August 28, 2006

Netflix to the Max

Yesterday I did something I've never done before. In fact, I didn't even know it could be done. I maxed out my Netflix queue!

After reading yet another rave review of the HBO series The Wire - this one written by the King of pop culture himself - I decided it was time to look into renting the first season. I went to Netflix, did my title search, found the first season and attempted to add all 5 discs to my list. Imagine my surprise when a red pop-up box informed me that in order to add this series to my queue I would have to delete some other titles from my 450 item long list.

Since I have several multi-disc television series in my queue, it was easy to select titles for the chopping block. I simply kept the first disc for of each of my television choices in the list and deleted all the subsequent discs. I figure I can always go back and add them individually when I am ready to watch them.

So, no big deal, I guess. But I still think it was a tad rude for Netflix to suggest that I am interested in watching too many things ;-)

August 01, 2006

What I've Been Reading

Primary Whites: A Novel Look at Right-Wing Politics by Anonymous (as told to C. E. Crimmins and Thomas Maeder)
A satirical look at right wing politics circa 1996. Humorous read.
July 16 - July 31, 2006

Julie & Julia: 365 Days, 524 Recipes, 1 Tiny Apartment Kitchen by Julie Powell
A blogger documents a year spent cooking her way through Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking. A fantastic read!
July 1 - July 16, 2006

Girls in Pants: The Third Summer of the Sisterhood
by Ann Brashares
The third book in the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series for young adults follows Tibby, Carmen, Bridget and Lena through their last summer before starting college. A fun read.
June 20 - June 30, 2006

Book Doctor by Esther Cohen
A woman who earns a living helping others write the books they know they have inside them meets a client who causes her to reevaluate her own life choices. Interspersed throughout the story are letters sent to the Book Doctor from people interested in working with her. Most of the letters are very funny and they add a nice touch to this satire of the writing life. Even though I wasn't completely captivated by the characters in this novel all the way through, I did find the premise interesting, I enjoyed the letters and I think the conclusion was terrific. An amusing read.
June 4 - June 19, 2006

The Tenth Circle by Jodi Picoult
A father deals with his own personal demons after his daughter is raped by her ex-boyfriend. The book includes original artwork representing the graphic novel the main character is working on while the family undergoes the ordeal. A compelling read.
May 31 - June 3, 2006

The Jane Austen Book Club by Karen Joy Fowler
Six friends gather to discuss Jane Austen's books and their intertwined lives. A pleasurable read that makes you want to revisit the classics the characters in the book are discussing.
May 14 - May 26, 2006

Year of Wonders by Geraldine Brooks
A small Derbyshire community voluntarily quarantines itself during a year of the infamous Black Plague that ravaged Europe in the 17th century. The story was inspired by records of the real village of Eyam and is a well researched work of historical fiction. A captivating read.
May 3 - May 13, 2006

I Have Chosen to Stay and Fight by Margaret Cho
A collection of essays on a number of hot button topics by comedian/activist Margaret Cho. Politics, civil rights, the death penalty, abortion and other important issues are covered with wit, humor and insight. Many of these pieces originally appeared on her Blog. An entertaining and informative read.
April 16 - April 30, 2006

The Truth About Medium by Gary E. Schwartz
A description of university experiments conducted with Allison DuBois and other psychics to determine the validity of after-life communication theories. Interesting read.
April 4 - April 14, 2006

Cell by Stephen King
A technology-induced zombie tale by the King of the horror genre. Fast-paced story telling. Good read.
March 26 - April 4, 2006

July 07, 2006

Books 4 Sale!

One of my favorite sources for books at bargain prices is offering three coupons through the month of July:

Summer Coupon Promotion

They are multiple use coupons, so you can order as often as you want until July 31.

Have fun!

June 22, 2006

More on Net Neutrality

The editors of the The New Republic have posted a well written piece in defense of Net Neutrality:

Open Net

It looks like the Internet is poised to become just one more item on a long list of things that have been damaged beyond repair during these dark years.

Have you contacted your Senators yet?

June 16, 2006

Save the Internet!

The Internet has changed my life, and I mean that literally. So whenever our corporate owned Congress starts trying to ruin it - with censorship, taxes, or discriminatory access practices - I take it kind of personally.

The Net Neutrality debate has had my stomach in a knot for a while now. Last week, the House of Representatives capitulated to telephone companies and passed legislation without important neutrality language. This may well mean that the fate of the Internet as we know it rests solely in the hands of the Senate.

There is still time to get involved. Visit Save the Internet, Blog about what's at stake, and tell your Senators about the importance of Net Neutrality.


Sites for further information:

  • Center for Digital Democracy - Save the Net
  • House vote threatens Internet users’ right to equal access (ALA)
  • Network Neutrality Under Challenge
  • April 29, 2006

    Free Books

    For someone like me, those words are music to the ears.

    One of my favorite online bookstores is finishing up a terrific "Dollar For Dollar" sale this weekend. If you buy at least $25 worth of books, you can then select free books from a list of thousands that equal the dollar amount you're spending.

    The really great thing is that the store is a bargain book seller to begin with (remainders and such) so you're already getting great deals on the books you pay for. The free books are icing on the cake.

