Winning the book lottery

I’ve been on a roll lately, book-wise.  I have liked every book I’ve read in the past three weeks (ever since giving up on The Lake House).  Some of that was planned: two of the seven books were sequels, so it was pretty much a given that I would like them.  One (Word Puppets) is a collection of short stories by an author I’ve heard a lot about but had never tried.  Her short stories were really good (yay!), so I’ll be reading more of her.  The next book (Serpentine) was recommended by a couple of the authors I follow on Twitter – young adult, fantasy/Chinese mythology – very good.  I found the other three just browsing in Powell’s.  It’s riskier than going on recommendations, but one of those turned out to be pretty good (The Girl With All The Gifts), and the other two are why I’m writing this post because they were SO FREAKIN’ GOOD.

Illuminae is told through documentation found by a researcher trying to piece together what actually happened out in space after a planet was attacked, so the format is all letters, emails, chats, transcripts of videos, interviews, etc.  It was funny and it totally captured my imagination.  I didn’t want to put it down, and when I had to, I was thinking about it.

Then I read His Majesty’s Dragon, and – THANK EVERYTHING – it is the first in a nine-book series.  It’s set in pseudo-1800s Britain, with the British Navy and a war with Napoleon and DRAGONS.  The dragons and their riders (!) make up the air force, basically, and it’s like a mash-up of the Patrick O’Brien novels and the Pern novels (!!), and it makes me very happy.  Like, the-world-is-a-better-place-with-these-books-in-it kind of happy.

I started the second book in the series last night.  I’m so happy.

You can’t make this up

Yesterday, I shipped my laptop off to the office for a stupid reason.  Truly, it is the dumbest reason a laptop has ever had to be shipped somewhere in the history of shipping laptops.

I have to ship my laptop back to the office so that IT can…..reset my network password.

Yes, my password, the one that I reset just a few weeks ago (DEFINITELY fewer than 90 days ago), no longer works when I try to log in to my laptop immediately after booting it up.  Why?  I don’t know.  No good reason, I’m sure, since it worked last week.  IT says try my previous password – it should work.  Well, that would be great, but since I haven’t used that password since I changed it WEEKS AGO and I don’t write down my passwords BECAUSE I BELIEVE IN PROTECTING MY PASSWORDS, I don’t have the faintest clue what it was.

Oh, IT can’t change my password remotely?  Of course they can’t.  It’s not like we have several people working remotely full-time now.  Sure, it makes perfect sense to set up a computer in such a way that it has to be on the network to change the password, but you can’t get to the part where you can change the password unless you’re on the network.

So off I went to ship my laptop back to the office.  To make it go a little quicker, they suggested I ship it to the Utah office instead of the VA office, since it ought to get there from Oregon faster.

You know what they’re going to do with my laptop once they get it?  They’re going to turn it on, log in, change my password, shut it down, and ship it back to me.  It’ll take 3 minutes, max.  For that, I’m without my work laptop for 4-5 days.

To top it off, I checked my tracking number this afternoon and found that my laptop is in Indianapolis.  Uh huh.  Apparently, the fastest way to Utah today is through Indiana.

Who knows when I’ll get it back…

Broken promises

I broke my vow to eat only chocolate on our return to Oregon.  At breakfast.  I had an omelet that was not made of chocolate.  And then I got Twizzlers at the airport.  And then I ate a bagel, and then I ate Cheez-Its at ten o’clock at night on the drive home from the airport.  So junk food, sure.  Chocolate, not so much.

To make it up to myself, I had chocolate for breakfast today.  (We have no other food in the house.)  That might be all I eat today because I am SO FREAKIN’ TIRED I’m not sure I can find us any other food.  Everything is too much of an effort.

Next time won’t you sing with me

In the airport again (LaGuardia this time), same deal with only 30 minutes of free WiFi.  Whatever, airports.

In the same vein, we got here, following the signs to Terminal C to check in for American Airlines.  Got our boarding passes for gate D-something.  The guy who took our bags said we had to go to Terminal B for the D-gates.  Don’t terminals usually have the same letter as the gates?  So we checked in at C and got a shuttle to go to B to get on a plane at D.  I am now reciting my ABCs.

