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Snips and Snails and Puppy Dog Tales
My current book review policy is behind the LJ cut. Click to read it.Collapse )

(Art by hamburger.)

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It feels like a wasted weekend. Other than some light shopping on Saturday, I didn't do much other than watch stuff. Work is rough right now, and I just needed some downtime to rest my brain.

I started out trying One Punch Man (an anime series). I've heard nothing but good things about it from people, but it just didn't work at all for me. I didn't even make it through one single ep. I didn't hate it, but the humor fell totally flat for me, and I'm just not interested in anime much anymore.

An author I know loves Blake's 7, and I've been meaning to give that a try, so I loaded it up next. It's a British sci-fi show from the late 70s through early 80s. It wasn't bad, there was nothing wrong with it, but after four and a half eps it hadn't hooked me at all, so I gave up on it. The best part about the show was discovering how heavily the author's work referenced the show -- everything from the governments being named the same thing (The Administration), to the name of groups (like the police), and, after seeing Blake's 7, I believe even the writer's main characters are based on characters from the show.

Lastly, with very low expectations, I checked out Goosebumps (the movie). I was seriously surprised at how much I enjoyed it! It alternated between cute and sweet. (And I bet I would have liked it even more if I had read any of the books.)

Jack Black played R.L Stine, and I actually... liked him in the role. I've never liked Black in anything, he tends to set my teeth on edge, so I'm really surprised that he worked for me here.

Goosebumps may have been aimed at "tweens" (hate that word), but it worked very well for adult me as well.

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I'm a technical writer, and I've inherited a set of documents I have to maintain. Someone else created them, someone else named them. One of the file names is anal_timing. It's about timing analyst, so there's plausible deniability on the name, but every time I have to refer to them to someone else, I'm embarrassed. However, as long-time readers of my LJ know, my humor is kind of out of wack -- if someone brought me a file named anal_timing, I'd have a hard time not snickering out loud. My brain would SO go to the adult meaning first. But would other people?

So help me, friends list! What do you think about having a file at work named anal_timing? While the name could be seen as fitting, there are many other, not-potentially-offensive names that would fit too.

Poll #2035897 Offensive or not?

anal_timing: Yay or nay?

Yeah, that's not a file name I'd use at work...
You're overreacting, it's fine
Could go either way, better to name it something else to be safe
Something else I'll put in comments

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Since turning off my cable TV, I've reduced my television watching by... not much at all. Oddly, the only real difference is what I watch instead of how much -- and the quality of what I've watched has gone UP. How strange is that?

Before turning my service off, I had had no idea just how many TV shows were available online (from other countries, offered through websites -- no need to download anything, just watch through the site!). It's actually better watching things this way than cable TV, since I can watch what I want when I want. (Other than live TV. While there are ways to watch that online, they're spotty and for some reason always run on EST. Watching the evening news at 2 PM and primetime shows at 5 PM is just not all that workable for me.)

I watched a few seasons of Robot Chicken straight through (I had abandoned that show early on, driven away by its more immature and crude/violent moments, but the later seasons have fewer of those and more bits that are a match for my humor). Then I realized I had to catch up with the end of Master Chef Junior. Once done with that, I looked at what other Master Chef shows were available...

Master Chef South Africa Celebrity. Hm! In all my time watching TV, I never even wondered what a cooking show in South Africa would be like. Let alone a Celebrity version of one. So I settled in to watch it. While I didn't recognize even once single celebrity, it was still a very nice series! I enjoyed what I watched of the season! (Unfortunately a few episodes were missing.) There was so much interesting stuff -- getting to know these local-to-SA celebrities and, even better, seeing the kinds of charities that exist there. If the series had been based in the US, I would have been bored by the visits to the charities to see the people there and the work they do, but seeing that information from South Africa? So interesting!

Currently I'm marathoning Deadliest Catch. I don't know why I stopped watching the series, but it's great to get back to it.

So thank you, people of India. Who knew that most uploaded TV was done through your country? You keep poor, broke me entertained though my quiet times at home.

(I had wanted to include links to the shows and sites, but my bookmarks are at home and I'm at work. If anyone would like to see where I do much of my viewing, or have a link to any show mentioned here, just leave a comment!)

