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Apple Magic Trackpad

Posted by Linda | 12:37 PM

I purchased the Magic Trackpad to take full advantage of the new gestures in Lion. The trackpad is the same size as my Apple Wireless Keyboard, although not as wide. It is much larger than a normal laptop trackpad. Because of the slight angle to it when resting on a desk, you can rest your hand comfortably and use your fingers to navigate.

One thing I have not totally gotten used to is the "clicking" behavior of the trackpad. The trackpad on my older Macbook Pro still has a physical button that you press with your thumb to click. The trackpad (and all recent Mac laptops) "click" by pressing down the entirety of the trackpad itself. Alternatively, you can adjust the settings so that a tap on the surface of the trackpad activates a click on the screen.

Because of the awkwardness of depressing the entire trackpad, I've begun to use this as the default way to click. Unfortunately, it doesn't allow you to "click and hold" in order to move windows around the screen, etc. In those cases, you'd still have to use the physical action of pressing down on the trackpad.

Other than that one minor annoyance (that I will not doubt get used to), the pros far outweigh the cons. The ability to use all of my fingers to activate such a wide variety of functions within Lion is a delight.

Leg Avenue Women's Strappy Spandex Tube Dress

Posted by Linda | 2:23 AM

Leg Avenue Women's Strappy Spandex Tube Dress - I had my doubts but I figured for the price, even if I never wore it, it would be fun just to try it on.
I'm a fairly big woman at 5'6" and 170 lbs. One-size things don't usually fit me. This thing does, and it looks great. Absolutely great. It's also comfy. I don't mind lounging around the house with it on.

If you need some attention from your man, here you go. This will be the perfect surprise for my boyfriend on his birthday! I was drawn to this strappy, sexy dress due to the many high reviews, but I was also worried because it only comes in one size, and I am a small person. I usually wear around a size 1 and sometimes generic sizes look really loose on me. Luckily this dress looks amazing and is form fitting, easy to wear, and comfortable! Nothing is exposed when I wear it and it's just perfect! I'm glad this dress is so versatile and fits all body types.

I fooled around and tried wearing it upside down and backwards. On me it seems to look best with the tag at the back of my neck, in other words, the proper way.

Leg Avenue should offer this thing in six colors. I would buy all six.

Jacqueline Kennedy: Historic Conversations on Life with John F. Kennedy

Posted by Linda | 2:12 AM

Having recently read and reviewed Greg Lawrence's book Jackie as Editor: The Literary Life of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, I was eager to acquire and hear these interviews. I'm not sure how much new light they will ultimately shed upon the historical record of Kennedy's presidency, but they surely will confirm that the Kennedy's marriage was more than a mere public display; there is much evidence here of a deep marital intimacy and that the two genuinely respected and trusted one another on many levels.

It's also clear that Jackie's "thinking life" did not begin decades later with her career in publishing. Jackie's wispy voice is mesmerizing (as anyone who's watched the White House tour can attest). The interviews are easier to listen to than to read, but the book is nice to have for quick reference. It also includes a lot of rare photographs from the Kennedy White House years.

Now for my gripe. The audio CDs come in a rather flimsy sleeve. When my copy arrived in the mail, all the disks had fallen out of their sleeve and rattling around in the case. If this happens to you, check the disks carefully for scratches. (Mine seem to play okay). Also, it was very frustrating trying to transfer the interviews to my iPad so that they would play in sequence (I spent hours renaming the tracks.) Why don't audiobook publishers think of this?

OBi110 Voice Service Bridge and VoIP Telephone Adapter

Posted by Linda | 3:36 PM

I was looking for a cost effective way to have a home phone for the kids to use after cutting the traditional land-line. By using Google Voice and Callcentric (for 911), this solved my issue.

I now pay around $1.50 per month for 911 service and nothing for Google Voice. Quality of call is good and I get all the nice features found with Google Voice. I tested the 911 service by first calling the counties non-emergency line and asking how to test. Then called 911 with the script they provided. They read me back my name and address and everything worked great.

Set-up wasn't that straightforward but there are some good online articles on the topic that will be a great help.

I do realize if the power goes out or if the Internet connection goes down, so does my ability to call. I am guessing that 99% of the time, we will be around when that happens and we can use one of our cell phones to call 911 if needed.

High marks on this device and am very pleased I don't have to be in another cell phone contract (or pay as you go) and don't have to pay the high monthly land-line fees. Not sure why anyone would go with Vonage either. There are other options on the market, but I think this VoIP Telephone Adapter is one of the best out there right now.

