Saturday, March 30, 2019

A Review of Corruption by Nick Wilford

“Corruption” is the second book in Nick Wilford’s Black and White series. As in any good second act, the success of our heroes comes into question. The apt title alludes to that.

My favorite part of this story is the bold adventure our intrepid trio undertakes. More timid with every passing year, it seems, I enjoy the heroism of others.

Their motive is both clear and laudable. The teenagers’ scientist friend George promised to update Wellesbury Noon and Ezmerelda Dontible, along with Welles’ long lost twin brother, on his group’s quest to cure the insidious disease killing the Loritanian populace, crippling their society. When the kids hear nothing, they don’t sit on their laurels in the relative safety of Whitopolis. They take action.

What they find at the end of their ocean voyage is staggering. One can only imagine how they will make restitution for the evils perpetrated upon this continent. And I look forward to reading just what Mr. Wilford’s mind has conjured.

My only complaint is how unabashed is the evil here. Of course, the series is called “Black and White”. And much younger readers are the target audience, not that I’m anywhere near the most sophisticated person on the planet.

As with the first book, this manuscript is exceptionally clean. That’s important to me, as typographical errors yank me out of a tale faster and with more jarring impact than just about anything else.

Well done, Mr. Wilford. Thank you again for this opportunity to read an advanced, gratis copy. My apologies for the delay in repaying your kindness with a fair review.

If you, dear reader, are interested in dystopian fantasy stories, I hope you will check out this series.

*** Warning – this book contains themes that some sensitive readers may find upsetting. ***
Purchase Links:
Add it on Goodreads

Is there any sort of adventure or act of bravery that would lure you out of your comfort zone?


Sunday, March 24, 2019

Okay, This is Different

My husband shared the following article: Face-eating Squirrels Ravage Jack-O’-Lanterns

Out of season, but funny story. Hope you enjoy the article.

Do you carve jack-o'-lanterns for Halloween?


Saturday, March 23, 2019

Rockin’ the Body and the Brain (not quite over the rainbow)

I have struggled leaving the house ever since our car accident. Kudos to my husband, who prefers not to drive, for stepping up and going by himself on a few occasions for groceries and whatnot. But this is not how I want to live, however mean the world outside can be.

View Outside My House March 14
Going to see a physician on Monday proved to be a positive step forward. Took me three weeks to get an appointment, but learning the occasional stress induced chest pains are just that, nothing serious, and making a plan to get out of this anxious rut got me back to the gym. This morning’s resistance training is my third for this week and proved to be my 462nd total (!) since joining the YMCA a few years ago.

Following my checkup I agreed to go on a super low dose anxiety medication, perhaps just for a few months. We’ll see how it goes. My husband encouraged this, in fact, which told me how much my condition upsets him. He hated when I took Abilify and some anti-depression pill or other years ago, saying they dulled my wit and personality. In 2012 I left my stressful job in exchange for going off the stuff.

I never saw this attending doctor before Monday (so much for keeping your regular doctor through the health insurance marketplace). He and his fellows are working toward residency under guidance of senior physicians including my husband’s longtime doctor. I liked him.

He asked about my dreams. Any nightmares?

Oh, yes.

To that he offered another medication formulated to ease symptoms of an enlarged prostate.

Yes, you read that right. Mine is an off label drug use, with potential of lowered cholesterol and reduced nightmares as possible side effects. So, again, we shall see.

The pharmacist warned me about the drug’s main purpose, as if I didn’t already know and would be offended. As if. I find it all very amusing. My entire adult life I’ve felt like a seventeen year old boy resides in my brain. Why not a fifty year old male? Maybe ‘he’ grew up alongside me in strictly a physical sense and developed prostate issues. My husband found that notion hysterical.

Meanwhile, as I prepared to park near the pharmacy, a nasty driver honked at me for driving too slow. In a parking lot, as I drove behind a pedestrian. Nice, huh? But the joke’s on them because my anxiety level was high enough the honk barely caused a bleep on my mental radar.

This afternoon I’m happy retreating into my fiction. Editing to ‘The Crow’ soundtrack has been therapeutic. I’m about to get back at it while rocking out to band Black Light Burns.

What is your preferred escape from reality?


Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Unveiling of the Blue Meanie

With a little help from my husband (ahem… I’m hearing a certain Beatles song here), I managed to personalize our Volt 2.0, the Blue Meanie, with two of her namesakes. The submarine gave me the biggest problem because I did that one by myself.

It’s a little disappointing that it has a slight front end tilt because I let the turret and steam stack stay attached while resettling the lifted hull. And there are a few tiny bubbles.  Oh, well. He said we could always order another sticker if I feel the need.