It’s not THAT confusing (we made it to the gate, after all), but I’m cruising on very little sleep over the last few days.  Saturday started early, with a long day of travel and a late night when we arrived.  We didn’t have to get up especially early Sunday, Monday, or today, but I slept pretty badly.  The hotel walls were thin, there was constant activity in the hallways, and the pillows SUCKED.  They looked all fluffy and nice, but they flattened into nothing as soon as you put your head down and the air squeezed out.  My neck hurts.  Plus all the emotions and the public face on the whole time and I’m. So. Tired.

We land in Portland at 7:30pm local, but then we have to get our car and drive home, so it’ll be 10pm at the earliest before we get home.  Probably closer to 11.  And tomorrow morning has to start on time, so there will be no sleeping in until Saturday.  On the plus side, there’s no one to tell me I can’t go to bed at 6pm tomorrow night or every night the rest of this week, and Saturday isn’t that far away.

I don’t really feel like it

I don’t have much to say, but I feel like I’ve been MIA a lot this past week, and I don’t like that feeling.  We’re on Long Island for the funeral of John’s cousin Kerri’s husband, and we spent the entire day yesterday at a funeral home for a very emotional wake.  Lots of people, lots of tears.  The burial is this morning (Monday), followed by lunch with the family (I think), and then John and I will spend the evening with his parents, hopefully discussing happier things.

Then back home to Oregon.

We met Emily and Sean’s new baby boy yesterday (SO cute at nearly 6 weeks old), who fell asleep in my arms during breakfast.  That was maybe the best part of the day.  They went home last night, though, so I don’t have that to look forward to today.

Eating badly

I don’t think I have ever eaten normally while traveling.  It’s difficult, of course, but I don’t even try.  Yesterday, we got up at 5:30, got to the airport at 6:30, and bad coffee and a stale, crunchy croissant near the gate for breakfast.  Lunch was too much Italian food during our Chicago layover because we knew we’d land in New York too late for dinner so we figured we’d eat a meal and a half mid-afternoon to cover both meals.  Then we snacked because, well, we got hungry again.  But it was all sucky food, pretty much.

We could make the attempt.  I could have had a banana at breakfast.  I could have had a salad at lunch.  I could try harder and do that on our way home in a few days.  Right now, though, I don’t want to do that.  I want to go the other way.  My plan is to have nothing but chocolate (or at least nothing but dessert-type food) when we travel back.  I don’t think it would make me feel worse, and it has a decent chance of making me feel better.


Is free WiFi an unreasonable expectation in public places?  I mean, sure, someone is paying for it, so I can see how it’s not reasonable to expect it in a park or pretty much anywhere you can hang out for free.  But most places we spend any period of time are places we go to buy things (food, drinks, coffee) or see things (theaters – why not free WiFi in the lobby?), or wait to go somewhere else (airports, train stations).  Lots of those places DO offer free WiFi, and for the most part, people are buying things so the cost can be covered, and that makes sense.  Even in places where an individual might not buy anything, like, say, an airport, the vast majority of the people around that individual are nearly guaranteed to buy something, so again – cost covered.  So why would O’Hare only offer 30 minutes of free WiFi?  The airport is enormous, they probably make a ton from parking alone, and everyone who walks through here buys snacks, water, magazines, whole meals – the money goes to the stores, sure, but O’Hare didn’t give those stores space for free.

I suppose I should be glad they’re offering any WiFi for free (I wouldn’t be typing this right now if they didn’t), and I know it’s not the airport’s responsibility to make our layovers fun (FOUR HOURS this time) or to make up for the airlines who make us pay for every little thing, but they could help.  If I know I can’t get online at a particular airport, I might choose to fly through a different one next time.  Maybe they should consider THAT.

Aaaaaannnnnddddd #firstworldproblems.

