Friday, December 2, 2016

PUSHING UP DAISIES by MC Beaton [Book recommendation]

Book obtained from: Library, new books shelf, audio book [2016]

Description: This is #27 in the Agatha Raisin mystery series.  In this book, Agatha [a private detective] is hired by a murdered man's son to find the killer.

Plot:  Agatha is hired by a murdered man's son to find the killer.  Lots of suspects.  Rather convoluted investigation.

Characterization:  I know the characters so well from previous books that I can't really say they are, or are not, well-rounded.  The new characters in this book aren't really that developed though.

Setting:  England, Cotswalds.  Nicely described, I was able to picture every scene.

Other:  The audio book was narrated by Penelope Keith and she did a reasonably nice job.  One thing that really stood out to me, were the inconsistencies.  For example, Mrs. Bloxby's first name ends up being different than it was in previous books, and Charles is a different age than he is in previous books.  Apparently the author and even the publisher didn't do any fact-checking or review for consistency or whatever you call that.  I've seen this happen with other “major” authors who have written a lot of books in a series [Janet Evanovich comes to mind, with several inconsistencies in her later books].

Overall:  I forgot most of what happened in this book almost immediately after I finished reading it.  It was enjoyable while I read it, but nothing really stood out to me.

Grade: B-

Monday, November 28, 2016

Trees under arrest

In honor of the Christmas season, let's look at two trees which were sufficiently unfortunate as to get themselves arrested.

First, one arrested more than 100 years ago:

And now, one arrested a few months ago:

Have a merry Christmas season!

And try not to get yourself arrested.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Have a Wonderful Thanksgiving!

I want to wish all of my blog readers a wonderful Thanksgiving with family and friends.

And please remember - and thank - those who are celebrating Thanksgiving far away from their family and friends.

President Bush in Bagdad for Thanksgiving 2003

Soldiers in Afghanistan for Thanksgiving 2013

Thanksgiving aboard ship in the Persian Gulf 2004

Thanksgiving aboard ship in the Arabian Sea 2012

Friday, November 18, 2016

A MAN CALLED OVE by Fredrik Backman [Book recommendation]

Translated from Swedish by Henning Koch
Book obtained from: Library audio book [2012]

Description: Ove [pronounced Oova or Uva] is a cranky old man who lives in a block of row houses.  He is rigid with his “rules”, and after his wife dies he just wants to be left alone.  New neighbors move in across from him and turn his life upside down.

Plot:  The book starts out slowly and there really isn't a burning question [like whodunnit or will the earth be destroyed] to pull the reader thru the book.  But little questions crop up every now and then, causing the reader to want to know the answers.  There is a main story line in the present, with the new neighbors and how they turn Ove's life upside down, and a flashback story line that let's the reader know how Ove got to be such a cranky old man. The book alternated between making me laugh out loud and causing me to get all teared up, sometimes within the space of less than five minutes.

Characterization:  Most of the characters are well-rounded and have individual personalities.  The cat isn't all that believable because it is portrayed more like a dog, but if you can get around that, it does add to the story.  It's also a little odd that random folks seem to want to be friends with Ove and ask him for favors, even tho he's not a friendly guy.  He's not evil, just not friendly.  Also, Ove is 59 years old, but acts more like he's at least 10 years older.  Maybe living where it snows so much adds years to a life?

Setting:  Sweden in fall/winter.  Nicely described, I was able to picture every scene.

Other:  The audio book was narrated by George Newbern and he definitely added to the characterization of all of the characters.

Overall:  If you can get past the first 50 pages or so, the book is definitely worth the read.  It's a rare book that makes me laugh and cry in the same chapter.

Grade: B+

Monday, November 14, 2016

The worst kind of law

When I took my Bar Prep class to review for the Bar Exam [way back in the dark ages when dinosaurs roamed the Earth], the professor who taught the class said the worst kind of law was probate.  People, usually family members, fighting over a dead person's money.

I tend to agree with him.

A dachshund with the name Winnie the Pooh received a $100,000 inheritance from his owner when she passed away.  This money was to provide for his care and feeding during his lifetime.  Any remaining balance after he passed away would be donated to a charity.

Sounds a little extravagant, but nothing too oddball.

But apparently, the trustee in charge of reimbursing the dog's new caretaker enjoys having responsibility over $100,000 and is not forking over the money.  So the caretaker sued.

How hard is it to hand over money? Having never pampered a financially independent pup before, I may be missing something, but it seems to me that Hanlon collects receipts for dog food and whatever other odds and ends people give their mongrels and then the estate pays her. That’s just not that hard, is it?”

As the article so eloquently states:  “Just give her the money for her expenses as she incurs them. This is an astoundingly easy problem to fix.”

But apparently it has required a lawsuit to reach the inevitable resolution.  Some people are just way too greedy with other people's money.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Veterans Day USA

Here's a list of links about Veterans Day and to show you where veterans [and for some of these links, also active duty] can receive free or discounted goods and services.  It's the least this country can do for those who serve and have served and are still serving.

To all my blog readers who are veterans or active duty - thank you for your service.

Veterans Day history

History of Veterans Day

Veterans Day 2016 presidential proclamation

Veterans Day parades 

Veterans Day freebies and discounts

Promotions and discounts

Free meals, discounts, sales, and deals

Free and discounted meals

Veterans and active duty military all year round

Freebies and discounts for deployed military and families 

Freebies and discounts all year round

Organizations that support deployed military and families 

Monday, November 7, 2016

Aggressive border patrol searches

A 54yo US citizen was visiting a friend in Mexico.  On returning to the US at the El Paso border crossing, a drug-sniffing dog “jumped on her”.  She was then “dragged away in hand-cuffs” to a medical facility for a six hour full body-cavity search, which included waiting for her to have a bowel movement, and multiple vaginal searches.

No drugs were found.

As if that wasn't humiliating enough, the medical facility billed her $5000 for the search.

If you're not outraged at this point, please check your pulse.

The medical facility has agreed to settle the case by paying the woman $1.1 million.  This seems reasonable to me.  And the “Department of Customs, Border Protection, and Rummaging Around in People’s Bowels” agreed to pay another $475,000.  Not sure whether I think this amount should have actually been more than the amount the medical facility paid.

I suspect it will be a long time before this woman agrees to visit her friend again.