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               Quiet week all around, actually. This is not a surprise, as there is not much going on in this part of the world at this time of year. We are currently having a drizzling rain which almost immediately turns into black ice, so even if we had had any plans to go out, they would be getting cancelled.

              I finished a novel by Elmore Leonard and I have started reading a book that my younger brother recommended, which is a rarity. Usually I am the one that suggests stuff to him; so far, it is very good and I am looking forward to it.

              I am watching the second season of the Legend of Korra, which is the continuation of the Avatar animated series on Nickelodeon. It is still great.

              I am making increasing use of Spotify and the separate speakers that my friend had the good sense to install on my desktop when he built the thing. I am finding a lot of music that I listened to thirty years ago, Cthulu help me.

              On all of the other fronts, no news is good news, as far as I am concerned.

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This Weekly Thing

I ended up having a two hour long conversation with my boss on Monday of last week. I got multiple problems solved by doing so, although there is not anything I can do about personality. So I am letting that go, and trying to focus on what I managed to accomplish. I will also ignore the fact that I did not think several of the topics were ones that I should have had to bring up as problems, but anyway.

              My better half and I are making great progress with regards to cleaning and purging parts of the house. Today was spent giving the bedroom a complete overhaul, dusting from ceiling to floors, moving all of the furniture to get all of the copious dust bunnies that accumulate over time, and vacuuming. Pillows are being thrown out and replaced, and we now also have an air filter machine, the merits of which are unknown as of yet, as this was the first day of operation.

              We just finished watching the first season of The Legend of Korra from Nickilodeon, and I am in the midst of reading Mr. Majestyk, by Elmore Leonard. So far I am enjoying it, as it has a minimalism to it that I appreciate, not dissimilar to the Ian Fleming Bond novels.

              Laundry has been going on all day, of course.

              I contacted my friend with Lou Gehrig’s Disease today, and he sounds terrible. However, considering that he is still on the upswing from recovering from pneumonia, and given his condition under the best of circumstances, it is good to be able to still talk to him at all. To his surprise, he did not have to go to the hospital, but it was a close thing, and it was possibly something that he should have done anyway, but anyway.

              I watched a movie last night called Lone Survivor; it had some good parts, but I would not recommend it overall.    

              I continue to visit the local ASPCA website daily, but no luck as of yet finding another dog. It will take some time, I am sure. I discovered that the dogs that are brought in by groups on occasion come from a high kill shelter in Texas, of all places. Now that I know that, there are several breeds that show up that I am surprised I can find with such frequency in such a state. Who knew?

The weekend

My supervisor returns tomorrow. That could be fun. Or not.

              We got five to eight inches of snow last night. We were visiting some cousins that we had not seen for a couple of years yesterday, so we stayed at a hotel in Manchester because the weather was that bad.

              Could I have gotten us home last night? Yes.

              Should I have driven last night? No.

              The fact that we did not get started until ten last night did not help, and really determined it for us. It was worth it, however, for the visit, as we were the only ones who made it there. We had taken the weather into account and packed some basic toiletries in case we stayed overnight somewhere, anyway. Everything worked out fine, as a result.

              Now if only the new plowing company the condominium association hired could improve on their work, things would be rather good. No luck this time, though. Ah, well.

              I will be doing housework and paying bills this afternoon. There are worse fates.

And Now, For Something Completely Different

Books of 2014

Payment in Blood, by Elizabeth George – This book was just as good as her first, and in some ways, even better, as you had far more potential suspects. You got a bit more background on the main protagonists, which also kept things interesting. Either I somehow missed this series as I was growing up, or I was not paying attention enough. Either way, I have a lot of fun ahead of me as I play catch-up. I might have to read a second one of these this year.

