Thursday, August 20, 2009

Hopefully the other book is much better

I have two sad things to report. The first is that I cannot be trusted with a book, and the second is that the "sequel to Pride and Prejudice" is hardly worth reading.

I spent most of today reading the book. I kept telling myself "just one chapter while my coffee brews" "just one chapter while Z is napping" "just one chapter during lunch" then I gave up justifying single chapters and told myself I'd be better off if I just finished the thing and was done with it. So I haven't gotten my chores done yet for today, which is particularly frustrating because I'm much more motivated to work in the morning, and now that it's afternoon (on a gloomy, cloudy day to boot) I'm having trouble getting anything done.

As for the book itself, it was hardly enjoyable. As per my previous post, it is not the same Elizabeth that Jane Austen conceived. Secondly, the book is far too short. For all the misunderstandings that took place, there was no reconciliation! Darcy and Elizabeth become estranged, I found myself frustrated and agitated at all the characters' (Lady Catherine, Miss Bingley, Mrs. Bennet, and others) terrible behavior, and then BOOM! they're back together, all's well, and it's the end of the book! I'm still irritated. I suppose we're supposed to imagine a fantastic reconciliation between Darcy and Elizabeth, but I'm still agitated.

If you DO decide to read this particular book (though I don't recommend it), be warned that it is not the enjoyable diversion that Jane Austen's work is!

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Elizabeth Bennet

Have you read Pride and Prejudice or at least seen the movie? If not, you probably won't be able to answer my question. If you HAVE, then please read on.

Can you imagine Elizabeth Bennet (married to Mr. Darcy) afraid to ask Mr. Darcy for something, then crying with joy when he readily grants it?

No, I can't either. That's just not her personality. But so begins the sequel to Pride and Prejudice. Here are the particular passages:

"But she [Elizabeth] disliked, if the truth were to be told, to be beholden to anyone, especially Mr. Darcy, for he had already given her so much that she was embarrassed to thank him further. [...] Mr. Darcy was generous in his love as well as in his gifts; and the more he showered on his wife, the less she felt able to ask for further kindnesses."

[She then asks if her mother and sister might come to Pemberely for Christmas]

"Mr. Darcy, as she had known he would be, was geniality itself. [...] Elizabeth went into Mr. Darcy's arms and nearly wept at the ease with which all this had been accomplished."

What do you think? I don't think that sounds like Elizabeth. So I will stop thinking of her as the same Elizabeth Bennet and enjoy the book anyway!

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Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The Experiment

Three things happened recently (they always come in threes, don't they?) that made me realize how much I miss reading. The first thing was when DH asked me to read a book about leadership. I found it rather frustrating as it was full of cliches and examples that I didn't understand. Perhaps if I were a business professional I wouldn't have minded the cliches, and if I were more familiar with everything and everyone in the world I would have understood the examples (the author used "real-life" people in his examples to make a point. The problem was that I didn't recognize the names and he didn't explain the example), but as someone who enjoys fiction (or historical fiction at best), I got very little enjoyment out of the book.

The second thing that happened was when a friend asked if I wanted to borrow a book she had recently finished. I declined, saying that I don't make time to read anymore. I didn't want the book to sit on my shelf, unread, when I knew another friend wanted to read it. It made me sad to turn down a book.

The third thing was a blog post by a friend who recently got a job working at Borders. She says, " I was having a hard enough time keeping up with the books I knew about; now I discover there is a whole world of books I DIDN'T EVEN KNOW EXISTED that I also want to read!" And I realized how much I miss reading.

I used to read all the time, and haven't been reading much since I quit working and starting staying home full time. While I was working, I would read during my lunch break. I took a 30 minute lunch break so as to be able to get off sooner, and I only read during that break. Thirty glorious minutes to lose myself completely in a different world. Once I started staying home full time, I found that without the 30 minute constraint, I would neglect everything else (okay, except for the baby) to read until I'd finish the book. Or if I tried to limit myself to just reading in the evening before bed, I couldn't sleep because my mind was racing. It just didn't work. And so I stopped reading.

But, like that fateful cup of coffee the other morning, I've succumbed to temptation. DH worked at home today, so while Z was napping, I snuck off to the library (I didn't really sneak out, DH knew I was leaving). I picked up two books: Pemberley by Emma Tennant (a sequel to Pride and Prejudice!!!) and Welcome to the World, Baby Girl by Fannie Flagg (author of Fried Green Tomatoes..., the movie version of which we recently watched). I'm really looking forward to both of them, but I have to learn to read in moderation so I can still keep bellies full and the house in a reasonable state of cleanliness. So it's an experiment. If I do well, I get to check out more books, or maybe even spend some Borders gift cards I've got in my wallet. The books are due Sept. 9 (Z's 2nd birthday!), so hopefully I'll be giving you an update around that time. If I'm not ignoring this blog and everything else while voraciously devouring books.

