Thursday, January 31, 2013

January Reading

Wow, feels like it's been SO LONG since the last one of these. I mean, I know I did my December update early, but still. Anyway, here's a quick overview of what I've been reading since last time:

City of Dark Magic, by Magnus Flyte (2 stars)
Cold Vengeance, by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child (3 stars)
Two Graves, by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child (3 stars)
The Blood Gospel, by James Rollins and Rebecca Cantrell (4 stars)
The Boleyn Inheritance, by Philippa Gregory (4 stars)
Safe Haven, by Nicholas Sparks (3 stars)
The Roswell Conspiracy, by Boyd Morrison (4 stars)
All About Lulu, by Jonathan Evison (3 stars)
Spiral, by Paul McEuen (3 stars)
The Time Keeper, by Mitch Albom (2 stars)
Innocent Traitor, by Alison Weir (4 stars)

I also did a re-read of Preston and Child's Fever Dream (4 stars) before reading their next two. In addition, there were several books this month that I started but gave up on: Fortuna, by Michael R. Stevens; The Inner Circle, by Brad Meltzer; and Diary, by Chuck Palahniuk.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

I'm a Princess!

So, thanks to some bloggery discussion about same names and emails and cases of mistaken identity, I was thanking my lucky stars that I used my first and middle name for my main email address (mainly because I was getting married less than a year from the time I set it up so I used the parts of my name that wouldn't change). Combine that with the fact that both my first and middle name are fairly uncommon on their own, let alone together, and I've seen variants on the spelling for each, the chances of someone having my exact combination of names is pretty unlikely. (Though unfortunately that DOES take away a certain level of anonymity, despite the fact that I hardly ever use my last name online. But I digress.)

Just for fun, I decided to do a search . . . and come to find out that there IS a rather FAMOUS woman who shares my (sort-of) first name and middle name.

Meet the "other" Charlene Lynette, Princess of Monaco.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Random Happy Fun Time!

Well, it will be random. Not totally sure about the happy. Probably not fun at all. But you know they say that you're supposed to use attention-grabbing titles to suck your readers in, so I thought I'd give it a shot. I think I'm doing it wrong.

Anyway, haven't blogged in a while. Aside from over the holidays (which was a planned absence) I think this is the longest I've gone without writing something in months. It's kind of weird. Not that much has been happening worth writing about, but when has that ever stopped me in the past?

I read The Blood Gospel -- you know, that book that I'd been gushing about before the new year? I was going to write a review . . . and then I didn't. (It was really good though.)

I got hooked on Words with Friends and Hanging with Friends.

I've been meaning to crochet myself a scarf and haven't gotten around to it.

Went for a girls' night out on Friday. It was fun, AND I actually dressed up-ish. Which, as you know, is a big deal for me.

Umm . . .

Oh, and then it got really cold.

Yeah, that pretty much sums up my last couple weeks. I really need to live a more exciting life so I have something to write about. Or, failing that, have more interesting thoughts. My brain has sort of been on strike lately.

So, yeah, kind of a pointless post, but I felt bad about the radio silence, and didn't want it to turn into another three-month hiatus. Next time I'll try to be more interesting.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

The Hunt for a New Head Coach

I know a lot of people either loved or hated the decision to let Lovie Smith go as the head coach of the Chicago Bears. I have to say, I'm firmly in neither camp. I'm kind of indifferent to it. I thought he was a decent coach. I agreed with how the blame fell last year on the GM and having the stipulation that Lovie remain this year. The fact that the players loved playing for him says volumes. So, did I hate having Lovie Smith as the Bears' coach? Heck no!

That said, I understand the people who wanted him gone. I think Phil Emery made a very logical decision and did a good job of separating emotion from the choice. He simply looked at the facts. During Lovie's time here, we've had stellar defenses under several different coordinators. We went to the playoffs 3 times and the Super bowl once. While Mike Sherman and Brett Favre were in Green Bay, Lovie had something like a 7-3 record against them. However, once Mike McCarthy and Aaron Rodgers were there, Lovie has had only 1 or 2 wins. We started the season 7-1 and ended the season 3-5. We've failed to make the playoffs 5 of the last 6 years. In a league where the rules currently favor the offense, perhaps the most telling stat is that in 9 years the highest the offense has ranked is 15/32. The second highest rank was 23/32. This was Lovie's Achilles heel. He was unable to hire an effective offensive coordinator and draft enough pieces for the offense to work with, most notably the offensive line.