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Paleo by Jim Lawson
Rating: Disliked (Hated-Disliked-Okay-Liked-Loved)

Book received free for review from Dover Publications.

I like dinosaurs. I like stories told from an animal's POV. So I should like Paleo since it's stories told from dinosaurs' POVs. Unfortunately the art made it really hard to like (and read).

This screenshot was taken at 1:1 ratio from the book itself, not messed up through compression or something:

The text was hard to read, and the art looked like it was straight from newspaper print.

Apparently this book was created from a webcomic, and the art and text is crystal clear on the website, so maybe it's some issue with this protected PDF format I was given for review.

I enjoyed the stories, though the dinosaurs tended to be anthropomorphized more than I would like.

I'll probably look through the webcomic's site at some point, but unfortunately I personally would pass on this graphic novel. Even if the art/text quality issues appeared only in this file for review, all the artwork in the book is in simple black and white -- even just a few added splashes of color here and there would make it more interesting to look at.

[Every year, I use one book to list/give me credit for all the graphic novels, unfinished books, children's books, etc that I've read for the year. This year, it's Book #6. Exciting times!]

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I ate the other half of the batch this morning, and it was just as good as yesterday. So sitting made in the fridge for 24 hours extra doesn't hurt it at all. In fact, I liked the walnuts better this time, they seemed more a part of the oatmeal than something just tossed on top.

This is good news, as I can make a larger batch (using a whole banana at once) and then divide it out each day.

Sure do wish I had saved more of it yesterday. I hope I can reproduce this and make it this well again. Mmmm.

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Usually I eat the same breakfast every day: A Quest protein bar. They're very yummy, but quite expensive, and as I like to also have one in the evening after dinner, I somehow got up to eating two of them in a day. So I was poking around, looking for other (cheap, low calorie) breakfast options. The fact that I don't like eggs much restricts things further.

I subscribe to The Hungry Girl's diet newsletters. And while I don't often have much success with her recipes, when I saw the no cook oatmeal idea, I was interested to try it. A GIANT helping of oatmeal for 300 calories? Especially when the oatmeal has fruit, nuts, yogurt, milk and other stuff in it? I was willing to give it a try!

Then I made it, and I started to have serious second thoughts. Who wants to eat oatmeal straight from the fridge? Cold and probably wallpaper paste-like? But I had made it, so I brought it to work -- worse comes to worst, I could toss it out and eat one of my Quest bars.

But know what? This is absolutely delicious! (Except when I get a bite where I didn't mix the yogurt in enough, those are kind of icky.)

Somehow that it's cold doesn't matter, it almost seems like it works better cold. Even though I had no maple extract, it still tastes pretty darned close to banana bread. Yummy!

Recipe and notes back here.Collapse )

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Long, long ago, Discover was running a promotion: Sign up for a credit card, and get a free GPS for your car. (This was well before cellphone apps.) "Great!" I said. "Sign me up!" As soon as I got the GPS, I canceled the credit card.

The Discover ran another promotion: Sign up for a credit card, and get a $200 Disney gift card. "Great!" I said. "Sign me up!" As soon as I got the gift card, I canceled the credit card.

Sometime soon after that I learned that opening and closing credit cards like that could hurt your credit score, so I stopped doing it. But I got a GPS and big gift card out of it, and my credit score is outstanding now, so no harm done.

The problem was, it was a Disney-only gift card. Now and again I went into a Disney store and checked the online store, but there was never anything I really wanted. Then one year I decided to just give it away, but that seemed like too much trouble (same with using one of those giftcard exchange sites), so I tossed it into a drawer.

I've really, really been liking this new The Lion Guard show, and what better way to show my support of it than buying merchandise of it? So I decided to buy this set. To be honest, I wouldn't have bought it if not for the card. I only want two of the figures out of it, and it doesn't look as well made as it might be, but... free. And a test to see if a 15+ year old card would even still work (it does, yay!).

When I first got the card, I had thought I might take a trip to Disney and use it there, but that never came to be. Hopefully more Lion Guards items will be added though, and I'll be able to keep chipping away at the balance.

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I don't know if I've ever reviewed a food here before. I probably have, but if so I can't remember when.

