Sunday, August 30, 2009

Really? It Seems These Mr.s Were Wrong

"Computers in the future may weigh no more than 1.5 tons."
--Popular Mechanics, forecasting the relentless march of science, 1949

"I think there is a world market for maybe five computers."
--Thomas Watson, chairman of IBM, 1943

"I have traveled the length and breadth of this country and talked with the best people, and I can assure you that data processing is a fad that won't last out the year."
--The editor in charge of business books for Prentice Hall, 1957

"But what . . . is it good for?"
--Engineer at the Advanced Computing Systems Division of IBM, 1968, commenting on the microchip

"There is no reason anyone would want a computer in their home."
--Ken Olson, president, chairman and founder of Digital Equipment Corp., 1977

Saturday, August 29, 2009

More Little Miss Inspirational Quotes

"Whenever I watch TV and see those poor starving kids all over the world, I can't help but cry. I mean I'd love to be skinny like that, but not with all those flies and death and stuff."

--Mariah Carey

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Really ? I Feel Like Applauding

(On September 17, 1994, Alabama's Heather Whitestone was selected as Miss America 1995..)

Question: If you could live forever,would you and why?

Answer: "I would not live forever, because we should not live forever, because if we were supposed to live forever, then we would live forever, but we cannot live forever, which is why I would not live forever,"

--Miss Alabama in the 1994 Miss USA contest.
Loud applause now.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The Quarantee

Last year I replaced all the windows in my house with those expensive, double-pane, energy-efficient kind. Yesterday, I got a call from the contractor who installed them. He was complaining that the windows had been installed a whole year ago and I hadn't paid for them yet.

I told him just exactly what his fast-talking sales guy had told ME last year, namely, that in just one year these windows would pay for themselves!
"Hellloooooo!" (I told him). "It's been a year!"

There was only silence at the other end of the line, so I finally just hung up...he hasn't called back, probably too embarrassed about forgetting the guarantee they made me.

Bet he won't underestimate my intelligence again.
*side note: after visiting facebook, I know that funny is anonymous stories or jokes like the above. Funny is NOT pictures of you doing stupid, regrettable things that would humiliate your family and future children.I especially loathe "friends" who post pictures of their friends making these youthful errors for all the world to see.
End of my soapbox speech for today.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Which Cover would make you buy it?

These are two of the covers for this excellent fantasy book Jon gave me as a reading gift. It took me a while to get to it but once I did I loved it. I'm not a fan of fantasy and would tend to pass by these 2 covers on the shelf - reject them solely because of their outside jackets and genres. Glad I read and reviewed this one.

“The Name of the Wind”

Patrick Rothfuss is a new fantasy author – and he is fantastic. I do not use this adjective carelessly but intentionally. “The Name of the Wind” is his debut novel and winner of the Quill Award among other prestigious awards for excellence in writing. Rothfuss engages us in a story that feels familiar yet magical. We know that this world has never existed but we believe it did. Characters and props like an inn keeper and his roadside tavern place us comfortably in a well-known setting. We can visualize the ancient wood beams blackened by nightly fires in the hearth. We can smell the musty wool cloak of a traveler as he is refreshed by a pint of bitter ale in a pewter mug. And when the inn keeper tells us he is not what he seems to be, but a hero with hidden magical powers, we believe him.

“I have stolen princesses back from sleeping barrow kings. I burned down the town of Trebon. I have spent the night with Felurian and left with both my sanity and my life. I was expelled from the University at a younger age than most people are allowed in. I tread paths by moonlight that others fear to speak of during day. I have talked to Gods, loved women, and written songs that make minstrels weep,” explains Kvothe, now known as Kote the owner of the Waystone Inn. Kvoth is in hiding with his equally mysterious associate Bast. When Chronicler arrives, Kvothe is persuaded to tell his life story for the writer of legends. He promises to talk for the rest of the day, if Chronicler will not interrupt with questions. And so the tale begins.

Changing from third-person to first person narrative is a very effective style for the reader to understand the main character and his motives. Most epic fantasies are not told through the eyes of only one character but I enjoyed this constricted perspective. The author now takes us to Kvothe’s childhood as the beloved son of a troupe of traveling actors and musicians. He is (according to his own description) a talented mimic and quick to learn dialogue and music. When a mystical conjurer joins their band of travelers, Kvothe is tutored in magic and legends and demonstrates an amazing ability to understand this new art form. Tragic events soon set the young boy on a path of despair and revenge. Since this is the first book of a trilogy we are necessarily left hanging at the end of the day and the end of the book.