All decked out

During my run the other day, I tried to take a picture of trees in fall colors over a still lake with weeping willow in the foreground, but the camera on my phone decided to quit on me and I couldn’t.  You’ll just have to imagine it.  It’s the camera on my old phone, that I pretty much only use for podcasts during workouts, so I can’t really get mad at it.

In other news, it’s John’s birthday today.  He’s wearing the new TARDIS slippers I bought him and they FIT (well enough – they may not be bigger on the inside, but they’re big enough).


This house isn’t well-insulated, so his feet get cold.  We can match now – my hands get cold, so I bought these:


(They’re fingerless gloves.  I realize that might be hard to tell from this picture.  The little bump by the windows at the bottom is the thumb hole.)

I want a gym that is nearly empty all the time but makes enough money to stay open

8:30 on a Monday morning is not the greatest time to go to the gym.  It was packed.  There are 12 treadmills, and all but two of them were occupied by older ladies walking.  Nearly every weight machine and all of the ellipicals were in use.  I was able to nab one of the remaining treadmills, but I need to keep this in mind next time I try to work out on a rainy Monday morning.

AND it didn’t even rain.  The sky was half-threatening, half-sunny, and the threatening part appeared to be taking over and the forecast said the rain was supposed to start any minute, so I figured it would be smarter to run on a treadmill than get caught out in a downpour.  And then it didn’t rain.  Still threatening, and it probably will, but I could have run outside this morning.  Boo.

Running on a treadmill is BORING.

Oh, wait, it just started to rain.  Still, I would have made it back.

It begins

Today is the end of the second day of rain.  The forecast calls for at least one more day, probably two, before we see the sun.  I took these pictures just the other day in preparation for this.



This is my sun lamp.

(They were taken in Alton Baker Park, also where I saw the bird from Friday’s post.)

Adulting slow-cooker style

Check it out.  We bought a slow cooker, it arrived yesterday, and I’m cooking in it today.  Can you believe it?  I’ll give you a minute to fan yourselves and get over the shock.

Here it is, yelling at me, apparently, telling me to COOK.  Yeah, I get it.


And here, beneath the steamy lid, you can kind of see dinner.


My first recipe is beef and broccoli, and if the recipe is correct, it’ll be ready in 5 minutes.  I didn’t tell John what I was making, but he’ll find out soon.

I hope it’s good.  I hope it’s edible.  Good is secondary.

Update: It was DELICIOUS.

Making friends

Today, I played a short game of tag with an 8-year-old who guessed I was 44.

I beat him.

Of course, I mean that I took no pity on him during this game of tag and outraced him handily even though he kept trying to live on the gravel pile that was home base.

His second guess at my age was 29 (27? upper 20s), and his third guess was 19, so he either realized his mistake at guessing 44 in the first place and was trying to fix it the best way he knew how or he’s just really really bad at guessing.

Last week, we discussed dogs.  Maybe next week I’ll get his name.

Batteries included, but how can you tell if it’s dying?

A few weeks ago we bought a cute little waterproof bluetooth speaker so we could listen to music in the shower or while doing dishes or wherever without using headphones or dealing with crappy phone speakers.  Good purchase!  It sounds good, it’s cute and little (as mentioned above), and it’s called the Oontz Angle.  Worth it for the amusement I get out of the name alone.  Its battery is rechargeable via USB, and it’s all-around wonderful except for one minor thing: there’s no battery life indicator.

When it arrived, we couldn’t tell if it had been charged.  Most electronics need to be charged before their first use, but when we turned it on, it worked immediately.  And with almost daily use (not more than an hour a day, but still), it ran for nearly six weeks before it died.  Of course, it died mid-shower (my shower, naturally), and I had no warning.  If I’d known it was low, I would have plugged the poor thing in.  Maybe a warning light?  Where blinking means “Plug me in, please”?  But really, that’s the only complaint I have about it.

Don’t be stupid!

