Sunday Salon - Random shots across the bow


Life sometimes seems like a never ending staircase.  You either walk, run, or take two at a time up the stairs, reach a landing, remember something you forgot, turn around and go back down or forge ahead and continue upward.  Or you sit down on the landing, rest awhile and enjoy a moment.   

Did you know the Washington Memorial has 898 steps, 50 landings and 193 stone memorial tablets dating from 1849.  And one face of the cap of the Memorial truly does say "Laus Deo".   The Eiffel Tower has 719 steps to reach the 2nd level.  There are 86 flights of stairs with a total of 1576 steps in the Empire State Building.  We walked a few of those flights. 

Innocuous facts you would think, but we are in the midst of studying George Washington and get carried off on side trips by an inquisitive young boy mind.  You never really know where that mind is going to take you and we have discovered some interesting and not so interesting things.   4th grade is proceeding slowly but surely. James is finally getting math and we are both loving Saxon.  Well I am since it is scripted and each lesson builds on the next, so the repetition is working. 

I tried a new schedule this year going six or seven weeks on and one week off and we are all tired.   But I forget, February seems to be that time of year when lessons bog down.  However, since we school year round, we are switching back to three weeks on and one week off.   Both Father and I agree that we need that week to regroup and recharge, work on projects and assess where we are.   We'll still end about the same time in the middle of July and have time off before we start all over again with the 5th grade in September.   We've decided to continue homeschooling through the rest of the elementary grades.  I just hope that by the time James is ready for Junior High or middle school or whatever they are calling it when he hits 7th grade,  that we are in an area with a great school.  

Yes, I would like to move but haven't the foggiest idea where. Right now we are tied to Northern California because that is where our business is.   Father is building a new business manufacturing amplifiers and when that finally gets off the ground, it may be possible to move.  Father has lived in California all his life, while me the military brat, lived in several different states.   Most of my family has left California for Arizona and Texas, but all of Father's family is in the Bay Area.  I hated the bay area when we lived there and it was mainly because of the kids and bullying in school.  Yes, I was bullied, so I don't have to many fond memories of the area.  

Speaking of business, I have talked Father into doing a weekly blog talking about everything from tubes to tone to recording to his old job of process control engineering.  He is in the process of writing up a few posts and I will be managing the blog.  He is also the Chairman of the Sacramento Audio Engineering Society and I'm taking over the management of their forum as well.  Father and I are pretty much a unit and work together on everything.  When he became Chairman, I told him this was his baby and I tried to stay out of it.  Hah!  I took the plunge last night and offered to take over managing the forum.   I'll be handling the blog and forum on my work days from the shop since it is business related.   So, ladies and gents - if you or any of your significant others are into audio and love discussing tubes, tone, electronics, music, recording, songwriting, designing electronics, etc. etc. etc., then let them know about the blog and the AES.   I'll be going live with the blog and forum in the next few days and getting him involved in Twitter.

The next couple weeks are going to be busy with a Project Paper to write for my Art History Class due on February 7th,  then the final which will include multiple choice and a couple essays.  I've really enjoyed the class because we've been studying ancient Greek and roman history.   Which made a couple books I read "The Last Ember" and "The Forgotten Legion" very interesting, since they both referred to things I learned.   Created some "wow" moments.    Plus the annual  Blue and Gold Dinner is coming up for cub scouts and we are working on the final items James needs to get his Webelos badge.  

I would unplug but last week's unplugged week was a dismal failure.   You would think we would have gotten so much more done but we didn't.  I have a very clean house though.  Lessons ended up taking longer since we spread them out throughout the day instead of starting right after lunch and working straight through.   I seemed to have less patience than usual as well.     It seems I work better when we both have our technology time.   One hour for James on the internet means mom has one hour to write.  One hour on the Wii, means mom has one hour to do the treadmill.  One hour on the DS means mom has one hour to.....    Hmmm!

Managed to write all of about 500 words on my WIP Eyes in the Ashes.   Father is patiently waiting for me to finish the story, because he really enjoyed reading the first part of it.   Also the characters from my other WIP's Winter's Illusion and Floating on the Surface started popping up in my thoughts as well and giving me ideas for edit their storylines.   Is it possible to work on more than one novel and keep them all straight without going bonkers?

The Sunday Salon.comBooks!  Did you say books?  Isn't the Sunday Salon supposed to be about books you ask?  Well, yes now that you mention it.    I read 17 books for the month of January and managed to review two of them. 

  1. Poetics - Aristotle
  2. Boomerang - Alan Hutcheson (e-Book)
  3. Dune - Frank Herbert 
  4. Definitely Dead - Charlaine Harris
  5. All Together Dead - Charlaine Harris
  6. From Dead to Worse - Charlaine Harris 
  7. Kill for Me - Karen Rose
  8. The Mists of Avalon - Marian Zimmer Bradley
  9. Promise Me- Harlan Coben 
  10. The Last Surgeon - Michael Palmer (review book)
  11. The Forgotten Legion - Ben Kane (review book)
  12. The Demolished Man - Alfred Bester
  13. A Ship Possessed - Alton Gansky
  14. Forbidden Falls - Robyn Carr
  15. Soul Catcher - Leah Bridger
  16. The Last Ember - Daniel Levin (review book)
  17. Cowboy Trouble  - Joanne Kennedy (review book)
I'm currently having a giveaway of The Last Surgeon by Michael Palmer and he will be personally autographing the book, so enter to win.   

