Wednesday, October 31, 2012

October Reading

Here's a quick overview of what I've been reading since last time:

A Time Odyssey, by Arthur C. Clarke and Stephen Baxter
   #1, Time's Eye (4 stars)
   #2, Sunstorm (4 stars)
   #3, Firstborn (3 stars)
The Dark Half, by Stephen King (4 stars)
The Casual Vacancy, by J.K. Rowling (3 stars)
House of Shadows, by Rachel Neumeier (3 stars)
Ring of Flowers, by Brian Andrews (2 stars)
The Calypso Directive, by Brian Andrews (3 stars)
Love Anthony, by Lisa Genova (4 stars)
The Constant Princess, by Philippa Gregory (4 stars)
The Twelve, by Justin Cronin (3 stars)

I also did a re-read of Cronin's The Passage (3 stars) before reading The Twelve.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Chicago Bears: Week 8

Opponent: Carolina Panthers
Location: Home
Outcome: Win
Record: 6-1

Minnesota Vikings     5-3
Green Bay Packers   5-3
Detroit Lions             3-4 was pretty ugly, but it was a win in the end. With that the Bears move to 6-1 and remain at the top of the NFC North. The Packers and Lions both won this weekend, and the Vikings lost surprisingly to the now 3-4 Buccaneers. As they say, "any given Sunday."

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Pitfalls of Technology

When I was in High School, I was one of many kids who had something like 7 different alarm clocks. I had to rotate through them because after a couple of weeks, I'd get used to one tone and sleep right through it. My mom is infamous for the line, "Patrick, get up! Your alarm's been going off for 45 minutes!!!" And that would be the first thing I'd hear. It wasn't a matter of getting up and hitting snooze, I just didn't hear the alarm tone once I got used to it. 

Ever since I got a cell phone, that's changed. I use it for my alarm clock, and every couple of weeks I change the tone when I notice that I've started getting used to the old one. Even better is the fact that I can go out and snag some fun ring tones from the internet. Right now my alarm is the marble zone music from Sonic the Hedgehog. Anyway, I love using the phone as an alarm for several other reasons too. It's not susceptible to power outages (for the most part), and I can put it wherever I want in the room to keep my groggy self guessing in the morning. 

However, there is one problem that I do forget about each year. For some reason, some phone carriers can't seem to get the daylight savings time switches right. It's only been the same for the past 7 years... For those of you not paying attention to your calendars, DST ends next weekend at 2 AM on November 4th. My phone decided to make the switch this weekend. On the plus side, I didn't have anywhere I needed to be bright and early this morning at 5:30. I just wanted to get up to keep up the habit of getting up at that time during the week. The down side is that I am now up and going an hour later than I planned. Stupid technology...

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Groggy Grumblings

So, to set the stage, I've been sick the last couple days. At first I figured it was allergies, which is pretty much how all my non-winter colds start. I used to be really good at "feeling" the difference between the two, but apparently not anymore. Either that or it truly is allergies and THEN I get a cold, and the transition is so seamless that I can't tell. But anyway, this last week we were having some unseasonably warm weather, so I figured it was my allergies flaring up when I was all sneezy and snuffly. Wednesday night I started coughing, though, and then Thursday and Friday . . . well, I won't go into all the nasty details, but it was unpleasant, I'll leave it at that.

Then last night, despite my taking NyQuil right before I went to bed, I couldn't sleep. Part of it was my typical brain not turning off, and then in addition to that my stomach was feeling wonky (I think I had too much medicine and not enough real food yesterday), but I think the fact that I stayed up till 1:30am -- while annoying -- is probably a good indication that my body is on the mend.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Chicago Bears: Week 7

Opponent: Lions
Location: Home
Outcome: Win
Record: 5-1

Minnesota Vikings     5-2
Green Bay Packers   4-3
Detroit Lions             2-4

We won against a division opponent! I quite enjoyed watching this hard-fought game against the Lions. Sadly, the Vikings and the Packers both won their games, but I'd rather that than us lose and they win. On a side note, I no longer appreciate Monday night football games. I'm way too tired the next day.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Struggling with Recommendations

I was browsing through some book-related online discussions recently and came across the topic of recommendations. Who recommends books to you? Who do you recommend books to? Does most of this happen online or face-to-face? Which book do you find yourself recommending again and again?

