So Much Randomness

Grab a coffee or your favourite beverage because this one may be long…

Are you ready for some randomness?

here we go…

I just finished reading “11/22/63” by Stephen King. I’ve read some of his books before, but this one is so different from “Carrie” and “Pet Cemetery”.

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I finished my current online course. It was a very intense class. Not only was there a ton of reading, but the instructor was not very good at explaining herself in the assignment guidelines so I found the course frustrating. I did quite well in the class. I received one really poor mark, due to the vague assignment instructions, but I was able to make up for this in the other course components.

For the winter semester, I have signed up to take “environment and History”. I’ll be learning about: “the causes and impact of human-induced modification of the natural world in selected areas of the globe, the evolution of attitudes and ideas about the natural world over time and the growth of conservation/environmental issues and movements” (University of Guelph, 2012).

Sounds interesting eh?

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I’m sure I’ve written about it here before, Rogue has an issue with putting her head into things. It doesn’t matter what it is; a collar, the neck hole of her winter coat, the chest strap of her training vest, she hates it all!

I’ve been trying to work with her on this for over a year now. She still gets all weird about it…

So, Huib and I have decided to just deal with it and work on finding collars, working gear and winter coats that she doesn’t have to put her head into. It’s going to be a bit of a struggle at times, but so far we’ve found martingales that fully open with a plastic buckle, we’re making sure to completely undo her winter coat to put it on and take it off, and we’re turning an Outward Hound back pack into a guide harness.

On Wednesday, rogue wore the back pack for the first time. She didn’t try to duck, when I reached for her. She just patiently stood and waited while I placed the back pack onto her back and then did up each of the three plastic buckles.

For now, Rogue is going to wear the back pack without the guide handle attached. I want her to get used to the feel of the pack before I add another element.

It took a couple days of Google searches, but we’ve located a company in canada that supplies service dog patches and other equipment. We’ve ordered three different patches for Rogue’s pack – “Guide Dog”, “Service Dog, Please Ask To Pet” and “In Training”. I’m going to sew the guide dog patches onto the side pockets and place the “Service Dog, Please Ask To Pet” onto the back panel. The “in Training” patch will also be placed onto the side pocket, but we’re going to make it removable, since she won’t always be in training 🙂

While we wait for the patches to arrive, Huib is going to clip Rogue’s old training vest to his belt while we’re in public, so that strangers don’t think we’re bringing our pet dog into stores and restaurants.

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We’re pretty certain Rogue has at least a mildly soft trachea. If she puts any pressure at all on her neck, she begins coughing and gagging. After a bit of trial and error, we’ve found that using a martingale collar with her works well. In addition to working on keeping a loose leash, it seems as though the equalized pressure of the martingale prevents the coughing and gagging.

We’ve also stopped using kibble during her training because it was causing some coughing, and instead, use some homemade apple and cinnamon treats. Some dogs with soft tracheas cannot eat hard treats at all, but so far with Rogue it seems as though using slightly larger treats is going to work out.

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My little sister is engaged! She’s been talking about this for a couple of weeks now, but it finally happened.

Her fiance’s name is Mark. They dated a while back, but broke up because of personal differences. Brandi has always wondered if things could have been different, but she tried to move on. In June though, they reconnected and have never looked back.

I’m not totally sure how I feel about this right now. Mark is a really nice guy, but there are a few unknowns in my mind. I’m glad to know they’ve reunited after some time apart, so know what they are getting into and know what they missed, but I am not totally certain they are truly ready for the commitment of marriage.

As of right now, they are talking about a small ceremony in Niagara Falls in June, but my sister is always changing her mind, so I guess we’ll see what happens.

I think that’s everything for now. Sorry for the long-winded and random post, but I had a lot of news.

Books #13 & #14 Of 2012

Boy, I could really get used to reading eBooks with Huib’s iPad.

I’m not sure why, but I really don’t mind listening to Voice Over (the screen reading program on Apple products) read books. By reading this way, I don’t have to wait years to get an opportunity to read newly released books, like I had to with braille.

Since the last time I wrote, I’ve finished two more books and am currently working on another.

