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4th Rock from the Sun: The Story of Mars4th Rock from the Sun: The Story of Mars by Nicky Jenner

My rating: 1 of 5 stars


This book seemed to spew random trivia about anything related to Mars, rather than forming some sort of cohesive narrative. I got about 60 pages in and then I couldn't take it anymore. It wasn't even too heavy on the science, there was a lot about how Mars is seen in pop culture and astrology which, the author says, is pseudoscience BUT then she does this "isn't it interesting how astrology is right about saying Mars has this characteristic about being emotionally cold and low and behold it turns out Mars is a cold planet so the astrologists are right" type dance that got extremely aggravating (plus tangents about how astrology is pseudoscience but right about the other planets...and palmistry! Which is also pseudoscience, BUT...I wish I was making this up).

The random trivia wasn't even given in any sort of chronological order so we could see how our views of Mars evolved with time which could have been interesting (for instance, she talks about how Mars is portrayed in "Doctor Who" while talking roughly about the 1960s, goes way into the 2000s to talk about an episode with Tennant before going back and talking about an episode with Troughton in the 60s). And she does not combine how Mars is portrayed in popular culture side by side with how our scientific findings impacted the media portrayal, which also could have been interesting. It was just a spew of loosely connected facts.

Skip.



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Fandom: The Slayers
Title: The Storm, Ch 11
Characters/Pairings: Lina/Gourry, Zelgadis, Rubia
Plot: Lina feels compelled to join the fight against Shabranigdu again when her children befriend a girl who she believes is the reincarnation of the daughter she lost. Sequel to Beneath the Portrait.

FFN
AO3
alexeia_drae: (Default)
Fandom: The Slayers
Characters/Pairings: Lina/Gourry, Zelgadis, Sylphiel, Xellos
Plot: Lina feels compelled to join the fight against Shabranigdu again when her children befriend a girl who she believes is the reincarnation of the daughter she lost. Sequel to Beneath the Portrait.

FFN
AO3
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Fandom: The Slayers
Title: Slayers, Neverending, Ch 5
Characters/Pairings: Lina/Gourry, Zel/Amelia
Plot: What is there to do after you've defeated Shabranigdu twice by the time you're 18? Lina worries about what to do with the rest of her life that can top or at least match her early achievements. Yet for this native born heroine of Zeferia, there will always be a new challenge. This was hard figuring out novels or anime continuity, eventually went with novels

FFN
AO3
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Title: The Storm, Ch 9, Burn
Characters/Pairings: Lina/Gourry, Zelgadis, Xellos, Rubia
Ratings/Warnings: Violence, themes of death
Plot: Lina feels compelled to join the fight against Shabranigdu again when her children befriend a girl who she believes is the reincarnation of the daughter she lost. Sequel to Beneath the Portrait.

FFN
AO3
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Pioneer Girl Perspectives: Exploring Laura Ingalls WilderPioneer Girl Perspectives: Exploring Laura Ingalls Wilder by Nancy Tystad Koupal

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


This was a good collection of essays examining the Little House books in light of the publication of Pioneer Girl. Like all books that include the works of many different authors, some essays are stronger than others, overall, I felt each essay added something and can only remember one that felt like a chore to get through.

It broadened my history of life on the American frontier without ignoring the problematic elements of the novels (such as the treatment of the First American population that was already living in the places where the Ingalls family attempted to settle). I know some viewers are distressed to learn that things among the family were not as idealized in real life as they were in the books, but I find this fascinating and am always hungry for more information, especially as the relationship between Laura Ingalls Wilder and Rose Wilder Lane seemed especially complicated.

Definitely would recommend.



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Last night we got back rather late from visiting my sister in Des Moines, Iowa. While I have flown to places that are further away, this is the longest trip I've ever been a driver on, and it was the longest trip we've taken with the kids. Brent did very well, Gwen had a hard time at night. We'd planned to stay a few more days but Brent and Gwen were asking to go home and Andy and I could not stand another night of Gwen's 3AM tantrums. We'd also thought of stopping by to see Amelia Earhart's birthplace in Atchinson, KS, but scrapped those plans for another time. Anyway, highlights below.

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I'm on a road trip to see my sister in Des Moines, and we stopped by the Little House site in Independence, KS on the way. This is the site from Little House on the Prairie. The cabin is a reconstruction, though the well Pa Ingalls dug was there. Anyway, observations and the like below.

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Really!?

Jun. 21st, 2017 11:03 pm
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Well, living in the Bible Belt and being an unapologetic atheist, I’m used to people targeting me for conversion (though I don’t like it). But someone left a review with a long plea about Jesus and the end times and the whatnot. What pisses me off, though, is this person disabled PMs so I can’t throw logic and reason in their face. Really, if you’re going to shove religion down my throat have the courtesy to let me reply to you so I can have the satisfaction of leaving your argument in a smoldering pile of cinder ashes.