Pretty much all of my book discussions happen online. I do have some real life friends who are into reading as much as I am, but we're so far away that I always see their activity on GR and make comments and all of this back and forth happens before the next time we actually see each other in person. Mostly, though, I follow book blogs, I'm in a GR reading group, and pretty much all of the recommendations that I get are a) not necessarily personal, tailored-to-me recommendations, and b) exclusively online. Am I missing something? By not having a close-knit group, or a couple people who know my tastes and are recommending things to me personally? I don't know, maybe. But I think the "missing" part might be the social aspect more than the reading opportunities, and as we all know, social activities don't necessarily have a huge draw for me. So, maybe I'm not missing anything.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Gone with the Wind (and other musings)

I watched Gone with the Wind this week. I split it between two days because I didn't really feel like spending four hours watching a movie, but it certainly wasn't boredom that made me take a break. It was a good movie. Though, predictably, not as good as the book.

And not because of "OMG THEY CHANGED EVERYTHING!" because they really didn't change that much. Some events were skipped or merged with other events, same with characters, just for simplicity's sake. But that wasn't really bothersome. It's just that the book went so much more in depth. Yeah, a lot of it was general description of life in the South which was kind of boring to read, and wouldn't translate to the movie anyway. But even without all that, it's still a LONG book. They probably could have made the movie six hours long, and you still wouldn't get to know Scarlett as well as you do in the book, actually getting inside her head instead of just watching her actions.

I also found it interesting, between watching this, and watching the Alfred Hitchcock movie I saw last week, to note just how much movies have changed. Older movies are almost like watching a play. They're all about telling a story. Sure, plenty of newer movies still focus on the story -- the really good ones do, anyway -- but even movies that aren't loaded with special effects and gimmicks still just feel different. And movies from, say, 30 years ago . . . they aren't like the old movies, but they aren't like movies now either (and not just because of the clothes and hair). Thinking about all this kind of makes me wish I'd taken a film class when I was in school, and had a chance to look at just how movie-making conventions have changed over time.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Chicago Bears: Week 6 (Bye Week)

Chicago Bears   4-1
Minnesota Vikings   4-2
Green Bay Packers   3-3
Detroit Lions   2-3

Since the Chicago Bears were on bye this week, I decided to take the opportunity to talk a little bit about the rest of the division. I've been having some computer problems this week so I'll be keeping this very brief.

I was a little disappointed this weekend. The Lions pulled off an OT win in their game against the Eagles, and the Packers unexpectedly crushed the Houston Texans who had been viewed by many as the most balanced team in the league this year. I have to at least laugh at the irony. They lose to the Colts, but beat the Texans. Anyway, the Vikings lost to the Redskins so that puts the Bears in a 1/2 game lead in the division. I don't hold a lot of stock in that though. Don't get me wrong, the Bears are doing well, but until everyone has played an even number of games again, week 11, I don't put a lot of stock in a 1/2 game lead.

Anyway, I'll be including the records of the rest of the NFC North at the top of each of my weekly posts. Later in the season, I'll probably also include their division record, but so far only 2 of those 12 games have taken place so there's not a lot of value of that stat yet. In fact, 75% of the division games don't take place until the last half of the season. I know that each team usually has a couple of their division games towards the end of the season, but this year it seems very heavily back weighted. Anyway, I just thought that was interesting when I was looking at the other teams' schedules for when the last two bye weeks were.

Hopefully the Bears come out strong from the bye week like they normally do and take it to those dirty Lions at Soldier Field next Monday. Go BEARS!!!

Saturday, October 13, 2012


I still don't have much in the way of specifics, but I do have a title.

It's a Greek word, the origin for our word empathy. One of my main characters has a sort of supernatural empathic ability. I actually don't know that any of the story will be told from her point of view, but she's the one around whom everything revolves.

And I really can't say any more than that. It's not any kind of writerly anxiety, it's just that all I have are these little scraps of ideas. I've actually been sitting here for about twenty minutes TRYING to come up with more to share, but none of it makes sense on its own. Or is it that none of it makes sense together? I don't know.