Doesn't that car antennae look like it belongs on a submarine? Or a shark?
He had the wise thought to hold the bottom half of the larger sticker away from the window while I started with the ‘bunny ears’ and smoothed downward using a credit card. That one went on like a charm.

Are you seeing sunny weather today?


Thursday, March 14, 2019

Who Let the Hedgehogs Out? – & – Blue Willow Saves the Day

My husband asked me a question this morning that one doesn’t hear every day. “Did you leave a hedgehog out?”

Rather than reply with a facetious query as to who else might have, I concurred.

And no. We didn’t import those spiny mammals into our menagerie.

The last time we shopped the giant international market, Jungle Jim’s, I found these cute Japanese red bean filled buns in a representative shape. They weren’t expensive, so we brought a box home.

Don't call me Sonic...
Sad to say, the texture proved a bit dry, though I appreciated the lack of extreme sweet featured in most Midwest treats. With one left and freezer burn setting in, this lonely critter got set out on a plate to thaw.

Color Enhanced
They had been microwave heated in past, a tricky balance of defrost and high settings. Alas, this countertop method dried out the little guy further, though I’m sure the frost visible on its tiny intact head didn’t help.
The filling was a disappointment...

As you may know, the plate beneath bears the Chinese Blue Willow pattern first popular Stateside in the 1920’s. A fan since childhood (not the Roaring Twenties), I requested a few place settings for our wedding. Selected for special occasions, they saw zero use. For everyday wear and tear, we stuck with his old CorningWare set from long distant college days.

A few years ago I admitted having grown tired of that blue flower pattern and gained approval to choose anew, the old decent set donated to charity. Knowing from reviews that these new bowls would be too tiny for salads, I decided to pull out some more befitting from, you guessed it, my Blue Willow cabinet.

By the way, I bought additional recent manufactures from a kind colleague and avid antique collector, adding to our original collection despite their lack of usage. Anyway, the bowls brought into rotation saw not a single breakage.

Oh, and I once broke a plate from our old CorningWare. Shards appeared for years.

To my chagrin, the same hardiness could not be attributed to the newer CorningWare. After a few months the cute simple swoops became damaged, dulled and disappearing in increments quite unlike those vintage blue flowers.

Looking at our stack of nice untarnished bowls made me decide to replace all that increasingly ugly dishware (to which food tended to cling throughout various dishwashing cycles, I might add). The rest in storage, one now serves as a water catcher for my Christmas cactus.

Wish I had a use for the rest, not much fit for charity.
The China from my former coworker, made in the home country, show more white between the central and edge designs while our original pieces (as shown above) came from England and have a tighter configuration. All are servicing well, holding onto their designs and shrugging off food stains.

Did you know the term ‘blue plate special’ is thought to have originated with this design’s popularity?


Wednesday, March 13, 2019

A Comical Choice and Amusing Accord

Discussion regarding our new Chevrolet Volt led to my sharing prior thoughts on calling her Blue Meanie. My husband liked the idea, as it turned out, having enjoyed with me a recent viewing of the Beatles animated film “Yellow Submarine.”

Mean, yes. Also fun and colorful!
Since we have a collection of plush and plastic sharks honoring our favorite vacation spot, I suggested maybe trying to find a Blue Meanie plushie. That idea fell by the wayside when he found them costing $50 and, in addition, I didn’t want to crowd out the sea life.


Another idea came to me, and I ordered vinyl stickers, including the one above from Redbubble and this below. I hope they hold up well as the one we had on our last Volt, again advertising our love of North Carolina’s Outer Banks.
Ordered off Amazon in a smaller size than the one shown above...
Have you ever seen the psychedelic film “Yellow Submarine”?


Thursday, March 7, 2019

Exercise Wins Again

Let me start at the beginning before explaining this post’s title.

This morning I struggled with something that should have been one of the little joys in this life. A new compact disk came in the mail and I uploaded the album to my laptop endeavoring to sync my iPod Touch with iTunes. The normal opening steps achieved, the last failed, communication between linked software evaporated.

Grabbing my trusty old iPod Classic and its cord, I hit pay dirt. The album loaded in less time than it takes to turn on my computer. What the heck? Software and both hardware devices rebooted, follow-on Internet tips explored, and several more attempts provided the same failed results.

Following the fourth or sixth (?) failure my husband returned from a routine doctor appointment. Ever the mensch and longtime computer expert, he offered to help. Sent links to additional suggestions confused me more until he took over my laptop and iPod, me standing over his shoulder.

Together, we finally solved the issue. He managed to pull up a Touch settings popup window in iTunes. There, I discovered a checkbox preventing a sync with the entire library. Since my newest album was not selected by hand, the program overlooked all those tunes.


