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September 13th, 2011

Observations on generations

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An interesting observation going on today on how generations look at basic things differently. Someone gets sick, here are the reactions I'm seeing:

Traditional generation (granparents): Better go to the doctor and do whatever he says to do. Doctors are authorities and know hot to take care of us. they may contradict a little, but they are still the authority.

Baby Boomer generation (parent): That doctor has no idea what he's talking about. Maybe I'll take the medication and maybe I won't. And how dare he tell me to sleep more. I know that, does he think I'm a dummy?

Gen X (me): Bah, getting sick. Better sleep more, stock up on some zinc and drink lots of liquids. If I think it's not a virus then get to the doctor quick and get a shot of penicillin in the butt, get home and back to taking care of myself, cause I generally know how my body works and when I'll be feeling well.

Gen Y/Millenial (my kids): MOOOOOM!!! I have a sore throat. I checked the Internet and talked to my friends and we're pretty sure it's a virulent form of Yellow Fever. We may all die. What do you think we should do and can you take me to the doctor and pick up whatever meds he says I need...then remind me to take them?

I have no idea which is best, but I do find it amusing. Maybe we are all going to die from Yellow fever...the kids say the Internet told them so.

June 7th, 2011

This last weekend we had the opportunity to introduce my kids, ages 10 and 14, to Bill Cosby. It was amazingly fun to watch them giggle, and hubby and I got giggling too. Here was a stand up comic with no more prop than a microphone and a chair, who went through the entire routine without using language that made me cringe and yet had the whole family doubled over. Pretty impressive...though I seriously need to update my VHS to DVD.

~J

April 9th, 2011

I love the written word. I really do. I like writing. I like reading. I prefer communicating in email or IM over telephone for the most part as I can take a moment to think about what I’m saying and how I want to say it.

I like books. I like books to the degree that dear hubbie and I must buy yet another bookcase because we already have books double stacked and now a pile is growing next to his bead and it’s possible it may eat someone soon.

I like ereaders. I like the convenience of having the newspaper on my computer screen. I love my Kindle app and quick access to books when I’m on the go. I love the idea of being able to have a print on demand option at my local bookstore. Select what I want, hit the button and have a book pop out, or ready to download to a thumb drive. It’s an exciting world we live in.

Sometimes I’m asked which I love best and which bandwagon I belong on. Shall I cling to my paperbacks until someone pries them from my fold dead fingers? Or shall I dance around a book bound bonfire while praising the name of Kindle and Jeff Bezos?

Honestly…neither. I see a place in my home for both at least at this time. For me the swing factor, if there must be one, hinges on three factors.

1: Size and carrying convenience. My favorite paperback size is mass market and we’re seeing a swing towards releasing books in trade size (around 12 bucks) or this obnoxious size somewhere between trade and mass market (around 10 bucks). This size does NOT fit conveniently anywhere. It takes up too much space in a purse and won’t go neatly into a jacket pocket or coat pocket. It’s not quite as much pain as a hardback, but I want the convenience of pocket books: lightweight, sized to carry and simple to fit in two layers on a standard bookshelf. On the other hand an ebook reader is lightweight and easy to carry, but the nice woman on the airplane makes me turn them off for the first and last parts of a flight. And if I’m somewhere without immediate access to a power cord and my batter runs out I’m simply out of luck. No amount of begging will make the machine turn back on and give me my book back. Both formats can work well…but still leave me wondering.

2: Price. I am as price conscience as anyone else out there, at least I believe I am, and when it comes to selecting my entertainment I do watch where my dollars are going. As far as I’m concerned buying books is rarely a bad use for good money and I don’t mind a reasonable price where I feel like I’m receiving a good value for my money and that the author and publisher are both getting their cuts. The reason I worry about these folks is that they are the ones who keep producing the content I want to read. If authors are too poor to eat they’re not going to write and then I can’t have their books. Likewise if publishers are too broke they stop taking chances on new authors, which I’m hoping to be, or midlisters that I love and we see a focus on more celebrity books and popular culture offerings that bring in good money but which I will never personally read. The right price point for me ranges between 4-8 bucks on a paperback book and or an ebook. I don’t mind paying less than that, but I don’t insist on the 0.99 model to be happy. I’ll do the dance of joy when I find a great book for less, but I don’t fuss over picking up my ‘must read’ authors at normal price. I don’t buy hardbacks for the most part because I don’t like carrying them around, see point one, and I do not see enough value in an ebook copy of something to pay hardback prices for something I download to my computer, using my internet connection, which I may or may not be able to lend to my friends or give away for a contest or sell. I just won’t do it.