Regardless, anything more will just have to wait until I actually start writing, and the little scraps start coming together.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

A Week and Six Comments Later

I got so many comments in my last blog post (well, "many" relative to our blog, anyway) I figured it was best to address them with another post.

First of all, just a general statement. I've been feeling sort of guilty for implying that some people are proud of their mental illnesses, and not in a "taking ownership of who I am" kind of way, but in a "woooo, look at me" way. I don't know. Maybe there are some people who feel superior because they deal with disorders numbering in the double digits, but most people probably aren't. Most people are probably just struggling to survive.

That out of the way, I also feel like I can't criticize because I'm guilty of playing the martyr card myself. Anxiety is a HUGE reason that, two years after moving to Dubuque, I still don't have a job (actually I stopped the search a while back, for reasons involving that thing I'm not talking about yet). I'm awkward face-to-face. I'm way worse on the phone. I've only had one serious* panic attack in my life, but I feel like I have a mini one every time I have to pick up the phone. I have to really psych myself up for it. I can sit there staring at my phone for upwards of twenty minutes before I input a number, and then it will take me another five to actually press send . . . and then the whole time I'm praying that I can just leave a pre-rehearsed message instead of having an actual conversation.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Best of luck to little TJ

In other sort of Bears...but not really news. Most Bears fans know the name of tight end, Greg Olsen. Most were also upset that he was traded to the Carolina Panthers at the beginning of last season.

Well, he and his wife are expecting the arrival of twins today. Sadly all is not good news. The twins are a boy and a girl, and while the girl is perfectly healthy, the boy has a very serious heart defect called hypoplastic left heart syndrome. From my understanding, basically it means that the left side of his heart didn't develop. Without intervention, the rest of his heart would give out in just a few days after being born. Thankfully they found out ahead of time and are prepared for it (at least as prepared as they can be).

They've gotten a lot of support from the Panthers and the community and especially owner Jerry Richardson. In fact he's been so extraordinarily supportive that they're honoring him by naming their son Trent Jerry (TJ). I've also heard that Olsen has been in contact with Charles Tillman whose own daughter underwent a heart transplant at a young age.

Chicago Bears: Week 5

Opponent: Jaguars
Location: Away
Outcome: Win
Record: 4-1

The Bears trounced the Jacksonville Jaguars in a 41-3 blowout! Unfortunately, I didn't get to watch the Bears game this week so I really can't go into too many specifics, but I'll do the best I can based on the statistics and from the general sports media that I do read.

The Bears are going into their bye week, so I'll start things off with some things that I hope they work on in that time. The first one is the slow start on offense. The score of the game at the end of the first half was 3-3, the final score was 41-3. It shouldn't have taken that long to get rolling against a clearly inferior team. Several others have pointed out that in games where the offense has really gotten going, it hasn't happened until the defense has given us a nice lead with a pick-6. It's nice that the D can do that, but I don't expect them to do that every game. Eventually we're going to play a team that is good enough where the offense is going to have to win it. I'd like to see some evidence that they can do that sooner rather than later.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Silently Suffering

I've had a lot of random thoughts floating around in my head as potential blog topics, but this is the one I've been coming back to for the past couple days.

NaNoWriMo is coming up soon. I wasn't really intending on doing it this year, but then someone mentioned it on Twitter, and now I can't get it out of my head. So, I'm probably going to go for it again this year, but more on that later. That's not what this post is actually about.

No, this post is about something that occured to me while browsing the forums. It's funny, people will create topics for just about anything. There's a forum for 20-somethings, and on the very first day (forums are wiped clean and relaunched every October, to get ready for the event) some kind of war between the ages broke out, and every single age has its own thread now. Another forum is called "Writing Groups and Clubs," where you can seek out other wrimos who are single, or married, or unemployed, or LGBT, or wiccan, or knitters, or on Pottermore, or hockey fans upset about the lockout, or . . . you get the idea.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Chicago Bears: Week 4

Opponent: Cowboys
Location: Away
Outcome: Win
Record: 3-1

Wham Bam, thank you...Romo?