“Water For Elephants” by Sara Gruen, was an absolutely amazing book! If you liked “The Notebook” by Nicholas Sparks, then you’ll love this one. I honestly can’t think of how to write a review on this book that will actually serve it well, so I’ll just direct you to this link.

“A Is For Alibi” by Sue Grafton was another really good book. I actually read this one in one night. “A Is For Alibi” is the first book in Grafton’s Detective Kinsey Millhone series. Kinsey is a private security detective who has been asked to reopen a murder case and discover the identity of the murderer of Nicki Fife’s husband, whom Nicki was accused and convicted of killing.

If I keep reading books this way, I’m going to be able to finish more than a book per month.

Books 9, 10, 11 & 12 Of 2012

I have now finished four more books.

For my class, I was assigned to read “Fast Food Nation” by Eric Schlosser. “Fast Food Nation”, as I’m sure you can guess from the title, is a book about the fast food culture. I won’t say too much, but if you love fast food and/or just want to read a well-documented account of the industry, then I completely recommend you read this book.

Upon finishing, I felt both grossed out and intrigued by the rise of fast food and the success of the various key players.

The next three books I read go together: “The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo”, “The Girl Who Played With Fire” and “The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet’s Nest by Stieg Larsson. Let me start by saying, I loved these books! I understand that some people find them hard to read and others can’t even stomach the content, but I personally loved the books and wish Larsson had lived longer in order to write more books. His writing style is different, but for some reason, I find such styles attractive. I started the trilogy just over a week ago and whenever I had the chance, I got out Huib’s iPad and read for as long as possible.

Lisbeth Salander is an anti-social, introvert who likes nothing more than to spend hours skimming mathematical textbooks and learning as much as she possibly can about others in order to keep herself safe. As a young girl, she was locked up for two years in a psychiatric institution and then released under guardianship. No one understood this quiet young woman and assumed that she was mentally unstable. Throughout the trilogy you learn more about Lisbeth and her abilities and you watch people try to break through her personal walls of stone. In between all of the drama Lisbeth experiences, she helps a journalist, Michael Blomkvist, with an assignment to investigate the disappearance of a young girl, decades earlier. Then, in the second and third books, it is Blomkvist’s turn to help Salander.

If you’re looking for something different to read, I recommend all four of these books.

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Before I hit publish, I wanted to ask everyone to please take a moment and vote for Canyon in the Modern Dog Holiday Hounds Photo Contest. You just need to click here, and “like” his picture. Then, if you feel up to it, ask your friends and followers on your blog, Facebook and/or Twitter to do the same. Canyon thanks everyone for their help. The contest ends on December 17th, so I’ll be posting reminders here as I post new entries.

Book #8 Of 2012

On the weekend, I finished reading “Persuader” by Lee Child.

Let me start out by saying, it was awesome! Even though I have tons of reading to do for school this semester, I couldn’t put the book down, so finished it as quickly as possible.

Jack Reacher is a retired military cop. he is approached by two federal agents, Duffy and eliot. they had been told that he was looking into the license plate number of a person they suspected of illegal activities. They want to know why he is interested in this person and what he knows about him. Reacher joins Duffy and eliot, in their investigation and in the process, hopes to finally avenge the death of a former military underling.

I’m sorry for the vague description, but I really don’t want to give too much away. It was an action-packed book from start to finish. I can’t wait to read another book from this series.

Since I have a lot of reading for school, I don’t know if I will get much more leisure reading done until early November.

Book #7 Of 2012

I have finished yet another book by Kathy Reichs.

“Break No Bones” is the book that comes before the last one, “Bones To Ashes”, that I wrote about in my last book update.

This book doesn’t really get into the relationship with Temperance and Andrew Ryan, but it seems to set the background for the next book in the series, where problems between them start to be exposed.

Instead, the book focuses more on the relationship between Temperance and her estranged husband, Pete. In previous books I’ve read, the reader doesn’t really see much of Pete, but in this book, we really get a glimpse into the conflicting feelings Tempe still has for him.

Even though the case Temperance has been asked to work on is interesting, I found the book a little boring without the relationship aspects that I’ve gotten used to between Tempe and Ryan.

The next book I’ve chosen to read is “Persuader” by Lee Child.

Updating 2012’s Completed Book List

I haven’t been reading too much over the past few months, but have completed three since the last time I posted a review.

