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Memoirs of the Queen of Gotham

Aug. 29th, 2008

06:41 pm - DragonCon

If I had a job with real vacation, I’d be in Atlanta today, ready for a surreal weekend of costumed lunatics talking earnestly about science fiction characters and alternate universes.  I know part of it is seeking to recapture the feeling of the Three Musketeers trip in 2001, but it goes beyond that.  I really enjoyed the trip with Geoffrey, and not being a beach-goer, I can’t think of a better way to end summer than with the skewered festivities of the largest Con. Perhaps next year we’ll make it.  Wait, haven’t I said that the last few years?

Jul. 29th, 2008

10:11 am - BigRead

I'm following Helene's lead on this one, because it sounds interesting and I've been casting around for new books to read the last few weeks. The premise of this exercise is supposedly that the National Endowment for the Arts believes that the average American has only read 6 books from the list below. Check out for a more updated list (this one is nearly a year old) - although the website has some bad scripting that is looping on my browser.

1) Look at the list and bold those you have read.
2) Italicize those you intend to read.
3) Underline (or mark in a different color) the books you LOVE - mine are in purple
4) Reprint this list in your blog.

1 Pride and Prejudice- Jane Austen
2 The Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien

3 Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte
4 Harry Potter series - JK Rowling
5 To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee

6 The Bible - (large swaths of it remain untapped, so I won't say I've read it)
7 Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte
8 Nineteen Eighty Four - George Orwell
9 His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman
10 Great Expectations - Charles Dickens
11. Little Women - Louisa M Alcott
12 Tess of the D’Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy
13 Catch 22 - Joseph Heller
14 Complete Works of Shakespeare ( I’ve read most of them)
15 Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier
16 The Hobbit - JRR Tolkien

17 Birdsong - Sebastian Faulks
18 Catcher in the Rye - JD Salinger
19 The Time Traveller’s Wife - Audrey Niffenegger
20 Middlemarch - George Eliot
21 Gone With The Wind - Margaret Mitchell
22 The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald
23 Bleak House - Charles Dickens
24 War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy
25 The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
26 Brideshead Revisited - Evelyn Waugh
27 Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky
28 Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck
29 Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll
30 The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame
31 Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy
32 David Copperfield - Charles Dickens
33 Chronicles of Narnia - CS Lewis
34 Emma - Jane Austen
35 Persuasion - Jane Austen
36 The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe - CS Lewis
37 The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini
38 Captain Corelli’s Mandolin - Louis De Bernieres
39 Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden
40 Winnie the Pooh - AA Milne
41 Animal Farm - George Orwell
42 The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown
43 One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
44 A Prayer for Owen Meany - John Irving
45 The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins
46 Anne of Green Gables- LM Montgomery
47 Far From The Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy
48 The Handmaid’s Tale - Margaret Atwood
49 Lord of the Flies - William Golding
50 Atonement - Ian McEwan
51 Life of Pi - Yann Martel
52 Dune - Frank Herbert
53 Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons
54 Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen
55 A Suitable Boy - Vikram Seth
56 The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon
57 A Tale Of Two Cities - Charles Dickens
58 Brave New World - Aldous Huxley
59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time - Mark Haddon
60 Love In The Time Of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
61 Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck
62 Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov
63 The Secret History - Donna Tartt
64 The Lovely Bones
65 Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas
66 On The Road - Jack Kerouac
67 Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy
68 Bridget Jones’s Diary - Helen Fielding
69 Midnight’s Children - Salman Rushdie
70 Moby Dick - Herman Melville
71 Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens
72 Dracula - Bram Stoker
73 The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett
74 Notes From A Small Island - Bill Bryson
75 Ulysses - James Joyce
76 The Bell Jar - Sylvia Plath
77 Swallows and Amazons - Arthur Ransome
78 Germinal - Emile Zola
79 Vanity Fair - William Makepeace Thackeray
80 Possession - AS Byatt
81 A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens
82 Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell
83 The Color Purple - Alice Walker
84 The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro
85 Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert
86 A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry
87 Charlotte’s Web - EB White
88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven - Mitch Albom
89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
90 The Faraway Tree Collection
91 Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad
92 The Little Prince - Antoine De Saint-Exupery
93 The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks
94 Watership Down- Richard Adams
95 A Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole
96 A Town Like Alice - Nevil Shute
97 The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas
98 Hamlet - William Shakespeare
99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl
100 Les Miserables - Victor Hugo

I went through college without taking a Litertaure class, except for the Shakespeare class that was team taught by a professsor from the English Department and another from the Theater department. I studiously avoided the "Great Works" for many years. I find it surprising how many of these books I've ready, although I know that many of the books on this list didn't exist when I was in college.

I just read Remains of the Day on Friday, and I'm trying to get a copy of Brideshead through the library, the local branch doesn't have a copy. I'm confused as to why LWW from CS Lewis is listed as well as the Chronicles of Narnia - LWW is the first volume of the Chronicles. Anyone know?  I read James and the Giant Peach from Dahl, not the Willie Wonka book, and I still have the hardcover book I received as a kidlet. I've seen just about all the movie/PBS miniseries adaptations of the various novels I've not read, some of which have inspired me to read the book, some of which have inspired me to forget about reading the book.  As an adult I've tried to read various books a couple of times (Dickens, Hardy, Thackeray, Hugo, Joyce, Tolstoy) and simply can't get interested in them in the first ten pages.  And these days, that's all I give a book: the author has ten pages to bring me into its world.  Because I have limited time to read these days and it *must* be a joy, not a drudge, and there are other books out there to read. Even though sometimes it feels like there are no more good books out there.