OK, back to my heathen and oh so devious lifestyle of raising critical thinkers, being boringly monogamous since, oh, forever, educating about autism, drinking lots and lots of water, and helping clients achieve their full potential.
alexeia_drae: (Default)
Fandom: The Slayers
Title: Slayers, Neverending, Ch 4
Characters/Pairings: Lina/Gourry, Luna
Plot: What is there to do after you've defeated Shabranigdu twice by the time you're 18? Lina worries about what to do with the rest of her life that can top or at least match her early achievements. Yet for this native born heroine of Zeferia, there will always be a new challenge. This was hard figuring out novels or anime continuity, eventually went with novels.

FFN
AO3
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My grandma died this morning. Here she is with my grandpa on their wedding day, 66 years ago. She was one of many strong women in my family. When she was 18 her house caught on fire, trapping two of her younger siblings inside. She ran into the burning building and rescued them. There were also some newly hatched chicks on the stove, and she would have run into rescue them if she hadn’t been prevented from it (likely wisely). In the 1950s she became the first person in her family to attend and graduate college. She felt it was more important for women to go to college then men because men could get good jobs as construction workers and other manual labor fields that were barred to women, and she never wanted to be in a situation where she could not support herself. Even in the 1950s when a lot of women stayed home, my grandma taught school, even being the breadwinner for the family when my grandpa decided to get his master’s degree.

She lived for 89 years, had four daughters, six grandchildren, and four great-grandchildren. After years of a slow decline where she developed dementia, lost her mobility, and many of her basic dignities, I believe she was ready to go. She passed along her love of reading and education, pragmatism, determination, and tendency to save people from fires (my mom has also rescued someone from a burning car, so it’s genetic). Till the end she was loved dearly by my grandpa, who would look at her and still see the cute brunette he married 66 years ago and not the frail old lady she became.

RIP

Note: I am an atheist, and religious expressions of grief are not comforting to me and are painful. Please be respectful of this. If you want to know how to approach an atheist who is grieving, read up on it here.

Also, if you know me on Facebook, please don't post anything on my page right now. We haven't told my great aunt yet because her grandson is getting married today and we are waiting till that is over.
alexeia_drae: (Default)
Title: The Storm, Ch 8: Living in the Shadow
Characters/Pairings: Lina/Gourry, Zelgadis, Sylphiel, Luna, Rubia
Ratings/Warnings: None
Plot: Lina feels compelled to join the fight against Shabranigdu again when her children befriend a girl who she believes is the reincarnation of the daughter she lost. Sequel to Beneath the Portrait.

FFN
AO3
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The Heart of Parenting: Raising an Emotionally Intelligent ChildThe Heart of Parenting: Raising an Emotionally Intelligent Child by John M. Gottman

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


I am a big fan of the Gottman's research on marriage and was pleasantly surprised to find they also did work on parenting. This book is about how to become your child's Emotion Coach and raise emotionally healthy children. I felt that the research and strategies presented in this book were good. Based on an anecdote in this book, when my 3 year old left her stuffed monkey in the van and started repeating over and over again that she wanted monkey, I said, "I know you're sad that you don't have monkey right now, he will be waiting for you when we get into the van," and after I did that she stopped asking for him. It seems that she did just want an acknowledgement of her feelings.

I did feel that the latter chapters either needed to be fleshed out more, especially the ones on child development, because they did just seem tacked on there. Considering most of the examples on emotion coaching involved children who are verbal, I would have liked more examples for children who aren't, especially as my 6 year old is autistic and can't carry a conversation yet, and it feels so easy to tell him what he is feeling because he can't give me his feedback or correct me if I'm wrong.

I also appreciated the section on times when emotion coaching is not advised, such as when mediating an argument between your two children when both are in the room, because I had tried to do something similar in the past, or when you are pressed for time.

Overall this is a good book, I wish it were longer, included more on child development, and had a bit more on using these strategies for children who aren't verbal. In essence, this is the starting point for learning about emotional coaching.



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Everybody Lies: Big Data, New Data, and What the Internet Can Tell Us About Who We Really AreEverybody Lies: Big Data, New Data, and What the Internet Can Tell Us About Who We Really Are by Seth Stephens-Davidowitz

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


This book is a good starting point for psychologists and sociologists to find information and data with which to launch more research into. This was a quick, funny, and interesting read about how the internet has circumvented one of the biggest problems in psychological research, the fact that people lie.

