27 March 2013

What do you know? Not much.

I am a member of The Church of Jesus Christ, also known as a Mormon. I live in Utah, which has a fairly high percentage of Mormons. At my work, however, I am a minority. It doesn’t bother me. All of my coworkers are really nice and respect me. We make jokes about how I am in charge of the coffee because I don’t drink it, and they all make an effort to watch their language and agree that it lends to a more professional atmosphere. What surprises me is what people know and don’t know about my religion. I don’t want to get into any theological discussion, I don’t necessarily think this blog is the time or the place.

However, I am going to talk about the facts some of my coworkers know regarding my faith. Some background information: I have two coworkers who I work with on a daily basis. They have lived in Utah for more than 20 years, and they are highly educated. I get along with them really well and consider them to be good friends. As far as I know, they don’t support any religion strongly. We were talking about Easter and how the calendar day is calculated every year. (Something regarding the first full moon after . . . something. All I know is that I look at my calendar to see when it is.) I googled it and read the description to P and Q.

P looked at me and asked, “Do Mormons celebrate Easter?”

Q looked up from her desk and said, “Yes, Mormons are Christians.”

I made the comment that our official title is “The Church of Jesus Christ.” I can’t remember exactly how, but this led into a discussion of polygamy.

P then said, “Oh, I know you don’t practice that anymore. The only reason you did was because when you were coming to Utah a lot of your men died and it was a way for the women who had lost their husbands to be taken care of.”

Q said, “I didn’t know that. I wondered why anyone would want to share a husband.”

Oh how little I know. If anyone were to ask me about another religion, my answers would be just as scattered.

22 March 2013

Black Cat

by Kentaro Yabuki

This week I decided to review one of my favorite manga series. (The anime is entertaining, but isn’t nearly as interesting or deep.) For those who don’t know, manga is the Japanese version of comic books, but they are more book and less magazine like. Just like American comics, they aren’t always child appropriate. BLACK CAT isn’t for children, but for teens and above. This is a fantasy story that deals with bounty hunters, nanobots, a secret peace-keeping organization, and a loveable main character who only wants to make up for what he did in the past.

The things that draw me in:
I love the characters. My favorites was Sven and Eve and the connection that they had. The scene where they first meet just sets the stage for what is to come. They make each other stronger. Eve’s ability is neat and how it matures over the course of the series. While it isn’t the most original, her character is. The other characters are good, though some of them could be considered trope by manga standards.

When talking about manga, I have to talk about the artwork as well. The characters are vivid and unique. The world isn’t as defines, but the characters really carry the story so it didn’t bother me. This isn’t the most high end art, but it was clear and got the point across.

I like that it has an end. Some series don’t always leave me feeling satisfied after I finish them.

The things that kick me out:
Creed, the antagonist, was a little over the top. I can understand that he is supposed to be a little off of his rocker. But, I feel that when a villain is completely insane, I can’t believe that he would actually be able to be a fully competent protagonist.

There are a lot of characters and I thought they could have gotten rid of some of them and added more depth to others. This was especially true with the villains. I have noticed that a lot of manga have this issue.

I actually didn’t like the flashbacks as much. I like the main story better than learning about Train’s past, but that is probably because I like Sven and Eve more than Train.

Should you read it? I think that this is a good manga to get started on if you have always wanted to try it.

Should you buy it? It is an investment since you will be buying roughly 12 paperbacks. You will want to read it first, though if you want to buy the first one to see if you like it, that isn’t as expensive and will give you a taste of what is going on.

20 March 2013

Moving at Last

Last Friday we finally closed on our house. It has been nearly five months and two houses later. Now we get to leisurely move. We are paid through the end of March in our trailer, so we have some time before we have to be out. We take a truckload or two a night. I still can't believe that we got such a nice house. Part of me feels guilty, but first, we can afford it, and second, there wasn't much of an option in the houses for sale. This was the cheaper of the ones we looked at. The other was a mansion. While it would have been neat, it wasn't as practical and didn't have as much liveable space. Now if we can just figure out where to go to get the water turned back on. We know who, we just can't find the office. I never thought this would happen in such a small town.

