Friday, February 27, 2009

Yet another day gone to paperwork....etc.

So I keep thinking I'm going to be able to update my blog on a daily or close to daily schedule...but then life interferes and it just doesn't happen. Last week, I spent time doing kid stuff, tax stuff, book stuff, and oh, by the way, taking tests down at the EDD office (Employment Development Department) so that I can at least try to search for some additional employment. Bookselling is my life, but for the moment, in these economic times, it's not really paying the bills and the kids still eat like horses (and normal household bills seem to keep getting bigger... wonder why that is?).

This week I am reorganizing myself. Actually, I'm trying to be queen of organization.... it's not working completely, but I'm TRYING!!!

I have to get my scout stuff (I'm a den leader & this coming year my scouts will be Webelos, so there's LOTS to keep track of) in some sort of binder / organizer.

I have to get my tax info (on pain of death according to my accountant...and I AM organized with taxes, at least I keep thinking I am) organized into a MORE organized fashion.

I have to get the paperwork on my desk dealt with -- answer mail, email, messages -- put papers AWAY instead of just moving them. Of course, that means I have to THINK to get the papers put away.

Oh, and on the GOOD book news, it looks like the collection that I couldn't pick up in December might actually land in my workroom this weekend -- but darn it, I CAN'T FIND THE PAPERWORK I DID ON IT!!!

How sad is that? I probably threw the papers out because I thought I had no hope in *%$(^&% in getting the collection for a number of reasons ($$$$ being one of them). I THOUGHT I had kept the papers just in case, but maybe not.

FROM NOW ON, I WILL NOT (NOT NOT NOT) throw away any paperwork for offers for collections. This has happened TOO often for it to be a fluke.

And today, I'm not adding any wonderful jpgs of books or a nice description of a book to the blog because last night I impaled my thumb (under the side of the fingernail no less) with a piece of grout that chipped off the bathroom sink.


It hurts to type.

And now I have to regrout the sink this weekend.

Next week I'll be more diligent about blog entries...make them nice & BOOK related.

Next week, it's a new month & I can start more organizing!!


Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Blustery, Blustery day

Winnie the Pooh dealt with blustery days all the time. Maybe because he was in England where it rains regularly. Maybe because Blustery is such a fun word to say. Who knows.

Today, the only way you could describe the weather here in Northern California is blustery. It's raining (whoopee!!! and I'm not being ironic here, we are finally up to 6" (just over) of rain for the year and that's STILL not enough to pull us out of the now severe drought we're in. The combination of accumulated rain that goes to our reservoirs and the snow pack in the Sierras is what keeps California from becoming a dust bowl in the summer time. Last year, our reservoirs were down to a quarter of what should be there.... this year... well, it's not a pretty sight. As for the snow pack, it's starting to grown, but was still just above 50% of normal as of the last survey at the beginning of February.

SO, here it is on a cold, windy, blustery day (not a HUGE amount of rain, but dribble drabbles enough to keep the school kids inside). The usual puddles that turn into lakes at the very thought of rain have not appeared.
(good in some ways, but not so good in others)
(I have very fond memories of putting on my bathing suit after school and splashing through the three foot deep lake that was the parking lot of my apartment complex -- also racing bikes through that amount of water was exhilarating.... I tried to talk my sons into trying it but....)

(Here's the deal, in Modesto, and much of NorCal, water runoff from rain is collected in ROCK WELLS which help gather the water -- the rain can, sometimes, come down in sheets or solid walls of rain -- Rock Wells take HOURS to percolate the rain from the street down through a series of small rocks and dirt and thence to the ground below or to run-off basins.... in the mean time, if a drain gets plugged or if the rain comes really FAST, the rock wells back up and the streets and parking lots turn into lakes. DEEP lakes. That's when you have to NOT drive your car through them or the car stalls and you looks completely stupid for going through when you should have known better.)

But back to the day. It's a good day to stay inside, drink cocoa and get some book work done. (hopefully my accountant has had her breakfast and finished her early meeting to get started once again on my poor little tax account)

I ran out of cocoa mix about four days ago, so no cocoa, but after I finish this, I'm planning on getting down to business (for real!) and logging a bunch of new stock into my database.