Be sure to check out Benjamin Kane's The Forgotten Legion Book tour.   The stops are in my sidebar and he'll be visiting my blog on February 16th.    Excellent, excellent book - I thoroughly enjoyed it. 

Week 5 of 52 books in 52 weeks is all about E - reading eclectically

Last week I discovered some great author and group blogs geared toward science fiction and put them in the sidebar at Mind Voyages.  Among others,  I found The Way the Future Blogs by Frederik Pohl and he has some very interesting posts, reminiscing about his childhood and  friendship with Isaac Asimov.  Plus I posted a review of Neil Gaiman's "The Graveyard Book. 

Happy Reading!  

The Last Surgeon by Michael Palmer


Michael Palmer

Release date:  February 16, 2010

Author's description:  "Michael Palmer’s latest novel pits a flawed doctor against a ruthless psychopath, who has made murder his art form. Dr. Nick Garrity, a vet suffering from PTSD—post traumatic stress disorder—spends his days and nights dispensing medical treatment from a mobile clinic to the homeless and disenfranchised in D.C. and Baltimore. In addition, he is constantly on the lookout for his war buddy Umberto Vasquez, who was plucked from the streets by the military four years ago for a secret mission and has not been seen since.

Psych nurse Jillian Coates wants to find her sister’s killer. She does not believe that Belle Coates, an ICU nurse, took her own life, even though every bit of evidence indicates that she did—every bit save one. Belle has left Jillian a subtle clue that connects her with Nick Garrity."

Michael Palmer's "The Last Surgeon" is a very interesting book. So interesting in fact that I read it twice.  The characters are interesting, with very human flaws and problems which just adds to the story.   Dr. Nick Garrity, an army combat surgeon, injured during a suicide bomb attack in Afghanistan suffers from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.  He gauges his mood using the ten levels of SUDS -  Subjective Units of Disturbance Scale.  He spends his nights driving an old RV renovated into a mobile medical unit called Helping Hands RV taking care of the homeless and vets.  Jillian Coates, on leave from her job as a psychiatric nurse, tracks him down because she thinks he may have some link to her sister.  She doesn't believe her sister, Belle, committed suicide and since the police don't agree with her,  has taken matters into her own hands.   
Then you have Franz Koller, an assassin who has perfected the method of the "non-kill", making murder not look like murder.   He is methodically killing members of the medical community including Belle, but in such a random fashion and making it look accidental.
As Nick and Jillian get closer to the truth, they draw the attention of Franz Koller and the powers that hired him.     

The story is told from several points of view, including main characters Nick, Jillian and Franz.  The story is an interesting, psychological, action packed drama with believable three dimensional characters.    I highly recommend it.  It is the first story I have read by Michael Palmer and I look forward to reading more stories written by him.   I already have my eyes on his medical thriller, Fatal.   

The Last Surgeon will be released on February 16th, 2010 and is available for pre-order currently on his website at  There you will find a sneak peak of the prologue, a book trailer and even an exclusive theme song.

Michael also have graciously offered to give away a signed copy of The Last Surgeon to one of my readers.   The giveaway will be open through February 6th and the winner will be picked randomly using on Sunday, February 7th.  Please leave your name and email address in the comments.

Pages:  384
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Release date:  February 16, 2010

Other thoughts and giveaways:

"Mesmerizingly seductive in its intense psychological ploys, The Last Surgeon is a book that will grab the reader from the beginning, twisting itself within the reader's mind and not letting go until the very last page."

"This book was a edge of your seat read. The first sentence really gets to wondering what the heck is going on."

 *** FTC notice: non compensated, unbiased opinion - book received free of charge from the author.

Technology free week - time for an attitude adjustment!

The monotony and solitude of a quiet life stimulates the creative mind.
------ Albert Einstein                      

There are some days you just want to stop and smell the roses.  Walk away from the screen time and breath fresh air, ponder life, think, read, write and meander without the temptation of technology staring us in the face.  Periodically we have a technology week - no wii, no nintendo ds, no internet, no television.  Usually I end up doing it because the technology has taken over and becomes more important than everything else and we need an attitude adjustment. 

So while we are off, I will be concentrating on writing and hopefully make better progress with my current WIP Eyes in the Ashes. It is time to write some in-depth character profiles and interview my characters  so we may become better acquainted.  James has also been working on a story and has been procrastinating as well, so this will give him  time to finish it.  He is working on a fan fiction type of story about Mario Super Galaxy.  When it is done, he'll be posting a chapter a week on his own blog.   Father will be working on his electronic projects plus we are setting up a blog for him to talk about tubes, tone, technology, recording and whatever else he feels like ranting about.  So we will be brainstorming and writing up a few ideas for him to post about.