The Fellowship of the Ring, by J.R.R. Tolkien – I decided that I was going to read the trilogy in the entirety for the first time in my life. I discovered it decades ago, and while I have read individual chapters to the point of being damn near memorized word for word, I had never read everything, start to finish. The chapters I mentioned still have their same hold over me that they always have, but this time, I had whole new chapters I could appreciate. I might not have ever left Tom Bombadil’s house, truth be told, had I been fortunate enough to go there.

Con Man, by Ed McBain – My continued sojourn through the fifty-plus novels that this author did in his lifetime. As usual, second to none for straight police procedural. Set the standard, in all probability, for authors of today. And if not, then he should be considered as such.

Carrie, by Stephen King – I was going through my notebook of authors and realized that I did not have him in it. Then, when I compiled the list of his works, I realized that he had produced such a volume of work, that I had not read vast tracts of it. And for several of the works that I had read, it had been years, if not decades since I had read them. Hence, my starting here. I had never read this one, and now I wish I had done so years ago. A simple and straightforward tale, and who knew that King would write an entire book about bullying decades before it would become a social awareness phenomenon? Because that is what this book is, when you get right down to it.

Killer’s Choice, by Ed McBain – See previous entry

The Two Towers, by J.R.R. Tolkien – I was under the mistaken impression that having this book divided up into two sections where there was no alternating the characters would bother me. It was a more extreme case of books four and five of George’s series, really. I had no problem as it turned out, of course. Enjoyed it more than I thought I was going to, particularly with how much JRRT had the orcs conversing with one another. Unexpected bonus, that. I should not have been surprised.

Night Shift, by Stephen King – Despite this being one of his oldest books, and that I have read individual stories so many times I have no idea of the frequency of them, it did not change the fact that I have never read this book cover to cover before. So, naturally, I should not have been surprised to learn that I enjoyed the majority of them, and even the ones that I did not like so much, at least now I can say that I have read them. This book is my brother’s favorite of his work, I believe. If not, it is at the very least my brother’s favorite collection of short stories by King. I can see why.

Diamonds are Forever, by Ian Fleming – While I have been enjoying the man’s work, I have to say that this is his weakest book of the bunch so far. Still minimalistic, still enjoyable, but more mundane and less enjoyable. I am aware of other work of his with this series that I am not optimistic about when I get to them, but so far, this is easily the worst of the lot.

The Moonshine War, by Elmore Leonard – I had never read a book by this particular author before, and I decided that I was long overdue, particularly since I knew that he had had several movies made based on his novels, as well as the television show Justified. I enjoyed the book, as it was simple and straightforward. A little predictable, but that was due more towards my prolific reading resulting in my being able to figure out things faster. I have another one of his on my to-be-read pile, so he cannot be doing that bad.

The Dirty Duck, by Martha Grimes – Another winner from this author; she is very consistent, and I have yet to encounter one of this series that disappoints me. Having now cursed myself, I am sure I will now come across one in short order. Or, maybe I will luck out and it will be a few books yet. I do know that the newer books get ever thicker, and I never know if that is a good sign or not. In the meantime, however, I still enjoy this series.

Purple Cane Road, by James Lee Burke – I always enjoy this author’s stories, but I also keep hoping that one of the two main characters, who is described constantly as about the same size and demeanor of a mountain gorilla, will get into a decent one-on-one fight. Alas, no such luck. But it is nice to read about what the author thinks Louisiana is like. I hope to be able to compare it for myself in a few more years. In the meantime, I will keep enjoying these. Not mysteries quite so much as, what? Suspense, maybe, or crime, at least. It doesn’t matter.

The Return of the King, by J.R.R. Tolkien – The pace of this novel is distinctly faster than the other two. The trek across the plains of Gorgoroth was nowhere near the drudge that I remembered, or thought that it had been. The author really does leave a great deal to the imagination of the reader, and I still appreciate the man’s brilliant use of language. I read far more of the appendices than I have ever done before, but I still cannot say that I technically read this one cover to cover. The appendix on languages I could not get through. At least I can say I read all of the rest, though, which I could never say before.