Monday, February 16, 2009

Dreamer on the Night Side... H. P.Lovecraft

Howard Phillips Lovecraft and I share the same birthday --- well, not the same DATE, mind you -- but the same day.

Howard Phillips Lovecraft (aka: HPL) was born on August 20, 1890 in Providence, Rhode Island. His father died when he was rather young, leaving him in the care of his mother and grandmother. His mother was not altogether stable and much inclined to treat HPL as frail and an invalid. After his father's death, HPL's grandfather was the source of funding for them, and when the grandfather died, it turned out that much of their fortune was smoke and mirrors. He and his mother did not starve, but they did live in a very frugal fashion which rubbed off on HPL throughout the rest of his life. HPL was a voratious reader and a nearly obsessive writer of missives, letters and stories. He wasn't a garrulous type and found face t0 face meetings with his numerous correspondents to be difficult, but he wasn't a hermit by any means. His main claim to fame (which didn't happen, really, until after his death) was because of the short stories he wrote (generally late at night or very early in the morning...he was a true night person) that were ghostly in nature, weird (in the literature sense... the SF sense) and most especially macabre. He was the creator of the Cthulhu Mythos and now has rabid followers of his creation.

But there was a point in time where his writing might never have made print. If it hadn't been for a pair of sometimes correspondents (August Derleth and Donald Wandrei), much of HPL's writing would have been tossed out with the trash after his death and his works would never have seen the light of day.

Strange huh?

Now I started this blog off with the fact that HPL & I share the same birthdate, but I have to say that as far as I can tell, our personalities are poles apart (except for a few excentricities regarding our frugal natures....and I do NOT have his absolute adoration of ice cream). He is, however one of the more fascinating author's I've encountered (in biographical form in this case).

If you haven't read any of his work, try it. If you have never read up on his life, it's definitely worth a gander.


Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Gravity's Rainbow.... a Twentieth Century Masterpiece?

I can't really comment on the masterpiece part of this mammoth book -- it's rather James Joycian in nature -- that is -- stream of consciousness style of writing, which I find difficult to want to read (I can start something like this, but the randomness of it tends to make me want to set it down & start something else).

What I do know is that this is one of the modern masterpieces that is also a collectable highlight for any Modern Fiction / Literary Fiction collection. The original Viking edition was limited to 4,000 copies in hardback (with a simultaneous trade paperback printing of a much larger number... I heard 15,000).

While this was not Pynchon's first novel -- that honor goes to a novel entitled "V." -- nor his second (The Crying of Lot 49), it is THE ONE that broke him out of the mass of modern fiction writers and put his name squarely in the public eye. Collectors started snapping up copies and soon found that there weren't many 1st editions to be found, which only added to the mystique and helped collectable prices spiral ever upwards. Now that nearly forty years have passed, this book can command high prices for fine copies & ridiculous prices for signed copies. Nice copies of the hardback first edition can command upwards of $3000.00 (unsigned).

This book was shortlisted for the Pulizer Prize -- was even nominated as THE winner, but a few of the judges pulled back at the last moment and in the end, nixed the award... which actually meant that NO book was awarded a Pulizer for 1974. It did go on to receive the National Book Award and was nominated for a Nebula Award.

In some ways, Gravity's Rainbow reminds me of Robert Heinlein's Stranger in a Strange Land, in the way that both were passed around from hand to hand & pocket to pocket (both hard to do with the massively sized books), both were favorites of the college crowd and both continued to gain readers, even years after their initial publication. Both books became hightlights of modern literature (Gravity for Modern Fiction, while Stranger became known as one of THE books in the Science Fiction oeuvre). Now both books are used as texts in college (and high school) classrooms.

The copy you see in the picture above is a book club edition that I picked up recently. The neat thing about this copy is that it is nearly an exact duplicate of the original hardback. This copy was printed sometime during the initial print run with the same color and style of binding, the same number of pages, nearly the same dust jacket (the book club edition lacks a price on the front flap and a code at the bottom corner of the front flap). The only way to identify the book club edition (if it didn't have a dust jacket) is by the small indented maple leaf logo on the bottom rear corner of the book cover. For those of us who can't yet afford a copy of the Hardback First Edition for our collection, this book club makes a very nice place holder.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

taxes again... the state has gone bonkers!

So you all know I finished my sales tax stuff & sent it in on Jan 29th.

