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    Ghost Story: Review

    2011 - 08.31

    We’ve both now read Ghost Story by Jim Butcher, and although I think we both enjoyed it, I won’t speak for both of us here.

    It was an interesting and different novel within the Dresden Files, which on many levels it needed to be.  Unfortunately that’s about all that can be said about that without offering spoilers, so I won’t go there.  There are moments in this novel more so than any of the previous novels which contain historical reflection and flashbacks (mostly to scenes which you have not previously experienced in reading the other 12 books in the series, but may have been aware of).  Those were definitely interesting.

    I enjoyed the book, but…

    …well the series has evolved I suppose, and perhaps it’s starting to leave me behind.  We’ll see.  Unlike the Laurell K. Hamilton, Anita Blake series which started great and then seemed to devolve (and which is now starting to re-emerge and capture some of that original magic), the Dresden Files has been a continuous and natural progression and expansion of the characters, their responsibilities and the world.  If it hadn’t happened, although I might on some level be enjoying the stories more, I’d probably be complaining that it seemed unrealistic.  Sort of how Bart Simpson has been the same age for over 20 years…

    I digress.  Changes was such a monumental book that any follow up would be difficult, despite the fact that a follow up was clearly necessary.  Ghost Story does a good job of being that follow up novel, and sets the continued path for the series moving forward.  Is it as action packed as many of the other stories, no.  Does that change the feel of the story, it sure does.  In the long term will I appreciate this story for the complexity it adds to the character and the series, probably.  So I think it’s a good addition, and one which I’ll probably appreciate more later, but at the moment it feels as though something was missing, a little je ne sais quoi.

    Regardless you should read it, and the other 12 books, and the various short stories, novellas, and anthologies with related tales.  It’s worth the effort.

    P.S.  How cool of a Halloween costume would it be to go as Harry Dresden?  And what are the odds that anyone would actually recognize who you were dressed as?

    Strike Back

    2011 - 08.30

    Keeping with the TV Theme for the week, we’ve been watching Strike Back on HBO Canada, which is a UK/USA co-production, it should not be confused with Strike Back a purely UK production which aired earlier this year on Showcase.  Or perhaps it should be confused with it, as the latter was a 6-episode series based on a book by Chris Ryan, while the former is a 10-episode series which is a sequel to the first.  The confusion exists because none of that is explained during the show or advertising.

    Regardless of the pedigree or confusion (assuming one was even previously aware of the multiple series) so far it’s been an enjoyable and “fun” show.  It reminds me a little of 24 and CTU, although Jack Bauer never really had a partner in the field like they do in this series.  Also, not being constrained by the real-time story telling there is able to be more action during a given episode.

    So yet another HBO show we’re watching.  Added to the list: True Blood, Boardwalk Empire, Game of Thrones.  If they keep this up, soon there will be enough of them to keep us going year round.

    Photomatix: Educational Pricing

    2011 - 08.29

    The other week we contacted Photomatix to see if Karin qualified for their educational pricing, and it turns out she did!  So we now have a licensed version of the software for 60% off the regular price.  We sent in a scan of her BC College of Teachers card and that was sufficient evidence.

    Amusingly we have done next to nothing with the software since we bought it, but it does mean that we can now put together HDR photos without the watermarks on them, so maybe we’ll soon have some of those decorating our walls.  It’s also a good reason for us to do more of that type of photography… so you may see more experimentation in the coming months.

    Showcase Review

    2011 - 08.28

    Yesterday I was talking about all the new fall shows on Showcase, many of which we watch and enjoy, but I remember when Showcase was one of those fringe channels that aired weird and risky stuff.  I suppose they do still at times air risky stuff, but there’s a big difference between Kenny vs. Spenny and Venus in Furs.

    Anyway, just wondering what really happened to the Showcase Review hosted by Chas Lawther (YouTube clip), and whether there’s any chance that it will come back, or perhaps have something similar picked up by another channel (Bravo would seem the most likely).  To be honest I don’t know how many years it’s been since it’s been gone, but it would be really interesting to see some of the movies they showed in HD, and in truth a list of the movies which were broadcast as part of the Showcase Review would be really interesting, if anyone has access to such a thing.

    Showcase: Heads up TV season starts Tuesday

    2011 - 08.27

    Looks like Showcase is getting a jump on the competition, and Shaw really does seem to be trying to turn Showcase into a big player.  Here’s some highlights of things which will be happening over the next could of weeks:

    1. Burn Notice (Season 3) starts Tuesday August 30th (10pm)
    2. Royal Pains (Season 2) starts Wednesday August 31st (10pm)
    3. Warehouse 13 (Season 3) starts Thursday September 1st (10pm)
    4. Lost Girl (Season 2) starts Sunday September 4th (9pm)
    5. Covert Affairs (Season 2) starts Sunday September 4th (10pm)

    They are already airing Haven (Season 2), so they’ve got a lot of stuff going on.  Important things to note, if you’re watching in HD on Shaw at least, those 10pm times above are a lie, as there is no western ShowcaseHD, so all those shows air at 7pm, and Lost Girl airs at 6pm on Sundays.  The shows during the week actually air at 7pm and 9pm (10pm and midnight eastern).  If you’re not watching in HD then then times are correct in their ads, etc…

    If you’re paying attention you’ll notice that it’s Royal Pains season 2, even though Showcase didn’t air season 1 (I think Global did last year), it’s Warehouse 13 season 3 even though other seasons aired on Space or CityTV, so it might be weird to join mid-series if you haven’t otherwise been watching.  Both shows air on US networks which don’t have a Canadian equivalent or broadcast partner.