Rothfuss is adept at weaving humor and pathos into his fantasy tale. His hero Kvothe is brilliant, but deeply flawed. Consequently his youthful escapades cause us to laugh and despair at the same time. The author confesses to a love of Tolkien, but generally it is a work of fresh and original fantasy fiction from a fantastic new author.

Book Look Review "First Family"

“First Family”

Sean King and Michelle Maxwell team up again in David Baldacci’s latest novel. I reserved it at the library, and only had to wait in line a week before my email message arrived that it was ready and waiting. I love this library service and it has saved me lots of money over the years since I like to read a new hardcover release once in awhile. Amazon has somehow managed to survive without me despite the bad economy. I do purchase books, but I am very choosy about what gets shelf space at my house. Since another book will have to leave, the new book must be deserving of that place. Would “First Family” make the cut?

This book is a good summer read. It’s typical Baldacci with national political intrigue and personal drama. The plot has enough twists and turns to keep you interested all the way along. The main characters are familiar from other books, and the new characters are well sketched. The lovely first lady Jane Cox employs the private investigator team to find her kidnapped niece Willa. The twelve year old has been violently abducted with no apparent motive but Jane tells King and Maxwell she suspects there must be a tie to the presidency. Various branches of government agencies are also hunting for the kidnappers but the first lady has more reason to trust King with his Secret Service background and his past discretion.

The chief villain, Sam Quarry is a sympathetic psychopath descended from a long line of crazy southerners. Quarry has an odd household of characters and a convenient decrepit old plantation available for his base of operations. Baldacci keeps us guessing about Quarry’s motive while giving us insight into his careful plotting and planning. The side story about Michelle Maxwell’s mother’s death and her visit home doesn’t connect with the main plot but it does provide another bit of mystery for the reader and more insight into Michelle’s often odd behavior. It tends to slow the building suspense sometimes and was a bit distracting to me.

Would I buy this book and put it on my shelf? No, but I enjoyed reading it and it was definitely an entertaining novel worth my time if not my money and shelf space. Baldacci continues to be one of my favorite vacation authors, and “First Family” was worth checking out as a new release from the library.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Lake Geneva, Ahhh the lake...

Ahhh, the lake - view from the lake house of Lake Geneva

Haydon prefers the sand box, outside the cold water, or on the bench on the pier again safely out of reach of the splashing of cold lake water.

Dawson and cousin Noah were the swimmers and constructors. They only see each other every couple of years but they enjoy each others company and being at the lake together.

This was Roman's first visit to the lake, and he enjoyed playing with Grandpa on the deck. He also enjoyed walks and playing with cousins - well drooling and watching them play is a more accurate description.

Dawson getting launched by his dad on the Rave. If you have a big lake you should definitely get a Rave which is a trampoline on water and attach this new toy which is a big soft vinyl pillow for launching people up and into the water. I tried it and except for the cold lake water up the nose it is really fun.

Roman enjoyed great-uncle Peter's sermon at Lily Lake Congregational Church on Sunday. We also liked the treat buffet afterwards for the social hour downstairs!

Grandpa and Dawson on the lake path which goes around the entire lake (20 miles)including along the lawns of some very nice homes and mansions which are required to provide public access along the lake. Dawson is our super hiker and went with us in the morning and Uncle Sean all the way to Lake Geneva City in the afternoon. He walked about 10 miles I would guess.

A few pictures of the lake vacation to keep the sweet memories alive. If it wasn't way too far away in Wisconsin, we would go more often. As it is, we cherish the few days we have and thanks to everyone for a great time.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Why I Love my Job

I actually get paid to write about my vacation. Since my readers live in Mapleton and Springville Utah the chances of them actually going to Ontario are pretty slim. Oh well, the Travel Tips column often features my travels which means it has to be about places I visit. I try to add humor to keep 'em reading so enjoy an abbreviated version of some travel in south western Ontario, and who knows you may want to go there now!.

Visiting the Frozen North – Ontario Canada
Coldest Summer Since 1816!

We really did holiday in Ontario during the coldest summer since 1816. That’s something to brag about, eh? Yes, there is more than one province (that’s like a state) in that vast northern country across the border worth visiting and you do need a passport now. We spent a week in southwestern Ontario in a 60 degree cloudy drizzle which is actually unusual for the end of July. Often it is hot and humid but this time is was only humid. We were visiting St. Thomas (home of my Canadian ancestors) and Niagara Falls (very near the home of my Canadian sister).