3: Availability. This is a place where ebooks tend to shine. For most books finding them available in many different ereader formats is easy. Takes a few minutes to download and you’re curled up on the couch with a new option. Paper books are available at my local brick and mortar based on what they think I might like or what’s seen as hot and new. Sometimes this works out and I can walk out of a bookstore with a pile of books. Often, however, I end up frustrated because for each series I want I can get books 2, 4 and 62, but nothing inbetween. I hit this when I was getting a book for a gift and could get 2, 3 and 4 of the series, but not 1. I can’t start someone halfway through the series. That’s…mean…and it doesn’t make much sense. If I’m not in a hurry I can order a lot of books online through indie places, the big two, ebay, or at wonderful trade places like paperback swap. This appeals both to my sense of not wanting to go out in the snow and I can often get a deal on my books, but it does mean waiting, so only works when I don’t need a book for myself or others right now.

In the long run I think everyone involved in the publishing industry is in for interesting times. I don’t think we’ve reached the end of life for paper books, not by a long stretch, but I do think things are changing. I think the most important part though is that we will always crave things to read and the experience that comes from being immersed in a story. People have always craved stories and the things they teach and the escapism they offer. That won’t change…whether it comes from the mouth, on a scroll, in a paper book, or written between the stars…if you write it they will read.

March 9th, 2011

This last week I had the joy of heading out to Disney World for an Anniversary trip with my Dear Husband.  I love this trip as we escape the cold of the winter for a few days and bask in the Florida sun, and this year the Florida sun was even warm…last year not so much.  One of the best parts of away, besides the warm, is that the trip is a lovely time to read…and read…and read some more.  Both DH and I brought a stack of books and we had to buy more in the airport for the trip home, which is a sign of a good vacation to me.

One of the books I picked up in the airport bookstore was Ghost Country by Patrick Lee.  I’ve been curious about this one since reading a few blurbs about it over on Janet Reid’s blog and in a couple other places.  I’m happy to say that it was totally worth my 8 bucks and I’m going to go get the prequel.  I didn’t realize this was the second book in this set, though it’s not a problem at all to start with this book.  There were a couple things that felt like the author was assuming information I didn’t have, but they were few and far between and I really only realized The Breach was the first book about Travis Chase when I got to the last page of the book and saw an advertisement for it.

Ghost Country is the story of Travis Chase and Paige Campbell, lovers parted by unanswered questions and their own past.  Paige works in a place called Boarder Town which is the guardian of an alien phenomenon called The Breach.  Various machines referred to as ‘entities’ come through the Breach and the scientists in Boarder Town work to determine what they are and if they can be safely used by human beings.  Ghost Country picks up when an entity gives proof of a future where life as we know it is over and Paige is taking the information to the President.  Unfortunately she finds out that the President already knows what’s going on and has no intentions of stopping it…in fact he and other highly positioned people are helping it along.  A thirty second phone call involves Travis, pulling him out of a self imposed retirement to come to Paige’s aid and to work with her and another young scientist, Bethany, to unravel what is happening to the world and how they can stop the bleak future from becoming a reality.

I can’t really get into too many more plot details without spoiling the book, but it was a fun fast read.  The writing is engaging and the action keeps moving, but it’s obvious the author has thought his technology through and is a fascinating view at what happens in the minds of people when they give up on making things better.  There’s a romance angle through the book, but it’s very gentle and added to the story without the narrative stopping to let Paige and Travis deal with their issues.  They have to deal on the trot and in the end…well…they’re still dealing.

Definitely worth the read!

Genre:  Science Fiction Thriller

Age: Late teens and up

Content:  Violence, language, very mild sexuality (there’s one kiss)

Overall:  4.5/5

January 31st, 2011

On having Kids

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This weekend showed for me the lovely humor and exasperation of having children.  Kid 1, almost 14, worked all week to get homework all caught up and...left it all sitting on his bed.  I am so grateful that when I talk to my friends who have kids we're all in the same boat when they're about this age.  The great hope is that as they get older just maybe they'll pick up some of the responsibility and such themselves without making their parents bang their head on the wall...just maybe.

Kid 2 was my amusement.  Both of my kids are boys and they are very much boys boys.  My house is constantly under siege by something and defended by Nerf guns, legos and a lot of hollering and laughter.  This weekend I had a friend over and helped her color her hair.  Kid 2 noticed this and after observing what I'm sure he thought was an attempt at drowning said friend to get the dye out of her hair, he went over to his dad and whispered:  "Dad?  Are they doing girl stuff?"  Hubby says it was obvious that the mere thought of weird girl stuff going on in the house kinda freaked Kid 2 out.  Once it was confirmed that 'girl stuff' was going on, he fled to the safety of the computer and a nice explody game of Civ 5.

This is me...taking notes.  Writer's find inspiration everywhere, and sometimes mine is short with a tendency to be muddy.

~J

January 7th, 2011

So begins another year

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Happiness to everyone.  I'm not dead...just been lurking and listening and learning.  These are good things.

~J

August 19th, 2010

The husband and I are both voracious readers, him even more than me which is a pretty impressive feat.  So to keep ourselves from bankruptcy we only buy a few books a month and then spend quality time with our local library.  The library is a short walk away from the house and they have a nice selection.  We like it there.