Watership Down, by Richard Adams - I know that I have read this at some point since I started doing these lists, but to hell with it. I watched the animated movie on DVD not long ago on a whim, and that got me wanting to read the book again to do a comparison. It is still a classic, and everyone should read it. I do have to say that I think the cartoon General Woundwort comes across as far more scary than he does in the book, however. This might be influenced by the fact that I saw the movie on television decades ago before I had read the book. It does not matter; I love them both. The cartoon movie is faithful, but whomever decided that it should be rated PG should have to explain their justification for it.

Digger, by Ursula Vernon – This was an omnibus of a comic that was done online first, then printed in twelve volumes, and finally in this massive tome. It was awesome. The lead character is a female wombat; the majority of the lead characters are females; it has a very dry sense of humor which I loved; it was very different (attack shrew!); and included morals, ethics, and religion besides. It also features one of the best tragic characters I have come across in a long time. Unless something comes along after this, this is the best new thing I have read this year. If you have not read this, correct this lapse immediately.

The Black Echo, by Michael Connelly – This was the first book that this author wrote, and I was very happy with how good it was. Chalk up another mystery writer whose works I need to collect. At least I have no lack of reading material in this genre. It was not suspense, nor police procedural. I am not really sure how to describe it, to be honest, but as long as I enjoyed it, that is the important thing, I suppose.

A Serpent’s Tooth, by Craig Johnson – Another book in the Longmire series, which has had a television show based on this author’s books for about three years now. Inexplicably, despite the show being the highest rated show the specific television station has, they did not renew it, and I really hope it gets picked up by someone else. In the meantime, I actually read this book out of sequence from the others, but I did not care, and I enjoyed it as much as all of the others I have read in the series so far. I am wondering how long the author can have his protagonist do this, despite the fact that the stories are fiction. He is not depicted as a young man by any means, so I sometimes wonder what, if anything, the author will do with this fact. I can only wait.

From Russia, With Love, by Ian Fleming – The best book written by the author so far, although I found it ironically far more interesting throughout the book before they finally get on the train. It lags a bit from there, but it is easy to see why the film version is one of the closest the producers did to the actual novel. And if you didn’t have so much Bond knowledge prior to the books, the last page ends on a really good frustrating note, if there can be such a thing.

Firestarter, by Stephen King – I had not read this one for a while, and I was happy to discover that it holds up very well. King has a certain amount of minimalism here, and the story is streamlined, compared to some (okay, most) of his later works. While there is a credible job of depicting the problem that a child with pyrokinesis causes, the idea that a federal government organization has the power and/or authority to dictate what an eight year old girl can and cannot do works wonders at making the organization the villain. Or, let me put it to you another way – any federal government that cannot come up with better methods than the ones used against a child as depicted in this book, is not a government that I support, or one that I want to obey, or be a citizen of.

The Black Lung Captain, by Chris Wooding – The short version is that this is a very good variation of Firefly, and an enjoyable second book in the quartet that the author has done regarding this particular cast of characters in this world that he has created. I am looking forward to the next one.

Books from 2013

Happy New Year.
I cannot remember if I ever got around to posting this once I had digitally recreated it.  So this is probably a duplication.  Oh, well.

Death Without Company, and

Kindness Goes Unpunished, by Craig Johnson – I enjoyed the first book so much I went and read the next two. The stories give an idea of what it is like to live out west, in addition to being good stories.

The Halloween Tree, by Ray Bradbury – A book that I wish I had discovered years ago, and deals with how the holiday is dealt with around the world. I thought it a pity it was not longer.

Bitter Seeds, by Ian Tregillis – Almost my favorite for the year, and the fact that it was a first novel gives me great hope for his future.

Flood, by Andrew Vachss* - This one has not aged well over the years since I first read it. I hope that his other books improved as he wrote more.

The Cold Commands, by Richard K. Morgan – I am enjoying the series; although it is best described as summer reading, as I define it. Much higher standard for this type of fare, fortunately.