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Monday, August 17, 2009


I have written so many blog posts in my head, but I haven't been taking the time to sit on the computer to type them up. Or, when I DO get a chance to sit on the computer for a while, I can't remember what I wanted to write about! So here's a catch-up, rather random, whatever-occurs-to-me sort of thing.

I'm back on coffee, after 6 months of being coffee-free. But I'm not drinking full-strength caffeine: of the three scoops I put in the machine, two are decaf. So that's not so bad, right? (I'm just not going to tell Mary Anne...)

Julie is taking DH and me to dinner on Saturday. She asked for suggestions, then rejected everything DH brought up saying they weren't fancy enough (!). We decided we couldn't bring Z along to such a fancy restaurant. The plan is to wear an outfit such that it's very obvious it's a pregnant belly, not just a fat one, and let that start the conversation, then we'll have a couple pictures of Z on hand to show her. She'll get to meet him the following week at the shindig she's hosting at her house for all of her labrats employees for all of the people who work in her lab.

Z climbed out of his crib again the other day. I heard the sound of legos as I walked past his room, so I looked under the door and saw cute little feet running around. But that was several days ago and he hasn't done it since. We have security measures in place to keep him contained to the upstairs if he does crawl out again though (gate at the top of the stairs, gate across the computer room, and doorknob covers on the bathroom doors and my closet). These security measures also make it possible for me to get housework done upstairs when he's awake.

DH keeps asking me what I think of the three possible job locations: Huntsville, Sylmar, and Mountain View. Problem is that I don't see the point of spending any more energy on the question than we've already spent until we get some offer letters. Why get all excited about a location, just to be disappointed by an inadequate offer letter? Or get a better offer for a different location? We already got all excited about one location, and then not a single company applied to returned the interest, so that location isn't even in the running. I only have so much energy these days, so I have to prioritize what I want to spend it on.

Which brings us back to the coffee. For some people, coffee (caffeine) keeps them awake. For others, it doesn't have much of an effect (DH claims he's one of these, though I beg to differ). For me, it energizes me. Case in point: a few days ago, while DH was off in CA for an interview, Z and I had McD's for dinner. I had a large sweet tea. I refilled the cup before we left. At 10 o'clock at night I found myself enthusiastically folding laundry and putting away clothes, after having cleaned the kitchen till it sparkled and scrubbed our bathroom till it shone. I didn't fall asleep until closer to midnight that night. (At first I thought it was the famous nesting instinct, which had me washing baby clothes at 6 am one morning while pregnant with Z, but then I remembered the sweet tea.) So the next morning I made coffee (2/3 decaf 1/3 reg) and vacuumed the downstairs, scrubbed the kitchen floor, and cleaned the other two bathrooms. And so I've decided it's not worth forgoing my beloved coffee in the morning anymore. The baby has developed past the critical stage where caffeine is scariest, and I'm actually getting my chores done these days.

Speaking of the baby, we've come to a naming impasse. One of us would like to name him Patrick. The other would like to name him Daniel. Neither of us seems willing to budge. (Actually I think a compromise would be acceptable, but nothing worthy has presented itself). The funny thing is that the person who likes Patrick (person A), hated it when we were expecting Z. It was actually person B's favorite name, but A talked B out of it. Now that we're expecting our second one, A has decided that Patrick isn't really so bad after all. But B was talked out of it so completely that B doesn't like it at all now. Besides, B claims that it "feels wrong for this baby" while Daniel "feels right". So we're stuck. I'm thinking of emailing the question to friends and family and getting their input, without identifying which one of us prefers which name. What's preventing me, however, is the fear of negative (as in, trying-to-talk-us-out-of-the-name) comments about the name I like. So I haven't done it yet.

We've pretty much decided on a middle name (I think), but are keeping quiet about it to most people, because SOMETHING has to be a surprise when he's born!