Based on the 54 minute Q&A he gave, I think Phil Emery has a really good head on his shoulders and wants to do what he needs to do for the Bears to succeed. He's being extremely thorough in his search for a head coach. Depending on how shrewd he is, he may also be using the interviews to pick the brains of some of the best offensive coordinators in the league regardless of if he thinks he's going to hire them as the new head coach. Right now, I'm being optimistic in hoping that Dave Toub and Rod Marinelli are going to be retained as the respective special teams coach and defensive coordinator. If those two stay and we get a head coach who can jump start the talent that exists on our sputtering offense, I'm excited about the direction the Bears will take in the future.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

First Time on the Slopes

Today, I tried skiing for the first time. Actually last week was my first time on skis, but I don't really count that. I got through part of a beginner lesson; the instructor went over how to put the skis on, how to take them off, proper stance and pole position, and how to do a controlled "snowplow" down the hill. Halfway down our first hill, I felt sick and nearly passed out, for reasons which I still can't quite explain. It was probably a combination of factors. At any rate, the resort was nice enough to give me a rain check so I could come back and try again (not a big deal since we live ten minutes away). Which I did today. And, well . . . I spent a lot of time looking like this.

My pride.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Chicago Bears: Week 17

Opponent: Detroit Lions
Location: Away
Outcome: Win
Record: 10-6 (3-3)

11-5 (5-1) Green Bay Packers
10-6 (4-2) Minnesota Vikings
4-12 (0-6) Detroit Lions

Note: I actually wrote this about a week ago...I just kept forgetting to post it.

Again, Charleen and I were still out of town and with New Years, writing this post hasn't been high on my priority list. Happy New Year everyone! Anyway, the Bears needed a win against Detroit coupled with a Vikings loss to get into the playoffs. The Bears did their part, but unfortunately the Vikings did what they needed to get themselves into the playoffs. Congrats to them, they played a good game against Green Bay. Anyway, back to the Bears game.

Friday, January 4, 2013

New Year's Reflections

(The first half of this post is rather melancholy. The second half picks up a bit. Feel free to skip ahead if soul searching isn't your thing.)

I've never really been big on New Year's Resolutions. It's a lot of pressure, is the main thing I don't like about it. Some people make one or two BIG resolutions, and then it's an equally big let down if you feel at the end of the year that you didn't measure up. Some people make LONG lists of resolutions -- some big, some small -- and in some ways I like this better because these goals tend to be more achievable overall, but at the same time it's a lot to keep track of, and unless you're constantly referring to your list of goals, you might get to the end of the year and realize you've completely ignored your list just because you forgot all the minute details.

Still, I can't help but being reflective around New Year's. No matter how much I tell myself that positive changes should be made whenever you feel like it, that January 1st is an arbitrary date to wipe the slate clean and start over, that we're all constantly evolving . . . it's still hard. It just seems natural to think about where I was last year at this time, or two years ago, or three, and then feel the push to create some goals, to make this year meaningful, so it doesn't just slip by like all the rest.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Happy New Year!

Today we got home from spending a week and a half with our friends and family in the Chicago area. It was a long trip. It was a good trip (once I got over my stubborn cold). But it is good to be home.

I don't think it's worth it to do a full recounting of our visit, but to sum it up, we stayed pretty busy. I think there might have been ONE day that we didn't have some kind of plans. In fact, despite a few down periods where we could just relax, I think we both came away from this trip feeling like we need a vacation from our vacation. Unfortunately, we only had a few hours tonight to veg out. Pat goes back to work tomorrow, and I'm getting up early to drive him and then run a bunch of errands to help get caught up.

On the topic of catching up, there are 130 unread blog posts in my reader. I haven't read or commented on anything the whole time we've been away.

Anyway . . . short post tonight, but that's about all I've got in me for now.