Starting in St. Thomas, halfway between Detroit and Toronto, the big event is Jumbo Days which eases the Canadian culture shock for the American visitor. Like Art City Days or Strawberry Days here in Utah, Jumbo Days celebrates the only thing this little city is famous for. It’s unfortunately the death of a circus elephant in the 1800’s. There is even a dramatic bigger-than-life sized statue to remind everyone that Jumbo the elephant died on the train tracks nearby. What, you didn’t remember this international tragedy from September 15th, 1885? Barnum and Bailey’s circus came to town and ironically Jumbo crashed with a locomotive from the Grand Trunk Railway following the evening performance. There is also the Railway Museum, but that’s pretty much it. Visit the nearby historic village of Sparta which was originally a Quaker settlement and has maintained many of the early 1800’s buildings including a blacksmith shop and a Quaker Meeting House. My grandparents came from the state of Virginia to farm tobacco in this area since the sandy soil and warm humid climate make it the number one cash crop here. Ninety percent of the tobacco grown in Canada is raised in this area called the tobacco belt. I don’t know whether to brag that I come from the tobacco belt of Canada or the town where Jumbo departed this life.

A few miles down the tobacco country road is Aylmer where you can visit the Mennonite market and sales barn on Tuesdays. There are delicious pies and breads baked in wood stoves and the best cheese in North America. You could also pick up a pig or any other livestock you need but remember no meat can go back across the border and I am talking not even a chicken sandwich folks. On the way back to St. Thomas stop and buy a piece of beautiful pottery at the Pinecroft Gallery and eat lunch at the Green Frog Tearoom. Potters Selma Caverly and Jimmy Clennel started the pottery in 1948 in her father’s log cabin surrounded by 85,000 pine seedlings planted back in 1920. Now a 54 acre forest preserve on a serene pond, offers a peaceful break on a warm afternoon. It also has the historical significance of being the pond where I was baptized, so more family history.

Visiting Port Stanley on the north shore of Lake Erie is another highlight for any Ontario trip. After waiting for the historic King George VI Lift Bridge to go down across the road (once every hour for tall sailboats), head to a great sandy beach. There are actually two beaches at Port as we call it. They are creatively named Little Beach and Main Beach. Little beach is the small beach and Main beach is the main beach. Canadians like to keep things clear and simple for American tourists. Ask any Mountie in a red coat on his horse and he can give you directions to the beach but don’t park illegally because remember they always get their man. Ok, the harbour (that’s how it’s spelled in Canadian) is charming and the shallow waves are refreshing, but the most important part of your day is eating home style fries in front of Mackie’s restaurant on the sand. Mackie’s has been on the beach since 1911 and still has the bright royal blue paint with orangeade trim so you can find it every year. Their fries have the best sauce in the world. Forget about that catsup/mayo combo, this sweet tangy fry sauce is fabulous. I’m pretty sure the secret ingredient is a little of their famous orangeade but I cannot find their top secret recipe anywhere online. Mackie’s Orangeade and fries in a big paper cup, brings back those good old days at the beach.

Our excursion to Niagara Falls was this year’s big day trip. In Ontario the natives call it daytripping. You need to be able to speak the language so I am just helping you out. Remember too that everything is in English and French since there are two official languages in Canada which is extra helpful if you happen to speak French. Magnificent Niagara Falls is the most famous tourist attraction in Ontario, after the Jumbo statue of course. It’s true that the Canadian side is better where you have the best view of the huge Horseshoe Falls, which are shaped like a horseshoe. On the American side there are two sets of falls. Bridal Veil Falls which are shaped like a bridal veil, and American Falls which are not shaped like an American. The falls were formed when glaciers receded during the last ice age and carved out a path to the Atlantic Ocean leaving the Great Lakes and Niagara Falls behind. It is the most powerful waterfall in North America and the second largest in the world. With 6 million cubic feet roaring downward each minute over the crest it makes the falls a tourist attraction and a great source of hydroelectric power. You too can learn these facts in the very loud, very large, IMAX theater presentation: “The Falls Movie: Legends and Daredevils”. Apparently only 16 people challenged the falls, 11 have walked across on a tightrope and 22 have gone down the rapids on purpose in barrels. The first person to climb into a barrel and plunge over the falls and live to tell about it was a 63 year old school teacher named Annie Taylor. Why in the world… Seven year old Roger Woodward didn’t go over the falls on purpose wearing only a life jacket but he also survived. Parents, here is a useful bit of advice, watch your kids by the falls. I’m not sure why Niagara Falls also became the honeymoon destination or how romance could possibly tie into daredevil behavior, the generation of electrical power or the wonders of nature, but it’s still one of the top hunnymoon spots.

