Book Log – Lady Susan

Lady Susan by Jane Austen

This short novel is told almost entirely in letters to and from the various characters. It’s an amusing read about a conniving woman trying to attach herself to a respectable family in spite of the reputation that precedes her.

The disappointment is that Austen uses the letter convention all the way until the end, when she just sort of gives up and tells us how it all pans out. I have no idea why that couldn’t have been done in a letter. Possibly Jane just got tired, or was late for afternoon tea.

Book Log – The Best American Comics 2007

The Best American Comics 2007 Edited by Chris Ware, Series Edited by Anne Elizabeth Moore.

Eh. There were a few gems in this collection, but one of them was excerpts from Fun Home by Alison Bechdel, which I’d already read.

Forgive me, Chicago, but I just can’t get into Lynda Barry’s Ernie Pook’s Comeek. I tried to like it when I read it in The Reader. I saw a documentary on her and liked Ms. Barry as a person. But the comic makes my head ache to look at.

I guess I’m not cool enough to be an alterna-comic aficionado.

All of which will not stop me from trying to get a hold of 2006 and 2008, because the thing with these series is you can’t judge them by one year.

Book Log – Persuasion

Persuasion by Jane Austen

I read this a while back, but noticed that I didn’t blog about it.

I can’t for the life of me remember much about it, except that it had a character named Wentworth. And someone was persuading someone else.

Okay, a brief skimming reminds me that this is the tale of Anne Elliot, and this crazy friend who was after her brother, and trying to push her brother on Anne. I remember they were kind of amusing.

That’s all I got.

We Are So Cool

Because our air conditioning is working again.

Last week, we called Randall Brothers to come out and look at the AC (they had done some work on the heater on our last home to our satisfaction). Appointment scheduled between 3 and 5 Friday afternoon. Stacey picked the kids up early so she could be there.

They didn’t show.

So we called Estes Heating and Air. A guy came out Saturday to take a look at it. He pronounced the compressor dead, said something I didn’t quite catch about the inside unit, and said we’d need to “upgrade” (aka replace) the system. They’d send a guy out Monday (today) to quote on replacing the system.

We talked with a few folks about what kind of price tag we were likely to receive, and heard between $6,000 and $10,000. Yikes. I mean… yikes. I’ll never take an AC unit for granted again.

We spent our weekend tabulating all the home improvements we weren’t going to be able to make for a long, long time. Also, which child would bring in the most cash on the black market (They’re both pretty cute… RocketBoy is stronger, but Scout has some killer dexterity… RocketBoy can sing planet songs, but on the other hand, RocketBoy sings planet songs…)

Stacey also got a name from a friend who’d recently had their system replaced, Dunwoody’s Choice1. They quoted her half what other HVAC repair/replacement folks had.

So, the Estes guy shows up at 2:00pm today, and steakums leads him through it. While he’s writing up his quote for $8,000-10,000 (depending on the efficiency we want), the guy from Dunwoody’s Choice shows up.

The Estes guy leaves while the Dunwoody’s Choice guy goes to look around. steakums calls me to give me the bad news from Estes, and says “Well, the Dunwoody guy is doing his review, and I’ve got the quote from Estes. The quote is… oh, wait. Here comes the Dunwoody guy. I’ll call you back.”

Fifteen minutes later, she calls back and says, “There is cool air blowing on me. $350.”

Apparently, the compressor itself is not blown, just a few easily replaceable components blew out. They fixed it up quick.

So, anyone who saves me from $5,500 to $9,500 gets free advertising on my livejournal:

DUNWOODY’S CHOICE, for all your HVAC needs. Contact info below.

(And thanks to all who gave recommendations)
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1 Cecil Maxey, Dunwoody’s Choice, 1340 Center Drive, Suite 204, Atlanta, GA 30338. www.dunwoodyschoice.com, 770-394-3121 office, 770-480-2367 mobile

This and That

I’ve signed up to take Spanish class here every Friday at 4pm.

I hated Spanish in high school. Not because of the language itself, but because my teacher was a very unpleasant woman in every sense of the word except hygiene. As far as I can remember, she did not smell bad.

But, I took it for four years, because some guidance counselor whose name I can not remember said I needed to, for some qualification of something or other… I wasn’t clear exactly what, but I had the impression I wasn’t going to get into college if I didn’t. In hindsight, I’m thinking it was to make the school itself look good. If that’s the case, I would like to remember that guidance counselor’s name, so I can sign her up for some SPAM.

At any rate, it was a miserable class that I dreaded every day. The end result was anguish and only a rudimentary understanding of the language. Now I find that I could really use more than a rudimentary understanding of the language, since I’m spending five or six weeks out of every year in Mexico. Some tenses other than present would be a good start.

Hopefully this class will be better.