A Test of Wills, by Charles Todd – Another first novel, and I did not figure this one out, although I was using logic, and the killer was insane in a literal sense, which is not often encountered in mysteries.

The Body in the Library, by Agatha Christie – She may have been the Grand Dame of mysteries, but Miss Marple’s first adventure is not one of her better efforts.

Redlaw, by James Lovegrove – Summertime schlock, although fractionally better than usual for this fare.

Moonraker, by Ian Fleming – I appreciate the writer’s minimalism more with each book. I continue to enjoy the series more than I was anticipating.

Mugger and Pusher, by Ed McBain – I still have found no other author, living or dead, who does better police procedurals than this man. I am reading more of his, because he also published about fifty books in this series, and I am now trying to read them on a quarterly basis. Otherwise, I might not finish before dying.

Cadillac Jukebox, by James Lee Burke – Yes, I read this one a second time, because I was stupid enough not to mark it off as read. By the time I realized it for certain, I figured, to hell with it, and finished it. So now I have that book better memorized than some others.

Changes, by Jim Butcher – He continues to improve, and he continues to need improvement. Still, consistent summer time schlock.

Deathstalker, by Simon R. Green – More summer schlock, but I enjoy it, so what the hell.

The Anodyne Necklace, by Martha Grimes – Another solid mystery from this author, also. I like Elizabeth George better, but this has more amusing characters. Usually. There are one or two supporting cast members who I wish she would drop or kill off, but, oh well.

Fevre Dream, by some author whose name I forget – This is so damn much better than the Armageddon Rag, I wish I had read this one first. A solid work. Almost makes me wish he had more stand-alone books.

The Company, by KJ Parker – I spent vast amounts of time wondering if I was missing information that had been given to me while reading this. I spend time wondering if I liked or hated almost all of the characters. I spent time appreciated the odd paths that the storyline went, which remained intelligent regardless of where it wandered. I spent time wondering if I loved the ending, or felt like I had been cheated. So, screw it. If I spent that much time thinking about the book even while I was reading it, that makes it the best one I read last year, even though I still do not know if I like the thing.

The Unlikely Spy, by Daniel Silva – Definitely one of the better additions to the WWII spy genre, of which there is a plethora. I will be trying this author’s other work at some point. Of course, I say that about almost everyone, so who knows if I will succeed or not.

Greatshadow, by James Maxey – Put another check into the summer schlock category, under acceptable.

The holidays

              I remain undecided whether the benefits of the holidays outweigh the stress and aggravation that also occurs at this time of year.

              I am still miserable about the death of Hunter. The fact that the decision to put him down was the correct one is irrelevant. I keep thinking I will see him appear in various doorways, amongst other tricks that my memory and imagination keep playing on me.

              My family is doing well, although my brother and his better half are in various stages of their respective colds. Charlene’s father is doing well physically, anyway. Our stay with her parents on Christmas day was merciful in how brief it was.

              The weather has been unusual in how warm it has been, exceeding forty degrees farenheit since Wednesday.

              Tomorrow starts my first full week of being understaffed at work, both in terms of a co-worker gone and my boss being out on vacation until 1/5. That is a mixed blessing. I find myself thinking more and more that I should just make decisions on my own and follow the adage that it is better to ask forgiveness than permission. Another adage I am thinking is truthful is the one that states if you want something done right, do it yourself.

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Shitass ratfuck

This is one of those classic examples where you know what is going to happen, and you wish that you could be wrong, but it just is not going to be.
The better and more tolerable co-worker gave her two-week notice today.
Because, you know, the holidays are not stressful enough already.
I wish her the best of luck, but I am so not looking forward to the fallout from this.
I continue to hope that the interim CEO will come down on my boss's head like an anvil.

The Holidays are upon us

              It never ceases to amaze me how fast a four-day weekend can go. I have not been to work since Wednesday, and I am trying to figure out how it got to be Sunday evening again already. Not good.