While I am off, please check out these writers who have much wisdom to share:

Toni McGee Causey of Murderati-- You Are Here

C.J. Darlington, Author of Thicker than Blood. 

K.M. Weiland, author of A Man Called Outlaw and Behold The Dawn

Jody Hedlund of On The Path

Elana Johnson, author of From the Query to the Call

And follow the blog chain, starting with Sarah Bromley who asks: how did you discover your particular voice as a writer?


Blogging Authors Reading Project

A reading project I can not resist. Florinda at the 3 R's Blog has come up with a wonderful project that is all about reading books by authors who blog.   I have been doing that for some time, slowly making my way through the authors who blog at Murderati  and Running with Quills just to name a couple.  

The guidelines are:

Go through your blog subscriptions, feed reader, or bookmarks, and note which of the blogs you read regularly are written by published authors.

Check your TBR collection and/or wish list to see if you have unread books by any of those authors.

Commit to reading a certain percentage (not number) of those books by December 31, 2010.Your reading list should be based on the author blogs you read and books you have at the time you sign up for the challenge, with one exception (see below*). You may find new author blogs during the year - I'm sure I will. The authors whose blogs you read may publish new books during 2010 - I know at least a couple of my own blogging authors have books coming out this year. While you're more than welcome to read those blogs and books, they will not count toward your challenge commitment - otherwise, you'd have to revise that throughout the year. (I had to draw a line for myself, so it will apply to other participants too!)

Crossover with other challenges is allowed and encouraged!

**The one exception to the "books on hand" rule is this: the rockin'-in-every-way Susan Helene Gottfried has offered a free e-book of her latest Demo Tapes to participants in the Blogging Authors Reading Project. To learn how to get yours, visit the post about the project. 

From the Murderati Group blog of 14 mystery writers including Pari Noskin Taichert, Alafair Burke, Allison Brennan, Brett Battles, Cornelia Read, J.D. Rhoades, J.T. Ellison, Louise Ure, Robert Gregory Brown, Zoe Sharp, Toni McGee Causey, Stephen Jay Schwartz,  Alex Sokoloff and Tess Gerritsen. Wonderful blog. If you haven't been following them, you should.  So far, I've read stories by Tess Gerritsen, Robert Gregory Browne, J.T. Ellison, and Allison Brennan.  Books I currently have are

Toni McGee Causey's Charmed and Dangerous (paperback)

J.T. Ellison's Judas Kiss (e-book)

Louise Ure's Liar's Anonymous (e-book)

J.D. Rhoades's Safe and Sound, (e-book) the 2nd book in his Jack Keller series.  I really wanted to read The Devil's Right Hand, the first book in his Jack Keller series but I haven't been able to find it.  (J.D also has his own blog on which he vents about current events.)

Tess Gerritsen's The Sinner  (paperback)

From Running with Quills with 7 great romance suspense authors including Susan Anderson, Stella Cameron, Kate Douglas, Lori Foster, Jayne Ann Krentz, Elizabeth Lowell and Carla Neggers.  I've read stories by Susan Anderson, Lori Foster, Elizabeth Lowell, Jayne Ann Krentz and Carla Neggers so far.    Currently on the shelves are:

Carla Neggers' Cold Pursuit and Cold River  (paperback)

Jayne Ann Krentz aka Amanda Quick  The Third Circle

Lori Foster aka L.L. Foster's Servant: The Kindred  (paperback)

Michelle Gagnon's The Gatekeeper.   She blogs over at The Kill Zone with James Scott Bell, John Ramsey Miller, John Gilstrap, Joe Moore, Kathryn Lilley, and Clare Langley Hawthorne. 

From the group of wonderful paranormal romance authors at Deadline Dames, I have Rachel Vincent's My Soul to Lose.  She blogs along with Keri Arthur, Devon Monk, Jackie Kessler, Karen Mahoney, Lilith Saintcrow, Rinda Elliot and Toni Andrews.  Kissing Sin, book #2 in the Riley Jenson Guardian series  by Keri Arthur is on my wishlist and I'm sure to get it and read sometime this year as well.

Other authors who blog and I currently have their books are

Robert Liparulo's Comes a Horseman

Ted Dekker's "Burn" and "Green"

Susan Helene Gottfried Shapeshifter Demo Tapes year 1 and year 2 (e-books)

I expect to read 100% considering the fact that I actually have them in my possession, except for three and am looking forward to reading them. 

How about you?  Do you read follow any authors blogs and have you been reading their books.  Then click over and Sign up for Florinda's Blogging Author's Reading Project.  It will be fun!

