Weekly Goal Progress Report #4

1) Financial: Did my taxes. Got my refund. Dumped it into the ole student loans. Adjusted my W-4 accordingly.

2) One free thing in LA per month. January complete. Waiting for February

3) 20 Minutes of Games Every Other Day: Bit of Donkey Kong, and a lot of League of Legends and StarJeweled. LoL is great, it’s free to play, so it’s easy for a busy person like me to just pick up and play a match. The paid portion seems to support the more hard core community, so it serves both audiences really well! I’ve already posted about StarJeweled, but man I love that game.

4) Sew 3 things: I have started on my first project: a cat blanket! I figure Mr. Davis won’t mind if my scrap fabric is ugly and clashing, it’ll give me a place to start. I already cut out and sorted the squares of scrap fabric to use for his blanket.

Book Review: The Bridge of Peace

Disclaimer: I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review

The Blogging for Books program recently had a mishap where the book suggestions for review, which are based on user preferences, got all mixed up. It’s since been corrected, but let’s just say I’m not the target audience for an Amish romance novel.

However, I found the story to be very enjoyable. It chronicles the adventures, relationships, and struggles of several different members of an Amish community. The characters are varied and likable (except the ones you aren’t supposed to like) and have good depth to them, making them believable and easy to relate to. The details of Amish lifestyle and community are interesting and play in well with the storylines.

Cindy Woodsmall does a great job of giving hints of further depth to her characters, like referencing something in the characters’ past that they are aware of but the reader is not. It keeps readers curious and rewards them with further explanation later in the story. The pacing of events throughout is done really well.

There are some moments of romantic emotional inner drama among the characters that I wasn’t too fond of, but once again, I am not a usual fan of romances. That said, it was not so distracting that I wasn’t able to stay interested in the rest of the story. 4 stars!

A Conversation

So I was playing the StarJeweled beta last night (it’s a mash-up of Bejeweled and Starcraft II, where you play bejeweled to get energy to create units, which auto-attack the other team’s base). On one match, my partner was just doing insanely good, and had like 3 times the energy as anyone else. But I was baffled because he kept chatting, suggesting strategies and cheering when we broke through and stuff.

“You’re really good at this!” I said, amazed at how he could be typing and clicking on the bejeweled board and getting such a high score all at once.

“It’s my girlfriend,” he said, “she plays and I can type, lol.”

“Well, she’s really good at this!” I replied

“Girls tend to be good at this game, lol”

I hesitated, as I always do when about to reveal my gender to strangers in an online game, but went ahead.

“I’m a girl, but I’m only so-so at bejeweled.”

“…u a girl?”


“Not many girls play Starcraft II”

“Yeah, I always hope to see some girls in the big tournaments someday”


By then the match had ended and we went our separate ways. Anyway, it just made me thoughtful.

Meanwhile, I like Starjeweled a lot, and I noticed that there’s not a lot of chatter if you’re not doing so well and your partner is, as can happen in some other games. Part of this is because you would sacrifice so much energy to stop playing and type a message that it’s often not worth the effort to say “why are you sucking!” But I think part of it is that there’s just something weird about berating someone for not being good enough at bejeweled.

Anyway, StarJeweled – it’s fun!

Weekly Goal Progress Report #3

1) Financial: I’m focusing on reducing my eating-out spending this year, and have started with a budget of $40 every 2 weeks. So far I’m sticking to it!

2) One free thing in LA per month. Nick and I spent last Saturday at the Getty. It was beautiful! The grounds alone are enough that I would spend all day out there, lounging around the water features. Art-wise, there was a great exhibit of illuminated manuscripts that I found really fascinating. I love seeing the tiny detail in the illuminations, and all the shiny gold leaf. For February, I think I’m set on the Golden Dragon Parade.

3) 20 Minutes of Games Every Other Day: Lots of Sonic Colors this week. And Starcraft, of course, but I’ve already said that doesn’t count.

4) Sew 3 things: No progress this week, but I have a rip in one of my pants that needs mending, so that will get me to fire the machine up.

Weekly Goal Progress Report #2

1) Getting rid of the credit card: This goal is pretty much complete! I called to cancel, got my confirmation letter, and now I just have to wait a month to check my credit report and make sure they did it right. Part of the thing that made it so easy was that right off the bat, I politely requested that we skip any steps that involved persuading me not to close my account, and the person helping me complied. There were a few mentions of benefits as he loaded up my account, but I didn’t have to deal with any long speeches read out of a manual. Turns out you can just ask for stuff! Since this goal is wrapping up, I’ll devote slot 1 in future updates to general financial goals that are part of the big 5 year one.

2) One free thing in LA per month: Tomorrow, Nick and I are going to the Getty. Thinking ahead for February, there are two free events which have my eye. One is the Golden Dragon Parade in Chinatown for the Lunar New Year (on the 5th and 6th). The other is a lecture in Santa Clarita about the early history of Warner Brothers Studios (on the 26th). Thoughts from people who may want to join in?

3) 20 Minutes of Games Every Other Day: More Donkey Kong and Sonic Colors this week, with a dabble into Metro 2033. That game does SUCH a good job of establishing post-apocalyptic environmental storytelling. The combat is kind of so-so, but I like some of the wackier mechanics, like the gas mask above the surface thing. I have Lost in Shadow sitting here, too, which I want to get to soon.

4) Sew 3 Things: I’m trying to figure out where to get bobbins for this ancient beast of a sewing machine and spent some time searching this week. I found a place I can order them online if need be. I’m also going to try and check out a sewing machine supply shop in my area and see if they have more than just repair stuff.

