and starting spring cleaning. The bad part was the jellybeans. I bought a bag thinking they would last at least a few days. No, I ate them all in about 2 hours. I need to put them out of reaching distance while I'm reading.

It's so sad - I count the calories and I'm good all day until I reach JELLYBEANS-1500 calories! In one Bag!
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I was watching a PBS series on NASA and they showed the video from Columbia just before it broke up. It wasn't as bad as I thought it would be, but I got a little teary there for a bit.

We've had a couple days of wretched cold weather. They are predicting "conversational snow" for this evening. I never knew snow could be chatty :) Actually it seems that's the new term for a dusting to one inch. Enough to have a conversation over and maybe spoil a few commutes.

I've been working on a photo thing inspired by the Washington Post. For inauguration day, they listed sites that they associated with the 43 presidents. I had about 28 of them, so I've been hunting down the others. In a few instances I've substituted some better options. Really, the State Department for Harry Truman. Boring and fenced in with Jersey barriers. Blair Lee House was a much better choice. It's a work in progress. Here's how far I've gotten

And finally Amazon is selling the weirdest thing I've seen all week. Faux jeans and CHAPS! Just the Valentine's Day gift we've been looking for.
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No Internet access since Saturday afternoon. Hope everyone had a nice weekend.

I spent most of it reading and watching the inauguration on television. President Obama seemed to enjoy this one a lot more. I loved how he was grooving watching the parade. I thought his speech was pretty good. The District put on its nicest face for the visitors and people seemed to be enjoying themselves. It was strange to see Pennsylvania Avenue with no traffic lights. I bet DDOT was scrambling to get them back in place for the morning commute.

I'm glad the weather stayed so nice for the weekend. It's FREEZING today - the coldest temperatures we've had in nearly three years. Still no snow though.

I did pig out on H50. One rerun and two new episodes. DDK looked terrific in his Chin-centric episode and I always love Steve in dress blues (which Danny pointed out are black). I liked that they brought the governor back. And Danny with a Big Damn Gun!
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I live in an urban section of an urban city. I check the night sky on clear nights to see if the light pollution will let me see any stars. I hadn't realized how accustomed I'd become to noise pollution until the holidays. Out where I was I don't think I heard a single siren and maybe only one helicopter. The first day I was home I wastruck by the noise from fire, police, and ambulance sirens and the daily overhead helicopters. What a strange thing to have them be common enough to get ignored.
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Always interesting to go back and take a look.

anuary: The Toronto skyline, over a year.

February: It was raining this morning so no shadow.

March: I had an interesting if somewhat random day yesterday.

April: This week's books ended up having a certain Sentinel flavor to them.

May: I'm home from dogsitting.

June: I tried a new one this week, near the White House, which was open over lunchtime.

July: Still no power

August: We're on the home stretch to Labor Day and I still don't know where July disappeared to.

September: I went to the final Evening Parade of the season at the Marine Corps Barracks Friday night.

October: Time for a book post!

November: Jeff Gates has brilliantly reimagined World War 2 posters for the upcoming election.

December: This month's lecture on astronomy covered Africa's role in space.
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The world didn't end. Guess the Doctor saved us all :)

The stove was finally fixed. The kitchen smells nicely of gingerbread. In a little while, I'll go and finish my Christmas shopping. I'll be dogsitting over the holidays and I'm looking forward to it. The doggies are good company.

Hope everyone has their preparations well in hand!
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Sunday was a clean all the things day for me, even the kitchen and bathroom. I also did some grocery shopping - the shelves were pretty bare.

I went to a very nice Parade of Boats along the DC Waterfront. The boats sailed up the Potomac from Alexdria and then paraded along the Washington Channel. Lots of the boats docked at the marina were decorated but the parading ones wre really elaborate. I think my favorite was the Peace, Love and Rock and Roll boat. It had a heart and a peace sign and blasted Jimi Hendrix. They also had a sign "Make Love not Wake" (a sailor's joke).

Internet access is a little iffy this week but I hope to post some pictures and the book post a little later. In the meantime, here's the new preview poster for the upcoming Star Trek movie:

spoilers, sweetie )

Ian McKellan was making the rounds of the morning talk shows. The beginnings of hobbity goodness for the next two weeks!


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