After Niagara we drove to a section of the Saint Lawrence Seaway Canal and watched a huge Ocean Going Vessel being piloted through the narrow locks. Completed in 1959, the passageway between the Atlantic Ocean and Lake Superior is more than 2,000 miles long and includes 15 locks to compensate for the change in levels between the sea and the Great Lakes. We watched the metal doors of the lock close and heard torrents of water being pumped in from below as the huge tanker rose 90 feet in just minutes. We also listened to the sides of the ship scrape painfully up the sides of the metal walls of the lock as it rose. Honestly, it was amazing to witness man’s engineering ingenuity conquer a problem of geography. That ship will definitely need some new red paint along the stern when it gets to port.

Southwestern Ontario is just across the border from Michigan, or you can cross at the Rainbow Bridge by the falls through New York. It’s more than a few climate zones away, more Old Anglo than the rest of Canada and a unique place to visit in the summer. I’m sure my family would love to have you come and stay with them for next year’s Jumbo Days or take you daytripping to the falls.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Cookin' & Singin' In the Rain

My brother Steve puts his golf umbrella to use while barbecuing in a downpour and notice no one is swimming in the pool

Some rainy weather at Lake Geneva not so great for boating

Raining in Niagara Falls, the observation tower not very useful on this day but we did have fun closer up at the edge of the falls where mist and rain combined

Did I mention we had a lot of rain on our summer vacation?

Friday, August 7, 2009

Book Review "Finger Lickin' Fifteen" not so finger lickin' good

Book Look

“Finger Lickin’ Fifteen” A Stephanie Plum Mystery

The newest Stephanie Plum mystery by Janet Evanovich is a little better than some and a little worse than others in this now very long series. It has a solid place on the best seller lists for summer reading. I read Fifteen up at Lake Geneva in Wisconsin - just down the shore from Margy Layton whose family also has a summer home on this wonderful lake – small world! The lake house book shelves are filled with classic literature. Well, ok that’s a stretch unless you consider novels by Evanovich, Dick Francis, and Clive Cussler to be classics. But on vacation, one must read a little each day to vacate the mind and “Finger Lickin’ Fifteen” was a great little vacuum. My brain was suctioned so vacation vacant that it took until the end to figure out that there was a fifteen in the title because it’s the fifteenth book in the series, not because someone had fifteen fingers.

Stephanie Plum is a feisty half Italian, half Hungarian bail bondsman from New Jersey who bumbles her way to success. In this installment she is solving the murder of the rib sauce king while bringing in her usual criminals who skip their court appearances. When Lulu, the too-large-for spandex secretary witnesses a murder, the fun begins. Somehow she involves Stephanie, despite her apartment being destroyed (again) and wrecking her car (again) and not one but two Porches belonging to Ranger. The killers are actually more bumbling than her crazy team, which is hard to accomplish. Thanks to a hilarious supporting continuing cast which stars Grandma Mazur and Lula they bring in the crooks. Oh, did I spoil the ending for you? Since Ms. Plum always gets her man you shouldn’t be surprised.

There is a strong language caution here and Grandma Mazur is not at all like my grandmother. She is a little too entertained by the neighborhood flasher and tends to make me cringe a little with her conversations and observations. Fifteen is a stand-alone but again would be difficult to read without a couple of previous books in the series to explain the characters and their relationships to each other.

I bet Margy read something way more classic down the lake at Rainbow Point. I bet she actually improved her mind while up at Lake Geneva. I sure hope not, since she’s already way ahead in the well-read race and now I’ll have to read the Iliad, just to catch up with her before next summer.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

House of Miracles Before & After Last Photos

To see the pictures bigger, just click on the image

This is my last blog about the House - now known as the House of Miracles thanks to all those that "flipped" it so fast and so well that the first people through it bought it. And for the price we were hoping for. Truly, our family has been blessed.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Niagara Falls

Mom and Dad and us at Niagara Falls. It's true the Canadian side is better. It's also true we did a lot of vacationing this summer. Hawaii for 2 weeks, home for 1, and 2 weeks Chicago,the lake and Canada. I have a million pictures of course but here a couple of the rainy cold July week in Ontario - also known as summer in Canada.