What about you? Read any good books lately?

Jul. 11th, 2008

07:03 am - Summertime

I seem to be caught in remembering summer’s past. One memory sets up another, and I wish I had time to just sit back with a drink and reflect, to capture some of these thoughts when they’re fresh. There was the summer I had chicken pox, then went to the summer Gifted program, where I got the idea of what school could be. Discussions with G have prompted memories of all my childhood camping, especially that we did things like make jam and pies. I’d really like visit to Copper Harbor with G, I’ve not been there in decades, literally.

Apr. 4th, 2008

07:02 am - Willpower and Discipline

Aha! The NY Times has validated my recent hypothesis. The article "Tighten Your Belt, Strengthen Your Mind" states willpower is "depleted when people control their thoughts, feelings or impulses, or when they modify their behavior in pursuit of goals." Using your willpower to suppress emotional responses, for example (such as dealing with stresses and frustrations from the ongoing house & job search issues) means I have less willpower available for other things (such as weight management). Yes, I know, there’s a study to support any position, but the timing of this one is so appropriate. And it appears that regular use of willpower can increase your reserves. No wonder I did so much twenty years ago, when I was juggling both a full-time job and full-time grad school and the NYC commute; discipline and willpower were my guideposts.

Mar. 2nd, 2008

08:43 pm - Leap Year Fun

I was sick again. I’m sure it is a sign and result of my overall stress level, needing time off, but not getting it, and being literally afraid to take sick time in the current situation. I’ve resolved that when – not if, when – I land the new job (whatever it turns out to be) that I will take at least one week off in between jobs, and I won’t be working a security conference, that’s for sure. I want to go to the pool daily, knit, bake, read, play in the city, whatever unstructured fun I can cram into a week.

Jan. 10th, 2008

06:51 am - Happy New Year

“To experience Beauty every day,” that’s what the unwitting guest said on the radio. That needs to be my goal, aim, ambition, aspiration, design, intent, objective, plan, purpose, target, wish, my quest for 2008. And what I write here should not be to bitch and whine about work, the house, or anything else. I am writing daily, although not here, and sometimes even writing about Truth, Beauty and the Universe, but this year I want to do better. More frequent, possibly shorter bits.

Sep. 29th, 2007

08:03 am - Hello, Stranger...

OK, so I've been away. Mentally, I've been gone, it was a very difficult summer with changes at the Local Expansion Team, and a job for Geoffrey in Riverhead that kept being dangled in front of us, but not actually materializing. But he's working there now, finally, even if the dialysis unit isn't quite open yet. And with a new CIO at my job, it may be an acceptable place to stay for a while (until I get the bakery started?), if not ideal - it can't be ideal with their vacation benefits. I've knit massive amounts in simple patterns as my therapy. I've ignored the garden, family and friends and almost everything else other than work, knitting and Geoffrey. And some preliminary house hunting, although the Dream House is still top of my list and still for sale, at a significantly reduced price. I've missed DragonCon, the Browncoat Ball in Philadelphia, the Maritime festival in Greenport and Arts & Crafts at Lyndhurst. I've got a lot of catching up on Fun coming my way, and I'll try to be better about posting. I've been working on my discipline the last few months, and although it isn't apparent to the world at large, there are signs that there is improvement in that arena.

May. 9th, 2007

12:30 pm - The Perils of Outsourcing

I'm simply horrified at the loss of flowers. The new lawn guys have simply mowed down my entire flower bed along the south and east side of the house, as well as the wildflower garden at the back. They mangaged to leave the roses and the hollyhocks in the south garden, but this means no delphinium, phox, cosmos, true geraniums, achillea, lavender, heuchera, echinacea, monarda, and who knows what else. This was the year most of the flowers should have been mature. I don't know how many will even survive at this point, but they won't be blossoming this year.

May. 8th, 2007

01:16 pm - A weekend in Philadelphia

I now understand why Jay loved the city of brotherly love, even way back when. It's smaller scale is much easier to cope with than New York, and the sense of history retained by the architecture is wondrous.

But King Tut was a disappointment, no two ways about it. At least we had VIP passes that allowed us to breeze past everyone waiting in line. I've seen the Cairo Museum, not to mention the Met and Brooklyn museums in New York. And having seen those collections, having to wade through four rooms of preparatory filler before arriving at the actual objects from Tutankhamun's tomb was disappointing, and the lighting of sculptures at the Franklin was absolutely dreadful. Some of the rooms were so dark, people were bumping into each other.

The Franklin Fountain, on Market by 2nd, has some of the best ice cream I've ever had... no feeling of air or ice crystals, just solid cream, in strong, clear flavors. After discovering it by accident on Friday, we went back on Saturday. I highly recommend it – it is worth every penny, and it is cash only!

Apr. 27th, 2007

10:57 am - It's not all bad news

Things are getting interesting around the office – for me at least. Significant risks I predicted and tried to get them to mitigate last summer have come home to roost, with some ugly repercussions. I love it when that happens. It generally only takes one or two instances of my "predictions" coming true before there is a noticeable change in the perception of my recommendations and evaluations – rather like morphing from Cassandra to the priestess at the Delphic Oracle. Which is a good thing, because we all know what happened to Cassandra.

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