    I just submitted my order. First I selected ten books that totaled about $41. I then got to choose free books to match that value. I found 8 titles. My order total with shipping was $51 and change - for a grand total of 18 books to add to my collection. That's less than $3 a book!

    Today is a good day ;-)

    The sale ends April 30. Go snag some free books for yourself while there's still time:

    Dollar 4 Dollar Promotion

    April 21, 2006

    Friday Feast

    Here's what's on the menu this week:

    List 3 things you keep putting off.
    - writing my novel
    - writing my second novel
    - writing my third novel

    What do you feel is your greatest responsibility?
    Raising my children to be good people.

    If you could have starred in any movie, which one would you have wanted to be in and why?
    I think it would have been fun to play Scarlet O'Hara in Gone With the Wind.

    Main Course
    What is an expectation you had as a child about being an adult and, now that you are grown up, you realize you were wrong?
    I had all these unrealistic expectations about how successful and famous I'd be by age 25. Now, nearly a decade past that benchmark, I continue to struggle with the mundane demands of everyday life that can keep people from pursuing creative dreams.

    When was the last time you had your car serviced?
    My husband handles all things auto around here.

    April 18, 2006

    The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio

    I finally sat down and watched this terrific film last night.

    I bought it, sight unseen, as soon as it was available on DVD because I loved the book so much and had read good reviews of the movie. It did not disappoint.

    Julianne Moore stars as Evelyn Ryan, Contester Extraordinaire, who used her talent with words to win the kinds of slogan writing contests that used to be prevalent in the 1950s and 60s. With a husband (played by Woody Harrelson) who spent a disproportionate amount of the family's income on alcohol, this talent literally kept her ten children clothed, fed and sheltered for two decades.

    The memoir, written by Evelyn's daughter Terry (nicknamed Tuff), is one of the most delightful books I've ever read, and I think they did an excellent job with the movie. I highly recommend both!


    For more information about the book, the movie and the real Ryan family, check out this website.

    April 17, 2006

    Keeping Track of What I've Read

    If you've scrolled through this page you may have noticed that I keep the book(s) I'm currently reading posted below in the right-hand column. Today I decided to create a thread for recording books that have been featured there in the past. This way, I'll have my own log of what I've read since I started Blogging, and others who are looking for their next book to read might find something they like there.

    Here's the link for the What I've Been Reading thread.


    April 14, 2006

    Friday Feast - Third Helping

    Is it Friday already? Here's another course of the weekly Feast:

    What movie soundtracks do you own?
    Three soundtracks from my collection that come readily to mind are:

    • Batman
      The music is by Prince!

    • Chicago
      I've been listening to this one a lot recently.

    • Sliding Doors
      Great movie, with a lot of fun songs.

    How much cash do you usually carry with you?
    Very little. Between my debit card and my MyPoints card, which I use to earn Barnes & Noble gift cards, I hardly ever touch actual money any more.

    Are you more comfortable around men or women? Why?
    Women. Because I am one, I guess.

    Main Course
    What is the most mischievous thing you remember doing as a child?
    When I was a sophomore in high school I once skipped out of school to go pick up McDonald's for lunch. I went with two senior guys, one of whom I had a crush on. I suggested that we stick to the drive-through (lower profile) and return quickly, but the genius who was in charge of the operation wanted to go inside to order. When we came back out to the car, we were greeted by the assistant principal of our school, who was parked right next to us. Busted!

    Who is the funniest member of your family?
    My brothers are both very funny guys, in different ways. One is quirky and always doing strange things for a laugh and the other is witty and funny in a more subtle way. The latter should be writing for a sitcom, and the former should be starring in it ;-)

    April 10, 2006

    Mad About Nick At Nite

    One of my favorite sitcoms is returning to television tonight. Beginning at 10:00 p.m. Eastern time, Nick At Nite will be airing a Mad About You marathon that will continue every night this week.

    I'm not sure what time slot the show will have after the marathon ends, but I'll find it. I often have Nick At Nite on in the background while I'm on the computer late into the night.

    This is going to be great!

    April 07, 2006

    Friday's Feast

    It's time for another serving of Friday's Feast:

    Name a trait you share with your parents or your children.
    I come from a family of readers. We all love books :-)

    List 3 qualities of a good leader, in your opinion.
    - Intelligence
    - Diplomacy
    - Flexibility

    Who is your favorite television chef?
    I don't regularly watch many cooking programs, but if I had to choose I guess I'd go with that Naked Chef guy. (I think his name is Jamie Oliver.)

    Main Course
    Share a story about a gift you received from someone you love.
    I have a small Precious Moments figurine collection. The individual pieces carry sentimental meaning for me based on the occasion they commemorate and/or the person who gave me the piece. Most of the collection was packed away for a while because I had no place to safely display it. One Christmas, my husband surprised me with a gorgeous corner curio cabinet. It was something that I'd always wanted. Now my figurines are out where I can enjoy them everyday.

    How do you react under pressure?
    It depends on the pressure. The pressure of a deadline, for example, can sometimes kick my procrastinating butt into gear - and then I am often able to pull off whatever project I was avoiding with good results!