The implications are profound, from the problem of racism in the US to child abuse, and even uncovering evidence that self-induced abortions have gone up in areas in the US with stricter abortion laws. And the applications are limitless, from finding the most effective way to teach children to how businesses can use big data to milk us, and how people can use big data to fight back. Highly recommended!



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-Currently my grandmother is at rehab, but she's not making any progress. Likely in mid June she's going to a group hospice home. I'm 35, and this is the first time someone close to me has died, so it's been something. I've started trying to talk with Brent about death, though, I'm not sure how much he understands. Gwen doesn't get it at all. This morning she found a dead frog in the parking lot and started pointing and yelling, "frog!" Then, when she walked away, she started waving and saying, "bye-bye frog!" Childhood innocence and the brutality of life had never stood in such stark contrast.

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Three Stones Make a Wall: The Story of ArchaeologyThree Stones Make a Wall: The Story of Archaeology by Eric H Cline

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book about archaeology. In addition to learning about many fascinating ancient cultures, Cline was able to add a refreshing bit of humor to the subject. I often found myself Googling the places he was talking about, and often wish books like these had some sort of online companion with pictures of the places and objects that were discussed, as well as to illustrate some of the more technical concepts in archaeology.

Cline also explored issues pertinent to modern archaeology, such as the need for measures to prevent looting, and explained how archaeology can become politically contentious at times and gave the reader a feel for the complexity of these issues. Reading this was also a good demonstration on how science changes to accommodate the evidence that we find and gives the reader a good feel for how science works.

My sole quibble was that the chapter on Masada sort of petered out after the mystery of what happened there was presented and got me rather intrigued. Other than that this was a solid, enjoyable read.



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Yesterday my daughter learned never to ask her daddy to do her hair.


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Fandom: The Slayers
Title: Unrequited?
Characters Luke, Milina
Plot: A walk on the beach should be romantic. But given Milina's perpetual cold shoulder, the absence of love is never more keenly felt, leading to some deep conversations. Request fic for scrik.

FFN
AO3
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My Life, My Love, My LegacyMy Life, My Love, My Legacy by Coretta Scott King

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


This book embodies the sentiment of, behind every successful man is a woman, but behind every successful woman is herself. It was good to read about Coretta and the story of her activism, and how the issues she cared about were not necessarily the issues that MLK cared about (for instance, she was a pacifist and protested the Vietnam War from the beginning). It was also sad to read about how women were pushed to the margins of the Civil Rights movement and how she was denied her one chance to meet President Kennedy.

I felt the first half of this book was stronger than the second half. The story of her origins and fighting for civil rights with MLK was fascinating. Growing up in the late 80s, the Civil Rights movement seemed only about whites only water foundations, but learning that Coretta's house was burnt to the ground by white people because her father was too successful in his business, and that his business was also later burnt to the ground, and that they had no legal recourse, puts a frightening understanding about what life was like for black people during segregation.

The second half of the book seemed more rambling. Instead of placing events in chronological order, things were grouped by topic, and then, in some chapters, some tangent seemed randomly thrown in. It also turned a lot more to defending her actions from criticism she has received and setting the record straight than continuing a narrative.

Overall, I feel this is an important book to read, and do recommend.



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Andy and I took the kids to see the new live action Beauty and the Beast, and I loved it a lot more than I was expecting to. This was my favorite Disney movie as a child, and I always identified heavily with Belle (I got in trouble with school for reading to much, I had people tell me I was so beautiful and if I would just put the book down and talk to people I would have friends, and all I wanted was to get away from everyone at school and have an adventure somewhere else). They fixed some of the plot holes and what made the original problematic as much as they could and had some surprises. I was hoping they would have "If I Can't Love Her" from the Broadway musical in there, but they put in "Evermore" instead, and I was torn between being disappointed that it wasn't "If I Can't Love Her" versus taken with the power of "Evermore". Upon getting home and listening to them both again I have decided that Dan Stevens is my new Hollywood crush.

This was the second time I've taken the kids to a theater and wasn't wracked with anxiety over their behavior and could just enjoy...for the most part. It was a long movie and Gwen was a little monkey and dumped popcorn all over me. Still, the theater the aisles are now so big and separated from each other that you really aren't aware of what is going on in other rows, and everyone else in this theater had young kids except for the aides who were there with two women with Down Syndrome, and I could tell that people in other rows were being more disruptive than Gwen (but even then I wasn't too bothered by it because it seemed so distant), that I couldn't stress about it. Brent was entranced through the whole movie and every time Andy tried to check on him resented the interruption. Gwen loved certain scenes, moved around a lot, said, "uh-oh" and "oh no!" and got a bit scared during the scene with the wolves. She was sitting in my lap but then she looked at Andy, screamed, "Daddy!" and went over to him.

Anyway, the movie.

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