15 March 2013


by Marissa Meyer

SCARLET is the second book in THE LUNAR CHRONICLES. The first book is CINDER. I was looking forward to this book because I enjoyed CINDER so much. This is a YA science fiction with fantasy elements. This isn’t just a retelling of the fairy tale, but rather a whole new take on it. Just because you know the fairy tale, it doesn’t mean you know how the story will end, especially with SCARLET.

The things that draw me in:
The background behind the character Wolf. I thought I had him figured out, but there was more to him than I initially realized. Granted some other readers may be quicker at figuring it out than I was. Not only Wolf, but the other new characters in addition to the ones from CINDER, were unique and drew me in.

The blending of science fiction and fantasy is marvelous. It adds a depth to the story that I feel other YA stories are missing. This also includes the way the fairy tale is incorporated. It just adds another depth and keeps me interested. I am a fan of fairy tales but the book can get old if it isn’t done well.

I like the fact that Scarlet was 18. Random, I know, but it is the truth.

The things that kick me out:
I thought the beginning was kind of slow. Part of the problem I decided is that there were more viewpoint characters. I wanted to stick with one character longer. The jumping around added for more redundancy because we got the same information from multiple perspectives at times. However, by half way I didn’t feel as bothered by it.

The character Scarlet was annoying at times. She was so one track minded that I was bothered by how it made her stupid. I think if it was toned down at times it might have been a little better or at least not pulled me out.

As a side note, I don’t like this cover as much as CINDER. It is still better than a lot of the photograph covers, but it doesn’t have the same impact.

Should you read it? If you enjoyed CINDER, read this one. Sci-fi Red Riding Hood and villian's mind-controlling lunar powers = awesome.

Should you buy it? It is a book I want to own because I know I will read it again. Despite how much I was annoyed by Scarlet, the interaction between her and Wolf made me happy.

13 March 2013

League of Utah Writers

I have been working on getting a list of potential speakers together for the League of Utah Writers – Fall Conference. The conference isn’t until next year, but I like to panic, early and often. I was trying to decide if it was a good thing that I am doing this early. I wanted to make sure that the people that I asked wouldn’t have anything else planned, but now I am worried that people are reading the date wrong. I had someone tell me that they were already booked for September. Either I needed to ask earlier or there was a failure to communicate.

As I have been thinking through the possible speakers I always have a nagging voice in the back of my head that I am going to let some people down. I am primarily a science fiction and fantasy reader and writer. The majority of the authors that come to mind write these genres. I keep going through my list of authors and changing it back and forth while trying to get a good balance of writers and poets.

I have learned that the hardest part is coming up with some keynote speakers. I need at least two, if not a few more. My mentor told me that the best place to decide who is good is to look up them up on YouTube. Only truthfully, I don’t like YouTube. I guess that I should just bite the bullet and do it. I mean there have been previous keynote speakers that have been less than desirable, only it wasn’t that their speaking topic wasn’t interesting. They just went three times longer than they were supposed to. I need to come up with a way to make sure that the speakers don’t go over. My idea includes tennis balls, or perhaps a foghorn.

I guess I should put panicking about the Fall Conference on hold. I mean I still have to get through the Spring Workshop in April. I had a nightmare about it a week or so ago. Everything was perfect, except I had forgotten to order the food. I was running around trying to find enough food for everyone. Ever since that nightmare I have been wanting to order the food, but I keep reminding myself that I can’t until I have a better idea of how many people will actually be there.

Let the panicking begin.

08 March 2013


With Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman

I am a huge fan of Sherlock Holmes. I remember listening to audio versions while riding in the car as a child. When I heard that the BBC was doing a modern Sherlock I scoffed at the idea. I don’t like many remakes and I didn’t know how they could do a modern version and yet remain faithful to the characters.

The BBC created the series SHERLOCK to be three hour long episodes. It takes well known characters and some familiar stories and puts a whole new twist on them. It doesn’t shy away from the modern aspect, but uses it to show more of Sherlock’s brilliance and social inelegance. But he is still a likeable character, even with all of his arrogance. They show it well through other characters that appear in the episodes.