When I picked Z up from the church nursery last week (not yesterday, but the week before), the kids were being watched by two older gentlemen. One of them apologized for not knowing how to use cloth diapers and that the "fancy diaper job" I'd find was his. I'm used to people not knowing what to do. I should probably invest in some all-in-ones for this next baby. Anyway, after we got home and it was time for a diaper change, I found Z in a disposable diaper with the diaper cover over it. (The diaper cover is waterproof, since moisture would just soak through the cloth diapers into the clothing without a cover.) The guy wasn't kidding when he said he didn't know what he was doing! But I didn't think of it again until yesterday at church. The same guy apologized again and told me that he owed me for a cloth diaper. Turns out, he had thrown the cloth diaper away! In the trash! Cloth! As if it were disposable! (THIS is why there should always be a woman in the nursery! Or at least a competent father) I didn't really know what to say. I hadn't noticed because I don't count my diapers (why would I need to?). Fortunately he didn't throw the cover away! Those covers are at least $10 each. The diaper cost a little more than $2, but you can't get just one, and you have to get them online, which means you have to pay for shipping, and I don't really expect him to pay me back. Just one of the risks of using cloth in a disposable world I guess!

Remember that guy who came into our church one day and got my address? Well it didn't stop after just one letter. He called the church office asking for my phone number (they didn't give it to him, thankfully), and he's sent me three letters since (none of them with adequate postage. I should take them to the post office and ask about that...). I was considering writing back to him and asking him to stop sending invitations to me, but I haven't decided if it's worth the stamp.

DH has new laptop fever. We currently have one desktop computer (which is technically "mine") and one laptop (which was supposed to be "ours" but turned into "his" because he takes it to school). The laptop has a 17" widescreen and is rather heavy (it's like a portable desktop). Now that he's looking at a new job that will not require and may even prohibit using his personal computer for work, he's ready to get rid of the behemoth and get something smaller, lighter, and with a longer battery life. So we've been to Office Depot and Best Buy looking at the computers on display. We've configured laptops many times over on the Dell and HP websites. We've scoured the web for what good deals are coming up. I think he knows we can't afford to get one for at least a little while, but now that he's gotten started, he can't stop thinking about it. He thinks we might switch computers - the desktop would become his so he can do his programming on the 20" widescreen and I would get the small, light, portable laptop so I can keep up with whatever computer work I have without having to wait for naptime. It sounds like a good plan. But the desktop was never really "mine" after we moved here, and I know the new laptop wouldn't stay "mine" either. What bothers me about sharing a computer is that we have different organization styles, and he likes to install programs, which leaves me with a cluttered computer full of programs I don't use. We'll see. We probably do need to downsize the laptop. The thing is too hot and heavy to use on your lap, and if we sell it now we might get as much as $500 for it. I think if we DO get a small laptop, and we DO "switch" computers, I'll create two accounts on "my" laptop: one for me and one for him, so at least he can't clutter up my half.

My Mary Kay representative got herself promoted to a Directorship position, so she's giving free facials to all her current customers. I'm kindof excited! She'd love for me to bring a guest or two, and is offering free stuff for doing so. I've asked a couple friends if they'd be interested, but I'm not really sure they would be. We'll see.

Yesterday was our 6-year anniversary. How did we celebrate it? We played board games all weekend and then went over to a friends house for BBQ/bible study last night. We have a gift certificate for a restaurant ($25 gift certificate that I paid $2 for at, but we haven't felt motivated to use it. Is that weird? (yes, it's weird). Thing is, we went out for DH's birthday (8/10), DH ate out almost the whole time he was in CA for interviews, Z and I ate out a couple times while he was gone (although he ate at sushi and mexican restaurants and we had fast food. Not the same category of "eating out" in my book!), and then Julie's taking us out on Saturday and hosting everyone the following week, and we couldn't pass up bible study because getting together with our friends is so much fun and we don't have that many more opportunities since we're moving soon, and so we haven't felt like using up this fantastic gift certificate! It's rather funny, actually. It's good for a while yet, so maybe we'll use it when we're getting ready to move and don't want to buy any more groceries. Or maybe to celebrate getting/accepting an offer letter.

Well, this has probably turned into a long enough post to make up for my lack of recent posts. And I'm hungry. Time for a snack. Haha, you should hear Z say "snack"! He only says the first part: "sna", and he makes it so nasal, it's hilarious! He even scrunches up his nose while he says it. His vocabulary is exploding, by the way. He's adding new words every day, and just gobbles up the time I spend to teach him something new. The other day we went over the facial features: eyes, ears, nose, and mouth, over and over and over and over. Good fun. My favorite new one recently is "chee", as in "change". It means "I need a diaper change". I love that he's aware and comes TO me now!