100 Greatest Science Fiction or Fantasy Novels of All Time?

I came across this list "100 Greatest Science Fiction or Fantasy Novels of all Time" on This Recording.  The list includes all the novel covers so if the title doesn't sound familiar, the cover may spark a cell or two of remembrance.  I've read about 20 of the books and have several more in my TBR pile waiting to be read.  Remarkably, there are a few authors and books I've never heard of such as Thomas Disch's Camp Concentration, Kingsley Amis The Alteration, Yves Maynard's The Book of Knights, Vladimir Nabokov's Pale Fire or Mikhail Bulgakov's The Master and The Margarita.   

What do you think?  Does A Clockwork Orange or Flowers for Algernon belong on the list? 

And this is interesting

Does it remind you of anything?   Lost Perhaps?  The diagram reminds me of the rooms below the Hatch

1. The Book of the Long Sun by Gene Wolfe
2. The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress by Robert Heinlein 
3. The Dying Earth by Jack Vance
4. The Dispossessed by Ursula K. LeGuin
5. Tigana by Guy Gavriel Kay
6. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
7. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
8. The Book of the New Sun by Gene Wolfe
9. The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. LeGuin
10. A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess
11. Dune by Frank Herbert
12. Planet of Adventure by Jack Vance
13. The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien
14. All My Sins Remembered by Joe Haldeman
15. The Man in the High Castle by Philip K. Dick
16. The Master and the Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov
17. The Fionavar Tapestry by Guy Gavriel Kay
18. Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert Heinlein
19. A Song of Ice And Fire by George R.R. Martin
20. The Fifth Head of Cerebus by Gene Wolfe
21. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum
22. Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
23. Lost Horizon by James Hilton
24. The Cadwal Chronicles by Jack Vance
25. I Am Legend by Richard Matheson
26. 1984 by George Orwell
27. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
28. More Than Human by Theodore Sturgeon
29. Pale Fire by Vladimir Nabokov
30. A Fire Upon The Deep by Vernor Vinge
31. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle
32. Citizen of the Galaxy by Robert Heinlein
33. The Hyperion Cantos by Dan Simmons
34. Ubik by Philip K. Dick
35. True Names by Vernor Vinge
36. Starship Troopers by Robert Heinlein
37. Lyonesse by Jack Vance
38. Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut Jr.
39. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
40. Animal Farm by George Orwell
41. A Scanner Darkly by Philip K. Dick
42. Farmer in the Sky by Robert Heinlein
43. Flatland by Edwin Abbott
44. The War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells
45. Alastor by Jack Vance
46. The Baroque Cycle by Neal Stephenson
47. Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card
48. The Demon Princes by Jack Vance
49. The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand
50. The Wizard Knight by Gene Wolfe
51. The Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K. LeGuin
52. Foundation by Isaac Asimov
53. The Forever War by Joe Haldeman
54. The Book of the Short Sun by Gene Wolfe
55. Gravity's Rainbow by Thomas Pynchon
56. Cat's Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut
57. The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien
58. Nightwings by Robert Silverberg
59. Forever Peace by Joe Haldeman
60. The Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan
61. The Book of Knights by Yves Maynard
62. Wildlife by James Patrick Kelly
63. Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes
64. At the Mountains of Madness by H.P. Lovecraft
65. A Song for Lya by George R.R. Martin
66. The High Crusade by Poul Anderson
67. The Diamond Age by Neal Stephenson
68. The Gods Themselves by Isaac Asimov
69. Flow My Tears The Policeman Said by Philip K. Dick
70. The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury
71. The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley
72. Maske: Thaery by Jack Vance
73. Old Man's War by John Scalzi
74. Schismatrix by Bruce Sterling
75. Ringworld by Larry Niven
76. Rendezvous with Rama by Arthur C. Clarke
77. Free Live Free by Gene Wolfe
78. Altered Carbon by Richard K. Morgan
79. Griffin's Egg by Michael Swanwick
80. Watership Down by Richard Adams
81. The Anubis Gates by Tim Powers
82. The Dragonriders of Pern by Anne McCaffrey
83. The Alteration by Kingsley Amis
84. Fevre Dream by George R.R. Martin
85. Sphere by Michael Crichton
86. A Canticle for Leibowitz by Walter Miller
87. Speaker for the Dead by Orson Scott Card
88. Song of Kali by Dan Simmons
89. Swordspoint by Ellen Kushner
90. Camp Concentration by Thomas Disch
91. Danny, The Champion of the World by Roald Dahl
92. Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton
93. An Evil Guest by Gene Wolfe
94. The Company by K.J. Parker
95. Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke
96. Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson
97. The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch by Phillip K. Dick
98. Beggars in Spain by Nancy Kress
99. Sorcerer's Son by Phyllis Eisenstein
100. The Word For World Is Forest by Ursula K. LeGuin
Who do you think should be on the list?