A couple of days ago we returned our latest haul and were browsing for new reads.  We're both fans of science fiction and fantasy books and so ended up in the same aisle, though I was going down the way and he was coming up.  This meant eventually we were going to pass like the fabled ships in the night.  I stepped in front of him and instead of just stepping by laid a smooch on him.  Yeah, I have no problem with Public Displays.  However, I hadn't noticed that there was another patron of the library in the aisleway.  It was a kid in his early twenties, yes you know you're getting old when you call someone old enough to drink a kid, and after the kiss he just stood there in shocked silence.  Finally he got his brain about him enough to say, "I did not expect that..."

My husband didn't miss a beat and replied, "That's how you pass people in the library now."

Our observer blinked a few times, grinned and walked out the other way.  The dear husband and I believe we gave the kid hope.  You can browse the science fiction section and still get the girl, and if you're lucky she'll be right there browsing with you and sometimes lay one on you.

~J

June 21st, 2010

Kazooom...

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That, dear reader, was the sound of my weekend flying by.

*Big meeting with the family company - check
*Grumpiness after said meeting - check
*Burnt limbs - check
*Flat tire - check
*Farmer's Market - check
*Father's day - check

Wow...  what a ride.

And Leverage may be one of my new most favorite shows.

That is all.

Jana

May 21st, 2010

The Joy of Reading Together

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For those that may not know I'm the happy step mom of two boys, ages 13 and 9.  Both are veracious readers, over which I am very proud.  Most gift giving holidays in our house come with oddly book shaped packages and no one is ever unhappy about the fact.  When they were younger my husband used to read outloud to them and it's a tradition we've re-established in recent months.  Our current reading material is Brandon Sanderson's Alcatraz versus the Evil Librarians and we're having a marvelous time.  Both boys are perfectly capable of reading the book themselves, but there's something magical about all settling down together and listening to my dear hubby read.  DH is a master of voices and emotional timing, and generally has me chortling and the boys rolling around the floor in happy giggling spasms before the chapter is over.  It helps that the book lends itself perfectly to boy humor, but there's a lot in the presentation too.

I was recently reading an article which stated that 69% of the fourth graders in my state were below average readers and many of them reported not being read to at all.  Okay, grownups...get your books out and get reading with the young people in your life!  It's an opportunity for growth on both sides.  People need to share stories...we're pack animals and communicating and sharing is something most of us crave.  (We writer folks can't help ourselves in particular.)

If you can't think of something to read ask around.  Bookaholics are everywhere and we'll give you a list.

Long live reading!

~J

May 18th, 2010

Iron Man 2 Review

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The last few weeks have been velly busy, so I missed the opening weekend for this flick, but managed to get out with the dear hubby last night.

My first impression would be that it was a fun film.  The visual effects and kabooms and fights were pretty much what I expected.  Fun, fierce and abundant.  There were some moments where the shaky cam high in the sky view made it hard to tell exactly WHAT was happening save for much butt kicking, mostly for goodness.  Generally though, it worked.  The nods to the fans come a little thick, but that's kinda to be expected.

For me the plotting also worked, though there were places I would have liked to see a tighter edit.  Tony Stark continues to be what my husband refers to as the ADHD super hero.  It's always about bigger, faster, shiny object of the moment, whether he's looking for cars or new secretaries or something to hit.  This has a certain charm, but sometimes he makes me tired and I find him hard to believe.  This becomes a problem in the moments where we're really supposed to buy into his character's relationships with others.  Does he really love Pepper?  Is he really reconciled with the memory of his dad?  It's hard to tell because he's so flippant about everything.  I want to believe him, but there is always some hint of doubt.

The villains of the film worked for me and I was glad to see them tied together and then to Stark in a way that made sense.  Everyone had reasons for what they were doing, even if the responses were a bit over the top.  Can you really be a good superhero villain if you aren't over the top?  At points Ivan was a little hard to understand, but in the not understanding I'm not sure I missed much.

Now to my biggest complaint about the movie...  Every woman in the film served the same purpose.  Eye candy.  None of the female characters were well developed or convincingly played.  I kept waiting for a moment where one of them would really connect and be powerful, but it didn't happen.  Pepper got to gripe and fret.  Natalie got to look sexay and one combat sequence which was ruined by the distort effect which was applied to show how fast and scary she was.  Outside of the stereotype neither of them had depth or character or something which set them apart and it plagued the other characters as well.  On a surface level they all did the job they were there for, but I wanted the sense of more.

I know it's a superhero movie.  I know there are tropes of the genre, but where is the depth?  Yes, I had fun.  No, I don't regret going, but at the end of the day would I want to see it again or own the movie?  Meh.

"I am Iron Man."

~J (cross posted to Reality By Pass Books)

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