After completing 24 Hours by Greg Iles, I had a lot of trouble finding another book that caught my attention.

“Bones To Ashes” is the sixth book by Kathy Reichs that I have read. In “Bones to Ashes”, forensic anthropologist, Temperance Brennan, has been asked by her former lover, Andrew Ryan, to help him with a case where young girls are going missing and others are turning up dead. While helping out with this case, Brennan is made aware of some bones in New Brunswick ind asked to take a look at them to determine their age and origins. The bones are those of a teenage girl and remind her of her childhood friend, who mysteriously disappeared one summer and who’s disappearance has plagued her for decades.

Like her other books, I loved “Bones To Ashes” and would totally recommend anyone who likes crime, drama and forensics to give it a chance.

I’m not much into audio books, so have been reading primarily in braille. This format is quite limiting though because it means I will often need to wait over a year before the cnib gets around to transcribing it. When I got my iPhone and learned about iBooks, I had thought about getting a book to try, but didn’t get around to doing it until a few weeks ago.

Some friends have been talking a lot about Douglas Adams’ “The Hitch Hiker’s Guide To The Galaxy”, so when one of them sent the eBook my way, I thought it was a perfect time to try out iBooks. I really don’t understand the attraction to books like this one, but for some reason I couldn’t put it away and finished reading after just a few days. I’m not going to take any time to explain what it is about since I am sure most people have read it or have at least heard of it (unlike me). I’ll just finish off by saying, it wasn’t bad and if you need something different, try this book.

The final book I’ve finished reading of late, is “Remember When” by Nora Roberts/JD Robb. This is the first book I’ve read from her Eve Dallas series, but I can definitely say I’ll be reading another.

The book starts out by introducing us to an antiques shop owner named Laine Tavish. She has a secret from her past that she’d like to keep hidden, but a former associate of her father’s enters the shop and brings it all crashing back. After some suspenseful moments and some romance mixed in for good measure, the book takes a turn and we move forward 50 years and meet Laine’s granddaughter Samantha, who has just returned home from a book tour to find her friend dead in her bedroom. It is at this point where we meet, Eve Dallas, a serious “I take no shit from anyone” NYPD Lieutenant, who has been assigned to the case.

I hope to be a little better from now on at updating the blog on what I am reading, but as usual, no promises 🙂

Book #3 Of 2012

This past weekend, I finished my third book of 2012.

I had started reading a book by Mary Higgins Clark, but found it difficult to get into, so started “24 Hours” by Greg Iles.

I absolutely loved this book and can’t wait to see if this author has written any other books. It was suspenseful to the very last page and I found it hard to put down, but my poor fingers got quite sore after a couple hours of reading so I had no choice.

“24 Hours” is about an elaborate kidnapping for ransom plot that has been successfully carried out five previous times. The ring leader, Joe Hickey, is both an intelligent and vengeful individual. He learns everything possible about the families he will target and has both his wife and cousin assist in the crime. The book follows the crime from start to finish, exploring the thoughts and feelings of each family member, while exposing the flaws with Hickey’s plans. The Jennings are not just any family. They are so deeply united that even the five year old daughter becomes an unexpected problem for Hickey and his accomplices.

I am not sure what book I will tackle next, but as of right now I must focus on studying for my final examination I do on Friday.

Book #2 Of 2012

Today I finished my second book of 2012. As mentioned in my previous post, I decided to read “4th Of July” by James Patterson.

I really wasn’t a fan of this book until about halfway through. I didn’t like the writing style or the way the author decided to break it into small chapters that really made no sense as to why it ended or started where it did. Once I was used to these annoyances though, I began to really like the book and had trouble putting it down.

The book starts with the main character, Lieutenant Lindsay Boxer, entering a seedy hotel room where a teenage boy had been murdered. A week or month later Lindsay is out with her friends, Claire and Cindy, and she gets a call from her former police partner, Jacobi, to inform her of the suspect’s vehicle being seen near the hotel where the teenage boy was murdered. Jacobi picks Lindsay up at the restaurant and this leads her into a situation that could result in her losing her job and having her reputation destroyed. While Lindsay’s trial is in progress, Patterson introduces another murder case into the mix which catches Lindsay’s attention while she’s on leave.