Dune by Frank Herbert



Frank Herbert

Amazon:  Arrakis is the sole source of Melange, the "spice of spices." Melange is necessary for interstellar travel and grants psychic powers and longevity, so whoever controls it wields great influence. The troubles begin when stewardship of Arrakis is transferred by the Emperor from the Harkonnen Noble House to House Atreides. The Harkonnens don't want to give up their privilege, though, and through sabotage and treachery they cast young Duke Paul Atreides out into the planet's harsh environment to die. There he falls in with the Fremen, a tribe of desert dwellers who become the basis of the army with which he will reclaim what's rightfully his. Paul Atreides, though, is far more than just a usurped duke. He might be the end product of a very long-term genetic experiment designed to breed a super human; he might be a messiah. His struggle is at the center of a nexus of powerful people and events, and the repercussions will be felt throughout the Imperium.

I first read Dune back in 1983 and read through the entire series when they first came out.   I recently read Dune again for the Take A Dare Challenge.    It was like reading it again for the very first time.  I remembered little except for the blue eyes of the Fremen and the gigantic worms. 

The Duke Leto Atreides is ordered by the Emperor to the spice planet of Arrakis to take over the Spice Production from the Harkonnens.  However the Harkonnens do not willfully give up their lucrative position and plot against the Duke and his family.   Accompanying the Duke is his concubine Jessica and his son Paul, along with some trusted advisors and soldiers.  Jessica is a Bene Gesserit, an ancient order of women with powerful mental and physical abilities.  Usually women are the old ones trained in Bene Gesserit, but Jessica has trained Paul in the ways of the order.

The family is betrayed by a trusted adviser and Jessica and Paul are taken out into the desert to be killed.  They escape and find sanctuary with the Fremen, natives of the spice planet.  The Harkonnens and the Emperor don't think much of the Fremen and underestimate their role on the planet.   The desert is inhabited by huge spice worms and any vibration on the sand attracts their attention.  The Fremen have learned to use the worms to their advantage.   They believe Paul is the one prophesied to be their leader.

That's just the gist of the story of Dune.   The story is very convoluted and told from several different points of view.  It  is full of intrigue, political plotting, mystical elements and has many twists and turns.  Trusted advisers from both the Atriedes and Harkonnen factions are duplicitous in their dealings with both families.  Even the emperor is not to be trusted. 

I enjoyed reading it and now want to watch the movie version again with Kyle McLaughlin, Sting and a whole cast of interesting characters. It's been years since I last seen it. 

Dune tied for the Hugo Award best novel with And Call Me Conrad by Roger Zelazny in 1966 and also received a Nebula Award for Best Novel in 1965.  

The original Dune Series included:

Dune Messiah
Children of Dune
God Emperor of Dune
Heretics of Dune
Chapterhouse Dune

The official Dune Novels site has a new chronology including all the Dune books that have been written.

Pages:  544
Publisher: Berkeley Books
My Version released: July 1983
Genre: Science Fiction

Other Thoughts:

"But for me what really made it interesting was the way Dune called out to me from the deep corners of my memory. Somewhere in my consciousness the desert winds of Arrakis were alive and well, waiting patiently for the right time to envelop me. I imagine in ten years’ time they’ll be there again, buried deep within my memory, awaiting the call. What power some books have."

"Oh, this is just a great book. It's got tons of politics, intrigue, deception, treachery, battles, warriors, love and hate. It's got it all."

"I found Herbert’s imagination amazing. In Dune, Herbert created a future that was virtually unimaginable at the time. He gave the world its own rules and specific history. And he gave them a religion that has a sense of being the eventual mingling of the major religions."

Happy Birthday Edgar Allan Poe

January 19, 1809 to October 7, 1849 

The Raven


Edgar Allan Poe

Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary,
Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore,
While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.
"'Tis some visitor," I muttered, "tapping at my chamber door-
Only this, and nothing more."

Ah, distinctly I remember it was in the bleak December,
And each separate dying ember wrought its ghost upon the floor.
Eagerly I wished the morrow;- vainly I had sought to borrow
From my books surcease of sorrow- sorrow for the lost Lenore-
For the rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name Lenore-
Nameless here for evermore.

And the silken sad uncertain rustling of each purple curtain
Thrilled me- filled me with fantastic terrors never felt before;
So that now, to still the beating of my heart, I stood repeating,
"'Tis some visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door-
Some late visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door;-
This it is, and nothing more."

Presently my soul grew stronger; hesitating then no longer,
"Sir," said I, "or Madam, truly your forgiveness I implore;
But the fact is I was napping, and so gently you came rapping,
And so faintly you came tapping, tapping at my chamber door,
That I scarce was sure I heard you"- here I opened wide the door;-
Darkness there, and nothing more.

Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there wondering, fearing,
Doubting, dreaming dreams no mortals ever dared to dream before;
But the silence was unbroken, and the stillness gave no token,
And the only word there spoken was the whispered word, "Lenore!"
This I whispered, and an echo murmured back the word, "Lenore!"-
Merely this, and nothing more.

Back into the chamber turning, all my soul within me burning,
Soon again I heard a tapping somewhat louder than before.
"Surely," said I, "surely that is something at my window lattice:
Let me see, then, what thereat is, and this mystery explore-
Let my heart be still a moment and this mystery explore;-
'Tis the wind and nothing more."