Rush 2112

Posted by Linda | 12:10 PM

Ok, I bought this album later after I had Moving Pictures and Signals, and this is one of the better ones. I love this record and Rush is a band that has TRULY EARNED popularity. I'm not gonna get into this topic, but if you wanna know why, watch the documentary: Rush: Beyond the Lighted Stage. 2112 really captures what Rush had been trying to make since the addition of Neil Peart (Best Drummer in History). There won't ever be another voice even remotely close to Geddy Lee because no one in their right mind would wanna sing like that! I mean Geddy is amazing but I don't think anyone would wanna sing like that!


Back then, regardless of what those idiot critics said, this was a ground-breaking and innovative album; Rush have become the true masters of Progressive Rock.

1. 2112- This was the first epic I ever heard and it's also got the coolest drumming on anything that was made before Dream Theater, Symphony X, Kamelot, and Stratovarius were formed. Very good song!

2. A Passage to Bangkok- A catchy little tune...perfect for traveling. Haha!

3. The Twilight Zone- A slower paced song but never the less, a Rush Classic.

4. Lessons- It's an ok song, but I don't really care for it.

5. Tears- I LOVE this song! Until I heard this, I didn't know that Rush did ballads and pretty songs. This might just be the best song on the album! Yes even better than the very innovative 2112!

6. Something for Nothing- A pretty catchy song with a good message.

Verdict: A very good album from the 70's that deserves respect! If you like Dream Theater, Iron Maiden or any metal band, then you have to respect these guys because all metal looks back to these 3 dudes. Not kidding...the documentary has people that Rush influence on there like Mike Portnoy, Trent Razor, Jack Black, and the list goes on...

Very good album and I recommend it to prog fans and people who like 70's classics.

The Anansi Boys

Posted by Linda | 3:20 AM

Anansi Boys is the follow-up to gold standard of modern fantasy - American Gods. Anansi Boys is a fun modern fantasy but it is not genious. The story of Charles "Fat Charlie" Nancy and his relationship with his deceased father and long-lost brother is engaging and creative. As in American Gods, the gods and characters from fable have life in the world around us. One of thoe gods - Anansi - is Charles Nancy's father.

Fat Charlie is a character adrift in modern society - hard working, diligent, uninspired. Anansi Boys is his story, and as much as anything it is about the growth Fat Charlie experiences thanks to the influence of those he meets. Fat Charlie's estranged relationship with his father, his unpleasant boss, his aggressive future mother-in-law all help to make Charlie a particularly easy character to empathise with. His is a warm and attractive character who develops in a very pleasing way.

Charlie's father Anansi does not feature much in the book but it is a really excellent character description. It is a little odd for those readers who might have grown up with Anansi stories to have them transposed away from their place of origin and given slightly alien features but Anansi as a soft-shoe shuffling charmer enjoying the easy life is great.

Charlie's brother Spider is the one who breaks open the narrative. Prior to Spider's arrival, the world is sane, senisble, and mundane. Spider is the sense of adventure and creativity that breathes life into the ongoing activities. He is designed as a contrast to Charlie but it is never that black and white. The conclusion of Spider's character arc is really disappointing in its lack of ambition and what Gaiman aspires to for him but Spider is a thoroughly enjoyable read.

The women of Anansi Boys are all a bit weird. The old crones in Florida are a nice take on the cabal and Callyanne Higgler in particular is entertaining, easily helped by her well constructed name which places her so easily in the reader's mind. Miss Dinwiddie is a bit of an archetype but she serves the story well as the source of much of the old wisdom and current tension Fat Charlie discovers. Of the two younger women, Rosie gets most of the coverage but as a paragon she is really not very interesting. Daisy is far more intriguing a character but she does not earn as many words. Daisy's parental backstory is the kind of aside that makes a book like this really good to read. The nationality of her parents is that extra touch of excellence and the combination of ultra capitalist Hong Kong and communist Ethiopia makes for an amusing reference point that presumably Gaiman meant to include. Maeve Livingstone and her affection for her husband Morris is a lovely character.