The things that draw me in:
The characters are perfect. I didn’t think that they would be able to find actors who would be able to pull off such iconic characters, but they did. While I do love Sherlock (Cumberbatch), I think that Watson (Freeman) is even more perfect. They don’t make him a bumbling idiot, which has always bothered me with many Sherlock Holmes adaptations. Watson is intelligent in his own right and is able to aide Sherlock in several situations. As I mentioned earlier the technology didn’t draw away from the story but actually added more depth than I realized it could. I like how they show Sherlock noticing the details. I wasn't sure how they were going to show what was in his head but they did it. It isn't always the most graceful intrusions, but it gets the point across.

The things that kick me out:
Really? Only three, 90 min episodes. Now there is a season two, but that makes six episodes total. I hope that there is at least one more season. Some people may think that Sherlock is a little over the top in his performance and characterization. But to me, he is Sherlock, even if he is a bit over the top at times.

Should you watch the series? Yes. You have to give it a try. It is readily available on Netflix and Amazon. My local library even has it.

Should you buy the series? If you are a fan of Sherlock Holmes, buy it. It is well worth the money even if you haven’t seen it.

06 March 2013

Home Sweet Home

Last week I mentioned that I wasn’t able to post because we didn’t have power to half of our abode, including the wireless and computer. I also mentioned that this has been one of many exciting adventures we’ve had in the almost 20 months we’ve lived there. Shall I count the ways?

When we first moved in there was an infestation of bugs. I had never seen these particular critters before. They were a cross between a box elder bug and a cockroach. Nasty things that climbed into our microwave and were visible in the display as well as all over the counters and walls of the kitchen. Luckily they were isolated to the kitchen and we used a lot of insecticide to get rid of them. We have been bug free for over a year.

We moved in August which is warm even in Peoa. One window had a screen, over the kitchen sink. We bought our own material and put it in, but since the windows are the dual sliding aluminum frames, the seals aren’t too great. They warp depending on the temperature. Now that we have the screens in we don’t want to take them out, which means the windows are very cold in the winter. The majority of the windows are cracked. One even has been drilled through by a previous tenant wanting to get their satellite cable into the living room.

There is a quarter inch gap under the front door. Another funny thing about the front door, the doorknob is backwards. I didn’t realize there was a natural way to turn the knob, but this one only turns to the left, which still throws me off on occasion and it takes our guests a few tries to get it open.

We can’t run the dishwasher and wash dishes in the sink at the same time. The water gets backed up. When we first moved in the sink had issues. Instead of draining into the sewer, it drained into the dishwasher first and then into the sewer from there. We didn’t realize this at first until dirty water started leaking out of the front of the dishwasher when we were doing dishes. Our landlords were in the process of getting the dishwasher fixed and told us not to use it. None of us realized how bad it was until then.

The living room has two lights, both over the front door. This lights one corner of the living room. We finally bought a lamp so we can actually see after dark. We should have bought one sooner, but we kept hoping we would move. And in the summer it isn’t too bad because it stays light late.

The bedroom door doesn’t close all the way because the frame has warped.

The ceiling in the kitchen leaks in two places. One is over the sink, which is convenient. The over is over the stove. But we have cabinets over the stove. We came home one night to a puddle on our stove as water ran down the hood through our spice cabinet.

The electrical is faulty. This is not the first time that we have come home and found that the electricity is off for no reason. And don’t even get me started on what breaker controls what. As the electricians were fixing the problem Wednesday afternoon they found several places that had bare wires. For this reason we can no longer use the main light in the bathroom. We can only use the light over the vanity. This can be difficult to find at 5:30 in the morning when I want to take a shower.

The entire kitchen is carpeted. Need I say more? You should come see the melted spot in front of the stove from a previous tenant.

The roof over the porch isn’t connected to the trailer. So we get rivlets of water running down the front of the trailer and dripping off of the front door. In the winter we have to be careful where we put the snow shovel. We normally just lean it up by the front door, but there have been several times that the water dripping down the trailer has frozen it to the wall.