    April 04, 2006

    What I Was Reading

    I finished reading Cell yesterday. It's a compelling zombie tale in which a large portion of the world's population is simultaneously driven insane by a mysterious pulse transmitted through cell phones.

    It had been over a year since I last sank my teeth into a Stephen King novel, and this did not disappoint. The book delivered good old fashioned can't-put-it-down story telling that King's fans like and expect.

    I'm glad I picked this up!

    April 01, 2006

    Daylight Saving Time

    If you live where the phenomenon known as Daylight Saving Time is observed, remember to set your clocks ahead one hour tonight.

    I like this little trick in the Fall, when we "gain" an hour, but "losing" an hour is not as much fun. I need more time in my life, not less.

    Oh well. C’est la vie.

    March 31, 2006

    Friday's Feast

    I have been looking for a fun meme to use on this Blog but hadn't found one I really liked until today when a great gal named Nichole stopped by my Blog and commented on yesterday's post. When I visited her Blog, I had the pleasure of reading her answers to a meme called "Friday's Feast" and decided that I wanted to play along, too.

    So, here's my first entry for Friday's Feast. Bon Appetit!

    Name 3 things that you think are strange.
    1. The "big buckin' chicken" BK commercial.
    2. The BK commercials with the freaky looking guy who shows up at people's windows and other unusual places.
    3. The ad execs who work for BK.

    What was the last ceremony you attended?
    My brother's wedding. It was a small ceremony for immediate family with a reception at a local university hall that was decorated with a large, gorgeous Christmas tree. There was good finger food, nice background music, and lots of catching up with some of our favorite relatives. It was lovely!

    What is one lesson you have learned in the past year?
    That disorganization can cost money, in terms of lost gift certificates and/or missed expiration dates. I'm a consummate bargain hunter and when I miss out on a deal due to my own lack of organization, it is hard for me to forgive myself. Organization is one of the big things I'm working on this year.

    Main Course
    Tell us about one of your childhood memories.
    We had a creative writing assignment in fourth grade in which we were supposed to write something from the point of view of a well-known book character. I came up with a long and detailed letter from Alice in Wonderland that really impressed the teacher. Before handing the assignments back, she called me to her desk to tell me that she thought it was very good and to ask if I'd ever considered becoming a writer. I was so proud, and happily told her that that was exactly what I hoped to be one day. I'll never forget that moment. Or that teacher. If I ever win a literary prize of some kind I hope she is around and knows about it.

    If you could extend any of the four seasons to be twice as long as normal, which season would you want to lengthen?
    Autumn, without a doubt. I love when the weather starts to turn cooler and I love the changing colors of the leaves. Also, two of the best holidays, Thanksgiving and Halloween, happen in the Fall. It's just a wonderful, cozy time of year!

    March 30, 2006

    Dinner For Five

    One of my favorite things about Netflix has been "discovering" things (films, series, specials, documentaries) that I never knew existed. My latest discovery is the cool TV series Dinner For Five.

    Each episode of Dinner For Five, hosted by Jon Favreau (Monica's millionaire boyfriend on Friends), brings five celebrities together at various restaurants for dinner and unscripted conversation about the entertainment industry. The show has an intimate feel to it and it is fun to listen in and learn more about not only the guests at the table but actors and directors they've worked with and about whom they have stories to tell.

    It looks like the show enjoyed four seasons between 2001 and 2005. The first season is available on DVD. Those of you lucky enough to have a cable provider that offers The Independent Film Channel can watch reruns of the show on a weekly basis. The rest of us have to queue it up in our Netflix lists.

    If you're looking for a little something new and different to watch, I recommend giving this series a try!

    March 27, 2006

    This Weekend's Netflix Pick

    We watched Good Night, And Good Luck this weekend. It's a very well done film of historical significance whose themes, unfortunately, are still resonant in today's political climate.

    David Strathairn's performance as journalist Edward R. Murrow is especially good.

    March 26, 2006

    Entering the Blogosphere

    This is my first personal Blog, but I have been using Blogger to keep records of my telecommute work for years. Each time I make an entry there I'm reminded that I'd like to have a place like this online for my personal interests.

    I am a planner. This is often to my detriment because I tend to over think projects and spend more time daydreaming about how to start them than actually getting them started. Such was the case with my Blog. I brainstormed about the kinds of things I might want to collect onto a Blog. I made lists. I did research (i.e. read a lot of other people's Blogs). I was quite happy doing these things and could have kept doing them ad infinitum, but then I might never actually get around to starting a Blog of my own.

    My pre-planning brainstorming revealed several common themes. Each of these topics could easily be Blogs in and of themselves, but I don't have the time to maintain dozens of separate Blogs. A handful, maybe, but not a dozen or more. So, what I am planning to do is create a few specialized Blogs on topics that are especially dear to my heart. In the mean time, I will Blog about any and everything else - including commentary on the progress of the special Blog projects - right here.

    The planning stage of Project Blog(s) is officially over. Less outlining, more writing from this point on. That's advice I plan to carry over into my professional life, as well. I hope you'll come along for the ride!