I liked the fact that I had no clue as to who the murderer was going to be and how the book was going to end. I liked that there were not only one, but two different cases happening and both were quite suspenseful in their progress. I can totally see myself reading another of James Patterson’s Women’s Club Mysteries.

The next book of 2012 which I have decided to tackle is “On the Street Where You Live” by Mary Higgins Clark.

Book #1 Of 2012

I’ve observed a lot of people posting summaries and thoughts on books they’re reading, so I thought I’d do the same.

Almost a week ago now, I finished reading my first book of 2012!

I read all of my books in Braille and I am not a fast reader so, I probably won’t get even close to the numbers of books read this year that others do, but I still think it’s a neat idea to keep track and share the good and the bad points of books I’m reading.

In 2011, I read about seven books. This year I’m hoping to try doubling that, but we’ll see how things go.

The first book I read this year was “Birthright” by Nora Roberts.

This is my second book by Nora Roberts, and I really liked “Birthright” as much as I enjoyed her book “Blue Smoke”.

The book starts out with a young mother (Suzanne Cullen) and her two children (3 month old Jessica and 3 year old Douglas) lined up to see Santa. Doug really has to go to the washroom, but also really wants to see Santa so decides to wait until he’s done. As they approach Santa, Doug begins to feel nervous about the jolly man in red, but goes up and allows himself to be picked up and placed on Santa’s lap. Then, Santa lets out a loud, jolly “Ho, Ho, Ho” and Doug tries to get away, falling on the floor and wetting himself. Suzanne runs to comfort her son, leaving Jessica fast asleep in her stroller. Second later, Suzanne begins screaming because Jessica is gone.

The book then moves to a construction site where ancient bones are discovered.

Callie Dunbrooke, a successful, young archeologist is called in to head the excavation with her ex-husband Jacob Graystone, an accomplished anthropologist.

At first it seems as though the book will be similar to one by Kathy Reichs, but then there’s a twist. Callie is approached by Suzanne Cullen, who has seen her on television and believes she is her long-lost daughter, Jessica.

I thoroughly enjoyed the mix of science, mystery and romance, this book offered. I’m not usually one to appreciate romance novels, but felt Nora Roberts did an excellent job at blending the personal lives of each character into the twists and turns of the journey Callie embarks upon to solve the mystery of her past.

I couldn’t help wondering what I’d do if I were in Callie’s position.

Would I have the same burning desire to know the truth, even though it would almost certainly change every relationship I had ever known…?

Would I want to have a relationship with my biological family?

Would I be able to trust again?

The next book I’ve decided to tackle for 2012 is 4th Of July by James Patterson. I’ll post a summary and my thoughts when it’s complete.

Could You Imagine?

For the past few months I’ve been reading “Best Friends Forever” by Jennifer Wiener and today came upon an “OMG!” moment.

Adelaide Downs is lying in bed thinking about the moment which caused her to realize her weight is not only unhealthy, but is creating barriers to life. In her mind’s eye, she is walking along a street and notices a sign advertising the dessert of the day and decides to go into the restaurant for a treat. The diner is small and has only booths so she knows from the moment she enters that the trip will not go well. After squeezing herself into the tight space between the booth and table, she looks at the menu and overhears a little boy ask his mom why the woman next to them is so large. The mom tells the little boy that it’s because she eats too much and makes bad food choices. Hearing this makes Addie uncomfortable, so she decides to quickly order a bowl of soup and leave. When she’s done though, she tries to stand up and is horrified to learn that she’s stuck! Then to make matters worse, she notices the little boy watching her struggle.

Reading this made me feel terrible. I thought about how awful it must have been for Addie to be in this situation and began thinking about my own weight and wondering if this could some day happen to me. I’m not a huge person, but I’m also not a healthy weight either. I’ve tried cutting this and that out of my diet and have tried convincing myself to go on our treadmill at least once a day, but right now I just don’t have the desire to stick with it. I also understand the risks surrounding my weight, but so far have just not found the spark I require to light my will power to become healthier. I know it will come some day, but I’m just hoping it won’t be too late.

It’s funny to think of all the obsessing I do over keeping my dogs slim and healthy, when to do this for myself seems to be so difficult.