Book Review: Lady in Waiting

So in an attempt to force myself into new genres and new books, I signed up for a program in which the publisher sends you a book for free on the condition that you write a review for it. In fact, I even have to post this disclaimer, ahem: “I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review”

Lady in Waiting is a dual-story book, one centered on modern-day Jane Lindsay, the other on Lady Jane Grey as the girl who would become the ever brief Queen of England. The two Janes are connected by a ring, found by the former and belonging to the latter, and the relationship between their plights of love and choice.

I found the book to be a quick and moderately enjoyable read. The move back and forth between the two stories kept things engaging without either one dwindling in interest. Both were connected in the themes of love and perspective of choice, but took unique perspectives on each. Susan Meissner does a great job of shifting language between the time periods of her two stories, so that you can pick up the book after a break and instantly recall in which time frame you last left off. I felt personally more drawn to the historical story and the close relationship between the servant Lucy and Lady Jane Grey, but I can see how the personal doubts, struggles, and revelations of modern Jane would appeal to certain readers.

The cons of the book were few but poignant. There are some religious overtones in the modern day story that feel heavy handed and inelegant in execution. They took me out of the story, and as a result probably lessened the impact of any spiritual connection that they were trying to instill in the first place. In particular, some subtle digs at Catholicism were pretty awkward. These were less out-of-place in the historical story, which was placed at a time between Henry executing Catholics and Mary executing Reformers, so the tone from the perspective of Jane Grey on matters of faith felt more believable. When these showed up in the modern story, they disrupted my immersion in the fiction rather than enhanced it.

For example, here is an excerpt from modern Jane’s story:
“I wish I had the Onyx rosary too. I found myself whispering prayers to God to make Brad love me again. And to silence the questioning in my own heart. An easy fix. I could almost hear Stacy, who prayed without a rosary, telling me it doesn’t work like that.”

I found that this bit came off as particularly tasteless. It feels “out of the story,” and doesn’t make sense with, nor make me feel a closer understanding to, the modern Jane character.

In spite of the awkwardness of the religious overtones, I think the whole book does a great exploration on the choices we have in our lives, even in times when it seems we are given none. I can’t speak on the historical accuracy of the Lady Jane account outside the fictional relationship with Lucy, so Tudor lineage buffs might or might not find fault if they are very picky. As a non-historian, I found it enjoyable.

I give Lady in Waiting 3 of 5 stars. If you want to give it a go, the publisher has the first four chapters up for a preview.

Weekly Goal Progress Report #1

Here it is, the first of my goal progress reports!

1) Getting rid of the credit card: I spent this week going through any of my online accounts that are linked to the card for auto-billing and such and changing it over to my debit card. The balance is at zero, so the next step is the dreaded one of calling to cancel my account and having to suffer through some poor representative having to try and convince me not to close it. Hate the phone so much!

2) One free thing in LA per month: I researched a bunch of potential options and listed out places and events I’d like to go to. I think the first visit will be to the Getty, perhaps next Saturday. They have a few exhibits that I’m curious about.

3) 20 Minutes of Games Every Other Day: This week’s gaming included Donkey Kong Country Returns and Sonic Colors. I like them both very much! DK is just a joyous co-op platformer, and I’m really surprised how much of the original music is in the game. Sonic Colors has a very old school Sonic feel to it, which is great, because I grew up on those games. The wisp mechanic fits in with the basic Sonic mechanics really well. I think these two games will keep me busy for awhile. I’ve also been playing Shining Force on the iPod Touch, but I’m not sure if that counts since it’s an old game I’ve played several times before.

4) Sew 3 things: No sewing yet, but I did clean and organize all my sewing supplies into a single drawer. I need to do a couple of maintenance things: get some more bobbins, and clean/fix/find a new oil dispenser to oil the machine with.

Goals for 2011

Time for 2011 Goals! Sharing your goals helps make you feel accountable for them, so you are all my witnesses to this year’s.

1. Get rid of my credit card*. This is actually part of a larger goal, that I am going to get crazy with my budget and pay off my student loans in 5 years. I never have a balance on my credit card, but I know that using it for day to day expenses makes me less frugal than I could be. Also, I kind of hate credit cards and all that they stand for and I want to put my foot down about it**.

2. Do one free thing in LA (Entertainment-wise) every month. Also related to the long-term budget goal, but also to get me out of the house and exploring and learning about the city. There are several free museums I want to go to, and free events that take place throughout the year. It’s a little ambitious considering how busy things get, but if I plan ahead I am certain I can make it happen

3. Spend a minimum of 20 minutes every other day playing a game that is not one of my standards (that is, not a game that I’m already into and playing regularly). Someone told me once that if you can’t devote 20 minutes every other day to something, then you aren’t really interested in doing it. This was in terms of stuff like practicing learning a new thing, so the application is a little loose. I really want to spend more like an hour every day on games, but I also want to be realistic with this goal so I can achieve it.

4. Sew 3 things. Because I want to use my awesome sewing machine more. I do not know what the 3 things will be, and even if they end up being ratty little toys for Mr. Davis, I will consider it a success!

5. Update my blog once a week with an accountability post about all these goals, so I can assure that they actually happen!

* I don’t want to hear any guff about my credit score going down, or rewards
** I also don’t want to hear anyone say “but if you carry a balance and pay it off every month you are sticking it to the man!” Because we all know that’s not really true and it’s just a way to make us feel okay using a credit card 😛