Open here I flung the shutter, when, with many a flirt and flutter,
In there stepped a stately raven of the saintly days of yore;
Not the least obeisance made he; not a minute stopped or stayed he;
But, with mien of lord or lady, perched above my chamber door-
Perched upon a bust of Pallas just above my chamber door-
Perched, and sat, and nothing more.

Then this ebony bird beguiling my sad fancy into smiling,
By the grave and stern decorum of the countenance it wore.
"Though thy crest be shorn and shaven, thou," I said, "art sure no craven,
Ghastly grim and ancient raven wandering from the Nightly shore-
Tell me what thy lordly name is on the Night's Plutonian shore!"
Quoth the Raven, "Nevermore."

Much I marvelled this ungainly fowl to hear discourse so plainly,
Though its answer little meaning- little relevancy bore;
For we cannot help agreeing that no living human being
Ever yet was blest with seeing bird above his chamber door-
Bird or beast upon the sculptured bust above his chamber door,
With such name as "Nevermore."

But the raven, sitting lonely on the placid bust, spoke only
That one word, as if his soul in that one word he did outpour.
Nothing further then he uttered- not a feather then he fluttered-
Till I scarcely more than muttered, "other friends have flown before-
On the morrow he will leave me, as my hopes have flown before."
Then the bird said, "Nevermore."

Startled at the stillness broken by reply so aptly spoken,
"Doubtless," said I, "what it utters is its only stock and store,
Caught from some unhappy master whom unmerciful Disaster
Followed fast and followed faster till his songs one burden bore-
Till the dirges of his Hope that melancholy burden bore
Of 'Never- nevermore'."

But the Raven still beguiling all my fancy into smiling,
Straight I wheeled a cushioned seat in front of bird, and bust and door;
Then upon the velvet sinking, I betook myself to linking
Fancy unto fancy, thinking what this ominous bird of yore-
What this grim, ungainly, ghastly, gaunt and ominous bird of yore
Meant in croaking "Nevermore."

This I sat engaged in guessing, but no syllable expressing
To the fowl whose fiery eyes now burned into my bosom's core;
This and more I sat divining, with my head at ease reclining
On the cushion's velvet lining that the lamplight gloated o'er,
But whose velvet violet lining with the lamplight gloating o'er,
She shall press, ah, nevermore!

Then methought the air grew denser, perfumed from an unseen censer
Swung by Seraphim whose footfalls tinkled on the tufted floor.
"Wretch," I cried, "thy God hath lent thee- by these angels he hath sent thee
Respite- respite and nepenthe, from thy memories of Lenore!
Quaff, oh quaff this kind nepenthe and forget this lost Lenore!"
Quoth the Raven, "Nevermore."

"Prophet!" said I, "thing of evil!- prophet still, if bird or devil!-
Whether Tempter sent, or whether tempest tossed thee here ashore,
Desolate yet all undaunted, on this desert land enchanted-
On this home by horror haunted- tell me truly, I implore-
Is there- is there balm in Gilead?- tell me- tell me, I implore!"
Quoth the Raven, "Nevermore."

"Prophet!" said I, "thing of evil- prophet still, if bird or devil!
By that Heaven that bends above us- by that God we both adore-
Tell this soul with sorrow laden if, within the distant Aidenn,
It shall clasp a sainted maiden whom the angels name Lenore-
Clasp a rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name Lenore."
Quoth the Raven, "Nevermore."

"Be that word our sign in parting, bird or fiend," I shrieked, upstarting-
"Get thee back into the tempest and the Night's Plutonian shore!
Leave no black plume as a token of that lie thy soul hath spoken!
Leave my loneliness unbroken!- quit the bust above my door!
Take thy beak from out my heart, and take thy form from off my door!"
Quoth the Raven, "Nevermore."

And the Raven, never flitting, still is sitting, still is sitting
On the pallid bust of Pallas just above my chamber door;
And his eyes have all the seeming of a demon's that is dreaming,
And the lamplight o'er him streaming throws his shadow on the floor;
And my soul from out that shadow that lies floating on the floor
Shall be lifted- nevermore!


Did you know Edgar Allan Poe also dabbled in writing science fiction.  Me neither. The things you discover when researching authors.   He wrote a short story called The Masque of Red Death which is considered the precursor to apocalyptic stories found in science fiction today.  Click over to Mind Voyages to read the short story.

Do you have a favorite Edgar Allan Poe poem or short story?  Please share.

Pinewood Derby - and the winners are.....!!!!!

Father - First Place (family)  
James 1st place Webelos and 2nd Place overall   
Alex (tiger cub)  1st place overall

I am so proud of my guys!   James came in first place in the Webelos division and came in second place overall.    Father came in first place in the Family and Friends division.  James received a trophy for Best Painted Car and he came in second by only a thousandth of a second.