Since then I've handed my Fed & State tax info off to my accountant for her to do her mojo on -- I try to get my tax stuff in early as I do normally get a refund from both the state & the fed. Since I can use the money NOW, I wanted to get it all done & turned in as soon as possible. My accountant, is, predictably, in the midst of deluge time herself, so my itty bitty tax stuff is not the most pressing. Unfortunately, this leads to today's mini-rant.

Last week, the comptroller of the State of California, put a hold on all tax refunds -- actually going so far as to send out IOU's to citizens. I haven't gotten mine yet, but I know I will. If it's pretty enough, I might frame the letter. Californians have NO IDEA when we will get our refunds. It might be two months, it might be six, it might be two years from now. Who knows.

I really do need my refund sooner than later so I'm a bit edgy about all this, but the REASON for the IOU's is the real kicker.

Here's my rant from my website on WHY it is the state is in trouble (actually, it's a mini-rant as well & doesn't go into all the reasons WHY we're in this state, but why we haven't gotten OUT of this state)....

here it is:

My taxes are all in (as I mentioned last time) but just before I am ready to send in my CA tax info, the state has frozen all payments of tax refunds. Yes, I should be getting one, but no, I don't at this point know when it will be. Maybe 2011, maybe never. I could actually use it NOW, but that's not gonna happen.

The state of California is MESSED UP. I would love to go up to Sacramento (and hit the bookstores, etc) and knock some heads together in the legislature. It's the legislature that's continuing to hold things up. They REFUSE to take the plunge and ask for some hard steps to be taken (IE: raising taxes) to pay for the mess they've made of the budget. Because -- and this part REALLY gets me -- if they are caught raising taxes a couple of things will happen: first, the Republican party for the US has told their members that they will be sanctioned if they do .... HUH? The rest of the nation, that doesn't have the same problem as us is telling us we CAN'T do something about it? ; then there's the backlash yet to come -- most of the Republicans don't want to raise taxes because in two years (or however many it is until they are re-elected) the voters will REMEMBER that they raised taxes & vote them out of office. -- WHO THE HECK CARES ABOUT TWO YEARS FROM NOW!!! We need a budget passed NOW and a selfless, honest civil servant (that's what these guys & gals are SUPPOSED to be) would not think about his own future, but would think about the future of the Great State of California....which we certainly are NOT right at the moment.

It's sad. It's wrong. It's a mean and petty way to get things done & it needs changing now.

That's what I had to say --

Now I want you to know that I'm not a rabid / radical Democrat. My husband is a ... well, he was a Republican until this last election... but that's another long, LONG story. Now he's a Libertarian. I am certainly not going to diss his policital party in front of him, and for the most part, I like to stay far away from partisan politics, but MAN, would these guys (and that does include Democrats) either PEE or get off the POT already!!!


hopefully in a better mood tomorrow.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Anyone up for some Chop-Suey to go?

Ok -- first off, I KNOW that Chop-Suey is as American as Apple Pie... oops, just did a wikipedia search to verify & found that it's not exactly so. Here's a link to read up on it : Chop-Suey .

But getting back to the actual BOOK -- This book, Ann Zu-Zan was written by an American woman by the name of Louise Jordan Miln. Born in the US in 1864, she traveled extensively around the states with her doctor father. She went to Vassar but left without graduating --to marry George Crichton Miln, an English actor. The two of them went galivanting off to see the world and act wherever their feet touched down. They spent a decent amount of time in Australia / New Zealand (both of them acting here and there) and then traveled to China for a stay (from what I can gather, it was at least a year.... though there may have been more than one trip back and forth). Mrs. Miln became a devoted Orientalist -- she fell in love with the Orient. At some point, her acting turned to writing and her main subject was, of course, China.

This particular book came towards the end of her life (she died in 1933 and this book dates from 1932, however there are two, and possibly three books that appeared in 1933/1934). While it is considered a romantic piece, the book is full of contemporary Chinese cultural tidbits and is heavily slanted towards the Chinese perspective, not the American (of course, as an American, Miln unconciously slanted to the western perspective anyway).

Overall, a quite interesting book from an author with an interesting history.

Oh, and just a note -- the heroine's first name is Zu-zan.... Ann is the family name.