Okay, I'm really done now :)

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Thursday, August 6, 2009

Health Insurance

Since DH is graduating this month, his health insurance will be ending. Even though it's been paid for through the end of the month, the school is cutting it off next week, because he's technically no longer a student next week (his advisor isn't very happy about THAT, since she's the one who paid for it). So we've applied to add him to my policy.

I've had this policy since Nov. 2007, so almost 2 years. They called me today with some "medical questions from the underwriters" - questions about MY medical history, even though I've been on this policy for almost 2 years now! They were asking about 2 prescriptions I had had filled in July 2006. July 2006? That's THREE years ago! One prescription was for Valium when I had Lasik surgery, so they weren't worried about that one. The other was for a drug that's often prescriped for psychosis. I didn't know that at the time it was prescribed for me. I had been suffering from chronic headaches and finally went in to see a doctor. He immediately prescribed this nasty stuff. I took it for about three days. It made me dizzy and uncomfortable, so I threw the rest out. I've never taken it since, and I've never gone back to that doctor. (What kind of doctor prescribes medication like that to someone in her twenties FIRST THING anyway??) Two months later, a chiropractor solved my chronic headache problem without drugs. I haven't had chronic headaches like that since, but the nurse on the phone wanted to know: How long had I been having the headaches before the medication was prescribed? What is the dose of my medication now? How frequent are my headaches now? Have I ever been hospitalized for headaches? Etc.

What I don't understand is why they're asking these questions NOW. The headache problem has been gone for almost three years now, I've been on the policy for almost 2, how is this information relevant? I could understand if I were applying for a new policy, but I wasn't. As a matter of fact, the application is for MY HUSBAND. They didn't ask me a single question about his medical history.

I figure that they're going to totally mess up my policy. They may or may not add DH, but they'll drop Z (because he wasn't listed on the application because, again, it was simply an application to ADD SOMEONE), and they'll raise the premiums because of this "pre-existing headache condition". If they do, I'll call and complain, and then drop the policy as soon as the health insurance from DH's new employer kicks in. They'll think I'm dropping it because I'm dissatisfied with their service, and while I would be, they don't have to know that's not the reason I'm dropping it.

(Before I publish this though, I want to add that I would MUCH RATHER go through this than be on Obama's health care plan. A bureaucrat may decide whether to insure me or not, but I don't want bureaucrats deciding whether to approve a procedure or medication for me, thank-you-very-much.)

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Wednesday, August 5, 2009

"Update" sounds like such a good thing!

I updated my iPhone OS to version 3.0 last month and have had all manner of trouble ever since. I wish I hadn't updated!! Why don't companies release an OS version that's all ready to go instead of one that's full of bugs? I'm really frustrated.

The problems:
  • The update removed the restrictions I had installed to prevent the phone from connecting to the data network, since we weren't paying for the data service. This resulted in $200 worth of data downloads before I realized what was happening and reinstalled the restrictions.
  • OS 3.0 causes overheating problems. Result: loss of battery life. I can barely get through an entire day without needing to recharge.
  • Whether it's the overheating or something else, iTunes cannot read the information on my phone, which means I can't sync with my computer, which means I have no backup of the info on my phone.
  • Last time I tried to sync, iTunes removed all the music off my phone. It's still on my computer, but I no longer have music on my phone (although the memory indicators show that the music files are still taking up space on my computer.)
  • Starting this morning, my phone does not ring when someone calls it. I don't know I've received a call until the notification of new voicemail comes through. And the phone does not show that I've missed a call.
DH left for CA this afternoon (interview) and Z went down for a nap (though he's not sleeping, little booger). I decided it would be a good time to try to fix some of these problems. I stopped when I was referred to this website. Like I'm going to try to figure out what it's saying while my computer-guru husband is 2,000 miles away!! So I'm just going to make-do until hubby gets home.

On a positive note, I called AT&T Wireless Customer Service regarding the $200 worth of data downloads. I applied a combination of the "polite persistence" technique and the "playing dumb" technique and talked the bill down to $30. (What she did was sign me up for the data plan at $15/month and back-dated it to include the data usage from last month, so it's $15 for last month, $15 for this month, and it'll be $15 for each month forward unless we remove the service. Since this month is paid for, we'll keep it on and decide what to do later.) I was actually quite impressed with the quality of the customer service. She even admitted when she didn't know the answer to a question! ("So how do you know," I asked, "whether it was really my phone downloading the data?" They have no way of knowing. I could have claimed it wasn't my phone.)

Well, that boy is refusing to sleep and sounding like he'll cry himself hoarse, so I guess I better get up and go get him. Sigh. I was looking forward to a couple of hours to myself this afternoon. Oh well!

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