Anansi Boys is not though a work of genious. The dialogue is very clunky at times. In particular, Gaiman appears to have great difficulty describing the dialect of the Caribbean. The various West Indians and Floridians indicate their ethnicity mainly by swapping "are" for "is" as in "I is". While this may be a feature of the particular dialect, there is no roundness or believability to their use of language. This is probably because Gaiman does not offer the kind of insightful description of their speech to make up for the poor dialogue itself. Far too many of the characters have a distinctly British voice - the worst culprit is Tiger. This menacing force is built-up throughout the book as a fearsome physical representation of fear and dread. His foppish use of British English such as "Frankly...we appear to be stuck together" is the kind of understated Britishness that works very well for Hugh Grant characters but not for the personification of violence that is Tiger. Equally, Dragon is a strange character who seems to exist for one joke. Dragon is a raging beast who when foiled describes his circumstance with a menacing "Bother". Dragon should not be middle class English in any way. Dragons appear in many cultures of the world but really hardly in English tradition at all which makes Gaiman's Anglicising and class identifying of this character just horribly lazy.

What works extremely well about Modern Fantasy is when it is believable. A couple of lazy mistakes make disbelief a little harder. Gaiman clearly is not at all familiar with the Caribbean islands because St Andrews is not a viable name for an island. There are no single islands in the Caribbean with a plural name ending in English. Maxwell Gardens is a surprisingly rare name for a street in London but Gaiman really doesn't make the street identifiable so probably has never been to Maxwell Gardens. That oversight is perhaps why Gaiman had to use the clumsy term "main road" when describing how close Fat Charlie is to his apartment on one difficult evening. These details are lacking often through the novel which is a shame. They are not important to the flow of the story which is still a fun read but do mean that it just isn't as believable.

Where Gaiman references other works, it can work very well. The quote from Danny Glover's character in Lethal Weapon is an obvious but fun one. The reference to Kafka's Metamorphoses is one of the cleverest moments in Anansi Boys given the metamorphosing that some of the characters undertake. These and other references build the reality of the world the crazier events take place in. Other things are less impressive - Grahame Coats use of an Arnold J. Rimmer catchphrase does not fit the very different characters involved. The description of 'Binky' Butterworth's use of a very small lift is just a direct description of the lift scene in the home of Roger de Bris during The Producers. The lift is important for Gaiman's construction of a later event but it isn't especially creative to describe exactly a scene and character from another work without it being a reference point. Indeed, the entire story seems to have been "influenced" by a famous Chuck Palahniuk novel which was turned into an even more famous film. The line identifying the differences between Fat Charlie and Spider includes some of the exact same physical disparities in Palahniuk's pairing and that gives away what could possibly have been any kind of twist to the plotline.

However, there is one clear moment of genious - the description of the meaning of folk tales is absolutely excellent. The role of Anansi stories in celebrating innovation and creativity are a hallmark of the key change in human history that occurs with the rise of pastoralist communities of Bantu in Africa. Gaiman's insight into the role that folklore plays is absolutely superb.

The Headline Review publication does not do itself any favours at all with the additional material at the back of the book. The interview with Gaiman is a bit cringeworthy especially when Gaiman indirectly states that he is a genius. The suggested questions for book clubs are horribly academic. While it can be fun to realise at university that the way to pass exams is to state why the question being asked is incorrect, the questions here are far too dry and also full of assumptions. Book clubs are supposed to be fun.

All in all, Anansi Boys is a fun story with a less complex plot than might appear in the early going. It has some nice characters, some of whom are very endearing. The use of ancient folktales is good. It isn't really a great example of modern fantasy and the dialogue in particular is at times terrible. This is a nice, easy going novel with a thought provoking folklore comment tucked inside but it is not a masterpiece and does not compare favourably to Gaiman's American Gods.

The Tales of Beedle the Bard, Collector's Edition

Posted by Linda | 1:00 PM

First of all, this book is meant for children; I hope people realize that.
Secondly, it is written for Witches and Wizards.

If one understands the above two points, and has their mind set into that particular demographic, they will appreciate this book immensely. Adults will enjoy it as well!

This is a collection of five stories, one could say fairy tales--the equivalent to our tales of 'Cinderella', 'Little Red Riding Hood', etc. Each read is snappy and ends with a moral to the story. The imagination of J.K. Rowling cannot be denied, she certainly knows how to tell unique and magical stories. The illustrations (hand-drawn by Ms. Rowling) make this book that much more beautiful.

It is a quick read (105 pages) and at the end I craved more, and so will you. Hopefully J.K. will expand on this in the future in some thicker volume.

I bought the British hardcover version used. The graphics of the front/back, along with the used quality made it seem like this book has been with me my entire life; it adds more character and charm to an already enchanting collection of stories. I hope to pass this to my (future) kids one day.

Highly Recommended. Also, a portion of the sales of this book will go to a wonderful charity.

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