    The others are continuations of series which have aired previously on Showcase.

    One really cool thing worth mentioning is that Lost Girl will have 22 episodes in it’s second season, which is way above the typical specialty channel order of at most 13.

    So if you don’t still have series recordings set up, now is the time to get on that, and BREAK!*

    * “and BREAK!” is a reference to the film Fired Up! definitely not one of the world’s best movies, but funny and if you’ve seen it you’ll know how hard it is to not use that phrase after watching the movie.

    Time Eaters

    2011 - 08.26

    I always feel vaguely guilty when I send out a Facebook request for yet another one of their games.  I try very hard to only send it to people who already play those kinds of games so as not to completely spam my friends list, but when they accept and then start playing, I can’t help but feel responsible for the absolute waste of a time suck these games are.  I currently really only play two games, but they are gigantic black holes.  One of them was down for a couple of days and I managed to write several thousand words, edit several thousand more and send a couple of stories into the world to be looked at (one was rejected, but has subsequently been tossed back into the cold toward a different editor).

    I feel guilty when I play them, but they’re so freaking addictive. In some ways it’s really like a heroin addict. When they see the paraphrenalia of their addiction, it sets up a massive craving in their system until they succumb to the craving and use the drug.  When I see advertisements for my FB games, or their icons in my sidebar, or when their names come up in my browser history, or I see someone playing them, I get the massive craving.  Even sitting down at my computer will cause it unless I manage to sidetrack myself by going into email or if I’ve got a story already open on my desktop.

    Avoidance helps. Last summer I deleted all of my games and went completely cold turkey for nearly six months before starting “just one game” over Christmas break.  Setting up routines helps.  Email, Facebook and Twitter on my phone (because it doesn’t run Flash) then straight to Ralan or a word processer instead of a web browser.

    Wow, writing all of this really drives home the fact that this is a form of addiction.  I’m familiar with 12 Step programs…pretty sure that this is a -holic type of thing…I’m just not sure if I’m ready to seek help yet.

    Going down that road again…

    2011 - 08.25

    Today I filled out the form that registered this year’s Ace Race (Disc Golf tournament), I’m losing track as to if this will be the 5th or 6th one of these I’ve done.  It looks like there’s more interest this year with one being run in Kelowna and Cambell River/Comox, there also might be one in Tsawwassen.  Which really just means that people will have more choice and won’t have to go to the one in Burnaby this year.  That’s cool.  It’s good for the sport overall to have more interest and to get more discs in more people’s hands.

    Full promotion will likely start next week once a few more details are ironed out.

    Happy Birthday Christopher!

    2011 - 08.24

    Tonight we celebrated our friend Christopher’s 32nd birthday at Red Robin.  We hadn’t been to Red Robin in quite a while and even longer since we’d gone to the one by Coquitlam Centre.  Burgers were eaten, freckled lemonade (a LOT of freckled lemonade) was consumed, gluten free/dairy free cake was eaten and greatly enjoyed, friends were visited with, small children were amusing and amused by adults.  Gooey cheese sticks were also eaten, and some were fed to a six year old…who quite enjoyed them, despite (or perhaps because of) the jalapeno.

    Best of all, they made Christopher stand on his chair to be sung to.  Hee. :)

    Happy birthday! :)

    Blackberry Syrup

    2011 - 08.23

    Yesterday, I made blackberry syrup from blackberries that I picked near our condo in Burnaby.  Everything has been a little late, due to weather stuff, but some hardy berries ripened enough for me to sneak up on their thorns and grab them.

    I wanted a simple recipe, so I looked around online.  The simplest recipes seemed to be berries, sugar the same or less than the amount of berries, water. I can do that!

    My actual recipe:

    • 3 C blackberries (because that’s what I had)
    • 3 C sugar (because the berries were a little early and I wanted to counter and sour/bitterness)
    • 1/2 C water

    Mash berries and sugar together in larger saucepan/pot than you think you’ll need because berry related spills are a pain in the @$$. Check recipe online and quickly add the water that you may or may not have forgotten.  Mash and cook until it gets to a boil.  Simmer for 15 minutes, let it cool for 15 minutes. (OPTIONAL STEP: Let significant other taste test it on ice cream.)  Strain out syrup, mushing the seeds and pulp to get as much as you can out. (OPTIONAL STEP: Eat the leftover seeds and pulp, especially on yogurt…yummy!)  Use syrup on pancakes, waffles, ice cream, in drinks…whatever.  I’m planning to use a little of it to flavour whipping cream for a roll cake.


    2011 - 08.22

    Generally speaking, I’m a sunshine kinda gal, but since I don’t do too much outside and I’m on vacation from wrangling children and having supervision in the rain…I quite enjoyed the weather today.  It was cooler, the air felt way less dry and I enjoyed the sound of the rain coming down outside.  As long as I’m inside and the rain is outside, I like a little change in the weather.

    I would not be opposed to sun tomorrow though.  Let’s not get too crazy with good things. :)

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