Alex - 2.556 and James 2.557

The Competition

By the end of the races, all the Webelos were bouncing up and down in their chairs, cheering for James and chanting Mario, Mario, Mario.

But they were equally excited for tiger Cub Alex

Really!  I came in Second!!!

Best Painted - Mario and 2nd Place Trophy

I was equally proud of father who worked very hard on his car who came in first in the family and friends division

The trophy is very neat and he gets to keep it for one year.  He gets to add a tire with his name and date, then pass it on to the winner next year. 

So, what do the kids do to celebrate afterwards

Play Nintendo Ds together.  It has a neat feature that if you are within 65 feet of each other, you can play against each other.

Meanwhile, Proud mom gets to carry everything

Friday splash - Life in the Fast / Slow Lane

Friday Splash!

Yesterday I went to Kaiser to have my endoscopy.  Talk about nerve wracking.   No matter how hard I tried to relax, it was virtually impossible.  While on the outside you may looked relaxed, being hooked up to a bunch of monitors tells a different story.   "Oh, I'm fine, I'm not nervous at all." doesn't cut it.  Especially when you have three different nurses bustling about, hooking you up to this, that and the other and a doctor looking at you with a stern expression.  I'm beginning to think that's his natural look.  The G.I. specialist - I've only meet him twice.  Last month, in the emergency room when I got the steak stuck in my throat and yesterday when he did the endoscopy.  His question - "are you always this nervous?"    Hah!   

Due to the sedation, I miraculously feel asleep somewhere in the middle of the procedure.  What was particularly odd before I feel asleep was hearing myself burping a few times and the doctor saying "oh my."  I woke up in recovery feeling groggy and a slight sore throat.   Father and James arrived back at the hospital around the same time they called to let them know it was time to come back. I sent them off on errands while having the procedure - give them something to do other than sit and worry and be bored.   I came home and dozed for a few hours. 

Doctor T said I have Eosinophilic Esophagitis which is caused by allergies.   During the endoscopy he did the balloon thing to widen my esophagus and did some biopsies.  He did say I have furrows instead of rings, which is indicative of allergies.   He wants to wait until the results of the biopsies are in before taking any further action.  Funny thing is he never asked me about any food allergies.   I had multiple food allergies when I was a little girl to wheat, corn, eggs, etc.   I thought I had outgrown those allergies, but perhaps not.   Maybe I just learned to ignore the symptoms.  I had allergy testing done again  20 years ago too, when we moved to Northern California so I'm going to go searching through my files and see if I can find it. 

Tonight is the big Cub Scout Pinewood Derby race.   James and Father worked on their cars all day long yesterday and the cars still aren't finished.  Yep, father decided to build a car this year, too.  So he ordered all this special stuff which didn't come in until Tuesday.  James finally got his car painted last night after Father finished adding special weights and what not to the car.   Father worked on his car most of the night and about 4:00 a.m. I woke up and told him to put everything away, clean up the mess and come to bed.   He'll be putting the finishing touches on the cars, including the wheels and testing the cars before dashing into work to do payroll, then home again for the derby.  Maybe I should offer to do payroll.  Hmmm!  

What have I been reading:  I finished The Mists of Avalon by Miriam Zimmer Bradley for the dare challenge.  Very good book.  I thought I had read it before, but realized I hadn't.   Will have to check out the other two books she wrote in the series.   I also finished All Together Dead #7 and From Dead to Worse #8 in the Sookie Stackhouse series by Charlaine Harris.    Will try and wait for #9 Dead and Gone to come out in paperwork in April, but we'll see.  I thoroughly enjoyed the series and not sure if I can wait.    Yesterday I finished The Last Surgeon by Michael Palmer which will be coming out in February.   He is offering one autographed copy of the book in a giveaway to one of my readers so will be looking for that review next week sometime.  I haven't had any time to write any reviews since 2010 started.  I hope to rectify that soon.  


Did you know that this week is National Delurking Week.  So for those of you quiet ones - who have been following - please take a moment, delurk, say hi, introduce yourself.  Don't be shy. I won't bite.

Bloggiesta Wrap Up

Bloggiesta Wrap Up!

I didn't get nearly as much accomplished as I wanted to. This weekend was my Saturday to work at the shop and Sunday I spent most of the day working on my Art History homework. I sort of left it until the last minute and between that, grocery shopping, laundry, hubby and son wanting attention and life in general I didn't have a whole lot of time.

What I did accomplish:

Updated my header and color coordinated the rest of the blog to match.  Don't expect it to stay the same for the rest of 2010.  Just like I used to change the furniture around every couple months, I'll be updating the header every couple months. 

I updated several posts for the Linkbar including

Everything Science Fiction - It is where you'll find all my science fiction challenges such as Mind Voyages, 42 Challenge, Fantasy Reading, Sci Fi Experience, Speculative Fiction Challenge and Take a Dare challenge.

Challenges - which are all the rest of my challenges

2010 book reviews - where I will list all the books I read and/or review

My Nightstand - currently lists all the books I have in my possession broken down by review requests and my books.  I really really really don't need to buy any more books for a while.