RocketBoy started Kindergarten this week. He seems to be sliding right into the swing of things, and reports that his day was “awesome” and “perfect” when he gets home. But before bedtime, he complains that it’s no fun and there isn’t any playtime, which I find hard to believe given all the games, toys and play stations set up around the room.

You could tell the kids who had gone to Pre-K from the ones going to school from the first time. There was a little boy near RocketBoy who sat almost perfectly still with wide-eyed fear, his hands barely moving on the play-doh the teacher had provided them all while they waited for class to start. I encouraged RocketBoy to introduce himself, but the boy’s eyes just got wider when RocketBoy talked to him, and he didn’t respond. I went over and told him that Kindergarten was going to be fun, and he smiled a little bit, but not much. Pretty soon, I noticed that he was being joined at his table by several other petrified kids, and I figured they’d all break the ice sooner or later.

RocketBoy says he fell asleep in art class the first day. Not surprising since he woke up at 4am that day and couldn’t get back to sleep from the excitement of it all.

Every day, he gets a strip of construction paper sent home in his folder, green, yellow or red depending on his behavior. Collect 8 or 10 green strips, make them into a loop necklace, and he can turn it in for a visit to the Treasure Chest.

I wish I got strips at work.

RocketBoy has started playing chess. There was a booth for a KidChess program after school, and he spent a lot of time talking to the guy. When we got home, I got out a board and showed him how to set it up, and how the pieces moved.

He’s not the kid from Searching for Bobby Fischer, but he took to the game quickly, and beat me pretty handily.

He really wants to lobby the chess people to allow pawns to move diagonally, though.

It’s been an expensive month. What with getting steakums‘ car fixed (twice), getting the dog fixed, and back to school expenses, the credit card was fairly heavily weighed down. As nice as it is to have built up a savings for just these sorts of things, it’s still painful to watch most of it dissipate.1

And then last night the AC died.

But I’m sure those are cheap as can be to repair.

The rope swing is still not put up. I’m beginning to roll my eyes at myself when I announce it will be done soon.

I have successfully hooked steakums on Weeds, Season 1. I have not convinced her of the entertainment value of Twitter yet.

We have gotten a (cable-based) telephone in our house. We felt bad that the telemarketers didn’t have a way to contact us.

On a “well-whaddya-know” note, I recognized a name in the credits from Wall-E, which I didn’t expect. I shared a dorm suite with this guy in college. Turns out I’d failed to notice his name in the credits of all the Pixars since The Incredibles. Chalk another one up in the “famous” people I know list.

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1 There’s a lesson there in misperception in that it seems more painful to spend savings than it does to take on debt.

Book Log – Mansfield Park

Mansfield Park by Jane Austen

It was only during this book, the fourth Jane Austen I’ve read this year, that steakums happened to mention that she liked Austen as well. Honestly, couples never talk anymore.

Mansfield Park is odd in that the reservedness of the time period grates a bit. I mean, going on and on of the evils of putting on a play in one’s house, with our protagonists, Edward and Fanny (of all names), as the main detractors of amateur theatricals? Really, how am I to relate to that?

It’s not like the idle rich have anything else to do.

Really, you side with the protagonists merely because everyone else is so much less worthwhile.

Emma and Clueless are next up on our Netflix cue. If time allowed, we’d do a double feature night.

Book Log – Citizen Vince

Citizen Vince by Jess Walter

I’m not clear on how this came to be on my Wish List… it made a lot of pick lists in 2005, I think.

I thought it was a fun novel, easily read and engaging. Set in 1979, it humorously chronicles the adventures of a man in the witness protection program who is trying to make sense of the presidential election as this will be his first time voting. In the meantime, his past is catching up to him. Kind of a toned down My Blue Heaven without the fish-out-of-water theme.

It just occurred to me… this book must have come from Nick Hornby’s Stuff I’ve Been Reading column from The Believer… Hornby has a quote on the back of the jacket.

Going to The Believer online, this book was published in 2005. Try the November 2005 issue… Hornby lists Over Tumbled Graves by the same author under Books Read. Flip back a couple months and bingo, Citizen Vince under Books Read, Tumbled Graves under Books Bought.

So, Hornby liked it well enough to pick up Over Tumbled Graves immediately. I’ll have to see what he said about it.

All of which reminds me I haven’t read Hornby’s A Long Way Down. Which is currently available from PaperBackSwap.com. Done and done.

ETA: Here’s what Hornby said about Graves

“I read and loved Jess Walter’s Citizen Vince recently, so I wanted to check out one of his earlier books. Unlike Citizen Vince, Over Tumbled Graves belongs firmly within the crime genre, although it’s not formulaic– it actually plays cleverly with the serial-killer formula. I enjoyed it a lot, but on the evidence of the recent book, Walter is a writer who is heading for territory that gives him more freedom than genre fiction allows.”