I’m thinking now that perhaps an earlier reboot of my Touch changed that setting. Otherwise, why have I not fought with it every time, or today with the Classic?

Worse than this frustration, and the mild blood pressure spike such electronic brawls always trigger, is that my current brain chemistry translates elevated BP as a reason to full-on panic. My guy wanted to show off the navigation upgrade he wants to gift me for our new car’s OnStar package (since I refuse to carry a smart phone… Heh…). I couldn’t do it. I had to walk away with apology.

Heart hammering and head starting to pound, I needed to jump on the NordicTrack before things got worse. Blessedly, exercise speeding my heart sort of resets the mechanics. Cooling down, my body calmed to normal. What a relief.

Mr. Williams hanged himself at age 34 in 1998.
Have you ever heard of tragic American Gothic singer Rozz Williams or his musical projects?


Wednesday, March 6, 2019

The Blue Meanie – an Update, another Pun, and a Crazy Kitty

I don’t really like my nickname for our lovely 2017 replacement Volt, but decided to run with Blue Meanie here, for now. As for an update, our newest vehicle is more a peach than we knew.

Turns out we can access the newbie’s history through a Volt website. You see, my husband geeks out over my energy use statistics and sharing information with other fans. On an amusing aside, he received a message from the site inquiring over our 2014 ‘baby’ due to a lack of communication.

Maybe they have a RIP page. Heh…

As for this history, to our amazement the person leasing her the last three years ran the car on gasoline to a near exclusive degree. So the battery is all but brand new (!) and should serve us very well. That ’14 lost little charge capacity despite constant taxing.

In all likelihood, due to the longer battery range our car will one day run a cycle that utilizes aging fuel, burning it off. In this current cold I have been using a fraction of a gallon for every five or ten mile drive, a protective mode warming the battery system.

On the punny note, a friend of mine driving a standard (not diesel) Chevy Cruze calls it ‘Tom’. Get it? ~rolls eyes~ Maybe I’ll just go with ‘Baby’ again. Any better suggestions?

On the subject of cats, for some strange reason crazy little Jezebel seems to like tasting my body lotion. Fortunately, Griffin Remedy Omega-3 Ultra Moisturizing Skin Food lists nothing harmful in the product.

Did you know it’s possible, though not easy, to type while a cat licks the back of your hand and fingers?


Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Buyer Beware - & - Getting My Groove Back

Yesterday we decided it time to look for a replacement electric hybrid Chevrolet Volt, a vehicle no longer in production. Our diesel Cruze sedan just isn’t designed for short hauls around town. My husband said upgrading from a 2013 to ’16 or ’17 model equated to making lemonade out of lemons following our hit and run collision last month.

Using our insurance company’s online assist, he found a car through a nationwide company that delivers a vehicle right to your door at no charge. Hmmm… Sounded interesting.

He reached out and a representative named Nick called. The polite fellow talked us through features on their website, specs on the selected car, and offered to get us started on the delivery process. In agreement my husband and I could handle the procedure on our own, we put on the brakes and decided to poke around first.

I am so glad.

First off, ‘free’ delivery cost $399 if we decided to keep the car. Then my smart guy thought to check the Better Business Bureau. Besides getting two out of five stars, this used car ‘dealership’ received a plethora of complaints that echoed similar issues. Among them: long overdue deliveries, filthy interiors, mechanical failures, and poor customer service.

One victim tried buying two different vehicles before demanding back his trade-in. When he got it back after a long delay, his expensive speaker system had been replaced with substandard factory units. Also, the excuse of a new paint job justifying his wait proved a patent falsehood.

All that, not to mention the fact our ‘suggested’ wait time on delivery was ten days, told me to move on. Did those people even have the car? I doubt it, seeing as the supposed ‘real time’ online image looked like a one car showroom.

I suggested checking out local, long trusted Voss Chevrolet the next county over. And we hit pay dirt. View of a mythical car half the continent away paled in comparison to recognizing the drive-thru service bay on Voss’ website.

I've stood on this floor many times arranging automotive maintenance.
Last night we came hope with this pristine 2017 Chevy Volt LT in metallic blue with well under twenty thousand miles (!) on the drive train. I think a conscientious elderly person may have leased this car. We face a learning curve on newer technology, but that should prove interesting. I apologize for the poor image below. It was cold!

At home, plugged in and charging.
(left front tire was a tiny bit flat)
Do you try to shop local, whether for large or small purchases?


Friday, March 1, 2019

Another One Bites the Dust

Rooting around the cabinets for something to eat, I found this onion sprouted in the dark. So much for keeping one around, handy in case of need. Then again, I suppose we should get a proper storage bin.

Taken today, March 1st, this got filed under February. Weird? No?

Should I stick this in the garden and see what happens?