About me - which is basically all about Moi!

I updated my blog roll in the side bar and reader, but still have some refining to do there.  Ran My Two Blessings through the website grader and scored an 87.  Not to bad.  I don't have any meta tags so I'll be working on adding those.  There are other suggestions I'll be looking into as well.  There is so much more I need to do so will be working on it gradually, giving myself a goal for each week to take care of.   One thing I did decide on is a blogging schedule.  It is practically impossible for me to keep up everyday with writing posts, reading posts and commenting without spending hours on the internet.  The plan this year is to limit my internet time in order to get other things accomplished.

So, I am actually setting up a blogging / posting schedule. It may mean I comment a little less or I don't get to your blogs but once a week, but I'll be around and will eventually get there.    Since I work two days a week, won't be posting on those days, but will be limiting browsing time to lunch and dinner breaks on those days. 

Monday - Semi Unplugged 
Tuesday - blog administrative days
Wednesday -  My Two Blessings posts
Thursday - Semi Unplugged
Friday - My Two Blessings posts
Saturday - 52 Books in 52 Weeks weekly post
Sunday - Mind Voyages weekly post

If I had the time, I would prewrite lots of posts, but don't find myself with the extra time to do so.  Besides, I'm a spur of the moment, interesting thought came to me in the middle of the night spontaneous poster.... which is why I hate setting up a schedule.  So, yes there will be some deviation.  I still need to work on arranging for guest posts for my two challenges.  I actually have two book tours coming up here on My Two Blessings:  one TLC book tour January 21st for The Forgotten Legion and one in March for Double Eagle by Sneed Collard.  So some interesting things in the works.

Thank you for Natasha of Maws Book Blog for hosting Bloggiesta.   Everyone involved had some really great suggestions which really inspired my old gray matter cells to come up with a number of things to work on and think about. 

Click on over to Natasha's to see what every one else accomplished. 

bloggiesta Party - ch ch ch changes

hosted by Natasha of Maw's Books
January 8th, 9th and 10th, 2010

It's time for the 2nd annual Bloggiesta - get out your party hats, whip up some mexican food, mix up a few margarita's and join in the blogging marathon.   Bloggiesta is the brain child of Natasha and the purpose - to clean up and improve and make ch ch ch changes to your blog.   You know, those little things that have been nagging at the back of your mind.  Like changing your header, updating your links, improving your labels, etc. 

There are multiple things to do as suggested by Natasha:
  • Write reviews.
  • Write backup posts for a rainy day.
  • Write that great post idea from three months back.
  • Work on series posts.
  • Write guest posts.
  • Put out invitations for guest posts.
  • Conduct and edit author interviews.
  • Create template posts for your future reads (ie: title, images, linking, tags, etc,) so you can open up, write review and post without being bogged down with technicalities
  • Clean up your tags, archives, books reviewed list, etc.
  • Create a text file (or Google Doc) of cheat sheets (html codes, post url’s, etc)
  • Improve your blog template, clean up sidebars, add a favicon, install those plugins that you’ve been meaning to do.
  • Add or edit your about me page, review policy, disclosure policy, privacy policy, create landing pages (for example – an about me for Twitter readers page) or any other pages you might have.
  • Any bloggy type housekeeping that you’ve been neglecting.
  • Clean up and update your challenge lists.  Link up your posts with hosts.
  • Make sure all of your social network profiles are up to date.  Brand yourself through those profiles with color scheme, images, etc.
  • Go get a gravatar.
  • Visit the Blogging Tips group on the Book Blogs Ning and find ways to improve your blog.
  • Work on any specialized projects that you may have going.
  • Clean out and organize your feed reader and blog subscriptions.
  • Create an elevator pitch.
  • Make business cards.
  • Find a blogging buddy.
  • The sky’s the limit!

I now have three blogs so you can imagine what goes into keeping them up to date and writing posts.  My Two Blessings had a mini make over recently when I accidentally blew it up.   There are some things I still need to work on such as a new header, update the linkbar and a few other things.   I want to arrange for some Author and blogger guest posts for 52 Books in 52 Weeks,  add the disclosure policy and find a way to encourage all my new participants to comment, comment, comment.   I've decided on a theme for 52 Books which is working for me creatively, so going to do the same thing with Mind Voyages.   I'm a little bit intimidated by all the wonderful sci fi blogs with all their cool information.    I don't just want to do a regurge of everything else out there, so will give some thought to the posts will be doing weekly.  I also want to arrange for some guest posts there as well.   Even though I've been blogging for three years now, I'm a novice when it comes to having guest posts and doing interviews.   So I'll be joining in with the 100 plus other bloggers this weekend and come monday, we'll all have nice, shiny, clean blogs. 

Come join in the fun.  There will be mini challenges and all kinds of interesting things going on this weekend. Click on over the Natasha's, sign up and get to work.  I think I'll go make some Enchilada's now.