              We lost power for two hours Wednesday night due to the very heavy and wet snowstorm that started earlier that afternoon. It caused 100,000 people in NH to lose power, if not more. This included Regina’s parents, so we did not end up going to their house on Thursday as planned. Instead, we relaxed all day and had chocolate chip pancakes with bacon.

              Friday we drove to Maine to spend the weekend with my parents, who are both doing well, as is my brother and his better half. We spent hours chatting and catching up. Regina managed to find some clothing she “needed” at a clothing store, and I got a bunch of music and movies from another store that I have been looking for, including three Pink Floyd albums that I did not have yet.

              I have been enjoying a bunch of murder mysteries as of late; reading a lot more in general the last few weeks. Lousy weather results in that for me, apparently. Other than my increasingly idiot boss at work and the deteriorating health of the dog, things in general have been pretty good around here lately. Knock on wood.

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Blah Blah Blah

              Things have been quiet as of late. Which is good; bad enough that we are halfway through the month of November already. Still not quite sure how that happened.

              Work continues to be a little tense between my two co-workers, and my boss has not improved. But, I am managing to keep my head down and stay out of the potential line of fire. One good thing to develop is that one of the co-workers, who is probably in bigger trouble despite being the obvious better employee overall, is the ONLY person in the entire hospital who possesses a certification that the interim CEO wants to put into use. So she has been having multiple meetings with him and other high-ranking personnel as of late. I hope that something will develop for her out of all this.

              I have been reading more, since being in the dark all the time seems to make doing that more appropriate. I just finished two decent mysteries; one of which was the first of a series that I have to start digging more into immediately, it was that good.

              I have not made any more progress with Led Zeppelin lately; the release of the new Pink Floyd album has had me revisiting several of their albums this past week. I have not made up my mind about the new one; I have not listened to it enough yet. Spotify is fun for finding a lot of the old eighties stuff that I listened to during junior high and high school. I can sing along with some songs almost as well as I can with ABBA. Product of a seventies childhood, I guess.

Damn winter is approaching

              Well, this was the weekend where we turned the clocks back. I have nothing against darkness; I have a great dislike of being in the dark this large an amount due to the time of year. I will try to console myself with the fact that it will start getting lighter out every day after 12/21. Until then, I will have to take more vitamin D and try to endure being outside as often as I can. What a miserable change of pace from last weekend, however. We went from sixty-five down to thirty-five. Gah.

              After having it sit on a shelf for years, I decided to finally open up the gift set of the entire album collection of Led Zeppelin that my brother gave me for Christmas once. It occurred to me that I had never listened to all of their albums, and I decided that I was overdue. I have listened to the first four albums of theirs, so far. The first one is surprisingly good, the second is terrible, the third is okay, and the fourth, perhaps unsurprisingly, is my favorite so far. All of these opinions are based on having listened to each album at least twice. I am going to continue to replay them, to see if any of them grow on me over time. However, I need to continue with the rest, at some point. My opinion of one and four are pretty set; it is the second and third albums that I want to concentrate on before moving forward.

              Does anyone have a spare sixty-five thousand dollars that they feel like giving to me, gratis? I ask this because I find myself in the very rare situation of lusting after a very specific car. I saw an advertisement for the 2015 Dodge Charger Hellcat, and immediately said WANT.

              Now, I am a stringent and avowed environmentalist, and this car goes completely against every ecological principle that I hold dear. Alas, I find that it does not matter.

              I was always a fan of the Dodge Charger that Steve McQueen was pursuing in the movie Bullitt; I realize most of the attention was on the admittedly sweet green Mustang that he was driving, but what most people have no clue on is that the justifiably famous stunt driver in the Charger was HOLDING BACK. The driver had to ease up on the gas because the Charger was going too fast for the Mustang.

              The Hellcat has 707HP, a top speed of 204 mph, and is billed as the fastest sedan in the world. Damn, I would love to drive one just once.