Arctic Zero is a very low calorie "ice cream". 35 calories for a serving/quarter of the pint, 150 for the whole pint. I 100% knew it would taste nothing at all like ice cream, but I decided to check it out anyway. I got the chocolate peanut butter flavor, instead of the one pictured here.

While nothing like ice cream, it was surprisingly good. I actually liked it! (Please note it's been a year and a half since I last had any "real" sweet, so that could be coloring my taste of things.) It's more like ice milk than ice cream, but to me it tasted chocolately (weakly, but again, with that calorie count, what can you expect?).

My worry with these fake foods is that they'll make me want the real ones more, or somehow make it easier for me to give in and buy the real version. (I never buy sugar free candy/cookies.) I don't know if that's a valid concern or not. I suspect maybe not. I want to eat more of this -- considering calories and other factors, I would choose this over "real" ice cream.

I picked it up in Sprouts (a small grocery chain in this area) for about $3. Very worth it, in my opinion!


I now have all the cats in Neko Atsume, and I'm kind of quickly losing interest in the game. All that's left to do is buy the last of the toys I don't own yet (just a matter of time), and get the mementos. I don't know if I care enough about the mementos to put much effort at all into it.

On one hand, I'm kind of sad I'm done (sort of done) so soon, but on the other I'm kind of ready to be done with the game.

Last night I dreamed I adopted a new kitten. Though the dream was set in the real world, the kitten looked exactly like a Neko Atsume cat -- a simple drawing. I think I need a break from cat collecting. :P

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Blood & Circuses (Administration Series Book 8) by Manna Francis/manna
Rating: Loved (Hated-Disliked-Okay-Liked-Loved)

More than ten years ago, back in June of 2005, based on isiscolo's recommendation, I first started reading manna's original fic series. (Most of which can still be found online for free on her website.) Since then, I've repeatedly reread it. When she published them as books, I bought physical copies so I could get the new stories she included in them (they're the last physical books I ever bought, too). I love her writing, I love the world she created, I love the characters she writes. So of course I preordered this new book as soon as it was available, and started reading it the day it arrived.

How can I sum up a series that's roughly 700,000 words long thus far? So reviewing the eighth book would make any sense? I tried, but Manna's summary is better than I can do:

Their world is the dark future dystopia of New London, where Europe is controlled by a totalitarian bureaucracy, which shares political power with powerful corporations. The oppressive government uses torture, violence and the various Divisions of the feared Department of Internal Security to maintain power. The corporations fight amongst themselves, using lethal force under the euphemism of 'corporate sabotage', uniting only to resist attempts by the Administration to extend its control over them.

It's M/M, though that doesn't come into play in this book as much as I would have liked. Still, their world is so fascinating, I loved learning more about it.

This book contained four stories:

Innocent Blood - My least favorite of the book, though mostly for personal reasons. I love the Europe this series is set in. I know it's not a nice place, but it's really interesting and I love everything about it. This story visited America, which I hated. In the series, America follows its current course and becomes a religious democracy. Because it seemed like such a likely place that this country will really end up, it just bothered me too much to enjoy the story. Abortions were illegal, being gay was a crime, women had fewer rights, etc. It was too realistic, too likely, for me to enjoy a story set there.

Weekend Plans - I really liked this one, though I read it for free earlier this year, so didn't reread it now. It was about hanging wallpaper, which is more amusing and sweet than it sounds. (The state-sanctioned torturer was the one putting it up, for his partner.)

Constellation of Falling Stars - At first this one had confused me as to why it was included. It featured no characters from the series, and the business was one we hadn't ever touched on yet (music stars). I was really wanting more of the main characters, so I rushed through this one.

For Your Entertainment - Turns out Constellation of Falling Stars did have a purpose! It was tied in to this novella. First person, featuring a character who we previously hadn't known too well ("B-C" Barret-Connor). This was easily my favorite story of the book. I loved seeing everything through his not-quite-normal eyes.

While I would have liked a lot more focus on the main characters, I loved learning so much more about their world. I've been playing on Nationstates since late in 2005, and in all that time I've tried to make my nation as close to Administration as possible, so I especially enjoyed learning more details I could use there.

Highly recommended! Go check out the free stories online, then go buy the books! I can't wait for the next one to come out. :)

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