And lastly, we live in front of a mink farm.

It isn’t the smell that bothers us. I grew up smelling the Great Salt Lake on stormy days, and Moose grew up around dairy farms. No, it is the flies. These aren’t the normal house flies. These are more like gnats. Granted I’ve never had one bite me. But during the summer they swarm our front door. We can’t keep them from our trailer. (Remember the cracked windows and screen situation?) I look forward to the day when I can stand on my front porch in the summer talking with people instead of hurrying them inside.

The feed truck also comes about every three days between the hours of 2 and 5 AM. The mink farm is only two hundred feet behind us and the road is about twenty feet from our bedroom window. The truck is a large semi and it leaves its engine running while it is resupplying the farm. This can take between 15 and 30 minutes. The trailer shakes and during the summer, when our window is open, we sometimes get the exhaust as well as the noise.

I need to add an addendum. Our landlords have been helpful. When we tell them there is a problem, they work on getting it fixed as quickly as they can. They have had some renters who have been awful and didn’t care about the place. Single wide trailers aren’t made to last and when the family has no respect for it, there are bound to be repercussions. Moose and I needed an inexpensive place to live and this worked well for our needs. We never meant it to be permanent. This place has enabled us to live within our means while paying a mortgage. We met new friends. We have had wonderful experiences during this time that we wouldn’t have had otherwise. Yet, we can’t wait to move. In under three weeks, we could be in our new place.

01 March 2013

The Chronicles of Prydain

By Lloyd Alexander

This year at LTUE there were several panels on Lloyd Alexander. I hadn’t realized the difficult time he had getting anything published, but that is a story for another day, and you should probably hear it from one of the experts, not me. The five books include: THE BOOK OF THREE, THE BLACK CAULDRON, THE CASTLE OF LLYR, TARAN WANDERER, and THE HIGH KING.

THE CHORNICLES OF PRYDAIN hold a dear place in my heart because I can remember my mother reading them to me as a child. It is a series of five fantasy novels that follow the course of Taran, Assistant Pig-Keeper who dreams of grandeur. He meets several people on his journey (my personal favorite being Fflewddur Fflam a bard who likes to elaborate his stories). Now on to the review.

The parts that draw me in:
I remember parts from when my mother read them to me. That is what makes a good story in my mind, when even after years of reading them I can still remember vivid scenes. This was most obviously seen in the characters. As I mentioned earlier, Fflewddur is my favorite and the reason behind it was because of how Alexander made his weakness something that was endearing. The same can be said for the other characters. They aren’t perfect heroes, but they are people I want to cheer for as they overcome their weaknesses and grow.

The other part that I truly loved about this series is the fact that although the books are for children, I remember being touched by what happened. He covers topics such as sacrifice, duty, and love in a manner that isn’t childish but that children can understand. I can remember in THE BLACK CAULDRON a part that made me cry, and I prided myself as a child who didn’t cry. There were other parts that stuck with me and I still think about on a common basis, like the idea that one person divides the cake and the other person gets to pick the piece they want first, though in Prydain they are dividing a flock of sheep or land, I don’t remember the specifics.

The parts that kick me out:
It has been years since I read the books and truthfully I can’t remember the specifics of the plot of the overall series. This isn’t a problem really since I can now go back and reread them and be surprised all over again, but it would be nice if something more stuck out the a few points. If someone were to ask me what it was about I wouldn’t be able to give a very good description without going to Wikipedia first. Though this could also be a fault with my memory.

And I recommend not watching the Disney movie based on THE BLACK CAULDRON. First off, why make a movie off of the second book in a series, and secondly, they leave out one of the most important characters so they had to change the ending which didn’t make it as powerful, but that isn’t why you shouldn’t read the books, that is why you should avoid the movie. Though if you have read the book, the movie will make more sense.

Should you read the series? YES. And read it to your children. The books aren’t long and people of all age will enjoy them. They are classic.

Should you purchase the series? YES. There is an omnibus of the series or you can even buy a boxed set. You can also find them electronically though buying the boxed set is a little more economical (but that is a different type of argument).