I ran yesterday, which messed up my schedule, so I needed to run again today to get back on track.  Running every day didn’t used to be a problem, but since I’m slowly working my way back to normal, I’m only running every other day.  For reasons, I switched out my insoles today, and the bottoms of both feet like they were getting pounded.  I warmed up, I stretched, I kept going to see if it would work itself out, I stopped running and rested…and then I realized I was being really really dumb.  The reason I’m in this recovery plan in the first place is because the bottom of my foot felt like it was getting pounded.  So I stopped running, turned around and walked home, and you know what?  It takes a much longer time to walk home than it does to run home.  But it was the smarter thing to do.

I brought it on myself

As you know, I loved The Silvered, and I was worried about my next book because of it.  So either I was right to be worried about that, or I talked myself right into not enjoying my next TWO books.  First, I picked up The Scorch Trials, which is the sequel to The Maze Runner.  The first book was fine, but this one had no real plot, which drives me crazy.  I got about halfway, told John I was going to put it down, and then finished it two hours later.  It was a quick read, but not especially enjoyable.  I might watch the movies.

Then I picked up The Lake House.  I had my doubts before I started it because her other four books are all very similar.  The structure is basically identical, although the details are different.  I’ve enjoyed all four, to a certain extent, but when I picked up this fifth one, I felt tired.  Oh, look, there’s a mystery in the past.  Oh, look, there’s a person in the present having problems.  Oh, look, this person in the present is going to mixed up in figuring out what happened in the past and somehow solve that mystery AND their own problems.  I gave up on it pretty quickly.  I’m sorry, Kate Morton.  I thought The Secret Keeper was really good, and I’m happy the book club chose to read it while I was a member.  That’s as far as I can go.

Thankfully, it only took two books to get me out of that very unpleasant hole.  I started a collection of short stories by Mary Robinette Kowal, and those have been really good so far.

I’ve decided it was the books, not me.  I chose badly twice in a row.  It’s still my fault (I chose the books), but it’s less obnoxious than blaming it on my mood.

Perspective shift

I should stop being annoyed by my constant time zone confusion and treat it like an adventure.  Friday morning at 9am (local), I looked at the forecast and saw that rain was predicted for 12:30.  “Oh, no,” I said.  “I want to run, but it might rain on me while I’m out there.  That sucks.”  THEN I remembered that no, even though my laptop says it’s noon, and everyone I work with is heading out to lunch, and I’ve been working for long enough that it feels like midday, the 12:30 forecast for rain is three and a half hours in my future, not half an hour.  I’ve been to noon already, I’ve seen the rain coming, but now I’m back to 9am and I have plenty of time to run.


Much ado about 15 minutes

Here’s the a downside of working east coast hours while living on the west coast:

I try to start work by 9am Eastern, so I get up no later than 5:45 Pacific.  My first meeting of the day is usually 9:30 Eastern, giving me half an hour to go through some email and wake up a bit more before I have to talk to anyone.  On Thursdays, I have a 9am meeting with my boss, just him and me, so on Thursdays, I get up at 5:30 Pacific – enough extra time awake that I can be coherent.  It’s feels like it’s a whole hour earlier when I wake up, but I get over that once I get out of bed.

That’s not the downside I’m talking about, although it is one.

No, the downside is when your boss, who you thought was a kind and understanding man, deprives you of that 15 minutes of sleep by rescheduling your 9am meeting to another day and making that schedule change at 8am the morning of.  I woke up at 5:30, crept downstairs in the dark to avoid waking John up, brushed my teeth, washed my face, put my contacts in, and then, all awake, I sat down in front of my laptop and found that my boss, who is clearly a cold-hearted monster with no regard for my feelings, had moved the meeting to next week less than an hour before.  If he had made the change last night, I would have seen it AND I COULD HAVE SLEPT IN.

Can’t stop, won’t stop

The downside of binge-watching Gilmore Girls episodes is that the theme song is constantly running through my head.  It’s a Carole King song, so it’s not bad (John begs to differ), but it’s too much.  And I can’t get rid of it.  And if the theme song is in my head, then the show is in my head.  Rory is too freakin’ cute, so that’s okay, but Lorelai – back off a bit, Lorelai.  Take your Carole King song and take a vacation.

This won’t stop me from watching more tomorrow, though.  I’m in season 3 now.